Friday, March 01, 2019

Left's Latest Demand: Race-Based Reparations

Race is the Left's unending obsession

Having embraced "Medicare-for-all," free college tuition and a Green New Deal that would mandate an early end of all oil, gas and coal-fired power plants, the Democratic Party's lurch to the left rolls on.

Presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both called last week for race-based reparations for slavery.

"Centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, legal discrimination and segregation, and discrimination that exist today have led to a systemic wealth gap between black and white Americans," Harris told The New York Times. "I'm serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities."

Echoed Sen. Warren: "We must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country." This history has crippled "the ability of black families to build wealth in America for generations."

That black Americans are handicapped by their history in this country, and cannot accumulate wealth as easily, and require compensatory reparations for slavery and segregation, is more than a controversial assertion.

Are the Democrats going to say this in their national platform in 2020? And how much will be the rest of America be forced to pay, and for how long?

Warren says Native Americans, too, must be "part of the conversation." Apparently, they suffer from a similar handicap and need the same reparations.

How far and fast has the Democratic Party lunged leftward? In 2016, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all rejected reparations.

Have Warren and Harris thought this through?

The questions that instantly arise are: Who would qualify as a beneficiary of reparations, and who would pay the immense transfer sums involved?

In 1860, there were 4 million slaves in 15 states and D.C. There are 45 to 50 million African-Americans in the USA today.

Would all black Americans, even the middle class and affluent, be entitled to reparations? How would the government go about proving that folks living here today had ancestors in slavery before 1865?

Do we, as Warren did to prove her Native American ancestry, conduct a DNA test? Do we consult for every applicant for reparations?

The last 50 years have seen many marriages between blacks and whites. Would the children of such marriages qualify for reparations?

Barack Obama, whose mother was a white teenager and father was a Kenyan, would not qualify. But would wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia?

Harris's mother was from India, her father from Jamaica, where the British abolished slavery in the mid-1830s. But if the father had ancestors who were enslaved in Jamaica, would the senator qualify, or do reparations go only to the descendants of slaves within the USA?

While a higher percentage of African-Americans than whites are poor, there are more white poor than black poor in the USA. Does not endemic poverty produce the same negative consequence regardless of race?

What is the justice in excluding poor whites, or poor Asians and Hispanics, whose ancestors were not here in the USA when slavery existed before 1865?

From 1845 to 1849, the Irish fled a potato famine that persisted under the indifferent rule of the same British who introduced slavery into what became the United States.

As for the great migration of Eastern and Southern Europeans — Poles, Italians, Jews, Slavs, Slovaks — slavery was gone before they arrived. They had nothing to do with instituting Jim Crow. Why should they pay reparations?

Asians and Hispanics were a tiny fraction of the U.S. population as late as 1960, when segregation was being outlawed everywhere, but they are more than 75 million Americans today.

Should they be made to pay for sins their ancestors did not commit?

Warren took a DNA test to prove she was partly American Indian, as she put down on various legal forms. Would her less than 1 percent of Indian DNA be sufficient to provide her with reparations for America's Indian wars?

If slavery and segregation explain the disparity in wealth between black and white in the U.S., what explains the equally wide disparity in wealth between Hispanics and Asians?

Politically, the party of slavery, secession and segregation was the party of Jefferson, Jackson, Clay, Calhoun, Wilson and FDR, who put a Klansman on the Supreme Court — the Democratic Party. It was the Republican Party that was formed to contain and end slavery, and did.

One need not be a cynic to suspect Warren's motivation. Her claim to be an American Indian angered Native Americans, and she would like to mollify them, and ingratiate herself with African-Americans, who constitute more than 60 percent of all Democratic voters in the crucial South Carolina Primary.

By pushing for compensatory reparations, Warren and Harris may be helping themselves, but they are further splitting their party along the lines of ethnicity and race and elevating an issue certain to divide their country more than it already is.



The Left Hates Children
The Left hate everyone.  Karl Marx hated his own mother and Lenin had most of his fellow Bolsheviks put to death

In recent days, little children and teenagers have been all over Capitol Hill. They were being used as props in a campaign to pass radical legislation that we are told will stop climate change.

These children have been told that they are all going to die in 12 years unless the “adults” in Congress completely turn life upside down as we know it. No more air travel. No more hamburgers. No more fossil fuels. But lots and lots of big government controlling what little would be left of our economy.

Oh, by the way, there would be no more children either.

The darling of the progressive left, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), discussed in a recent Instagram video the “legitimate question” of whether we should even have children given the damage done to the planet.

Using frightened children to advocate for socialism and something more barbaric than China’s “one child policy” would be bad enough. But Senate progressives managed to outdo AOC with a vote Monday night essentially allowing fourth trimester abortions.

I know there are only three trimesters in pregnancy. But the left is now arguing for the right to kill a baby if it manages to escape the womb alive.

The vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was 53-to-44. Fifty out of fifty-three Republicans voted for the bill. (Due to travel delays, three Republican senators were unable to vote.) But even with their support, the bill still would have failed to overcome the 60-vote threshold needed to defeat the Democrat filibuster.

Just to be clear, the bill did not limit abortion in any way. It simply declared that a born baby is entitled to legal protection and medical care; that infanticide is not acceptable in this country. Incredibly, 44 out of 47 Democrats, including every announced or likely Democrat presidential candidate in the Senate, seem to believe it is.

Remember back in 2008 when Pastor Rick Warren asked Barack Obama, “When does a baby get human rights?” Obama couldn’t answer the question then. Sadly, 44 senators couldn’t answer it Monday night.

This is where the slippery slope of abortion has taken us: We are now debating whether a born baby has any rights at all.

Trump Responds

President Trump was quick to respond, tweeting Monday night:

“Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth.

"This will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress. If there is one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies.”

Once again, this president is showing a willingness to fight on values issues. No one had to pressure Trump to issue a statement following the vote. And I guarantee you that none of the “professional” GOP consultants would have written THAT statement.

