Friday, November 24, 2017

How Fewer Obamacare Options Hurt a 4-Year-Old

The Washington Post recently published a heart-wrenching story of two Virginia families caught up with the consequences of a damaged, declining, and increasingly noncompetitive health insurance market.

Little Collette Briggs, 4, suffers from an aggressive case of leukemia, and the Briggs family for two years has depended upon the medical professionals at a hospital that specializes in pediatric cancer care.

The family’s insurer has withdrawn from the market, and the remaining insurer has no contract with that hospital. Narrow networks of doctors and hospitals have been a common feature of health insurance offerings in the declining and increasingly noncompetitive Obamacare insurance exchanges.

The Briggs family misfortune is hardly an isolated phenomenon. As the Post reported, “It is not uncommon for insurers to cut larger research-based hospitals from its plans on the exchanges as a way to cut costs. By narrowing their networks, carriers avoid paying the higher rates that academic medical centers charge.”

By virtue of its flawed design and inflexible regulations, the evolution of narrow health insurance networks—restricted insurance contracts with doctors and hospitals—was, among other big bugs, baked into Obamacare from its inception.

The historical record is clear. Examining the initial data in 2014, the first full year of Obamacare’s implementation, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the plans in the health insurance exchanges nationwide had “narrower networks” than CBO analysts had anticipated, and the plans in the exchanges were also imposing “tighter management” on the use of medical services, compared with employer-sponsored health insurance.

In 2015, Avalere, a prominent research organization, reported that Obamacare plans included 34 percent fewer medical providers than the average for commercial private health insurance.

Likewise, researchers with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that among the “silver plans”—the benchmark plans, or the most popular plans on the Obamacare exchanges—41 percent of them had small or “extra small” networks of medical professionals.

Restricting the availability of medical providers or services is just one way for insurers to stay in these so-called Obamacare “markets.” These “markets” are the way they are, however—beset by soaring costs and declining competition—because of Washington’s deliberate political decisions.

Obamacare transfers vast regulatory authority from the states to the federal government. The federal government is mandating the kind and level of health benefits Americans must get, the levels of coverage Americans must have, and the array of insurance rules that govern “private” health plans in the Obamacare “markets,” including the rating rules for insurance.

This complex set of federal regulations drove up the costs of health insurance coverage for millions of Americans in the individual and small group markets.

Once again, the historical record on costs is clear: Compared with 2013, insurance premiums for 27-year-olds in 11 states more than doubled, and in 13 states, premiums for 50-year-olds increased by more than 50 percent.

In 2015, premium increases slowed, but in 2016, they climbed again. For 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services projected an average national premium increase of 25 percent in the exchanges.

The result: Younger and healthier persons are staying away from coverage in the exchanges in droves. With an older and sicker insurance pool, costs soar.

For next year, by the way, Health and Human Services is projecting that the average increase for the “silver plans” will be 37 percent.

On choice and competition, the historical record is also indisputable. In 2014, Kaiser Family Foundation analysts declared, “The long-term success of the exchanges and other [Affordable Care Act] provisions governing market rules will be measured in part by how well they facilitate market competition, providing consumers with a diversity of choices and, hopefully, lower prices for insurance than would have otherwise been the case.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation analysts were dead right on that one.

Today, being able to pick among a broad choice of health plans and providers is, for millions of Americans, rapidly becoming a rarity—and not just for the beleaguered Briggs family in Virginia. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of insurers offering coverage in the nation’s individual markets declined by 29 percent.

By 2017, consumers in 70 percent of U.S. counties had only one or two insurers offering coverage in the exchanges. By 2018, it is likely to be worse.

The verdict is in. President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress created this mess—from the very beginning. The soaring costs, crazy deductibles, declining choice and competition, along with the increasingly narrow networks, are a direct result of bad policy.

That’s why the Senate needs to get back to work and quickly undo Obamacare’s damage, allow the growth of functional insurance markets, and provide millions of Americans with more choice, a broader range of health care options, and lower costs.



The Billionaire Socialists

Earlier this week, I alerted you about a confab of billionaire socialists who gathered last weekend for a secret meeting at the posh La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California.

While it may seem that "billionaire socialists" is an oxymoron, it's really not. The fact is, politically and financially, George Soros, Tom Steyer, Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg — the big four antagonists of Liberty — share an insatiable narcissistic quest for power — including centralized government power.

The event, "Beyond #Resistance: Reclaiming our Progressive Future," had an attendance price tag of at least $200,000, though the big four are devoting billions toward their quest for statist power. Recall that just last month Soros transferred $18 billon — "the bulk of his wealth" — into his Open Society Foundation. He may get a tax deduction but there is nothing charitable about his objectives in opposition to Liberty.



Big government, too big to fail banks, and big oil are coming together once again to stick it to the little guy

Isaac Newton’s third law states, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Sir Isaac must have never been in government, because a little-known rule in the Environmental Protection Agency is having a ripple effect across the nation, and is likely to hit consumers in their pocketbook. The EPA must now act to save thousands of jobs across the country and billions in consumer costs.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a program requiring fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum amount of renewable fuels, such as ethanol. The program was originated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. To track the renewable fuel mandate a renewable identification number (RIN) is assigned to each batch of biofuel. The RINs go towards the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), which are the targets for each refiner or importer of petroleum-based gasoline or diesel fuel.

The problem is the rules were written for refiners that have the capability to blend renewable fuels with regular fuel, like gas, diesel, and jet fuel. Every time a renewable fuel is mixed with nonrenewable, or fuel is imported already blended with renewables; the company gets a RINs credit from the government.

Unfortunately, many refiners do not have the capability to blend. These refiners must purchase separated RINs. Enter the Wall Street speculators.

The speculators are buying the RINs from the blending companies and driving up the price. In 2013, a 20-fold price increase in RINs was attributed to speculators stockpiling the phony currency. This was never the intent of the rule. The rule was designed to make sure renewable fuels were blended with nonrenewable fuels, but as usual Wall Street speculators started manipulating the market, after all, they did a great job with the housing market.

RINs have become a multibillion-dollar burden on refiners and a tax on U.S. consumers. The Oil and Gas Journal estimated U.S. refiners paid $2.2 billion for RIN credits in 2016.

The RINs scam has already forced the only refinery in Delaware to close its doors in 2009, sending hundreds of workers to the unemployment line. Jeff Warmann, president of Monroe Energy, warned his refinery might be next. Monroe Energy is an independent energy company with a refinery outside Philadelphia. His company spent more than $200 million last year on RINs, “That’s more than we paid for the refinery,” he says.

Another Pennsylvania refiner being slammed by the RINs scam is Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The company runs the largest refinery on the US Atlantic coast, refining 310,000 barrels per day. The company now spends more on RINs than its total payroll.

Contrary to popular belief, refineries operate on razor-thin margins. Many refiners are on the verge of bankruptcy and laying off hundreds of workers because of the simultaneous burden of the RINs scam and thin margins.

The fight has brought together strange bedfellows. Some of the most conservative Senators are on the same side as northeastern union workers and liberal politicians. If Governor John Carney of Delaware, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, the United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) can all get on the same page about an issue, you know the problem is important.

