Friday, January 04, 2019

GOP Rep Perfectly Explains Why Democrats Are So Eager To Have Open Borders

Due to the staunch refusal of Democrats to provide even a relatively paltry sum of requested border security funding to President Donald Trump, the federal government entered a partial shutdown prior to Christmas that’s extending into the new year — and a new Congress.

Of course, Democrats and their media allies have pointed the finger of blame for the shutdown toward Trump, while the White House and many Republicans have pointed the finger right back at Democrats and  House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, who has refused to even pretend to negotiate a deal to end the shutdown, preferring to instead let it linger until her new Democratic majority takes over the House on Jan. 3.

Considering the shutdown essentially boils down to the Democrat’s refusal to fork over a meager $5 billion for border security — a fraction of a fraction of the $4 trillion plus annual budget — many Americans have wondered why the Democrats are so dead set against securing the nation’s southern border.

But Republican Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks thinks he knows exactly why Pelosi and the Democrats have refused to budge on this issue and he pulled no punches explaining it.

The Daily Wire reported that during an appearance on a local media program while home over the holidays, Brooks bluntly suggested that Democrats didn’t want to secure the nation’s borders because they need an open southern border to continue bringing in new potential voters who could dramatically alter the shape and leanings of the American electorate over time.

“It is a very tough position that the Democrats have put us in,” Brooks said. “On the one hand you have got thousands of Americans who are dead — each year — because of the Democrats’ refusal to secure our borders.

“Those Americans are dying, either because they have been murdered by illegal aliens, vehicular homicides by illegal aliens or the illegal narcotics that are shipped into the country by illegal aliens and their drug cartels, with the drug overdoses that are in the tens of thousands of lost American lives per year.

“So the question is going to be, how much blood — American blood — you have to have on the hands of the Democrats leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer before they will help us with border security?” Brooks said. “Or is their craving for power such that they are willing to accept the loss of American lives?”

One of the co-hosts brought up the proposed compromise from earlier in 2018 which had fallen apart — amnesty for illegal aliens in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for border wall funding — and asked if the president and Republicans would be willing offer such a compromise once again.

“I don’t know if the Democrats are willing to do it now; they were not willing to do it earlier this year,” Brooks replied. “Keeping in mind, on our side — those of us who care about border security, and care about the financial health, and actual health, of American citizens — we’ve already compromised a lot on this issue.”

“Twenty-five billion dollars is what we need to properly secure our border with a wall and we’re all the way down to $5 billion — that is a huge compromise where you are giving up 80 percent of what is needed to adequately protect the lives and safety of American citizens,” he continued.

Brooks then proceeded to lay out exactly why, in his view, the Democrats have been so intransigent on the border security issue — a need to import new potential voters who would be likely to support the party and its policies that are increasingly being rejected by the American people.

“Democrats have an open borders philosophy, they don’t believe in border security, they believe this is the way to change the American electorate in order to win elections,” Brooks explained.

Brooks also hinted during that discussion that President Trump could very well veto any bills that emerged from Congress that did not include his requested border security funding, and reiterated that while Democrats seemed to be seeking to expand the pool of potential voters, the president was focused on protecting American citizens and taxpayers.

Democrats and their media allies will fervently deny that there is any truth behind the assertion made by Brooks that Democrats favor open borders and want to import new voters, but they will also fail to provide any other sort of logical or reasonable explanation for why they refuse to provide funding for border security.

In all likelihood, Brooks’ assumption hits the nail on the head and perfectly explains the most plausible reason for the Democrats’ refusal to budge on border security … other than, of course, the left’s base need to obstinately obstruct every single thing done by Trump, up to and including securing the nation from the risks and threats it faces at the southern border.



Pulling Young Americans Back From the Brink

During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton often delivered the line: “America is great, because she is good.” It was a feel-good line, deployed then as code for “America is too good to elect Donald Trump.”

Notwithstanding the thick irony of Clinton claiming to be the virtuous alternative, her statement on its own terms made sense: If a nation would be great, it must be morally upright—and America, despite all its flaws, is fundamentally good.

This view puts Clinton increasingly on the fringes within her own movement. In 2018, the prophets of wokeness are calling progressives to “wake up” to the reality that America, at its core, is racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and economically unjust. The system, they say, is “rigged.”

And today’s young adults are heeding those voices and increasingly embracing their viewpoint.

A recent study showed that 1 out of 5 Americans under the age of 37 do not think Americans should be proud of their history. One out of 5 millennial Americans see the flag as a sign of intolerance and hatred, and 2 out of 5 said it’s OK to burn the flag.

Clinton’s generation, the baby boomers, were most likely to say America has been, is, and will continue to be great, with 70 percent saying so. But only half of Americans under the age of 37 agreed, and a full 14 percent of millennials said America was never a great country to begin with, and never will be.

The survey, which was conducted by the polling firm YouGov and commissioned by the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness, a nonprofit devoted to restoring civics, showed that it’s not just younger Americans who have a dim view of our nation.

Fifty percent of respondents across all age groups said America is sexist, and 49 percent said it is racist.

The survey does give some reason for hope. Americans across the board remain patriotic in a general sense, and that includes millennials and Generation Z. But the data do show a clear fault line: Young people are more likely to be skeptical and critical of America than their parents and grandparents. This is a growing divide not just between the left and the right, but between the old left and new left.

In a recent op-ed, New York Times columnist David Brooks put it this way:

The older liberals are appalled by President Trump, alarmed by global warming, disgusted by widening income inequality, and so on, but are more likely to believe the structures of society are basically sound. You can make change by voting for the right candidates and passing the right laws. You can change individual minds through education and debate.

The militants are more likely to believe that the system itself is rotten and needs to be torn down. We live in a rape culture, with systemic racism and systems of oppression inextricably tied to our institutions. We live in a capitalist society, a neoliberal system of exploitation. A person’s ideology is determined by his or her status in the power structure.

This divide within the left is real, and it will inevitably impact the nation as a whole if things don’t change.

Clinton is 71 years old. Her views, though certainly liberal, reflect a strong confidence in the goodness of America and our system of government that is common among her generation.

Younger Americans increasingly part with that view—and we shouldn’t be surprised given what is increasingly taught in schools. Students are taught to “see through” inherited institutions and ways of doing things, and to view society in terms of an ongoing struggle between oppressor and oppressed.

This oppressor-oppressed lens doesn’t make much room for the way we’ve traditionally conceived of America. In a world where there are only oppressors and oppressed, there can be no free men and women, no genuine liberty, no real self-government, and no common good. There are only people seeking raw power according to their self-interest.

Such a one-dimensional outlook would leave anyone cynical about America, even life itself. And it has done just that.

Many students have become disillusioned about our society and our system of government, even pushed to despair. And despair turns them into revolutionaries ready to dismantle the system.

Of course, there is much to reject about “the system,” if by system we mean everything coming from Washington, D.C. Conservatives are quick to decry crony capitalism, the growth of the sprawling administrative state, and the misuse of power by life-appointed judges.

But these are corruptions that have grown up around the system, not integral defects within the Founders’ design. Our actual system of representative government, codified by the Constitution, remains fundamentally good. It is a testament to our forebears who slowly wrung liberty from the hands of autocratic rulers—a process dating all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215.

What younger Americans on the left need to appreciate is that our Constitution and political traditions are essential for achieving even their own liberal vision of justice.

This system has secured a host of gains that liberals often take for granted, from the abolition of slavery to the enfranchisement of women and the civil rights movement. Each of these hard-won advances was achieved through our system of representative government, and to this day they are preserved by the rule of law.

By design, our system makes it very difficult to change the law, but equally difficult to undo changes from the past. It turns out “the system” is actually your friend if you care about preserving past achievements.

This means every American who seeks to change policy—whether liberal or conservative—must take on the mindset of a reformer, not a radical. Before we even enter the policy arena, we must settle it in our minds that the system we are partaking in—the exquisite structure of republican government handed down from centuries past—is not up for debate.

This American project is an achievement of human civilization, and though it may fall short at times, it’s the best shot at justice we have. We tear it down at our own peril.



