Friday, March 23, 2018

Are Liberals High On Dopamine?

An interesting hypothesis below.  The motive behind political correctness has always seemed clear to me:  It is just another form of Leftist destruction, destroying customary speech.  But it is proposed below that PC has another motive:  Creating a sense of belonging in the PC individual. By being correct you ally yourself with the predominant view and against foolish and uncaring old-fashioned people.  You place yourself among an approving community of the good and the wise.

There may be something in that but if the motive is to be part of a comforting group, wouldn't that wish be better served by identifying with the unreformed majority?  Politically correct speech is the province of a small minority, albeit a minority that the intellectual elite approve of

I have no doubt that being PC evokes warm feelings of righteousness but does that arise from feeling part of a group or from something else?  I think it arises from the usual Leftist egotistical motive of wanting to appear wiser and kinder than "the herd".

Leftism is fundamentally egotistical.  You have to be quite an egotist to think that you know how to change the world for the better but it is REALLY egotistical to think that you and your party are entitled push your vision through by force or coercion.  You have to think very highly of yourself to believe all that

I am reading an excellent analysis of PC behavior by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, entitled How I Escaped Political Correctness And You Can Too. She says that biology drives PC behavior:

I looked for answers that fit reality as I’d lived it. My search led to amazing research on the social behavior of animals. This showed me that political correctness is biological. The brain chemicals that make us feel good are inherited from earlier mammals. They reward us for behaviors that promote survival in the state of nature. Political correctness stimulates your reward chemicals in primal ways.

I’m not saying we’re hard-wired. On the contrary, our neurons are not connected at birth. We connect them from life experience, and these connections make us who we are. Early experience wires you to expect rewards and pain in ways that happened before. Political correctness wires you to expect rewards and pain in specific ways. It’s hard to re-wire yourself after the neuroplasticity of youth, which is why people cling to political correctness even when they see its flaws.

I finally ripped off the PC goggles and looked at the world without them. You can say I haven’t escaped political correctness because it’s still there. But I have stopped filtering reality through the lens built by the gatekeepers of political correctness. I have learned to focus on the pleasure of my own choices instead of on solidarity with suffering. You can rip off the PC goggles and enjoy your own choices too. You’ll be glad you did!

So when people act in politically correct ways, as mammals, their brains are stimulated with "happy chemicals" such as oxytocin or dopamine: "mamamals seek safety in numbers because the brain rewards it with oxytocin" ... "The joy of dopamine is released when you approach a reward"..."Political correctness promises new rewards, and shames you for seeking rewards in other ways."

If this is the case, why are some of us not programmed to "get high" off political correctness?" In fact, when I hear people being PC, I feel mistrustful of them for being driven by PCness rather than the truth. Maybe the rest of us who are not PC simply get high from different values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Clinton/Facebook Document Exposed… Media Narrative Destroyed,/b>

Another attack on the Trump presidency is turning into an embarrassment for Democrats.

Since The New York Times report on Saturday that a company with ties to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had mined the personal information of millions of Facebook users, the media and Capitol Hill have been filled with more accusations about undercover help Trump got before the 2016 vote.

But internal Hillary Clinton campaign emails being published by WikiLeaks show the real scandal is just starting to come out – and the real villains are Democrats and the Hillary campaign, again.

Since the reports about the Trump-linked Cambridge Analytica first appeared, reports have already surfaced that Facebook allowed the Barack Obama re-election campaign wide access to user data back in 2012.

But emails released by WikiLeaks show just how closely Facebook was working with the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016.

An email exchange between Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, makes it clear the two were political soulmates, dedicated to a Hillary Clinton victory.

“Wishing you a happy new year,” Podesta wrote on Jan. 2, 2016. “2015 was challenging, but we ended in a good place thanks to your help and support. Look forward to working with you to help elect the first woman president of the United States.”



Nullification: Calif. Town Takes Massive Stand Against State’s Sanctuary Law

Tensions between the state of California and the federal government over “sanctuary laws” are already tense — but now even cities are joining the fray, and starting to reject liberal immigration policies at the local level.

A law recently signed by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown gives cover to illegal immigrants who are arrested in California, by prohibiting police from telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement when a criminal who is facing deportation is released from detention.

In other words, Democrats in California want to purposely block law enforcement from communicating and enforcing the law… and the city of Los Alamitos just sent a strong message back to the governor.

“(The) California city voted on Monday to exempt itself from the state’s sanctuary law, which limits cooperation between local authorities and federal immigration enforcement,” reported Fox News.

“Following more than two hours of heated testimony from residents on both sides of the debate, the Los Alamitos City Council voted 4-1 to opt out of the California Values Act,” continued the report.

The local ordinance passed by Los Alamitos declares that the liberal sanctuary policy “may be in direct conflict with federal laws and the Constitution.”

Incredibly, it looks like at least one group still takes the Constitution seriously, and is standing up for the oath that elected officials and law enforcement officers take to the founding principles of America.

The council announced that it “finds that it is impossible to honor our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” without opting out of the liberal sanctuary law.



Give Freedom a Chance

 One of the typical responses to criticism of a government policy, program, or other undertaking is the demand for an answer to the question, “What is your alternative?” Often this challenge demands a blueprint or other detailed plan for the alternative to the governmental status quo. Absent such a fully articulated plan, one’s criticism is often dismissed as mere carping by someone who has no idea about how to replace the present government undertaking.

My own alternative is simply freedom. Get the government completely out of whatever it is now doing so badly, whether it be educating youth, protecting the public from crime, or keeping the economy in flourishing operation. Of course, the critic is likely to dismiss this answer on the grounds that it constitutes nothing but a shibboleth, a magic word that is taken to solve all the problems even though it lacks any definite plan or arrangement for a solution.

This response, however, only reveals that the critic does not understand how a free society operates or what may reasonably be demanded of its supporters. The essence of freedom is the unrestricted ability to make changes without the government’s permission and without spelling out how all the various elements of the change will operate or be brought about.

For example, when Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and a few other entrepreneurs were introducing and developing the technology and business arrangements of the personal computer industry, they themselves did not know how this industry would be developed over the years and all the ramifications it would produce throughout the economy and society. If asked, they could not have spelled out everything that would flow from their initial impetus, who would do what next, and how all of these free actions would play out in the larger context. No one could have said, and those who ventured a guess were often, as seen later, ridiculously off base in their forecasts. That’s how a free economy and society develop, in spontaneous steps taken by decentralized decision makers.

So when a critic demands, “What is your alternative?” and you answer, Freedom, do not feel dismayed if you cannot provide a detailed blueprint. No one can. Nor should anyone be expected or required to carry out this impossible task. Freedom cannot be reduced to a static diagram of specific inputs, transformations, and outputs. It is an ongoing process. It is the sum total of what people do when no overriding authority holds them back. No one should feel embarrassed or inadequate when someone demands, “What is your alternative?” and one cannot respond in great detail.

Freedom is an endless venture into the unknown, the working out of problems as they present themselves, by millions of individuals, firms, and other organizations who know best the facts of specific times and places and who have the tacit knowledge—the “feel” and intuition—for what might work and what will not. The conduct of countless experiments constitutes the dynamics of the free society. It has no blueprint, and even if it had one today, that plan would have been altered by the end of tomorrow.

The proper response to the demand, “What is your alternative?” is simply, “Give freedom a chance.”