The refineries are not fighting the biofuel mandate; they are fighting the way in which the program is administered. Changing the EPA regulations that require the big fuel blenders and global energy companies that create the credits are also responsible for using the credits is the right thing to do. The EPA established a competitive advantage for some while disadvantaging others. It is time for the EPA to rectify the situation for the sake of good paying blue collar jobs and the consumer’s pocketbook.



Nearly half of white American poll respondents living in the South feel like they’re under attack, a new Winthrop University poll found

Maybe because they are

Forty-six percent of white Southerners polled said they agree or strongly agree that white people are under attack in the U.S. More than three-fourths of black respondents said they believe racial minorities are under attack.

And 30 percent of all respondents in the poll agreed when asked if America needs to protect and preserve its white European heritage. More than half of respondents disagreed with the statement.

Forty percent of respondents said they believed that Confederate statues should remain as is, while nearly a quarter said a plaque should be added to contextualize the statue.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the statues should be moved to a museum. Nearly half of black respondents said the statues should be in museums, and a quarter said they should be completely removed.

Southerners overall said that racism is the most important issue facing the U.S., and black respondents were twice as likely to say it is the most important issue.



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 23, 2017

"Incidents of inappropriate sexual behavior may exist throughout the progressive community"

The shadowy liberal Democracy Alliance donors club created new guidelines on sexual behavior for participants of its posh California conference last week, including that no "promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors" will be permitted, according to a document obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

On the first day of the Democracy Alliance's fall investment conference, held last week at the La Costa Resort and attended by both high-profile Democratic politicians and big money donors, the group's board of directors resolved that it would set new standards for sexual behavior given the rash of recent stories of abuse by people "in a position of authority or power over another."

"The Board recognized that incidents of inappropriate behavior may exist throughout the progressive community, including at the Democracy Alliance," the resolution states.

The board of directors created a "statement of core values," which can be read below along with the resolution, and asked management to spend the next month exploring additional ways to reduce the chance of inappropriate sexual behavior at Democracy Alliance events.

The core values were stated in a "program participant agreement" that threatens attendees with removal if they fail to "uphold these high standards of integrity and professionalism."

First on the list of the "high standards of integrity and professionalism" is a rule forbidding "unwanted sexual advances," "bullying of a sexual nature," and subjecting others to "the explicit or implicit promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors."

Democracy Alliance ‘Program Participant Agreement' on sexual assault by Washington Free Beacon on Scribd

Also prohibited is "behavior that is verbally or physically unwelcome" and refraining from bullying, ridicule, and any personal attacks during disagreements.

Attendees are also alerted to "not mistreat others for any reason, including race, color, creed, sex, religion, marital status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, sexual orientation or gender identity, military service, personal appearance, or family responsibility."

Attendees were told to report any rule violations to the Democracy Alliance's executive vice president Kim Anderson or its general counsel Deborah Ashford.

A representative for the Democracy Alliance did not respond to an inquiry into whether there was an incident that sparked the decision to outline new guidelines or whether any inappropriate behavior was reported after the new guidelines were laid out.

The board's resolution indicates that the decision to write new behavior standards was due to the recent string of sexual assault accusations that have been reported in the media, such as the many against Harvey Weinstein, a major Democratic donor.

"Recent events reported in the media have caused businesses and organizations to focus renewed attention on issues of sexual and other forms of harassment, particularly but not limited to circumstances where one person is in a position of authority or power over another."

The board added that the Democracy Alliance "must examine and refine its own policies, processes, programs, and culture," as well as "undergo continuous self-reflection and improvement."

"As a community of progressive leaders, we accept our responsibility to create a culture and environment that is consistent with these values," it wrote in the statement of core values.

The activities and attendees of Democracy Alliance conferences remain shrouded in secrecy. The group stepped up security at the resort after the Washington Free Beacon published the schedule for the conference and a list of many of its attendees.



Trump's Justice League

The president's list of five possible Supreme Court picks is as impressive as we have now come to expect.

One of the reasons (for some, the only reason) that millions of people voted for Donald Trump just over a year ago was because he promised to choose people to fill judicial seats who were conservative originalists and would thus “support and defend” our Constitution. So far, he has delivered on that promise — and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Trump recently announced a list of five more candidates that he will consider for the next Supreme Court vacancy, and that list is very much in keeping with his promise. This is very troubling for leftists because Trump has already filled twice as many federal judiciary seats on the lower courts as his predecessor did by this point in his term.

“The new list of candidates for the high court includes Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative stalwart on the high-profile U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit who clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and Judge Amy Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, an outspoken opponent of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion,” reports The Washington Times. “Rounding out the list are Judge Britt Grant of the Georgia Supreme Court, Judge Kevin Newsom of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick. Judge Grant previously clerked for Judge Kavanaugh on the appeals court.”

These individuals have been hailed by conservatives for having a fantastic track record of judicial experience and are each welcome additions to Trump’s list. Instead of being activists or despots, they are just the kind of constitutionalist judges we so very badly need today. Obviously, there are currently no vacancies on the High Court, but there has been speculation that extreme leftist Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and wild card Justice Anthony Kennedy are set to retire soon. Better not hold your breath on Ginsberg — she’ll probably hold out just to prevent Trump from replacing her with a conservative.

As for Justice Kennedy, however, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru writes, “It is sometimes thought that Kennedy is more likely to retire if he thinks he will be replaced by someone of whom he thinks highly.” That person could be Kavanaugh, who is the most well-known on the new list of judicial candidates. As the Times notes, Kavanaugh also clerked for Kennedy and is thought of highly by his former boss. The only down side for Kavanaugh is that, at the age of 52, he is the oldest judge on the list.

Trump’s ability to shape the federal courts got a little easier as well following Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s decision to curtail one of the last legislative limits on a president’s power. Last week, Grassley, as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reined in a tradition that empowered senators to block federal appeals court nominees from their home state.

This move, referred to by members of the Senate as a “blue slip,” is sort of like an individual senator’s filibuster, and Democrats are now decrying its removal as a dirty tactic. Remember all the Democrat outcry when former Majority Leader Harry Reid abolished the filibuster for judicial nominees (except for SCOTUS) for the entire Senate? Neither do we.

On this, Grassley stated, “The Democrats seriously regret that they abolished the filibuster, as I warned them they would. But they can’t expect to use the blue-slip courtesy in its place. That’s not what the blue slip is meant for.”

Nevertheless, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is crying foul. “Taken together,” she complained, “it’s clear that Republicans want to remake our courts by jamming through President Trump’s nominees as quickly as possible.” She might, after all her years in the Senate, actually be correct, though she’s complaining about a feature, not a bug.

Aside from the courts, some say Trump has done a poor job filling other vacancies within the federal government. In this case, it’s not solely the Democrats’ fault for delaying Trump in filling these vacancies — rather, Trump has either not found willing and qualified individuals or he has just decided not to fill those positions. In fact, Trump insisted just last week that this was no accident, but rather that it was his way of shrinking certain agencies.