Chicago Residents Now Pay City Taxes For Using PlayStation

The city of Chicago, known far and wide as one of the murder capitals of America, also has some of the most exorbitant taxes in the country, with one that really seems outrageous: an amusement tax that now taxes PlayStation users.

As Brittany Hunter writes for the Foundation for Economic Education, a tax imposed by the city of Chicago targets PlayStation users. It was added to the amusement tax that had put a 5% on activities such as an evening at the theater, concert, sports event or a movie.

In mid-November, PlayStation 4 users in Chicago received a message from Sony indicating that as of November 14, 2018, a 9% “amusement tax” would be imposed for PlayStation subscriptions such as PlayStation Now, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Music. As Hunter notes:

The tax is specifically related to streaming services, so the PlayStation games themselves will not be subject to the 9 percent tax. But in today’s subscription-heavy economy, many users purchase these consoles as a medium to stream videos and music rather than using them solely to play games. Not to mention, the tax will still include subscription services that allow Playstation users to connect and play with other users around the globe. So if you own a PlayStation in Chicago, it is unlikely that you will be able to fully avoid this tax.

Americans for Tax Reform reported of the city’s implementation in 2015 of a “cloud tax” to add to the already existing amusement tax, “The new policy is predicted to generate an extra $12 million in annual revenue for the city, and is seen by many as a feeble attempt to quench the city’s $430 million budget deficit, and the $530 million in increased payments to police and fire fighter pension funds for 2016 … Chicago already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country at 9.25%. Now, the tax collector can literally infiltrate the living room.’

Hunter points out that although Sony just announced its policy regarding the tax, Xbox and Nintendo users have been paying it for years. She surmises that Sony capitulated because of implicit threats from government. She adds, “A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Bill McCaffrey, recently said, ‘If a business is not collecting the tax where we believe it applies, the city takes the necessary steps and works with the company to ensure compliance with the law.’”

The Liberty Justice Center fought against the implementation of the 2015 tax in Labell vs. The City of Chicago but the court ruled for the city, permitting it to institute the tax because it was simply a reinterpretation of the existing law.

Jeffrey Schwab of the Liberty Justice Center commented, “We plan to appeal this decision because it has far broader implications than this single attempt to tax online entertainment. Cloud-based entertainment isn’t unique to Chicago, and people take this entertainment in and out of city limits all the time. Therein lies one of the biggest problems with this tax: The city is taxing activity outside its borders because the tax applies regardless of whether a customer actually uses a service in Chicago. If today’s decision is allowed to stand, then local governments across Illinois could tax activity that occurs outside their borders. We will continue to fight for taxpayers against the city’s expansion of its taxing power.”

Apple joined the fight against the “cloud tax,” arguing it violated the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) of 1998, which banned “state and local governments from taxing Internet access, or imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.” Apple also claims the new tax violated the Illinois constitution. Hunter quotes’s Daniel Sanchez, who writes:

Under Illinois law, all home-rule ordinances must fall within the limits of the unit. So, a "home-rule unit" – in this case, Chicago – "may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs. There’s just one problem. Chicago city officials have imposed the Amusement Tax on citizens streaming music when outside the "home-rule unit." By creating an "extraterritorial effect," the company argues, the city has "subjected Apple to collection requirements even for activities that take place primarily outside" Chicago. In addition, the city has extraterritorially expanded its taxing and regulatory jurisdiction to transaction and business activities outside of Chicago.



High School Photos Come Back To Haunt Ocasio-Cortez, She Went By A DIFFERENT Name

New York Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come under fire for claiming to be a “girl from the Bronx” when she actually grew up in a wealthy suburb in upstate New York.

And now it appears that she may have gone by a completely different name when she was in high school.

In an exclusive to The Gateway Pundit, old yearbook photographs of Ocasio-Cortez not only show that she went to a fancy high school, she also appears to have gone by a different name.

TGP reports that an “anonymous classmate” reached out to them and provided photos of Ocasio-Cortez from high school.

Ocasio-Cortez graduated in 2007 from Yorktown Heights, which is a middle-to-upper class area in Westchester County in upstate New York City.

According to Trulia, the average price of a home in Yorktown goes for $477,000. That’s almost half a million dollars for a home, which signifies how nice of an area she grew up in.

It also appears that she went by the name “Sandy Ocasio” in high school and not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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)


Thursday, January 03, 2019

Russia-mania takes over the world

In the 60s practically everything the Left disliked was blamed on "the CIA". In 2018, there were few things Western elites didn't blame on Russia

Over the summer, Sweden’s defence commission warned that ‘a larger European conflict could start with an attack on Sweden’. Politicians and military planners clearly agreed – in June, 22,000 Swedish volunteer soldiers were called up for the largest surprise exercise since 1975.

The protagonist of this European conflict wasn’t named as such, but it didn’t need to be. Because every politician and civil servant, every pundit and broadcaster, just knows that the protagonist is Russia. Because that is the function ‘Russia’ – alongside associated dread words such as ‘Vladimir Putin’ or ‘Russian oligarchs’ – now plays in the political imagination of Western elites. It is the catch-all, go-to explanation for their travails. The assumed military demiurge of global instability. The real, albeit dark and hidden, source of populist discontent.

Yet while Russia-mania is widespread among today’s political and cultural elites, it is not uniform.

For an older, right-wing section of the Western political and media class, otherwise known as the Cold War Re-Enactment Society, Russia looms large principally as a military, quasi-imperial threat. Jim Mattis, the former US marine and general, and now US defence secretary, said Russia was responsible for ‘the biggest attack [on the world order] since World War Two’. Whether this is true or not is beside the point. What matters is that Russia appears as a military aggressor. What matters is that Russia’s actions in Ukraine – which were arguably a defensive reaction to NATO and the EU’s expansion into Russia’s traditional ally – are grasped as an act of territorial aggrandisement. What matters is that Russia’s military operations in Syria – which, again, were arguably a pragmatic intervention to stabilise the West-stoked chaos – are rendered as an expression of imperial aggression. What matters is that Russian state involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury – which, given its failure, proved Russian incompetence – is presented as ‘part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe and its near neighbours, from the western Balkans to the Middle East’, to quote Theresa May.

And it matters because, if Russia is dressed up as the West’s old Cold War adversary, just with a new McMafia logo, then the crumbling, illegitimate and increasingly pointless postwar institutions through which Western elites have long ordered the world, suddenly look just that little bit more solid, legitimate and purposeful. And none more so than NATO.

This is why NATO has this year been accompanying its statements warning Russia to ‘stop its reckless pattern of behaviour’ with some of the largest military exercises since the fall of the Berlin Wall nearly three decades ago. Including one in November in Norway, involving 50,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 60 warships.

Then there is the newer form of Russia-mania. This has emerged from within the political and cultural elite that came to power after the Cold War, ploughing an uninspiring third way between the seeming extremes of the 20th century’s great ideologies. Broadly social democratic in sentiment, and elitist and aloof in practice, this band of merry technocrats and their middle-class supporters have found in ‘Russia’ a way to avoid having to face up to what the populist revolt reveals – that the majority of Western citizens share neither their worldview nor their wealth. Instead, they use ‘Russia’ to displace the people as the source of discontent and political revolt.

We have seen this play out in the US in the continuing obsession, fronted by Troll-Finder General Robert Mueller, over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. And the same obsession has emerged in the UK, too, with politicians and pundits claiming that a shadowy network of Russian influence tipped the EU referendum in favour of Leave.

It is never quite clear how the ‘Russians’ or ‘Putin’ did all this, beyond Facebook ads and decidedly dubious talk of so-called dark money. But then clarity is not the point for this stripe of Russia-maniac. He or she simply wants to believe that Trump or Brexit were not what they were. Not expressions of popular will. Not manifestations of popular discontent. Not democratic exercises.

No, they were the result, as one Tory MP put it, of ‘the covert and overt forms of malign influence used by Moscow’. Or, in the words of an Observer columnist, ‘a campaign that purported to be for the “left behind” was organised and funded by men with links across the global network of far-right American demagogues and kleptomaniac dictators such as Putin’.

