Friday, February 15, 2019

Imagine no freedom, it's easy if you try

Everyone is talking about the Green New Deal, and how it would end domestic airline travel, the internal combustion engine, fossil fuel usage, most electricity generation and even ban cow flatulence.

You have groups guessing what the cost of the Green New Deal would be in terms of dollars on an annual basis coming up with figures in the trillions of dollars.

To everyone seeking to normalize this Green New Deal, please just shut up.

The Green New Deal is the baring of teeth by the new American communist.  A new breed unleashed that we have seen to the streets attacking people attending Trump rallies, screaming at teenagers wearing Make America Great Again hats, shouting down and rioting against conservative speakers on college campuses.

Here is the truth.  Socialism and communism are evil.

Putting a shroud of legitimacy and normalcy to the destruction of the American ideal is being a Menshevik in a Bolshevik Revolution, you cannot moderate the blood lust of those who seek to enslave you by trying to come up with common ground or discuss alternatives to meet their needs.  The revolution demands immediate payment.

So, let's stop talking about the symptoms which the New Green Deal represents and actually begin to dissect the disease that is collectivism.

First definitionally the only difference between socialism and communism is if you voluntarily surrender your freedom and wealth or have it confiscated.  Either alternative ultimately comes from the coercive power of the gun and are based upon the premise that those who have attained wealth used ill-gotten means to get it.  As a result, they have no moral authority to keep it from those from whom it presumably was stolen.

In socialism and communism, individual rights are not derived from God and guaranteed by the Constitution, instead everything you have and can expect comes from the good will of the government. It is no mistake that John Lennon's socialist anthem, "Imagine" starts with the following words:

"Imagine there's no heaven,
"It's easy if you try.
"No hell below us,
"Above us, only sky.
"Imagine all the people living for today."

In order to achieve a kingdom ruled by man unfettered by morality or rules, you have to nix a sovereign God from the equation.  If there is no God, then all rights are nothing more than those that the government chooses to allow you to have, and the only protections that exist are those which they grant.  The only question is who gets to be the one holding the keys over everyone else's life.

For the other "Imagine" songwriter, Yoko Ono, the dream continues as a lyrical assault on nations, religion, and possessions ending with the following two verses:

"Imagine no possessions,
"I wonder if you can.
"No need for greed or hunger,
"A brotherhood of man.

"Imagine all the people,
"Sharing all the world."

"You may say that I'm a dreamer,
"But I'm not the only one.
"I hope someday you'll join us,
"And the world will live as one."

It makes one wonder if Ono has given up 100 percent of her songwriter royalties to the song to the government as a show of solidarity for the dream.

And here is what they don't say, in order for the world to "live as one" with no possessions, someone is going to have to take all the stuff and hold it collectively for the common good.

In order for there to be stuff to take and most importantly eat in the future, someone is going to have to do the hard work to produce it.  Someone is going to have to figure out how to produce it, and someone is going to have to get it from where it is produced to where the brotherhood is living.  And then someone is going to have to distribute it being certain that everyone gets the same amount of gruel.

Socialism and communism are a recipe for scarcity as those who choose to not work are entitled to the same rewards as those who choose to work.  Soon, the numbers of those inspired to bust their backs plowing a field are few and far between and the state has to compel people to do necessary tasks all for the good of the common man. The result is effectively slavery, where the worker receives nothing more than the roof over their head, the clothing on their back and enough food to fuel his or her next day's work.

Medical, architecture and engineering schools are empty as those who would have been STEM professionals choose less rigorous pursuits or no pursuit at all.  Medicines become scarce because there is no one to invent or manufacture them because there is no reward for finding the disease curing needle in the haystack.

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but to me socialism and communism are a nightmare of hopeless poverty as the masses serve their overseers under threat of the whip or worse.

When contrasted with the overwhelming wealth that capitalism has spread throughout the world. The rebellion here in America is particularly ironic as anyone who wishes to have a job can find one.  A place where politics is accessible and a seat in Congress can even be won by a bartender with social media savvy. A place where energy is abundant, inflation is low, wages are up and renewed hope is stirring.

The collectivists will never understand that capitalism works because it isn't driven by macro-decisions from Washington, D.C. as much as it is by a series of millions of individual decisions in the market place. When politicians take their thumbs off the scales, those individual decisions are likely to be rational ones based upon the needs of each person, and this leads to an overall market place that picks winners and losers based upon merit as opposed to political favor.

Ultimately, capitalism is the individuals freedom of choice to not only buy pizza or a hamburger, but a choice of dozen or more different competing pizzas.  Each pizza maker vying for customers based upon a balance of price, convenience, quality, taste and sales panache.

And in the end, not everyone has to eat pepperoni, but instead there are choices upon choices.  These choices are not because someone in government demanded pizza choice, but instead because the market demanded it.

Over the months ahead, Americans for Limited Government will be exploring the subject of why capitalism works, and why individual rights matter in order to help meet the challenges of the 21st century.  I hope that you will join us on this exploration as we seek to educate those who are na‹ve to the evils of socialism and communism. Imagine the counter-cultural revolution that the truth can unleash.



Walls Work: 9th Circuit Court Sides With Trump On San Diego Border Wall

President Trump on Monday notched a rare victory in the California-based federal appeals court by winning a dispute over the construction of certain barriers along small stretches of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Hill reports,

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling that sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit challenging its authority to waive environmental and public participation laws to expedite the border construction projects.

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has broad authority under the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to construct wall “prototypes,” replace 14 miles of primary fencing near San Diego and replace similar fencing along a three-mile strip close to Calexico, Calif.

A coalition of environmental groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, challenged the authority of DHS to waive dozens of laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to make it easier to build the border infrastructure. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) also filed suit.

Steven Stafford, a Justice Department spokesman, said Monday that Congress has given the executive branch significant authority to build physical barriers on the U.S. border.

“Today the court has affirmed that authority, and that is a victory for the Trump administration, for the rule of law, and above all, for our border security,” he said in a statement to The Hill.

The appeals court decision narrows the path for environmental groups to launch legal challenges to Trump’s high-profile push for expanding border barriers, including his campaign promise to build a wall along much of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Congress has ceded its authority to Trump, who has swept aside fundamental public safety and environmental laws to build walls that won’t work,” Brian Segee, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney, said after Monday’s ruling. “This lawlessness is destroying irreplaceable ecosystems and militarizing communities.”

The Supreme Court in December declined to hear the groups’ attempt to bring the case directly to the high court after losing initially in the district court. The groups warned the justices that the environmental impact of the projects authorized by the waivers would be substantial.

“The border walls are within, or in close proximity to, the habitats of rare animal and plant species including the burrowing owl, Quino checkerspot butterfly, Tecate cypress, snowy plover, two species of fairy shrimp, and the Otay Mesa mint,” they said in their petition to the Supreme Court.

A similar coalition is challenging a related legal waiver for border barriers in Texas. The proposed structures would cut through various protected areas, including the National Butterfly Center.

Environmentalists have argued that border barriers are disastrous for ecosystems and wildlife since they disrupt habitats, breeding grounds and migration paths.



Walls along four Customs and Border Protection sectors—El Paso; San Diego, California; and Tucson and Yuma, Arizona—have reduced illegal immigration “by at least 90 percent.”

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.” That pithy observation is attributed to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Senate from 1977 to 2001. The final two years of Moynihan’s stint in the Senate overlapped the first two years of that of his fellow New York Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer.

President Donald Trump, at a rally set for Monday night on the border in El Paso, Texas, should remind Schumer of Moynihan’s maxim in their fight over the need for more walls and fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border to help stem the flood tide of illegal immigration.

Schumer and his House counterpart, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are entitled to their opinions about Trump’s proposed border wall, but they aren’t entitled to their own facts.

In their rebuttal to the president’s Jan. 9 nationally televised address outlining the need for a border barrier and his request for $5.7 billion in funding for them, both described the proposed wall as “ineffective”—Pelosi once and Schumer twice.

In her rebuttal to Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams didn’t echo Schumer and Pelosi’s “ineffective” claim, but she advanced an argument that was equally fallacious.

“America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls,” Abrams said, disingenuously omitting the key adjective in this debate, “illegal.”

Insisting that walls are “ineffective” over and over again doesn’t make it true. The facts on the ground—both in the U.S. and around the world—not only don’t support that opinion, they decisively refute it.

Walls along four Customs and Border Protection sectors—El Paso; San Diego, California; and Tucson and Yuma, Arizona—have reduced illegal immigration “by at least 90 percent,” according to the Republican National Committee’s page.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner recently cited figures from the Center for Immigration Studies showing that before construction of border barriers in Yuma, the Border Patrol apprehended 138,438 illegal immigrants in 2005, compared with 26,244 last year. While not 90 percent, that’s still a dramatic drop.

The comparable before-and-after figures for the San Diego sector, according to the Border Patrol, were more than 565,581 in 1992 and 26,086 in 2017—a 95 percent reduction.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported last May that “[s]ince the start of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, at least 800 miles of fences have been erected by Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Slovenia, and others.”

Do Schumer and Pelosi know something all these other countries don’t? Not according to Hungary, which said that fencing on its border with Serbia helped reduce illegal immigration by nearly 100 percent since 2015, according to the USA Today report.

Israel’s fencing along its borders with the Gaza Strip and West Bank, as well as with Egypt and Jordan, has likewise all but eliminated illegal immigration and terrorist attacks. (The Jewish state announced Feb. 3 that it was beginning construction of an additional 40 miles of 20-foot-high, state-of-the-art fencing.)

