Friday, February 08, 2019

The difference in Republican optimism and Democrat pessimism: A 2019 SOTU Review

Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. In the years since his presidency, through the Bush (41), Clinton, Bush (43), and Obama years, analyzing State of the Union addresses has been more about endurance than inspiration.

But, surprisingly, that changed last year with Donald Trump's first address, "Our New American Moment." His second address last night was even better than the first. These SOTUs did not follow the worn template of providing a wish list, but instead were a running recap of administration and congressional successes over the last two years.

In both instances, President Trump's remarks strongly contrasted the difference in Republican optimism and Democrat pessimism — Republican advocacy for Liberty and self-reliance versus Democrats' advocacy for dependence, statism, and now unapologetic socialism based on their failed policies of the past.

We concluded years ago that the Democrat Party was not one of the oppressed but of the depressed. And that deranged institutional depression has become epidemic.

Again in his latest SOTU, Trump instilled pride in who we are as a nation. It was framed by unity rather than partisanship. "Victory is not winning for our party," he declared. "Victory is winning for our country." He began and ended his address with calls for unity and he highlighted numerous areas that should enlist universal agreement, largely about America's promise and historical achievements. There were several issues in the middle of his speech that should unify Americans, especially the Trump administration's strong economic record. But the Democrats would have no part in a call for unity.

Trump opened, saying, "Members of Congress, the state of our union is strong." Yet over his shoulder, Nancy "Sourpuss" Pelosi shook her head. Clearly, good news is bad news for Democrats, whose best political hope is to drive the nation into recession before 2020.

Americans may disagree on how to achieve border security and an orderly legal immigration process, but we should all be able to agree that caravans of migrants should not be free to cross our border.

Trump noted, "In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built." He completely shifted the immigration debate to protecting American jobs and people.

Trump declared, "Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country." That shouldn't be controversial, although socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and other socialist Democrats looked like they were suffering heart failure.

Record-low unemployment — especially for black and Hispanic Americans — rising wages across the board, and an overall strong economy are not partisan issues; they are facts. Yet in each instance when we should all agree, many if not most Democrats sat on their hands rather than applauding. However, Trump did get almost the entire room chanting "USA, USA" after mentioning the stats on the number of women now in the workforce.

People may not see eye to eye on when abortion is appropriate — there's not much common ground between "never" and "most of the time." But it should be beyond dispute to say that children should not be killed at the moment of or even after birth.

"Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life," Trump said. "And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: All children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God."

Notably, Trump did receive almost unanimous approval for what we believe was the best gathering of gallery guests in any State of the Union.

Trump concluded, "We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them. We must choose whether we squander our inheritance — or whether we proudly declare that we are Americans: we do the incredible, we defy the impossible, we conquer the unknown. We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness."

We rate this high among the best modern-day SOTUs, and many who viewed it agree. The Leftmedia network CBS reluctantly reported its findings regarding public approval of Trump's State of the Union: 76% of those watching the speech approved, including a 30% approval rating among Democrats and 82% among Independents. Notably, 72% approved of his immigration plan. (We hope Trump will not derail the success of this SOTU, as is his penchant, with some petulant, dis-unifying social-media post.)

Of course, chief among those not approving were Pelosi and DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

For her part, Pelosi concluded: "It will take days to fact-check all the misrepresentations that the president made tonight. Instead of fearmongering and manufacturing a crisis at the border, President Trump should commit to signing the bipartisan conference committee's bill to keep government open and provide strong, smart border security solutions. ... President Trump must now take concrete steps to work with Democrats to strengthen the health and economic security of families across America. After two years of the president's empty words, the American people deserve real results."

Actually, this is a fine example of Pelosi's "alternate universe" perspective. The Trump administration and Republican Congress have clearly strengthened "the health and economic security of families across America" and, demonstrably, the American people are experiencing "real results."

And for those watching the SOTU, there is now a consistent Pelosi poker tell — when she knows Trump has succeeded where Democrats have failed, she starts doing that smirk thing, as if trying to get the spinach out of her teeth. The Demo/MSM machine was certainly consumed with what it claimed was a teenager's smirk two weeks ago — but not a word on Pelosi's smirk, and all the others on the left side of the room last night.

Predictably, according to Perez: "After attending Trump's State of the Union tonight, I know this for certain: The only way that we will be able to stop his outrageous, divisive agenda is by taking back the Senate and putting a Democrat in the White House in 2020. I am going to fight like hell to make sure we're building the infrastructure necessary to continue to elect Democrats up and down the ballot in the months and years ahead."

The bottom line: There will be no unity in the next two years, because Democrats and their Leftmedia publicists thrive on division and partisanship, the antithesis of unity. They have reconstructed their political platform on a "Hate Trump" foundation, rejecting Rule of Law, the most basic tenets of morality, and America's First Principles.



PURE HATE: Hollywood Lefties EXPLODE Over ‘Criminal’ Trump’s SOTU

Hollywood celebrities lost their minds on Tuesday night over President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. The far-left activists took to Twitter to call Trump a “liar,” “criminal,” and voiced many other nasty opinions about the president.

Activist Alyssa Milano kicked off the night by insulting America, writing, “If realdonaldtrump is serious about uniting us, he should remember one crucial thing: walls divide. #StateOfTheHuman #WeWontGoBack #SOTU.”

Bette Midler wrote, “How’d he get from childhood cancer to school choice? What a leap! Now Ivanka gets her shoutout…now we’re on to abortion…who wrote this stuff??”

Actor John Cusack complained, “Gosh I guess massive numbers of white girls are being butchered darker skin animals – Trump is dark orange red – how many sexual assault allegations against him ? F*ck urself -criminal.”

“Glad to find out that America will never be a socialist country. Wish he could say the same about authoritarianism and fascism,” director Rob Reiner wrote.

Of course, polling indicated that the American people had a much different opinion of Trump’s speech than rich Hollywood liberals.

According to an “instant poll” conducted by CBS News following the address, a whopping 76 percent of Americans who watched the speech said they approved of the president’s message.

In the poll breakdown, 97 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Independents, and 30 percent of Democratic viewers approved of the speech and what Trump said.

In fact, Trump’s speech was so powerful at times that even Democrats stood up and applauded when the president noted the difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration.

“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today who follow the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways,” he said. “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.”



Dems SOTU Rebuttal Offers Only Socialism

Stacey Abrams's speech played more like a campaign ad than a rebuttal to Trump's record.

To give their rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, Democrats chose Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and salacious romance novelist. Abrams lost the governor’s race and then launched a drawn-out attempt to trigger a second election by leveling spurious claims of voter suppression. She was equally lost last night in cognitive dissonance regarding the reality of the nation’s booming economy and its demonstrably positive impact upon millions of Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum, but especially in the middle class.

Abrams falsely asserted, “The Republican tax bill rigged the system against working people. Rather than bringing back jobs, plants are closing, layoffs are looming and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living.” News flash: This is 2019, not 2009. It’s not a social-media 10-year challenge.

Abrams also blasted Trump’s commitment to border security and stemming the tide of illegal immigration. She insisted that “compassionate treatment at the border is not the same as open borders,” while claiming that “Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders” — just “not walls.” Never mind the fact that Abrams is an activist and advocate for noncitizen voting rights.

To put it bluntly, Abrams’s speech was little more than a Democrat campaign ad. All it revealed was just how extreme the Democrat agenda has become. Issues that all Americans were once united on — such as border security, the benefits of a capitalistic free-market economy, and the danger posed by socialism to Americans’ Liberty and individual rights — are now the issues Democrats are using to divide the country.

Increasingly, the only answers Democrats offer voters is Big Government socialism and division based on “identity.” That was all Abrams had to offer. And isn’t it ironic that Democrats tapped a losing candidate to offer a socialist vision that has failed everywhere it has been implemented? But at least Abrams looked better than those two wax figures who responded to Trump’s immigration remarks a few weeks back…



Trump Critics Admit Success of Association Health Plans

Despite early warnings that deregulation would lead to disaster, the truth is the opposite

It seems at every turn, President Donald Trump’s shrillest critics are being forced to eat crow. He was widely mocked during his campaign in 2016, with virtually every pundit declaring he had almost no chance of beating Hillary Clinton … until he did. Critics claimed GOP tax reform would damage the economy; instead, it unleashed massive economic growth and job creation. They said taking a bombastic, hardline stance with North Korean tyrant and Chinese puppet Kim Jong-un would lead to nuclear war; instead, it brought the diminutive dictator to the negotiating table.

And this past summer, when President Trump rolled out new rules allowing individuals, the self-employed, and small businesses to band together and purchase health insurance across state lines, in what he called “association health plans” (AHPs), his critics again scoffed and attacked.

In reality, The Wall Street Journal described the concept for AHPs as proposed by the Health Policy Consensus Group, a conservative coalition of policy experts that included The Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Galen Institute and the Manhattan Institute. The idea was to “drive control of health care almost entirely to the states, reversing [ObamaCare’s] federal mandates that seek to provide basic minimum benefits and consumer protections, which Republicans argue limit people’s choice. … Under the conservative plan, states would receive ACA money in the form of block grants to help low-income consumers buy coverage. Health savings accounts, which let people set aside tax-free money for medical expenses, would be expanded. Insurers could give discounts to people who are young or maintain continuous coverage.”

Democrats mocked the plans as “junk insurance,” and one Leftmedia outlet called it a “flop.”

