Friday, November 17, 2017

Senate Makes Bold Move, Includes Repeal of Obamacare’s Individual Mandate in Tax Bill

News broke on Tuesday that the Senate will include repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in its final tax bill.

This is something President Donald Trump has called for, and it’s exactly the right move.

It’s critical that Congress take every opportunity to undo Obamacare’s damage. Repealing the individual mandate is a great place to begin the necessary work of undoing Obamacare regulatory burdens and tax increases that have driven up costs and reduced plan value and availability .

The individual mandate is Obamacare’s requirement that every American enroll in health insurance or be fined. The idea was to push lots of healthier people—who didn’t need or want Obamacare’s expansive, overpriced coverage—to buy those plans in order to subsidize the cost of care for others.

But the experience with Obamacare over the last four years shows that the individual mandate does not work.

According to the most recent IRS reports, 6.2 million tax filers chose to pay the tax penalty rather than buy Obamacare insurance, 12.7 million tax filers obtained an exemption from the mandate, and 4.3 million tax filers omitted their health insurance status on their tax return.

In total, 23.2 million tax filers paid the fine, obtained an exception, or simply ignored the individual mandate.

And with good reason—the products they were being forced to buy were from a private market broken by Obamacare’s many regulatory mandates. Plan prices skyrocketed and plan quality and availability dropped.

In the face of this situation, many Americans had to choose: Do I buy an overpriced product that doesn’t meet my needs, or do I pay a tax penalty and look for other alternatives?

With costs for plans continuing to rise, and possibly outpacing the ability of individuals to pay, it’s likely that a growing number of individuals will determine that it’s better to pay the penalty than pay for overpriced coverage.

And pay they will. Until now, the IRS has been lax in its enforcement of the mandate. However, this upcoming tax year the IRS will begin to actively enforce the individual mandate by requiring proof of health insurance coverage.

In previous years, Americans have been able to omit reporting health care coverage and still receive a tax refund. No longer will this be the case.

Moving forward, the IRS will refuse the submission of a tax return unless it includes proof of coverage, a coverage exemption, or payment (read: tax) for lack of coverage.

Repealing the individual mandate would provide relief to millions of Americans who have to either buy a health insurance product they don’t want, or pay tax penalties.

It’s possible that coverage numbers would go down at least somewhat after repealing the individual mandate. But that wouldn’t be because people are being kicked off of coverage. It would be because some Americans will either drop plans that are a bad deal for them, or not buy those plans in the first place.

Rather than forcing people to buy coverage that government bureaucrats think they should have, lawmakers should focus on creating market conditions that allow Americans to buy plans that they actually want.

That requires Congress to roll back the broken Obamacare regulations that are driving up the cost of insurance for millions of Americans—including the benefit mandates, actuarial value standards, and rating restrictions that drive up the cost of premiums.

Moreover, if Congress wants to encourage people to buy coverage rather than force them to do so, it could provide regulatory relief to the states to give them options to reward healthy individuals for buying and keeping continuous coverage.

Congressional leaders need to get back to work to undo Obamacare’s damage, and the Senate is leading the way by placing the individual mandate on the chopping block.



Wave of Judicial Appointments Fulfills Trump Promise to Focus on Courts

Eight federal appellate judges confirmed, and a ninth on the way, mark the success of President Donald Trump's campaign promise to make putting conservatives on the court a top priority of his administration.

Trump's eight appellate court appointments are the most this early in a presidency since Richard Nixon, the New York Times reported.

The appointments are the product of an aggressive strategy led by White House counsel Don McGahn. McGahn and his team have focused on filling appeals court vacancies where Democratic Senators from Trump-voting states could be pressured to back nominees.

Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has also been essential to the fast clip of nominations. In the past year, Grassley has organized three hearings with two appellate nominees, rather than the customary single nominee. Two-nominee hearings happened only three times total in the eight years of the Obama administration.

The nominees have strong academic credentials, the Times noted, as well as a history of clerking for conservative judges like the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

"We will set records in terms of the number of judges," Trump said in a recent White House speech. "There has never been anything like what we’ve been able to do together with judges."

"What makes this a unique opportunity in modern history is the sheer number of vacancies, the number of potential vacancies because of the aging bench, and the existence of a president who really cares about this issue in his gut," said Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the conservative law organization the Federalist Society, and an adviser on Trump's judicial appointments.

Trump entered office with 21 open seats on the federal appellate courts. That high number of vacancies was driven by Senate Republicans' refusal to confirm many appointees of President Barack Obama from 2015 onwards.

An additional six judgeships have opened since inauguration. Additionally, almost half the 150 active appeals court judges can take a semiretirement "senior" status, freeing up their seats for Trump-appointed replacements.

Exit polls suggest that conservatives concerned about the future of federal courts helped deliver Trump his electoral college victory last November. In the wake of Scalia’s death, Trump memorably promised to nominate his replacement from a list put together by the Federalist Society.

The burst of nominations has provoked controversy as Senate Republicans consider dropping several traditional practices.

That includes the use of so-called "blue slips," issued by Senators from the home state of a judicial nominee to give their assent before he proceeds to hearings. Democratic senators, including Sen. Al Franken (Minn.), have refused to return blue slips for several Trump nominees.

This has resulted in calls by Republicans to end the practice. They have also been critical of the American Bar Association, which customarily rates the qualification of judicial nominees, and which is perceived by many as being biased against conservatives. After the ABA returned "not qualified" rankings for two nominees, reports indicated that the White House is considering discouraging future nominees from releasing certain records to or interviewing with the group.

While these possible changes may be controversial, advisers like Leo remain focused on their central goal—taking advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to put conservatives on the bench.

"[Trump] understood that the American people cared about judges, and he for his own purposes cared very deeply about it and recognized that he could be a president who could help restore the judiciary to its proper role," Leo said.



Louisiana’s Kyle Duncan, Trump’s Superb Choice for the 5th Circuit

Ed Meese

A legal powerhouse from Louisiana with a history of championing religious freedom is among President Donald Trump’s outstanding nominees for federal judgeships.

Kyle Duncan is one of Trump’s excellent picks for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as the president works to reshape the federal courts by announcing slate after slate of his choices to fill more than 160 vacancies across the country. These are men and women who take the Constitution and the rule of law seriously, and Duncan is a superb example.

I got to know Duncan when he was general counsel of Becket Law, a nationally recognized public interest law firm based in Washington, and I am confident he will be a dedicated and thoughtful jurist. He understands the proper, limited role judges should play in our government—that judges are not supposed to be legislators, but impartial arbiters of the law.

Duncan will be committed to interpreting the Constitution and laws according to their text, setting aside his personal views and policy preferences.

At Becket, Duncan fought for religious liberty for all people. As the lead lawyer in Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, he secured a big victory for religious freedom at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hobby Lobby, a retail chain run by David Green and his family, sought to operate in accordance with the family’s Christian faith. But Duncan didn’t represent only Christians. He supervised Becket’s representation of an Orthodox Jewish inmate when a prison violated his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and he helped defend a mosque under the same law when it faced a discriminatory land-use regulation.

Stuart Kyle Duncan, who was born in 1972 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has had a distinguished legal career as an appellate lawyer, arguing more than 30 cases before federal and state appellate courts—including two at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently a partner at Schaerr Duncan LLP in Washington, Duncan has served as counsel for parties and amici in more than 40 cases before the high court. For his exceptional written advocacy there, the National Association of Attorneys General twice presented him with its Best Brief Award.