Trump stated, “I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don’t need them. … I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary.” He is, of course, correct.

This is an additional tactic to drain the swamp in Washington and many conservatives agree with it. On the down side, there are many positions within the various federal agencies still held by people whom Barack Obama put there, and some are fill-ins until they are replaced.

By all indications Trump does not intend to fill or replace those positions, choosing instead to focus on his judicial nominees. This is, after all, what he said he would do and his ability to shape the federal courts may very well be his presidency’s longest lasting impact on our country.



The Stupid Party Gets Smart

Stephen Moore
Republicans have long been known as “the stupid party.” They do stupid things, such as waiting until mid November to push a must-pass tax cut that should have been done by April.

But in recent weeks the GOP is finally showing some brains and some backbone on taxes. It is using its majorities in Congress to roll back and roll over the Left, and it’s about time. In a more rational world, tax reform could have been bipartisan. But once Democrats declared they would be unified obstructionists on tax reform, there was no reason to throw a bone to the “resistance movement.” Playing nice with Chuck Schumer won’t buy any votes, so why bother?

It’s hard not to be impressed with how Republicans have instead suddenly gotten very smart on the “pay fors” in their tax bill. Three of these revenue raisers are welcome policy changes, and they help defund the Left.

Start with the elimination of the state and local tax deduction. Congress shouldn’t subsidize flabby and inefficient state and local services and bankrupt public pension programs. Just as one would predict, the states with the highest taxes are Democrat-controlled states. There is no evidence that higher taxes in these states lead to better schools or safer streets. New York spends around $7,500 per person on state and local government, while New Hampshire spends less than $4,500. Yet public services are better in New Hampshire than in New York.

The big blue states must cut their taxes and costs, or the stampede of high-income residents from these states will accelerate. The big losers here are the public employee unions — the mortal enemies of Republicans. This all works out nicely.

Next is the decision by Republicans to offset the cost of the tax cut by eliminating the individual mandate tax imposed mostly on moderate-income Americans. About three of four people who pay the tax earn less than $50,000 a year. The purpose of the tax is to force low-income Americans to purchase insurance they either don’t want or can’t afford.

Isn’t it amazing that Obamacare provides subsidies to Americans if they buy the insurance and imposes penalties if they don’t, yet at least 13 million Americans still refuse to buy it? What a great product this must be.

Eliminating the individual mandate will allow poorer and younger Americans to buy less expensive forms of coverage, such as health savings accounts. These additional options will lead to the slow death of Obamacare. Smart.

Finally, there is the proposed tax on college endowments. These are massive storehouses of wealth: Harvard and Yale combined sit on a nest egg of almost $60 billion, enough to give every student free tuition at these schools from now until forever. Instead these university endowments act like giant financial trading dynasties, with very little of the largesse going to help students pay tuition. The GOP plan would put a small tax on the unspent money in the endowments if they don’t start spending the money down. My only complaint is that the tax is way too low. But the first shot against the university-industrial complex has finally been fired.

The productivity of American universities, as Richard Vedder of Ohio University has documented, continues to decline. Vedder also found that university tuitions don’t go down when these schools have bigger endowments. They go up. These endowments subsidize the six- and seven-figure salaries of pompous, tired, and tenured professors (who teach four or five hours a week) and administrators. Bravo to Republicans for starting to turn off the spigot.

The best indication that this is all working is the rise of what I call the “tax-bill crybaby caucus.” This group consists of health insurance companies, Obamacare supporters, public employee unions, state and local officials, the welfare lobby, municipal bond traders, lobbyists and, most of all, the liberal politicians who are funded by all of the above.

Not only are we getting pro-growth tax policy but also Donald Trump and the GOP are finally draining the swamp. It doesn’t get any better than this.



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 22, 2017

Obama's IRS crooks fear retribution for their ill deeds

They should be fearing prosecution

Former IRS executive Lois G. Lerner told a federal court last week that members of her family, including “young children,” face death threats and a real risk of physical harm if her explanation of the tea party targeting scandal becomes public.

Ms. Lerner and Holly Paz, her deputy at the IRS, filed documents in court Thursday saying tapes and transcripts of depositions they gave in a court case this year must remain sealed in perpetuity, or else they could spur an enraged public to retaliate.

“Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” attorneys for the two women argued.

Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz gave taped depositions in a class-action lawsuit brought by tea party groups demanding answers and compensation for having been subjected to illegal targeting for their political beliefs.

The government settled the class-action lawsuit in Ohio and another tea party challenge in the District of Columbia in two agreements last month, admitting to the illegal behavior. The Ohio settlement also called for the government to pay $3.5 million to the tea party groups, according to one of the plaintiffs.

Ms. Lerner came in for particular criticism, with the government admitting she not only didn’t stop the targeting — contradicting the Obama administration’s claims — but also hid it from her superiors in Washington.

During the course of the Ohio case, the tea party groups filed thousands of pages of documents, but testimony from Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz was left out of the public record because of their earlier request for privacy.

Now Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz say that since the case has been settled, there is no reason for their testimony to ever become public.

“The voluminous record of harassment and physical threats to Mss. Lerner and Paz and their families during the pendency of this litigation provides a compelling reason to seal the materials,” the women’s attorneys said.

They particularly blamed Mark Meckler, a tea party leader whose organization helped fund the class-action lawsuit, saying he helped stoke the threats against them by calling IRS agents “criminal thugs.”

“These words matter. They have created a fertile environment where threats and harassment against Mss. Lerner and Paz have flourished,” the lawyers said.

Mr. Meckler laughed when he learned about the filing.

“Four years of harassing innocent American citizens for their political beliefs, and she’s scared of a guy in a cowboy hat talking to a bunch of little old ladies at a tea party event?” he said, recounting the speech where he called IRS agents “thugs.”

He said if the depositions didn’t show any bad action on her part, then Ms. Lerner should have nothing to fear from their release to the public.

“The reality is because she knows she is guilty as the day is long and she doesn’t want people to know what she actually did,” he said.

“It’s hard to have any sympathy for the women. And frankly, I don’t believe she’s genuinely scared,” Mr. Meckler said.

The Trump administration backs making the documents public, according to court documents, which leaves Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz fighting a rearguard action.

So far, they have had Judge Michael R. Barrett on their side. As the case was proceeding, he kept the two IRS employees’ testimony secret at their request, allowing only the lawyers involved to see the information.

Papers filed by the tea party groups’ attorneys repeatedly made reference to their testimony in documents, but it was always redacted.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, a newspaper that covers the Cincinnati office of the IRS that initially handled tea party groups’ applications and that Ms. Lerner initially blamed for the targeting, has been fighting to make her version of events public.

The paper renewed that request last month, the day the government and the tea party groups announced their settlement. The paper has argued that there is no “clear and imminent danger” to Ms. Lerner or Ms. Paz.

Ms. Lerner has refused to talk publicly about her handling of the tea party cases, even being held in contempt of Congress when she botched her assertion of Fifth Amendment rights during testimony.

But the Obama Justice Department refused to prosecute the case, saying it concluded Ms. Lerner’s assertion of Fifth Amendment rights was correct.