Such has been the determination to blame ‘Russia’ or ‘Putin’ for the political class’s struggles, that in August Tom Watson, Labour’s conspiracy-theory-peddling deputy leader, called for a public inquiry into an alleged Russian Brexit plot. ‘[Voters] need to know whether that referendum was stolen or not’, he said.

Such a call ought to be mocked. After all, it is absurd to think ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’ and the trolls are the power behind every populist throne. But the claims aren’t mocked – they’re taken as calls to action. Think of anything viewed as a threat to our quaking political and cultural elites in the West, and you can bet your bottom ruble that some state agency or columnist is busy identifying Putin or one of his legion of bots and trolls as the source. The gilet jaunes protests in France? Check. Climate change? Check. Italy’s Five Star Movement? Check.

And all this from a nation with a GDP equivalent to Spain, an ageing, declining population, and a failing infrastructure. The reality of Russia is not that of a global threat, but of a struggling state. Russia is weak. Yet in the minds of those clinging desperately to the status quo, ‘Russia’ has never been more powerful.



Waves of Bogus Asylum Seekers Overwhelm Immigration System 

A tense exchange at the White House on Tuesday between President Donald Trump and the two leading congressional Democrats — recycled incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — provided additional evidence that a chasm remains when it comes to achieving immigration reform.

While President Trump’s desire to secure the border and prioritize America’s needs when determining who to allow to enter our borders has the strong support of the American people, Democrats have abandoned long-held, sensible immigration positions in favor of a radical open-borders policy that allows violent criminals, and drug and sex traffickers to pour into our nation.

In recent months, Americans witnessed waves of thousands of migrants pushing their way up from Central America to the U.S., demanding to be let in while claiming a right to enter. When attempts were made to stop them, they rioted, tearing down border fences and attacking U.S. border agents. Or Trump was foiled by the courts in his efforts to limit the invasion. He’s filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court blocked his effort to prevent illegals from entering the U.S. and then seeking asylum.

The real immigration crisis is with asylum seekers. As President Trump has kept his promise to strengthen border security, the number of illegal aliens able to sneak into the U.S. has slowed.

However, those seeking entry have not changed their goals, just their tactics. In 2018 alone, the number of migrants demanding asylum at the U.S. border rose a staggering 67% according to Homeland Security, to nearly 93,000 people. Roughly a third arrived at ports of entry without permission, and another 14% were caught jumping the border illegally before filing for asylum.

Migrants know the immigration system is overwhelmed with existing applications for asylum, and they know there is a good chance they will be processed and released into the U.S. while waiting for immigration hearings sometimes years later that most will never come back for, choosing instead to disappear inside the U.S.

Laughably, one group of migrants is now demanding that the Trump administration either let them into the U.S. or pay them $50,000 each to return home. Points for creativity, we suppose, but good luck with that.

It’s difficult to qualify for asylum; only about 20% of applications are approved. To qualify, the migrant must face a “credible fear” of violence or serious discrimination due to race, religion, or political affiliation. Asylum is broken down into two broad categories: “affirmative” (not yet subjected to deportation proceedings) and “defensive” (fighting deportation).

Affirmative asylum seekers are far fewer in number but much likelier to be granted asylum; roughly 70% get approved. Defensive asylum seekers, on the other hand, are rolling the dice, hoping a friendly judge gives them a last-second reprieve; about 75-95% are rejected.

To increase their chances of gaining asylum, the recent migrant wave from Central America took the longest possible route through Mexico to the U.S. Part of this was to avoid the drug cartels that control the region between southern Mexico and the Texas border, but even more relevant, the migrants are fully aware that California is a “sanctuary” state, and immigration judges in San Diego are far more likely to grant asylum than judges in Texas.

While the migrant/open borders proponents argue these waves of migrants truly fear persecution in their home countries, that fallacy is exposed by the fact that, while defensive asylum applications have skyrocketed (the vast majority coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico), affirmative asylum applications have stayed roughly constant. It’s also noteworthy that these so-called asylum seekers have received significant financial and logistical support from leftist organizations as they try to force their way into the U.S.

In order to get the situation under control and discourage waves of questionable asylum seekers, the Trump administration has begun “metering” — claiming that detention and processing facilities are overcrowded (they are), so they can’t accept new claims until the backlog of existing claims are processed. Would-be asylum seekers are directed to wait in Mexico until they can be seen.

This has put pressure on Mexico to secure its own southern border so it’s not forced to accommodate and pay for feeding, housing, and securing tens of thousands of migrants.

Last year, the Trump administration received wide condemnation for its wise refusal to sign onto the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which would have given international treaties and laws primacy over U.S. immigration laws. In explaining that refusal UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared, “No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue. But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”

Despite the faux outrage of world leaders, nearly a dozen countries — including Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland — have followed America’s lead in rejecting the treaty, and pressure is building in formerly pro-migrant countries like Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands to spurn it as they face significant difficulties dealing with crime and cultural conflicts after absorbing massive waves of migrants.

As for the showdown with the Democrats, President Trump declared this week that he will get the U.S. border secured one way or another, even if he has to use the U.S. military to build the border wall.

And despite the propensity of Democrats to use immigrant children as political cannon fodder, the American people support Trump’s agenda of securing our borders.



This Insane Battle To Block a New Apartment Building Explains Why San Francisco and Other Cities Are So Expensive

Bob Tillman has spent nearly five years and $1.4 million on a legal battle to turn his coin-operated laundromat into an apartment building. His saga perfectly encapsulates the political dysfunction that's turning San Francisco—once a beacon for immigrants and home of the counterculture—into an exclusive playground for the ultra-wealthy.

The median cost of a single-family home in San Francisco is already five times the U.S. average, and the city now has the highest rent per square foot of any municipality in the nation. The explanation for the crisis is simple: As the city's population has surged, developers have found it nearly impossible to construct more housing. About 80 percent of San Francisco's existing buildings were already standing in 1980.

Tillman has owned his small laundromat in the Mission District for 20 years. In 2013, with the housing market hitting record highs, he decided to tear it down and build an eight-story, 75-unit apartment building. (Christian Britschgi first covered Tillman's project for Reason back in February.)

At first, it didn't seem like a controversial project: Nobody lives above the laundry, the building wouldn't displace anyone, it qualified for a density bonus and streamlined approval process under state law, and the site was already zoned for housing. While San Francisco passed a comprehensive zoning code in 1978 that restricted the construction of new housing to certain areas, mandated design elements, and limited the height of new structures in some parts of the city to just 40 feet, none of those regulations stood in the way of Tillman's plans.

"If you can't build here, you can't build anywhere," he told Reason.

But San Francisco developers are still required to get permission from city officials for any new construction, so, in early 2014, Tillman began submitting paperwork to the City Planning Department. He went through an environmental review, an application for a conditional use permit, and multiple public hearings.

In late 2017, the Planning Commission was ready to vote on Tillman's project, three and a half years after he first applied to build. That's when the real fight started.

The first hurdle came when the Planning Commission ordered a detailed historical review, based on a claim that various community groups had offices on the property in the 1970s and 80s, so the site might qualify for preservation. The resulting 137-page study cost Tillman $23,000 and delayed him an additional four months. It found that the laundry didn't merit landmark status.

But Tillman's project was still far from being approved. City law says that any individual or group, no matter where they live, can pay a $617 fee to appeal a decision by the Planning Commission. In this case, the challenge came from an organization called Calle 24, which declined Reason's interview request.

Calle 24 is one of several neighborhood groups determined to stop gentrification in the Mission, a neighborhood that's home to a working-class, Latino community. In the late 1990s, wealthier white residents starting moved in, driving up housing prices faster than in the rest of San Francisco. The group opposes market-rate housing on the grounds that it displaces low-income residents, and it set out to extract major concessions from Tillman.

Todd David, the executive director of the non-profit San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, attributes displacement in the Mission to the failure to build new housing. "When you have people with resources competing with people with fewer resources for a limited commodity, who's going to end up with that commodity?" David told Reason.