Trump is right: The special counsel should never have been appointed


President Trump is right in saying that a special counsel should never have been appointed to investigate the so-called Russian connection. There was no evidence of any crime committed by the Trump administration. But there was plenty of evidence that Russian operatives had tried to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, and perhaps other elections, in the hope of destabilizing democracy. Yet, appointing a special counsel to look for crimes, behind the closed doors of a grand jury, was precisely the wrong way to address this ongoing challenge to our democracy.

The right way would have been (and still is) to appoint a nonpartisan investigative commission, such as the one appointed following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, to conduct a broad and open investigation of the Russian involvement in our elections. This is what other democracies, such as Great Britain and Israel, do in response to systemic problems. The virtue of such a commission is precisely the nonpartisan credibility of its objective experts, who have no political stake in the outcome.

Such a commission could have informed the American public of what Russia did and how to prevent it from doing it again. It would not seek partisan benefit from its findings, the way congressional committees invariably do. Nor would it be searching for crimes in an effort to criminalize political sins, the way special counsels do to justify their existence and budget. Its only job would be to gather information and make recommendations.
The vice of a special counsel is that he is supposed to find crimes, and if he comes up empty-handed, after spending lots of taxpayer money, then he is deemed a failure. If he can’t charge the designated target — in this case, the president — he must at least charge some of those close to the target, even if it is for crimes unrelated to the special counsel’s core mandate. By indicting these low-hanging fruits, he shows that he is trying. Maybe those lesser defendants will flip and sing against higher-ups, but the problem is that the pressure to sing may cause certain defendants to “compose,” meaning make up or enhance evidence in order to get a better deal for themselves.

In this case, the appointment of a special counsel has done more harm than good. It has politicized our justice system beyond repair. The FBI deputy director has been fired for leaking and lying. His testimony appears to be in conflict with that of the former FBI director as to whether the leaks were authorized. Messages by high-ranking FBI agents suggest strong bias against Trump. A tweet by the former CIA director reveals equally strong negative views of the president. Perhaps these revelations prove nothing more than that law enforcement and national security officials are human and hold political views like everyone else.

But these views are not supposed to influence their decisions. In our age of hyperpartisanship, the public has understandably lost confidence in the ability and willingness of our leaders to separate their political views from their law enforcement decisions. This is not all attributable to the appointment of the special counsel, but the criminalization of political differences on both sides of the aisle has certainly contributed to the atmosphere of distrust in our justice system.

The public has lost faith in the leadership of the Justice Department and the FBI. They don’t trust congressional investigative committees. They don’t know whom to believe when they hear conflicting accounts. There are leaks galore followed by denials of leaks. It’s a total mess. And what do we have to show for it? Just a handful of low-level indictments based largely on alleged crimes that are either unrelated or only marginally related to Russia’s attempt to influence our presidential election in 2016.

It’s not too late to try to repair some of the damage done. Let Congress now appoint a nonpartisan commission to conduct a transparent investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence our elections. Let the special counsel suspend his investigation until the nonpartisan commission issues its report. If the report identifies crimes and criminals, there will be time enough to indict and prosecute. Right now, we need the nonpartisan truth, because we aren’t getting it from the special counsel.



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 22, 2018

Thank goodness for Statesman Trump

Antagonizing Russia is incredibly stupid.  The last thing the world needs is a war -- cold or hot -- with the largest country on earth.  But the idiot British bureaucrat, PM Theresa May, and the Washingtom establishment, are doing their best to foment war. But Mr Trump did not follow suit, choosing instead to have a cordial conversation with Vladimir Vladimirovich. The world is in safe hands with Mr Trump

A SECRET memo has been handed to US President Donald Trump about what not to say to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Trump’s national security advisers reportedly warned the president in briefing materials: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” ahead of a phone call with the Russian leader about his re-election, according to officials familiar with the call.

But Mr Trump ignored the advice. “I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on his electoral victory,” the US leader said. “The call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not-too-distant future.”

Mr Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides who instructed him to condemn Mr Putin about the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy with a powerful nerve agent in the United Kingdom, a case that both the British and US governments have blamed on Moscow.

Russia is under pressure from London and its allies to explain how its former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned on British soil. Moscow has denied being involved.

Although the nerve attack has topped global headlines for weeks, it did not come up during the leaders’ conversation, according to both the Kremlin and White House. Mr Trump later described the phone conversation with Mr Putin as “a very good call”.



'They were on our side': Obama campaign director reveals Facebook ALLOWED them to mine American users' profiles in 2012 because they were supportive of the Democrats

I think this is a storm in a teacup. Targeted advertising is the way of the future.  You want your messages to go to those who might be interested in them.  The shotgun approach which is still normal ends up with people being exposed to advertising messages that only annoy them.  Targeted advertising reduces the annoyance of unwanted messages and ensures that your messages are delivered in a useful way.  But targeted advertising requires information on who is interested in what.  And getting that information is what they are talking about below

Facebook allowed the Obama campaign to access the personal data of users during the 2012 campaign because they supported the Democratic candidate according to a high ranking staffer.

Carol Davidsen, who worked as the media director at Obama for America and has spoken about this in the past, explained on Twitter that she and her team were able to ingest massive amounts of information from the social network after getting permission from Facebook users to access their list of friends.

'Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn't stop us once they realized that was what we were doing,' wrote Davidsen.

She wrote that, not only did Facebook not try to stop them, but the company said they'd made a special exception for them.

'They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn't have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side,' she tweeted.

Davidsen was then careful to note: 'I am also 100% positive that Facebook activity recruits and staffs people that are on the other side.' 

Davidsen posted this in the wake of the uproar over Cambridge Analytica, and their mining of information for the Trump campaign.

The revelations, if true, mean that Obama's campaign used similar tactics to those of Cambridge Analytica, which worked on President Donald Trump's election campaign, and reportedly harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users.

Members of Congress called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about Facebook's actions on Monday in the wake of the revelation.

Meanwhile, British privacy regulators are seeking a warrant to search the offices of the U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica as both US and European lawmakers demand an explanation of how the consulting firm gained access to the data. 

The news also saw Facebook shares closed down nearly 7.0 percent on Monday, wiping nearly $40 billion off its market value as investors worried that new legislation could damage the company's advertising business.

Facebook said on Monday it had hired forensic auditors from the firm Stroz Friedberg to investigate and determine whether Cambridge Analytical still had the data.

'Auditors from Stroz Friedberg were on site at Cambridge Analytic's London office this evening,' the company said in a statement late Monday. 'At the request of the UK Information Commissioner´s Office, which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Strop Friedberg auditors stood down.' 

Yet the Obama campaign may have harvested information from millions during the 2012 run.

Of course, the biggest difference is that those signing up to the Obama campaign did so knowingly. While with Cambridge Analytic, users were told they were contributing to an academic research project. That information was then passed to the Trump campaign.

But that doesn't mean the friends of the Obama supporters consented to have their details used in their data mining.

The New York Times Magazine reported how the campaign had a list of a million people who had signed into the campaign website through Facebook.

To do so, they were prompted to agree to grant the campaign permission to access their Facebook friends list, photos and other personal information. 

Another prompt, which most people also agreed to, asked for them to grant access to their news feed.

Through these prompts, the campaign had access to millions of people, and their interests, and friends - who they could note down as potential donors, unregistered voters and persuadable votes - to target in specific campaigns.

One staffer said that once a supporter signed up through Facebook, it would take them mere seconds to go through their friends' lists, match them with votes lists, and then they would go through photos - trying to weed out old girlfriends and college friends who could share their political beliefs.