Under President Obama, the department, in its own investigation into the IRS handling of tea party cases, also credited Ms. Lerner with being one of the bright spots, saying she attempted to curtail the targeting when she learned of it.

But the government now says that is not true. In its settlement last month, the government says Ms. Lerner not only didn’t stop the targeting, but also hid the behavior from superiors.

Ms. Lerner has yet to comment on that settlement.



In Illinois a chance to crack union dominance

In 2018 Illinois will have the nation’s most important, expensive and strange election.

Its importance derives from this fact: Self-government has failed in the nation’s currently fifth-most populous state (Pennsylvania soon will pass it). Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner will seek re-election with a stark warning: The state is approaching a death spiral — departing people and businesses suppress growth; the legislature responds by raising taxes; the exodus accelerates.

Rauner, whose net worth earned as a private-equity executive is $500 million, give or take, probably will be running against someone six times richer. The race might consume $300 million — “maybe more,” Rauner says — eclipsing California’s $280 million gubernatorial race in 2010, when that state’s population was three times larger than Illinois’.

The strangeness of the contest between Rauner and the likely Democratic nominee (J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune) is that Rauner’s real opponent is a Democrat who has been in the state assembly since Richard Nixon’s first term (1971) and has been speaker all but two years since Ronald Reagan’s first term (1983). Michael Madigan from Chicago is the “blue model” of government incarnate. This model is the iron alliance of the Democratic Party and government workers’ unions. Madigan supports Pritzker, who is committed to the alliance. This is the state of the state under it:

Unfunded state and local government retirement debt is more than $260 billion and rising. Unfunded pension liabilities for the nation’s highest-paid government workers (overtime starts at 37.5 hours) are $130 billion and are projected to increase for at least through the next decade. Nearly 25 percent of the state’s general funds go to retirees (many living in Texas and Florida). Vendors are owed $9.5 billion. Every five minutes the population — down 1.22 million in 16 years — declines as another person, and an average of $30,000 more in taxable income, flees the nation’s highest combined state and local taxes. Those leaving are earning $19,600 more than those moving in. The work force has shrunk by 97,000 this year. There has not been an honestly balanced budget — a constitutional requirement — since 2001. The latest tax increase, forced by the legislature to end a two-year budget impasse, will raise more than $4 billion, but another $1.7 billion deficit has already appeared.

The one Democrat who did not vote for Madigan for speaker this year says he’s since been bullied. Another Democratic legislator — an African-American from Chicago’s South Side, a supporter of school choice — broke ranks to give Rauner a victory on legislation requiring arbitration of an impasse with a 30,000-member union. Madigan enlisted Barack Obama to campaign against the heretic, who was purged. These were warnings to judges, who must face retention elections. They — including the one who refused to trigger arbitration by declaring a negotiation impasse — are, Rauner says, “part of the machine” in this “very collectivist state.”

Thuggishness has been normalized: Because Rauner favors allowing municipalities to pass right-to-work laws that prohibit requiring workers to join a union, Madigan’s automatons passed a law (Rauner’s veto stood) stipulating up to a year in jail for local lawmakers who enact them.

In 2018, Rauner will try to enlist voters in the constructive demolition of the “blue model.” It is based on Madigan’s docile herd of incumbent legislators, who are entrenched by campaign funds from government unions. Through them government, sitting on both sides of the table, negotiates with itself to expand itself. Term limits for legislators, which a large majority of Illinoisans favor, would dismantle the wall.

A 60 percent supermajority of the legislature is required for such a constitutional reform. So, next year voters will be urged to oppose any legislature candidate who will not pledge to vote to put term limits on the ballot. And all candidates will be asked how often they have voted for Madigan for speaker — he has a 26 percent approval rating — and to pledge not to sin again.

“I love a fight,” says an ebullient Rauner, whose rhetoric cannot get much more pugnacious. He calls Madigan “the worst elected official in the country” and Madigan’s machine “evil.” The nation has a huge stake in this brawl because the “blue model” is bankrupting cities and states from Connecticut to California, so its demolition here, where it has done the most damage, would be a wondrous story enhancing the nation’s glory.



Poll: Black and Hispanic Democrats Break from Whites on Transgender Beliefs

While Americans’ transgender beliefs vary widely by party, Black and Hispanic Democrats are far closer to Republicans’ views than are White Democrats, a new Pew Research survey reveals.

In its latest poll, Pew surveyed on transgenderism views of a nationally representative panel of randomly selected 4,573 U.S. adults recruited from landline and cellphone random-digit-dial (RDD) surveys between Aug. 8 and Sept. 28, 2017.

A majority (54%) of all Americans said that whether a person is a man or a woman is determined by “the sex they were assigned at birth,” while 44% said “it can be different.”

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents, 80% said sex is determined by a person’s birth-sex.

Only 34% of all Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents said sex is determined at birth – but a majority (55%) of Black Democrats and 41% of Hispanic Democrats said birth determines sex.

Just 24% of White Democrats believe birth determines sex.

Likewise, while 68% of White Democrats say society “hasn’t gone far enough” in accepting people who are transgender, only 46% of Black Democrats and half (50%) of Hispanic Democrats agree.

Only 12% of Republicans said societal acceptance of transgenders hasn’t gone far enough, compared to 60% of Democrats and 39% of all Americans surveyed. Conversely, 57% of Republicans said society has gone “too far” with transgender acceptance, while only 12% of Democrats agree.

In all, 59% of Americans said society’s acceptance of transgenders is either “About Right” (27%) or has “Gone Too Far” (32%). The belief that acceptance “Hasn’t Gone Far Enough” was expressed by 39% of respondents.



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 21, 2017

The Hate I Learned from the New York Times

So aggressive, oppressive and intolerant is the behaviour of many American Leftists today that conservatives are increasingly coming to accept that Leftist "compassion" is just a camouflage suit for sweeping hate.  Slaking their hate is their only real motivation -- JR


I am traveling and yesterday the Sunday edition of the New York  Times was placed outside the hotel door. I don't usually read it much -- but I thought, why not give it a chance? Big mistake. It's filled with hate -- embarrassingly so. What did I learn about hate?

I learned in one article that Christians were complicit in murder since they were not for gun control. In another I learned that some horrid socially conservative parents did not like their son's new wife's low-cut blouses that she wore to all events and these self-righteous jackasses should be looked down upon. And I found out that a friendly man asking what was going on at a women's event in NY was not acknowledged and this sexism was seen as "fighting the patriarchy."

In an article on "The Christian Case for Gun Control,  the author, Richard Parker, says that "failing to prevent murder is nearly as bad as the act of murder itself."  Apparently, the way to do this is to get rid of guns: "Christianity demands action. It insists on the protections of the innocent."  The article mentions that "the Jewish bystander is to rescue a person in peril. Islam requires the protection of innocent lives."  Note that Christians are the problem here, but somehow Islam isn't.    Yeah, right.

