Friday, March 16, 2018

Russian to Judgement

A former Russian agent was poisoned in Britain recently and British PM Teresa May is in a high dudgeon over it. She thinks Russia poisoned him.  Her only evidence: He showed evidence of a particular advanced poison in his blood.  On that slim and unproven basis  she has called for more sanctions on Russia

The Western elites seem determined to have another cold war with Russia.  They must have a boogeyman to frighten people with, apparently.  Vladimir Vladimirovich has been remarkably restrained in response to such provocations so far but if it keeps up he might decide that he has nothing to lose by (for instance) taking control of Eastern Ukraine.

That would be welcomed by the Eastern Ukrainians but would pump Western leaders up to a frenzy of huffing and puffing.  Fortunately, Mr Trump is too practical to do anything foolish about it

The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely.

A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.

Incidentally, novachok is not a specific substance but a class of new nerve agents. Sources agree they were designed to be persistent, and of an order of magnitude stronger than sarin or VX. That is rather hard to square with the fact that thankfully nobody has died and those possibly in contact just have to wash their clothes.

From Putin’s point of view, to assassinate Skripal now seems to have very little motivation. If the Russians have waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup. The Russians have never killed a swapped spy before. Just as diplomats, British and otherwise, are the most ardent upholders of the principle of diplomatic immunity, so security service personnel everywhere are the least likely to wish to destroy a system which can be a key aspect of their own personal security; quite literally spy swaps are their “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You don’t undermine that system – probably terminally – without very good reason.

It is worth noting that the “wicked” Russians gave Skripal a far lighter jail sentence than an American equivalent would have received. If a member of US Military Intelligence had sold, for cash to the Russians, the names of hundreds of US agents and officers operating abroad, the Americans would at the very least jail the person for life, and I strongly suspect would execute them. Skripal just received a jail sentence of 18 years, which is hard to square with the narrative of implacable vindictiveness against him. If the Russians had wanted to make an example, that was the time.

It is much more probable that the reason for this assassination attempt refers to something recent or current, than to spying twenty years ago. Were I the British police, I would inquire very closely into Orbis Intelligence.

There is no doubt that Skripal was feeding secrets to MI6 at the time that Christopher Steele was an MI6 officer in Moscow, and at the the time that Pablo Miller, another member of Orbis Intelligence, was also an MI6 officer in Russia and directly recruiting agents. It is widely reported on the web and in US media that it was Miller who first recruited Skripal. My own ex-MI6 sources tell me that is not quite true as Skripal was “walk-in”, but that Miller certainly was involved in running Skripal for a while. Sadly Pablo Miller’s LinkedIn profile has recently been deleted, but it is again widely alleged on the web that it showed him as a consultant for Orbis Intelligence and a consultant to the FCO and – wait for it – with an address in Salisbury. If anyone can recover that Linkedin entry do get in touch, though British Government agencies will have been active in the internet scrubbing.

It was of course Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence who produced for the Clinton camp the sensationalist dossier on Trump links with Russia – including the story of Trump paying to be urinated on by Russian prostitutes – that is a key part of the “Russiagate” affair gripping the US political classes. The extraordinary thing about this is that the Orbis dossier is obvious nonsense which anybody with a professional background can completely demolish, as I did here. Steele’s motive was, like Skripal’s in selling his secrets, cash pure and simple. Steele is a charlatan who knocked up a series of allegations that are either wildly improbable, or would need a high level source access he could not possibly get in today’s Russia, or both. He told the Democrats what they wish to hear and his audience – who had and still have no motivation to look at it critically – paid him highly for it.



Armed With False Ideas, The Left 's Attack on Children, Useless Marches

John Hinderraker at Powerline had a good piece on “the  Despicable Misuse of Children.”

Today students were excused from classrooms all across America to participate in demonstrations in favor of firearms bans of one sort or another. These were anything but spontaneous actions organized by children. Rather, the anti-gun demonstrations were condoned, if not sponsored, by school administrations that are almost universally liberal. And the teachers’ unions played a part too. The National Education Association issued a statement that included this:

Since the horrific shootings in Parkland, Florida, students across the country have launched an inspired movement to demand long overdue action on school safety and gun control. NEA, its affiliates, and members throughout Florida and the nation, support these calls to prevent further school massacres.

Ironically, the demonstrations in favor of school safety featured, in some instances, attacks on non-conforming students. At one Minneapolis high school, two students stood apart from the throng calling for more gun control. One of them carried a sign that said “Blame the Culture, Not Guns.” The other carried a Donald Trump banner. He was cursed, pursued, knocked down and beaten up by “pro-school safety” demonstrators. School officials, who purport to be so concerned with the safety of their students, did nothing to intervene.

Kids are in school because they don’t know very much yet. I’m sure they feel badly about the horrific attack on Parkland, Florida. They may even be alarmed about their own safety. Their chances of an actual school shooting are something like one in 641,000,000. Unfamiliar with history, they are probably unaware that we have tried gun control before, both locally and nationally, and it accomplished nothing at all. In spite of the screeches of the Left,  gun control has not worked anywhere it has been tried, including in Australia, where they confiscated all the guns. Most of the deaths from guns nationally, are suicides. Fully automatic weapons have been banned for years. Violent crime has been declining steadily since the early 1990s. The 2011 rate was almost half of the rate in 1991, and the 2013 rate was half of the rate in 1993.

The well-meaning kids had signs to carry that they had proudly made themselves. This one,from Twitchy shows how clueless the kids are.

Other notable ones were “The Second Amendment isn’t meant to protect our citizens” and “De-Militarize the Police,” along with “Give us Our Reparations.” Well, I’m sure it was an exciting time for the kids and they got to miss time in school. Wiser parents kept their kids at home.

The Left’s hijacking our children for their own political purposes is disgusting.



Under Heavily-Armed Police Guard, Bernie Sanders Addresses Anti-Gun Rally

A national school walk-out was held today by students protesting gun violence across the country, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders joined students in DC marching on the U.S. capitol.

So did his armed guards.

In multiple locations, students hit the streets and parking lots in their respective school districts to “walk out'” in solidarity with the Parkland students who are calling for more gun control after their school attacked by a deranged gunman. 17 students died in the attack. The former presidential candidate was part of a group of progressive congressmen addressing the Washington, DC march.

Sanders began a live stream of his speech on his Facebook page, which featured him wading through the crowd of cheering students and shaking hands. As Sanders traveled through the gun-control crowd, at least three heavily armed Capitol police officers could be seen protecting him and clearing a way for the Senator through the students. Multiple times in the live feed, the police can be heard asking the students to step back and move away from Sanders.



Stormy Daniels’ Mother Is A Huge Trump Supporter

The mother of adult film star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with President Donald Trump, declared her continued support for the president, saying she hopes the scandal involving her daughter doesn’t harm Trump.

Sheila Gregory would vote for Trump “every time” and hopes he runs for president “four more times,” Daniels’s mother said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. Gregory’s comments come after her daughter offered to return the $130,000 payment she received October 2016 for her continued silence about an alleged affair with President Trump Monday.

“If Mr. Trump runs four more times, I would vote for him every time,” Gregory said. “I like him. I like the way he handles things. It’s time this country is put back where it belongs, taking care of the people here instead of the people who don’t belong here.”

Daniels would be allowed to speak publicly of her and Trump’s alleged affair, which occurred during the summer of 2006 to early 2007, if she were to return the $130,000 Trump paid her for a “hush agreement” Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen and Stormy worked out

Gregory is not happy her daughter is a porn star and mentioned the two have not been very close throughout the past 12 years, said Gregory still tries to call Stormy every few weeks, she added.