Thank you, Mr. President, for boldly defending the sanctity of life.

Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted this after Monday night’s vote:

“Republican politicians just tried (and failed) again to score political points at the expense of women. Enough. Women and their doctors should decide what’s best for their health — not the @SenateGOP.”

Read that again, and remind yourself that we’re talking about a baby outside the womb.

The woman who wants to be president thinks it is a matter of the woman’s health to kill the baby outside of the womb. At that point, Senator Warren, it’s not about the woman’s health anymore. It’s about the baby’s life.



Protect Life Rule Is Good News for America
The Trump administration has taken another critically important step in strengthening the moral health of our nation, and hence our future.

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued the Protect Life Rule, stopping the flow of Title X federal funds to family planning clinics that perform abortions or do abortion referrals.

It also requires that clinics receiving Title X funds be “physically and financially” separate from any entity providing abortions.

This puts a stop to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, from claiming that, although they perform abortions, Title X funds they receive are used for other purposes.

Estimates are that this rule will reduce federal funding flowing to Planned Parenthood by some $60 million.

The Title X program was enacted in 1970, as part of the Public Health Service Act, to provide family planning assistance, primarily to low-income families.

In 2018, $286,479,000 was appropriated to this program.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, notes that Title X funds were “never” meant to fund abortions services. Given that the program was enacted three years before abortion was legalized nationwide as result of Roe v. Wade, his case is convincing.

A Planned Parenthood spokesperson attacked this rule-making, saying that “the Trump-Pence administration has aggressively targeted the … rights and bodily autonomy of people of color.”

There was a time in our nation’s history when the rights and bodily autonomy of people of color were aggressively violated.

But as vile a sin slavery was, those that committed it did so by choice. Americans who wanted no part of it weren’t forced to participate as slave owners.

This isn’t the case when taxpayer funds are channeled by the federal government to abortion providers.



9th Circus gets another Trump-picked judge, after White House bypasses consultation with Dems

Once again the Dems have shot themselves in the foot.  They abused the blue slip system to delay confirmations and now they have lost it

Senate confirms President Trump's nominee to be a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 53-46 in a party-line vote
The Senate confirms President Trump's nominee Eric Miller to be a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals 53-46 in a party-line vote.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Trump's nominee to be a judge on the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a party-line vote -- and, in a historic snub, the White House ignored the input of the judge's two Democratic home-state senators in the process.

The aggressive and unprecedented move to bypass the traditional "blue slip" consultation process and plow ahead with the confirmation comes as the Trump administration seeks to systematically erode left-wing dominance on the key appellate court, which Trump has called "disgraceful" and politically biased.

The new 9th Circuit judge, Seattle attorney Eric Miller, was confirmed 53-46. Miller was one of the 51 federal judicial nominees left over from the previous Congress whom the White House re-nominated last month.


The Federal Government’s Great American Cheese Stockpile

In the 1930s, the U.S. federal government established dairy subsidies to bail out America’s dairy farmers from the Great Depression. Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, those same subsidies are still in effect today, where they have underwritten a massive surplus of milk in the U.S. dairy industry that far exceeds the appetites of over 327 million Americans to consume it.

But rather than reduce the subsidies to reduce the surplus to more reasonable levels, the USDA is instead paying the U.S. dairy industry to make billions of pounds of cheese from the millions and millions of gallons of surplus milk. According to Emily Moon’s reporting at Pacific Standard, the USDA now has a stockpile of 1.4 billion pounds of processed American cheese.

The United States’ dairy surplus has reached a record high, rounding out at 1.4 billion pounds of cheese. Reports attempting to quantify this astonishing amount have deferred to metrics like “enough to wrap around the U.S. Capitol.” Suffice to say, nobody’s suggesting we could consume it all.

The nation eating this much cheese is not only mind-boggling: It’s growing less and less likely. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, Americans have cut their milk consumption down from 35 pounds to an average of 15 per person annually. The excess is turned into cheese for storage and longevity (and the enjoyment of delicious cheese products). At the same time, government subsidies have continued to support dairy production, buying up surplus to keep prices steady. That leaves us with more cheese than anyone, even the experts, knows what to do with.

It also leads to the question of what the government has been doing with the cheese it has been buying for all these years. Beginning in the 1980s, the government’s primary solution was to give as much of it away to the poor as they can. Today, this is provided through multiple federal nutrition assistance welfare programs such as SNAP, CACFP, NCE, SFSP, WIC, and also through school lunch programs.

But in the 1990s, they also started making deals with fast food restaurant chains to incorporate more cheese products in their menus at low prices.

To help sell its surplus in the 1990s, the National Dairy Promotion Board created Dairy Management Incorporated, a semi-public marketing branch of the USDA funded through government “checkoff” fees from dairy producers. This agency gave us the “Got Milk?” campaign and a host of popular fast food menu items, including Domino’s seven-cheese pizzas and Taco Bell’s very cheesy Quesalupa. A 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek investigation called the group of chemists and nutritionists the “Illuminati of cheese.” “The checkoff [program] puts DMI’s agents inside Burger King, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s, where they’re privy to each restaurant chain’s most closely guarded trade secrets,” writes Clint Rainey.

There is an unintended consequence in the federal government forcing so much unwanted cheese into the diets of American consumers. It is contributing to the growing health problem of obesity.

For a federal agency dedicated to improving overall nutrition and providing dietary guidance, these partnerships may seem like a contradiction—with good reason, experts say. DMI’s efforts “impose health costs on Americans generally, but disproportionately harm low-income African Americans and Latina/os who live in urban centers dominated by fast food restaurants,” argues legal scholar and food oppression expert Andrea Freeman in a 2013 report.



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 28, 2019

Warren's 'ultra wealth' tax is misleading

Those in government who want to spend more of other people’s money seek to make taxes appear as low as possible, often through misrepresentation, because minimization increases public support for their policies.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) recently proposed “ultra-millionaire” wealth tax, estimated to bring in $2.75 trillion over a decade (but given the difficulties of implementation and evasion, that estimate is questionable, illustrated by the fact that when Sweden eliminated its wealth tax roughly a decade ago, The Financial Times reported it had “virtually no effect on government finances”), might be the most expensive tax misrepresentation ever. 