Another article shares some women's event on Mercer Street in Soho where women in their 20s and 30s  are lining up but when a man walks by and asks why they are waiting,  no one answers him or notices him. "What business was it of his anyway?"  Behavior that most of the time would be thought of as rude is now seen as some kind of triumph for women.  But the women's attitude and that of the Times is hate, plain and simple.



'Trust But Verify' -- Why Trump Is Right on Russia


In the midst of the quondam Russia Investigation that seems to have been going on since the Peloponnesian War, our president tweeted out the following.

"When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. They're always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!

Shortly thereafter, Andrew McCarthy, a man I respect immensely and who only the day before had posted a brilliant article virtually eviscerating the aforementioned investigation, tweeted thusly:

This is so galactically stupid it’s impossible to quantify. I’m happy to be a hater and fool, and await the 8-dimensional chess explanation for why idiocy is the new brilliant

Though Andy may have employed the word "galactically" to accrue Twitter attention -- something of which we are all frequently guilty -- I think he is in error anyway. Leaving aside the Trumpian bravura and clumsy language, the president's basic approach is correct.

It was also the approach employed by George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Barack Obama before him, all of whom, it is well known, sought outreach to Putin (pathetically in Obama's case) and largely failed. Before the politically charged current investigation, which impelled the Democratic Party and most of the media to have the ideological equivalent of an impromptu sex change operation re: Russia, Trump was apparently going to make an attempt of his own.

Would he have succeeded?  Hard to say, though Donald's mercurial negotiating style is arguably more effective than his predecessors' utterly conventional one. As an example, when the president said the U.S. had been paying too much for NATO and questioned whether the organization had outlived its usefulness, our partners suddenly coughed up.

Notably, another American president made an outreach to Russia, then the Soviet Union, and did succeed.  As we all know, his name was Ronald Reagan and his catch phrase in dealing with the Russians was "trust but verify." It got a lot accomplished,  including, at least in part, the demise of the Soviet Union.

Now it was a different time, obviously, and Reagan was dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev, a different personality from Vladimir Putin, but the strategy remains.  It's not so distant, really, from "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" --  a tactic some attribute to Sun Tzu and Machiavelli and more recently to Michael Corleone.  (The two phrases are, in essence, corollaries.  Keep you enemies close to verify them.)

I would wager that Trump -- who immediately sent in the missiles when Assad acted out -- is more equipped to deal with Putin than any of the previous presidents, other than Reagan.  Obama clearly floundered disastrously, making a hash of Syria (and Libya) and helping to cement the alliance between Russia and Iran.

An opportunity might exist for Trump to weaken that Russia-Iran nexus, which would benefit the world, but the Russia investigation impedes that.  Looked at in macro, that investigation seems less like a serious look at Russian intervention in our elections, which isn't all that great in any case, but rather a blood-letting among American elites, ironically rather like typical internal Politburo behavior.  Who will be left sitting on the dais after the purge?  Who will come out the worse -- Manafort or the Podestas?  Trump or Hillary?

Granted that Russia loves to play us.  They always have, to greater or lesser degrees. Diana West's American Betrayal details a level of Soviet infiltration during the FDR-Alger Hiss era that is staggering. Whether exaggerated or not, it's a reminder of who our enemies are.

But Mueller's Russia investigation seems aimed not so much at unearthing anything about Russia -- the FBI apparently didn't seriously investigate even the most obvious questions like who actually hacked the DNC server -- as it is at facilitating this blood-letting and preserving the FBI as an institution. It is a Deep State enterprise and, as with so many Deep State activities, the lives of regular American citizens are irrelevant.  In this case we could also say world citizens.

It's to the credit of Donald Trump that, though assaulted for non-existent Russian ties from the beginning of his presidency and even before (as is now emerging from the despicable tale of the Fusion GPS dossier), he has continued to examine possible areas of agreement with Russia for the good of our country and everyone else as well. As the man said -- "Trust but verify!"

ADDENDUM: I would never consider myself a "Russia expert" (whatever that means) but I have visited the country four times, twice for extended periods during Soviet times.  I was friends for many years until he died with their most famous thriller writer, himself allegedly a colonel in the KGB.  So I have some sense of how they think and it has always stuck me as completely ludicrous that they would meddle in our election in order to get Trump elected.  They are not idiots and would have seen that as a hopeless task since some 98% of our pundits and virtually all the polls saw Clinton as the winner.  Of course, they  engaged in data/email theft and disinformation activities.  Spying is as Russian as borscht.  But like everyone else, they expected Hillary to win.  You can take whatever implications from that that you wish. And, yes, I still believe Julian Assange about the emails until proven otherwise.



Rolling Stone, Sacred Text of the Left?

On November 9, Rolling Stone magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first issue, published in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. True to form, liberal journalists – who claim to care so deeply about the menace of fake reporting – honored founder Jann Wenner and dismissed as insignificant the magazine’s 2015 “A Rape on Campus” scandal about the University of Virginia.

On November 5, CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley gushed over Wenner as “the rock star of publishing,” and then minutes later, upgraded the flattery to “perhaps the most influential rock star on the planet.”

Out of nearly nine minutes, CBS correspondent Anthony Mason spent less than a minute on the fake-rape story. He asked “How much did UVA hurt the magazine?” Wenner said “A little.” Mason pushed back, and Wenner complained it was “one incident” in fifty years. “I think that the people who were in charge of this at the time, you know, let certain standards slide. Were it not for this one woman who fabricated – that was golden, that was a great story.” Had both the interviewer and interviewee yawned at this point, it would have done justice to the mood.

“This one woman” was the center of the story, which became a national outrage about gang-raping fraternity boys. It turns out Rolling Stone didn’t even get to Square One, attempting to check if there was a party at the Phi Alpha Psi frat house on the night in question. There wasn’t. That’s why they had to fork over $1.6 million in damages.

Put yourself in the shoes of those innocent young men, accused of such a heinous crime, found guilty by such a powerful magazine, and soundly condemned by a nation. $1.6 million does not begin to erase the humiliation. 

NBC’s Today interviewed Wenner and didn’t even bring up the subject. Matt Lauer was more interested in asking “what are you most proud of, in terms of a social issue that you got ahead of?” How about rape on campus? At least Lauer asked about the Rolling Stone cover that glamorized Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, then asked “Was that your biggest do-over? Or are there some others?” Wenner volunteered the UVA story, that “we got, you know, really duped.” So it just wasn't their fault. How's that for taking responsibility?

ABC’s Good Morning America aired a story on Rolling Stone and a new Jann Wenner biography on October 20, which never whispered a word about the fake-rape story as it gushed over a nude cover photo of Partridge Family star David Cassidy in 1972.

Despite being exposed as an unreliable source of lies and character assassination, almost every liberal-media notice started with comparing Rolling Stone to the Holy Bible. This suggests that they’re all eager lackeys of the hippie magazine’s public-relations staff. CBS began with “It’s been the cultural Bible of baby boomers for half a century.” NBC also called it “the cultural Bible for baby boomers.” The New York Times used “shiny entertainment-industry bible.”A few weeks ago, the Times headline was “Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale.”