“I loved her dearly,” her mother said. “I still love her dearly.”



Texas Law Prohibiting Sanctuary Cities Is Upheld

A federal appeals court ruled that the majority of Texas law banning sanctuary cities can be implemented for now.

Today a federal appeals judge ruled most of the Texas law outlawing sanctuary cities within the state can be implemented while the legal challenge continues in a lower court. Governor Abbott decided to share the good news:

This means individual cities and municipalities will no longer be able to refuse ICE detainer requests. The three judge panel wrote:

The 'comply with, honor, and fulfill' requirement does not require detention pursuant to every ICE detainer request,” the panel wrote. “Rather, the 'comply with, honor, and fulfill' provision mandates that local agencies cooperate according to existing ICE detainer practice and law.

The court essentially upheld federal supremacy in immigration law and enforcement and state supremacy over local law or policy.

The only portion of the bill that the court did not uphold was the section that involved penalties for city officials who endorsed sanctuary policies. The ruling said the language “adopting, enforcing or endorsing' policies that specifically prohibit or limit enforcement of immigration laws was too broad. The injunction was upheld only on the "endorse" part of the statute on the concern it may infringe on free speech rights if the concept of endorsing those policies were expanded to expressing support for them.

The court affirmed that local and campus police officers cannot be prevented from assisting immigration officials. They referenced the Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v United States as precedent that the state would win these arguments in the course of the proceedings.

In response to the ruling Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed confidence the state would prevail in the lower court legal challenge and stated:

We are pleased today’s 5th Circuit ruling will allow Texas to strengthen public safety by implementing the key components of Senate Bill 4. Enforcing immigration law helps prevent dangerous criminals from being released into Texas communities.

The precedent set in this case could encourage other states who have hesitated to develop similar prohibitions on sanctuary cities to do so if Texas is successful. There may also be implications for the Department of Justice's pursuit of California for their sanctuary state law.



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, March 15, 2018

Trump is breaking all the rules, and that could be great for America

OVER THE PAST WEEK — indeed, over the past year — President Trump has broken one political rule after another. “When I signed up to be a conservative,” an eminent Washington think-tanker said to me on Thursday, “I thought conservatism stood for free trade, fiscal responsibility, and personal character.” He might have added firmness toward dictators.

In fairness to Trump, he is not the first Republican president to impose tariffs on imports, to run a very large budget deficit, and to agree to meet a Communist tyrant. (I’m pretty sure he’s the first to be sued by a porn star, but let’s leave Stormy Daniels out of this.) Both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford imposed tariffs in the name of national security. Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush ran substantial fiscal deficits. And if Trump goes to Pyongyang, there will be an unmistakable echo of Nixon’s famous trip to Beijing in 1972.

Nevertheless, there is a near-universal consensus among political commentators that Trump is breaking all the rules. By announcing tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, he not only will hurt all those sectors of the US economy that depend on those imports, but also risks plunging the world into a protectionist trade war.

By agreeing to meet with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, it is said, he is falling into a trap other presidents were prudent enough to avoid, for Kim will claim a diplomatic victory — “See! The dotard treats me as an equal!” — and then cheat on any deal, as his father did in the 1990s.

To seasoned observers of Washington life, this really is a shocking way to run an administration. Most shocking of all is not so much the policy as the way it gets made. Gary Cohn’s departure last week as Trump’s chief economic adviser was just the latest of a succession of exits from the White House. This is not the way it’s supposed to work. By year two of any administration, the adults are supposed to have taken charge.

To give Trump his due, he is capable of self-mockery. His speech at the recent Gridiron Club dinner might equally well have been delivered by Alec Baldwin, whose career has been relaunched by his Trump impersonation on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un,” said Trump. “I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine.”

And Trump contrasted his current job with his previous role as host of “The Apprentice”: “In one job I had to manage a cut-throat cast of characters, desperate for TV time, totally unprepared for their roles and their jobs and each week afraid of having their asses fired, and the other job I was the host of a smash television hit.”

Here is a man who glories in breaking the rules, because that is how he rules.

Notice, too, that in the middle of this comedy routine, Trump revealed exactly what he was planning to do with respect to North Korea. “By the way,” he told his audience, “a couple days ago they said, ‘We would like to talk,’ and I said, ‘So would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke.’ So let’s see what happens. . . . We will be meeting, and we’ll see if anything positive happens.” Not a single news outlet got the joke that this wasn’t a joke.

Of course, this could all end in just the kind of train-wreck-plus-dumpster-fire predicted ad nauseam by the president’s critics. But consider, if you dare, what a future historian might one day write:

“President Trump had no experience of foreign affairs, but he soon grasped how disastrously his predecessor had bungled the North Korean nuclear threat. He applied sustained pressure on Pyongyang, directly through new UN-mandated sanctions, and indirectly by menacing China with threats of military action or a trade war.

“In March 2018, he stepped up the pressure by announcing new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. These tariffs would have hurt America’s allies more than China, but Beijing got the message. Xi Jinping was well aware a trade war directed by the US against China would hurt China much more than the United States, potentially reducing Chinese exports to America by up to 20 percent.

“The president’s critics were stunned by the subsequent US-North Korean Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, signed in Pyongyang in 2019, and utterly dumbfounded by the 2020 Chinese-American Trade Agreement, which committed China to eliminate the bilateral trade deficit by the end of his second presidential term.”

Could it happen? I know it seems fanciful — and will be dismissed by some readers as an indefensible defense of a rule-breaking ruler. But, as I said, Nixon imposed a 10 percent tariff on nearly all imports in August 1971. He went to Beijing in February 1972. And he won a landslide victory in November of that same year.



Is National Socialism America's Future?
If a doppelgänger of Joseph Goebbels, the “poison dwarf” propaganda minister of the Third Reich, were somehow to leap into the 21st century and embark on a Tocqueville-like tour of his country’s former enemy, probably he would be stunned by developments thought to have perished with the Nazis’ defeat in 1945. Of course, technological progress would dazzle any time traveler from that era, though Goebbels might huff that German science predicated many advances — but professional interests likely would dominate his observations.

Some things would make him laugh: micro-aggressions, safe spaces, counseling for sensitive egos — are you kidding me? Others would evoke comparisons to practices more familiar to him, such as America’s huge “fake news” industry — i.e., media lies — and Planned Parenthood’s annual slaughter of innocents. So much to see, so much to evaluate, so much to compare!

Which of course is the whole point, especially because our fictional observer likely would agree with Leo Strauss, a German-American who in 1953 expressed astonishment about how a country “defeated on the battlefield … deprived its conquerors … of victory by imposing on them the yoke of its own thought.” This yoke, of course, being National Socialist ideology.

Indeed, though progressives regularly blast machine-gun volleys of Marxist denunciations against their opponents, only ignorant and narcissistic foot soldiers among them — writers, entertainers, academicians — really believe that Trump is Hitler and most Republicans are Nazis. The rest are content to swim with currents of the dominant culture, and like the sheep in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, bleat their version of “Two legs bad, four legs good!”

But Goebbels, smart as well as evil, would know that “white” math is not racist any more than, in his day, “Jewish science” was racist or differed from what Heisenberg practiced. The following chart offers speculations about other comparisons that seem relevant.

None of this is new or original, of course; most Americans are familiar with recent cultural trends. Still, a few conjectures may be in order, drawn from Germany’s cataclysmic journey in the ‘30s and '40s and extrapolations from progressivism’s trajectory over the past few decades. What might be on America’s horizon over the next generation or so?