“Walls should not be controversial,” Trump said Jan. 25, when he called Pelosi’s bluff and agreed to reopen the government for three weeks so bipartisan negotiations on border security could proceed. “Every Border Patrol agent I’ve talked to has told me that walls work. It’s just common sense.”

But for Schumer and Pelosi, a crass political calculus trumps (pun intended) common sense.

Their only real reason now for opposing a wall that both previously supported—and with far more funding for it then than what’s on the table today—is to deny the president a win on border security.

“We’ve seen that walls can and will be tunneled under, cut through, or scaled,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, another California Democrat, echoing the Pelosi-Schumer line, referring to walls as “archaic solutions” to a “modern problem.”

But as one of Trump’s presidential predecessors, John Adams, observed, “Facts are stubborn things,” and Aguilar isn’t entitled to his own facts, either, because in the absence of a wall, it isn’t necessary for illegal immigrants to tunnel under or scale it.

More walls and fences of the sort Trump envisions would discourage many would-be illegal immigrants—especially women and children, who would be unable to scale them—from even attempting to migrate here from Central America in the first place.

At a bare minimum, walls significantly slow down would-be illegal immigrants who attempt to climb over or tunnel under them, making it much easier for the Border Patrol to catch them than if there were no such obstacles.

The concept of the path of least resistance suggests that additional walls would funnel would-be border crossers to areas where there are none. The need for fewer Border Patrol agents in walled areas would then enable the agents to be redeployed to where they are more urgently needed.

“Our Border Patrol tells us they need physical barriers to help them do their job … strategically placed where traffic is highest,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

That’s a keen grasp of what should by now be obvious, but even if Schumer and Pelosi don’t want to believe Trump that walls are effective, they should heed the Border Patrol agents who are the boots on the ground.

Those agents know better than either Schumer or Pelosi what works and what’s needed for them to do their jobs, and they have said repeatedly that walls are a must.

Even the head of the Border Patrol during the Obama administration has said that walls “absolutely work.”

“I cannot think of a legitimate argument why anyone would not support the wall as part of a multilayered border security issue,” Mark Morgan said on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program on Jan. 7.

“Why aren’t we listening to the experts and the people who do it every day?” he asked. “I don’t understand that.”

The president should have had a group of uniformed Border Patrol agents as his guests in the House gallery during Tuesday night’s address.

He could have turned around to Pelosi, sitting behind him, and pointed them out when he said of the wall: “It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.”

It really is no more complicated than that.



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 14, 2019

Your gummed-up arteries won't kill you

Which is pretty surprising.  The study was a limited one but the fact that hardened arteries are not necessarily fatal is certainly interesting.  The study was  an exporation of the fact that exercise fanatics do themselves harm in some ways. One of the ways is that they get hardening of the arteries.  So did those damaged arteries kill them?  Not in this study they didn't.  So if you do have hardening of the arteries you may now be able to sleep a bit better at night

Association of All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality With High Levels of Physical Activity and Concurrent Coronary Artery Calcification

Laura F. DeFina et al.

Question  Is the presence of high levels of coronary artery calcification in the setting of very high levels of physical activity, for example, as typically practiced by masters marathon runners, associated with increased mortality?


Importance:  Few data are available to guide clinical recommendations for individuals with high levels of physical activity in the presence of clinically significant coronary artery calcification (CAC).

Objective:  To assess the association among high levels of physical activity, prevalent CAC, and subsequent mortality risk.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study is a prospective observational study of patients from the Cooper Clinic, a preventive medicine facility. The present study included participants seen from January 13, 1998, through December 30, 2013, with mortality follow-up through December 31, 2014. A total of 21?758 generally healthy men without prevalent cardiovascular disease (CVD) were included if they reported their physical activity level and underwent CAC scanning. Data were analyzed from September 26, 2017, through May 2, 2018.

Exposures:  Self-reported physical activity was categorized into at least 3000 (n?=?1561), 1500 to 2999 (n?=?3750), and less than 1500 (n?=?16 447) metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-minutes/week (min/wk). The CAC scores were categorized into at least 100 (n?=?5314) and less than 100 (n?=?16 444) Agatston units (AU).

Main Outcomes and Measures:  All-cause and CVD mortality collected from the National Death Index Plus.

Results:  Among the 21 758 male participants, baseline mean (SD) age was 51.7?(8.4) years. Men with at least 3000 MET-min/wk were more likely to have prevalent CAC of at least 100 AU (relative risk, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03-1.20) compared with those accumulating less physical activity. In the group with physical activity of at least 3000 MET-min/wk and CAC of at least 100 AU, mean (SD) CAC level was 807 (1120) AU. After a mean (SD) follow-up of 10.4 (4.3) years, 759 all-cause and 180 CVD deaths occurred, including 40 all-cause and 10 CVD deaths among those with physical activity of at least 3000 MET-min/wk. Men with CAC of less than 100 AU and physical activity of at least 3000 MET-min/wk were about half as likely to die compared with men with less than 1500 MET-min/wk (hazard ratio [HR], 0.52; 95% CI, 0.29-0.91). In the group with CAC of at least 100 AU, men with at least 3000 MET-min/wk did not have a significant increase in all-cause mortality (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.52-1.15) when compared with men with physical activity of less than 1500 MET-min/wk. In the least active men, those with CAC of at least 100 AU were twice as likely to die of CVD compared with those with CAC of less than 100 AU (HR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.34-2.78).

Conclusions and Relevance:  This study suggests there is evidence that high levels of physical activity (?3000 MET-min/wk) are associated with prevalent CAC but are not associated with increased all-cause or CVD mortality after a decade of follow-up, even in the presence of clinically significant CAC levels.



Dems reacted to Trump's economic achievements with stone faces and eye rolls - Will they ever grow up?

I've never seen a group of Washington lawmakers visibly upset to hear that America is back at work. But Tuesday night, I watched in genuine confusion and disappointment as Democrats scowled, eye-rolled, head-shook, and grumbled at President Trump's economic remarks during the State of the Union address.

Particularly striking were the dozens of Democratic women newly-elected to the House and Senate, donning white outfits to "unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century." So-called progressives love a good symbolic gesture.

President Trump took a big victory lap on the economy, and it was well-deserved. Since Trump took office, more than 5 million jobs have been created, including 600,000 manufacturing jobs. There were 304,000 new jobs created in January 2019 alone. Unemployment is at the lowest rate in almost half a century.

These numbers were met by Democrats with stone faces and eye rolls.

President Trump's pro-growth policies have raised the standard of living for real people and families. Nearly 5 million Americans have left the food stamp program since President Trump took office, with African-American and Hispanic-American poverty rates reaching record lows in 2017 at 21.2 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively.

This year's State of the Union address presented House Democrats with a choice. They can come to the table and govern like grown-ups, or they can continue to divide and destroy. They can root for Donald Trump to lose, or they can root for the American economy to win.

This progress was met by Democrats with side comments and head shakes.

There are plenty of other economic victories worth bragging about in President Trump's first term. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth exceeded 3 percent over the last four quarters and began the year at 3.4 percent. For the first time in 65 years, the U.S. has become a net exporter of energy.

The "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" will save American households an average of $1,200 per year on their taxes. Businesses across the country will benefit from Trump eliminating 22 regulations for every new one created in 2017, and 12 regulations for every new one created in 2018.

If the economic victories of the last two years were accomplished by President Obama, without a doubt, these Democratic eye rolls would have been applause lines, and likely standing ovations.

This year's State of the Union address presented House Democrats with a choice. They can come to the table and govern like grown-ups, or they can continue to divide and destroy. They can root for Donald Trump to lose, or they can root for the American economy to win.

President Trump finally broke the ice with the "Women in White" when he mentioned there are more women in the workforce and serving in Congress than ever before.

Apparently, the only jobs the rising generation of Democrats believe are worth applauding for are their own.



Democrats continue pushing huge voting `reform' bill. Chip Roy says it reeks of swamp

Fortunately it is just another reality-deprived Leftist fantasy.  How do they think they will get it pass the Republican Senate, let alone Presidemt Trump?

House Democrats continued pushing their far-reaching voting reform bill during an Oversight and Reform Committee hearing Wednesday while Republican committee members said the legislation would only perpetuate the Washington, D.C., swamp.

The nearly 600-page "For The People Act," also known as House Resolution 1, contains numerous proposals including restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their prison sentences, same-day voter registration and a public matching system for small-donor campaign contributions.

"One question that I would be asking as we look into all this is why are we so divided as a nation? I would suggest to you in significant part it is because we try to govern from Washington 320 to 330 million people with solutions here from the swamp, in direct contradiction to the very republic our founders gave us," Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy said during the hearing Wednesday.

"Now we want to extend into every aspect of every issue of voting, issues that are supposed to be left to the states, so that the people in the states can decide who they want to send to Washington," Roy continued. "We would undermine the very structure and the core of this government further if we pursue this path down HR1."

HR1 was introduced on Jan. 3, and two committees have held hearings on it already, with another hearing by a House Ways and Means subcommittee set for Thursday. It's not expected to pass the House until February is over.

HR1 likely won't get much further than that. The Senate is not expected to look at the bill at all because Republicans consider it a "power grab," in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, reported Roll Call.