If Rolling Stone represents the “sacred text” of the Sixties-mythologizing Left, then that’s a sad indictment. But it’s obvious that the magazine was part of transforming the “counterculture” into the “culture.” Its revered status as a cultural "agent of change" seems to be a major reason why the media elites grant them a pass on smearing entire universities.

And with that, let's return to those media lectures about the need for honest and competent journalism.



Hillary Clinton Does Complete 180 on Questioning 2016 Election's Legitimacy

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who warned that questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election was "threatening our democracy," has reemerged as sore loser Hillary Clinton now questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

Her comments attacking the legitimacy of the last election came in an interview with Mother Jones published this past Friday:

Exclusive: @hillaryclinton tells me “there are lots of questions” about legitimacy of Trump's election because of Russian interference & GOP voter suppression

"Do you think it was a LEGITIMATE election?" Clinton: "I think there are lots of questions about its legitimacy, and we don't have a method for contesting that in our system. That's why I've long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened."

So as Hillary Clinton has completely reversed course on election legitimacy and is now calling for an independent commission to investigate her "Russia hacked the election" conspiracy theories, she also told Mother Jones that any investigation into her own dealings with Russia would be an abuse of power:

So in review, Hillary Clinton doesn't believe that she should be held to her own standard about questioning the legitimacy of elections -- and she believes that she is literally above the law. If you're Hillary Clinton, laws (and elections, apparently) are for the little people.



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 20, 2017

Trump right on trade. Reciprocity is the only sustainable path to free trade

Economic theory tells us that America as a whole would benefit by abolishing all restrictions on imports.  Everything tradeable would then be available in America at the word's lowest prices.  To do so, however, would be politically impossible. So the only way forward is bargaining -- offering another nation a reduction in American tariffs if that other nation also cuts their tariffs on imports from America.  That is "reciprocity".  It is politically saleable because it should led to a reduction in some American jobs being balanced by an increase in other American jobs

In order to understand the need for reciprocity, one need not look any further than Professor Boudreaux’s own book, “Globalization,” a $61 requirement for his ECON 309 Students at George Mason University.

Professor Boudreaux writes unequivocally on page 123, “By far the most important modern institution for promoting freer international trade is the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)…” Why?

As Professor Boudreaux explains in his book, GATT was based on reciprocity and he outlines all of its advantages: “Under GATT, countries mutually agree to lower their tariffs and to grant most-favored trading status to each member of the GATT agreement. From each government’s perspective, the immediate gain—the gain that is most politically beneficial—is that each government can assure its citizens that, in exchange for lowering tariffs at home, that government has extracted promises from foreign governments to lower their tariffs… Because each government’s tariff reductions are bound together in a single agreement, no government has to worry that it will lower tariffs without other governments lowering their tariffs simultaneously and in accordance with the terms of the agreement.”

As the book continues, so Boudreaux must agree, lower tariffs have only encouraged more global trade, arguing the result has been freer trade. It was GATT which propelled U.S. tariff rates on imports to fall from an average of 30 percent at the end of World War II to about 5 percent today and drove down tariff rates all around the world between developed nations, too. GATT facilitated the tariff reductions that the affirmative world so desires, proving that the tariff reduction could not be done unilaterally, but only through reciprocal trade agreements.

Professor Boudreaux ends the argument succinctly on page 124, writing “No other such sustained decrease in tariff rates is found in U.S. history,” and “Most informed observers credit GATT for this success.”

Singapore has pursued reciprocal trade agreements

In contrast, I expect a lot will be made tonight over Singapore’s long-held, unilateral near-zero percent tariff.  For a number of reasons, this island nation’s experience negates all three of the affirmative’s burdens — UNILATERAL being more desirable than reciprocal, the real-world SHOULD test, and the reciprocal agreements being UNNECESSARY test.

It is instructive that as Singapore entered GATT with their near-zero tariff rate in 1973, their Finance Minister Hon Sui Sen argued vociferously for developed countries like the U.S. to lower their tariffs, noting that Singapore had already unilaterally lowered theirs.  Hon also urged special and differential treatment for developing economies whereby developed countries lower their tariffs first in order to help the lesser developed economies to grow.

But, since Singapore’s tariffs were already low, Hon demanded no such non-reciprocal protection for Singapore. From Singapore’s perspective, then, it was seeking reciprocal trade tariff reductions from the developed economies.

To disprove the affirmative, one need only find a single reciprocal trade agreement being necessary in a post-unilateral tariff reduction environment. Here, with Singapore, we have several to look at. Thirty years later, Singapore has succeeded in getting reciprocal trade deals permanently eliminating all tariffs with the U.S. and Australia, and others where there is still more work to be done in removing barriers, as with China and India.

Coupled with the sustained dramatic decline in tariffs globally under reciprocity achieved in GATT, it would be foolish to move away from the only proven model for success, which is reciprocity.

At this point, I’d like to augment this SHOULD slash REALITY argument to the export subsidy statement in the affirmative. For the past seventy or so years, conservatives and libertarians have argued for ending agricultural subsidies and have failed. The reason they have failed is as clear as the red political sea throughout the farm belt and rural communities on the electoral map. These farm state Republicans like farm subsidies for political purposes, if for no other ones. Exhibit A of the dangers of opposing these subsidies is Representative Tim Huelskamp, a member of Congress from Kansas. Huelskamp tested whether voting against farm subsidies was politically viable in the heartland last Congress, and now he is known as former Representative Tim Huelskamp.

This proves that voting against farm subsidies is a political non-starter for scores of Republican members of Congress. Heck, we can’t even fully get rid of ethanol subsidies because the road to the presidency runs through Iowa.

More HERE 


Reporting the Rand Paul attack: Was it lawn clippings, or journalistic fertilizer?

If a Democratic senator was attacked by a conservative neighbor with relatively fanatical ideas and online sharing habits about politics, the New York Times reporting would look very different from its Rand Paul assault coverage. Frankly, the incident provides a case study on mainstream press bias.

On Friday, Nov. 3, Sen. Paul had just stepped off his riding mower at his Bowling Green, Ky., residence. Rene Boucher, whose home sits on an adjoining lot, suddenly tackled the senator from his blind side with enough force to break several ribs and cause a pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid around the lungs.

Boucher admitted to going onto the senator’s property and tackling him, according to his arrest warrant.

The Washington Post reported on Nov. 5 a former city commissioner’s description of Boucher as a socialist. His Facebook page, now blocked from public view, “included links to articles and memes critical of President Trump and a news article about a Montana Republican congressional candidate who attacked a reporter the day before winning his seat.”

These are details that Times reporters Nicholas Fandos, Noah Weiland, and Jonathan Martin apparently deemed unfit to print in their Nov. 6 article, “Is Landscaping Drama at the Root of Rand Paul’s Assault?" While the article notes that Paul and his neighbor were known to have “divergent political views,” the clear focus is on the narrative that the incident stems from the libertarian senator’s allegedly libertine approach to yard maintenance.

“Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky.,” they write, adding: “The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts, and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations. ... Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.”