Andy Slavitt, the man responsible for implementing ObamaCare, was blunt in his denunciation, declaring, “Association health plans are not the solution to any problem Americans have. They won’t make drugs more affordable, they won’t help Americans get health care they need. … When [association health plan members] finally do get sick, they find out what isn’t covered at exactly the wrong time and [then] coverage is more expensive and unavailable. … That’s why 95% of doctors, patient groups, and insurers say it’s a bad idea.”

So … what kind of wine goes best with crow?

As it turns out, the association health plans have been so successful that even the Trump-hating Washington Post conceded this Trump victory.

The Post’s assistant editor, Robert Gebelhoff, wrote, “It’s time to acknowledge that critics may have misjudged one of the Trump administration’s signature health-care policies — ‘bigly.’ … New reports suggest that much of that fear might be overblown — at least for the time being. As The Washington Post’s health policy guru Paige Winfield Cunningham laid out this week, more than two dozen association health plans have been developed since the administration issued its new rule, and so far they don’t look nearly as skimpy as experts predicted.”

You don’t say!

Cunningham elaborates on the “shocking” success, noting, “Chambers of commerce and trade associations have launched more than two dozen of these ‘association health plans’ in 13 states in the seven months since the Labor Department finalized new rules. … And there are initial signs the plans are offering generous benefits and premiums lower than can be found in the Obamacare marketplaces.”

Cunningham continues, “When it comes to these new association health plans, they appear — at least so far — to offer benefits comparable to most workplace plans and haven’t tried to discriminate against patients with preexisting conditions.” She also notes that Land O'Lakes, a farm cooperative that participated in the AHPs, serving farmers in Nebraska and Minnesota, reports savings of 25-35% over plans in the ObamaCare ACA marketplace.

Gebelhoff also reported the findings of the Congressional Budget Office, which predicts significant health coverage gains due to the AHPs, so much so that “an estimated 5 million people will enroll in either a short-term plan or an association health plan every year over the next decade, including more than 1 million people annually who were previously uninsured.”

Gebelhoff concluded by admitting, “So far, it seems these plans could work exactly as his administration promised: By helping offer coverage options for middle-income families who are making too much to qualify for federal ACA subsidies but are still struggling to afford premiums.”

The bane of conservative policies is that they sound harsh or uncompassionate, but the benefit is that they promote freedom and expand prosperity.

“Progressive” policies have the opposite problem. While sounding idealistic and compassionate in theory, in practice they crush the individual under the power of an unmerciful state while spreading poverty and misery to all but those holding the reins of power. To any who doubt that, read up on stories of people eating rats and dogs to keep from starving in the socialist utopia of Venezuela.

With the wonderful success of association health plans, hopefully Americans will reject the leftist propaganda they’ve been fed and allow the free market to bring these same types of successes to education and Social Security.



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, February 07, 2019

It's here

A full transcript of Trump's SOTU speech is here Read it all.  I cannot add to it.

Poll results showed that 76% of speech viewers approved of what they heard and 72% approved of Trump’s ideas on immigration.


President Trump’s big win: 304,000 new jobs, 100 months of growth

President Trump has just scored a win not even boomtime presidents such as Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan could beat.

While President Trump was still putting the final touches on his State of the Union speech, he received the one gift he really wanted: spectacular jobs growth figures. Some 304,000 jobs were created in January, marking 100 straight months of job growth.

The jobs growth came despite the controversial partial government shutdown. It represents the longest such period of jobs growth on record in the US.

And it is something Mr Trump can crow about.

The year started off strong, with the blockbuster January jobs gain pointing to expansion of more than three per cent in the first quarter, top White House economist Kevin Hassett says.

While Mr Hassett acknowledged that his office had underestimated the impact on the economy of idling 800,000 federal workers, he was upbeat about the outlook.

He said he got a “fist bump” from President Donald Trump after the January employment report was released, providing the “good news the White House needed.” “My thought is the negative effects we talked about from the shutdown will be very, very hard to see in the data,” he told CNBC. “I think Q1 has got to be well north of two and maybe even north of three per cent” growth, given the momentum from employment.

The White House believes the stimulus provided by 2017’s massive corporate tax cuts is producing “a tax-induced supply shock” that will boost growth without increasing prices.

“So I think we could go forward with a great deal of confidence that the high growth isn’t pushing an enormous amount on inflation,” Mr Hassett said.

Financial markets have become increasingly concerned that despite strong jobs growth the economy will slow this year. And those fears prompted the Federal Reserve to signal clearly that it intends to pause its interest rate increases.

The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported overnight that its service index fell to 56.7 per cent last month, down from 58 per cent in December.

The January reading was the lowest since July 2018. But any reading above 50 signals growth. So even with the January decline, the index shows that service industries, where most Americans work, has been expanding for 108 consecutive months.

The US trade war with China also has created uncertainty and threatened to slow both economies.

Mr Hassett said he remained “hopeful” Washington and Beijing could reach an agreement but cautioned that “there’s still a lot of work to do.”

The US will more than double the punitive tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods if no deal is agreed by March 1. The sides held a second round of talks in Washington last week and are expected to meet again in Beijing later this month

“It’s a wait-and-see confidence situation,” said Anthony Nieves, the chair of ISM’s non-manufacturing business survey committee.



The Israeli example

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Tweet on Sunday that the Israeli government this weekend began building a barrier along the Israeli-Gaza border.

“Over the weekend, we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border,” Netanyahu said.

“The barrier will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into our territory on the ground,” he said. “If the quiet is not maintained in Gaza, we will not hesitate to act.”

Brigadier Gen. Eran Ophir is head of the Israeli Army’s “fence-building administration,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

“On Thursday, we began working on the final component of the barrier project along the Gaza border,” Gen. Ophir said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “The barrier is unique and especially suited to threats from the Gaza strip and will provide a maximum response to prevent entry into Israeli territory.”

The Jerusalem Post additionally reported:

“The smart-fence is the above-ground part of Israel's underground barrier, which has a system of advanced sensor and monitoring devices to detect tunnels. The defense ministry stated that the work on the underground barrier ‘will continue in parallel to the work on the fence.’ …

"‘The barrier is similar to the one on the Egyptian border, but it has significant improvements and includes innovative security elements,’ the Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that the smart-fence has been specially adapted to security threats and will be an additional component for the defense of communities in the Gaza border vicinity.”



Commanding General of U.S. Central Command: U.S. Has Funded Excellent Border Security--in Jordan

Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Americans would be "very proud" to see the kind of border security their tax dollars have produced -- in Jordan.

Last week I was in Jordan. I had an opportunity to visit the border -- up along the border between Jordan and Syria. And I had an opportunity to witness the investments that our country has made in their border security initiatives -- equipment, training, command and control for this. And what I witnessed there I think would make any member of Congress or indeed, any American, very proud to see.

It was extraordinarily professional, it was very effective; they had very good situational awareness and understanding of what was happening along their border. And everything that they were doing was sustainable. And they'd been doing it for several years, and with the prospect of continuing to do it in the future. This is the kind of investments that we need to be making in these very good partners right here, like Jordan.

According to a 2018 Rand Corporation study, the United States began helping Jordan secure its border in 2008, with a $20 million project to build surveillance towers along a 30-mile stretch of the border with Syria. Rand reported:

This program was expanded to include a fully networked fence running along 275 miles of Jordan’s borders with Syria and Iraq at a cost of more than $300 million. By 2016, the system consisted of an advanced border monitoring network, equipped with an array of remote detection, surveillance, and command and control capabilities, which allowed the Jordanian Armed Forces to detect activity five miles away on either side of the fence. The system funnels into a joint U.S.-Jordanian command center.

The Rand study also examined "lessons learned" from the Jordan experience.

The final lesson in the long list says, "Deploying regular army units to the border to supplement border forces is also helpful."



Right-to-Try Laws Help Patient with Terminal Brain Cancer

Earlier this month, a patient with terminal brain cancer gained access to a potentially life-saving experimental treatment. Suffering from glioblastoma, considered to be “the most aggressive and malignant type of brain cancer,” the patient faces little hope of survival with conventional treatment methods.

Fortunately, the patient was able to access a new and promising treatment option named Gliovac. Gliovac helps patients fight cancer by providing a vaccine-like treatment which helps their immune system attack, and even eliminate, tumors or cancerous cells.

However, Gilovac is currently unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration. The patient’s family persevered, contacting Gilovac’s drug provider Enhanced Recovery Company who, with the assistance of the University of California, Irvine, was able to administer treatment through national right-to-try legislation.

Signed into law in May, national right-to-try legislation allows patients with terminal illnesses to access experimental treatments with only the permission of their physicians and the drug provider. The law cuts the Food and Drug Administration out of the process. In doing so, right-to-try provides patients access to potentially life-saving treatment with less regulatory obstacles. A statement released to Cancer Updates, Research, and Education, by the University of California, Irvine notes, “It was believed that (Right to Try) offered a more expedited path to treatment, which UCI (University of California, Irvine) began after meeting regulatory and compliance requirements of state and federal Right to Try laws.”

Remarkably, this is the first time national right-to-try laws have been used to access experimental treatments. Yet it is difficult to imagine a better representation of what right-to-try represents.

The patient is being given a chance to prolong their life when other options to try experimental medication failed. Before utilizing right-to-try laws, the patient was unable to enlist in an ongoing clinical study due to their health.