Warren would impose an annual wealth  tax of 2 percent on the 75,000 households with a net worth of over $50 million — 3 percent on those with a net worth of over $1 billion. A 2 or 3 percent tax on a small number of people doesn’t sound so burdensome and an advocate of the tax can always deflect criticism by ignoring that both wealth (representing previous income) and income, if earned via voluntary transactions, produced benefits for others rather than taking from them and saying “the rich” can afford such a seemingly small burden.

However, we must remember that what is proposed is not a one time wealth tax, as much public discussion implicitly assumes, but an annual wealth tax, which would impose a phenomenally larger burden. For a given level of wealth, a 2 or 3 percent annual wealth tax would take 20 or 30 percent of the affected households’ wealth over a decade. (e.g., Someone with $100 million in wealth beyond the exempt level would pay $2 million in taxes each year on it with a 2 percent rate, totaling $20 million — 20 percent of that $100 million —over a decade.)

The American Enterprise Institute’s Alan Viard asks us to consider a wealthy household that invests in bonds paying (that is, increasing net worth) 3 percent annually. A 2 percent wealth tax would thus take away two-thirds of the bond income. (e.g., $100 million of assets invested in bonds at 3 percent would yield $3 million per year, but a 2 percent tax on the $100 million of wealth would take away $2 million per year, which is 67 percent of the earnings on the bonds.)

A 3 percent wealth tax would be the equivalent of 100 percent tax on that income. And that ignores the 37 percent top federal income tax rate (as well as state and local taxes) that would first be applied to that bond income.

Government efforts to hide or disguise taxes have a long history.

For example, employer — paid unemployment insurance contributions, as well as the employer’s half of Social Security and Medicare taxes, minimize taxpayer awareness of the cost of government. Employers, who remit those taxes on behalf of employees, must regard those payments like wages: as part of the cost of employing workers.

Therefore, at least some of that money comes from employees themselves. But they are likely to blame employers rather than government for their not being paid more. Similarly, higher corporate taxes result in lower wages and higher prices, again giving government the money but diverting blame to corporate management. Income — tax withholding further reduces awareness of the tax burdens.

Then we have policies that act like taxes, but aren’t counted as such. Deficit spending, which really represents a shift of taxation from present to future, disguises a substantial part of government’s cost. The massive unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and other programs disguise even more of it. Mandated benefits, for example, health insurance and paid family leave, ultimately come out of employees’ pockets. Regulatory burdens are also disguised taxes are further similar evasions.

A further technique of tax subterfuge is to apply multiple taxes to the same income, allowing the burden to appear smaller because the focus on only one tax at a time avoids recognition of the cumulative burden.

For instance, a corporation’s income must cover property taxes as well as federal and state (and sometimes local) corporation taxes. When a corporation passes (already reduced) earnings to shareholders as dividends or in higher share prices, the money faces federal and state (and sometimes local) personal income taxes on dividends or capital gains. Each tax bite in isolation looks smaller and less distortion than the far larger cumulative burden.

When you recognize that "small" wealth taxes actually impose huge burdens and that seemingly minimal distortions would actually wipe out substantial wealth creation you can see that this proposal is just the latest in a long line of tax misrepresentations. Unless you believe that dishonesty is the best policy, this is an overwhelming reason to oppose her presidential candidacy.



Leftist stupidity in San Francisco

Marc Benioff, co-CEO of Salesforce, assailed his own industry in an interview in Davos, calling San Francisco a “train wreck” of inequality “because of the tech sector.”

There’s just one problem with his charge: Both measures he uses for inequality—homelessness and soaring housing prices—well predate the tech boom.

San Francisco has been grappling with homelessness since Dianne Feinstein’s tenure as mayor in the 1980s. In the name of “urban renewal” and “redevelopment,” a wave of demolition of single-room-occupancy hotels hit the city between the mid-1970s and the 1990s. Many low-income apartment buildings were also removed from the market: between 1970 and 2000, almost 9,000 low-rent apartments were demolished or converted. Between 1980 and 2000, another 6,470 were converted to condominiums. As a result, a dearth of cheap housing fed homelessness, which rose to a high of 8,640 in 2002 and approximately 7,500 today.

High housing prices in San Francisco similarly predate its tech boom.

According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, the gap between California’s home prices and those in the rest country started to widen in the 1970s, going from 30 percent above U.S. levels to more than 80 percent by 1980. Contrary to Benioff, the LAO blames public policies that suppressed construction when the rest of the country underwent a housing boom. San Francisco’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office calculates that the city would have needed to add 15,000 housing units per year for its prices to have remained in line with the rest of the country, instead of the actual 2,000. That would have resulted in 459,000 units built between 1980 and 2010 instead of 60,334. Thus San Francisco’s housing supply is estimated to be less than half of what it should have been for prices to have kept pace with the rest of the country.

Not only did government policies destroy cheap housing, but expanded building regulations have also made it impossible to build cheaply. Those regulations have increased the cost of building “affordable housing” even more than they have for housing in general; this is due to the more stringent design requirements and NIMBY activism.

Today, California’s development and impact fees are three times the national average, and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley estimates that the cost of building an “affordable” 100-unit project in California increased from $265,000 per unit in 2000 to almost $425,000 in 2016.

Benioff is correct that San Francisco has a huge and growing inequality problem, and this city that prides itself as one of the most “progressive” is home today mostly to the very rich and the poor, with the middle class largely driven out. But this is not the result of “the [tech] rich getting richer.” As a recent article in The Economist concludes, California’s inequality problem is not “the stagnation of low incomes per se. It is stagnation relative to costs—in particular, the cost of housing.” Today, a minimum-wage earner in San Francisco would have to work 177 hours per week to afford an average one-bedroom rental. (There are only 168 hours in a week.)