The campaign reportedly mined data from 15 million Facebook users, which triggered alarms at the social media giant, but the company always decided that the campaign had not violated its privacy and data rules.



Jaw dropping revelation: Benghazi Hero Reveals What Comey and McCabe’s FBI Did to Him

When it was announced Friday evening that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had been fired on the recommendation of both the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, there were plenty of “hot takes” from politicians and media figures on both the right and left.

However, according to BizPac Review, the hottest take of all in regard to McCabe’s termination may have come from one of the heroes who emerged from the deadly 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, Kris “Tanto” Paronto.

Paronto, a former U.S. Army Ranger who was a security contractor in Benghazi at the time of the attack and helped fend off repeated waves of assaults by terrorists at the U.S. consulate and nearby CIA annex, took to Twitter to make his feelings known in regard to McCabe, as well as former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan.

He began with a tweet which eviscerated McCabe’s rebuttal claiming he had been “singled out” in an effort to “slander” him and the FBI in general by President Donald Trump and his administration.

Paronto tweeted, “Slander the FBI and Law Enforcement?! You’ve got to be s—-ing me Andy. You, James and your @BarackObama appointed syndicate brought nothing but lies, politics, corruption & disgrace to a once great FBI. @Comey #AndrewMcCabe #LockThemUp.”

But it was the tweet he sent immediately following that which really garnered attention, as he appeared to indicate that partisan members of the FBI attempted to slap him and the other team members from Benghazi with excessive use of force charges, presumably in relation to their use of deadly force to defend the consulate and CIA annex from repeated attacks.

“By the way, as you’re on your way out I want to thank you, James and your @HillaryClinton supporting hacks at the @FBI for trying to pin excessive force use on myself and my team after coming home from Benghazi. You all are the worst scum of human. @Comey #SorryNotSorry,” the Benghazi hero tweeted.

That astonishing assertion — that he and other Benghazi heroes were targeted for legal reprisal by partisan hacks at the FBI — cannot be independently verified at this time. But it will be interesting to see if any further information in regard to this claim is shared by Paronto or one of his teammates, or perhaps even the upcoming DOJ-OIG report which has been looking into allegations of FBI misconduct.

But Paronto wasn’t quite done yet, as he then set his sights on Comey. He posted a tweet in response to the veiled threat issued to Trump by the former director that Comey’s own version of events would be heard by the American people “very soon” — as in, as soon as his lucrative and profitable book tour kicks off.

“Still beating your ‘honorable’ drum James?? Yea, because your words hold so much truth after lying continually & protecting the criminal @HillaryClinton. Say what you want, I won’t believe a word of it. You have zero integrity which you earned. @Comey #believeyourownBS,” Paronto tweeted.

Nor did he let the more open and unhinged threat against Trump from Brennan slide either, as he tweeted a short time later, “Showing your true partisan colors that you took into the @CIA, a govt organization that should be politically neutral. Being nominated by @BarackObama though it should come as no surprise. You put #politicsbeforepatriots.”

This man knows a thing or two more than the average government bureaucrat about such things as honor, patriotism and service to country, and he isn’t the least bit afraid to let the partisan hacks who have infested the bureaucratic deep state know exactly how he feels about their duplicitous actions.

Hopefully more information will emerge in the near future to validate and support his claim of being targeted by those same slimy hacks in the aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack, now that a nonpartisan and less vindictive rule of law is being restored.



Israel Demands That Left-wing Groups Disclose Funding Sources, Activists’ Personal Details

Organizations that facilitate meetings between Israelis and Palestinians must now provide extensive information in order for the Palestinians to be granted entry permits to Israel

The Israeli army has started asking left-wing groups that arrange meetings between Israelis and Palestinians for large quantities of information about their activities, funding sources and media efforts.


In America Leftists have managed to force various conservative organizations to make their donor lists public. They use that information to harass donors -- with the  Brendan Eich case being a well known example -- and thus discourage others from donating. But the Left  are not liking having the same thing done to them in Israel


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 21, 2018

States Win Another Big Case Against Obamacare

Hans von Spakovsky

In a decision that has gotten almost no media attention, six states led by Texas have won another round against the Obama administration implementation of Obamacare.

Judge Reed O’Connor, a federal judge in Texas, threw out the Obama administration’s imposition of a federal fee or tax on states as a condition of continuing to receive Medicaid funds. O’Conner ruled March 5 that the fee violates the non-delegation doctrine of the Constitution and the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The 2010 Obamacare law imposed a “health insurance providers fee” on medical insurers to help pay for the subsidies provided by the federal government to individuals purchasing health insurance. However, the law specifically exempted states from having to pay this fee.

Texas and the other states who filed this lawsuit against the federal government in 2015 provide a majority of Medicaid services for their residents by contracting with, and paying a monthly fee to, managed care organizations, which then provide health care to eligible Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a component of the Department of Health and Human Services, must approve all such state contracts for health care services. In 2014, the agency promulgated a regulation that requires that states pay managed care organizations an “actuarially sound rate.”

However, the regulation delegates the decision of what is an “actuarially sound rate” to a private organization, the Actuarial Standards Board, which sets practice standards for private actuaries.

Ignoring the statutory exemption from paying the fee that was provided to the states in the Obamacare law, the Actuarial Standards Board enacted a rule stating that the “actuarially sound rate” paid by the states to their Medicaid-managed care organizations must include their portion of the health insurance providers fee.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services refused to approve any state contract that did not comply with this requirement.

We are talking substantial sums of money here. According to the judge in this case, Texas alone appropriated $244 million to pay this fee in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Other states in the lawsuit “likewise provide Medicaid to millions of their citizens at the cost of a considerable portion of their annual budgets.”

O’Connor found that over “the next decade, the federal government will collect between $13 and $14.9 billion” from all 50 states paying the fee. According to the IRS, Congress placed a moratorium on the fee for 2017 and 2019, but not for 2018. So the fee remains on the books.

While the court found that the health insurance providers fee, which O’Connor labeled a “tax,” is constitutional, the regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that delegated “to a private entity the authority to decide who must pay this tax” violates the non-delegation doctrine.

O’Connor goes through a very interesting and illustrative history of the non-delegation doctrine, which “remains a cornerstone in the constitutional architecture of free government” to the frustration of “modern liberals.”

In essence, the non-delegation doctrine “stems from the very first clause of the Constitution, which reads: ‘All legislative Powers … shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.’” Thus, Congress cannot delegate or transfer to others its “essential legislative function.”

This “structural feature of the Constitution … exists to protect democratic deliberation, executive accountability, and individual liberty.” The framers “enshrined” this doctrine in “our charter because the framers, drawing from the deep wells of their Western heritage, recognized it as an axiom of just government.”

The most difficult determination of whether the non-delegation doctrine has been violated is when courts are reviewing the actions of federal agencies under their authorizing statutes. In those cases, “courts must distinguish between unlawful delegation of legislative power and lawful delegation of policy judgement,” according to O’Connor. It “is inherently difficult to draw this distinction and identify an unlawful legislative delegation by Congress to an executive agency.”

However, this case does not present such a dilemma concluded O’Connor because here, the power to determine whether a tax should be imposed was delegated to a private party. In such cases, “there is not even a fig leaf of constitutional delegation.”