But this theory is increasingly looking like so much detritus. Maybe a better description is "fake news." For one thing, the Times article cites only a single named source for the supposition that the men had an ongoing landscaping feud: Jim Skaggs, a neighbor who also developed the subdivision. Skaggs said the men “just couldn’t get along,” that the incident “had very little to do with Democratic or Republican politics” and that they had “different [opinions] about what property rights mean.”

“Asked about long-leveled allegations that Mr. Paul had disregarded neighborhood regulations,” the article reads, “Mr. Skaggs, who is also a former leader of the county Republican Party, said the senator ‘certainly believes in stronger property rights than exist in America.’”

But here's the thing: Skaggs has subsequently told the Louisville Courier Journal that he didn’t witness the assault and has heard of “other theories” for the attack. And no fewer than seven neighbors have told the Washington Examiner that press reports about a landscaping dispute are rubbish. The Paul family keeps a nice yard and are great neighbors, they say.

There was ample reason to be skeptical of Skaggs’s vague and non-specific story from the start. Indeed, the only specific “problem” he’s cited concerns a disagreement from 17 years ago between the senator and the homeowners' association concerning association control over home design plans back when the Pauls built their house.

In any case, imagine that a Democratic senator was assaulted in his yard by a Republican whose social media activities evinced a strong dislike for Hilary Clinton. I suspect the Times reporters would be working harder to check for a political motivation. The reporting surely wouldn’t be so flip.

New York Times reporters’ tweets on the issue are also worth a look. For example, Jason Horowitz, whom Sen. Paul and his wife Kelly invited into their home in connection with a 2013 story Horowitz wrote for Vogue, tweeted a snippet of a transcript of his interview wherein Kelly and her husband discuss how they use fish emulsion (a common fertilizer sold at Home Depot) to grow pumpkins. Apparently this is proof to Horowitz that the criminal assault isn’t political. “I called this one,” he proclaims. “I’m guessing pumpkin vine, squirrels or sequoia as motive”.

Again, you wouldn’t see such fun and frivolity from Times’ reporters if a liberal Congressman was attacked by a Republican. It’s unprofessional. Perhaps a better description is liberal compost.



‘My sons love hunting, I don’t’: Trump reprieves elephants

Some who’ve criticized Trump might have done a double take when they read one of his tweets Friday morning. The message effectively put the brakes on a new administration policy that would allow American hunters to bring pieces of recently slaughtered African elephants back to the United States:

But Trump’s opposition to big-game hunting isn’t new.

Just ask Cher. In 2012, an outraged Queen of Comebacks tweeted a story with a picture of Donald Trump Jr., a belt of ammunition around his hips, posing with slain animals: an elephant, a leopard and a water buffalo, among others.

Cher’s point was clear from the Gothamist headline: “Photos: Donald Trump’s Sons Awesome At Killing Elephants And Other Wildlife.”

But the elder Trump took to Twitter to set the record straight:

"Old story, one of which I publicly disapproved. My sons love hunting, I don’t"

The younger Trump, on the other hand, has consistently defended his hunting from occasionally profane critics, saying he’s not going to let fear of the “PETA crazies” stop him from posting hunting pictures.

So maybe Cher wasn’t totally surprised by the Trump family’s divide on the moral quandary of taking the life of a large and possibly endangered mammal for sport.

The president’s tweet led to the quick — and likely fleeting — redrawing of a few battle lines. It was also part of a quick-moving flurry of activity regarding African elephants this week.

As The Washington Post wrote, on Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to end a 2014 ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Its justification was that killing elephants and bringing pieces of their corpses back to the United States to grace hunters’ dens would help the species. Coincidentally, helping the species is the only way that hunters can legally bring elephant “trophies” back to the United States.

The ruling, and its justification, angered environmentalists and elephant lovers.

In a tweet, Fox News host Laura Ingraham expressed her dismay, writing, “I don’t understand how this move by @realDonaldTrump Admin will not INCREASE the gruesome poaching of elephants. Stay tuned.”

It was unclear if Trump had heard the words of elephant lovers or his fellow Republicans, but he thumbed out the tweet saying the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision was on hold.

His tweet had environmentalists thanking the president.



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 19, 2017

Is the swamp winning?

The President must appoint more good, loyal people – or swamp creatures will triumph

Scot Faulkner

President Trump made draining Washington’s Swamp the centerpiece of his Presidency. The swamp is winning.  Its RINOgators are on the verge of destroying the Trump Presidency.

Trump’s Executive Branch is now running on empty. His appointment process is the slowest since Jimmy Carter in 1977. He recently defended his depleted ranks of loyalists, “we don’t need all of the people. You know, it’s called cost saving.”

In fact, Trump not bringing in his loyalists means the Executive Branch is being run by Obama holdovers, and senior careerists, who run the government from acting positions. They owe their last eight years of promotions and bonuses to their loyally enforcing and implementing Obama’s policies.

The swamp is exploiting Trump’s misunderstanding of “people equal policy.”

The few political managers Trump has placed are completely isolated and outmaneuvered. Worse, most of Trump’s appointments are people who owe their loyalty to everyone but Trump. The inner circles of the White House, and legions of political operatives in the Departments and Agencies, wish Jeb Bush were President. Their disloyalty to Trump is manifest in leaks and their ineffectual and slow paced efforts to change anything.

Insiders explain that Trump dislikes people with government experience and that he feels Reagan and his appointees could have done more to shrink government. If that is so, why is he fixated on bringing in Bush alumni who grew government?

Trump declared that he would drain Washington’s swamp by not hiring lobbyists. During the transition, countless personnel clearance forms were used supposedly to prevent lobbyists insinuating themselves. This failed. USA Today reports that more than 100 former federal lobbyists are now working inside the Trump Administration.

Trump has been ill-served and misled from the very beginning. During the spring of 2016, key elements of the Reagan coalition, including Reagan Administration alumni and key think tanks, were ready, willing and able to help Trump be successful. They were ignored.

In June 2016, Trump realized he needed to prepare for being President. Instead of turning to those conservatives who were openly and passionately supporting him, Trump turned to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Where Trump conservatives would have opened the door to legions of proven change agents, Christie opened the flood gates to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush operatives. Where Trump loyalists would have worked for free, Christie spent millions on hiring the Boston Consulting Group to run the Transition. The Boston Consulting Group had never run a Presidential Transition, but the Managing Partner in charge of the contract was the daughter of longtime Bush loyalist.

The Trump Transition ended up preparing for the Romney/Bush Administration. Even Steve Bannon was duped into believing only the Washington Establishment was capable of helping Trump prepare for his Presidency. Highly capable conservatives, Reagan alumni and professionals who were for Trump since June 2015, were systematically shut out. Never-Trumpers, even ones who ran anti-Trump floor operations at the Republican National Convention, were welcomed.

The Romney/Bush Transition became the Romney/Bush Administration on January 20, 2017. At the same time, Reince Priebus and his minions from the Republican National Committee (RNC) took over core White House operations. This included the Office of Presidential Personnel that clears and recommends all political appointees.