Freeing housing markets is thus the master key to solving San Francisco’s inequality, homelessness and housing crises.

If Benioff really wants to get San Francisco back on track, then he should call for a vast rollback of regulations, which would make it possible to construct housing that is actually affordable—as opposed to permanently subsidized. (Instead, he is pushing multimillion-dollar tax increases for unaccountable city “homeless” funds, such as the recently passed Proposition C he bankrolled.)

A recent McKinsey study found that shortening the land-use-approval process could reduce the cost of housing by more than $12 billion through 2025 and accelerate project approval times by four months on average. Reducing construction permitting times could cut another $1.6 billion, and raising construction productivity and deploying modular-construction techniques could cut up to $100 billion.

Rather than chastising his fellow tech titans, Benioff should lead the way in establishing venture funding for housing that is truly affordable. This same McKinsey study projects that such private funding could finance more than 30,000 affordable units a year. That’s a solution everyone should be able to get behind.



When is enough federal land enough?

According to The Washington Post earlier this month, “The Senate … passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon. The 662-page measure, which passed 92 to 8, represented an old-fashioned approach to deal making that has largely disappeared on Capitol Hill.” The House is preparing to vote on the legislation.

I’m always skeptical when I read the Post celebrate the announcement of some bipartisan scheme that ultimately increases federal power and costs taxpayers more. This land grab is a terrible idea. The federal government already controls most of the western United States. This bill will further increase federal control over large areas.

In addition, the Wilderness designation locks land away from most of the public except those who by permit walk in on foot with extreme limitation and countless regulations. Rivers become locked away from any future hydro-electric development in a nation that needs power. More federal employees with more salaries and pensions will be required to “manage” these areas of expanded federal protection. This is more federal forceful protection of stuff rather than people.

I argued many times with National Park Service managers during my career with NPS, and they firmly believed their priority was to protect stuff over protecting the safety and lives of people. What I suggest is a return of most of the many millions of acres of land and hundreds of National Parks back to state control, with the federal government retaining only those exquisite jewels like Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.

Having spent decades as a land manager working from the West Coast to the East Coast, I can cite countless examples of breathtakingly horrible management by federal land managers spurred on by a host of aberrant agendas that are not in the best interests of Americans. We should oppose anything that expands the power of the all-consumptive federal beast.

How much is enough? When politicians seek a lasting legacy, they look in the mirror and imagine Teddy Roosevelt staring back at them, all at our expense. How about this: Secure our borders from a host of threats before any more land within our nation’s interior is essentially confiscated for federal use.



Four States in Apocalyptic meltdown

"This is the flip side (of) tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich. The rich leave, and now what do you do?" said New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Feb. 4.

After the Trump tax cut went into effect one year ago, we predicted that the Trump tax reform would supercharge the national economy but could cause big financial problems for the five highest-tax states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

The capping of the state and local tax deduction at $10,000 raised the highest effective state tax rates by about 66 percent (for example, in New York City and California, the rate on millionaires rose from about 8 percent to 13.3 percent). In New Jersey, the highest rate has risen from 7.5 percent to 12.75 percent. Now, we have Andrew Cuomo conceding that the trend of rich people moving out of New York has caused the loss of $2.3 billion of tax revenue in Albany's coffers. Cuomo called this tax change "diabolical." We think it was a matter of tax fairness. No longer do residents of low-tax states have to pay higher federal taxes to support the blob of excessive state/local spending and pensions in the blue states.

As we predicted, the wealthy are fleeing these five states. The new United Van Lines data were just released that are a good proxy for where Americans are moving to and from. Guess what four states had the highest percentage of leavers in 2018: 1) New Jersey, 2) Illinois, 3) Connecticut and 4) New York. Even California had more Americans pack up and leave than enter.

Ironically, liberals like Cuomo who argued for years that businesses don't make location decisions based on taxes in their states are now forced to admit that the cap on the state and local tax deduction (which primarily affects the richest 1 percent) is depleting their state coffers. The rich change their residence by moving for at least 183 days of the year to low taxers such as Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

We advised Cuomo and other blue state governors to immediately cut their tax rates if they wanted to remain even semi-competitive with low-tax states. They are doing the opposite. Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey have led the nation in tax increases on the rich over the last three years, while "progressives" have cheered them on.

Last year, legislators in Trenton went on a taxing spree, raising the income tax on those making more than $5 million a year to 10.75 percent — now the third-highest in the country — and then enacting a health care individual mandate tax on workers, a corporate rate increase and an option for localities to impose a payroll tax on businesses. And they are still short of cash. Idiotically, these tax hikes were passed after the cap on state and local tax deductions was enacted, thus pouring gasoline on their fiscal fires.

How has this worked out for them?

In addition to New York's fiscal woes, the deficit in Illinois is pegged at $2.8 billion (with a $7.8 billion backlog of unpaid bills), and Connecticut faces a two-year $4 billion shortfall despite three tax increases in five years. New Jersey has a $500 million deficit this year (even after the biggest tax hike in the state's history) and Moody's predicts that gap will widen to $3 billion over the next five years. This is all happening at a time when most states have healthy and unexpected surplus revenues due to the Trump economic boom and the historic decline in unemployment.

A Pew study published late last year on which states are bleeding the most red ink ranked New Jersey worst, Illinois second worst and Connecticut seventh worst. New York was also in the bottom 10.

Let us state this loud and clear in the hopes that lawmakers in state capitals across the country are paying attention: The three states that have raised their taxes the most now have the worst fiscal outlook.

Worst of all, things don't look like they are going to get better in any of these states. Last fall, Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey voters elected mega-rich Democratic Govs. Ned Lamont, J.B. Pritzker and Phil Murphy, who have promised to sock it to the rich — the ones who haven't yet left. In Illinois, Pritzker would eliminate the state's constitutionally protected flat tax so that he can raise the income tax on the rich by as much as 50 percent. After raising income taxes three times in the last five years, Connecticut's legislature now wants to raise the sales tax rate. No one in any of these progressive states even dares utter the words tax cut. In just one decade, New York lost 1.3 million net residents; Illinois 717,000, New Jersey 516,000 and Connecticut 176,000. California has lost 929,000.