Clinical trials often will not include terminally ill patients to avoid skewing statistical results. As Daniela Bota, medical director of the UCI Health Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program, explains, “The Right to Try laws may be the only alternative for many patients who may not qualify for clinical trials based on a variety of factors, including progression of disease, comorbidities, existing medications, physical limitations, and others.”

Perhaps more importantly, the patient was not the victim of the sluggish FDA approval process. Gilovac is currently in the second phase of the FDA’s approval, yet to enter the more time-consuming later phases. With more than 23,000 adults developing cancerous tumors in the brain or spinal cord each year, right-to-try provides hope for many in dire situations.

When treatments are unavailable, and prognoses are fatal, the best chance to prolong life is to consider all remaining options. National right-to-try laws recognize this and provide more options for terminally ill patients.

Now that one patient has used the process, more are likely to follow. Let’s hope for the best.



USDA Imposes the Worst Regulation Ever

In 2018, the overall cost for Americans to comply with regulations issued by U.S. government agencies decreased for the first time since that burden began to be measured in 2005. But that achievement wasn’t an across-the-board success story, because one federal government department bucked the trend by greatly increasing the regulatory burden on American food producers, where the cost of complying with new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will ultimately be paid by all Americans whenever and wherever they might shop for food.

The new regulation is the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), which was imposed by the USDA on December 20, 2018, just ahead of the partial federal government shutdown, which Henry Miller, the founding director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Biotechnology, and Drew Kershen, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, have described as the USDA’s “most bewildering, least cost-effective regulation ever” in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

In July 2016, Congress passed a law mandating that all food containing genetic material that has been modified with recombinant DNA or “gene-splicing” techniques bear labels clearly identifying it as “bioengineered.” The statute acknowledged that bioengineered food is neither more nor less safe than other food, but the new rule—the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, or NBFDS—won’t help consumers understand that. It will only leave them confused.

Under the NBFDS, two identical bottles of corn oil on a supermarket shelf could be labeled differently—one as bioengineered, one not—even though both were derived from the same field and are identical in processing and quality. Both labels would comply with the regulation because the new rule doesn’t require a label “if the food does not contain detectable genetically modified material.” The NBFDS allows manufacturers to make voluntary disclosures on such products, but not that they “may contain” bioengineered ingredients.

While issuing confusing regulations is nothing new for federal government agencies, what puts the NBFDS into a class of badness all its own is the absence of any positive benefit to go along with the increased costs it will impose on all American food producers, distributors, and consumers.

What elevates the rule from an irritant to an outrage is the USDA’s own admissions about its costs, which will “range from $569 million to $3.9 billion for the first year.” Thereafter, there will be additional costs annually—”in perpetuity,” as the rule says—of “$68 million to $234 million at a three percent discount rate and $91 million to $391 million at a seven percent discount rate.” And those estimates don’t take into consideration the many thousands of hours federal employees will spend fine-tuning and implementing the rule.

The benefit? There is none: “The NBFDS is not expected to have any benefits to human health or the environment.” Nor does the regulation assert any benefit to consumers.

That is not an error. The USDA’s regulators really believe its new bioengineered (BE) food labeling requirements will provide no measurable value to improving anybody’s health, or their pocketbook, or to the environment, where the only benefit they identify to justify the massive new regulatory burden lies in “eliminating costly inefficiencies of a state-level approach in BE disclosure”, where they single out the state of Vermont’s bioengineered food labeling regulations as even more costly.

While the NBFDS might save money in Vermont, the USDA’s new regulation for bioengineered food labeling comes at the cost of imposing new burdens on all other Americans. Since that cost comes with absolutely no benefit, making it perhaps the worst regulation ever, it is completely unjustifiable in any sane world.

If anyone in the U.S. Congress is serious about making the federal government work for the American people instead of against them, they’ll take action to stop the USDA from doing this very stupid thing as soon as possible.



Conservative groups support Yoho ‘zero for zero’ bill to end sugar subsidies reciprocally

Americans for Limited Government joined today in a letter with eight free market and limited government groups to support H. Con. Res. 7 by U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) that would end sugar subsidies globally via reciprocal trade agreements with other nations

H. Con. Res. 7 calls for an elimination of “all direct and indirect subsidies that benefit the production or export of sugar by all major sugar producing and consuming countries,” including Brazil, India and Thailand, which are labeled in the letter as “sugar dumpers.”

The letter states, “America’s sugar farmers compete, unfairly, against heavily subsidized foreign producers, justifying the current no-cost, U.S. sugar policy program to stabilize the domestic sugar market… If foreign governments would eliminate their market-distorting subsidies, allowing the U.S. to end domestic support programs, a free market would exist, and America’s sugar farmers could compete effectively in that market.”

“Congress has a made-to-order opportunity to embrace that promise and send a clear message that trade ‘cheating’ will not be tolerated and America will be put first,” the letter added.

The letter was signed by Americans for Limited Government, 60 Plus, Less Government, Citizen Outreach, Institute for Liberty, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, Hispanic Leadership Fund, Institute for Policy Innovation and Tea Party Nation.

The “zero for zero” bill currently has six co-sponsors.



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, February 06, 2019

If not for double standards, Democrat party leaders wouldn't have any

It was OK in the first decade of this millennium that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) was considered the "conscience of the Senate" by his Demo colleagues, even though he had been an "exalted cyclops" in the Ku Klux Klan.

Last year it was OK that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) was vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee at the same time he was an advocate for fellow Muslim racist Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam black-supremacist haters calling for an "ethnostate."

Now enter Gov. Ralph Northam. Just days after earning infamy for his comments in support of infanticide, a photo was "discovered" of Northam from his medical yearbook page. There are two people in the photo, one in black face and the other in a KKK robe. Northam admitted he was in the photo but refused to acknowledge which of the racist characters was him — apparently trying to decide which one would be "less racist."

On Friday, Northam launched an apology tour: "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now. ... I understand how this decision shakes Virginians' faith in that commitment."

Really? This is not a teenager's high-school yearbook from 35 years ago, with a notation about "passing gas," for which then-SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh was relentlessly skewered by Democrats. This is an adult's medical-school yearbook. It is astounding that the mainstream media did not uncover this photo during his 2017 campaign for governor — when he was labeling his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, "racist," complete with an ad depicting minority kids being threatened by a guy with a Confederate flag on his truck. It would be interesting to know which media "journalists" suppressed knowledge of the photo. I have inquired with the editorial board of The Washington Post, but I don't expect an answer.

Given the fact that a disproportionate number of aborted American babies are black, and Planned Parenthood's founder Margaret Sanger was an advocate of racially selective eugenics to contain less desirable ethnic groups like black people, the irony of Northam's infanticide comments and now this photo is thick.

In what alternate universe does a major political party pressure its sitting governor to resign because he appeared in a 35-year-old racist photo but not because of his position (as a pediatrics specialist) advocating infanticide legislation? Fortunately, that bill failed to pass. Of course, the Virginia Democrat Party is controlled — as is the state — by suburban government bureaucrats who reside in northern Virginia and have no roots in the state.

Unbelievably, a day after declaring he was in the photo, Northam claimed he was not in the photo: "In the hours since I made my statement yesterday, I reflected with my ... classmates from the time and affirmed my conclusion that I am not the person in that photo."

He now recalls once darkening his face with shoe polish to portray Michael Jackson in a dance contest. "You remember these things," he insisted, after admitting he didn't. This pivot would be laughable if not so pathetic. The photo still appeared in his yearbook and he is likely under that hood or he NEVER would have admitted he was in the photo. The Jackson blackface story was concocted so Northam could "get out from under the hood." (Ironically, for the last two decades of his life, Michael Jackson strived to appear in whiteface.) Now that Northam has "reflected" with his political tribe and his classmates, two of them may come forward and claim they were in the photo.

So will Northam resign? I hope not!

The reason Democrats may insist he resign, regardless, is that if he stays in office, the photo undermines their "racist Republicans" mantra, especially on issues like Donald Trump's plan for what they consider an "immoral" and "racist" southern-border barrier.

And standing in the wings waiting to take Northam's office is Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a black gubernatorial hopeful who has been stewarded by Al Gore and John Kerry. He is a DC native who moved to Virginia to support Demo Sen. Mark Warner. Fairfax will be a far more formidable leftist Democrat governor than Northam.



How far left will they go?

The Democratic presidential primary contest is already the most left-wing in decades

Moderate democrats have had a good few months. They dominated the Democratic primaries ahead of the mid-term elections, duly delivered a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and have been quietly getting their way there, too. For all the hoopla over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the House agenda looks pragmatic, with a focus on fiscal prudence, infrastructure development and not impeaching President Donald Trump. House Democrats think this approach will keep on board the centrist voters they won last year. That looks like a more promising way to get rid of Mr Trump. So why are the early Democratic runners for next year’s presidential election flocking to the left?

In 2016 Hillary Clinton said Senator Bernie Sanders’s promise of universal state-provided health care could “never, ever come to pass”. Most Democratic candidates in competitive mid-terms races also rejected it. Yet all three heavyweights who have so far declared for 2020—the senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren—are for it. So are several big names expected to announce shortly, including Senator Cory Booker and Mr Sanders himself. Only Ms Warren and Mr Sanders among them have a record of taking populist positions. The rest have leapt to them. Indeed the uniformity of their proposals is striking.