Bias Response Teams/Tribunals. This academic institution represents the classic response of totalitarians to opposing views. Expect tribunals to metastasize throughout the country; the psychology of the informant has a pernicious appeal to many otherwise innocuous citizens. The category of so-called “hate crimes” will expand exponentially.

Criminalization of dissent. Similar to the above though broader in application, dissenters will be charged with crimes and incarcerated. Anthropogenic climate change deniers will top the list. A multitude of other policy views burst with possibilities for criminalizing their adherents.

Confiscation of guns. Totalitarian regimes require subjects who are disarmed and ignorant. Seizing guns accomplishes the first goal and education/indoctrination the second.

Increased militarization of federal agencies, such as the EPA and IRS. As of 2014, armed bureaucrats outnumbered the Marine Corps.

Christians gradually expelled from the civil service. The Nazis quickly expunged Jews from government — one of the regime’s first acts. For American Christians the process will take much longer, but they will be threatened and silenced. Christians must keep their mouths shut; pastors better not preach about anything that has social relevance, like abortion, gay rights, marriage, or other consequential matters.

Legalization of illegal aliens and open borders. America’s borders will be opened long enough to ensure voting support for the One-Party State, until voting no longer matters. After that, expect borders to be closed, lest additional migrants pose problems for the regime.

Degradation and denunciation of America’s military.

Vast imposition of quotas. Quotas will reign supreme: graduation rates, incarceration rates, hiring and firing, recruiting, contracts — everything. Whatever has a pulse will be regulated by quotas, prohibitions, and punishments.

Increased segregation in selected institutions. Separate graduation ceremonies, for instance, and separate facilities to accommodate American “diversity.” Expect this practice to spread in unexpected ways.

Increased mob violence against non-conforming citizens. Thus, if a church wants to hold classes on the Biblical view of marriage, for instance (which recently happened in Michigan), expect threats of violence to shut it down. Of course, threats of mob violence have been standard operation procedure to destroy freedom of speech in academia.

This short list also hints at why progressives hate President Trump, who inspired America’s peasant rebellion and expresses flamboyant contempt for progressive ideology. Just when Hillary was ready to continue Obama’s “transformation” of America, Trump pops up and delays the agenda; no wonder they’re furious. Most Americans don’t understand that it is not what Republicans do that bothers Progressives — it can all be quickly undone; it is the fact that Republicans exist that infuriates them. Ditto for Christians, conservatives, and others on the list; none belong in a transformed America.

Where does all this leave us? Last September, John Hinderaker of Powerline Blog commented on progressive “educational” goals stated by Edina public schools, a wealthy suburb of Minneapolis:

“[E]mbrace ancestry, genetic code and melanin.” This is what the Edina public schools are teaching elementary school children. There was a time when embracing ancestry, genetic code and melanin was a popular political program. But the Nazis lost World War II.

In a military sense, yes, Germany lost World War II, though it took the combined efforts of the globe’s great powers to defeat the regime. But elements of National Socialist ideology continue to flourish.

About 15 years ago, I had the privilege of chatting with a leader of the Social Democratic Party at a conference in Berlin. German-American relations were touchy at the time, and I asked him what he thought of Americans. “We’re grateful to Americans!” he exclaimed. “They liberated us from the Nazis.” His answer made a huge impression on me.

Which leaves the question, who will save our country from those determined to transform it in ways that would make Herr Goebbels smile? In short, who will liberate America?



Trump Pushes “Right to Try” in Controversial New Bill

Republican lawmakers introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that seeks to give sick patients the right to try experimental drugs so that they might have a fighting chance at life.

The “Right To Try” bill, unveiled to the House by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess, intends to give dying patients, including young children, greater access to experimental drugs that the Food and Drug Administration have not yet approved.

This effort intends to increase a patient’s chance of surviving their disease.

The bill would apply to “eligible patients who have been diagnosed with a stage of a disease or condition in which there is reasonable likelihood that death will occur within a matter of months, or with another eligible illness, and for other purposes.”

“This updated ‘Right to Try’ bill is the direct result of conversations with our colleagues, the administration, and stakeholders on all sides of the issue,” GOP Reps. Walden of Oregon and Burgess of Texas said in a statement, according to a Saturday press release.

“This is a complicated issue with passionate advocates on both sides and it was imperative we got the policy right. After months of thoughtful discussions, we believe this legislation is ready for a vote in the House,” they said.

The bill mandates that drug manufacturers and sponsors notify the FDA when they make an unapproved drug available to a patient, followed by a requirement that any patient using an experimental drug proceed through a rigorous informed consent process about the risks of the drug.

The bill includes provisions to protect patients from misbranded or mislabeled drugs.

It also protects doctors, sponsors, physicians, drug manufacturers, clinicians and hospitals from liability unless any party displays willful misconduct.

Sponsors and manufacturers must also report adverse effects if and when they occur, by notifying the FDA.



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, March 14, 2018

Another confirmation: High IQ goes with better health and longer life

And a further advance in finding the genes behind IQ

Clever people live longer due to so-called 'intelligence genes' that promote old age, new research suggests.

More than 500 genes linked to people having greater IQs have been identified by scientists, which is 10 times higher than previously thought.

It raises the possibility of testing for intelligence using simple saliva DNA tests.

Past research suggests intelligence genes boost the transmission of signals between different regions of the brain, as well as protecting against dementia and premature death.

Study author Dr David Hill from Edinburgh University said: 'Intelligence is a heritable trait with estimates indicating between 50 and 80 per cent of differences in intelligence can be explained by genetic factors.

'People with a higher level of cognitive function have been observed to have better physical and mental health, and to have longer lives.'

Their IQ was investigated by assessing their arithmetic, vocabulary and understanding of information, as well as their ability to arrange images and sort codes.

Results further suggest 538 genes play a role in intelligence, while 187 regions of the human genome are associated with thinking skills.

Dr Hill said: 'Our study identified a large number of genes linked to intelligence. 

'First, we found 187 independent associations for intelligence and highlighted the role of 538 genes being involved - a substantial advance.

'We used our data to predict almost seven per cent of the variation in intelligence in one of three independent samples.

'Previous estimates of prediction have been around five per cent at most.'

The findings were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The researchers analysed DNA variations in more than 240,000 people from around the world. Gene samples were taken from the UK Biobank, which assesses the role of genes in health and disease.  The researchers then compared people's DNA against their IQ scores on verbal and numerical tests.



History shows Trump is right on trade

He is attacking phony globalization

President Trump’s sudden announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum is by no means unprecedented – Presidents Reagan and George W. President Trump’s sudden announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum is by no means unprecedented – Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush took similar actions. Yet it emphasizes a reality first pointed out in these columns in 2010 and in a presentation later that year: the globalization project, beloved of Whig economists and big-government types everywhere, is falling apart. De-globalization is here to stay and, contrary to Whig belief, it will be good for the world economy and for our living standards.

The theoretical case for free trade, and to a lesser extent free movement of labor, is simple and clear-cut, first expounded by Adam Smith and David Ricardo. By reducing barriers to the movement of goods and people, production is globally optimized, so that every product is produced in the location with the greatest comparative advantage, while workers move to where they are most valuable. In this way, global output is optimized. Mathematically, it is a very simple model, full of linear equations, which are the ones economists are capable of solving.

Like all economic models, it rests on several assumptions, not all of which are valid in the real world. It ignores the fact that tariffs yield revenues to the governments imposing them, so a free trade policy imposes additional costs on that country’s citizens in the form of higher income and other direct taxes. It assumes a Gold Standard world, in which the “optimal” global production structure, once found, is stable – in our world of fluctuating fiat currencies, comparative advantage is forever shifting, so the optimal structure is valid only for a nanosecond.