There is also a useful warning for the soak-the-rich crowd of progressives in Washington. If a rise in the state tax rate from 8 percent to 13 percent can have this big and immediate negative impact, think of the economic carnage from doubling of the federal tax rate from 37 percent to 70 percent as some want to do. The wealthy would relocate their wealth and income in low-tax havens like Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and Ireland. That would do wonders for the middle class living in those countries.

We are sticking with our warnings from last year. If the four states of the Apocalypse — Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York — do not reverse their taxing ways and choose to keep making things worse, these once very rich and prosperous states will see thousands more rich taxpayers leave. The politicians in these four states just don't seem to understand math. A soak-the-rich tax rate of 8 percent, 10 percent or even 13 percent on income of zero yields zero income when the wealthy leave the state. Cuomo was right: The bleak outlook for the four states of apocalypse is "as serious as a heart attack."



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 27, 2019

CBO is part of the swamp: Defended Obamacare using wildly inaccurate figures

Democrats defeated Republicans in the Obamacare repeal fight by warning that 22 million Americans would be thrown off their health insurance. They pointed to data leaked from the Congressional Budget Office.

Well, it turns out that data was completely wrong.

According to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office wildly overestimated the number of people who would lose their health insurance with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty.

Initial estimates from the Congressional Budget Office said 14 million would drop off their health insurance coverage due to the elimination of the individual mandate. Then, during the height of the 2017 debate over repeal, progressives touted a leaked number from the Congressional Budget Office claiming that 22 million people would “lose” their insurance if Congress repealed the law.

However, as health care analyst Avik Roy pointed out, what made this number so high was the inflated number of people expected to lose their insurance due to repeal of the mandate—about 73 percent to be exact. So, it wouldn’t be 22 million Americans losing their insurance. Most of those in the projection would simply be choosing to opt out of insurance.

And it turns out even that wasn’t true. A far smaller number of Americans appear to be opting out of insurance since the individual mandate’s repeal. Only 2.5 million more people are expected to go without insurance in 2019 due to its repeal, according to the latest report, and that number is expected to decline in the years ahead.

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein called the Congressional Budget Office “scandalously off in its estimates.” That’s about right, considering all that was riding on its numbers.

As Klein noted, the Congressional Budget Office estimates were a large part of why the individual mandate was adopted in the first place, and a big reason why its repeal didn’t pass. So it’s a wonder why the media isn’t picking this up.

“Given the outsized influence that the CBO has on policymaking in Washington, the CBO’s misfire on the individual mandate should be a major story,” Klein wrote.

The Congressional Budget Office is opaque, to say the least. It does not publish or share the way it comes up with numbers, and some have criticized the organization for its lack of transparency and outsized influence on policymaking.

Doug Badger, a visiting fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that Congressional Budget Office analysis has been a chronic problem.

“When it comes to the individual mandate, CBO has never let the facts affect their wildly inaccurate estimates. CBO continued to forecast that millions of insured Americans would suddenly become uninsured if the mandate were repealed,” Badger wrote in an email to The Daily Signal. “CBO’s faulty estimates misled the public into believing that repealing Obamacare would lead to a vast increase in the number of uninsured. Bad estimates produced bad policy.”

Many conservatives are fed up with the deference shown to the agency, given it’s poor track record and track of transparency. Reps. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, suggested in 2017 that it’s time to stop “blindly” following the agency’s predictions.

“The value of having outside experts review legislation cannot be understated,” they wrote for the Washington Examiner. “But continuing to hinge congressional actions on the projections of an agency that has proven to be so consistently wrong does a disservice to not only members trying to represent their constituents, it primarily does a disservice to the public.”

I wrote in 2017 that perhaps we should be more skeptical toward the findings of independent agencies like the Congressional Budget Office. It seems those doubts were valid.

Unfortunately, the damage is already done. These faulty numbers have had their decisive effect on policy debates, and we are living with the consequences.

We can expect nothing more until we all begin to take such “expert” predictions with a little less certainty.



Another Liberal Hate Crime Uncovered, And It May Be EVEN WORSE Than Smollett’s

Whenever one hears the words “hate crime hoax,” the person of interest is not a conservative almost 11 times out of 10.

Democrats have a big problem on their hands with lefties making things up in an attempt to savage pro-Trump Americans, but fortunately for them, the media is on their side.

Another potential hate hoax has been uncovered, and this one is comparable – if not worse – than former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s.

Michigan prosecutors charged 54-year-old Nikki Joly — a transgender person — for allegedly burning down their own home in 2017 in what investigators appear to believe was intended to be a fake hate crime.

The LGBT activist — whose five pets were killed in the fire — had allegedly received threats in the past and was instrumental in leading a battle for LGBT rights in Jackson, MI.

“Authorities later determined the fire was intentionally set, but the person they arrested came as a shock to both supporters and opponents of the gay rights movement,” The Detroit News reported on Monday. “It was the citizen of the year — Nikki Joly.”

While an official motive has not yet been established, The Detroit News noted that an investigative police report shed light on a possible motive:

Two people who worked with Joly at St. Johns United Church of Christ, where the Jackson Pride Center was located, said he had been frustrated the controversy over gay rights had died down with the passage of the nondiscrimination law, according to the report.

The church officials, Barbara Shelton and Bobby James, when asked by police about a possible motive for the fire, said Joly was disappointed the Jackson Pride Parade and Festival, held five days before the blaze, hadn’t received more attention or protests.



Former Staffer Claims Trump Kissed Her Without Consent, Two Witnesses Go Public With TRUTH

So what #metoo madness are we talking about this time? An alleged kiss. Not just any kiss, mind you. This tall-tale-kiss-account comes from an African-American woman who is a Trump supporter.