HR1 was introduced by Democratic Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, who has said it will "strengthen our democracy and return political power to the people by making it easier, not harder, to vote, ending the dominance of big money in our politics and ensuring that public officials actually serve the public."

Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the committee's ranking member, questioned Democrats' motive in drafting the bill during Wednesday's hearing.

"There's much that can be done to improve the functioning of transparency and effectiveness in the federal government," he said. "However, this 571-page bill reads more like a wish list for the Democratic Party than an honest attempt at reform. I fear this legislation is a sign our friends in the majority want to play games, engage in political theater to start this Congress, rather than use this time to work constructively to find solutions for hardworking Americans that sent us here."

HR1 could take reforms that some states have implemented and make them nationwide, and that's what concerned the Republicans at the hearing. For example, Florida voters restored voting rights to nearly 1.5 million convicted felons in a referendum in November.



Fact-Checking the Leftmedia

Media outlets already don't separate news from opinion, and "fact-checkers" are the worst offenders.

One of the primary responsibilities of the news media in our republic is to keep elected officials honest - to investigate and expose malfeasance and corruption and shine the light of truth on those who would abuse their power and betray the public trust. To carry out this charge, though, journalists need to be nonpartisan and dispassionate of everything except the welfare of the citizenry. They also need to be informed, curious, and willing to go the extra mile for the truth.

Our modern news media has failed spectacularly in this regard.

There is debate about why the media today is one of the most distrusted establishments in America. Some blame the corporatization of the news media. Others fault academia for churning out brainwashed leftist mouthpieces disguised as journalists. Everyone seems to blame social media to some degree.

Whatever the cause, and all the above reasons surely play some role, today's news media has proven itself to be out of synch with the needs of the American public and totally incapable of doing the job the public expects. To be sure, there are some individual reporters and some news outlets that are doing good, or at least better, journalistic work. Unfortunately, these are too few and far between to save the downward spiral of American journalism as an institution.

The liberal bent of the news media was an open secret for decades, becoming more pronounced in the 1990s when acolytes of Bill and Hillary Clinton repeatedly turned a blind eye to his sexual indiscretions and their downright illegal dealings. The sheer leftward tilt of the media grew worse, to the point that Barack Obama was treated like a leftist messiah in the news while his "scandal free" administration committed untold numerous unconstitutional actions.

Now that Donald Trump is president, the news media has completely, and in some cases admittedly, jettisoned any pretense of impartiality. Over the last 15 years, we've seen the rise of "fact-checkers," stand-alone websites or bureaus within existing news outlets that "check" statements made by public figures for falsehoods. They've gone into hyperdrive with Trump.

But these fact-checking sites are a complete fraud. Many of those that claim to be independent are backed by Leftmedia organizations, and for some reason, rarely seem to get around to fact-checking statements made by Democrats. When they do, Democrats mysteriously rank higher with the truth in their view. Gee, who'd have thunk it?

Rest assured that Trump's State of the Union Address was given the full "fact-check" treatment. The problem that the Leftmedia had to get around was that Trump gave a good speech that was well received by the overwhelming majority of the public. It was also relatively free of Trump's typical hyperbole and misleading details. Media propagandists had to find new ways to bend the outcome to their will.

Trump was attacked by Politico for claiming that one in three women, or 33%, are sexually assaulted while trying to come to the U.S. illegally. The actual figure was 31%. The New York Times claimed that Trump's statement that illegal border crossings presented an urgent national crisis was false because illegal border crossings have decreased. This basically means that because the Times does not agree with Trump's assessment of the situation, then he is "wrong." NPR also went out of its way to state that Trump's praise of the high number of women in Congress was thanks to Democrats, not Trump or the Republicans. Trump never took credit for the fact; NPR just wanted to make sure that the public was aware of it.

The media's long and twisted lists of fact-checks of Trump's speech did not sway public opinion. That's supposed to be the job of opinion columnists, not reporters. But with major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, it's virtually impossible these days to tell what's an op-ed and what's supposed to be news.

Today's news media doesn't much care about that, though. Outlets are so eager to print stories that demean Trump and anyone who supports him that they will publish anything. Corroborating facts, confirming statements, and using reliable sources are techniques for squares in today's world. The media repeatedly pushes stories with great fanfare that soon die quiet deaths because they were nothingburgers that didn't hold up to greater scrutiny.

Michael Cohen's lie to Congress about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow? Nope. That man who was stalking Stormy Daniels? Zilch. All those women that Brett Kavanaugh supposedly assaulted in college? Nada.

But the headlines took hold in the public consciousness, even if they had to later be retracted. Well, retraction and correction is another journalistic tool that went the way of the typewriter. Nowadays, the media just stops talking about screw ups and hopes that they go away.

Fortunately, things might be changing. Parents of the unjustly maligned Covington students are preparing a major lawsuit against media outlets and celebrities who made horrible accusations against Nicholas Sandmann and his fellow classmates. The parents are also accusing Google and Facebook of playing a role in the defamation of their children.

Social-media outlets have tried to steer clear of being considered news organizations, claiming that they merely share information from point to point. While they sure don't mind censoring that information to make sure only leftist points of view get good play, they don't want to be legally responsible for the content they spread. So far, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms have been able to have it both ways.

The media claims repeatedly that it's under attack by Trump, but the trouble started long before he entered the Oval Office. Things started going downhill when news outlets stopped caring about the truth and started focusing on results - the chief result being supporting the leftist agenda. Any dangers that the media faces today are of its own making.




Wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. And radio operates exactly the same way. The only difference is that there is no cat.

_ Albert Einstein (explaining radio)


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 13, 2019

Does the "Far Right" exist?

The so-called "Far Right" have Leftist beliefs

A video has just gone up in which I talk about the nature of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism was my major topic of study during my academic career.  I was at one stage in the video asked about the extreme Right and The answer that I gave is that it doesn't exist.  I thought I should explain that surprising statement more.

The Left are certain sure that the extreme Right exists.  If you listen to them, you would conclude that the Left is surrounded by Far Rightists. Just about everyone who disgrees with them is either of the "Far Right" or is a "White supremacist".

When I was first called a white supremacist many years ago, I was simply puzzled by that.  I had said nothing that expressed any belief in white supremacy so why was I being called that? I eventually realized, however, that it was simply a form of abuse with no real meaning -- a bit like SoB.

I in fact am and have long been a Northeast Asian supremacist.  I am a psychometrician so know the evidence that the people of N.E. Asia (China, Korea, Japan) are on average about half a standard deviation (which is a lot) smarter than people of European ancestry.  And given the very wide range of effects that IQ has, the N.E. Asians will by the end of this century be supreme in lots of ways.  China is within sight of that already.

But Leftism comes in various flavours with some being clearly more extreme than others so why is that not also true of conservatives? But can you be extreme about not doing things? How can not doing things be extreme? That seems almost self-contradictory. But there is one way conservatives can be and are extreme. You can be extreme about governments not doing things. And that is libertarianism -- rejection of just about everything that governments do. They think that all governments should do only a tiny fraction of what they currently do. So insofar as conservatives are ever extreme they are libertarians, which is the diametric opposite of authoritarianism.

The most loved and most influential conservative leader of the 20th century knew what conservatism was about, of course. He said: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism..... The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom". And if Ronald Reagan did not know what conservatism was all about, who would?

When the Left use the term "Far Right", they are implicitly accepting the great lie that Nazism was in some sense Rightist, despite the fact that the Nazis called themselves socialists.  That big lie has in fact been the most durable bit of disinformation to come out of Sovetskaya Rossiya.  And is has been durable because postwar Leftists worldwide seized on it with gladsome hearts. So, to Leftists, "Far Right" means Nazi-like or at least racist.  And almost any mention of race or a natural community will get you called "Far Right".

So the 2017 events in Charlottesville, Virginia, gave a lot of Leftists erections:  There at last were some self-declared Rightists displaying KKK and Nazi symbols. But the KKK and the Nazis of history were Leftists so the extremists among the Charlotteville demonstrators were Leftists!  They were not Leftists in the modern sense but their views had their origin on the Left.

Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian.  As Mr Obama said to great cheers from his supporters, Leftists aim to "fundamentally transform" the society they live in.  But the rationales Leftists  use to justify their authoritarianism change over time. So the authoritarian nature of the KKK and the Nazis was part and parcel of their Leftism.  And the authoritarianism of all forms of Leftism is what conservatives oppose.

So why was the Charlottesville rally arranged under the banner of "Unite the Right"?  Before I address that, howeever, I think we initially need to make clear who was at that rally.

The great majority were Southerners who objected to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the great Southern hero who did NOT own slaves.  The Southerners were there in memory of their struggle for independence against Yankee Fascism. And they could have remembered with some bitterness the treatment the South got even after the war during "Reconstruction" -- which was very authoritarian and corrupt. There were however a quite small number of KKK and neo-Nazi supporters also among the Southerners  and the media did their best to keep their cameras focused on them. So why did those few old fashioned Leftists regard themselves as Rightists?

I will now make a small detour to explain that.  I am an instinctive libertarian so in the 60s I was already interested in what later became the main focus of my psychological research:  Authoritarianism.  So I made a point of getting to know actual Communists and Nazis.  My findings about Nazism were sufficiently interesting to gain publication in Jewish journals.  See here  and here.  So I actually know both sides of the Charlottesville confrontation rather well.  The guys I got to know were from a different time and place but the events of Charlottesville seemed very familiar to me.  And the neo-Nazi guys I knew called themselves "The Right" too.