It’s fitting that the president nominated Duncan to a 5th Circuit seat in Louisiana, where he has deep ties. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University, clerked for a judge on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, and for four years was Louisiana’s first solicitor general.

Even after starting his law practice in Washington, Duncan continued to advance Louisiana’s interests. The state retained him time and time again to help defend its laws on everything from abortion to religious freedom to criminal offenses.

In addition to Louisiana, the 5th Circuit hears cases from Texas and Mississippi, and Duncan has ties to those states as well. He was assistant solicitor general of Texas for three years and taught constitutional law, law and economics, admiralty law, and legal ethics at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Duncan’s record demonstrates that he is an exceptionally qualified nominee who cares a great deal about the Constitution. As Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, put it at National Review, he

is a superstar who can translate sophisticated arguments for the general public. His knack for thoughtful and incisive legal analysis will serve him well on the 5th Circuit, as will his humility and integrity. Kyle is the complete package.

To date, the Senate has confirmed only 13 of Trump’s outstanding judicial nominees, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be commended for getting those judges confirmed despite Senate Democrats’ obstruction, there is still plenty of work to do.

The president could do no better than nominating Kyle Duncan. Now, the Senate must work swiftly to confirm him.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Last Crusade: War with the Phantoms

John C. Wright

We live in an age obsessed with glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions.

Note what these have in common.

The glass ceiling is the alleged invisible barrier which prevents women from being promoted into the positions of top management and bars the from the highest levels of power.

Dog whistles are the alleged inaudible messages sent as code from one racist to another over public airwaves to coordinate and perpetuate their continued oppression of blacks.

Micro-aggressions are the alleged impalpable assaults subtly hidden as thoughtless comments or discourteous gestures.

Micro-aggressions are just like various other forms of assault and battery, such as being lacerated, stabbed, drowned, bloodied, bruised, bludgeoned, or beaten senseless, except that these aggressions are so microscopically slight and insignificant that no one, not even the alleged perpetrator, can detect them. Even the alleged victims will not feel them unless told and trained to do so.

For example, asking someone where he is from is a micro-aggression, as this betrays an unconscious racism, which oppresses the weak. Using the pronoun “he” when grammar calls for it also oppresses the weak. As of the current news cycle, taking tests at a college, doing math, or having a daughter who wears a Disney princess costume of a Polynesian at Halloween, are all forms of oppression.

What these have in common is that all are phantoms.

Now, obviously, no one can take these claims with even the slightest degree of seriousness. Even on their own terms, they make no sense.

If a woman is frustrated with the promotion offered in her current career, let her change jobs, or start her own business. Either you have the skill and drive and talent needed to win for yourself the high position you desire, or you do not. If you do, there is no need to wait for someone else to remove the alleged invisible barrier keeping you from the high position. If you do not, then being given the position as a gift will not give you the skill and drive and talent needed to face real adversity, a union riot or an antitrust lawsuit, fortune might then place between you and your further success.

Likewise, either alleged oppressors have the power to oppress the blacks or not. If they have the power, they would not bother to speak in whispers and codes. If they lack the power, the whispers and codes can be safely ignored, for then no one is being oppressed.

Likewise for micro-aggressions. If someone innocently offers you an undiscernibly small insult, and you are in a position to demand the innocent to apologize, you have power over him, not he over you.  You are the Grand Inquisitor here, and he the heretic in chains.

If he actually had the motive, opportunity, and power to oppress you, there would be visible signs of it: water fountains marked “colored” and “white”, governors standing in schoolhouse doors, police in riot gear with firehoses and attack dogs, death camps surrounded with barbed wire, and the whole visible apparatus of the state.

The alleged oppressors here do not actually have the power to oppress. Or do anything visible or obvious.

Far from being able to call upon armed men in riot gear to enforce Democrat-style Jim Crow laws, in America these days, anyone accused of racism, misogyny, or thoughtlessness to the hypersensitive feelings of any mascot of the Left faces social opprobrium, ostracization, loss of livelihood, and civil or even criminal penalties. In Europe, the penalties are more severe for even small infractions.

So the most that can be said for the Leftist narrative about glass ceilings, dogwhistles, and whispered non-insults is that the perpetrators, if they exist at all, are not more than a scattered, demoralized, and decimated remnant of a once-proud segregationist and slave-owning political party, now fallen, who comfort themselves by nursing a sullen resentment at the loss of their power to oppress blacks and women.

(That would be the party of racists Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Robert C. Byrd, homophobe Fred Phelps, and women-abusers Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, and so on.)

Please note that there are careers in which a whispered campaign of lies can derail or kill a career, and where anonymous accusations bring on a witch-hunt. Obviously any field where there is a clear and obvious way of judging the merit of a man’s performance is not open to whisper campaigns. But in such fields as the theater, or academia, or politics, where one’s position can insulate one from the results of incompetence, such whispers would be all powerful.

Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of the coordinated hatred from a group of unemployed women, mentally ill men, or cowardly unmanly men, is well aware of how glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions work. The girls and crazies and girlish cowards never confront you directly, never criticize your work directly, but they giggle and offer insults in the form of indirect symbols whose symbolic value they themselves never publicly admit. They anonymously feed stories to a compliant press. They cheer wildly for things which seem to have no meaning, since they are all actually cheering for something else. And they fix the votes or fix the game, all the while accusing you of the same.

Please note the three fields where this is rampant: the theater, the academic world, and the halls of power.  Places where no one is judged on his work, only on his connections. Places where incompetents prosper. These are the places were the Left is paramount.

In sum, the secret conspiracy of oppressors we hear the Left endlessly bewailing exists, if at all, only among them, and only to oppress those who do not conform to their narrative.

Like Hollywood starlets forced into prostitution with overweight producers to win a desirable billing, who then complain about a patriarchy and a rape culture, the Leftists who whine about glass ceilings and dog whistles  are speaking of a world which they build for themselves, as a prison for themselves, but which they fear to blame on their gurus (who are also their jailers), and so blame on those who hold the only hope of liberation from their prison.

At this point, the candid reader might be thinking, “if glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions are by definition invisible, inaudible and impalpable, on what grounds does anyone assert that they actually exist?”

Well, the Left answers this question by shrieking like insane baboons if anyone raises it, slandering and libeling anyone who questions this or any other part of their dogma, and attempting to ruin their livelihood and life. This will deter the question from being asked.

It will not answer the question, of course, because there is no answer.

Leftism does not require grounds to make assertions. Only in a logical and rigorous form of thought, as legal or scientific reason, is precedent or observation or some other form of support offered to uphold an assertion.

In Leftist thought, statements are not statements of fact; they are statements of power.

There is a famous Chinese story of a time when a vizier, thinking the Emperor weak, and wishing to find out which courtiers would join him in rebellion, brought a deer into the court and called it a horse. The emperor politely corrected him, some courtiers agreed with the emperor. The vizier noted who these were, and later had them assassinated, exiled, or executed.

Hence, if a Chinese vizier points at a deer and calls it a horse, the other courtiers who agree with him agree because they fear or admire his power. Those who disagree expect their disagreement to be taken as an act of defiance. The courtiers who say “deer” are in the vizier’s camp and have expressed their loyalty. Those who say “horse” are his foes. Whether or not a horse is a horse never enters into the matter.