An Alabama woman who worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign claimed in a Monday lawsuit that Trump kissed her “without her consent” in front of multiple people during a political event in Florida in 2016 – an accusation the White House is denying.

The woman, Alva Johnson, filed suit Monday against Trump and his presidential campaign in federal court in Tampa. The lawsuit said Johnson served as the campaign’s director of outreach and coalitions for the state of Alabama, before working to help Trump in Florida during the general election.

So who is this woman? According to the Washington Post, she was a campaign staffer who was hired to organize rallies, do some much needed outreach to black communities, manage some recreational vehicles, etc.

She alleges that on a rainy Florida day in 2016, Trump was in one of the recreational vehicles and as he was leaving, he needed to pass by her. Noticing her, he took her hand in his and told her that he knew that she had been working hard for him and that he wouldn’t forget her.

This is when Alva Johnson claims that he came in close and started to kiss her, but she turned away and it ended in him kissing her on the side of her mouth.

She ALSO CLAIMS that there were two witnesses there that can attest to what happened. But here’s the interesting part- both of the “witnesses” have come out to call her out.

Here are their statements: “Do I recall seeing anything inappropriate? One hundred percent no,” said Pam Bondi, Florida’s Attorney General. “It absolutely did not happen,” said Karen Giorno, Trump’s Florida Campaign Director.

In response to these quotes, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also had a quote of her own:

“This accusation is absurd on its face. This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible witness accounts.”

If that weren’t enough, even the Washington Post reporter who gave the story admitted that when she interviewed both of the “witnesses” that they both “strenuously denied” Alva Johnson’s story.

So then, why would any credible media outlet believe Johnson, if both witnesses “strenuously” deny the allegations?

Oh, it’s because Alva’s BOYFRIEND and PARENTS remember her saying something about it to them. But there’s ANOTHER big problem with the story. Rather than reporting it, Alva Johnson decided to “put it behind her” and just move on with the campaign.

She did, of course, pull a Blasey-Ford where she claims that years later, now it’s important to speak out. And just like Blasey-Ford fashion, she also has notes from later therapy session that prove ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. But who care about facts when you have feelings?



America Smashes Another economic record, And It’s All Because Of Trump

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a bombshell report indicating that America’s crude oil production hit 12 million barrels per day in mid-February.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum report stated that crude output increased more than 1.7 million barrels per day compared to the same time in 2018, when it jumped from 10.3 million to 12 million barrels per day.

“U.S. oil and natural gas production is breaking every record in the book, which helps families and businesses and our national security across the board,” said Dan Kish, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.

Here’s more from The Daily Caller on the incredible report:

Indeed, drillers continue to beat analysts’ expectations. For example, EIA’s November 2018 energy forecast didn’t see oil output hitting 12 million barrels per day until mid-2019. The month before, EIA didn’t see the U.S. hitting that milestone until the fourth quarter of 2019.

EIA didn’t forecast the U.S. hitting 12 million barrels per day until 2020 or later in its January 2018 estimate. The massive increase in oil output is primarily driven by the Permian basin, which lays deep under Texas and New Mexico.

In the past decade, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling allowed oil and natural gas production reach never-before-seen height. The boom propelled the U.S. to become the world’s top oil producer, edging out Russia and Saudi Arabia earlier in 2019.

While the oil and gas boom started on private and state-managed lands during the Obama administration, it’s gained steam under President Donald Trump. The Trump administration rolled back Obama-era policies it saw as damaging to the energy sector.

“President Trump has awakened a sleeping American energy giant,” Kish said.

EIA’s latest energy outlook estimates the U.S. averaged 12 million barrels per day of production in January, but the weekly oil production reports for that time don’t show output hitting that milestone until mid-February.

Here’s a chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing the incredible increase under Trump from last year, and it will only likely continue to skyrocket.

Many experts argue that Trump’s pro-business mentality is the driving force behind the booming economy and markets.

The president has also made a huge push for America to become a global leader in energy and oil output, and it’s working.

That argument is particularly accurate in terms of oil production, as the Trump administration has taken swift action for years to ensure the U.S. is far less dependent on other nations.

There’s finally a no-nonsense businessman in the White House, and the United States has been exceeding expectations on several different fronts.

Trump just keeps winning for the American people, and this latest report is just one of many major accomplishments the president has had since taking office two years ago.



Federal Court Delivers Humiliating Ruling Against Obama

Former President Barack Obama has suffered a humiliating defeat in court regarding his presidential library in his hometown. A federal judge has ruled in favor a group of concerned citizens suing the Obama library for carrying out what they have called a “power grab.”

The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, the former president’s hometown, is being challenged as nothing more than a giant land grab attempt.

The multi-million dollar project is scheduled to be completed in 2021 and aims to take a major chunk of downtown Chicago to give the Obama family a massive center.

As reported by The Chicago Tribune, the judge’s ruling is a major setback on plans to build the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side lakefront.

In a written decision, U.S. Judge John Robert Blakey said the environmental group Protect Our Parks has enough legal ground to bring some of their objections before him. Blakey did toss out parts of the lawsuit filed against the city of Chicago and the park district.

The ruling to allow the suit to proceed is significant because it could delay construction for months, if not years, and potentially raise the question of whether the $500 million sprawling presidential campus can be built at all on lakefront property in Jackson Park.

The key issue of the lawsuit is over whether Chicago has legal standing to issue construction permits so that Obama’s team can build the presidential center on public park property.

If the presidential center is created, it would tear down a major chunk of a historic park in downtown Chicago that has been there for decades.

The matter has been closely watched because it is reminiscent of the court case that killed the $400 million museum proposed by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas. In that case, Lucas and his team didn’t wait for a judgment, and decided to move his Museum of Narrative Art to Los Angeles.

The lawsuit challenging the presidential center was filed in May by the leaders of Protect Our Parks and three other plaintiffs. In their suit, the environmentalists called the presidential center an “institutional bait-and-switch.” The Obama Foundation isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Instead, the lawsuit targets the city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, arguing that the presidential center is not the same as a presidential library and should not be granted access to public land.