San Francisco's stringent rent control laws can slow that process. In buildings that were constructed prior to June of 1979, which describes about three-quarters of the city's existing rental properties, landlords can't increase rent by more than the rate of inflation. One year, owners of controlled units were allowed to boost rents by just 0.1 percent. In the Mission, this has allowed some long-term tenants to stay put, but rent control discourages new housing construction and merely delays the inevitable. When a tenant dies or moves out, landlords can raise the rent to market levels.

The city has tried to slow gentrification by requiring that all new buildings set aside a portion of their apartments for subsidized housing. In the case of Tillman's project, 11 percent of the units would be available only to families that earn less than 55 percent of the area's median income.

Organizers with Calle 24 said this wasn't nearly enough. At Tillman's first hearing before the Planning Commission, advocates asked for another delay to work out a deal for him to sell the laundry to a nonprofit that would use donations and government subsidies to build 100 percent affordable housing.

In November of 2017, the Planning Commission approved Tillman's project over the fierce objections of anti-development activists. After the Commissioners rejected another delay tactic, Calle 24 appealed the ruling to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city's primary legislative body. That process would take another seven months.

Tillman feared his project was dead. The laudromat is in an area of the city represented by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who's closely allied with the community groups fighting to stop the project. (Ronen didn't respond to Reason's interview request.) When the 11 members of the legislative body consider a local project, they generally defer to the supervisor who has home jurisdiction.

The Supervisors held a public hearing on the project on June 19, 2018. Four and a half years into the process, Ronen and the other Supervisors raised a new issue: Citing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an environmental law, they expressed concern that the building would cast a partial shadow on a playground next door. The Supervisors voted to delay the project.

Tillman says such shadows are not a legitimate grounds for appeal under CEQA, and that the Supervisors manufactured the issue to delay his plans further. So he sued San Francisco for $17 million in damages, or what he says his building would have generated thus far if not for the city's illegal delays. Litigation is rare tactic by San Francisco developers, who fear political retaliation on future developments. With only one project, Tillman had less to lose.

But in October of 2018, just two months after Tillman filed his lawsuit, the Planning Commission delivered a surprise. It had independently studied the shadow issue and found that it wouldn't have a significant negative impact on the playground next door. The Commission quickly reapproved the project, and Calle 24 declined to appeal.

Tillman finally has the green light to move forward, but he hasn't yet withdrawn his lawsuit out of concern that the Board of Supervisors is devising new ways to try to derail his project.

"We're in a hole," says Tillman. "And the first rule of holes is when you're in a hole, stop digging."



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, January 02, 2019

How Donald Trump Is Radically Reforming Obamacare

In the face of congressional inaction, the Trump administration has set out to reform Obamacare by executive order. The reforms stretch the boundaries of what many thought was possible without an act of Congress. Although some changes are still in the comment period (before the rules become formalized), the Trump reforms in some ways are more radical than Obamacare itself.

Personal and portable health insurance. The United States has a long history of encouraging health insurance at the place of work. Premiums paid by employers avoid federal and state income taxes as well as the Social Security (FICA) payroll tax. By contrast, unless they get Obamacare subsidies, most Americans receive no tax relief if they buy health insurance on their own.

Unfortunately, group insurance is not portable. When people leave their job, many must turn to individually purchased health insurance instead. This is the primary source of the “pre-existing condition” problem. Before Obamacare, insurers in the individual market could and did deny coverage to people with expensive health conditions, although Wharton health economist Mark Pauly finds that the instances of this were rare.

So why not let employees have insurance they can take with them from job to job and in and out of the labor market? This idea is highly popular in public opinion polls. But under the Obama administration, employers who did this could be fined as much as $100 per employee per day, or $36,500 per employee per year – the largest fine in all of Obamacare.

The Trump administration is proposing to get rid of those fines and actually encourage the purchase of individually owned insurance, using employer funds, through something called a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Small businesses are allowed to do this as a result of the 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016. Trump is now proposing to allow employers of any size the same opportunity.

Given the sorry state of the individual market in most places, why would employers and their employees find this option attractive? Because of other Trump reforms.

In addition to broadening the scope for Association Health Plans earlier in the year, the administration announced last Thursday that  states will have the ability to (1) create risk pools and/or risk reinsurance in order to bring down premiums for average buyers, (2) create defined contribution accounts (combining Obamacare subsidies with other money) from which families can select health insurance that better meets their needs, (3) use Obamacare money to create a new and different system of subsidies and (4) create new insurance options, including non-qualified health plans.

Then on Monday, that administration released Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition. This is the first time any administration has explicitly acknowledged that the most serious problems in health care arise not because of market failure, but because of unwise government policies; and it is the first time the federal government has committed to the idea of liberating the medical marketplace. In many ways the document is very similar to ideas I first proposed in Regulation of Medical Care: Is the Price Too High? (Cato: 1980)

I’ll have more to say about these policy changes in future posts.

The Treasury department believes as many as 10 million people will obtain individually owned insurance through their employers under the new rules. Harvard Business School’s Regina Herzlinger thinks the number could be much higher than that.

Tax fairness. The latest Trump executive order goes a long way toward eliminating unfairness in the tax code. For example, an above-average-income family would be able to obtain individually owned insurance with the same tax advantages as group insurance.

Below-average-income families have the opposite problem. Since these families pay no income taxes, their only tax subsidy at work is the avoidance of the payroll tax. This is well below the subsidies available in the Obamacare exchanges. Going forward, these families will be able to use employer money to obtain subsidized insurance in the exchanges. (But there will be no double dipping – it’s one subsidy or the other.)

A flexible savings account. More than 30 million Americans have a Health Savings Account, allowing them to manage some of their own health care dollars. These accounts are rigidly constrained, however. Because of an across-the-board high deductible and other requirements, most health plans sold in the Obamacare exchanges are not HSA-compatible.

HRAs, by contrast, can wrap around any health insurance plan and are available to pay for expenses insurance doesn’t pay for. Employer deposits to HRAs would give employees access to the full range of products available on the individual market. Money not spent on premiums would be available to pay other expenses, including deductibles and copayments.

Insurance tailored to family needs. Obamacare tries to force low-income families to buy the wrong kind of insurance. If a low-income couple has the misfortune to have a million-dollar premature baby, Obamacare insurance will pay the hospital the million dollars. But under some plans, the couple must pay the first $7,000 of medical expenses out of their own pocket. That’s great for hospitals, but it does almost nothing to help the family.

Before there was Obamacare, fast food workers often had limited benefit insurance – paying, say, the first $25,000 or $50,000 of medical expenses. This kind of insurance gave them easy entry into the health care system, although the cost of rare, catastrophic events was shifted to others.

Fast food workers tend to be among the 28 million people who are currently uninsured. Many of them are turning down Obamacare insurance – whether offered by an employer or in an exchange.

Under the new executive order, however, their employers can deposit up to $1,800 in an Excepted Benefit HRA, from which employees can purchase all types of primary care, including phone and email consultations, Uber-type house calls, the services of walk-in clinics, etc. They could also take advantage of the next option.

Free market health insurance. Historically, “short-term, limited duration” health plans have served as a bridge for people between jobs or migrating from school to work. They are not subject to Obamacare regulations and they can charge actuarially fair premiums. Although they typically last up to 12 months, the Obama administration restricted them to 3 months and outlawed renewal guarantees beyond that.

The Trump administration has now reversed those decisions, allowing short-term plans to last up to 12 months and allowing guaranteed renewals for up to three years. The ruling also allows the sale of a separate plan, called “health status insurance,” that protects people from premium increases due to a change in health condition should they want to buy short-term insurance for another 3 years.

By stringing together these two types of insurance, people will likely be able to remain insured indefinitely, with plans that look like a typical employer plan. The expected number of enrollees ranges from 1.9 million ( Medicare’s chief actuary) to 4.3 million (Urban Institute).

Yet as long as people are free to choose insurance that meets individual and family needs and as long as it is fairly priced, I think the real number will be even higher.



The Demo Degradation of American Patriotism

The greatest threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press is the Leftmedia.
“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.” —Benjamin Rush (1773)

In a non-contextual defense of the mass media, I often see cited the following quote: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

While I believe Thomas Jefferson was correct in that assessment, in context he was referring to an institution that would live up to the high journalistic standards expected of a “free press,” as well as a people who would be able to make decisions based on sound analysis rather than soundbites.