While legislative delegations to executive agencies “threaten liberty by undermining democratic accountability … legislative delegations to private entities are even more dangerous” because they “create a double layer of unaccountability.”

The legislative power of Congress has been passed “to an unelected agency, and then by the agency to an unelected private entity.” And that “private entity is not subject to term limits, appropriations, impeachment, or removal, and neither holds a commission nor takes an oath to uphold the Constitution.”

In addition to this constitutional violation, O’Connor found that the imposition of this tax violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the promulgation of rules and regulations by federal agencies.

According to O’Connor, the tax went beyond the statutory authority of the Obamacare law: “there is no genuine dispute of material fact that [the regulation] is ‘in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right.’”

This ruling wipes out the ability of the federal government to collect billions of dollars from the states that it has been using to subsidize Obamacare. And this is not the end of the story.

A new lawsuit has just been filed—in the same federal court where O’Connor presides—by 20 states alleging that Obamacare is no longer constitutional because the tax cut bill signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017, eliminated the tax penalty imposed on individuals who don’t comply with the individual mandate.

Because the Supreme Court only upheld Obamacare as constitutional based on the taxing authority of Congress, the states argue that its constitutional underpinning is gone.

Piece by piece, year by year, Obamacare is slowly being taken apart by both litigation and legislation like the 2017 tax cut bill that eliminated the tax penalty on the individual mandate.

But members of Congress would do well to return to their abandoned effort to repeal Obamacare in its entirety in order to provide Americans with a replacement that supports their needs.



Mike Pompeo might be the only guy Trump trusts

The busiest guy in Washington, DC, right now is Mike Pompeo. Shuttling from the halls of Congress to CIA headquarters in Langley and, soon enough, back across the Potomac to Foggy Bottom, the former congressman from Kansas and current secretary of state-designate is rapidly becoming the Henry Kissinger of the Trump administration — the man for all jobs, in all seasons.

Pompeo’s long-bruited selection to replace Rex Tillerson is an inspired choice. He’s a rising star with an impeccable résumé (graduated first in his class at West Point, degree from Harvard Law, military vet), a no-nonsense manner and a capacity to get things done. Even better, he’s fully in synch with President Trump’s foreign-policy goals and outlook, which sees China, not Russia, as America’s principal global competitor, views the Iran nuclear deal as subject to immediate renegotiation or cancellation and is ready to go nose-to-nose with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

At State, Pompeo, who in just 14 months has helped refocus the CIA from its partisan activism under former chief John Brennan and back toward dispassionate information gathering, will pick up where Tillerson left off, continuing to streamline and downsize the bloated diplomatic ranks and bring the notoriously independent department, heavily populated with anti-Trump personnel, back under some semblance of White House control. Historically, State has always been far to the left of any given administration, even liberal ones — it sees its job as representing the world to America, instead of vice versa — and it’s long past time it was reined in.

Most important, Pompeo shares Trump’s politically incorrect vision for America’s place in the world — assertive, confident and indifferent to international opinion when it doesn’t suit America’s best interests. Like his boss, Pompeo would rather be respected, and even feared, than loved. In a world where America is surrounded by enemies, the days of “soft power” are over. Blunt talk from America’s top diplomat is going to be the norm, not the exception.

And so the Trump housecleaning continues. The recent personnel changes predictably have some squawking about “chaos” in the White House, but in this case one man’s chaos is another’s reorganization. Trump entered office with no experience in politics and no DC Rolodex — who can be surprised that it’s taken him a year to finally find his footing?

Further, White House staff shuffles — economic adviser Gary Cohn is out, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe was cashiered on Friday, two days short of retirement, and there are once again widespread reports that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will soon be forced to step down — are nothing new. Ronald Reagan’s second term was highlighted by the job switch between Treasury Secretary Don Regan and Chief of Staff James Baker, and even Barack Obama’s administration saw turnovers in the chief of staff, communications director, press secretary and national security adviser, among other posts. They too were accused of “chaos” by their political opponents at the time.

Trump may be acting more quickly than his predecessors, but given the exigencies, why wait? The president has already announced his intent to run again in 2020, so the faster the better.

With Pompeo’s elevation to indispensable-man status, look for the Trump White House to become even more direct in pursuit of its international and domestic goals. For one thing, the elevation of Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy at CIA, would ensure that the agency remains on course. Within the intelligence community, Haspel is regarded as a consummate professional, and the only surprise is that after keeping a very low profile for her entire career, she’s willing to enter the public arena. You can bet that her support for rendition and enhanced interrogation techniques will become a major issue in her Senate confirmation hearings. Look for her to finally put the argument to rest with a spirited defense of America’s fight against Islamic terrorism.

Confirmation hearings for Pompeo are scheduled for next month, and they could be rocky. Already, gadfly Sen. Rand Paul has said he’ll vote against Pompeo, which means the nominee will need at least some Democratic support to win his vote in the Senate. And coming on the heels of a string of election losses in Alabama, Virginia and last week in Pennsylvania, the administration has been forced on the defensive as it heads into the midterms later this year.

Still, Trump and Pompeo are unlikely to be swayed by transient public opinion or the carping of the Democrats and the dwindling ranks of the “never Trumpers” on the right. The job of the secretary of state — like that of all Cabinet appointees — is to serve the president honestly and forthrightly and let the voters decide how they like it at the next election. By that standard, Mike Pompeo is just the man for the job.



The absurd Haaretz

Haaretz is well-known as Israel's version of the NYT but sometimes they get so absurd as to be amusing.  The opening salvo of one of their recent stories is below.  It accuses Trump of being a DANGER to Israel:

Netanyahu Puts Israel’s Fate in Hands of U.S President Dubbed ‘Serious Threat to National Security’

Trump’s dismissal of Tillerson and McCabe marked by vindictive cruelty that borders on sadism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the security cabinet last week that he believes U.S. President Donald Trump intends to abandon the Iran nuclear deal in May. His tone, presumably, was approving.


One wonders what you have to do for Haaretz to see you as a friend of Israel.  You can't be a conservative, obviously.  They are all "Nazis"


Prominent Scot defends Russian broadcaster

Alex Salmond’s defence of Russia Today will have delighted the Kremlin regardless of whether he has editorial independence on his chat show, an expert on the country has said.

Robert Orttung, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, said that Moscow was getting “bang for their buck” out of RT’s relationship with Mr Salmond.

He defended the channel on his weekly chat show but the former MP was facing renewed calls to cut ties with the channel. Mr Salmond said that he had never been told what to say on his show, and claimed RT was not a propaganda station. He also compared it to the BBC, ITV and Sky, saying all had breached the Ofcom code on occasion.



Israel destroys new Hamas tunnel in Gaza

The Israeli military said Sunday it destroyed a tunnel built by the Hamas militant group.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the tunnel was intended to connect to an old one that Israel partly destroyed in the southern Gaza Strip during the 2014 war. He said it appeared to be the first case of Hamas trying to ‘‘recycle’’ part of its devastated network.

Conricus said Israel has been following Hamas’s progress for some time and that the targeted tunnels will now be impossible to rebuild. Conricus called it a ‘‘futile effort’’ by the Islamic militants and a waste of resources that could be used to aid Gaza residents.



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 20, 2018

McCabe Cracks, Throws Comey Under Bus, Accuses of Perjury

Disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired Friday night, two days prior to his official retirement with full benefits, by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on recommendations from both the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General.

And it looks like he might not want to go down alone.