In Leftist thought, statements are neither true nor false. True and false are properties that only have a place in describing statements related to reality. “The sun rises in the East” is a statement, for example, that is true, but, if the sun ever were to rise in the west, would be false. “Bow to the idol!” is not a statement that can be either true or false. It is not a statement at all, but an imperative. It is a demand for loyalty.

But this is not the whole explanation. The Chinese vizier in the old story did not, after all, point to a gelding and call it a stallion, or point to a slow horse and call it fast. He did not demand the courtiers to say something haste or bad judgement might allow them honestly to believe. He demanded the courtiers say an obvious, blatant, unambiguous lie. Men place their flags on a flagpole so that they are above all obstructions and clear to see. The lie must be obvious, insolent in its disregard for truth, so that the falsehood is clear to see.

What kind of loyalty is being demanded?

The Leftwing narrative is not merely a political theory nor merely a worldview. It is an ideology. The difference between an ideology and a worldview is this:

A worldview is written in the indicative mood. it can be summed up in a list of statements which one believes to be true or false. An ideology is written in the imperative mood. It can only be summed as a list of duties and prohibitions.

An ideology is a heresy of Christian thought disguised as a political or economic policy. An ideology, by its nature, is something like a glass ceiling and a dog whistle, because it is a phantom that seems to be talking about one thing, but is actually talking about something else.

I say it is a Christian heresy because Ideology as a parasite on the Church. There are no Buddhist nor Shinto ideologies.

I use the word heresy advisedly. A heresy is the act of taking one branch of an organic whole of thought, ignoring its roots and consequences, inflating or elevating that branch out of its proper context, and then using it as a bludgeon to pummel all other branches of the teaching into silence. For example, the Pelagesian heresy took the doctrine of the free will of man to undermine the doctrine of the fall of man. Likewise Calvinism takes the doctrine of the omniscience of God to undermine the doctrine of the free will of man.

In the modern world, all ideologues, starting with French Revolutionaries and up though the Cultural Marxism of the Social Justice Warriors, take the doctrine of compassion for the poor and needy, and the doctrine that God is no respecter of persons, to undermine the doctrine of the fall of man. Man is saved not through Christ, but through Caesar, that is, through the alleged application of scientific reasoning to political and economic institutions. Man is naturally good and improvable, and will evolve into utopian perfection, once certain artificial sources of institutional evildoing and oppression are swept away, such a private property, inequality of income, or unconscious racism.

Heresies are also simplistic. They are, as said above, a reduction of an organic and balanced system of thought into a few simpleminded slogans.

Likewise, an ideology is a one-size fits all answer for all life’s problems: Black and white with no colors, no balancing act, no counting of costs versus benefits, no understanding of the tragic view of life.

Conservativism, by this definition, is not an ideology, for it regards the state merely as one social institution among many, and not the sole, nor even the primary institution. The state is the institution used to maintain law and order, enforce contracts, encourage virtue, and defend from invasion and trespass against natural rights. The free market is an institution for the exchange of goods and services peacefully; marriage is the institution for raising the young and building communities; the Church is the institution for prayer and sacrifice and learning the meaning of life; the arts are for expressing the glory of nature and nature’s great author; and so on. Each has its proper and organic place in the organism of society, and certain personal matters are beyond the reach of any institution.

But the heresy of ideology says all things are submissive to Caesar. Marriage is subordinate to the state; the market is subordinate to the state; the Church is most certainly subordinate to the state; all things serve the state, and even what thoughts are allowed or are forbidden to be expressed, public or private, conscious or unconscious, are all political matters, hence within Caesar’s purview.

Ironically, because ideologies are simplistic, one-sided, and false, all fail at what the attempt. Marxism says one can produce abundant wealth by eliminating all incentives to create it. Cultural Marxism says women can gain equality by helpless dependence on the state, blacks can gain equality by aggravating all mildest dispute with whites, and homosexuals can gain love and approval for their lifestyle by savagely demonizing the vast majority of straights, and rejecting all attempts at peaceful coexistence with them. The success rate of socialism, with between one hundred million and one hundred fifty million innocent men, women and children murdered, at producing peace and plenty is obvious to all but the willfully blind.

By the nature of ideology, they ideologue is and must be willfully blind. To cast doubt on the list of imperatives that comprise his ideology is one of the imperatives. To entertain any doubt, or to hear any debate, on any topic under the control of the ideologue is thoughtcrime. To doubt that America is racist is itself racism. To doubt any iota of the shrieking nonsense uttered by feminists is itself sexism. And so on.

Because they are blind, the natural limits of reality which cause the failure of their ideological Cloudcuckooland theories are invisible to them. Always and ever will the ideologue run into a boundary or barrier that halts upward progress, which always and ever he will not permit himself to see. To him it will be invisible. A glass ceiling.

Because they have left the realm of reason and reality, the ideologue is never talking about the topic of your debate with him. For example, suppose that after a horrific mass shooting, you want to debate a proper response to see it not to happen again. Naturally, you wonder about the foolish leftwing policy that prevents locking patients with dangerous insanity up in an asylum. But this is never discussed. The ideologue can only discuss, with ever increasing shrillness, frustration, and fury as he beats against an invisible glass ceiling, his hope that by taking guns away from sane and law-biding citizens, somehow, by unicorn-powered fairy glitter magic, the guns will vanish from the hands of the insane and the criminal. When you point out that unicorns do not exist, hence cannot make guns vanish, he responds by saying you are aiding and abetting the murders.

He is frustrated because he is pounding against a glass ceiling. The gun control laws cannot produce the unicorn glitter happy-land result he imagines. Gun control laws produce Chicago murder rates.

You think you are talking about gun control. You are really talking about whether government can solve the problem of evil.

Hence, this is a dog-whistle, that is, a conversation meant for the ears of his compatriots alone, which has a second meaning inaudible to normal people. He cannot and dare not say aloud what he is actually thinking, because, were he to say it, the falsehood and fatuous fatheadedness of the whole sacred list of his ideological imperatives would stand naked to the mocking gaze of reality. Fear prevents him.

His ideological system cannot work and never will, because, fundamentally, it is false-to-facts. To believe a fact because it is factual is something his moral code calls wrong, and a hate crime. See, for example, crimes rates among Blacks. To believe a falsehood because it is false, and the more outrageous the falsehood the better, is something his moral code rewards as a sign of absolute party loyalty. See, for example, evidence for manmade global warming.

And so reality irks him with countless tiny splinters of fact. No program ever seems to go right. The feminist is angered that men do not use their superior power over women to impose equality on women as a gift. The black rioters demand police abandon their neighborhoods to crime, and then they are angered when the crime rate rises.

For them, reality itself is an endless micro-aggression. It is an endless, tiny stream of buried and inaudible slights and slanders against the pretensions of the ideologues.

In reaction, the ideologue utters tiny and invisible insults against everyone around him. His continuous sniping, snarking, snarling and risible pose of moral and mental superiority to all mortal men is his retaliation to the mockery the reality makes of his stillborn and dreams.

So the world of phantoms is the world in which the Leftwinger actually lives. All about him is a hidden and apparently all-powerful foe. The foe taunts and mocks him, and eludes his grasp. He is everywhere and nowhere. Normal conversations between normal men now sound like the murmurings of conspirators. Facts and reality form invisible ceilings to progress. Gnat clouds of endless failures and insults accompany every moment. Everything actually is controlled by glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions.

The problem is that these phantoms are all produced by the ideologue himself. They form the thought prison in which he is trapped. They are the false narrative to which he is addicted, and which is slowly killing him, brain-first.