So why did they do that?  Modern-day Leftists oppose all forms of racial and group discussion but "The Right" did NOT see any discussions about groups or races as impermissible. They in fact thought it was obvious that there are important racial differences. They were antisemitic but that also put them at odds with today's official Leftism. So they concluded that they, as opponents of Leftism, must be Rightists.

But they were not. I pointed out to them on a few occasions that Hitler described himself as a socialist so what did they make of that? They said that he was saying we should all pull together to get things done -- which is indeed what Leftists from Hitler and Mussolini to Hillary Clinton have also said. Clinton ran for President in the last election under the slogan "Stronger Together". She even wrote a book under that title. Leftists want everyone to jump when they say jump. And the whole point of the Roman Fasces was again strength in unity. So the neo-Nazis really were Leftists but didn't know it.

That may seem absurd but the entire American Left seems absurd at the moment so there is ample room for confusion about what Leftists stand for.  What they stand for can change very rapidly.  Senator Obama opposed homosexual marriage rather eloquently but President Obama endorsed it.  Was he any less Leftist for that? Leftism can be very changeable.  What it is today can be very different tomorrow.  They all want to change the society they live in but that is the only uniformity.

And Hitler's form of Leftism -- eugenics etc -- was widely shared by Leftists throughout the world in the 1930s -- and by the American Left in particular. Hitler in fact got some of his ideas from American eugenicists. See here and here and here

And the Nazi belief that there are were some significant racial differences has once again emerged among modern Leftists. The Nazis and their ilk were heavily focused on whites and so are modern Leftists. There is much talk of white evil and white privilege -- and dead white males have to be erased from memory of course. It's as racist as can be but the modern Left has become totally suffused with hate so as long as you are doing a good job of hating you are pretty much OK. Conservatives are generally not interested in race. They just wish the Left would shut up talking about it. Leftists are obsessed with group identity. Conservatives are not.

And antisemitism is once again rife on the Left -- usually under the shallow pretence of Anti-Zionism but sometimes rather openly among the British Left. Leftists have been antisemitic ever since Karl Marx, who despised Jews even though he was one. Being antisemitic is no bar to "The Right" being in fact Leftist.

So the neo-Nazis are just behind the times.  They are old-fashioned Leftists, not modern Leftists.  "The Right" or "Far Right" as Leftists conceive it does not exist. All conservatives and all extreme conservatives are diametrically opposed to authoritarianism/Leftism both old and new.

I say more about neo-Nazis here and here -- JR


Trump's approval rating among likely voters soars to his best in 23 MONTHS at 52 per cent after State of the Union address

Donald Trump's job approval rating among likely U.S. voters hit 52 per cent on Monday in a daily tracking poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, the polling organization he uses most frequently to promote himself.

That number is his highest since March 6, 2017, less than seven weeks after he took office. It has been even longer since Trump's 'strongly approve' and 'strongly disapprove' numbers weren't under water. They were even at 39 per cent on Monday.

Overall, 47 per cent of likely voters disapprove of Trump's Oval Office performance. That's a low water mark since November 2, 2018.

Monday's numbers came from surveys conducted during the three weekdays following the president's State of the Union address.  It's not unusual for presidents to get a polling 'bump' after the high-profile annual address.

Trump could use the groundswell now more than ever: A Friday deadline looms for the White House and congressional Democrats to hash out a budget deal to avoid a second government shutdown.

Asked what Monday's numbers mean, a senior Democratic House aide confided on background: 'I don't know yet if it's horrible, but it sure isn't good.'

The White House, however, seemed pleased. Trump himself tweeted an image of this story at the top of The Drudge Report, an influential news aggregation website.



Government (-driven) shutdowns have human consequences

Too many government regulators burden and shut down private sector businesses and jobs

Paul Driessen

Many observers praised President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech. Some said it was his best ever and even as one of the best SOTU speeches in history. It celebrated the nation’s progress, extolled its opportunities and sought bipartisan unity. A CBS poll found that 30% of Democrats, 82% of Independents and 97% of Republicans gave the speech positive reviews.

As has become customary, the President invited several guests to join him in the House gallery, including two elderly Jews: Herman Zeitchik, who landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, and Joshua Kaufman, whom Corporal Zeitchik helped liberate from the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945.

Members of Congress also invited guests. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), invited an Environmental Protection Agency scientist who had been featured in a local newspaper article about Virginia leaders and organizations that tried to help federal workers during the recent shutdown.

Families like this “are committed to public service and just want to serve their country. They shouldn’t be held hostage by the President during a government shutdown,” Mr. Connolly said. “We all recognize the importance of border security, but I’m disappointed to see the suffering of federal employees and their families being used for political gain,” the EPA employee added.

These are understandable sentiments. Government shutdowns certainly have human consequences.

However, even though Mr. Trump “took ownership” of the recent 35-day federal shutdown, to suggest that intransigent Democrats had no responsibility for it or the consequences is disingenuous to the core. So is any suggestion that Dems and fed workers weren’t using the suffering for their own political gain.

In the same vein, community efforts to help federal workers and families were certainly commendable. But federal employees quickly receive back pay for their missed paychecks. Yet I saw no stories about similar efforts to assist families of outside contractors who were also laid off – or private sector businesses and employees affected during the shutdown – none of whom will ever get any back pay.

Moreover, Team Trump took many steps to minimize fallout from the shutdown. By contrast, many Obama agencies did all they could to maximize the fallout, pain and economic dislocations during the 16-day 2013 government shutdown. To cite just one of many examples, the Obama National Park Service closed its access road to Virginia’s privately owned Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park amid the farm’s normally busiest month, costing it tens of thousands in revenues and leaving employees to suffer.

Many citizens also take issue with assertions that federal employees are committed to public service. Our military men and women and their families certainly are. They leave their families behind for months on end, repeatedly put their lives on the line, and too often die or return with life-altering injuries.

By contrast, most other federal employees have comfortable, low-stress, high-pay jobs. Nearly 92,000 of them make more than the governor in states where they work, the watchdog group points out. Too many of them use their positions to devise, impose, enforce and justify heavy-handed policies and regulations that burden or even shut down private sector businesses, kill jobs, and hammer families and communities – to drive Deep State agendas, often for limited or no benefits.

Those government shutdowns and human consequences receive little “mainstream media” attention. They were especially egregious and far-reaching during the Obama years, and yet generated few or no efforts by VA-MD-DC area leaders and communities to help workers and families whose jobs were impacted or eliminated and lives upended by ill-conceived, incompetent or even deliberate Deep State actions.

Winnipeg, Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy regularly quotes Lao Tzu, who said: “Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.” Sadly, urged onward by liberal activists and politicians, today’s U.S. government is cooking the American fish into inedible leather.

Candidate Obama promised to “bankrupt” coal mining and coal-fired electricity generating companies, and thus the families, businesses and communities that depended on them. His EPA made good on that promise, by issuing a pseudo-scientific finding that the plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide we exhale somehow “endangers” human health and the future of our planet – then using that finding and equally dubious particulate (soot) rules to justify regulations that eliminated numerous jobs. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also promised to “put a lot of coal workers and coal companies out of business.”

Tens of thousands of jobs were eliminated in Kentucky, West Virginia and other coal-reliant states, because of the Obama EPA’s war on coal and a switch to natural gas that was driven by that war, abundant and inexpensive gas produced by fracking, and attacks on utility companies financed by Michael Bloomberg and others. Retraining programs helped a few Appalachian miners find new work raising bees and making candles, lip balm and other wax products, for much lower wages.

New “renewable” energy jobs were also created, though generally not in areas where coal jobs were lost. And the number of jobs required to generate expensive, intermittent electricity from wind and solar facilities – versus cheap, reliable power from coal and gas – is simply unsustainable. In fact, producing the same amount of electricity requires one coal worker, two natural gas workers … 12 wind industry employees or 79 solar workers. Major environmental impacts from wind and solar are also ignored.

These same Obama era policies and external factors combined to threaten the demise of the Kayenta Coal Mine and Navajo Generating Station in that impoverished, high-unemployment area. Some 750 people, mostly Native Americans, work there when the facilities are operating at full tilt. The tribe also receives lease rental payments, royalties and revenues from selling the electricity. The Navajo and Hopi tribes are now trying to keep the operations going on their own, because closure is “unacceptable.”

EPA officials were also in charge of the bungled operation that unleashed a toxic flashflood from Colorado’s Gold King Mine in 2015. EPA and its media allies quickly whitewashed the disaster.

In a dress rehearsal for Bob Mueller’s jackbooted arrest of Roger Stone, 30 heavily armed SWAT team agents from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stormed into the Gibson Guitars factory in 2011, held employees at gunpoint, intimidated and interrogated them, hauled off $500,000 worth of wood and guitars – and warned the company not to touch any guitars that were left behind.

All that for the “crime” of allegedly not having proper paperwork for an exotic endangered wood. Both incidents involved more armed federal agents than were sent to take out Osama Bin Laden!

And who can forget the Russia/Ukraine-instigated FISA warrants? Or the IRS targeting, harassing, stonewalling and effectively silencing conservative political groups that might have made reelection slightly more difficult for President Obama and congressional Democrats?

Not surprisingly, not an iota of accountability was ever exacted on any perpetrators of any of these or multiple other “public service” misdeeds or abuses of power.