McCabe was fired for allegedly lying to federal investigators and for making alleged unauthorized disclosures to the media about sensitive investigations. Basically, he is alleged to have “lacked candor” with investigators about making anonymous leaks to a Wall Street Journal reporter about the status of the Clinton Foundation investigation in 2016.

In what could only be described as an already prepared statement, McCabe released a letter shortly after his termination that attempted to give his side of the story and asserted that he had been “singled out” by a vindictive President Donald Trump for removal, a laughable claim given the recommendations of the Obama-era-initiated inspector general’s investigation led by the Obama-appointed IG and career bureaucrats at the FBI’s OPR.

But there was something else in McCabe’s statement that caught the eye of law professor Jonathan Turley, who described in The Hill how McCabe appeared to have contradicted his former boss, former FBI Director James Comey, and essentially accused him of committing perjury.

In dispute of the allegations of unauthorized leaks to the media, McCabe wrote, “I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As deputy director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.”

Turley pointed out that since Comey was the director at that time, McCabe’s claim that his leaks were authorized — or at least done with the knowledge of — his boss would run completely counter to testimony delivered under oath by Comey in May 2017 during a congressional hearing.

In that hearing, Comey was asked directly by Sen. Chuck Grassley if he himself had “ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation” or if he had “ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation,” to which Comey had replied without hesitation “Never” and “No.”

Thus, we now know that either Comey or McCabe has lied about the leaks to The Wall Street Journal reporter. If Comey told Congress the truth that he never authorized any leaks to the media, then McCabe just lied and threw Comey under the bus to save his own skin.

Likewise, if McCabe is telling the truth that he had permission to leak information to the reporter, then that means Comey lied under oath to Congress when he denied ever authorizing such leaks.

If it turns out that McCabe just lied, it represents little more than cornered rats biting each other as they attempt to flee a sinking ship, as he was already fired for lying and faces potential prosecution for such. What is one more charge in that case?

But if Comey is the one who lied, he stands to suffer more than McCabe from the exposure, as he is about to launch a lucrative book tour to promote his memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.”

Oh, the irony.

Furthermore, Comey is already facing scrutiny over how he handled the Clinton investigation as well as memos he allegedly wrote about his interactions with Trump and kept after he was fired, some of which were leaked to a friend in the media and which may contain classified information.

On top of that, Turley noted that if it were McCabe who lied and he somehow avoids prosecution for the crime, then he just inadvertently opened the door for President Donald Trump to issue a full pardon for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who was forced by special counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to lying to investigators, a crime it appears McCabe just committed.

One of these two individuals — Comey or McCabe — was lying about leaks to the media, as they both can’t be telling contradictory truth about the same incident in question.

We will know for sure which is the case when the OIG report is released to the public and the full extent of alleged partisan misconduct of FBI leadership is revealed.



MSM Won’t Push SC Mass Killing Story Because It’s So Destructive to Their Narrative

Whenever there is a shooting in which three or more people are murdered, the mainstream media devotes ample coverage to the horrific crime in order to perpetuate the liberal agenda and push a narrative that guns are evil and must be strictly regulated, if not totally confiscated.

However, when an equally heinous mass murder occurs with a weapon other than a firearm, the media stays stunningly silent, largely because wall-to-wall coverage of the incident does nothing to further the gun control narrative, and may even work against it by revealing how a gun in the hands of a victim could have changed the terrible outcome.

Such is the case with a recent mass murder in South Carolina, in which WCSC reported that 22-year-old Lovequawn Scott has been charged with four counts of murder for the deaths of four family members in their home.

Astonishingly, police caught him attempting to flee the scene covered in blood when they arrived to check out a report from another concerned family member of a suspicious death.

The victims, who according to the county coroner all died of blunt force trauma, were identified as 72-year-old Joseph Manigault, 69-year-old Rose Manigault, 42-year-old Kenya Manigault and 15-year-old Faith Manigault.

The weapon believed to be used to slaughter them was not an “assault rifle” or shotgun or even a handgun, but a pair of dumbbells, which the suspect allegedly used to beat the four members of his family to death.

Nor is this the first time that the quadruple murder suspect has been in trouble with the law, as WMBF reported that Scott, who had been enrolled at Coastal Carolina University, was arrested by campus police in 2017 and charged with trespassing, possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of a handgun and carrying a weapon on school property.

But Scott’s rap sheet didn’t begin there, either. WPDE reported in Nov. 2016 that Scott had been arrested on a golf course and charged with a litany of crimes after an altercation with police.

In that incident, the burgeoning career criminal was charged with possession of Schedule IV drugs — Xanax pills, MDMA powder and marijuana — other drug offenses, four counts of receiving stolen goods, resisting arrest with a deadly weapon, breaking into a vehicle and the unlawful sale, delivery or possession of a handgun by a prohibited person.

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When confronted by police in that incident, he attempted to flee the scene, then attempted to pull a loaded handgun on the arresting officer in the scuffle. He was later found to be in possession of stolen goods believed to have come from at least eight separate breaking and entering of vehicles.

With regard to the murders, Bearing Arms took note of the lack of national coverage of this tragic and brutal crime.

Writer Tom Knighton pointed out that the media was most likely avoiding this story because it decisively runs counter to their standard anti-gun narrative.

Indeed, a semi-automatic rifle, shotgun or handgun in the possession of any of the four victims — whether the elderly grandparents, the suspect’s aunt or his young niece — could have saved some or all of the victims from their horrific fate at the hands of the much stronger career criminal who bludgeoned them all to death at his leisure.

Moreover, it proves that mass murder occurs whether or not the murder possesses or has access to a firearm.

Had the perpetrator of this atrocity used a gun in the murders, the media likely would have been all over it — though they probably would just as quickly have dropped it once the suspect’s lengthy rap sheet entered the conversation.

However, since he didn’t use a gun and doesn’t fit the profile of an angry National Rifle Association member, they have avoided it at all costs.



Even Under Right to Work, This Union Bullies Workers Into Submission

MADISON, Wis.—The United Auto Workers Local 833 chapter is worse than an unwanted house guest: It can’t take a hint, and it won’t take no for an answer.

In a burst of big labor thuggery, Local 833 has treated employees who decline union membership to a steady stream of harassment punctuated by not-so-subtle threats.

The union has done so despite Wisconsin’s status as a right-to-work state, where employees are free to choose—free of harassment and intimidation—whether they want to join a union.

Josh Herr, a Kohler Co. employee, says he has been repeatedly pressured by union leadership since he began his job in the plumbing fixture manufacturer’s pottery plant nearly eight months ago.

Herr on multiple occasions told Local 833’s steward and its president that he didn’t see any value in unions, that he didn’t want to automatically turn over a portion of his hard-earned paycheck to a group he doesn’t agree with.

The union chiefs didn’t care for Herr’s answers. He was told that if he didn’t join, the union couldn’t protect him from harassment.

The message wasn’t lost on Herr: Join or the union wouldn’t protect him from the union.

Tim Tayloe, Local 833’s president, called him at work and threatened him while he was doing his job, Herr claims.

“He said, ‘We really don’t like when people don’t join the union,’” Herr said. “He told me there were two other people in the pottery building who didn’t join the union and that nothing good happened to them.”

“He said, ‘I don’t want anything bad happening because you’re not joining,’” Herr added.

Herr found a sign on the back of the plant punch clock praising 19 Kohler workers who had started paying union dues. Each name was accompanied by a gold star.