Priebus rightly deserves credit for quelling Republican rebellion in the final months of the 2016 campaign. For this, Trump should have rewarded Preibus with the non-critical Ambassadorship of his choice. Instead, Priebus became Chief of Staff and proceeded to fill Trump’s inner circle with RNC operatives, few of whom even liked Trump.

The RNC operatives in charge of Presidential Personnel placed their friends on Trump’s political front line. They even conducted purges of the few Trump loyalists who had made it inside.  Ironically, Never-Trumpers got away with accusing Always-Trumpers of being disloyal.

While President Trump was signing Executive Orders and making inspiring speeches, the RINOgators of the Washington, DC swamp were commandeering key positions, making sure Trump’s vision would never become a lasting operational reality. They are doing everything possible to protect their swamp.

The most tragic result of Trump being misled is that he is spending his time on actions that will be swept away with the next Administration.

The Washington swamp is drawing Trump into this trap. Time magazine recently ran an alarmist cover story on Trump’s regulatory reductions. Even Trump’s inner circle believes the hype.

His communications director declared, “No President or Administration has deregulated or withdrawn as many anticipated regulatory actions as this one in this short amount of time.” In reality, saving $560 million is a pittance against the $2+ trillion regulatory burden faced by America business.

At best, stopping new regulations is like trimming kudzu. All these bad policies and regulations have only been driven underground. They remain in desk drawers and computer files ready to be unleashed. Unless the underlying policies, people, and laws are changed, all these sidelined regulations will spring forth the moment Trump leaves office.

The people who would actually pull-up the regulatory kudzu by its roots are not in place. Washington, DC’s “RINOgators” have settled in to protect their status quo and wait out Trump.

Real and lasting change will happen only if Trump appoints sufficient numbers of his actual loyalists as soon as possible. He must act quickly and decisively to remove Bush/Romney traitors and replace them with those fully committed to his revolution.

Perhaps the dual attacks by Bush 41 and 43 will open Trump’s eyes to the treachery around him.

Via email


Leftists Finally Throw Bill Under the Bus

The soullessness of the Democratic Party

The recent effort to upend the Senate candidacy of Alabama Judge Roy Moore is dominating headlines these days. The charges against Moore are troubling, serious and credible, while his denials are less than persuasive. But the speed with which Democrats and Republicans alike have demanded Moore's exit from the race presents a high ethical standard that never seems to apply to Democrats.

Just yesterday, in fact, Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken was accused of committing sexual assault against a woman in 2006, and it looks like other victims might be coming forward. But the outrage toward Franken, a sitting U.S. senator, has been timid compared with the treatment that candidate Moore has had to endure. And buried beneath the Franken headlines was the news that a hung jury had spared another sitting senator, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, from a deserved corruption conviction.

We've been down this road before. Republicans are always quick to destroy their own (deserved or not), while Democrats circle the wagons around the sleaziest politicians and public figures. This hypocrisy has paved the way for sexual predators on the Left to assume vast amounts of power and wealth without ever having to face their accusers, while those on the Right are cut off at the knees.

Case in point: Bill Clinton. For years Americans have waited for the convincing allegations of sexual abuse and even rape by Clinton to get the attention they deserve. Sure, Clinton was impeached (along party lines), paid a fine, and lost his law license, but Democrats never stopped embracing him or his enabling wife. Indeed, once he escaped conviction in the Senate (nearly along party lines), even Republicans seemed to forgive and forget.

Ironically, the person who broke the radio silence on Bill Clinton was none other than Donald Trump.

After the notorious "Access Hollywood" tape nearly derailed his bid for the White House, Trump held a press conference in which the women who claimed to be Clinton's victims were given the collective attention they deserved. And then, in a brilliant move, Trump seated the women at the presidential debate right near Clinton himself. Trump did more to hold Bill Clinton accountable for his actions than any Republican had done since the former Arkansas governor moved into the White House in 1993.

When Trump put the spotlight on Clinton, Democrats had a perfect opportunity to make things right and condemn Bill's predatory behavior. After all, they were poised to take down Trump over alleged groping, not rape. But those on the Left couldn't bring themselves to be critical of a man they'd forgiven for actually engaging in behavior that was far worse than what Trump was only caught describing.

Now, nearly 20 years after Juanita Broaddrick went public with her credible accusation of Bill Clinton raping her, and with the Clintons having failed in their party's most urgent mission — defeating Trump — the Left is suddenly emboldened. Indeed, some are even opportunistically admitting that Clinton should have resigned from office 20 years ago.

Too little, too late. The societal damage has long since been done.

Caitlin Flanagan writes in The Atlantic, "It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today's accused men have experienced. Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. The movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation, and it was willing — eager — to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur."

Perhaps the parade of "progressive" sexual predators in the past year made it difficult to continue ignoring Clinton's past — difficult to self-righteously condemn the likes of Weiner and Weinstein and Franken while continuing to dismiss Clinton's decades of depravity.

But don't take this as a sign that progressives are suddenly holding their own accountable. They just couldn't keep their dirty little secret any longer. There have been plenty of moments when Democrats could have taken a stand to end sexual abuse post-Clinton.

Matthew Yglesias contends, "The United States, and perhaps the broader English-speaking world, is currently undergoing a much-needed accountability moment in which each wave of stories emboldens more people to come forward and more institutions to rethink their practices. Looking back, the 1998 revelation that the president of the United States carried on an affair with an intern could have been that moment."

If only leftists like Yglesias had shown the courage of their convictions when it really mattered.

Yes, the feminist movement could have become legitimate instead of selectively allowing the very behavior that it proclaims to detest. It could have been a pivotal moment in which the nation reasserted its values and principles, and took a stand against the moral degradation of the past. It could have been the moment for us to enforce the ethical standards that we have long expected of our public figures, and the moment for the media to put the plain truth ahead of its agenda.

It could have been, but it wasn't. And they're now reaping what they sowed.

One of the more troubling aspects of the 1998 Clinton-Lewinsky affair is that mainstream media outlets had all the information they needed in 1998 but chose largely to ignore the very serious accusations of Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and especially Juanita Broaddrick.

As David Harsanyi writes, "However reluctant editors might have been in moving forward with these stories, the fact is that most of them were ultimately brought to the public's attention by established news organizations, not shady right-wing outlets. Still, Democrats weren't merely skeptical of these women, they often treated them with disdain and smeared them for political expediency."

Yes, they were smeared by just about everyone on the Left including Hillary Clinton. Remember her vicious and dismissive "bimbo eruptions" comment? That a female politician was willing to shame and degrade other women in order to advance her career mirrored the soullessness of the Democrat Party.

Sadly, the cover-ups from the Kennedys to Clinton to Harvey Weinstein allowed scores of women to be abused by powerful men — so long as these monsters were publicly supporting leftist causes.

Since the 1960s, Democrats have pushed a culture of unbridled sexuality on American society while at the same time calling for men to respect women. It's not possible to have both.

Had Bill Clinton and others been held accountable, perhaps we could have saved a lot of women some serious pain and suffering. Perhaps we could have prevented another generation of sexual perverts from preying on innocent victims. And perhaps we could have emerged as a nation dedicated to ethical and moral behavior in personal and public life.



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

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