Most important, it assumes no government interference at any point in the process. Producers trade with each other between a large number of independent countries, each of which is free to impose regulations and restrictions if it wants, but damages its competitiveness, its export potential and generally its economic well-being by doing so. Just as tariffs are economically damaging in this system, so too are regulations limiting imports; a prohibition against an import makes its price infinite and is thus more damaging than even the largest tariff. In the theoretical model, all goods and services are freely traded and there are no non-tariff barriers blocking them, or international organizations adding costs to the system.

Since 1991, the world’s governments have been trying to return to a free trade world, or at least that’s what they have been telling the public. In fact, the free trade world to which they are pretending to return existed for only a very short time. The Cobden Treaty of 1860, freeing trade between England and France and implementing a British free trade policy, was followed in 1862 by the U.S. Morrill Tariff, passed by the new Republican Congress and setting tariff rates at far more protectionist levels than previous U.S. tariffs. French and German tariffs followed shortly thereafter, after which the world was not one of free trade, but of protectionism, with one foolish sucker, Britain, losing industry after industry to foreign competitors and squandering its early industrial lead.

The “globalized” world we lived in from 1991 to 2016 had a number of differences from the theoretical model, which made it economically unattractive, as evidenced by the prolonged period of very inferior economic performance in 2007-16. First, after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay Round of trade talks were signed in 1994, no further global free trade deals were completed. Instead, the world indulged in an orgy of bilateral and regional deals. Even in theory, a world traversed by a cat’s cradle of bilateral and regional free trade deals is not a free trade world; flows of goods and services are diverted in numerous very complex ways and are nowhere near optimized.

More important, the bilateral and regional deals that were signed were not true free trade deals at all, because they related mostly to labor standards, environmental standards and above all, the protection of intellectual property. Patents and copyrights are not instruments of free trade, they are barriers to it. Just as free competition minimizes prices and produces an optimized economy, patents and copyrights increase prices, divert trade and make the economy more sub-optimal.

In the United States, the importance of patents and copyrights has enormously increased since the 1981 Supreme Court decision allowing software to be patented and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which gave 99-year copyrights on everything written since 1923. This legislation, together with the proliferation of patented pharmaceutical products, has resulted in an incredible tangle of “intellectual property” mostly held in offshore tax havens. By the trade treaties since 1998 in which the U.S. has been involved, these excessive protections have been extended to its trading partners, increasing costs everywhere.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, abandoned last year by President Trump, was another such boondoggle. On Congressional Budget Office figures all the benefits to the United States came in the form of $79 billion of patent and copyright fees, while U.S. manufacturing suffered a loss of $44 billion. While there needs to be some protection for intellectual property, the 14 years granted by the Copyright Act of 1709 seems ample; enforcing the grossly excessive U.S. protections merely encourages rent-seeking like the drug-price hikes of Martin Shkreli, only on a global scale.

A second way in which the “globalization” of 1991-2016 differed from the classical free trade model was in the proliferation of global organizations and regulatory agreements. Regulation in a single country hurts mostly that country’s economy; if there are many jurisdictions, a beneficial competition removes many of the most damaging impositions. However global regulation is a different matter; there is no escape from it and no possibility of seeing how much richer we would be without it. The global warming regulatory hysteria, in particular, was responsible for a least a significant part of the economic malaise of the last decade. There is now a movement to increase greatly the flow of costly and disruptive refugees that countries must absorb, all in the name of a climate change that appears not to be happening.

The modest benefits of complete free trade (as distinct from an orderly system of moderate tariffs) can very easily be swamped by the costs of global regulators and bureaucrats, loosed from any democratic or economic control. Free trade that requires a World Trade Organization to enforce it is not true free trade, and the existence of the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD and countless other international organizations counts heavily against the arguments for globalization. The ultimate globalist goal, of a world government imposing “political correctness” regulations on every single citizen, with no possibility of escape, is the worst current nightmare of the future short of nuclear holocaust; it needs to be stopped.

Globalization also appears to do more harm than good in the information area, which was not a significant consideration before the 1990s. The economies of scale in collecting information about everybody have led to a disquieting aggregation of market power among a very few huge Internet companies, which have personal data on a large percentage of the world’s inhabitants and which are thus vulnerable to hacking by “bad guy” governments and criminals generally.

Here the new de-globalization and national regulation may break up this cartel; if the EU, China, Japan and other countries impose balkanized regulations, producing a “splinternet,” the Internet behemoths will operate at a huge disadvantage outside their home markets. Moreover, a decentralized Internet, as appears to be on the way, will further fragment the market for information as well as allowing new and smaller companies, possibly with better algorithms, to compete with the behemoths.

President Trump’s proposed introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminum is squarely in the Republican tradition of the great William McKinley. A world in which global institutions have disappeared or become powerless and in which tariff barriers have returned has several advantages. It will reduce the massive swings in trade flows resulting from currency abnormalities – going back to the Gold Standard would achieve this also, but that’s not going to happen. It will prevent trade treaties that impose massive spurious “intellectual property” costs on consumers, forcing Disney World, Apple and the drug companies to price their products on a free-market basis. It will raise revenues for governments, almost all of which have huge budget deficits caused by silly “stimulus” spending in the downturn. Finally, it will disempower international bureaucrats, and ensure the disappearance of the nightmare of a “globalized” world with a monopoly global government.

Like most Whig panaceas, globalization produced much less benefit than it claimed, at a much higher cost. It was the equivalent of the 1834 Poor Law, which pushed the immiserated working classes into filthy and deliberately unpleasant workhouses. While not ignoring the genuine gains from careful application of the Smith/Ricardo model, we should wholeheartedly welcome the reversal of bureaucrat- and politician-led globalization.



Unemployment Claims at Lowest Level in 49 Years Because of Tax Reform Law

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, jobless claims are lower than they’ve been in several decades, and the manufacturing sector is growing at the fastest rate than it has in over a decade, and it’s all because of the new tax cut reform law.

“We had some really great news last week spurred on by the new tax reform law. For starters, new data revealed that consumer confidence hit a 17-year high last week. People are optimistic about the future, which encourages more spending, more investment. It’s a sign of a healthy, growing economy,” Ryan told reporters at a House GOP leadership press conference.

"Second of all, Labor Department reported that jobless claims in the United States - the number of people filing for unemployment dropped to its lowest level in almost five decades. Think about that for a second. We saw just last week, the number of people filing for unemployment going to the lowest level in 49 years,” he said.

“People are getting work. Companies are hiring more workers. This is very, very important. Also, U.S. manufacturing is expanding at the fastest rate in nearly 14 years. These are all very encouraging numbers, and it’s undeniable that real people are being helped by the personal tax cuts and the Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” the speaker said.



The New Challenge to Obamacare

Readers may be familiar with a new constitutional challenge by 20 state attorneys general to the Affordable Care Act, which Ilya blogged about here. Their argument, in a nutshell, is that with the amount of the penalty for failing to have health insurance now set to zero, the individual insurance "requirement"--AKA the "individual mandate"--can no longer be justified as a tax. This is so because one of the essential characteristics of a tax is that it raises at least some revenue for the government. For this reason, the "saving construction" employed by Chief Justice Roberts no longer applies, as it is no longer even a "reasonably possible" reading of the insurance requirement, which now raises no revenue.

On this claim, the AG's are on very strong ground. To the extent they are correct, the NFIB v. Sebelius was a bigger victory than we realized when it was decided, as it left the insurance mandate susceptible to being killed off in this way via reconciliation.