In asterisks, the sign advised that “[s]ome scabs have decided to start paying dues again, they have a gold star after their names.”

At the bottom, written in red: “Pottery member that refuses to join the Union.” Joshua Herr, machine cast operator, the union sign boldly stated, is “Not a Union Brother.”

Tayloe accused Herr of lying, or at least “blowing this out of proportion.” He claims he didn’t authorize the sign, and neither did his union.

“Whatever he’s up to, I hope he’s having fun. None of that happened,” the local president told Maclver News.

And regarding his little talk with Herr, Tayloe said in a statement that he is “constantly walking the floor of the plant to have discussions with people from the hourly workforce.”

“These discussions include the benefits of union membership and union representation. As part of these discussions, the benefits of being a union member are discussed quite frequently,” he added.

Yes, yes, the benefits. Like the benefit of your money or your life? The benefit of not being harassed and intimidated by a union that insists on representing you? Those kinds of benefits?

Herr’s problems with the union underscore the fact that the fight for worker freedom isn’t over simply because a state enacts a right-to-work law, as Wisconsin did in 2015.

Bullies are bullies, no matter what the laws or rules say. Unions are replete with bullies who target dissenters, anyone who declines the “benefits” of membership. They do so under the premise that workers who chose not to pay union dues are getting a free ride on the “benefits” bus. It’s a protection racket that employees like Herr aren’t buying.

Kohler Co. has directed union management to the first page of its labor management agreement, which makes clear the stunts the union chiefs have been pulling are prohibited.

The bullying has stopped, for now.

Herr, at 24, has thick skin. He can handle the union games. He says he went public with his experiences because he knows there are other Kohler employees who have simply given in to the union because they didn’t want to deal with the aggravation, the harassment.

This time, Herr wants to make sure the union bosses finally get the message.



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 19, 2018

Capitol Police Arrested Male Dem Operative For Assaulting Female Trump Admin Official

Leftist hate bubbles to the surface

U.S. Capitol Police have arrested a male Democratic operative for assaulting a female Interior Department communications official following a House budget hearing Thursday.

The assault happened after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke finished testifying on the department’s 2019 budget proposal before the House Committee on Natural Resources. The suspect identified himself as a reporter with American Bridge and pushed a female Interior Department communications official to the floor, chasing after Zinke, The Daily Caller News Foundation learned.

Interior communications director Laura Rigas was “greatly alarmed and extremely irate that a female senior member of my DOI Communications team was physically assaulted today by a Democrat staffer from the PAC American Bridge,” she told Politico.

Police took the American Bridge operative into custody on Thursday. Police “arrested an adult male for simple assault against another individual outside room 1324 in the Longworth House Office Building,” an officer told Politico on Thursday.

American Bridge is a political action committee dedicated to “holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions,” according to their website. American Bridge is known for having operatives follow Republican candidates on the campaign trail.

Liberal billionaire George Soros donated $2 million to American Bridge in 2016, and the Tom Steyer-founded NextGen Climate Action regularly donates money to the group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.



Rewarding returning ISIS fighters - while imprisoning critics of Islam

In a recent article for the New Republic, Nell Irvin Painter, a retired Princeton historian whose work focuses largely on race, discussed “othering” – a concept that she explained with reference to Flannery O’Connor’s 1955 story “The Artificial Nigger”:

A white man, Mr. Head, and his grandson Nelson visit Atlanta for the day. Mr. Head, a poor and sad old man, undertakes to tutor Nelson in racial hierarchy. On the train to the city, a prosperous black man passes by. At first, Nelson sees “a man.” Then, under Mr. Head’s questioning, “a fat man…an old man.” These are wrong answers. Nelson must be educated. Mr. Head corrects him: “That was a nigger.” Nelson must undergo the process of unseeing a well-dressed man and reseeing a “nigger,” to understand the man as Other and himself and his uncle as people who belong to society.

This episode in O'Connor's story does indeed capture a lamentable fact of mid twentieth-century life: back then, many Americans belonging to certain groups did view members of certain other groups primarily, or even exclusively, as members of those groups, and as their inferiors. Fortunately, this type of reflexive prejudice receded dramatically in the decades after O'Connor wrote her story. In no country in human history, in fact, have members of such a wide range of ethnic and religious groups succeeded in truly becoming a single people, viewing one another not as parts of an “Other” but as fellow and equal citizens – and as friends – as was the case in late twentieth-century America.

Yet leftist ideologues in the media, academy, and politics would have us believe otherwise. For decades now, high-school students – and even children in grade school – have been taught that America, far from being the land of opportunity, is the land of bigotry. Their teachers have told them all about America's legacy of slavery – but have omitted to explain that until a few generations ago, slavery existed in every human society, that it still exists now (mostly in the Muslim world), and that what makes America distinctive, when it comes to this subject, is not the fact that white Americans once owned black slaves but the fact that white Americans fought our nation's bloodiest war to liberate blacks from bondage.

In the same way, kids have been taught that the treatment of American Indians by white Europeans was uniquely evil. Almost invariably, the pre-Columbian Americas are depicted in schools and college history courses as a veritable Eden, where natives lived in harmony with nature and one another; European explorers and settlers, meanwhile, are depicted as violent brutes who destroyed this precious harmony. What students aren't told about are the downsides of that purported Eden – from bloodthirsty wars between Indian tribes to Aztec rituals involving human sacrifice and the burning alive of children.

What has happened? Briefly put, in the schools, colleges, media, and other milieux dominated by the left, the kind of ugly “othering” perpetrated by Mr. Head has been flipped 180 degrees. Today, it's the “Other,” the traditional “them,” that is privileged and idealized, while the traditional “us” –  America, the West, anyone of European heritage – is vilified. Terms like “white supremacy” and “diversity” have become unmoored from all meaning, except for the fact that the former denotes something that we are meant to ritually denounce as bad and the latter denotes something that we are meant to praise.

Over the decades, the despised “us” has been expanded to include such groups as Jews and Americans of East Asian background. These groups have been shifted from the category of “them” into the category of “us” precisely because their members have tended to embrace the American way of life, have striven to assimilate, and have, by and large, been successful and prosperous. They start businesses and work hard to get by; they obey the law; they don't burden the welfare system; their kids, after speaking English for just a couple of years, win spelling bees. This shift means that people on the left can now, with impunity, express anti-Semitic sentiments and support Asian quotas in college admissions.

But of course the ultimate “us,” under the present dispensation, are straight white males. If you're straight and white and male, you really can't win in the era of “the Other.” On the one hand, if you dare to point out any cultural difference, however minor, between yourself and a member of some other group, you can be accused of drawing pernicious, hateful distinctions between “us” and “them”; on the other hand, if you celebrate America as a “melting pot” – e pluribus unum – you can be accused of erasing “the Other,” of denying his or her right to maintain a distinctive identity. Even if you hold the lowliest job, you'll be regarded as basking in white male privilege, while even some of the most powerful people in America will be seen as victims because they belong to traditionally “othered” groups.

This kind of thinking was already well established by 9/11. While some of us attributed the terrorist attacks to jihadist ideology, many Americans blamed them on “othering.” Watching the Twin Towers fall on live television, they asked, in all seriousness: “What have we done to cause this?” The perpetrators, they assumed, must have been driven to commit their atrocities by Western acts of “othering” directed at Muslims. In a 2015 commentary, Kate Sullivan of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute actually made the explicit argument that “othering” of Muslims was the reason for the rapid growth of ISIS.