Granted, he placed the fetters on his own limbs with his own hands, and, like Oedipus, with his own thumbs drove out the eyes of common sense. He castrated his own conscience, he lobotomized his own reason, drove a stake through the heart of compassion and humanity in his own breast. We must pity the poor, suicidal fool even as we condemn his suicide. The pain he suffers is real, even if the phantoms he imagines to be causing it are no more than shadows in a looking glass.

The war with these phantoms is real, even if the phantoms are not real. It falls to us to undo all the damage his madness causes. Ask not whether it is fair that this task is ours. The hard fact is that if we do not bind up the wounds to civilization he makes, they will not be healed.

He blames us for his problems. We cannot salve his brow or solve his woe. His problem is spiritual. His savior is not Caesar.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Plain truth can be hate-speech on Quora

I responded to the following question on

"Why has the free movement of people between Canada, Australia, New Zealand & the UK not been implemented? There are similar population sizes, common language, & social, political, economic, & educational systems are all based on the British model"

I replied:

"Australia and NZ don’t want the blacks — too crime-prone"

Quora deleted my reply on the grounds that it violated their Be  Nice, Be Respectful policy

I wrote in response to them:

"Since when is the truth simply expressed disrespectful? The alternative is BS"

On behalf of Quora, Amelia then replied:

"Thanks for your email. We'll be more than happy to clarify our moderation decision here.

Your content was in violation of our Be Nice, Be Respectful policy. This core Quora principle requires that people treat other people on the site with civility, respect, and consideration.

More specifically, your content contained what we consider to be hate speech:

Users are not allowed to post content or adopt a tone that would be interpreted by a reasonable observer as a form of hate speech, particularly toward a race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political group, sexual orientation or another similar characteristic. Questions and question details about generalizations in these topics should be phrased as neutrally and respectfully as possible.

Our decision is final, and your content will not be reinstated"

My closing comment:  "I imagine Amelia is just an apparatchik at Quora so shares the current politically correct hysteria about any mention of blacks that fails to praise them -- but her action deprives their questioner of the answer to his question.

Is that what Quora is about?  Is it a cover-up service or an information service?  No American is in any doubt about the black crime-rate so why can it not be mentioned in an objective information context?  I have had many articles published in the academic journals of the social sciences on questions about race and racism but such discussions must be kept from the general public, apparently. So I suppose that this episode is just another example of Leftists having big problems with the truth -- JR. 


‘I hate everything.’ says Jerry Brown

The Left gives itself away now and then

Nine days into his European trip, Jerry Brown might have been enjoying himself.

The Democratic governor had just wrapped interviews with Japanese and German reporters late Saturday, after holding a climate coalition signing ceremony with Terry McAuliffe, or His Excellency, the honorific used for the governor of Virginia. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer were also at the photo op.

That’s when Brown was asked whether he enjoyed it at the UN climate conference.

“No, I hate everything,” he said, allowing the slightest smile. “Why do you ask that silly question?”

I mean it earnestly, the reporter responded.

Brown asked whether, at age 79, he would be running around Europe if he didn’t enjoy it?

Maybe, his interrogator replied.

“Why, because I’m a masochist?” Brown asked.

Brown said he doesn’t think of it as “joy,” but did for some reason say he was glad the conversation had meandered to the subject. An accurate reflection of his existential position is one that is constantly changing, Brown eventually confessed.

“There are certain things you have to do that aren’t as pleasant as other things you have to do, but if it’s something you want to get accomplished, you will do it, and there will be different levels of joy, from zero to 100 percent,” he said



Covered California Still Spreading Misery

During the heyday of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Emily Bazar of the Center for Health Reporting kept track of how Covered California, the ACA’s wholly owned subsidiary, actually performed. As she noted, Covered California wasted millions on promotion, handed out lucrative deals to cronies, and its $454 million computer system was dysfunctional. Last year Bazar showed how, despite skyrocketing premiums, Covered California dropped 2,000 pregnant women from coverage, causing them to lose their doctors and miss key prenatal appointments.

Earlier this year, Bazar reported that the state’s vaunted health exchange sent incorrect tax information to the health plans, which led to “higher premiums than consumers initially anticipated,” and people also “owed more out of pocket than they originally thought.” Bazar had already charted how Obamacare hiked premiums 13.2 percent, and canceled policies when people reported changes in income. As a result, many Californians did not get the tax credits they they sought. Covered California may have helped “multitudes” apply for health insurance, Bazar wrote, but “it also is responsible for countless glitches and widespread consumer misery.” So how is it performing now?

Emily Bazar, now with Kaiser Health News, warns that Anthem Blue Cross is pulling out of a large swath of California’s individual market, “forcing hundreds of thousands of consumers to find new plans.” Rate hikes average 12.3 percent and “silver-level” plans “will bear an additional 12.4 percent average surcharge.” Doctor’s networks are smaller and smaller all the time, and “if you are in the middle of treatment for a complex medical condition and lose your insurer, you may have options.” But then, you might not have options. So for all its lofty promises, Covered California still works best as a misery index.

The ACA was essentially a statist coup camouflaged in a white coat. In this plan, you get only the health care the government wants you to have. The same is true for the so-called “single player” scheme, better known as government monopoly health care.



Hollowed-out blue chips are the next subprime

Subprime mortgages caused much of the 2008 financial crisis by defaulting in much greater concentrations than the experts expected. The next financial crisis is likely to be caused by a similar disaster that surprises the experts. I have an excellent candidate: Fortune 500 companies that have been repurchasing their shares like maniacs for a decade, and in many cases have left themselves with negative net worth. In a major recession, when their business drops off and their cash flow turns negative, they will only need a breath of adverse wind to default. Like the subprime mortgages, once a few major companies default, the rest, with fragile credit structures, will fall like dominoes.

There are two mechanisms by which the balance sheets of major companies have been hollowed out: overpriced acquisitions and share repurchases. Both are products of a decade of interest rates held far below their natural level, which have abominably skewed the economy’s allocation of resources.

In the case of overpriced acquisitions, even companies that make a low return appear attractive purchases if you can borrow at a negative real cost to finance their acquisition. Share repurchases meanwhile are more attractive than dividends because they goose the value of management’s stock options. If long term money can be borrowed at 3% on a tax-deductible basis, then it makes sense to go on buying the company’s shares up to 33 times earnings, even if there is no earnings growth to be had.

The effect on balance sheets of the two bad practices is significantly different. In the case of acquisitions, the accountants make the acquirer record a “goodwill” item reflecting the difference between the price paid for the company acquired and the value of its- assets. In the 1970s and 1980s, that goodwill item could be taken as reflecting real value. Much of the assets’ value in the books reflected construction and acquisition costs from decades earlier, so in a time of high inflation, when stock prices were not extended, acquirers generally did not pay much more than the true value of assets.

Now the “goodwill” item reflects genuine water, in the nineteenth century sense of that term. Nineteenth century investors, mostly in railroads, were very concerned at promoters “watering” the stock – issuing shares at a price far above net asset value – because they knew that railways could be replicated at the same cost, or even somewhat less (since some survey and other costs might be common). If your competitor had issued less stock than you to construct the same route, he would have lower costs, because he would have to pay fewer dividends and/or less debt interest.