More HERE 


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, March 13, 2018

Conservatives tend to find the past informative;  Leftists live in an eternal present

My heading above is a good summary of actual politics and is something conservatives often say.  So,  would you believe it?  Some Leftist psychologists have just "discovered" that historic contrast.

They found that if you supported a Leftist claim by pointing out some historical support for it then conservatives were more likely to believe it.  They also found that history didn't move Leftists.

Amusing that they think they have discovered something new.  It shows how rarely Leftists listen to conservatives.  They managed a bit of "spin", however.  They refer to interest in the past as "nostalgia" -- showing how Leftist they themselves are.  Nostalgia is roughly definable as a foolish liking for the past.  Conservatives don't think the lessons of the past are at all foolish

Past-Focused Temporal Communication Overcomes Conservatives’ Resistance to Liberal Political Ideas.

Lammers, J., & Baldwin, M.


Nine studies and a meta-analysis test the role of past-focused temporal communication in reducing conservatives’ disagreement with liberal political ideas. We propose that conservatives are more prone to warm, affectionate, and nostalgic feelings for past society. Therefore, they are more likely to support political ideas—including those expressing liberal values—that can be linked to a desirable past state (past focus), rather than a desirable future state (future focus) of society. Study 1 supports our prediction that political conservatives are more nostalgic for the past than liberals. Building on this association, we demonstrate that communicating liberal ideas with a past focus increases conservatives’ support for leniency in criminal justice (Studies 2a and 2b), gun control (Study 3), immigration (Study 4), social diversity (Study 5), and social justice (Study 6). Communicating messages with a past focus reduced political disagreement (compared with a future focus) between liberals and conservatives by between 30 and 100% across studies. Studies 5 and 6 identify the mediating role of state and trait nostalgia, respectively. Study 7 shows that the temporal communication effect only occurs under peripheral (and not central) information processing. Study 8 shows that the effect is asymmetric; a future focus did not increase liberals’ support for conservative ideas. A mixed-effects meta-analysis across all studies confirms that appealing to conservatives’ nostalgia with a past-focused temporal focus increases support for liberal political messages (Study 9). A large portion of the political disagreement between conservatives and liberals appears to be disagreement over style, and not content of political issues.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Warren’s Response to DNA Test Is Evasive

She does an angry speech well so would be a good Democrat presidential candidate but this lie from the past will stop that.  A sad lesson for her but lies come easily to Democrats

Democrat Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has long faced questions regarding her dubious claims of Native American heritage, a supposed heritage she is alleged to have used to claim minority status to advance her academic career at Harvard Law School.

The questionable nature of her claim — which essentially boils down to stories from her grandmother and her “high cheekbones” as evidence — has resulted in her being tagged with the derisively humorous nickname “Pocahontas” by President Donald Trump and has spurred demands that she produce some sort of indisputable proof to buttress her claim.

The controversy even caused a Massachusetts paper, the Berkshire Eagle, to suggest she simply take a commercial DNA test to settle the dispute once and for all.

But that simple $99 solution to end the debate doesn’t appear to be part of Warren’s plans, as she revealed during a round of Sunday morning talk shows.

“I know who I am. And never used it for anything. Never got any benefit from it anywhere,” Warren said on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” according to the New York Post.



White House plan includes gun training for teachers

He considered possibilities that worried some conservatives but in the end his actual policy is very moderate

President Donald Trump's plan to combat school shootings will include helping states pay for firearms training for teachers and a call to improve the background check system.

But Trump's plan will not include a push to increase the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons or an embrace of more comprehensive background checks, as Trump has at times advocated.

Instead, a new federal commission on school safety will examine the age issue, as well as a long list of others topics, as part of a longer-term look at school safety and violence.



Union President Drops Pro-Trump Bombshell… Democrats’ Worst Fears Are Coming True

Unions have been seen as the foundation of Democrat election victories for decades. The loyalty of those workers to vote blue has been taken for granted by liberal politicians since at least the 1960’s… but that could now be changing.

Donald Trump’s tariff proposals have generated serious controversy, with some critics calling them “protectionism.” The economic soundness of the president’s plan is still up for debate, but as a political move it might have been genius.

A major union has just revealed that they’re warming to Trump, and their traditionally blue votes could be switching to red very soon.

During a Thursday interview with the decidedly anti-Trump MSNBC network, the president of United Steelworkers had shockingly positive words to say about Trump and his tariff plan.

“Gerard praised Trump for making it clear he is going to ‘tackle trade deficits’ which he called a ‘wealth transfer’ because they are ‘taking good jobs away,'” reported Real Clear Politics.

“It’s going to make it very hard for our members to ignore what he just did and what makes me sad is we’ve been trying to get Democrats to this for more than 30 years,” Gerard told MSNBC host Chuck Todd.

That statement could be huge: United Steelworkers is the largest industrial labor union in the entire country, with close to a million members. The union also has close connections to other groups, including AFL-CIO, a powerful lobbying and voting bloc.

It’s worth noting that not only did the president of one of America’s largest unions essentially endorse Trump, but he also slammed Democrats for their failed promises in the same breath.



Democrats’ Potential Campaign Platform Calls for Immigration Control to Be Thrown Out the Window

It would lose them a huge lot of votes but they may be that foolish.  Trump has driven them mad

Left-wing pundits and activists are increasing pressure on Democrat politicians to embrace the fringe position of abolishing ICE.

Once a fringe idea on the far-left, abolishing the nation’s immigration enforcement agency now looks likely to become a campaign issue in the Democrats’ 2020 presidential primary.

Former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon came out for abolishing the agency in January.  “ICE operates as an unaccountable deportation force,” Fallon argued. “Dems running in 2020 should campaign on ending the agency in its current form.”

In a Friday article titled, “Not Good Enough, Kamala Harris,” liberal writer Jack Mirkinson slammed California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris for her answer to a question about whether or not ICE should be abolished.

“Any serious defender of undocumented people in this country would look at ICE and know that it is a cancer that needs to be excised from the U.S. Pretending that the most diseased levers of state power can be molded into something better is a useless fantasy. ICE must be abolished. Anything less is not good enough,” Mirkinson wrote on Splinter, a left-wing website.

“Kamala Harris is very likely running for president in 2020. It should be a political problem for her that she is not willing to take her criticisms of ICE to their logical conclusion and call for its abolition. She should be asked, over and over again, why exactly she is willing to uphold the legitimacy of such a racist, corrupt, and thuggish organization,” Markinson concluded.

“Anyone else who decides to run — Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Eric Garcetti, you name it — should be asked the same question.”

Left-wing publication The Nation pushed out a similar piece on Friday, entitled “It’s Time to Abolish ICE.”



Time to Get Over the Russophobia

Patrick J. Buchanan

Unless there is a late surge for Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, who is running second with 7 percent, Vladimir Putin will be re-elected president of Russia for another six years on March 18.

Then we must decide whether to continue on course into a second Cold War, or engage Russia, as every president sought to do in Cold War I.

For our present conflict, Vladimir Putin is not alone at fault. His actions have often been reactions to America's unilateral moves.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, we brought all of the Warsaw Pact members and three former republics of the USSR into our military alliance, NATO, to corral Russia. How friendly was that?

Putin responded with his military buildup in the Baltic.

George W. Bush abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that Richard Nixon had negotiated, Putin responded with a buildup of the offensive missiles he put on display last week.

The U.S. helped to instigate the Maidan Square coup that dumped over the elected pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

To prevent the loss of his Sebastopol naval base on the Black Sea, Putin countered by annexing the Crimean Peninsula.