Most offer some version of Mr Sanders’s free college pledge. All are for giving a federal job to whomever wants one, as first suggested by Mr Booker. These proposals are not necessarily crazy; the health-care system is a mess. But the idea that they could form a realistic agenda for a governing system choked by partisanship is absurd. The light-headed fashion in which the early runners are airing their proposals adds to that impression. Slammed on social media for having promised only two years of free college, Juli√°n Castro—once Barack Obama’s centrist housing secretary—shot back that he’d push for four, then. Pressed for her view of private medical insurance, Ms Harris said she’d scrap it. She later tried to walk that back. Yet what was she—what are they all—thinking of?

Ms Ocasio-Cortez, for one. Inspired by the demise of the centralised party structure and the rise of social media, the left-wing activist world she represents has rarely been more vibrant or intimidating to the Democratic establishment. Some compare it to the supercharged activism that pushed the Democrats leftward in the 1930s and 1960s. The alacrity with which Ms Harris and Ms Warren praised Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s signature policy, the Green New Deal, supports that. (So does the fact that a 29-year-old freshman congresswoman is considered to have a signature policy.)

That is one of two structural changes behind the new populism.

The other is the growing importance of online fundraising, which most Democratic consultants think requires bold left-wing pledges, especially in a crowded primary field, in which cash-hungry populists will compete to be the boldest. That contest promises, in turn, to make online fundraising even more important to those involved, because it will make Wall Street donors less generous. Ms Warren’s proposed wealth tax on households worth over $50m has already given them something to hate. Still, the effect of these structural factors can be overstated.

As the mid-terms indicate, the activists are not in step with most Democratic voters, who appear more focused on opposing Mr Trump than on remaking the health-care system. Historical comparisons underline this. The leftward lurches of the 1930s and 1960s were also spurred by events, in the form of the Great Depression and the civil-rights struggle, which convinced millions of the need for radical change. There is little evidence that most Democratic voters think today’s more complicated socioeconomic inequities warrant the big expansion of the state that the populist candidates are promising. Even in fairly liberal states such as Colorado, voters have rejected proposals for a single-payer healthcare scheme. Mr Sanders’s better-than-expected run in 2016 said more about dissatisfaction with Mrs Clinton than the power of his ideas. This also suggests the consultants may be wrong to demand hard-left pledges for the purpose of fundraising. Of the three past masters of online fundraising, Mr Obama, Beto O’Rourke and Mr Sanders, only the last is an outright left-winger.

The disruptive effect of Mr Trump offers more fundamental explanations for the Democrats’ lurch to the left. Activists think his ideological nonconformity and unpopularity afford them an opportunity to shift the Overton window to the left. Establishment figures such as Mr Booker and Ms Harris still seem mesmerised by his ability to make headline-grabbing pronouncements with which Mrs Clinton could not compete for attention. This seems to underappreciate his subsequent weakness. Over half of voters— roughly the portion the Democratic candidate would need—say they will definitely not vote for him. It is not obvious why such voters, sick of Mr Trump’s antics, would warm to a Democrat offering a different set of implausible promises. “If we try to out-crazy the policy announcements of a troubled president, we will do nothing to restore confidence,” warns Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Trumpish or anti-Trump

Trying to improve on Mrs Clinton may be a better strategy—and her proposals were the least of her problems. Voters rejected her because they didn’t like or identify with her, not because her jobs plan was small-bore. The new populists’ reluctance to grapple with that hints at a lack of confidence in their own ability to win voters’ trust. It is surely no coincidence that they represent the main cohort of hated Washington insiders in the contest. More outsiderish candidates—perhaps including Mr O’Rourke, who, like Mr Obama before him, is not primarily associated with Washington despite his time in Congress—may be better at talking to voters without promising them the moon. But there is no sign of them yet. For now the race is dominated by senators offering the moon on a plate, in Swiss cheese, pepper jack, or any other flavour.



Prominent Restaurant Bans MAGA Hats, Compares Them to Swastikas

Patrons won’t be served at a Silicon Valley restaurant if they wear a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, a chef-partner of the Wursthall restaurant in San Mateo, California, said in a tweet last weekend that he views the hats as symbols of intolerance and hate. “It hasn’t happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.

The tweet was no longer available Thursday but the newspaper reported it had more than 2,100 likes and more than 200 retweets as of Wednesday afternoon.

The red hats, which are sold on President Donald Trump’s campaign website, have become polarizing. The hats were worn by some Kentucky high school students involved in a Jan. 18 confrontation with a Native American elder near the Lincoln Memorial.

Lopez-Alt wrote the 2015 book “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.” He declined further comment to the newspaper, saying that his restaurant has received threatening emails following the tweet.

San Mateo resident Jamie Hwang, 42, told the newspaper she has mixed feelings about the ban, saying that San Mateo is diverse and members of her family support Trump.

“I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t think you should just keep people out because of a hat,” Hwang said.

Her dining companion Esther Shek, 39, said she believed the hats had “come to represent racism, intolerance, exclusivity.” But she added that refusing to serve Trump supporters would exacerbate a situation where talking about differences might be better.

“They already feel like they’re being demonized by what they call the liberal elite,” she said. “We shouldn’t add fire to that.”

Bao Agbayani, who was visiting from the Philippines, said the rule banning the hats wouldn’t keep him from dining at the restaurant. But he said he was alarmed by what the rule represented. “You’re discriminating against those with different political views,” he said. “That’s just not OK.”



Germany’s Economy Cracking – Unemploymant rate for refugees up to 65 percent

Germany’s growth rate is cracking with a new estimate cutting the projected 2019 rate by 44 percent from 1.8 percent to a mere 1 percent.

Peter Altmaier, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, is blaming BREXIT and global trade, specifically the row with the US. In fact, Germany’s growth rate has been on a steady decline since 2017, while its inflation rate has been rising from a low of 0.39 percent in 2016 to a projected 1.78 percent in 2019.

With low fertility rates, a short supply of labor, and a welfare system stretched to max point propping up a 65 percent unemployment rate for refugees, Germany has failed to mediate the problem and instead blamed false factors in an attempt to conceal and censor the facts.

It becomes apparent that the failed Iran Nuclear Deal is now even more vital than ever to prop up an economy that is close to slithering into a recession.

As such, Germany, together with France and the UK, has created a backdoor, a means of evading the US sanctions on business dealings with Iran.  The gamble is comprised of a clearing house system wherein money flows through a third party instrument labeled INSTEX.  Testing the efficacy of this channel through trade of nonsanctionable goods, Germany is waiting to see how Trump and his administration will react and whether fines and additional trade wars will erupt further.

Instead of negotiating with the US, Merkel is now putting Germany in the crossroads wherein weakened alliances could create a plummeting downward economic spiral that would not only take out Germany but the EU as a globalist power.




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, February 05, 2019

A good front page

The arctic weather conditions in the nation’s Midwest may be having some unexpected effects on some politicians.

At least, according to The New York Post which ran a cover on the so-called polar vortex which took a double jab at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The publication declared on its front page Thursday that the cold snap, which has seen temperatures in the negative double digits, is colder than the Democratic mayor’s “presidential hopes.

But the subtext on the New York Post cover was even more brutal: “So cold, AOC has her hands in her OWN pockets.”

Ocasio-Cortez makes no apologies for her controversial views and policy proposals and has just launched fundraising efforts for her 2020 re-election following reports of “a serious primary challengeby other Democrats in the House,” according to her Facebook post Wednesday.



'Medicare for All' will fail Democrats

Democratic senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris of California gave an outstanding performance in a CNN town hall in Iowa this week. I had never seen her speak on on stage before, but she came across as poised, tough, likable, and knowledgable. As I watched and listened to her, I thought uh oh, Donald Trump may have met his match. Then she suddenly blew herself up with one of the dumbest statements I have heard from a politician in a long time. When asked whether she endorsed “Medicare for All,” she dutifully said yes, as it is now Democratic dogma.

When Anderson Cooper pried further and asked if she favored abolishing private insurance plans, the obvious correct answer should have been, “Hell no.” Instead, Harris restated without hesitation, “I’m for Medicare for All,” which anyone watching would interpret as “for everybody.” Then she explained, “The idea is that everyone gets access to medical care. You don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork.”

Her plan, she said, would “eliminate all that.” It reminded me of a similarly boneheaded response several months ago by Democratic senator and presidential wannabe Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Asked if she would favor abolishing ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, she inexplicably replied that she would. Why do leading Democrats say such politically suicidal things? The obvious answer is that this is where the far left of the party wants the candidates to go in 2020. It is as if these candidates are running for president of, not of the United States. Except for a few left wing crazies, who in their right minds really wants to abolish our immigration enforcement or border patrol agencies?

Now Harris is blissfully following the same radical forces. My sense is that this was not a gaffe and she was actually coached to say this about “Medicare for All” to fully establish her liberal credentials. Tellingly, the crowd of Democratic primary voters in Iowa burst into applause when she said that she wants to do away with private insurance. It is one thing to endorse allowing young people to buy into Medicare, which is a bad idea, but not crazy. What is crazy is telling over 150 million Americans with employer provided or other private health plans that they will have to give it all up because the politicians in Washington have a better deal for you.

It was not so long ago that Barack Obama reassured voters that, under the Affordable Care Act, “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” That statement turned out to be untrue because millions of Americans across the nation lost affordable health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Still, people liked the idea that universal coverage did not mean that families would be forced into a government health plan.

It turns out Harris was only regurgitating the actual intent of “Medicare for All” legislation. Section 801 of the Medicare for All Act specifies that “no employee benefit plan may provide benefits that duplicate payment for any items or services for which payment may be made under Medicare.” This effectively bars employers from covering workers, retirees, and their families. No more health care choice. No more competition. No more forms to fill out. You get sick, go to the doctor, and it is basically free.