In industrial companies, the “watering” principle does not apply so rigidly; industrial companies often have patented technologies, marketing networks or business relationships that cannot easily be replicated. Nevertheless, if you buy $1 of assets for $2, and finance the $2 by debt, you are still in trouble in a recession. Gold miners have seen this problem recently; a few of them have been bankrupted not by operating losses but by goodwill write-offs that destroyed their balance sheets.

Goodwill at least arguably has some value. However, what remains when you have borrowed money to repurchase stock has no value at all. In that situation, your stockholders’ equity has been eaten away and you have literally nothing to show for it. In good years, earnings per share are increased, because there are fewer shares outstanding. In bad years, if you lack capital you will find it very difficult to finance yourself. If cash flow and earnings falter, potential creditors will take a suddenly skeptical look at the infinitely leveraged balance sheet and shy away.

The Fortune 500’s problem is that the period of funny money and slow growth has lasted so long. For a year or two, if profits look good, you can buy back stock worth 150% of earnings and make some overpriced acquisitions, and the hit to the balance sheet will only be moderate. But if you keep on doing it for close to a decade, you will run out of equity.

The Fortune 500 companies that are in this difficulty (and not all of them are) can be divided into two groups. The acquirers have eaten away their stockholders’ equity through overpriced acquisitions; they still have a positive book net worth, but a negative tangible net worth. Their fate during a deep downturn will be determined by how much of that goodwill must be written off through “impairment of value” and whether net worth remains positive after doing so.

The second group, who have destroyed their shareholders’ equity by repurchasing shares, often worth several times their earnings, will have only moderate amounts of goodwill, and negative net worth even including intangible assets. If their business turns down substantially, they are in trouble from Day 1.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blame a dithering Congress, not Trump, for Democratic wins

After a hotly contested — and highly expensive — 2017 election cycle, the Democrats have taken the governor’s mansions in both Virginia and New Jersey. In both cases, it was a sweeping victory, with Ralph Northam winning nearly 54 percent of the Virginia vote and Ryan Murphy winning 56 percent of the New Jersey vote.

Contrary to what the mainstream media would have you believe, this was not a referendum on President Trump. This was a warning shot to congressional Republicans. Congressional Republicans have shown themselves unable to deliver. After running for years on promises of a wholesale repeal of ObamaCare and a replacement of it with a patient-centered, free market alternative, they couldn’t even get enough consensus to pass the “skinny repeal.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Republicans failed to win the day. Why would voters turn out for a party that can’t keep its promises? Why would conservatives support leaders who are utterly indifferent to skyrocketing premiums and crippling taxes? Why back a group as disorganized and duplicitous as today’s Republican party?

And why on earth would Virginia conservatives back Ed Gillespie? When conservatives chose Donald Trump in 2016, they were rejecting the seamy, swampy insider politics that have dominated D.C. for far too long and opting instead for an outsider and an innovator who would shake things up.

But Ed Gillespie is just the kind of politician voters rejected in 2016. He’s been a lobbyist; he’s been a chairman of the Republican National Convention; and he’s been a counselor for the Bush White House. All voters had to do was look at his resume to know exactly what they were getting: more carve outs for insider interests, more personal politics and favoritism, and more elitist interference. Conservative voters deserved better options than what they got this November — and they know it.

This election should be a wake-up call for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Americans won’t tolerate delay and dithering any longer. They want a party that has a vision for America and the drive to see it through. Unless Republican leadership can convince citizens that they are this party, they’re looking at a bloodbath in 2018. Conservative voters will stay home, and liberals and moderates will flock to the polls to vote Ryan, McConnell and all other Republicans out of office.

If Republicans want to keep their seats, they need to act. They need to deliver a tax plan that gets rid of special favors for special interests, that cuts rates for businesses, families and individuals, and that brings American companies back home. They need to repeal and replace ObamaCare, once and for all. They need to bring federal spending under control and start hacking away at our $20 trillion-dollar debt. And they need to ensure three percent growth or higher.

This — and only this — will secure their seats in 2018. When Americans start finding more and more money in their wallets, when tax day arrives and they can finish their returns in a matter of minutes, when they aren’t steamrolled by health care costs, and when they can quickly find well-paying jobs, they’ll vote Republican.

Until then, my bet is on the Democrats — although I certainly hope I’m proven wrong. If I’m proven right, however, and Republicans lose the House and the Senate in 2018, you can bet they’ll try to blame Trump. But the fact of the matter is that, ultimately, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.



An ICE Agent's Quest for Justice

By Michelle Malkin

Victor Avila is a survivor. Soft-spoken but iron-willed, he dedicated his life to law enforcement and to his country. Yet, the feds are now fighting tooth and nail to bury the full truth about the 2011 ambush by Los Zetas drug cartel thugs in Mexico that left him gravely wounded and his partner, special agent Jaime Zapata, dead.

This week, two of the Mexican gangsters convicted in the horror on Highway 57 between Mexico City and Monterrey were sentenced to double life terms in prison.

“HSI Special Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were in Mexico to protect and serve our country when they were ambushed by these ruthless criminals, who will now spend the rest of their lives in a prison cell,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco announced on Monday.

“This case serves as a reminder that if you harm a U.S. agent, the U.S. government will pursue you to the ends of the earth to ensure that you are brought to justice.”

Five others received lesser sentences of 35, 34, 30, 28 and 12 years for murder and attempted murder, which Avila on Tuesday called a “complete and utter disappointment.” As he described in his victim impact statement, “I was shot in three places and had shrapnel and glass imbedded in my body in too many places to count. Not only did I have to undergo multiple surgeries to remove the bullets and shrapnel and stitch together my shredded muscles and skin, but I also had to learn to walk again.”

Avila’s wife, who also worked for the government, lost her job. The ICE agent’s health care costs and other bills related to the attack’s aftermath piled up, leaving the family nearly $200,000 in debt and his wife and two children traumatized. “To this day, the government has not reimbursed my out-of-pocket expenses related to my work injuries,” he told U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth.

Another disgraceful indignity: This week, the feds refused to cover the Avilas’ $3,000 in travel and lodging costs from Texas to DC for the sentencing hearing, but did provide humanitarian parole for several of the Zetas’ family members from Mexico to attend the trial.

Even more disappointing, however, is the callousness of Beltway bureaucrats obstructing the Avilas’ and Zapatas’ search for answers. The families want to know who ordered the agents to travel through Zetas-infested territory unprotected to pick up equipment from another agent; why their superiors ignored a State Department security warning banning travel by U.S. personnel on Highway 57; and what the Obama administration hid as evidence mounted that the semi-automatic weapons ad handguns used in the ambush came from one of its botched gun-walking operations that echoed the infamous and deadly Operation Fast and Furious scheme.

“The significant importance here,” Avila explained on an upcoming episode of my show, “Michelle Malkin Investigates,” is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “had identified the arms traffickers, had them under surveillance, and had the opportunity to arrest them months before, and did nothing. They still allowed these individuals … the Osorio brothers, to continue trafficking in arms, and allowing the weapons to be walked south into Mexico. Once the weapons went south into Mexico, there is no trace of them. They were long gone. They were lost.”

While the feds have paid lip service to Zapata’s sacrifice and Avila’s courage, their actions have administered a collective slap in the face. The families’ public records requests have been stymied every step of the way. Not a single Justice Department official has been punished for President Obama’s deadly gun-walking failures. Instead, Avila was ostracized, transferred against his will and issued a “3R” letter to “resign, retire or relocate.”