Jefferson also offered this observation on the press: “Newspapers … serve as chimneys to carry off noxious vapors and smoke.” In 1805, Jefferson wrote, “During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.”

Ominously, he added, “These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.”

And given the propagation of “fake news” by the contemporary media, Jefferson was downright prophetic: “The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood.”

The prevalence of press partiality had been noted by Benjamin Franklin years earlier. In 1789, ahead of deliberations for our Bill of Rights, he wrote, “If by the liberty of the press … it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it.”

In every era since our founding, some journalists have upheld the high standards expected of a free press. However, most have abused their positions, aligned their reports with their personal perspectives and allegiances, and presented their opinions as facts. This abuse of the free-press privilege is, as Jefferson noted, “deeply to be regretted.”

Moreover, such abuse in the modern era of mass media and social media platforms is very dangerous to the future of constitutional Rule of Law and the Liberty it enshrines.

For much of the last half-century, collusion between the Democrat Party and its propagandistic press corps has led to the institutionalization of media malpractice — an abject betrayal of the First Amendment.

Our Founders clearly intended the assurance of freedom of speech and the press to be among the most significant checks on centralized governmental power. But by the late 20th century, the press had become the primary empowering agent of statists who supported the central government’s exponential (and extra-constitutional) growth.

Thirty years ago, Americans somehow survived on less than 30 minutes of national news in the evening and whatever could be gleaned from the newspapers the next morning.

Today, however, media outlets inundate the airwaves and the Internet with hyperbolic news banners and alerts, ad nauseam, in order to secure market share and ad revenue for their 24-hour news-recycling operations. (Trump’s troubles are major Leftmedia revenue generators, but no conflict of interest there…)

And print outlets, though believing themselves superior because they must be read rather than watched, are actually no better. Communally, the MSM’s “journalists” have become shills for leftist ideology.

The net result is more than a degradation of the First Amendment — it is a systemic degradation of American Patriotism.

There is a distinct division between conservatives and leftists in regard to patriotism and optimism, and the constant drone of depressive Leftmedia indoctrination is the most significant factor accelerating that division. Anti-American sentiments inevitably emerge when Leftmedia outlets select and frame the news in such pessimism, but good news does not sell. Moreover, the deeply dispirited denizens of The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and other outlets dole out depressing perspective to an increasingly depressed audience.

Recent polling indicates that Democrats are substantially less “proud to be American” now than when Gallup began its longevity polling on this question almost two decades ago. In 2013, during the height of the Obama years, 56% of Democrats were “extremely proud.” Today, just 32% are proud. “Liberals” are even less proud of our national heritage, down to only 23%.

Notably, this division didn’t begin with Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 defeat of Barack Obama’s presumed successor, Hillary Clinton. The Demo slide began during Obama’s second term, only accelerating after Trump’s election.

Recently, New York’s inherited governor, Andrew Cuomo, captured this depressive despair when broadcasting his views: “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”

The political disparity between those with hope versus those who despair, and the decline in “happiness” and increasing sense of isolation, are arguably the results of contrasting political visions for our future.

The arrogant Leftmedia has, for decades, viewed grassroots Americans as a “basket of deplorables,” in Clinton’s words.

But the Left certainly has high regard for its MSM brethren. In a recent CNN op-ed by Notre Dame “ethics” professor Joseph Holt, he declared that the press is our “protector” and insisted, “We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason — especially when the stakes have never been higher.”

What Holt and his ilk fail to realize is that the Leftmedia’s rhetoric is largely responsible for our nation’s epidemic of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the resulting transition from civil discourse toward civil war.

In fact, so deranged are today’s Demo constituents that 57% of them now view socialism favorably. Just two years ago, 56% of Democrats viewed capitalism favorably. This alarming shift is the direct result of being dumbed down by leftist socialism deniers and their Leftmedia enablers, as evident in the emergence of absurd socialist candidates.

How can it be that so many of our fellow Americans have forgotten their history? How can so many of them believe that socialism is freedom-friendly?

Years ago, an author whom I hold in high esteem, C.S. Lewis, declared, “I never read the papers. Why does anyone? They’re nearly all lies, and one has to wade thru’ such reams of verbiage and ‘write up’ to find out even what they’re saying.”

Similar wisdom abounds.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.”

In his essay “The American Press,” Mark Twain, a newspaper reporter early in his career, wrote, “There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press. … It seems to me that just in the ratio that our newspapers increase, our morals decay. The more newspapers the worse morals. Where we have one newspaper that does good, I think we have fifty that do harm.”

That notwithstanding, the Leftmedia colluded last week to protest Donald Trump’s introduction of “fake news” into the popular lexicon. This nationwide editorial “day of rage” was nothing more than a criticism of Trump for consistently calling out Leftmedia lies. Editors decried what they insist is Trump’s attack on freedom of the press, but make no mistake: The greatest threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press, and to Liberty itself, IS the Leftmedia. Its relentless assault on Trump is eroding public confidence in the press.

And a footnote: While the Leftmedia elite were ranting about their First Amendment rights, according to research by the Freedom Forum Institute, fully 40% of Americans can’t name a single one of the five rights enshrined in our First Amendment. And 36% could only name one.



Trump Uses Obama’s Own Home Against Him in Brilliant Border Wall Argument

To anyone with a sliver of logic rattling around in their brains, the importance of border security should be readily apparent.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one of the biggest reasons President Donald Trump won the 2016 election is because border security was one of his biggest campaigning points.

Despite the fact that it’s so logical and clearly something many Americans want, leftists have long had some inexplicable problem with anything involving border security or a potential wall.

The liberal actor Peter Fonda was slammed as a “domestic terrorist” by the National Border Patrol Council for incendiary comments he made about the men and women who try to enforce border security.

Late night “comedian” Jimmy Kimmel basically equated Americans who supported border security to uneducated meth addicts.

The lunacy of the left truly knows no bounds. But amid the hysteria, Trump noticed something that leftists like Fonda, Kimmel and former President Barack Obama might have a hard time explaining.

“President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”

Say what you will about Trump, but his expertise when it comes to subtle trolling is undeniable.

From saying “I agree” with the Obama’s for their fence to his very deliberate use of the word “slightly,” this is a brilliant way for Trump to flip the script on leftists.

But trolling aside, Trump raises a point that many of these leftists and elitists will have a hard time explaining.

So many of them live in lavish mansions and gated communities and have the gall to attack Trump’s border wall? What, exactly, is the purpose of gates and walls for their homes? Security and safety, two of the biggest things Trump has argued for through his border walls.

To be clear, I’m not condemning leftists and elitists for having these walls. They can do what they want with their property, and if walls help them secure and protect their loved ones and belongings, more power to them.

I’m condemning their rank hypocrisy for not wanting that same level of security and protection for America as a whole.



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, January 01, 2019

The Left screeched doom over losing "net neutrality" -- but, like all their alarms, nothing happened when Trump ended it

by Jeff Jacoby

HERE'S A PIECE of news you may have missed: The internet is getting faster. The technology news website Recode reported this month that "US internet speeds rose nearly 40 percent this year," with broadband download velocity now averaging as much as 159 megabits per second in some cities. The United States currently ranks seventh worldwide in broadband internet speed. That's up from 12th a year ago.

Perhaps this strikes you as something less than a stop-the-presses revelation. The internet, after all, has been expanding and accelerating for the past 25 years. Why should 2018 have been any different?

Yet last year, when the Federal Communications Commission moved to repeal the Obama administration's "Net Neutrality" rule, much of the liberal establishment went berserk. Many in the media were sure the change would mean the "end of the internet as we know it." A lavish online campaign backed by dozens of organizations issued a "Red Alert," warning that if the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai overturned the Obama regulations, it would "give the big cable companies control over what we see and do online" and "allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees." A New York Times business journalist bewailed the coming demise of the internet — undoing net neutrality, he wrote, "would be the final pillow in its face." Other tech analysts were even more caustic. Nilay Patel, the editor of The Verge, proclaimed that with net neutrality gone, the internet was doomed. ("Doomed" wasn't the word he used.)