Far too often, it seems that federal government employees and their congressional, media and activist allies don’t really care very much about people who live beyond the boundaries of that 39,000-acre plat of land along the Potomac River. That’s what sets Donald Trump apart from Washington politicians, and why he was elected. Unfortunately, many state and local officials are guilty of similar offenses.

Too many government workers across the board seek to control virtually every aspect of our lives: from our energy, lives and living standards … to the cars we can drive and straws we can use with our beverages.

It’s nice that Gerry Connolly cares deeply about Deep State workers whose votes keep him in office. But it would be better if all elected officials and unelected government employees cared more about the American workers, families, businesses and communities that their policies, laws, regulations and enforcement actions too often affect so negatively, too often for so little benefit. Lao Tzu would agree.

Via email


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 12, 2019

The Difference in How Socialism and Free Markets Work in the Real World

Sebastian Gorka

If the future of the nation were a function of logic, then conservatives would have a very easy job.

No debate would be needed, really. In the choice between the two competing models Judeo-Christian civilization has given us, with socialist arguments for “big government” on the one side and a market-oriented system that favors the freedoms of the individual over the powers of the state on the other, there would be no contest.

In fact, it would indeed be a formal “no contest,” as only one of the models has ever been realized in the real world in which we live.

Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman may have had impeccable credentials in terms of theory, but the whole point of their work is that it occurred within the reality of functioning free markets.

The Laffer Curve was never condemned to remain locked within an ivory tower, solely to be read on the pages of a peer-reviewed journal. The ideas of these philosophical and economic greats were deployed in real time, in the real world, by democratically elected statesmen and leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

These ideas actually worked in practice. The same cannot be said of the theories of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, or Mao Zedong.

Since “The Communist Manifesto” and the later “Das Kapital” were published, nowhere on the planet has the system therein envisaged ever actually been implemented as designed.

Oh, yes, more than 40 countries as culturally diverse as the Soviet Union, Venezuela, and Vietnam have called themselves “socialist” states or said they were implementing the theories of Marx, Mao, and Lenin.

But not one of them ever achieved the vaunted goal of the “Workers’ Paradise.” Not one of these experiments ever resulted in the objective Marx declared for his theory in 1875: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Not one.

Instead, wherever socialism was tried, from Moscow to Beijing, from Havana to Pyongyang, the world witnessed the same result: oppression of the masses, power and wealth for the party nomenklatura, and most often an eventual economic collapse. This was so even in the country of communism’s birth, the Soviet Union, which imploded on Christmas Day 1991 under the weight of Marxism’s inherent contradictions.

The Conservative Response

As a result, Marxism and socialism have just remained theories, while democracy and capitalism became unbelievably vibrant realities from Great Britain to Poland, from America to Japan, from Estonia to India.

These realities have taken poor countries such as Singapore and turned them, in the space of less than two generations, into international success stories that Marx, horrified as he was by the smokestacks and exploitation of the textile mills of the Industrial Age, could never have imagined.

So how should conservatives respond to the cries of the millennials who so desperately wanted Sen. Bernie Sanders to become the 45th president, and who tell us: “What about Scandinavia and the Nordic states? What about Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, what about the socialist states of Europe that provide equality and welfare?”

Well, yes, these states value the individual over the collective, and they do provide incredibly generous welfare nets. But this has nothing to do with “command economies” or one-party states.

In fact, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has had enough of this repeated calumny of the nations of Northern Europe. During a recent speech here in the United States, he said “some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism.”

But, Rasmussen said, “I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” He added that his country is “a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

 Sound familiar?

The truth is, the Nordic and Scandinavian nations have built incredibly equitable societies with provisions for the needy because of their decidedly unsocialist history, and thanks to the free market. All of them have histories as successful capitalist economies, often based on shared centuries of mercantilist competition, with Norway additionally being one of the world’s largest exporters of oil, allowing it to fund its generous benefits.

And truth be told, the largesse that the peoples of these states have shown themselves by erecting welfare states built upon the profits of the past is straining their national coffers today, as their populations age and the costs of their welfare programs eat away at the limited taxes the state can collect. As a result, expect to hear more statements such as the one made by the Danish prime minister.

‘One More Try’

But what of the other riposte: that all of the past’s socialist “experiments” failed simply because the wrong people implemented them? The logic here being that all you need is the right “elite” to make Marx’s dream become reality, not equality to be realized.

Maybe. Or maybe not.

As Einstein taught us, systematic repetition of failure accompanied by the expectation of getting a different result is the definition of insanity. After a century of trying, with hundreds of millions of people used as guinea pigs, where is the realistic and moral justification for “just one more try?”

Most importantly, look at the facts that left-wing historians gave us in “The Black Book of Communism,” wherein they provided an accounting of all the attempts to create functioning Marxist states. The authors concluded that attempts to realize the “socialist state” led to the programmatic deaths of over 100 million human beings, from the gulags of Siberia to the killing fields of Cambodia.

As a result, one more try at Marx’s idyll would seem not only immoral, but to dishonor the memories of those killed in the name of a man-made utopia.

So how it is that the conservative argument for the American dream is still not triumphant? How is it that of all the Democrats who ran for office in the November midterm elections, more than 40 proudly declared themselves “socialists,” including the new face of the party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

And how is it that according to the latest annual poll by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a stunning 52 percent of millennials would like to live in a socialist or communist America? How is this possible?

Simple. More than ever, politics today is a function less of verities than emotional connection. A sense of authenticity over the rectitude of any suggested policy.

It is no accident that President Donald Trump was the star of his own reality TV show for 14 seasons before he ran in a presidential campaign during which he defeated 16 rivals for the GOP nomination, 14 of whom were established political names.

More importantly, as members of a philosophical community that shares the same commitment to the economic and political principles that define our view of America, we have failed utterly to understand the role of the dreaded word “narrative.”

Square One

Most Americans are apolitical and couldn’t tell you the difference between Matt Drudge and Paul Krugman. They want to be able to pay the bills at the end of the month, and to feel secure about their future and the future of their families. But even the most apolitical American citizen associates certain key characteristics with each side of the political divide.

The left is seen as having an almost monopolistic hold on compassion, on caring for those who need help the most. The right today is identified by only negatives: lack of compassion, greed, exploitative big business. Even capitalism is understood as a dirty word, redolent of cronyism and unaccountable profiteering.

For those who not only believe but know that free markets and democracy have empowered hundreds of millions of people to live freely and climb out of poverty, in fact more than any other political philosophy has ever done, we must go back to square one.

Our challenge is not one of facts and figures, but emotions, of talking in ways that connect to souls held hostage to the utopian panaceas of false prophets and idols.

The ancient Greeks who carved the foundation stones of our future civilization, who invented political philosophy, wrote almost exclusively about one thing: What is the “good?” What is a “good society,” and what makes for a “good” man or woman?

In the years since the end of the Cold War and the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have allowed the pernicious and deadly ideas of the left to become exclusively associated with the “good.”

Our job is simple but hard. We must show—not tell—our fellow Americans that the good is inextricably tied to freedom, to small government, to free markets, and to earned success, and that circumscribed lives, big government, constrained economies, and federal handouts destroy the soul and sap the life blood of healthy societies.

With his capacity to connect to the forgotten men and women of America, to the unemployed steel workers of the Rust Belt, with his ability to win over black communities in numbers we have not seen in decades, Donald Trump has opened a window for the conservative movement of the 21st century.

Now it is our job to convince fellow Americans that the principles of our Founding can provide for them better than any version of socialism ever could, that American exceptionalism is real and “good,” and that all of us can be a part of the American dream no matter who we are.



To soak the rich, keep tax rates low

by Jeff Jacoby

SOAK-THE-RICH tax schemes are in vogue on the left these days.

Democratic Party heartthrob Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a splash last month when she went on "60 Minutes" and proposed a 70 percent marginal tax rate on incomes over $10 million. "People are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes," she said.

From Senator Elizabeth Warren comes a proposal to levy an annual wealth tax on the net worth of American households with more than $50 million in assets. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has drafted a proposal to sharply increase the federal estate tax, imposing a top rate of 77 percent on estates worth more than $1 billion.

The details of these plans differ. But all of them are premised on the belief that wealthy Americans don't pay an equitable share of the tax burden, and that a more progressive tax code will not only be fairer but also raise more revenue.

For some politicians, taxing the wealthy more harshly seems as much a matter of retribution as of fiscal policy. "The rich & powerful run Washington," tweeted Warren as she released her tax plan. "It's a system that's rigged for the top if I ever saw one." Sanders routinely inveighs against "the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations, and the influence of the global billionaire class."

Americans have traditionally been cool to such overt class-war rhetoric, but maybe that's changing. Recent polls show broad support for raising tax rates on the very wealthy. A Hill-HarrisX survey in January found that nearly 6 in 10 registered voters favored raising the top income-tax rate to 70 percent. Strong majorities of Democrats (71 percent) and Independents (60 percent) backed the idea, and even 45 percent of Republicans expressed support. Other surveys have yielded comparable results, as Politico reported in a story headlined "Soak the rich? Americans say go for it."

Yet however popular it may be to claim that millionaires and billionaires don't shoulder their share of the tax burden, it isn't true. The federal income tax is highly progressive. The ultra-wealthy not only pay far more than their fair share in taxes, but the portion of the tax burden they shoulder has grown significantly in recent decades.

Each year the Internal Revenue Service releases voluminous data on American taxpayers, sorting scores of millions of tax filers by adjusted gross income and share of income taxes paid. Each year the data confirm that while those at the top of the hill reap an outsize portion of the nation's income, they pay an even more outsize portion of the nation's taxes.