As Avila’s wife, Claudia, told my program: “He had to give up his passion … he loved his job. And the government ended that. I think more than anything we feel betrayed. We feel like complete outcasts … Very unfair. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that Victor was this criminal person that did something very wrong in his line of duty and is being punished for it. I mean, we’re outraged. We’re very disheartened. The government has most definitely turned their back on us. And not only us but the Zapata family. I mean, they lost their son. They’re still trying to find answers; they are overwhelmed.”

Where is Congress? Where is President Trump? True justice for the Avila and Zapata families requires full accountability and real consequences — not just for the triggermen but for the crapweasels who enabled them.



Bernie Sanders goes to Canada and turns a blind eye to their failing health system

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., traveled to Canada in late October. His goal? To highlight the supposed benefits of that nation's single-payer healthcare system. "How is it that here in Canada, they provide quality health care to all people ... and they do it for half the cost?" he asked rhetorically.

If Sanders took off his rose-colored glasses, he'd see that Canada doesn't provide "quality" care to all people. And it only keeps costs low by rationing who can see doctors and obtain treatment.

That's hardly a model Americans should envy.

The Vermont socialist is willfully oblivious to the Canadian system's shortcomings. He went so far as to deny "there is any debate that the quality of care is as good or better than the United States."

If Canada's healthcare system was really as top-notch as Sanders claims, why do so many Canadians flee the country to obtain treatment? A Fraser Institute report from this summer finds that more than 63,000 Canadians sought medical treatment elsewhere in the world in 2016.

Could it have something to do with Canada's atrociously long wait times? When Canadian patients receive referrals from general practitioners, the median wait time is 20 weeks until specialists treat them. Here in the United States, waiting five months for treatment is unheard-of.

The problem isn't limited to specialist care. One-in-five Canadians must wait longer than a week to see a family doctor. About three-in-ten wait more than four hours at emergency departments. The crisis is so widespread that #CanadaWAITS is trending on Twitter.

Canada's rationed care is the predictable result of a healthcare system funded and administered by government bureaucrats. Americans mustn't let Sanders fool them into adopting a system that guarantees free, universal access to a waitlist.





Compare and contrast


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Monday, November 13, 2017

The best hope for world peace

Mr Trump obviously gets on well with Mr Putin and enjoys talking to him.  With its stupid sanctions, Congress has done what it can to foster cold war with Russia so the world is fortunate to have a real statesman in  charge of the U.S. administration.  The entente between Trump and Putin at the very least ensures good communication between them and that ensures that no mistakes will be made between them

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shook hands Saturday in Da Nang, Vietnam for the second time in two days during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit.

Trump entered the summit meeting room and walked straight to his Russian counterpart, who was already seated at the room's giant round table.

Putin stood and the two shook hands and spoke briefly, with Trump smiling and doing most of the talking.

Later, the two heads of state chatted before posing for a 'family photo' with all the other presidents and prime ministers.

The two presidents stood next to each other Friday night for a less formal group photo, shaking hands before waving at onlookers as shutters snapped.



Prince Charles suggested the 'influx of foreign Jews' was partly to blame for unrest in the Middle East and asked who will stand up and take on 'Jewish lobby' in America in controversial letter

He is just a fool.  Coming on top of his love for the global warming fraud, this confirms it. I have always defended him as being well meaning but I can no longer justify that.  And I am (and will remain) a keen monarchist.  His eldest son will re-establish the sterling reputation so outstanding in the Queen. For the sake of the monarchy, Charles should not take up the crown when the times comes but pass that duty over to Prince William

Prince Charles was fiercely criticised last night after it emerged he once urged the US to ‘take on the Jewish lobby’ – and blamed ‘the influx of foreign Jews’ for causing unrest in the Middle East.

Writing to his close friend Laurens van der Post in 1986, the Prince makes a startling assessment of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He argues it was the exodus of European Jews in the middle of the last century that ‘helped to cause the great problems’.

He goes on to say terrorism in the region will only end when its causes are eliminated.

He then expresses the hope a US President will find the courage to stand up to the American ‘Jewish lobby’.

The term ‘Jewish lobby’ is considered by many to be anti-Semitic – suggesting wealthy Jews in the US operate behind the scenes to exercise undue influence over government policy.

Other high-profile figures have been heavily criticised for using the term.

Last night, Stephen Pollard, influential editor of The Jewish Chronicle, said: ‘To me this is the most astonishing element of the Prince’s letter. The “Jewish lobby” is one of the anti-Semitic themes that have endured for centuries. It is this myth there are these very powerful Jews who control foreign policy or the media or banks or whatever.’

Mr Pollard described the letter as ‘jaw-droppingly shocking’, adding: ‘That they [the Prince’s comments] come from the heir to the throne is unsettling, to put it mildly.’

While the letter is inflammatory, there is no suggestion Charles holds anti-Semitic views.

He has many prominent Jewish friends and in 2013 became the first Royal to attend a chief rabbi’s inauguration ceremony. In a speech that year, he expressed concern at the apparent rise of anti-Semitism in Britain.

In the past it has been reported that the Prince is privately critical of US policy in the Middle East, with one diplomatic source accusing him of having ‘fairly dodgy views on Israel’.

At the same time, he is seen as a defender of Islam, with one historian noting that no other major Western figure has as high a standing in the Muslim world.

It has also been suggested he has pro-Palestinian leanings, a perception the letter appears to support.

The Prince’s candid letter surfaced in a public archive. It was written on November 24, 1986, immediately after an official visit the then 38-year-old Prince made to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar with Princess Diana.

The Prince’s reference in the letter to the influx of European Jews also caused dismay.

It is not clear if he is referring to immigration before or after the Second World War, or both. Mr Pollard said: ‘It is the absolute classic Arab explanation of the problems in the Middle East.

'And it is what everyone has always said the British aristocracy actually thinks – the idea that Jews were some kind of foreigners who had no real place in Israel until we decided to make it their homeland. Historically it is nonsense and it’s quite stunning when it comes from the heir to the throne.’

A senior Israeli diplomatic source said last night: ‘He [Charles] was travelling around the Gulf states [just before he wrote the controversial letter], which in those years were very anti-Israel. It seems he was presented with a narrative in a very convincing way.’

Earlier this month, Britain marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the document that paved the way for the state of Israel, with a gala dinner in London attended by Theresa May and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 1993, Charles delivered what was then considered to be the most pro-Islamic speech ever made by a member of the Royal Family. He said: ‘Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity is poorer for having lost.’

In 2003, it was reported the Prince had not been to the US for the previous six years on Foreign Office advice, largely because of his criticism of US policy in the Middle East.

A diplomatic source said at the time the Prince had ‘in American terms and international terms, fairly dodgy views on Israel. He thinks American policy in the Middle East is complete madness.’

In 2007, leaked emails between senior Clarence House staff put Charles at the centre of a row about the Royals’ attitude towards the Jewish state.

Exchanges between Sir Michael Peat, the Prince’s then principal secretary, and Clive Alderton, Sir Michael’s deputy, contained apparently disparaging remarks about Israel.

Over the years, the Prince has forged a close relationship with the Saudi royal family. But no Royal has ever visited Israel in an official capacity. Officials say it is because there is no permanent peace deal in the region.