In the abstract, this was a legitimate topic for debate. "Net neutrality" is jargon for a policy under which internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon are required to treat all data equally, making no distinction among online websites or the features they offer. Advocates warned that if net neutrality weren't mandated by the government, internet carriers would move data more slowly, exempting websites and apps only if they paid for preferential "fast lane" service. Or they would shift to a tiered subscription model, in which consumers seeking access to bandwidth gluttons like Netflix and YouTube would be charged more than consumers interested only in web browsing and email.

That argument was plausible in theory, but belied by history. Though the internet has existed since the early 1990s, it wasn't until 2015 that the FCC imposed its net-neutrality regulations. Did it do so because the big ISPs were throttling internet traffic? Hardly. In the more than two decades during which the internet functioned without net-neutrality regulations, there was scant evidence that rapacious corporations were strangling web traffic. On the contrary: As the FCC's own published data confirmed, between 2011 and 2015, internet speeds had been steadily rising.

In reality, the net neutrality rule was part of an even broader assertion of power by the Obama administration. By designating broadband providers as the legal equivalent of telephone companies — telecommunications common carriers — the FCC claimed sweeping authority to regulate them under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

That gave the agency a say in nearly every step taken by the broadband firms. "The FCC was empowered to decide if a network provider's products were good for consumers, and innovative new services were suddenly viewed with suspicion," explained Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray. "For instance, the agency went after cellular companies for daring to offer free video and music streaming services. . . . Armed with Title II, [the FCC] could turn the Internet into something like the old Bell system telephone monopoly, famed for its near-total lack of technical innovation."

For supporting a rollback of the Obama-era "net neutrality" regulations, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was subjected to contemptible abuse. Pai was showered with racist insults and death threats, forcing him to cancel major public appearances.

So when the Trump administration last December voted to undo the net-neutrality rule, it was simply restoring the status quo ante. It was also acknowledging that the decision to arm an agency with significant new authority belongs to Congress, not to the agency's own bureaucrats.

That was a move with which reasonable people could disagree. But the reaction from countless critics was anything but reasonable.

NARAL howled that repealing net neutrality posed a "direct threat to reproductive freedom." GLAAD slammed it as "an attack on the LGBTQ community." The Root denounced it as an attempt to "silence black voices." Others decried the FCC vote as an assault that would "hurt rural America," "hurt students," "hurt religion," and "hurt the poor most of all."

Such wailing and teeth-gnashing paled next to the venom heaped on Ajit Pai. The FCC chairman was subjected to truly contemptible abuse. The FCC was showered with racist insults (Pai is Indian-American) and death threats — some of them serious enough to compel Pai to cancel major public appearances. Signs posted near his home invoked his young children by name, and charged that their "Dad murdered democracy in cold blood."

And now, a year later, it is clear that the fanaticism and fury of the net-neutrality campaign was not just unhinged, it was dead wrong. The web is as accessible as ever. Democracy has not been murdered. Broadband moves faster and faster. As with most predictions of gloom and doom, the digital alarmists should have been ignored. Twelve months after the net neutrality rule was spiked, the internet is doing just fine.



Withdrawing from Syria Implements the Trump Doctrine

That’s what it takes to actually win

“We need to be more unpredictable to adversaries," President Trump had declared.

In the spring of the year, he pounded Syria with air strikes after chemical weapons were used, obliterating Obama’s red line disgrace, and restoring American deterrence and credibility.

But the day before the strikes happened, he had tweeted, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

Now, in the last wintry days of the year, he suddenly announced a pullout of American troops from Syria. But the move only took those by surprise who hadn’t been paying attention all along.

When our first major airstrikes began, Trump had warned, “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria… under no circumstances.”

Politicians usually say things like that. But Trump remains unpredictable by actually saying what he means in a business where everyone assumes that you mean the opposite of what you say.

“I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools,” Trump had tweeted five years ago.

Trump’s actions in Syria encompass his preference for flexibility, quick strikes or withdrawals with no long term commitment. And that’s exactly what frustrates a national security establishment whose watershed moment was still the post-war reconstruction of Germany and Japan. They foolishly misread Trump by confusing commitment with consistency, and unpredictability with inconsistency,

Our foreign policy, crafted by unimaginative diplomats, who despite their pretentions have nothing in common with the flashing wit of a Talleyrand or the cunning calculation of a Metternich, is based on creating trust by being utterly predictable. They’ve succeeded brilliantly at being utterly predictable. And they’ve failed at using this predictability as leverage to build a trustworthy international order.

Trump has brilliantly wielded his unpredictability to make America into a mobile piece on the world chessboard. America has the ability to rapidly deploy troops around the world and pull them out. But we were too bogged down in a swamp of our own ideological abstractions to make use of our capabilities.

Establishment thinking deploys American troops in the 21st century like British soldiers in the 19th. The deployments never end. Instead we set up little colonies of contractors, mercenaries, reporters, aid workers, and try to bring civilization to the savages at the cost of endless blood and treasure.

These outposts of a phantom imperial order of the new age of humanity become besieged fortresses, islands in a sea of savagery which we are obligated to defend, and they attract our enemies who immediately begin funneling money and weapons, turning the guerrillas we were fighting into an even bigger threat. These humanitarian empires end up being neither imperial nor humanitarian.

Trump understands that there’s no point in maintaining a doomed foreign colony of tens of thousands in Afghanistan, or setting one up in Syria. These colonies give meaning and purpose to their populations, experts, analysts, journalists, aid workers, who shape our foreign policy, but they don’t help America.

The Trump Doctrine rejects these nation building colonies. It wields American power as part of an enduring strategy to build up American power by establishing deterrence, strength and flexibility. Its emphasis is on inflicting rapid blows and moving on, of turning our problems into other people’s problems, and of extracting economic victories from the chaos of foreign policy strife.

It throws out the idea that America must maintain an international order at its own expense, without anyone else being willing to do their fair share or do anything meaningful to serve our own interests.

None of this is a surprise.

Trump has been very consistent in conveying this same message throughout the campaign. But a blinkered establishment refused to take him at his word and is now shocked that he really means it.

When he bombed Syria, they assumed that he had come around to their way of thinking. Instead Trump was implementing his way of thinking, punishing Assad, sending a message to Russia, and moving on.

Even Secretary of Defense Mattis had originally called the strikes on Syria, a “one-time shot.”

Trump had rejected nation building during the campaign and after taking office.  Just last December, he had introduced his national security strategy by warning that, “Our leaders engaged in nation-building abroad, while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home.  They undercut and shortchanged our men and women in uniform with inadequate resources, unstable funding, and unclear missions.  They failed to insist that our often very wealthy allies pay their fair share for defense, putting a massive and unfair burden on the U.S. taxpayer and our great U.S. military.”

He had also noted that, “In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans.”

Last summer, Trump’s speech on Afghanistan had described a shift away from nation-building and the ridiculous timelines for withdrawal that had defined previous administrations. We would, Trump said, “shift from a time-based approach to one of condition". Instead of inflexible commitments, we would maintain flexible options, and respond to the situation, rather than following a fixed plan.

That’s what he’s doing.

We’re "not nation-building again,” he had declared. “We are killing terrorists.”

During the campaign, Trump had complained, “We’re nation-building, trying to tell people who have dictators or worse for centuries how to run their own countries.” He had made it clear that he might occasionally support short term interventions to solve “a problem going on in the world and you can solve the problem”, but not futile efforts to transform failed states into democracies.

Trump’s strategy has remained consistent. The only real question was not “if”, but “when”.

The establishment’s confusion is understandable. When George W. Bush ran for office, he fiercely condemned the nation-building exercises of the Clinton administration in Haiti and Somalia.

“I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building,” Bush had declared.

But then he got sucked into the seductive idea that the best way to end Islamic terrorism would be to change the political conditions of the Muslim world. In the Bush era, nation-building was used to introduce democracy into anti-American Muslim dictatorships. In the Obama era, the democracy push was perverted into a means of overthrowing allied Muslim dictators and replacing them with Muslim Brotherhood regimes. And yet many establishment Republicans continued to support this policy.