To cover the 30 million or so Americans with no health insurance, 150 million Americans would have to give up their current coverage. That is a terrible deal. Meanwhile, polls consistently find that about 70 percent of Americans with employer or union health plans like what they have. But that does not matter. The young bolsheviks will move them out. It also does not seem to matter that Medicare already faces tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, or that it is soon to be flat out of money. This “Medicare for All” plan is like investing all of our lifetime savings in mortgage backed securities on the eve of the financial crash of 2008.

I share in the disdain that Harris holds for health insurance companies. They often turn out to be the unnecessary middle men driving up medical transactions. The law of economics would tell us that if Americans paid more of the upfront costs themselves, health inflation would fall, as has happened with programs like health savings accounts. Instead, we get the opposite system, as everyone pays for health charges for everyone else.

We have Democrats now touting 70 percent tax rates, wealth taxes, public health care, no border patrol, free college tuition, and $15 minimum wage. Moreover, we are hearing that as many as a dozen more Democrats will soon enter the presidential race, pushing the crowded field even further to the left. Suddenly, Donald Trump is looking like a sure winner in 2020.



CNN Labeled KKK Governor A Republican

In their unmoored worldview that's what they would expect him to be.  Must not mention that the KKK *attacked* Republicans

It didn’t take long for the news media to hit another iceberg. This time it was in the Old Dominion. Virginia became the subject of media attention (okay, some media attention) since Democrats tried to push a bill that would’ve permitted abortions up until the moment of birth. It was a ghastly bill that was rejected. Still, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a medical doctor, decided to weigh in during a radio interview this week, where he was torched for his remarks that pretty much detailed how this bill would permit the murder of babies. The Democrats’ abortion extremism was on full display. He responded to the blowback by saying he doesn’t regret his remarks about the legislation.

Well, his bad week became a total disaster when his 1984 yearbook photo from Eastern Virginia Medical School, where it features two men, one of which is in blackface and the other is in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam apologized for the racist costume; though he didn’t specify which person he’s in the photo. The yearbook photo has been verified. It remained in the library on the school’s campus, which has led some to retroactively trash Ed Gillespie and the GOP for missing this during the 2017 gubernatorial election. Northam has apologized for the photo and promised to earn back the trust of the voters. For many, especially those on the Democratic side, scores of Democrats, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, have called on Northam to resign, while others have crafted the odd position of ‘he needs to go, but just not right now.’



CNBC: The Shutdown Didn't Hurt Economy, Jobs Are Booming

The January jobs report is out today, and, despite the longest partial government shutdown in history, things are looking good. Don't take my word for it. CNBC's Sara Eisen explained why the economy is on the uptick Friday morning. Economists projected about 170,000 jobs added last month, but what we got was well over 300,000.

What does it all mean, "Morning Joe" anchor Mika Brzezinski wanted to know.

"They mean that the economy is still going strong and that employers aren't really fazed by the shutdown," Eisen said.  "Companies didn't hesitate to hire," she added. "It did not shake confidence."

She had some more numbers to prove it. It was "a bumper year for job creation," Eisen continued. The average per month for private employment was in the "2s." The new number is higher than the average for every month of last year. Again, she saw "no effect in terms of hiring for private employers" in regards to the shutdown.

Moreover, more people are entering the workforce. The current participation rate is 63.2 percent - the highest since 2013.m  January marked the 100th straight month for job gains.



Should taxpayers subsidize sport stadiums?

Politicians aren't likely to talk about what I explain in my latest video—how taxpayers were forced to donate more than $700 million to the owner of Atlanta's football team, billionaire Arthur Blank, to get him to build the stadium.

In addition to the subsidies, the Falcons get all the money from parking, restaurants, and merchandise sales. Sweet deal. But not an unusual one. Some NFL teams collect even more in government subsidies than it cost to build their stadiums.

So taxpayers, most of whom never attend a game, subsidize billionaires. Seems like a scam.

I don't fault Blank for grabbing the money. I like the guy. He made our lives better by founding Home Depot. We're both stutterers who donate money to AIS, a stuttering treatment program. Since politicians give money away, Blank's shareholders would consider him irresponsible not to take it.

The problem is that politicians give away your money in the first place.

I understand why they do it. They like going to games and telling voters, "I brought the team to our town!"

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her cronies recently funneled $750 million of taxpayer money to the owners of the Oakland Raiders to get them to move the team to Vegas.

Reporter Jon Ralston asked her, "Why should there be one cent of public money when you have two guys who could pay for this themselves?"

The mayor replied lamely, "I think it really is a benefit to us that really could spill over into something." Spill over into…something. Politicians always claim giving taxpayer money to team owners will "spill over" to the whole community.

They call their handouts investments—a "terrific investment," as the mayor of Atlanta put it. But it's not a good investment. It's a bad one.

Politicians point to that extra business activity that occurs when the football team plays at home, but the Atlanta Falcons, like most NFL teams, play just 10 home games. The stadium is used for some concerts and soccer games, but most days little or nothing happens there.

That's why economists who study stadium subsidies call them a bad deal for taxpayers.

The problem is the seen vs. the unseen, as economist Frederic Bastiat put it. All of us see the people at the games buying beer and hotdogs. But we don't see the larger number of citizens, who had their money taken from them to spend on the stadium, not buying things.

We don't see two fewer customers in a restaurant or the home remodeling that never got done. Those humbler projects lack the political clout and don't get the media attention that politicians and the stadium-builders get.

So when Atlanta politicians brag about their beautiful stadium, and clueless media claim that it created lots of jobs, let's also remember the jobs the subsidies destroyed—and the tax money that was given to rich people.

The problem isn't just Atlanta, and it isn't just sports. Most every time government presumes to tell us where and how our money should be spent rather than leaving it up to free individuals, it creates a loss.

Politicians announce whatever project they fund with great fanfare, implying you should be thankful to them—as if football, or the arts, or whatever is unveiled in the latest ribbon-cutting ceremony, couldn't exist without politicians moving money from your pocket to the pockets of their cronies. But really, government shrinks your ability to make choices every time it steers money away from what you might choose to spend it on.

Football is popular enough to thrive without politicians subsidizing it.



Dems' Unmoored State of the Union Responder: Those Covington Kids Behaved Badly, And Trump's Racism is to Blame

Just standing there smiling is REALLY bad behaviour!

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who was defeated in her 2018 gubernatorial campaign, is her party's pick to respond to next week's State of the Union address.  In this interview -- released long after it was crystal clear that the original framing was catastrophically wrong and unfair -- she dismisses the "narrative" about wider context as nearly irrelevant. 

What's important, she explains, is what people saw in the context-free clip.  And what they saw was "inappropriate" language and "disrespect."  And yes, she's absolutely talking about the Covington Catholic students, not the Black Hebrew Israelites screaming slurs and obscenities at teenagers.  And not the Native American serial provocateur who's been caught in multiple lies, who decided it was a good idea to beat a drum inches away from a kid's face, and whose sidekick was busy telling the white students to "go back to Europe."

It doesn't matter what led to the viral moment, Abrams says.  What matters is that those kids behaved badly (which, overwhelmingly, they did not) -- and that it's Donald Trump's fault because they were following his lead on "xenophobia, racism, bigotry, and hatred."  If you're looking for a emotionalist, tendentious, left-wing hot take on Covington, even after the facts are in, it doesn't get more scorching than this:

Following her November defeat, Abrams is reportedly seeking to lean even harder into identity politics, which is a safe political bet, given the creepy zeitgeist of her party.  It's also telling that Democratic leaders are choosing to showcase a woman who refused to concede defeat in her race, instead suggesting that the outcome was tainted or illegitimate because of "suppression."  On this claim, as it apparently her wont, she's not allowing certain facts to stand in the way of her preferred story:

They complain that Kemp ran for governor while he was still secretary of state. Yes, but Georgia’s constitution allows for that, and it’s been done before. In the 2000s, Democrat Cathy Cox ran for her party’s gubernatorial nomination while serving as secretary of state. Kemp ran for re-election twice while simultaneously occupying the office, with no one seriously alleging malfeasance. In any case, localities count the votes, not the secretary of state’s office. They allege that Kemp shut down polling places. It’s true, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that 214 precincts have closed in Georgia since 2012. It’s just not the handiwork of Brian Kemp. Counties make the decisions about whether or not to shutter polling places. It’s usually cash-strapped rural areas that consolidate precincts to eliminate underutilized polling places and locations that don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When a controversy exploded over a proposal to close seven of nine precincts in tiny, majority-black Randolph County, Kemp came out publicly and opposed the plan. (As it happens, Randolph voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but Donald Trump won five of the seven precincts slated for closure.) They charge that Kemp kept people in voting limbo over minor registration errors. Under Georgia’s so-called exact-match law, if information on a voter registration doesn’t match a driver’s license, state ID card or Social Security records, the voter has a little over two years to clear up the discrepancy. Until then, the voter is put into the “pending file” (53,000 people were on it). This isn’t a prohibition from voting. If the voter shows up at a polling place with an ID verifying his information (mandatory in Georgia, regardless), there isn’t an issue. Finally, they object to Kemp’s enforcement of Georgia’s “use it or lose it” rule. A similar law in Ohio was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