Outsiders vs. Insiders: 2017’s lessons – To ‘win’ more, Republicans need to man-up and change

I see the results discussed below as a reproof to the small band of Senate RINOs who blocked Trump's agenda.  The results show that their actions did nothing for the GOP but were a boon to the Democrats.  Trump needs to show that he can deliver on behalf of the GOP and they have blocked that -- JR

What happened?  It’s a legitimate question coming two days after Democrats dominated the 2017 elections. Granted gubernatorial contests were held only in two Mid-Atlantic states (New Jersey and Virginia) this year – both either solid blue or trending blue – but the results pretty much equaled a whitewash for Republicans in their first state-level test of the Donald Trump era.

Not only did Democrat candidates for governor win convincingly in both cases, by all appearances the minority party picked up enough seats in the Virginia House of Delegates to at least pull even in the chamber. When coupled with the GOP’s narrow two-seat majority in the state senate, Virginia could now be the most evenly partisan divided state in the country (with Democrats holding all the executive offices, of course).

The media narrative of the drubbing was about what you’d expect from the chattering class – voters rejected Trump; they were fed up with the Republicans’ “negative” tone; people revolted against racism… you know, standard stuff for the liberal journalism profession.

Tunneling a little deeper below the surface there is some evidence that the Democrats, at least in Virginia, pulled out all the stops to win when they had to. They went low and it doesn’t look like they’re ashamed of it either.

Charles Hurt wrote in the Washington Times, “Over the past 40 years, only once has Virginia elected a governor from the same party that won the White House the previous year. With Republican Donald Trump in the White House, Mr. Northam, nee [Jim] Crow, was all but guaranteed to win this off-year election in a walk.

“This trend has only intensified in the favor of Democrats in recent elections as the state turns bluer and bluer because of population in the swampy northern part of the state. Add to that the unique distaste for the government-bashing Mr. Trump, an outsider who is loathed by all the swamp creatures who commute into the District from Northern Virginia.

As the federal government grows, so do the Virginia/Washington D.C. suburbs. Even in my home of Prince William County the voters kicked out long-serving principled conservative Delegate Bob Marshall in favor of what is probably the first transgender elected official in the country (at least at the state-level). Daniel “Danica” Roem won with 54 percent of the district 13 vote.

But judging by the number of seats Democrats pulled-in statewide, it wasn’t just a transgender thing on Tuesday. This election was a sure sign that something isn’t quite right with the state Republican Party. Democrats not only portrayed poor nice guy Ed Gillespie as a child-threatening racist, they also firmly pinned the establishment label to the former lobbyist’s lapel. “Enron Ed” they called him in several TV ads.

Ralph Northam will take over for outgoing Clinton buddy Governor Terry McAuliffe in January. The former head of the Democrat National Committee is widely rumored to be considering a run for president in 2020. Carpetbagger McAuliffe likely won’t get far – he’s too closely tied to the Clintons -- but with the clueless Democrats, you never can tell.

Beyond the local matters at stake in this year’s elections it’s clear blame for the GOP’s losses also lies with the national Republican Party, and to some extent, with President Trump himself. Congress’s multiple well-reported failures to pass a promised Obamacare repeal and replace bill gave average voters little reason to choose Republicans two days ago. And Trump’s tweeting habit remains a sore spot for some who might otherwise be inclined to support his agenda.

After what happened this week it’s only natural to lean towards panicking, but it’s probably too early for candidates to completely jump off the Trump bandwagon and start taking up the Gillespie-esque strategy of distancing themselves from the president in order to appeal to those in the so-called “middle” (if there is such a category any more).

While I agree it’s in the Republican Party’s own best interests to pound the healthy economic numbers it shouldn’t be forgotten many of the items on Trump’s agenda have been summarily pushed to the side by party elites who believe they can get away with waffling on immigration, tax cuts and conservative cultural issues and still win elections.

Let’s not leap off the bridge just yet – after all, this was blue-trending Virginia and bluer than blue New Jersey we’re talking about. The GOP is growing stronger in regions such as the Midwest where Trump’s agenda hits home with the citizens. Democrats and the media have turned Virginia into the modern-day battleground over confederate statues and politically correct race issues. I highly doubt the country has wholesale changed in less than a year’s time and likewise taken up the cause of those who want to erase history to appease some political constituency.

If anything, the GOP needs more Trump, not less; or should I clarify, it needs more of Trump’s agenda, not less.

Historic trends usually lead away from the incumbent president in off-year elections. 2017 was no different. There’s plenty of time to “recover” for the GOP, but not if the Congress doesn’t get to work and keep some of its promises. This should be a wake-up call, indeed.

Byron York wrote in the Washington Examiner, “Unlike during the campaign, Trump today has a record as president for voters to evaluate. If the economy were to stumble, he would certainly pay a political price. But what if current trends continue for a while, and the economy stays strong or keeps getting better?

“Should that happen, there's no doubt Trump's adversaries, in Congress and in the press, will focus even more relentlessly on his tone, on the hair-on-fire controversy of the day, in an effort to make voters overlook their general level of satisfaction and oppose Trump, even as their lives improve.”

This already seems to be happening as economic growth is stronger now than it’s been for most of this century and the unemployment numbers are similarly trending positively downward for the GOP. Consumer confidence is sky-high and the stock market keeps setting new records. Americans are feeling good about a lot of things, but still don’t like Trump because of his Twitter “tone.”


Another suggestion:  We should make the District of Columbia include any adjacent county in Maryland and Va and it becomes a state. absurd to let  adjacent VA and MD counties loaded with DC interests control both those states.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Armistice day -- lessons from "Kanzler" Bismarck and General Monash

The 11th day of the 11th month (also known as Remembrance Day and Veterans Day) was originally made memorable because it marked the end of WWI.  And well might it be commemorated.  The war it ended was unbelievably grisly.  It has often been compared to a meat grinder.  And it was pretty much that.  Strong and healthy young men were marched forward ("over the top") into withering machine gun fire.  Most died instantly. It was if their lives did not matter.  They were deliberately kil;led by their own generals.  Both sides did it but Britain's general Haig was most known for it.  He became known as the "Butcher of the Somme"

This strange behaviour was because they could think of no other way of waging war.  An outright charge on the enemy was how wars had been conducted since time immemorial.  That was what you did in a war.  But it was madness in the era of the machine gun and rapid firing field artillery.

One would have thought that manpower would be seen as the ultimate resource in a war and that it should therefore be conserved and carefully used.  It should not be squandered as in the disastrous Somme Offensive.

There was one General who did work to conserve his men:  Australia's General Monash, a son of emigrant German Jews.  As a  Jew he might well have been horrified by the mass deaths Jews had experienced and wanted no more of that.  A small excerpt about him:

"In July 1916 he took charge of the newly raised 3rd Division in northwestern France and in May 1918 became commander of the Australian Corps, at the time the largest corps on the Western Front. The successful Allied attack at the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918, which expedited the end of the war, was planned by Monash and spearheaded by British forces including the Australian and Canadian Corps under Monash and Arthur Currie. Monash is considered one of the best Allied generals of the First World War and the most famous commander in Australian history"

It's an irony that he spoke, read, and wrote German fluently.

And there is another very eminent German who might well have been horrified by mass deaths.  Prussia's "Iron Chancellor" and founder of united Germany, Otto von Bismarck.

One of Bismarck's better known remarks (misquoted by Churchill) was: "Der ganze Balkan ist nicht die gesunden Knochen eines einzigen pommerschen Grenadiers wert"  (The whole of the Balkans is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier).  You can't get more conserving of manpower than that.