Syria began as an extension of the Arab Spring. Most of the Senate Republicans who want us to stay there are the same people who voted for a pro-Iran resolution opposing the Saudi campaign in Yemen. They’re not pushing us to remain in Syria to stop Iran. And they couldn’t care less about the Kurds. They want Syria to be a repeat of Libya with American military force being used for Muslim Brotherhood nation-building. And that is not in our national interests and it’s not what Trump or Americans want.

Trump’s main critics on Syria continue lying to us and lying to themselves that Syria will turn into a free democratic and secular country. But Trump isn’t interested in living in their fantasy world.

The Trump Doctrine has clearly and consistently rejected nation-building and extended interventions. Trump has said that America is not the world’s policeman. And, unlike most politicians, he’s meant it.

But Trump also isn’t afraid to be unpredictable.

He can go back into Syria, just as he left Syria. That’s the whole point. Instead of turning American soldiers into permanent targets, protecting a population of contractors, aid workers and reporters, with young boys from Tennessee and North Dakota getting their legs blown off so that the New York Times can get a Pulitzer Prize photo and a charity org can get more donors, he’s using our military power as a foil instead of a broadsword, landing a series of quick blows and then, unexpectedly, moving on.

That’s radically different from the military strategy that has bogged us down for a century. It’s smart and brilliant in exactly the way that the foreign establishment thinks that it is, but actually isn’t.

The establishment assails Trump as “inconsistent”. It values consistency above all else because it has no strategies, only ideological commitments to abstract ideas that don’t survive places like Afghanistan.

The abstract ideas on which our nation-building is based are not strategies. They’re values. And too many administrations, Democrat and Republican, have built wishful thinking strategies around values. Ideas and values are expressions of belief. Strategies are flexible plans based on real opportunities.

The Trump Doctrine is consistent in the abstract. It’s flexible in its implementation. That’s what it takes to actually win against terrorists, guerrillas and cunning enemies that seize opportunities instead of upholding ideas. And the establishment’s failure to understand that is why we’ve spent decades losing.



Cowardly Deputy to blame for Parkland deaths

He should be dismissed and prosecuted for failing to do the job he was employed to do

The South Florida Sun Sentinel released a minute-by-minute rundown of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in “Unprepared and Overwhelmed.” The Sentinel acknowledged many teachers and police officers were “heroic,” but Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) were hesitant and disorganized as a whole.

The shooting left 17 people dead.

“A gunman with an AR-15 fired the bullets, but a series of blunder, bad policies, sketchy training and poor leadership helped him succeed,” the Sentinel wrote.

There were three separate instances of school monitors failing to lock down the school and call for a Code Red, an indicator for people to hide in classrooms. A watchman spotted suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz on campus at 2:19 p.m., but no one called a Code Red until 2:24 p.m.

School monitor and baseball coach Andrew Medina — who was unarmed — first saw Cruz walk through the gates. Medina had previously referred to Cruz as “Crazy Boy” and even speculated he would someday shoot up the school, the Sentinel reported.

David Taylor was another school monitor who followed Cruz on the first floor before turning around at 2:21 p.m. Taylor told investigators he wanted to confront Cruz on the second floor of the building, but he hid in a janitor’s closet when the first shots were fired, according to the Sentinel.

There is also no record that monitor Aaron Feis called a Code Red, despite a ninth grader warning him about a person with a gun.

“You’d better get out of here,” Cruz allegedly told the freshman passing by. “Things are gonna start getting messy.”

The fire alarm added to the confusion, causing uninformed teachers and students to leave their classrooms unaware of the active shooter. Additionally, bathroom doors required a key to unlock — reportedly to prevent students from vaping in them — and one of the teachers accidentally locked his classroom door behind him.

The district also failed to follow through on classrooms having “hard corners,” or places to be out of sight, after security experts advised teachers to do so. Only two teachers in the building designated hard corners in their classrooms.

Deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, was the only armed person on campus before reinforcements arrived. He failed to confront the shooter, according to the report. Peterson ordered the school to go on lockdown at 2:25 p.m., but did not order deputies to head toward the building. He also remained in a sheltered location for 48 minutes.

“Basically, what we’re trained to do is just get right to the threat as quick as possible and take out the threat because every time you hear a shot go off it could potentially be a kid getting killed or anybody getting killed for that matter,” neighboring Coral Springs Officer Raymond Kerner said, the Sentinel reported.



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, December 31, 2018

Therapists Rebrand 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'

Mark Alexander

It’s official! Psychotherapists have adopted a diagnostic name for what we in the real world refer to as “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (TDR). They have rebranded TDR version 2.0 as “Trump Anxiety Disorder” (TAD). While that may be a nicer diagnostic tag for a new counseling revenue stream, the word “derangement” is a much more accurate description of the extreme cognitive dissonance TAD references.

The pop culture Urban Dictionary defines Trump Derangement Syndrome as “a mental condition in which a person has been driven effectively insane due to their dislike of Donald Trump, to the point at which they will abandon all logic and reason. Symptoms for this condition can be very diverse, ranging from hysterical outbursts to a complete mental break.”

Unfortunately, the symptoms also manifest in frequent acts of intimidation and violence against supporters of Donald Trump.

Given the benefit (or detriment) of holding several graduate degrees, including one in psychology, I would suggest that the increasing frequency and intensity of hysterics associated with TDR is greatly exacerbated by the unmitigated, constant consumption of hateful Demo/MSM propaganda, 24/7/365. The result is a mass movement of those so intent on undermining Trump that they are now far off the reality reservation and utterly obsessed with defeating peace and prosperity.

Punctuating all the rhetoric spewed by MSM prognosticators are the endless pharmaceutical advertisements claiming to alleviate every muscle twitch or rash, all of which now have a diagnosis. Add to that growing list the official Trump Anxiety Disorder and there are plenty of anti-anxiety and anti-depressants available for “treatment.”

As for the new “kinder, gentler” TAD diagnosis, therapist Elisabeth LaMotte of the Washington, DC-based Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, says that among her clients there is a “collective anxiety” that has been elevating since Trump’s election. According to LaMotte, “There is a fear of the world ending. It’s very disorienting and constantly unsettling.”

This is the direct consequence of dwelling in the Leftmedia echo chambers mentioned above.

Recognition of the newly redefined TAD pathology was first described in a report last year from psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School and Yale School of Medicine, in which Jennifer Panning distinguished between general anxiety disorders and TAD because “symptoms were specific to the election of Trump and the resultant unpredictable sociopolitical climate.”

But the underlying TAD symptoms long predate the election of Trump, as I described in “The Pathology of the Left” more than a decade ago. In that assessment I noted what, in the broadest of terms, constitutes the difference between contemporary liberals and conservatives: “Liberals tend to be dependents while conservatives tend to be self-reliant. This is a reflection of their respective emotional constitutions.”

In other words, leftists tend to be far more insecure than conservatives, and thus, when constantly infused with Leftmedia negatives, act out the resulting anxiety in an array of dissociative behaviors.

By all objective measures, most Americans, and our nation in general, are better off under Trump administration policies than they were before Trump’s election. For example, this week brings the latest good news that wages and benefits are growing at the fastest rate in a decade.

In the last two years, the Socialist Democrats have radicalized the once-noble Democrat Party and weaponized their rhetoric — the result being that many of their “triggered” constituents have become increasingly unhinged.

A few years ago I characterized the difference between liberals and conservatives with two contrasting columns: “You Might Be a Liberal If…” and “You Might Be A Conservative If…” But so far to the left have Democrat protagonists gone that the word “liberal” must now be replaced with “leftist.”

Dennis Prager described the Democrat devolution, noting that in the last year he has watched “my fellow Americans and virtually all of the mainstream media descend further and further into irrational and immoral hysteria — regularly calling the president of the United States and all of his supporters Nazis, white supremacists and the like; harassing Republicans where they eat, shop and live; ending family ties and lifelong friendships with people who support the president; declaring their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party the ‘Resistance,’ as if they were American reincarnations of the French who fought real Nazis in World War II; and so on…”

So radicalized have leftist Democrats become that political observer Dan Greenfield notes the future of the Democrat Party isn’t just socialist; it’s crazy: “Tweak a normal person’s sense of outrage and they’re moved. Keep doing it a bunch of times and you can enlist them in a movement. Do it every 5 seconds and you drive them as crazy as rats in a Skinner Box.”