Thus, in 2016, the top 1 percent of taxpayers earned 19.7 percent of all the income — more than $10 trillion — reported to the IRS. To put that in raw numbers, 1.4 million taxpayers (out of 141 million) reported $2 trillion in income (out of a $10.2 trillion total). But the top 1 percent didn't pay 19.7 percent of federal income taxes. They paid 37.3 percent. In other words, while they earned somewhat less than one-fifth of all reported income, those in the 1 percent contributed somewhat more than one-third of all income taxes. According to the Tax Foundation, the top 1 percent paid roughly $538 billion in income taxes, considerably more than the $440 billion in income taxes paid by the bottom 90 percent.

For the "tippy top" — the wealthiest one-10th of 1 percent — the disproportion is comparable. In 2016, the uppermost 0.1 percent of taxpayers earned 9.5 percent of all income, yet they paid more than 18 percent of all income taxes.

By any definition, America has a progressive tax system.

Could it be made more progressive? On paper, sure. Hiking the top marginal tax rate from the current 37 percent to the 70 percent urged by Ocasio-Cortez would represent a dramatic increase in progressivity. Even more dramatic would be to push the highest rate above 90 percent, where it used to be when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House.

Liberals are fond of pointing out how much higher tax rates used to be. Unfortunately for AOC, Warren, et al., dramatically higher tax rates at the top didn't result in dramatically higher tax revenues flowing to the Treasury. Throughout the 1950s, the effective tax rate paid by the "tippy top" was about 21 percent, barely more than the 19.7 percent paid in 2016. Wealthy taxpayers have many wholly lawful ways to avoid exorbitant tax rates, and routinely control the timing and content of their income to avoid them.

More to the point, there is an inverse relationship between marginal tax rates and the tax burden on the rich. As a rule, the lower the rates, the more the wealthy pay. It may seem counterintuitive, but experience has shown again and again that the best way to "soak the rich" is to keep marginal rates low. When Ike was president, tax rates were indeed sky-high. Tax revenues weren't. It was only after Reagan came along and chopped the top tax rate to 28 percent, however, that dollars came gushing in to the IRS. Class-war strategists may chafe at that, but it's the way the world works.



Cuomo announces income tax revenues have dropped by $2.3B

Reality strikes even a Leftist sometimes: “God forbid if the rich leave”, he says. Boca Raton calls

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that state income tax revenues plummeted by $2.3 billion since he introduced his new budget plan last month — a bombshell that will force him to curb spending.

Cuomo attributed the revenue drop in December and January largely to the new federal tax code, as well as volatility in the stock market and other uncertainties.

“That’s a $2.3 billion drop in revenues. That’s as serious as a heart attack. This is worse than we had anticipated,” the governor said in Albany. “This reduction must be addressed in this year’s budget.”

In a rare joint appearance with Cuomo, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli confirmed the deteriorating finances. “This is the most serious revenue shock the state has faced in many years,” he said. He urged Cuomo and the Legislature to sock more money away in the state’s rainy day fund to prepare for the worst.

Cuomo had planned to spend $176 billion — including about $100 billion in federal funds — in the new fiscal year that starts on April 1.

Cuomo’s preliminary analysis claims much of the impact is coming from a drop in revenues from the state’s highest income earners most impacted by the loss of write-offs of state and local tax deductions, known as SALT. The federal law approved by President Trump and the then-GOP controlled Congress limited SALT deductions to $10,000.

The loss of revenue from New York’s wealthiest puts New York in a bind because the state relies on a progressive income tax system that taxes the rich at a higher rate. One percent of the state’s top income earners provide 46 percent of the state’s personal income tax revenues, officials said.

Cuomo said Albany can’t go to the well and tax the wealthy again because that would only worsen the situation, citing “anecdotal” evidence that high-income New Yorkers are already fleeing the state to lower-tax jurisdictions. He offered no figures to back up the claim.

“I don’t believe raising taxes on the rich. That would be the worst thing to do. You would just expand the shortfall,” he said. “God forbid if the rich leave.”



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 11, 2019

Cuts to Regulation Are Bringing Back Jobs

The points below are from an analysis of the SOTU speech

Compared to previous speeches, President Donald Trump did not outline new regulatory reform goals. However, he did briefly note that the “administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure.”

As a result, he added, “Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers.”

The administration has indeed taken important steps to rein in agencies’ rulemaking. It issued 65 percent fewer “economically significant” rules—those with costs to the private sector that exceed $100 million a year—than the Obama administration, and 51 percent fewer than the Bush administration, after 22 months in office.

The White House is also pursuing rollbacks of the Obama administration’s costliest and unwarranted rules. But regulatory repeal is a laborious process that may take years—especially given the never-ending legal challenges pursued by regulatory proponents.

The No. 1 thing the administration must do is stop internet regulation. Further innovation is key to economic growth and national security, and both will be stymied if the statists get a regulatory foothold. If Trump pursues no other regulatory reform, preventing internet regulations would be enough.

The second priority would be to demand that any new regulatory statute has a hard expiration deadline. That’s needed to halt the cumulative regulatory burden and force agencies (and Congress) to review the necessity for regulations.

The White House cannot accomplish all the necessary reforms unilaterally. Congress must do much more to eliminate unnecessary regulation and curtail agency overreach.

Congress could do a great deal more to advance reform by exercising a bit of political will, including eliminating funding for regulatory programs that lack actual statutory authority or those that have failed to achieve the intended results. Lawmakers must also institute expiration dates for funding of regulatory initiatives to reduce the cumulative burden of regulation.

The 50-member staff of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs who review agency rulemaking is badly outnumbered by the hundreds of thousands of regulators who labor daily crafting rules. Congress should expand the resources of the office to improve regulatory oversight, as well as assert more of its own authority over runaway regulation.



FTC is helping China and shafting Americans

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging the Federal Trade Commission to immediately settle a lawsuit against Qualcomm over the collection of agreed upon fees for use of its intellectual property:

“It is ironic that the Trump Administration has staked out the protection of intellectual property as a primary concern in our trade relations with China, yet, the Federal Trade Commission is suing San Diego based Qualcomm to break its licensing agreements for intellectual property that Apple has tired of paying for, even though they continue to benefit from that technology.  It is shocking however, that the FTC has used the Chinese megafirm Huawei as one of its key witnesses opposing Qualcomm’s licenses.  Apparently, the FTC does not realize or care that the licensing agreements for past technological innovations are what pays for Qualcomm’s research in creating the chips for the 5G future, and that Huawei is their number one competitor.  The FTC suit would effectively cripple the only U.S. company who is competing in developing the Internet of Things to the lasting detriment of the interests of the United States.

“While the FTC is an independent government body, their case is a disaster for American interests and they need to settle it now before more harm is done.  Policy makers from across the political spectrum need to understand that the race for the future of the connected world is at stake and Chinese control of every aspect of the Internet of Things is extremely dangerous.  All Qualcomm seems to be asking is that they be allowed to collect fees which were agreed upon by business partners which wanted to use innovations which they developed.  This is the essence of intellectual property. It is also how U.S. businesses should run, relying upon their own ingenuity and productivity to profit rather than relying upon government handouts and lawfare.

“The FTC is reportedly in long overdue settlement talks with Qualcomm.  The FTC should settle this lawsuit immediately and end its attack on the only company positioned to prevent the Chinese from running roughshod over the Internet of the future.”



How Trump can curb government over-reach

Families and small businesses would benefit from transparency by federal regulators

Our nation alone was founded on the proposition that We the People should govern ourselves. That is why conservatives object to unelected bureaucrats enacting rules without the consent of the people. Fortunately, with the simple stroke of a pen, President Trump has the ability to restore power to citizens and make the regulatory morass less economically burdensome.

By signing an executive order to force federal agencies to be transparent with their studies and data, he could add to his excellent deregulatory legacy and unshackle manufacturers and industries so they can contribute more to our nation’s economic growth.

The cost of federal regulations is obnoxiously high and directly impacts the pocketbooks of all Americans to the tune of almost $2 trillion a year — nearly a tenth of America’s gross domestic product. The highly respected Mercatus Center has shown that these costs also result in a massive drag on economic growth, further harming jobs and families.

Huge drivers of these costs are bad rules based on questionable — and concealed — evidence. Unsound or unreproducible scientific research hidden from policymakers, the public and scientific peers has been used by regulators with personal agendas to promulgate unsupported environmental and other rules that harm the economy and impede progress.

Members of both parties agree: Better government is built on sound and open data. This is one way to empower citizens and ensure that new rules meet their needs without unnecessary costs.

A bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was formed to implement a bipartisan bill increasing policymakers’ access to data. And Mr. Trump — who has implemented far-reaching regulatory reform efforts — has also weighed in on data transparency with an executive order requiring agencies to identify existing regulations that “rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility.”

But to ensure truly responsible and transparent standards for all regulation, we need access to scientific data for newly proposed regulations as well as for those regulations not yet finalized. That’s why the American Conservative Union is leading an effort — supported by many other conservative organizations and business groups — seeking a further executive order to provide for CLEAR Data — which stands for “Clarifying the Law on Evidentiary Access for Regulation.”

If Congress is too slow to restore citizen government to promote innovation and individual freedom, the president should use his authority through executive order. It is abundantly clear that Democrats in the House are not willing to work with this president. So with the stroke of a pen, the president could make transparency uniform across government.