She lost fair and square, refused to concede, and is being rewarded with a high-profile platform.  The clip above is a useful example of how knee-jerk partisans will learn the lessons they want to learn, no matter what the evidence may demonstrate.  Part of the problem with the Covington affair, which feels like a distant memory already, was the eagerness of many in the press to extrapolate "larger truths" from a cultural flashpoint that they instantly decided was illustrative of something they fervently believed.  As more information trickled in, the media storyline shifted from "aren't these young Trumpers awful?" to, "look at these conservatives unfairly 'pouncing' on our collective rush to judgment!"  Ross Douthat noted on Twitter yesterday that journalists were happy to storm headfirst into the Covington cultural blaze, yet their treatment of Democrats' radical abortion bills has been exceptionally cautious and tepid by comparison:

In fact, many of the mainstream stories emerging from the late-term abortion controversy are almost-comical manifestations of the "conservatives pounce" template -- to the point of reading like satirical corporate PR for the abortion lobby: 



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, February 04, 2019

A note on the vocabulary people of English descent have inherited from their German ancestors of 1500 years ago

I argued yesterday that English vowels point to the Frisians from the North Sea coast as the dominant German tribe in Britannia but what about vocabulary?  Since all the invading groups, including the Frisians, spoke a form of German, vocabulary is unlikely to tell us much about who was who among the invaders -- but there is one puzzling feature of the vocabulary that we have inherited:  Some quite common words -- such as "take' -- are not of German origin at all.  The modern German word for "take" is "nehmen', which could hardly be more different.

Ultimately "take" is clearly from a Scandinavian source (such as Old Norse "taka") and for some reason, perhaps because of its brevity, it overtook and replaced the German word ("niman" in Old English).

So how did some Scandinavian words get into the vocabulary of North Germans?  That's pretty obvious.  There were all these tough Viking precursors on the North side of the Baltic -- while seas and oceans were seen as highroads rather than as obstacles in early times.  You could move people and goods much more easily over water than you could over dirt tracks.

And the Saxon homeland in Holstein did have a substantial frontage onto the South Baltic.

It did also have a frontage onto the North Sea but there was nothing much nearby there -- Cuxhaven did not exist at that time -- so the Baltic frontage would have been by far the busiest and most influential.

So some Scandinavian words did "leak" from North to South across the Baltic -- probably in the main via trade.  So vocabulary reveals that the Saxon influence in Britannia was clearly substantial.  It gave way to Frisian vowels (from the North Sea coast) but contributed some distinctly Baltic vocabulary.

The Scandinavians (Swedes) did not succeed in moving South themselves.  The Germans of the South Baltic coast always repelled any such attempts.  And it is tempting to suspect that the expansionist Saxons were the backbone of the German resistance.  Their main expansionary thrust was Southward but an expansion sideways along the South Baltic coast would seem like an obvious early move, with its opportunities to move by sea.  Seas and rivers were the highroads of the ancient world

The rivers Eider and Elbe did provide Northern and Southern pathways to the North Sea but rivers are a lot harder to navigate than the open sea.-- JR.


Kamala Harris Sounds A Lot Like An Authoritarian

Leftism IS authoritarian

Some Democrats are trying to recast their soft authoritarianism as a patriotic endeavor. Don't let them get away with it.

The questions for the prospective Democratic Party presidential candidates to this point are nothing but endless iterations on ‘How evil is Donald Trump?’  Even when asked other questions it is soft pitch or questions or ones larded up with euphemisms and dishonest framing to make it virtual. Perhaps some could some guidance from conservatives—still a sizable Tk—might want to know.

For instance:

Democrats in New York, Virginia, and a number of states support laws that strip virtually any obstacle to obtaining an abortion up until the moment of birth. According to studies, most women who seek these abortions do not do so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment. Do you believe that a mother should have the right to obtain an abortion of a viable baby up until the moment of birth if the mother claims mental distress?

Do you believe babies who survive botched abortion procedures should be, through the purposeful neglect of doctors, allowed to die if that is the mother’s wish?

What limits, if any, do you believe there should placed on abortion?

On the issue of energy: Nuclear power, which doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, generates around 20 percent of American energy – or far more than any “green” energy source (for instance, solar power, even heavily subsidized by government, only produces 1.3 percent.) The “Green New Deal” calls on the elimination of all nuclear power within 11 years. Do you support this policy?

The “Green New Deal” also calls for the elimination of all energy production that produces carbon dioxide or air pollution, which oil and natural gas, one the cheapest sources of America energy, and one of the reasons the United States has been able to lead the world in carbon emissions reduction. How do you propose eliminating nearly 90 percent of all American energy usage in 11 years? If not in 11 years, how many years do you propose reaching this goal?

Do you support a national ban on fracking?

The elimination of fossil fuels production would likely costs tens of trillions of dollars of cost on the American consumer through spiking costs and massive infrastructure changes. Every car in America, for example, would have to be retrofitted to run on electricity. Should the government pay for the cost on families? How will we pay for it?

The US oil, gas industry itself supports over 10 million jobs in the United States that would be lost within the decade. Will you retrain millions of people to work in far more expensive but produces far less efficient energy? How will those people find new jobs – what will we do with their pensions and health care

The “Green New Deal” calls on the government to ensure that people give up their “non-essential individual means of transport” so they can use a “high-quality and modern mass transit.” Do you agree that certain Americans should be banned from owning cars if it helps the environment?

Turning to guns: You often use the term “assault weapon” to describe semi-automatic firearms. Since “assault weapon” isn’t an official category of firearm, can you explain what it means?

And, if you could, would you be in favor of a national ban on all semi-automatic weapons or semi-automatic rifles even for law-abiding citizens? Do you believe that is something America should strive for? Specifically, what types of guns would you like to see banned? How do would you propose confiscating them?

On health insurance, do you believe, like a number of Democratic Party hopefuls, that private insurance should be banned in the United States and Americans should be forced into a government-run plan? If not, how can Medicare for “all” work?

‘Medicare for All’ policy is estimated to cost taxpayers around $32.6 trillion over 10 Years. Even the best-case scenario estimates that instituting top marginal tax rate of 70 percent would raise a little more than $700 billion over that decade. How will you propose paying for the other $31.9?

Do you believe that nuns – and religious institutions and business owners– should be forced to pay for insurance that provides birth control and abortifacient drugs to their employers even if they hold longstanding faith-based opposition to such things?

Do you support “free” college?

Does it concern you that free college creates that people taking useful majors that will help them find productive work in the job market? How long will students be able to go to college for free? How many

The top individual income tax is the largest source of U.S. revenue. Right now the top 20 percent of Americans pay close to 90 percent of that income tax. What percentage do you believe would be a “fair share?”

Do you agree with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that border walls are immoral? California shares a 140-mile border with Mexico, about 105 miles of which is walled or fenced, including a giant fence that juts into the Pacific Ocean. Is that wall immoral? If borer walls are immoral, should it be taken down?

Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is proposing an annual confiscatory tax on the wealthy

Freshman Democrats in Congress have accused Israel of being “evil” and hypnotizing the world and Jewish State can’t be democratic? Do you agree that Israel is like Iran, just another theocratic terror state? Do support the divestment and boycott of Israel?



Brent Bozell: Which Parents Should Be Scolded?

It's hard to fathom in this supercharged atmosphere, but politics actually has been more tumultuous than it is today (see: War, Civil). On the other hand, the war to define — or, better put, redefine — American culture has never been more ferocious.

Its militancy has reached the point where many on the libertine-left media are aggressively, and quite publicly, demanding that parents abide by their worldview or be ostracized from polite company.

And what an ugly worldview it is.

On Jan. 30, NBC's "Today" show devoted a segment to an allegedly controversial Instagram post by Carey Hart, a former Motocross rider and the husband of pop star Pink. He posted a video of his 7-year-old daughter, Willow, shooting a rifle at the range and wrote this caption: "Haven't poked the parent police bear in a few days. Willz and I shooting the 22 rifle. She is getting pretty good. Can hit a 12 inch pie plate from 30 yards. Started her shooting at 3yrs old."

Hart said his family doesn't hunt, just shoots for sport. "I'm raising the kids with knowledge of fire arms, how to handle them, shoot them, store them, and avoid them in uneducated hands. #knowledgeispower."

NBC's Kristen Dahlgren warned: "The response was swift. One critic commented, 'So confused about how something that symbolizes violence and fear needs to be taught to children.'"

But Hart is doing just the opposite, as anyone who owns a rifle (which we suspect doesn't include Dahlgren or her "critic") knows: Anyone using a firearm is taught to be afraid of it, hence the proper handling.

Dahlgren quoted others praising the video but then turned to the doctors, saying: "Between 2012 and 2014, an average of 7,000 children were killed or injured by firearms each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics official stance is guns should be locked, unloaded and away from where children find them."

Now, really, exactly who disagrees with the idea that guns should be kept from children, under lock and key? Is Hart guilty of that as well?

NBC's reporter also noted: "This is not the first time Hart's parenting has been called into question. Over the years, he and Pink have shared photos of their family online and some images, like these of Hart riding dirt bikes with their kids, have created a storm of criticism."

On screen, the graphics read: "STICKING TO THEIR GUNS: Pink's husband criticized for teaching daughter to shoot."

What should parents be teaching instead?

Well ... on June 18, 2018, the "Today" show promoted fifth-grader Desmond Napoles as a wonderful phenomenon. What's he done to deserve this? These were the words on screen to explain: "DESMOND IS AMAZING: 10-year-old 'Drag Kid' taking internet by storm."