Evidence of that slide into the crazy abyss is the recent election of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, now the darling of Bernie Sanders’s nescient adolescent neophytes.

Among many regrettable results from this systemic radicalization is that many Demo constituents have become disenfranchised from the notion of American exceptionalism. Fewer Democrats report that they are proud to be American.

A Pew Research report defines the current divide between Left and Right. The longevity comparison study asked Americans if they perceived that things are better for the current generation than past generations.

The study found that 41% of respondents indicated that life is worse today, while 37% say better. Those results, predictably, fall very much along partisan lines, with Republicans more optimistic than Democrats.

All of this belies a very real derangement disorder epidemic on the Left, and it will take so much more than happy pills to bring its sufferers back to reality.


FOOTNOTE: Mark Alexander has a graduate degree in psychology, among other distinctions


Roughly 80% of all voters say U.S. needs secure borders, including 68% of Democrats: Harvard poll

A wide-reaching new poll conducted by Harvard University reveals that majorities of U.S. voters — including Democrats — appear to agree with many of President Trump’s most basic beliefs about immigration.

The findings reveal, for example, that eight out of 10 of all U.S. voters — 79 percent — say the U.S. needs secure borders; 93 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree with that.

Another 79 percent of voters overall say immigration priorities should be granted on a person’s “ability to contribute to America”; 87 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

Meanwhile, 68 percent overall oppose a lottery-based immigration system which is meant to ensure “greater diversity: in the U.S.; 78 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats agree.

In addition, 61 percent overall say U.S. border security is inadequate; 84 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

Another 54 percent overall support building a combination physical and electronic barrier between the U.S. and Mexico; 85 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.



The wall

We're paying millions of taxpayer dollars to build a border wall, which I am assured is a waste of money ...

The money for the wall was approved under our previous President, Comrade Obama ...

"March 29, 2016: The United States has agreed to fund the multi-million-dollar project to install an electronic security surveillance system on the Tunisia-Libyan border. The wall Tunisia is erecting is set to keep off ISIS terrorists that have found haven in neighboring Libya."

So spending money on a wall for Tunisia to keep out Libyans is perfectly OK and will work just fine, but spending money on a wall on our border to keep out illegal aliens is not OK and won't work?

Man, I'm getting really tired of this hypocrisy ...

Willis Eschenbach

Willis has yet to load that the elite of both Left and Right don't want to stop the illegals coming. Business and the farmers want the cheap labor and Donks want the votes


Trump's Trade War Comes With an Unexpected Bonus: More Trade

A few days before Christmas, the container ship “SM Shanghai” was steaming toward California’s Port of Long Beach. Just ahead and coming to the end of an 11-day journey from China, the “Ever Lucent” was headed for the nearby Port of Los Angeles, where the “Thomas Jefferson” was preparing to sail in the opposite direction for Xiamen.

The global economy, in other words, was chugging along nicely on one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. Trade wars be damned.

In fact, President Donald Trump’s assault on globalization has had a paradoxical effect on world trade flows. A rush to get ahead of new and higher tariffs, particularly on U.S. imports from China, has motivated retailers and other American companies to increase orders, which has helped boost volumes at the country’s ports.

“The warehouse and distribution centers are full in southern California,” said Phillip Sanfield, a Port of Los Angeles spokesman. “We’re experiencing some logistical issues at the San Pedro ports just because there’s so much cargo in play here.”

Busy December

After an active 2017 when the Port of Los Angeles moved the equivalent of 9.3 million shipping containers -- an all-time high for the facility -- a busy December has put it on track to report another record year in 2018, according to Sanfield. Traffic at the Port of Long Beach increased more than 7.3 percent through November, on pace to surpass the record 7.5 million containers it handled last year.

There are many other signs that international commerce did just fine in 2018, thanks in no small part to a busy trade year in America, the world’s biggest buyer of goods.

Despite Trump’s efforts to reduce his country’s appetite for foreign-made products, the U.S. imported more goods and services in value terms than ever in October, the latest Commerce Department data show. U.S. exports were near the all-time monthly record set in May.

And while the World Trade Organization in September forecast global trade growth would ease this year by 0.8 percentage point to 3.9 percent, the gain would still be high by recent standards. As recently as 2016, international trade volumes grew by just 1.8 percent.

“Many people want to shout that the sky is falling on trade because of these trade measures” such as tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, WTO chief economist Robert Koopman said. But for now, “we think 2018 is going to end up with a fairly solid year.”

The story of global trade in 2018 does have subplots and offers warnings for the future.

Record volumes at West Coast ports illustrate at least one uncomfortable trend for Trump: His trade war so far has done more to reduce American exports to China than to lower imports from the Asian nation.

Increased traffic at the Port of Long Beach included a surge in empty containers being shipped back to Asia. In November alone the port saw more than 186,000 empty containers sent on that trip, 11 percent more than last year.

While U.S. retailers have stepped up purchases of Chinese products to avoid tariffs later on, “you’re seeing the opposite effect on the other side of the ocean,” said Mario Cordero, the port’s executive director. “Chinese businesses seem to be already looking to other countries for goods and raw materials, meaning there’s less demand for American exports and more empty containers.”

A Concern

Meanwhile, the 2018 trade rush could be followed by a slowdown in 2019. That’s a concern for the Port of Los Angeles, which expects the scramble to beat tariffs to cause a slowdown in purchases later on. “We’re probably going to see a softening of trade,” Sanfield said.

But it’s not clear how soon the surge of imports will end.

Trump and China’s Xi Jinping agreed to a truce on Dec. 1, prompting the White House to delay for 90 days an increase in tariffs on some $200 billion in annual imports from China. The agreement called for talks to get underway in earnest in January and postponed the rise in tariffs until at least March 1.

A U.S. delegation will head to China in the week of Jan. 7 to hold talks with Chinese officials, two people familiar with the matter said.



Trump hails 'big progress' in trade talks with China

President Trump said Saturday that the U.S. and China are making “big progress” in trade talks aimed at defusing a tariff war.

“Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!”

The two leaders agreed in early December to a 90-day truce in the trade war that had been escalating all year. The U.S. agreed to suspend tariffs that were scheduled to begin in January, after Mr. Trump had already imposed levies on $250 billion in Chinese products.

Despite the agreement, trade tensions have contributed to big losses in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost more than 3,500 points since early October.

The Chinese commerce ministry announced this week that China and the U.S. will hold face-to-face trade talks next month. Beijing has resumed purchases of soybeans from the U.S. for the first time in six months.



Trump and Melania in Iraq

First Lady Melania Trump made history on Wednesday, but many in the mainstream media failed to cover it given they spent most of the week attacking President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, the president and first lady made a surprise trip to Iraq to visit with U.S. soldiers.

The anti-Trump media narrative failed to mention that Melania’s visit to the dangerous region was historical. Only three first ladies had ever traveled to a dangerous combat zone prior to this week.

When Trump walked on stage Wednesday to speak to the troops, the crowd roared and broke into a chant of “USA! USA! USA!”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also shared a story on Twitter about a young man who said he reenlisted in the military because of Trump becoming commander-in-chief.

“Powerful moment – Member of United States Army told the President he came back into the military because of him. And President Trump responded, “And I am here because of you.” I met him after and he gave me the patch from his arm. Incredible. #TrumpTroopsVisit,” Sanders wrote.

Trump delivered several powerful lines during his trip to both the media and the troops.

“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” Trump told the service members. “We’re respected again as a nation.”

Trump also fired back at reports about his decision to pull about 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, saying the military is still strongly positioned throughout the region to handle threats.

“There will be a strong, deliberate and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria,” Trump said, adding that having troops in Iraq would “prevent an ISIS resurgence.”

“We can hit them so fast and so hard,” he said, adding, “they really won’t know what the hell happened.”



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