A piecemeal approach with each agency pursuing its own agenda would produce terrible results. An even worse outcome is certain if career bureaucrats are allowed to work in secret to keep their pet regulations hidden from an agency process intended to address CLEAR Data initiatives.

The executive order should apply to scientific data key accountability principles included in CEP’s recommendations:

Transparency. CEP concluded: “Those engaged in generating and using data and evidence should (provide) meaningful channels for public input and comment and ensure that evidence produced is made publicly available.” Our proposed effort would call for data used to justify regulation to be identified and made sufficiently available to test, authenticate and reproduce the findings. And, importantly, it should apply to all regulations currently in the pipeline and under review.

Rigor. “Evidence should be developed using well-designed and well-implemented methods tailored to the questions being asked.” We would call for science-based regulation to be based on peer-reviewed studies — the standard in probity and reliability.

Privacy. “Individual privacy and confidentiality must be respected in the generation and use of data and evidence.” We want to ensure that agencies avoid unauthorized disclosure of personal data and trade secrets while allowing other researchers to judge the validity of the conclusions evidence is cited to support.

Humility. CEP suggested that “Care should be taken not to over-generalize from findings that may be specific to a particular study or context.” The ultimate form of humility is accountability — best advanced through an executive order whose provisions on disclosure of research and underlying data.

We couldn’t agree more with the commission’s exhortation: “Whether deciding on funding allocations (or) assessing proposed regulations evidence should play an important role in key decisions made by government officials . to make sure our government’s decision-making process is among the best in the world.”

In other words: To ensure better decision-making and more accountable regulation — at a time when the economic stakes couldn’t be higher for small businesses and working families — we need CLEAR Data that is fully disclosed, high-quality and reproducible, with means in place to protect privacy.



92,000 Federal Bureaucrats Earn More Than...

Democrats want raises for all government workers. But do they already make too much? 

The House voted recently to provide a 2.6% across-the-board pay raise for federal workers. Speaking in favor of the legislation, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) argued, “Our federal civil servants are like any other workforce. More than 900,000 of those federal employees earn less than $60,000 a year. They are not rich. They are not living high on the hog. They deserve and need this adjustment, especially after the longest, most reckless shutdown of the government in American history.”

What Connolly said of federal workers is often true. But it’s also often not. Pushing back against Connolly’s assertion, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) noted the obvious irony: “Think about what this bill says. All of those hard-working taxpayers in the private sector, hey, you are already making less, but now you are going to have more of your tax dollars go to pay people — who are already making more money than you — to get a raise. How is that fair?”

Backing Jordan’s argument are last year’s federal workers’ salary numbers, provided by the Congressional Research Service. One statistic that is quite illuminating shows that 92,000 federal bureaucrats earn as much of more than the governor of the state where they work. For example, 1,000 clerical workers in Alabama made $120,000 in salary; in Ohio, 333 made nearly $149,000; in Maryland 3,561 made at least $170,000. And the list goes on.

Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of the government accountability website, pointedly asks, “When public affairs staffers in Alabama are out-earning their governor, it’s time for Congress to hold hearings regarding the proper pay levels for federal employees. How can [thousands of] general administrators, clerks and office service staffers make as much as a governor?”

The House voted 259-161 in approving the salary raises, with 29 Republicans siding with every Democrat.



San Francisco’s Liberal Policies Have Made It a Slum

San Francisco is one of the richest cities it the world. It’s given us music, technology, and elegant architecture. Now it gives us filthy homeless encampments.

One urban planner told me, “I just returned from the Tenderloin [a section of San Francisco]. It’s worse than slums of India, Haiti, Africa!”

So I went to San Francisco to make a video about that. I’ve never seen slums in Africa, but I’ve seen them in Haiti and India.

What I saw in San Francisco looked similar. As one local resident put it, “There’s s— everywhere. It’s just a mess out here.”

There’s also lots of mental illness. One man told us, “Vampires are real. I’m paranoid as hell.” San Francisco authorities mostly leave the mentally ill to fend for themselves on the street.

Other vagrants complain about them. “They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign,” one beggar told us.

San Francisco is a pretty good place to “hang out with a sign.” People are rarely arrested for vagrancy, aggressive panhandling, or going to the bathroom in front of people’s homes. In 2015, there were 60,491 complaints to police, but only 125 people were arrested.

Public drug use is generally ignored. One woman told us, “It’s nasty seeing people shoot up—right in front of you. Police don’t do anything about it! They’ll get somebody for drinking a beer but walk right past people using needles.”

Each day in San Francisco, an average of 85 cars are broken into.  “Inside Edition” ran a test to see how long stereo equipment would last in a parked car. Its test car was quickly broken into. Then the camera crew discovered that its own car had been busted into as well.

Some store owners hire private police to protect their stores. But San Francisco’s police union has complained about the competition. Now there are only a dozen private cops left, and street people dominate neighborhoods.

We followed one private cop, who asked street people, “Do you need any type of homeless outreach services?” Most say no. “They love the freedom of not having to follow the rules,” said the cop.

And San Francisco is generous. It offers street people food stamps, free shelter, train tickets, and $70 a month in cash.  “They’re always offering resources,” one man dressed as Santa told us. “San Francisco’s just a good place to hang out.” So every week, new people arrive.

Some residents want the city to get tougher with people living on the streets. “Get them to the point where they have to make a decision between jail and rehab,” one told us. “Other cities do it, but for some reason, San Francisco doesn’t have the political will.”

For decades, San Francisco’s politicians promised to fix the homeless problem. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein was mayor, she proudly announced that she was putting the homeless in hotels: “A thousand units, right here in the Tenderloin!”

When California Gov. Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he bragged, “We have already moved 6,860 human beings.” Last year, former Mayor Mark Farrell said, “We need to fund programs like Homeward Bound.”

But the extra funding hasn’t worked. One reason is that even if someone did want to get off the street and rent an apartment, there aren’t many available.

San Francisco is filled with two- and three-story buildings, and in most neighborhoods, putting up a taller building is illegal. Even where zoning laws allow it, California regulations make construction so difficult that many builders won’t even try.

For years, developer John Dennis has been trying to convert an old meatpacking plant into an apartment building—but it has taken him four years just to get permission to build.

“And all that time, we’re paying property taxes and paying for maintenance,” says Dennis. “I will do no more projects in San Francisco.”

People in San Francisco often claim to be concerned about helping the poor. But their many laws make life much tougher for the poor.



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 10, 2019

Michael Moore: 'Americans Have Always Supported ‘Socialist’ Ideas'

There is an element of truth in what Moore says. Libertarians too think modern-day America is thoroughly Fascist.  And the founding fathers were such devout Communists that a third of them had to die before they went back to private property.  I will not revisit it here but I did put up a few years ago a discussion of the Leftist influence in American history.  See here, here and here.

And Trump is almost single-handedly waging a war on the Leftism that has become deeply embedded in American life.  Even SCOTUS and the Republican Senate obstruct him at times.  And the two years of Republican dominance of both houses gave him precisely nothing towards his chief goal of immigration reform.  He seems to be the last barrier against a wave of Leftism that has been sweeping across America for a long time now.  When he goes will the Leftist creep resume?  One hopes not but it is only a hope. The Donks have swung so far Left that the prospect of them replacing Trump is very disquieting indeed.

But Moore does the typical Leftist trick of speaking in all or none terms.  Like lots else, Leftism can come in various strengths. And America is not as heavily regulated as the EU, though Obama was working on that.  And America's health care system has much more scope for private medicine than Britain does.

So, taking Trump in context, what he was saying is that America will resist any further encroachment of socialism.  One hopes he is right

“Ha!,” activist filmmaker Michael Moore reacted after President Donald Trump promised in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that the U.S. will never become a socialist nation.

On Wednesday, Moore tweeted that it was a “great victory” that a “scared Trump” made the claim, given that Americans always favored socialist principles:

“A great victory for the majority of Americans when a scared Trump declared: "America will never be a socialist country!” Ha! The last gasp of The Greed Class! The truth: from social security to Medicare to libraries & pub schools, Americans have always supported "socialist" ideas”

In his tweet, Moore posted a video arguing that America is already a socialist country that supports things like abortion, homosexuality, drug use, universal health care and “free” goods and services:

In his State of the Union address, Trump said, "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country" - which drew cheers of "U.S.A!" from the audience.

A transcript of Moore's video appears below:

“Let me share with you a fact that has never been stated in the press, or reported on the nightly news, or even spoken amongst ourselves: the United States of America is a leftist country.

“That’s right: we are one rocking, sh*t-kicking, gay-loving, gun-rejecting, race-mixing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, hip-hopping, anywhere breast-feeding, quinoa-cooking, left-leaning liberal nation.

“Here are the facts: the vast majority of Americans are pro-choice. They want equal pay for women, stronger environmental laws, legalized marijuana, a raise in the minimum wage, Medicare for all, tuition-free college, free child care, support for labor unions, a cut in the military budget, breakup of big banks. Most Americans don’t even own a gun. And, seventy-five percent believe immigration is good for the U.S. And, on and on and on.

“Heck, Texas isn’t even white, anymore. Houston had a lesbian mayor. When you think Texas, you need to think lesbian.

“The values they stood for in the 60’s and 70’s are now the beliefs of this great land.

“Those crazy mother-f**kers have won. And, I love the smell of essential oils in the morning.”