After peaceful protests in Syria were put down by Bashar Assad, we sent arms to Syrian rebels to overthrow the Damascus regime.

Seeing his last naval base in the Med, Tartus, imperiled, Putin came to Assad's aid and helped him win the civil war.

Russia is acting again as a great power. And she sees us as a nation that slapped away her hand, extended in friendship in the 1990s, and then humiliated her by planting NATO on her front porch.

Yet, what is also clear is that Putin hoped and believed that, with the election of Trump, Russia might be able to restore respectful if not friendly relations with the United States.

Clearly, Putin wanted that, as did Trump.

Yet, with the Beltway hysteria over hacking of the DNC and John Podesta emails, and the Russophobia raging in this capital, we appear to be paralyzed when it comes to engaging with Russia.

The U.S. political system, said Putin this week, "has been eating itself up." Is his depiction that wide of the mark?

What is the matter with us?

Three years after Nikita Khrushchev sent tanks into Budapest to drown the Hungarian revolution in blood, Eisenhower was hosting him on a 10-day visit to the USA.

Two years after the Berlin Wall went up, and eight months after Khrushchev installed missiles in Cuba, Kennedy reached out to the Soviet dictator in his widely praised American University speech.

Lyndon Johnson met with Russian President Alexei Kosygin in Glassboro, New Jersey, just weeks after we almost clashed over Moscow's threat to intervene in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

Six months after Leonid Brezhnev sent tank armies to crush the Prague Spring in August 1968, an inaugurated Nixon was seeking detente.

In those years, no matter who was in the White House or Kremlin, the U.S. establishment favored engagement with Moscow. It was the right that was skeptical or hostile.

Again, what is the matter with this generation?

True, Vladimir Putin is an autocrat seeking a fourth term, like FDR.

But what Russian leader, save Yeltsin, has not been an autocrat? And Russians today enjoy freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, travel, politics, and the press that the generations before 1989 never knew.

China, not Russia, has the more repressive single-party Communist state.

Indeed, which of these U.S. allies shows greater tolerance than Putin's Russia? The Philippines of Rodrigo Duterte, the Egypt of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Turkey of President Erdogan, or the Saudi Arabia of Prince Mohammad bin Salman?

Russia is nowhere near the strategic or global threat the Soviet Union presented. As Putin conceded this week, with the breakup of the USSR, his nation "lost 23.8 percent of its national territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 percent of its gross domestic product and 44.6 percent of its military capacity."

How would Civil War Unionists have reacted if the South had won independence and then, to secure the Confederacy against a new invasion, Dixie entered into an alliance with Great Britain, gave the Royal Navy bases in New Orleans and Charleston, and allowed battalions of British troops to deploy in Virginia?

Japan negotiates with Putin's Russia over the southern Kuril Islands lost at the end of World War II. Bibi Netanyahu has met many times with Putin, though he is an ally of Assad, whom Bibi would like to see ousted, and has a naval and air base not far from Israel's border.

We Americans have far more fish to fry with Russia than Bibi.

Strategic arms control. De-escalation in the Baltic, Ukraine and the Black Sea. Ending the war in Syria. North Korea. Space. Afghanistan. The Arctic. The war on terror.

Yet all we seem to hear from our elite is endless whining that Putin has not been sanctioned enough for desecrating "our democracy."

Get over it.



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

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


Monday, March 12, 2018

Pardoned Sailor Thanks Trump, Turns Around And Blasts Hillary, Obama And The DOJ

The recently pardoned former sailor prosecuted for taking photos of classified areas of a nuclear submarine is now speaking out about what he feels is a “double standard of justice” in America based on political affiliation.

Appearing Friday night on Fox News Channel’s “Watters’ World,” Kristian Saucier agreed with host Jesse Watters’ assertion that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to communicate sensitive information was a more serious offense than his — and one for which she was not prosecuted.

Saucier, who learned of his pardon by President Donald Trump earlier this week, is still under house arrest after serving a year behind bars.

In addition to his own example, he cited former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of an ongoing probe into Russia’s alleged influence in the 2016 presidential election, as evidence of the supposed bias.

“I think it’s blatant proof of the double standard of justice in this country and how the FBI and the Department of Justice were weaponized under the Obama administration to go after conservatives like myself and Gen. Flynn while letting unpatriotic liberals like Hillary Clinton and her aides skate,” Saucier said.

Speaking to Watters remotely due to the restrictions of his sentence, the former submariner said it was “very upsetting” to him and “should be upsetting for all American people that we are held to a different standard than crooked politicians.”

Saucier went on to criticize former FBI Director James Comey, who recommended in 2016 against prosecuting the Democratic presidential nominee.

At the time, Comey said that although investigators found “evidence of potential violations regarding the handling of classified information,” his conclusion was that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

He went on to say that in “looking back at our investigations into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.”

Saucier said he saw things differently.

“I watched all of those speeches that Comey gave and it was while I was in my legal battles and I said, ‘Well, I know a prosecutor who would bring a charge against somebody for far lesser,'” he said.

While Comey determined there was no evidence Clinton acted with criminal intent, Saucier said that was not a factor in his case.

“There was never any argument that I had nefarious intent or I had intent to cause national harm,” he said. “That’s not a requirement for the law that they prosecuted me under, so it’s not the requirement for Hillary Clinton.”

If “gross negligence” is a sufficient standard for his own case, he concluded that it should suffice for the former secretary of state.

“I basically possessed classified images on an unsecured device — my cell phone — and that was breaking the law by unlawful retention of national defense information, which is exactly what Hillary Clinton did on a much larger scale with much more secure information,” Saucier said. “And nothing happened to her.”


Even Bernie Sanders Is Fed Up with CNN, Sends Aggressive Message Right to Their Face

You know you’ve gone too far when even Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks you’re over the top. During a surprising moment of clarity on Friday, the 76-year-old senator and socialist took a shot at CNN — and even we have to admit that he has a point.

While being interviewed during a session with journalist Jake Tapper at the South by Southwest festival in Texas, the aging leftist called out the mainstream media for obsessing over largely irrelevant stories and tabloid controversies.

“Let me bring something up,” Tapper said, trying to steer the conversation after the interview was underway.

“Stormy Daniels,” Sanders jumped in.

Jake Tapper seemed surprised that Bernie brought up the adult film star who has claimed that she received “hush money” from Donald Trump over an alleged affair from over a decade ago.

“You keep bringing her name up,” Tapper prompted, according to the Washington Examiner. “Not as much as CNN does,” Bernie hit back.

Sanders then scolded CNN for its seemingly constant coverage of the Stormy Daniels “scandal,” when there were far more important issues facing the country.

“In this country, we have a lot of people who are in pain — single mothers, people who can’t afford college — they want to see something that reflects their reality,” Sanders declared.

The Vermont senator and former presidential candidate made it clear that he was no fan of Donald Trump, but pointed out that constantly pretending that Trump supporters were unhinged, racist radicals wasn’t doing the left any favors.

“Our job is to talk to people respectfully,” Sanders lectured CNN. “Not most (Trump supporters) are racist, sexist or xenophobes. They are hurting and want change — change to the middle class and not the 1 percent,” he pointed out. “Everyone in this room has to participate.”

This may be a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so brace yourself: Bernie Sanders is right.

His socialist philosophy and grasp of basic economics are dead wrong, but when it comes to admonishing the mainstream media for their obsession with non-stories and acting as if Trump voters are insane, he’s right on the money.