Born around the time of 9/11, countless high-school and college students today have fully internalized the mentality I describe, judging fellow human beings not by the content of their character but by the extent to which they can or cannot be seen as “the Other.” It is for this reason that millions of Americans share what would otherwise seem a thoroughly irrational obsession with – and even veneration of – such seemingly disparate groups as illegal immigrants, transsexuals, and Muslims.

It's only human to feel a degree of sympathy for wretchedly poor people who sneak across the Mexican border, or for desperately confused people who think they were born in the wrong body. But it's sheer madness to turn them into heroes and to suggest, as Nancy Pelosi does in the case of illegal immigrants, that they “embody the best of our nation.” It's certainly deeply twisted to care less about Kate Steinle than about her illegal-immigrant killer. Or to cheer a female-to-male transsexual who won a women's athletic event thanks to massive testosterone injections.

Of these three groups, it's Muslims whose idealization is the most ridiculous. It's reasonable, of course, to feel sorry for some Muslims – for women, that is, who are subjected to female genital mutilation and forced marriage; for gays who must hide their identities for fear of being victims of honor killing; for secret apostates who, knowing that the prescribed penalty for apostasy is death, dare not publicly reject their faith.

But these kinds of Muslims aren't the ones to whom we're supposed to feel attached. Why? Because these kinds of Muslims are seen as being – or trying to be – too much like “us.” The more such Muslims evince admiration for Western freedoms or contempt for the hijab, the less compassion we're supposed to have for them. No, the Muslims whom we're encouraged to admire are the ones who are the most “Other” – namely, those, like Linda Sarsour, who preach jihad and advocate sharia.

In the same way, women or blacks or gays who refuse to be reduced to mere group members, and who insist on being viewed as individuals, are smeared as traitors to their groups – for their very existence strikes at the core of the whole shebang. Meanwhile, a white woman who “identifies” as black and a U.S. Senator who claims American Indian ancestry (but refuses to take a DNA test) are idolized because their eagerness to profess “Other” identities, however absurd, reaffirms the notion that such identities are intrinsically estimable.

A readiness to embrace “the Other” at its worst – and to despise those of “us” who voice legitimate concern about “the Other” at its worst – leads Western European governments to reward returning ISIS fighters while imprisoning critics of Islam. So much as mention the authentic horror of Islamic ideology on American college campuses and you will be tagged as the lowest sort of bigot; meanwhile, the same colleges offer courses on the utterly imaginary horrors of “white privilege” and “toxic masculinity,” as if the last sixty-seven years of affirmation action were a fantasy and the punishment of boys for not being girls were not long since institutionalized.

Many white Americans voted for Barack Obama largely because they believed a black president would put an end to this corrosive victim-group nonsense once and for all and usher in a post-racial America. Instead, he made everything worse, putting group identity front and center, drawing attention to (exceedingly rare) white-on-black crimes while tuning out inner-city gang violence, saying things like “If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon [Martin],” and reinforcing at every turn the idea of America as a land of bigotry. All this counterproductive mischief made possible the election of Donald J. Trump, who, more explicitly than any professional politician would ever dare, rejected the whole “us” and “them” paradigm and dismissed the reverence for “the Other” with the disdain it deserved.

Of course, it's the left's fixation on “the Other” that fuels its intense, even insane hatred for Trump – a president who, more than any other in living memory, insists on his obligation to prioritize the well-being of Americans over that of foreigners; recognizes, indeed, his duty to protect Americans from foreigners; and commends worthy individual members of minority groups without feeling obliged to congratulate them for belonging to those groups. This failure to bend his knee to “the Other” is enough, in the eyes of many people, to qualify him as a world-class racist, sexist, and Islamophobe. At the same time, many of these very same people are quick to defend genuine bigots like the virulent anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

In short, a bleak picture. Needless to say, the one bright spot on the canvas is the election of Trump to the presidency of the United States. That election showed that tens of millions of voters are sick of the bizarre fixation on group identity that has become a central feature of contemporary American life – and gave us reason to hope that we may yet put this dangerous lunacy behind us.



Trump’s Border Wall Is a ‘Brilliant’ ‘Business Strategy’ to Save Taxpayers Billions

President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the southern U.S. border is a “business strategy” – and it’s a “brilliant” one – the president of the Border Patrol Union says.

In a Fox News interview on Wednesday, union President Brandon Judd said that Trump’s wall won’t just keep Americans safe – it’ll also save taxpayers money and pay for itself with those savings. Judd explained that, in interviews, illegal aliens apprehended by the Border Patrol admit that they’re breaking into the U.S. to take advantage of its generous social programs:

“When we arrest people, we interview them and we ask them why are you coming to the United States? The vast majority of those individuals we arrest, they tell us they’re coming here for jobs, they’re telling us they’re coming here for the social programs – and they’re telling us they’re coming here because they know they’re going to be released if they claim asylum."

And, since those programs are funded by taxpayers, Trump’s border wall is actually a brilliant business strategy that will save Americans money, Judd said:

“And, when they talk about the social programs – you’re talking about the billions of dollars that federal and state governments spend on health care, on schooling, and all these different costs that illegal aliens cost taxpayers.”

“And, so, when you look at what a wall will do, in allowing us to apprehend the vast majority of those individuals who are coming across the border, it will cut down on how much the taxpayer burden will be – which will then go straight into funding the wall.

“So, it’s a brilliant way to go about it. And, that’s the business strategy that President Trump is brings to the American people.”

Judd was reacting to a new analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies showing that, within 10 years, the border wall will pay for itself, if it prevents even 9-12% of illegal crossings, by saving taxpayers $12-15 billion.

If half of the illegal crossings are prevented, the study finds that taxpayers will save $64 billion in expenses like welfare, public education and refundable tax credits over 10 years.



Look who's talking!

It's John O. Brennan, Obama's CIA director -- condemning Trump

When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will  not destroy America...America will triumph over you.

Firing the crook McCabe seems to have upset him


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

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


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Good News for Undoing Harmful Financial Regulation

The Senate passed a bill repealing huge sections of Dodd-Frank. Let's hope the House follows suit

Something very unusual happened on Capitol Hill this week.

Senate Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act by a vote of 67-31. The bill was introduced by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, and it’s all about undoing the damage of Barack Obama-era financial regulation legislation.

To a significant degree, the act repeals the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats passed in response to the financial crisis of 2008 — massive government intervention to address the very same crisis that was caused by Democrat policies of too much government intervention in the banking industry. (It takes a special kind of gall to create a crisis and then claim credit for trying to fix it with more of the same.) Predictably, Dodd-Frank only made matters worse, but the measure passed by the Senate this week repeals key aspects of that ill-conceived legislation.

However, one aspect of the current bill that’s not being repealed is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a cadre of unelected and unaccountable government bureaucrats. As such, the CFPB can create new financial regulations without approval from anyone. They can also adolescently join the #Resist Trump movement without consequence.

Nonetheless, the bill raises the threshold for banks considered “too big to fail” from $50 billion to $250 billion. Consequently, more mid-level banks will be spared the federal government’s undue regulatory stranglehold. In addition, the act would free local and regional banks from having to comply with a laundry list of federal regulations that are too costly and time consuming. Banks would also have greater autonomy in lending money to small businesses and individuals.