The foundation has said it wants to break ground this year, but with the lingering issues, there is no concrete date set. The foundation has not revealed if it has a design prepared for another location.

The ruling is a big win for those who are sick and tired of the courts giving Obama a huge pass and allowing him to get away with everything he wants to do.



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 26, 2019

Good policy, bad policymaking, and the 2020 census fight

by Jeff Jacoby

IN APRIL, the Supreme Court will review a decision by a federal judge in New York that bars the Commerce Department from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. It is rare for the justices to take up a case before it's been heard by an appeals court; they made an exception in this case because the government is facing a June deadline for printing the questionnaires that will be sent to every household next year.

You wouldn't know it from the furor that greeted the Trump administration's announcement that it planned to add the citizenship question, but the Census Bureau has been asking such a question for the better part of two centuries.

It was Thomas Jefferson who first recommended that the decennial census tally "the respective numbers of native citizens, citizens of foreign birth, and of aliens" living in the United States — a recommendation that was implemented in the 1820 census, which asked whether any persons in a household were "foreigners not naturalized." Thereafter, a question about citizenship was on almost every census survey until 1950. From 1970 to 2000, the government used two different census questionnaires, one long and one short — and the citizenship question was always included on the long form. Since the turn of the century, the long form has been replaced by the American Community Survey, which is sent each year to about 3.5 million households. It too solicits the citizenship status of each resident.

In all those years, no one ever claimed that asking about citizenship is illegitimate. This time, liberals freaked out. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, described the proposed question as "an assault on the foundations of this country." Former Attorney General Eric Holder said it "threatens American democracy." Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, applauding the district court decision blocking the question, called it "a defeat for the forces that seek to suppress the voices of American voters."

Even in our age of hyperpolarized politics, when any step taken by the administration immediately comes in for scathing denunciation by the opposition, it is bizarre to erupt over asking about citizenship on the census. Numerous countries, such as Australia, Canada, Italy, and South Africa, do so routinely. As Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation observes, the United Nations actually recommends that member states gather citizenship data on census surveys. So why the outrage over re-inserting such an unremarkable query into the decennial US census?

The substantive concern is that a citizenship question may deter some immigrants from returning their census questionnaires, presumably out of fear that the Trump administration might use the information to track down people in the country illegally. Since congressional apportionment is based on total number of residents — not the total number of citizens — an undercount could theoretically reduce the number of seats in the House of Representatives to which states with large immigrant populations are entitled. And since census data are often used to allocate federal funds, an undercount would slow the flow of government dollars to those states, too.

But the citizenship question doesn't ask about legal status. Most noncitizens — students, diplomatic personnel, and more than 13 million green card holders — are in the United States lawfully, and would have no reason to flinch from the question. Conversely, any residents prone to shun the census because they entered the country without permission aren't likely to fill out a federal questionnaire anyway, whether it contains the word "citizen" or not.

Yet little of this may prove relevant when the Supreme Court weighs in this spring.

When it comes to any issue involving immigration, time and again the administration's bullheadedness seems to override its good judgment. In this case, the Commerce Department's proposed addition to the census is wholly defensible as a matter of history and common practice. But how the administration came to make that change is not nearly so easy to defend.

A federal judge ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross resorted to deception in his bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The case before the high court is likely to turn on a relatively narrow question: Did the Trump administration — and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross specifically — comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal agencies must act in crafting government policy?



Here’s a list of hoax ‘hate crimes’ in the Trump era

Liberal actor Jussie Smollett is accused of staging a racist and anti-gay attack on himself, which Smollett blamed on supporters of President Donald Trump.

Smollett’s alleged fake “hate crime” appears to be the latest instance of liberals manufacturing hate crimes for attention in the Trump era.

The Daily Caller News Foundation compiled below some of the most outrageous fake hate crimes since Trump was elected, in rough chronological order:


A Muslim woman at the University of Michigan received national attention from national outlets like The Washington Post in November 2016 after she claimed a drunk 20-something man threatened to light her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab. The university condemned the “hateful attack,” which turned out to be a hoax.


Taylor Volk, an openly bisexual senior at North Park University claimed to be the target of hateful notes and emails following Trump’s election in November 2016. Volk told NBC News that “I just want them to stop.” But the “them” referenced by Volk turned out to be herself, as the whole thing was fabricated.


Philadelphia woman Ashley Boyer claimed in November 2016 that she was harassed at a gas station by white, Trump-supporting males, one of whom pulled a weapon on her. Boyer claimed that the men “proceeded to talk about the election and how they’re glad they won’t have to deal with n—–s much longer.” Boyer deleted her post after it went viral and claimed the men had been caught and were facing criminal charges. Local police debunked her account.


An 18-year-old Muslim woman in Louisiana claimed in November 2016 that two white men, one of whom was wearing a Trump hat, attacked and robbed her, taking her wallet and hijab while yelling racial slurs. She later admitted to the Lafayette Police Department that she made the whole thing up.


A church organist was arrested in May 2017 after he was found responsible for spray-painting a swastika, an anti-gay slur and the words “Heil Trump” on his own church in November 2016. When the story first broke, media outlets tied the hoax to Trump’s election. “The offensive graffiti at St. David’s is among numerous incidents that have occurred in the wake of Trump’s Election Day win,” The Washington Post reported at the time.


Another 18-year-old Muslim woman, this time in New York, was the subject of breathless headlines in December 2016 after she claimed to have been attacked by a group of Donald Trump supporters on a New York subway while onlookers did nothing. The woman, Yasmin Seweid, would go on to confess that she made the whole thing up.


Denton, Texas, resident David Williams set his own car on fire and painted “n***** lovers” on his home’s garage, in an apparent attempt to stage a hate crime. Local police investigated the arson as a hate crime. Williams and his wife, Jenny, collected more than $5,000 from Good Samaritans via a GoFundMe page before the hoax was exposed.