Bismarck died in 1898.  Had he lived and ruled a few years longer,  World War I might have been fought very differently, if it was fought at all.  Monash showed what could be done in the field. 

I can't resist a few more quotes from Bismarck:

A little caution outflanks a large cavalry.

What we learn from history is that no one learns from history.

The most significant event of the 20th century will be that the fact that the North Americans speak English.

The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.

The Americans are truly a lucky people. They are bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors and to the east and west by fish.

Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong: it is a geographical expression.


The Navy Swamp Needs Draining Too

From Obama-style social engineering to rampant corruption, the Navy is in trouble.

A scathing Navy report released Nov. 2 reveals that two major collisions — one between the USS Fitzgerald and merchant ship ACX Crystal off the Japanese coast on June 17 that killed 17 sailors and another between the USS John McCain and oil tanker Alnic MC near Singapore on Aug. 20 that killed another 10 — were caused by “fundamental failures to responsibly plan, prepare and execute ship activities to avoid undue operational risk.”

The USS Fitzgerald’s collision was precipitated by a “compilation of failures by leadership and watchstanders,” including lookout crews who “were inattentive, disengaged in developments on the Bridge, and unaware of several nearby vessels.” As a result they “failed to visually differentiate between two vessels in close proximity” while “attempting to cross a highly congested sea lane at night.”

Moreover the Officer of the Deck, the person responsible for safe navigation of the ship, “exhibited poor seamanship by failing to maneuver as required, failing to sound the danger signal and failing to attempt to contact CRYSTAL on Bridge to Bridge radio,” the report states. The officer also failed to “call the Commanding Officer as appropriate and prescribed by Navy procedures to allow him to exercise more senior oversight and judgment of the situation.”

The USS McCain’s collision was an equally damning sequence of errors. Because the person at the helm was having difficulty maintaining course while also adjusting the throttles for speed control, the Commanding Officer “ordered the watch team to divide the duties of steering and throttles.” This unplanned shift “caused confusion in the watch team,” that ultimately led the helmsman to believe the steering mechanism had failed. According to the report, crews attempted to fix the mistake by transferring steering “among various controlling stations four times within the two minutes leading up to the collision.”

Crew members also accidentally decoupled the ship’s two engines, and the two shafts “working opposite to one another in this fashion caused an un-commanded turn to the left.” This error, coupled with “lost situational awareness” on the ship’s bridge, effectively accelerated the McCain’s turn into the Alnic MC.

“The thing that stood out to me was in both situations they had minimal situational awareness,” stated Capt. Rick Hoffman, a retired cruiser captain who reviewed the report for Defense News. “In the case of Fitzgerald, nearly criminal negligence on the part of the bridge watch team. And in neither case did the ship sound five short blasts or raise the general alarm to let anyone know they were in danger.”

Incredibly, there were two additional incidents involving 7th Fleet vessels last year. In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base. In May, the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing boat.

The report minced no words regarding why these incidents occurred: “In each of the four mishaps there were decisions at headquarters that stemmed from a culturally engrained ‘can do’ attitude, and an unrecognized accumulation of risk that resulted in ships not ready to safely operate at sea.”

Since the collisions, eight senior leaders have been relieved of duty, and members of both ships’ bridge and Combat Information Center watch teams have also received administrative actions. And while the Navy does not make these actions public, they may include career-killing letters of reprimand. Moreover, if the continuing investigation demands additional punishment, it will be forthcoming.

“We are dangerously underinvesting in our military,” insisted Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) after reading the report. “Training, readiness and maintenance are hit the earliest — and tragic errors like this are the canary-in-the-mine warning bells.”

While true in some respects, Sasse’s assertion — essentially that basic competence requires increased funding levels — rings exceedingly hollow, especially when one remembers that Barack Obama’s Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, made political correctness one of his primary objectives.

Marines in Congress from both parties criticized Mabus, also the former Democrat governor of Mississippi, for force-feeding co-ed training on the Marine Corps. They viewed the move as retaliation following the Corps request for an exemption from allowing women in combat. That request was based on studies showing sex integration would raise the risks of casualties. Mabus also attempted — and ultimately failed — to make all service job titles “gender neutral.”

And funding has nothing to do with a massive corruption scandal encompassing as many as 440 Navy personnel, current and retired — including at least 60 admirals — under investigation for their involvement with Malaysian contractor Leonard “Fat Leonard” Glenn Francis. Francis allegedly provided Navy personnel with cash kickbacks and “wild times” in return for receiving classified information and contracts.

Contracts with whom? The Navy’s 7th Fleet.

In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud that included scamming the Navy out of approximately $35 million. He remains in jail in San Diego awaiting sentencing on Dec. 1. In the meantime, he is cooperating with the DOJ, which has already filed criminal charges against 28 individuals, including two admirals.

The Navy is enacting some after-the-fact reforms following the acknowledgment in September that budget constraints, 100-hour workweeks, extended deployments, and training and maintenance delays have severely taxed the nation’s fleet and personnel. But top leaders speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee refused to directly tie the quartet of accidents to those problems.

“These collisions, along with other similar incidents over the past year, indicated a need for the Navy to undertake a review of wider scope to better determine systemic causes,” the report states.

The past year? On Jan. 12, 2016, two Navy riverine command boats were captured by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). A Navy report on that incident also cited “failed leadership at multiple levels from the tactical to the operational” as the reasons for the debacle.

What kind of leadership? The unidentified commander in charge of the boats “opted to surrender rather than fight back, citing later fears that a confrontation could endanger the Obama administration’s efforts to lock in a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program,” The Washington Times reported.

“Clearly, under President Obama’s plan to fundamentally change America, the degradation of our military forces was a key element,” asserts U.S. Navy Admiral and former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet James A. Lyons. “The capitulation of our military leadership to accept these mandates was more than shocking, as it was a manifestation of the corrupt ‘political correctness’ mentality run amok.”

Thus the ongoing effort to embrace progressive dogma proceeds, even if military readiness and people lives are sacrificed as a result.

A sailor aboard the USS Shiloh, one of the Navy’s missile cruisers monitoring North Korea, told an anonymous Navy survey everything Americans need to know. “I just pray we never have to shoot down a missile from North Korea, because then our ineffectiveness will really show,” the sailor wrote.

As the aforementioned incidents indicate, it’s already showing. Thus it behooves the Trump administration to drain this particular swamp ASAP. National security cannot be held hostage to social engineering and political correctness.

And commanders in every branch of the military who disagree should be sent packing.



Chicago, land of gun control, hits homicide highs — and blames Trump

Five-hundred-and-ninety-three — that’s the number of homicides Chicago has seen this year so far. Oh, apologies. That’s the number of homicides the gun controlling city of Chicago has seen this year so far.

You’d think it time to admit the anti-Second Amendment atmosphere isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least in terms of curbing gun-related violence — yes? Nope. The city just came off a near-800 homicide count for last year. The mantra seems to be: Let’s focus on the positive.

Nevertheless, Trump’s at least partly to blame for Chicago’s high homicide rates — at least in the eyes of the left-leaning media.  More, from the Tribune: “Trump doesn’t care about the daily carnage on our city’s streets. Remember during the campaign, when he pledged he would solve everything, when he hinted of some magical police officer here who told him he knew just what to do to solve Chicago’s decades-long violence problems? There’s no magical police officer. Trump has done nothing. Trump will do nothing.”

The question is, Chicago: What will you do? Apparently — criticize.

More HERE 


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