We saw time and again that outlets like CNN and MSNBC have receded into an echo chamber, increasingly detached from reality and the rest of the country.

Take their hysteria over Trump’s alleged “s—hole” comment, for instance: Almost every normal American uses such language once in a while, but CNN talking heads including Don Lemon blew a gasket pretending that it was the most appalling phrase they’d ever heard.

Amazingly, Sanders seems to understand something that even media “experts” fail to grasp: Donald Trump won the presidency not by luck, but because he spoke to a large swath of the public who felt abandoned, ignored and forgotten.

The issues that Bernie and conservatives believe are the most important may vary dramatically — thank goodness for that — but his call for the media to start covering real stories is appropriate. CNN may hate being called “fake news,” but it’s a label their own coverage helped create.



Bob Woodward: Many reporters have 'become emotionally unhinged' covering Trump

Veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward says some journalists have "become emotionally unhinged" while covering President Trump, urging them to keep their personal politics out of their work.

“A number of reporters have at times become emotionally unhinged about it all, one way or the other,” Woodward told Newsweek in an interview published Thursday, citing cable news networks Fox News and MSNBC as examples.

“You will see those continually either denigrating Trump or praising him,” he added. “I think the answer is in the middle … it’s important to get your personal politics out.”

Reporting from Woodward and Post colleague Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

This isn't the first time the 74-year-old legend has appealed directly to reporters to keep personal feelings out of their work.

"We need to calm it down and listen more," he told The Atlantic in March 2017. "Be on the surface respectful, but never stop the inquiry.”

"I worry, I worry for the business, for the perception of the business, not just Trump supporters, they see that smugness … I think you can ride both horses, intensive inquiry, investigation, not letting up … at the same time, realize that it's not our job to do an editorial on this," Woodward also told Axios last year.



Black Man Blows the Lid Off the Real Reason the Left Keeps Calling Trump Racist

For the eight years of the Barack Obama presidency, the mainstream media played along while liberals accused vast swaths of America of “racism” for declining to go along with the myth that American institutions were built to oppress blacks.

But Shelby Steele, a black man and respected conservative author, just published a message that all Americans need to hear — especially after the social justice warriors, Black Lives Matter marchers, and “woke” racial rioters unleashed during the Obama era.

And it explains everything about why the lies the media and the American left keep telling about President Donald Trump won’t really work.

“Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all — liberal and conservative alike — know that he isn’t one,” Steele wrote this week in The Wall Street Journal. “The jig is up.”

That’s the heart of the matter. Not even liberals really believe their own lies anymore about Trump or Republicans in general — if they ever did.

Steele’s essay is headlined “The Exhaustion of American Liberalism.” In just under 1,000 words, it describes why the left continues to bang the “racism” drum when it comes to critics

“America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt,” Steele wrote. “We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us …

“White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.”

And it was in large part a reaction to that “mock guilt” that led to the election of Barack Obama, one of the most manifestly ill-equipped men ever to hold the nation’s highest office.

For the Democrat political machine, of course, Obama was just another horse to ride on the path to power.

But for many white Americans, the Obama candidacy was a chance to finally absolve themselves and the country of the “original sin” of slavery and racism. So they took a chance on a guy they never heard of, steeped in the corruption of Chicago Democrat politics, and hoped for the best.

That ended in disaster and scandal — an economy in the toilet, record numbers of Americans on food stamps at home, the rise of dictators abroad with contempt for the United States. And all Democrats offered was more of the same in the candidacy of the hate-mongering Hillary Clinton.

So Americans turned to the alternative in one of the greatest upsets in the country’s political history.

The left started accusing Trump of “racism” long before his victory in November 2016, and it’s only intensified since then.

But as Steele points out, liberals are fighting in a battle that passed a half-century ago. The country has changed, and Americans know it.

Democrats and the “progressive” left love to describe conservative resistance to Obama as “racism.” But resistance to suicidal domestic plans (Obamacare, normalizing “transgender” mental disorders) and humiliating appeasement in foreign policy (the Iran nuclear deal) isn’t racism, and even liberals know it.

But they don’t know any other way to fight. As Steele writes:

“Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965 — an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.”

Thanks in part to justifiable and welcome progress the country has made in racial equality, America isn’t lacking that self-knowledge anymore.

Steele’s op-ed blew the lid off the real reason Democrats call Trump and his supporters “racists.” It’s a game they’ve played for 50 years now, and it’s a game they’ve won doing it.

But Trump’s election changed that. And, as Steele put it, “the jig is up.”



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, March 11, 2018

Trump to Meet With Kim Jong-un; Says ‘Sanctions Will Remain Until an Agreement Is Reached’

This is a Great Leap Forward and a huge victory for Trump's tough approach.  It's inconceivable that Kim will completely give up his toys but in return for a guarantee of safety for his regime he could well become unthreatening.  He may in fact want to be left alone to modernize in his own way.  In the last year  or so he has opened up a number of small supermarkets in North Korea.  The superior wealth generation of the capitalist system cannot be lost on him.  He was at a dead end with his grandfather's "Juche" policy

President Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un “at a place and time to be determined,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed on Thursday night.

The president meanwhile tweeted that a meeting was “being planned,” and stressed that “sanctions will remain” in place until a denuclearization agreement has been reached.

South Korean national security advisor Chung Eui-yong told reporters after briefing Trump at the White House earlier that during talks in Pyongyang this week, Kim Jong-un had “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.”

“President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization,” Chung added.

The South Korean official attributed the evident breakthrough to Trump’s leadership and his policy of bringing “maximum pressure” to bear on the regime, along with “international solidarity.”



Trump Imposes Foreign Steel, Aluminum Tariffs in Defense of National Security

The reaction of almost everyone on this has had me falling about with laughter.  They have all been popping blood-vessels  attacking the policy.  None of them considered that in Trump they have an expert negotiator -- one who does "deals". In this case he was negotiating with almost the whole world.  And in any deal you start off big in your demands and then gradually retreat to a compromise position.  And, true to form, Trump has done just that.  And he has made big concessions.  Just exempting Canada is a huge concession.  Around 50% of the imported steel sold in the USA comes from Canada!  So his tariffs have already lost half their bite.  So we will probably end up with a modest measure that protects American steel-makers from further closures but not much more

President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise by formally announcing Thursday that he is imposing tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, saying American industries have been targeted for decades by unfair foreign trade practices - something that’s not only an “economic disaster” but a “security disaster.”

“Our industries have been targeted for years and years and decades in fact by unfair foreign trade practices leading to the shuttered plants and mills, the laying off of millions of workers and the decimation of entire communities, and that’s going to stop,” he said. “This is not merely an economic disaster, but it’s a security disaster.

“We want to build our ships. We want to build our planes. We want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminum from our country. And now we’re finally taking action to correct this long overdue problem. It’s a travesty. Today I’m defending America’s national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum,” the president said.



155,215,000: Record Number of Americans Employed

This is the important figure

The number of employed Americans has now broken eight records, most recently in February, since President Donald Trump took office.

155,215,000 Americans were employed in February, 785,000 more than last month’s record 154,430,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The number of employed Black Americans hit a record high of 19,087,000 last month, and a record 72,530,000 women 16 and older were counted as employed.

The labor force participation rate increased three-tenths of a point, and the nation’s unemployment rate remained at a low 4.1 percent for a fifth straight month.



The Rapid 'Progress' of Progressivism.  They always want more

Victor Davis Hanson
Not long ago I waited for a flight to board. The plane took off 45 minutes late. There were only two attendants to accommodate 11 passengers who had requested wheelchair assistance.