This is how a free-market economy works. And Democrats are naturally opposed to letting the system function without the hands of the federal government pulling the strings. This bill certainly doesn’t wipe out all regulation, but it does restore some of the ability of small and mid-size banking institutions to operate efficiently and in the best interests of its customers. Claims that banks will now operate without any oversight are patently false.

In a video on his Senate website, Crapo states, “Currently, Washington’s one-size-fits-all regulation treats the smallest financial institutions like they were the largest financial institutions. It doesn’t make sense, and leaves Americans with fewer financial services options, depriving deserving people and small businesses of access to credit and capital.” He adds, “It keeps consumer protections in place and increases protections for those who fall on hard times or become victims of fraud.”

But it’s not a done deal yet. The Washington Post reports, “Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has said that House Republicans will want to alter the Senate bill to reflect their priorities. But that could drive away the Senate Democrats needed to pass the legislation, and so the House will face significant pressure to accept the Senate legislation with few, if any, changes.” Republicans in the House want to be more aggressive in terms of rolling back regulations, so the passage of the Senate bill is clearly just a first step.

Nonetheless, the ultimate passage of the act will be good for the country and the economy.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lauded the legislation’s passage, stating, “The bill provides much-needed relief from the Dodd-Frank Act for thousands of community banks and credit unions and will spur lending and economic growth without creating risks to the financial system.”

Despite the bipartisan support for this bill, Democrats were deeply divided over its passage. The Washington Post revealed that, according to an anonymous source, “after Warren called out red-state Democrats and other supporters of the bill by name in a fundraising appeal, Schumer encouraged her to stay focused on the substance in the debate.”

But why would such a prominent senator (and a potential 2020 presidential candidate), want to risk undermining unity among Democrats and position herself even farther to the Left than she is already? Because Warren’s whole shtick is based on creating the perception that financial institutions can’t be trusted. No, in her bizarre alternate reality, only the government can be trusted with managing our money.

Warren repeatedly spreads this narrative to appear to be for the “little guy,” even though policies like Dodd-Frank make it even harder for all the little guys out there. But Warren’s criticism of the reform bill wasn’t enough to keep 12 Democrats from joining the Republicans. This leaves Warren in a precarious situation heading into an election cycle in which her party seems to be thinking about perhaps maybe kinda inching toward the center in order to improve their chances of taking back the House.

Now the bill heads off to that lower chamber, where Republicans still have the power to cut through the red tape and regulations that burden our economy and make it harder for individuals to buy homes or start businesses.

Democrats have always relied on party unity to stand in the way of commonsense policies, but this time they’ve been divided by President Trump and congressional Republicans, who may finally be figuring out how to govern as the majority.



Obama DOJ Forced FBI To Delete 500,000 Fugitives From Background Check Database

The Justice Department under Barack Obama directed the FBI to drop more than 500,000 names of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, acting FBI deputy director David Bowdich testified Wednesday.

Fugitives from justice are barred from buying a firearm under federal law. But what is a fugitive from justice? That definition has been under debate by the FBI and the ATF.

According to The Washington Post, the FBI considered any person with an outstanding arrest warrant to be a fugitive. On the other hand, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives defined a fugitive as someone who has an outstanding arrest warrant and has crossed state lines.

That disagreement was settled at the end of Obama’s second term, when the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel sided with the ATF’s interpretation. Under President Donald Trump, the DOJ defined a fugitive as a person who went to another state to dodge criminal prosecution or evade giving testimony in criminal court, and implemented the Office of Legal Counsel’s decision. The decision meant that around half a million fugitives were removed from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about law enforcement’s faulty response to Parkland, Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bowdich about the removal.

“That was a decision that was made under the previous administration,” Bowdich testified. “It was the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel that reviewed the law and believed that it needed to be interpreted so that if someone was a fugitive in a state, there had to be indications that they had crossed state lines.”

“Otherwise they were not known to be a fugitive under the law and the way it was interpreted,” he added.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced the Justice Department will “aggressively” pursue any person who lies on their background check.



Engineer on Florida bridge project called state TWO DAYS before deadly collapse to report crack - but they never picked up the voicemail

An engineer called the Florida Department of Transportation to report concerns about a crack on their new 'instant' bridge two days before it collapsed - but no one ever picked up their voicemail.

FIGG's lead engineer responsible for the Florida International University, FIU, pedestrian bridge project, W. Denney Pate, left a message warning that they had observed some cracking at the north end of the bridge. The voicemail was not picked up until Friday - a day after the bridge collapsed killing six.

Pate warned that the cracking areas would need repairs but assured that, 'from a safety perspective we don't see that there's any issue.' He ended the call, urging the employee to 'call me back when you can' to discuss the problem.

The message was not picked up by an FDOT employee until Friday as the staff member was out of the office on assignment. 

FDOT have since released a statement placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of FIU. 'The responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the FIU design build team,' the statement read.

'At no point during any of the communications above did FIGG or any member of the FIU design build team ever communicate a life-safety issue.

The revelation comes after Miami-Dade County Commissioner said he was shocked to discover that the busy seven-lane freeway underneath the bridge wasn't closed while stress tests were performed.

Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who has a background in civil engineering, said he was flabbergasted that the street was not shut down to traffic before or during any stress tests or cable adjustments on the unfinished project. 'Never in my life have I heard of that,' Suarez said. 'That makes no sense. That makes no sense.'

'As a public official, I am saddened by the FIU bridge collapse. As an engineer it baffles me that a brand new bridge with no unusual (or, possibly even expected) loads could collapse in that way. Our prayers are with the victims and their families.

'Collapse of a brand-new pedestrian bridge w/o pedestrians on it @ FIU makes no sense. I will not accept explanation based on 'testing.' U cannot 'test' bridge when people are driving below it. 'I want 2 know what failed - support or span? Either way, somebody was beyond negligent.'

The bridge's internal support cables were being 'tightened' just as the bridge crumbled onto traffic below, crushing eight cars under 950 tons of concrete and steel.

But no one has yet explained why cars were allowed to drive freely under an incomplete bridge while workers were testing to see if it might fall apart.

Dr. Amjad Aref, a civil engineer and researcher at the University of Buffalo's Institute of Bridge Engineering, told the New York Times it wasn't unheard-of to let traffic flow during a stress test under some conditions. But where a bridge is incomplete, the public are generally kept out of the way.

'Normally when we do anything, even a fairly completed bridge or if it's some rehab or even really minor load-testing, there's some sort of traffic control,' Aref says.

Investigators are also looking into why the 'instant' bridge, which collapsed killing six on Thursday in Miami, was not supported by a central tower when it was tested yesterday.

Last week, Florida International University's official Twitter account posted a rendering of the bridge in its completed form as envisioned by the planners before its opening to foot traffic in early 2019.

The rendering shows a tall central column with cables connecting it to the main span.

Engineers say the design is known as a 'cable-stayed bridge,' which is a kind of suspension bridge, according to USA Today.

The bridge did not have the central tower in place, even though experts say it is usually placed at the early stages of construction.

In the absence of a tower, there is usually a temporary support, though in this case it is unclear what the builders were using in the absence of a central structure.

'Whoever is going to investigate, they will ask the fundamental question: shouldn't the tower be there, and the cables ready to connect to the structure, when you lift it?' said Amjad Aref, a professor at University at Buffalo's Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. 'That's a question for them to answer.'

When asked about why there was no central column built before the span, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, Robert Sumwalt, said: 'That's part of our investigation.'

The NTSB is an independent federal agency that probes transportation-related accidents.



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