They are no longer drag queens. They are drag kids.

This is good parenting.

NBC reporter Kate Snow gushed: "Desmond is a self-described drag kid. When this Brooklyn fifth-grader isn't in school, he's doing photo shoots and runway shows. He's already been profiled in Vogue, and even has his own drag name: Desmond Is Amazing."

Snow explained: "We met up with Desmond and his parents at the Phluid Project, a gender-neutral retail store in New York City. In contrast to their son, Wendy and Andrew Napoles say they couldn't be more mainstream."

Wrong. The mother said Desmond was "mesmerized" at age 3 when they both watched "RuPaul's Drag Race," a drag-queen competition, which aired on the LGBT channel Logo.

Snow gently pushed back with what "people" might say about Desmond, like "He's only 10." Desmond's mom then uncorked this analogy: "Mozart first touched a piano when he was 3. I think that there are talented children. And if you see that talent and they want to do it, why not?"

... Unless they want to shoot guns.

Online, NBC oozed, "Meet the 10-year-old 'drag kid' taking over social media with inspiring message." It noted that Desmond "is a smart, self-assured and talented 10-year-old on the rise as a social media star," and he "hopes to continue promoting acceptance."

In December, Desmond the "drag kid" did a dance number at a gay bar in Brooklyn called 3 Dollar Bill, collecting dollar bills from adult men in the crowd. NBC didn't follow up to question the parents about whether that was "promoting acceptance."

Does this make you want to celebrate — or throw up?



Mark Levin: Trump ‘Is Right’ to Criticize Intelligence Community’s Assessment of Iran

During his nationally syndicated radio talk show, “The Mark Levin Show,” on Thursday night, radio host Mark Levin said President Donald J. Trump “is right” to criticize the U.S. Intelligence Community’s threat assessment of Iran.

“The president of the United States has criticized his top intelligence officials who testified the other day, downplaying the threat of Iran, and for this, the president has been attacked,” Mark Levin said. “He’s been attacked by the usual types in his own party. He’s been attacked by the usual clowns in the media. Turns out, the president is right. The president is absolutely right about Iran.”

Mark Levin’s remarks came after the Intelligence Community (IC) released its 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment on Tuesday, Jan. 29. In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump criticized the IC for being “extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran.” On his show, Levin quoted from an article by the Conservative Review.

Below is a transcript of Levin’s remarks from his show on Thursday:

“The president of the United States has criticized his top intelligence officials who testified the other day, downplaying the threat of Iran, and for this, the president has been attacked. He’s been attacked by the usual types in his own party. He’s been attacked by the usual clowns in the media. Turns out, the president is right. The president is absolutely right about Iran.

“The Iran deal fundamentally funded the terrorist regime in Tehran. He was told not to kill the deal. He killed the deal.

“This is the same intelligence community that became, as our buddy Jordan Schachtel writes at Conservative Review, ‘hyper-politicized and weaponized during the Obama administration,’ acted on ‘questionable information, such as the Clinton-funded Steele dossier, to substantiate Russia’s supposed impact on the 2016’ elections.

“Now, ‘Given that reality, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this IC product appears at times to passive[ly]-aggressively take issue with President Trump’s foreign policy decisions.’

“You see, the senior levels of these agencies, just below the top, are still loaded with the same fools who were there during the Obama administration.

“‘The IC assessment’ – Intelligence Community assessment, regarding Iran – ‘incorrectly and bizarrely labels Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “centrist,”’ when he’s a radical. He is a terrorist ‘who has openly encouraged Iran-backed terrorist groups to export Iran’s ideology through force throughout the region. Additionally, in labeling Rouhani a centrist’ – the report does – the Intelligence Community ‘product contends that there is a strong ideological divide within the Islamic supremacist regime.’

“Now, we know this is false because Ben Rhodes, the former national security deputy director, in a[n] interview he did, where he spilled his guts, said that was the scenario that they pushed into the media, that the media then regurgitated, in order to get the Iran deal done. And he admits, it’s a lie, that there is no centrist president in this regime, including Rouhani.”



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, February 03, 2019

Are we Anglo-Saxons really Anglo-Friesians?

The history of Britannia after the Roman departure in about 400 AD is obscure.  It was not until the venerable Bede, 300 years later,  that we have a systematic history for the years immediately thereafter.  And it was Bede -- who spent all his life in monasteries -- who tells us that the English are descendants of Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

But what if Bede got it wrong?  It seems that he was relying mainly on oral history and that can be unreliable in its details. And there is a linguistic reason why he may have got it wrong: English vowels.  Variations in language over time are often the best evidence we have for our understanding of prehistory.

English vowels are unusual. Our short letter "a", for instance is normally pronounced in continental Europe as "aah".  There are only two other European languages that pronounce vowels pretty much as we do:  Dutch and Frisian.

"Frisians who?", might be your reaction to that. They are not a well known part of Europe.  There were originally rather a lot of them in coastal Europe South of Jutland (Denmark) and they still have a good foothold in coastal Europe in Nederland, where they form a Northern province (Friesland) of that country.

There is also however a chain of Frisian islands and they also run South from Denmark along the German and Dutch coast.  And Frisian is normally considered the European language closest to English, though Frisian itself is splintered into very different dialects these days. And as both islanders and coastal people the Frisians were obviously experienced sailors.

Now let's take that in conjunction with what we know of the Saxons.  Saxons seem to have originated in Holstein, in the extreme South of Jutland, most of which is now Denmark.  Jutes and Angles were further North in Jutland.

And from about the 3rd century AD, the Saxons began to spread out, Eastwards to the adjacent lands of the Ostsee (meaning "East sea" but referring to what we now call the South Baltic coast) and South to what we now know as Lower Saxony, a large Northern province of Germany. Lower Saxony in those days contained various different tribes (and by some accounts still does) so the conquest probably took some time.  And one of the groups pushed fairly hard by the invading Saxons were the unfortunate Frisians, then living in some numbers on the North Sea coast.

And the primary push by the Saxons was Southward -- so that, in modern Germany as you go South, you encounter first lower Saxony (in the North!), then Saxony-Anhalt and then Saxony itself further South again.  Those Saxons were clearly a militarily successful tribe so are now located up and down North Germany.  So given their very successful push South, why would they get into boats and sail across to Romanized Britannia?  That was well outside their major focus.

And that is where the Frisians come in.  They were on the coast with the Saxons behind them so it is eminently believable that the people who got into their boats and emigrated were mainly Frisians, Frisian refugees who were also experienced Frisian sailors who knew well what was on the other side of the North sea. They didn't have to build boats.  They had them already for fishing and trade purposes.

That their vowels are the ones that survived among us suggests that they were in fact the most numerous invaders of Britannia. And Britannia was a tempting destination.  It was a well-established agricultural and pastoral civilization that grew wheat and rye and ran lots of juicy sheep. But the inhabitants had become soft after living for centuries behind the protection of Roman central government and Roman legions: Easy marks for any Germans

With its mild climate and frequent rainfall, Britannia was more lush than anywhere in Germany (and still is) so envious eyes had long been cast upon it. North Germans can (and do) speak fondly of the L√ľneburger Heide but it is a desert compared to almost anywhere in England.

But any invasion of Britannia by Northern Europeans during the Roman imperium had to be very short-lived.  On hearing of such invasions, the central Roman authorities in Londonium would send a disciplined Roman legion or two marching North on the excellent Roman roads -- and any invaders who got wind of that would promptly skedaddle.  If they didn't they would live (or die) to regret it.  The Roman Gladius was a very good chopping weapon

The Frisians might well have been referred to as Saxons because they came from what was already then known as part of the Saxon domains.  And Frisian is linguistically a form of low German so they were a Germanic tribe not greatly different from the Saxons.  They originated just South of the Saxon homeland.  And once the Frisians had set the ball rolling it seems likely that some Saxons came over too, once again lording it over the unfortunate Frisians

So it is my submission that Bede missed out on an important part of the story.  There probably WERE Angles, Saxons and Jutes who sailed across the water to Britannia but most of the invaders were Frisians, who, because of their subordinate role, had been thoroughly forgotten by Bede's time.

Should England really be called West Friesland?

Another possibility that seems fairly firm concerns the Jutes and Angles -- who together originally occupied most of Jutland.  Most of Jutland is now occupied by Scandinavians: Danes. The Danes pushed the Angles and Jutes out, which is why a lot of them sailed off to Britannia. But the Saxons were the tough guys of the W. Baltic area so the Danes were stopped more or less at the border of Holstein just South of Jutland.  The Danes even appear to have occupied Schleswig, though the Prussians in a much later era took half of that back.

The origin of the Danes is obscure but it seems most likely that they came South from Norway -- early precursors of the Norse Vikings. Until about a century ago, Dano-Norwegian was regarded as a single language, so that tells you a lot.

Neither the Danes nor the Swedes, however, seem to have had much success on the South Baltic coast. That remained thoroughly German despite what we now know as Sweden looming over it to its  immediate North. And that failure was most likely the work of the Saxons. Saxons were expansionist from early on and the easiest route for expansion would have been Eastward along the South Baltic coast -- assisted by the greater ease of movement by sea.