Such growing efforts to ensure that the physically challenged can easily fly are certainly welcome. But when our plane landed — late and in danger of causing many passengers to miss their connecting flights — most of the 11 wheelchair-bound passengers left their seats unassisted and hurried out. It was almost as if newfound concerns about making connections had somehow improved their health during the flight.

Two passengers had boarded with two dogs each. No doubt the airlines’ policy of allowing an occasional dog on a flight is understandable. But now planes are starting to sound and smell like kennels.

Special blue parking placards were initially a long-overdue effort to help the disabled. But these days, the definition of “disabled” has so expanded that a large percentage of the population can qualify for special parking privileges — or cheat in order to qualify.

In California, 26,000 disabled parking placards are currently issued to people over 100 years of age, even though state records list only about 8,000 living centenarians.

Current crises such as homelessness and illegal immigration did not start out as much of a public concern.

Originally, progressive politicians felt that cities should bend their vagrancy laws a bit to allow some of the poor to camp on the sidewalks. Bathroom and public health issues were considered minor, given the relatively small pool of so-called “street people.”

Few objected to illegal immigration in the 1960s and 1970s. Foreign nationals came unlawfully across the border in relatively small numbers — thousands, not millions. Fifty years ago, America was eager to assimilate even the few arrivals who arrived illegally. Not now. The melting pot gave way to the identity politics of the tribe that asks little integration of the newcomers.

Whether out of guilt or out of fear of being perceived as exclusionary by harder leftists, progressives cannot, or will not, draw realistic limits to illegal immigration or homelessness. Yet both cost the law-abiding public billions of dollars in social services, often at the expense of American poor.

This rapid spread of progressivism leads to an endless race for absolute equality and an erosion of prior rules. It also makes once-liberal positions seem passe, recasting those positions as dangerously reactionary.

In 2008, Barack Obama ran for president on a number of Bill Clinton’s centrist Democratic policies. Obama opposed gay marriage as contrary to his own Christian beliefs.

Obama supported increased security along the border with Mexico. As a senator, he had voted for a 2006 measure to create 700 miles of new fencing along the Mexican border.

But by the time Obama sought re-election in 2012, progressives were routinely labeling Obama’s positions on gay marriage and immigration as homophobic and nativist, respectively.

Twenty years ago, there was honest debate over global warming. Ten years ago, there was still honest debate over the effects of human-induced climate change. Five years ago, there was still honest debate over the cost-benefit analysis of dealing with the problem.

Not now. Anyone who doubts that there is an existential man-caused threat to the planet — requiring the radical and costly reconstruction of the global economy and society — is considered a “denier,” deserving of professional ostracism or worse.

In the eternal search for perfect justice and equality, what starts out as liberal can quickly end up as progressively absurd. The logic of equality of result, rather than equality of opportunity, demands that there is always one more group, one more grievance, one more complaint against the shrinking and overwhelmed majority.

The conservative ancient Athenian philosopher Plato once made his megaphone Socrates lament that in ancient Athens’ nonstop search for perfect equality, soon even the horses would have to be accorded the same privileges as humans.

Socrates’ fantasy was an exaggeration intended as a reminder about the craziness of always-creeping mandated equality. Now it seems not far from the mainstream positions of animal-rights groups.

If we insist that the human experience is not tragic and cyclical but instead must always bend on some predetermined arc to absolute equality and fairness, then unfortunate results must follow.

One, what is welcomed as progressive on Monday is derided as intolerable on Tuesday. The French and Russian revolutions went through several such cycles. After reformers had removed absolute rulers, the reformers were soon derided as too timid. Then came far more radical revolutionaries, who were in turn beheaded or shot as dangerous counter-revolutionaries.

Second, when rules and regulations are always watered down as too exclusionary, the descent to no rules is quite short. The ultimate destination is nihilism and chaos. We see that now in Venezuela and Cuba — and increasingly in California as well.



Medicaid work requirements will make us healthy, wealthy, and wise

For many years, government reports have said spending on entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, are unsustainable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuary projects that by 2023, annual Medicaid expenditures will total $850.1 billion, of which $521.8 billion will be federal expenditures and $328.3 will be covered by the states.

On Nov. 7, 2017, CMS Administrator Seema Verma spoke before the National Association of Medicaid Directors and announced steps the Trump administration was taking to modernize and improve the Medicaid program through Section 1115 Demonstration Waivers. Administrator Verma pointed out that in 1985, Medicaid only consumed 10 percent of states’ budgets; by 2016, it increased to 29 percent. She also said, “One of the things that states have told us time and time again is that they want more flexibility to engage their working-age, able-bodied citizens on Medicaid. They want to develop programs that will help them break the chains of poverty and live up to their fullest potential. We support this.”

 Contrary to the hysterical claims that these waivers will be devastating and punish Medicaid beneficiaries, exemptions from the work requirements include the medically frail and disabled, pregnant women, former foster-care youth, primary caregivers, and full-time students. The waiver is primarily aimed at able-bodied adult beneficiaries between the ages of 19 and 64 that obtained health insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

CMS issued guidance on Jan. 11 to help states incentivize work and community engagement requirements. Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., already had a work-requirement waiver pending before CMS, but it was denied during the Obama administration. On Jan. 12, Kentucky became the first state to receive federal approval to impose work requirements as a condition of Medicaid coverage.

Although Bevin campaigned in 2015 to reverse the Medicaid expansion that was implemented through an executive order by his predecessor, he instead submitted the waiver request in August 2016 and has taken a lot of heat ever since. He believes the reforms will not only help individuals climb out of poverty, promote self-sufficiency, and improve their health, they will also save the state and federal taxpayers $2 billion during the five-year demonstration period. Medicaid expansion is costing Kentucky far more than anticipated and Bevin has said its cost is unsustainable. In 2012, spending on Medicaid was $5.8 billion; in 2016 spending on Medicaid was $9.9 billion, an increase of 71 percent.

Starting in July 2018, able-bodied adult beneficiaries will be required to complete 80 hours per month of community engagement such as working, education, job skills training, or community service. The waiver will also allow the state to charge minimal monthly premiums between $1 - $15 depending on income, and to suspend some individuals from the program if they fall behind in payments.

Eight other states — Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin — have applied for similar work-requirement or community service waivers. On Feb. 12, 2017, Indiana became the second state to receive permission to impose work requirements.

Within 12 days of Kentucky obtaining the waiver, three big-government aficionados, The Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Health Law Program, and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, arguing that only Congress can approve these changes. Their objective is to stop any changes to Medicaid, which desperately needs to be reformed. The lawsuit endangers other enacted changes, such as requiring beneficiary premiums.

Bevin expected there would be a legal challenge to stop any attempts to reform Medicaid. Almost immediately after receiving CMS approval for the waiver, the governor filed his own executive order, ordering state officials to terminate Obamacare Medicaid expansion because the commonwealth will not be able to afford the program without the changes.

Verma is correct when she said it is time to move away from a “Washington knows best” policy and pointed out that CMS has long believed that people living with disabilities need to have meaningful work because it was essential for their economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, well-being, and improving their health. “Why would we not believe that the same is true for working-age, able-bodied Medicaid enrollees?” she asked.

Bevin, the nine other governors, and Administrator Verma should be commended for wanting to reform Medicaid. Apparently, the public agrees with them. A June 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation poll believes 70 percent of Americans favored allowing states to impose work requirements on non-disabled adults who receive Medicaid. Taxpayers know that this sort of Medicaid reform will go a long way to averting a future fiscal calamity.

Elizabeth Wright is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is director of health and science policy for Citizens Against Government Waste.



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