Fauxcohontas document: Elizabeth Warren sunk

A lust for power founders on a rock of dishonesty

This new document should finish off her political career. Senator Elizabeth Warren, now vying for the Democrat nomination for president, was a white, middle-class lawyer when she described herself as an "American Indian" in her own hand-writing when registering for the Texas Bar.

James Robbins:

The latest evidence against her should spell the end of her presidential ambitions.

Sen. Warren’s discredited story of Indian ancestry has made her an object of ridicule coming from President Donald Trump, who dubbed her “Pocahontas,” and conservatives generally who prefer the more pointed “Fauxcahontas.” Liberals seem to have been willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, seemingly accepting each new explanation for her shifting story of how and why she was mistaken for a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Warren’s 1986 registration card for the State Bar of Texas could put an end to all that. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the signed document in which she wrote that her race was “American Indian.” This supports the two critical charges against her: that she knowingly and personally claimed Native American heritage, and that she did so for the purpose of career advancement.

Warren's link to American Indian identity, according to a DNA test, could amount to no more than one Indian ancestor 10 generations ago, when 1023 other of her ancestors in that generation were white.



Senate Republicans reveal new rules to speed approval of Trump nominees

Republican senators unveiled a new set of chamber rules Wednesday that would allow them to speed President Trump’s nominees through on an expedited basis, limiting Democrats’ ability to slow-walk the process and throttle the number of candidates who can be confirmed.

The proposal, written by Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt and Sen. James Lankford, would reduce the maximum debate time after a filibuster has been defeated from 30 hours to two hours for most nominees.

Republicans have chafed as Democrats have used the filibuster to slow-walk hundreds of Trump nominees, forcing the Senate to spend months of floor time to get the candidates into their jobs.

The issue is about to become acute. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve 40 judicial picks this week, creating a glut of new nominations headed to the floor.

Under current rules, at 30 hours of debate per nominee, the Senate can confirm perhaps five per week — meaning it would take eight weeks of floor time to go through the judgeships with no other major action intervening. That doesn’t include hundreds of other nominees who will soon be stacked up.

The new rules first will be debated in Mr. Blunt’s committee. “We are likely to have a mark up on that within the next week,” Mr. Blunt, Missouri Republican, told The Washington Times.

The GOP could push the rules through committee on a majority vote, but it would take a supermajority to win approval on the floor.

Democrats, who six years ago supported shorter time frames for nominees under President Obama, are now more reluctant under Mr. Trump.

“We are going to go through the committee to see if there is bipartisan support for it. I hope we do it that way, but if we can’t just because people want to slow us down and drag their feet and prevent the president form filling these nominations, then I’d be willing to consider alternatives,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.

The chief alternative would be to trigger the “nuclear option,” a shortcut that involves reinterpreting the rules. That can be done on a majority vote — though it’s a deeply controversial move that can undermine cooperation in a chamber that relies on comity.

Democrats used the supermajority in 2013 to cut the number of votes needed to overcome a filibuster on most nominees from 60 to a simple majority, and Republicans in 2017 used the nuclear option to extend the majority-filibuster threshold to Supreme Court nominees.

Mr. Lankford, who has been reaching out to Democrats on his proposal, said some of them may think they’ll win back the White House in 2020 and figure it’s better to change the rules now so they can avoid the sort of obstruction they have mounted against Mr. Trump. “There is more of a sense of ‘we probably should stop this game,’” Mr. Lankford said.

His proposal would still leave a 30-hour time frame in place for Supreme Court and circuit court nominees and Cabinet-level posts in the executive branch. But district court nominees and lower-level administrative posts would only face two hours of debate.

Republicans say the rules changes are needed because of Democrats’ unprecedented level of resistance to Mr. Trump’s nominees.

GOP leaders over the last two years had to move to head off a potential filibuster on 148 of Mr. Trump’s nominees. In the last two years of Mr. Obama’s tenure, just two nominees needed to overcome filibuster tests.



Utopian Dreams, Dystopian Realities

Democrats want to punish the wealthy just for daring to have more money than others.   

“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” —Donald Trump from his State of the Union address

It’s going to take a lot of resolve. The politics of class warfare, long cultivated by our school system and the media, have apparently taken root. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, a whopping 76% of registered voters believe the rich should pay more in taxes. A Fox News survey reveals a similar sentiment, with 70% of Americans in favor of raising taxes on those earning over $10 million.

“There is a deep wellspring in terms of perception of unfairness in the economy that’s been tapped into here that either didn’t exist five years ago or existed and had not had a chance to be expressed,” asserts Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management “This is quite a moment in American economic history where all of a sudden in a matter of months this thing has kind of exploded like this.”

Columnist Karol Markowicz states it far more succinctly. “Watch out, America: Democrats’ class warfare is back with a vengeance,” she writes. “Your money belongs to them to redistribute as they see fit.”

Freshman House representative and media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s desire to impose a 70% marginal rate on income over the $10 million mark was well received by 59% of respondents to a recent Hill/HarrisX poll. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax,” which would levy a 2% tax on those with a net worth over $50 million, and 3% on those worth over $1 billion, was supported by 61% of the 1,993 registered voters queried by the Politico/Morning Consult poll.

There’s a reason wealth tax is in quotations in the preceding paragraph. That’s because what Warren is proposing isn’t a tax, but outright wealth confiscation that tramples the 16th Amendment’s authorization of Congress to “lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” (Emphasis added).

Warren wants to confiscate pre-existing wealth — on an annual basis, no less. Thus, those with assets of $50,000 would automatically pay $1 million per year to the government and those with assets of $1 billion would automatically fork over $30 million per year, even if their annual earnings were zero.

Freshman Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar is also aboard the bash-the-rich bandwagon. She’s proposing a 90% tax. “We don’t have a problem of scarcity, really,” she insists. “What we have is a problem of moral courage.”

Socialist Bernie Sanders is after inheritances. He’s proposing a bill that would levy a 45% tax on the value of an estate between $3.5 million and $10 million, and a 50% tax on the value of an estate between $10 million and $50 million. “From a moral, economic, and political perspective,” he pontificates, “our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little.”

Morality and fairness have nothing to do with it. As of 2016, Americans who earned $250,000 and above per year paid 52.6% of the nation’s income taxes. Those who earned between $249,000 and $200,000 paid 5.9%, and those who earned between $100,000 and $199,000 paid 21.9%.

Those three groups comprised 16% of the returns filed — yet they paid 79.4% of the nation’s income tax bill.

As for the top 1%, a Washington, DC-based think tank called the Tax Foundation reveals that in 2015, that tiny group of Americans paid 39% of individual income taxes, while the bottom 90% of Americans paid just 29.4%.

And for 2018, approximately 76.4 million American workers, or 44.4%, will pay no income tax at all.

That is not to say those Americans pay nothing. There are a host of other levies such as sales tax, property taxes, and payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Yet when nearly half of Americans are relieved of the burden levied on their fellow Americans, it is no surprise that “soak the rich” is an attractive mantra for those with no skin in the game.

Unsurprisingly, hypocrisy abounds. The 2017 Republican tax cut included a $10,000 per household cap on state and loan tax deductions — meaning the so-called rich would no longer be able to deduct any income above that threshold from federal taxation.

So who complained the loudest? High-tax states controlled by those same Democrats. In fact, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey filed federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the deduction cap, while other states engaged in dubious machinations to lower the federal-tax liability of their richer residents.

In short, those who advocate for higher taxes on the rich attempted to protect “their” rich from paying them.

Yet such hypocrisy apparently remains irrelevant. “We need additional revenue if we’re going to provide health care for all, rebuild our infrastructure, [and] make public colleges and universities tuition-free,” asserts Sanders.

Few ideas are more intellectually bankrupt than the assertion that some government-provided benefits are “free.” Nothing is free, and the idea that Democrats can actually sell wealth transference as free epitomizes the astounding level of economic ignorance that afflicts this nation.

That ignorance is amplified when it ignores reality, as in the 2017 tax cuts engendering an economic boom. “US real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2018 was 83 percent greater than it was in the second quarter of 2016, the last year of the previous administration,” the Boston Globe reported last October. “The growth of real private fixed investment was 129 percent greater. The unemployment rate fell from 5.0 percent in September 2016 to 3.7 percent in September 2018.”

Nonetheless, the true believers remain unconvinced even when reality bites. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state had a dramatic drop in state income-tax revenue, amounting to $2.8 billion. He blamed it on the aforementioned cap on state and local tax deductions that are causing high-earning New Yorkers to … leave the state.

How many jobs will they be taking away, along with their personal wealth? How many millions of jobs will Democrats sacrifice in service to their power-hungry, bash-the-rich agenda?

More important, when will Americans realize that job creation requires incentive, not coercion?

Moreover, middle class Americans need to take heed. If they think Democrats can implement the massive expansion of their welfare-state ambitions solely on the backs of the rich, they’re quite mistaken: A 2008 analysis revealed that taxing every American millionaire at a rate of 100% would only run the federal government for 111 days. If the same outright confiscation scheme were applied to everyone earning more than $200,000 the government would run for only 253 days.

That is not to say wealthy American can’t pay more in taxes, and raising the tax rate on carried-interest that disproportionately benefits the select few goes to the top of the list.

But that doesn’t negate the reality that Democrats will eventually need to go where the real money is. And when they do, Americans should expect the definition of who’s “rich” to be considerably expanded.

The fundamental transformation of the nation into the socialist/Marxist “utopia” Democrats yearn for demands nothing less.



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)