So the Germans who kept the Scandinavians out of the South Baltic coast were probably in the main tough-guy Saxons by the time conflict arose

So the Jutes and Angles were driven out to Britannia by tougher Danes but nobody was tougher than the Saxons.  They just kept expanding, mostly Southwards but also to some extent Westward to Britannia

So most of the German migration to Britannia was by lesser German tribes -- Angles, Jutes and Frisians -- who were driven out of their original homelands by invaders -- but they in turn were tougher than the Romanized Celts who already lived in Britannia. So Britannia became England

The fact that the Angles had their name attached to the new land probably reinforces the idea that the Saxons were there in only small numbers.  It appears that, in the absence of a substantial  Saxon presence, the Angles led the conquest of the Celts -- JR


Democrats Cut Jobs, Republicans Cut Taxes

It's tax-filing season, which is going to be great news for millions of Americans.

Last July, DNC Chief Tom Perez made an election pitch based on despair: “Too many members of our society are still struggling to find a good-paying job.” His assessment was quite the contrast to a little place we like to call “reality,” where unemployment is at record lows and wages are up due to competition for talent. The only ones taking away jobs are Democrats imposing unrealistic minimum wages in blue states and cities. Dems are hoping for recession, after all. A month into 2019 and three months removed from the Democrats’ win in the House, where do things stand?

One example of leftist policy is a report on Barack Obama’s crackdown on franchising as a favor to his Big Labor pals. “A report put out by the International Franchise Association and a Chamber of Commerce found that the Obama administration provoked an ‘existential threat’ to the franchise model in which small business owners operate under the umbrella of a national corporate brand,” reports The Washington Free Beacon. (Think McDonald’s and other fast-food chains.) “The Obama administration departed from decades of precedent when the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] held that parent companies could be held liable for labor violations committed by franchisees. The report estimated that the new joint employer standard set curtailed expansion in the industry, leading to between 142,000 and 376,000 lost job opportunities — a 2.55 to 5 percent reduction in the workforce.” It also put a $33 billion dent in the economy each year since 2015. Thanks Obama.

The damage was already done, but at least the NLRB under Donald Trump has begun unwinding that regulation.

On the Republican side, 2017 saw the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — without a single Democrat vote. This week marked the beginning of tax-filing season for 2018 income, which means millions of Americans will be reminded just how much money they’re saving. While most of the attention was focused on corporate rate cuts, and while no tax law benefits everyone, Ryan Ellis, president of the Center for a Free Economy, reminds us “the biggest part of the tax cut by far was tax cuts for individuals.”

He explains, “To start with, tax rates for families were cut across the board — for everyone. The top rate of 39.6 percent was reduced to 37 percent. The tax rates underneath went down, too. The most common middle class marginal tax rates of 15 and 25 percent were reduced to 12 and 24 percent, respectively. The marriage penalty was eliminated in all but the top tax bracket.” Furthermore, because the standard deduction was substantially raised, nearly 30 million fewer families will waste time tracking down receipts for itemized deductions — saving both time and money by going for the standard deduction. And the child tax credit doubled to $2,000 per child.

Ellis also notes, “A median income family of four with two kids makes about $80,000 per year. Their income tax burden was reduced from about $4,600 to about $2,300, a 50 percent cut in income tax. A single parent with two kids making $60,000 per year got an even bigger tax cut, seeing her taxes reduced from $3,000 to $800. Even an individual making $35,000 got in on the fun — his taxes are cut from $3,200 to $2,600.”

Maybe the mainstream media should spend a little more time reporting that good news instead of attacking Catholic boys.



Expanding Economic Freedom at Home
If someone were to ask you to name the economically freest country in the world, what would you say?

Probably the United States. Even many non-Americans would likely give that answer. Unfortunately, they’d be wrong.

The economy that enjoys the highest level of economic freedom is thousands of miles away. It’s Hong Kong. The United States, surprisingly enough, isn’t even in the top 10 of the latest “Index of Economic Freedom,” an annual data-driven research project that scores and ranks almost every country.

So where does the U.S. finish in the 2019 “Index”? No. 12. That puts us between Iceland and the Netherlands, and behind two of our closest allies in the top 10: the United Kingdom (No. 7) and Canada (No. 8).

But before you assume there’s nothing to celebrate, let’s put that ranking in context.

For one thing, yes, the U.S. isn’t finishing as high as it once did in the “Index.” But after sliding to its worst showing yet in the 2017 edition, it’s been making a comeback.

It posted a better score on the 2018 “Index” — a 75.7 score (on a 0-100 scale, with 100 being the freest). This year, however, the U.S. earned a 76.8 score. That helped it move up six slots in the world rankings from No. 18.

So we’re doing better — which is more than we can say for many other countries. Among the 180 countries ranked in the latest edition, scores improved for 81 and declined for 92. Seven remained unchanged.

The U.S. still has a good amount of work to do before it again hits (or hopefully surpasses) its personal best of 81.2 points, which it posted in the 2006 “Index.” Still, we’re moving in the right direction. So let’s consider for a moment what we’re doing right — and what we’re doing wrong.

Two things contributed to our improved showing. One is a significant improvement in our “government integrity” score, which measures such things as cronyism and corruption. Another is a lessening of the tax and regulatory burdens.

The tax-cut package passed by Congress in December 2017 and signed by President Trump has given our economy a sizable boost. Lawmakers would be wise to lock in those gains by making those cuts permanent. For that matter, they should find other ways to reduce taxes on hard-working Americans.

But the “Index” editors also recorded modest declines in the U.S. scores for fiscal health (government spending is still climbing, and public debt keeps rising), labor freedom (a higher minimum wage isn’t helping), and monetary freedom (government subsidies and corporate welfare are both much too high).

Then there’s trade freedom, which has also taken a hit. The result could prove rather costly. “New protectionist policies that have raised tariffs and disrupted established manufacturing supply chains are just beginning to affect consumer prices and investment decisions,” the “Index” editors warn.

This year marks the 25th edition of the “Index of Economic Freedom.” The idea for producing such an annual guide grew out of concern in Washington in the late 1980s about the effectiveness of foreign aid. Officials knew that a commitment to the free-market system was essential in creating fertile soil for the seeds of development planted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other aid agencies.

There was basic agreement about the fundamentals of capitalism, but no systematic way to measure whether and to what extent those fundamentals existed in Mogadishu, Manila or Minsk. That was the void we sought to fill.

Today, copies of the “Index” are in libraries around the globe. Presidents and prime ministers worldwide refer to the “Index” as an important guide for economic policy. Its rankings are reported annually in countless broadcast and print media.

We’re proud of that success. And we’ll be prouder still if the 2020 edition finds the United States back in the top 10 — where it belongs.



Trump's Tax Cut 'Scam' Created 1.3 Million New Jobs, New CBO Data Show

Tax Cuts: During the tax cut debate in 2017, Republicans argued that the cuts would at least partially pay for themselves by spurring economic growth. Democrats said they were nothing more than a giveaway to the rich. The latest data from the Congressional Budget Office makes it clear that the GOP had it right.

The headline news from the CBO's latest annual budget and economic forecast report is supposed to be the that deficits will hit $897 billion in 2019, and top $1 trillion by 2022. Proof that the tax cuts failed, right? "The CBO's latest report exposes the scam behind the rosy rhetoric from Republicans that their tax bill would pay for itself," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The other headline is that the government shutdown would cut ultimately cost the economy about $3 billion this year.

But entirely overlooked is what the CBO report shows about the tax cuts. That they succeeded in boosting economic growth. And that extra growth is, in turn, partially paying for the cuts. Despite what Schumer says, this is precisely what Republicans claimed would happen.

The CBO doesn't spell this out, but the message is clear to any who look at the data. Start with GDP growth. The CBO makes it clear that the tax cuts spurred the boom.

Democrats claim that the solid growth in 2018 was baked in the cake while Barack Obama was president. But that's simply not the case.

In January 2017 — before Trump entered the White House — the CBO projected that the economy would expand by only 2% in 2018, followed by 1.7% in 2019 and 1.5% next year.

That's what was baked in the cake. Continued tepid economic growth. Keep in mind that, when the CBO made those economic forecasts at the start of the Trump administration, they were right in line with other mainstream economic forecasts.

What actually happened was a very different story. The actual growth for 2018 will likely have been 2.9% or 3%. And the CBO now expects GDP to climb 2.7% this year, and 1.9% next year.

The jobs picture improved dramatically as well. In January 2017, CBO forecast an average unemployment rate of 4.4% for 2018. The actual number: 3.9%

In January 2017, CBO said that the economy would create an average of just 94,000 jobs a month in 2018. The actual results for 2018: 203,000 news jobs a month.

In other words, the nation's economy in 2018 was almost $400 billion bigger and there were about 1.3 million more jobs created than the CBO had expected.

So, what changed after January 2017 that could explain the sudden shift in economic results? Why did the economy do so much better than anyone had anticipated?

Trump signed a major pro-growth tax cut, which went into effect at the start of 2018.

Using the latest CBO report, we can also calculate how much the tax cuts are actually costing, compared with what the CBO said they'd cost.

In late 2017, the CBO said the Republican tax cuts would cut revenues by $1.1 trillion in its first five years. But that assumed that the tax cuts would have zero effect on the economy.

Based on the CBO's new revenue forecast, however, which includes those economic effects, the tax cuts will have cut revenues by $878 billion over the first five years.

In other words, economic growth paid for 20% of the tax cuts. Sure, growth didn't pay for all the tax cuts. But Republicans never said they would.

To sum up, the tax cuts boosted growth, created more than a million additional jobs, and cost 20% less than advertised. And this is what Schumer calls a "scam"? If so, we could use more of them.



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)