As tales of Trump-inspired “hate crimes” were spread far and wide by liberal journalists after Trump’s election, one online prankster decided to test just easy it was to fool journalists. The prankster sent writer Sarah Harvard a fictitious story in which a Native American claimed to have been harassed by an alleged Trump supporter who thought she was Mexican. Despite no evidence backing up the claim, Harvard spread the fake story, emails the prankster shared with The Daily Caller showed.


A Muslim student at Beloit College wrote anti-Muslim graffiti on his own dorm room door. The student was reportedly motivated by a desire to seek attention after a Jewish student was targeted with an anti-Semitic note.


Media outlets didn’t wait to find out who was behind a string of bomb threats targeting synagogues and Jewish schools before linking the threats to Trump. A U.S.-Israeli man was charged in April 2017 and indicted in February 2018 for the threats. A former reporter for The Intercept was also charged in March 2017 with making several copycat threats.


Students at St. Olaf college in Minnesota staged protests and boycotted classes in May 2017 after racist notes targeting black students were found around campus, earning coverage in national media outlets like The Washington Post. It later came out that a black student was responsible for the racist notes. The student carried out the hoax in order to “draw attention to concerns about the campus climate,” the university announced.


The Air Force Academy was thrown into turmoil in September 2017 when horrific racist notes were found at the academy’s preparatory school. “Go home n***er,” read one of the notes. The superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria, went viral with an impassioned speech addressing the racist notes.

Two months later, authorities determined that one of the students targeted by the notes was also the person responsible for writing them.


A student at Kansas State University filed a police report in November 2017 over racist graffiti left on his car. “Go Home N***** Boy” and “Whites Only,” read the racist graffiti, which the the student later admitted to writing himself.


Another instance of racist graffiti that same month also turned out to be a hoax. A Missouri high school investigated after racial slurs were left on a bathroom mirror in November 2017, only to find that the student responsible was “non-white.”


Texas waiter Khalil Cavil went viral after posting a Facebook picture of a racist note that he claimed a customer had left on the receipt, in lieu of a tip. The note described Cavil as a “terrorist.” Saltgrass Steak House, where Cavil worked, initially banned the customers for life, before their investigation revealed that the waiter had faked the racist note. “I did write it,” Cavil later admitted. “I don’t have an explanation. I made a mistake. There is no excuse for what I did.”


A Texas waitress apologized in July 2018 after blaming local law enforcement for an offensive note targeting Mexicans. She later admitted to writing the note herself.


A New York woman was charged in September 2018 after police determined she fabricated a story about white teens yelling racial slurs at her and leaving a racist note on her car.


Several racist notes at Drake University were actually the work of one of the students who had been targeted by them. “The fact that the actions of the student who has admitted guilt were propelled by motives other than hate does not minimize the worry and emotional harm they caused, but should temper fears,” university president Marty Martin said afterwards.


National media outlets pounced on a selectively edited video from the March for Life that showed Native American activist Nathan Phillips beating a drum in front of a boisterous group of boys from Covington Catholic High School.

Phillips originally told The Washington Post the students swarmed him while he was preparing to leave the Indigenous People’s March scheduled for the same day. Phillips originally said one student, who later identified himself as high school junior Nick Sandmann, blocked his path from leaving as he tried to do so. The extended video shows that wasn’t the case: Phillips approached the high school boys during their cheers, not the other way around. Some of the people with Phillips were directing racially charged language at the students, not the other way around.


Anti-Semitic vandalism in New York City turned out to be the work of a Democratic activist, according to police. It wasn’t a hoax — the anti-Semitic vandalism was real — but the suspect wasn’t the right-winger some had assumed him to be. The man police arrested, based on surveillance footage, was 26-year-old James Polite, who had actually interned for City Hall on anti-hate issues.


This hoax occurred one week before Trump was elected, but TheDCNF is including it as a bonus because it was so egregious. Leftist media outlets ran headlines like “A Black Church Burned in the Name of Trump” after a black church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on fire and spray painted with the words “Vote Trump.” The Washington Post’s original coverage of the incident read in part,” Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called the fire a ‘hateful and cowardly act,’ sparked by the incendiary rhetoric of GOP nominee Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.” But the church was set on fire by one of the church’s own congregants, who is black.



Supply-side JFK would have a hard time in the modern Democratic party

The modern Democratic Party has fallen completely out-of-touch with American values. To appeal to its radical base leading up to 2020, the Party has become a twisted caricature of its former self.

Get rid of private health care? Abolish ICE? Kill babies after birth? Enact 90 percent marginal income tax rates? Retrofit every single building in America in 10 years? Threaten members of the president’s family with subpoena power? Federalize huge parts of our election system?

Listening to a Democrat, it doesn’t take long to realize it’s no longer the party of John F. Kennedy. In fact, President Kennedy’s ideas would get booed off the debate stage in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

Kennedy believed in equal treatment under the law and personal responsibility. On the campaign trail, he once told supporters, “I do not believe that Washington should do for the people what they can do for themselves through local and private effort.”

He believed every American had a civic duty to make meaningful contributions to society. “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” he famously said in his 1961 inaugural address.

In the short time he served in the Oval Office, President Kennedy oversaw an economic turnaround that propelled the U.S. economy to a 6.6 percent growth rate and 3.8 percent unemployment by 1966 (which would have been his fifth year in office).

He accomplished this feat with supply-side economics. Kennedy believed tax cuts would generate enough economic growth to keep the budget deficit under control. In the fiscal year following the tax cuts, the U.S. federal budget deficit shrunk, and the Dow Jones industrial average almost doubled.

President Kennedy was no small-government libertarian, but his positions were nuanced and thoughtful, two qualities that spark the ire of today’s rising stars in the Democratic Party, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Kamala Harris.

In the modern Democratic Party, there is no room for policy debate. There is only room for character attacks and fear-mongering.

When Republicans passed tax cuts in 2017, the so-called progressive Left had a complete meltdown. Rep. Nancy Pelosi called the tax cuts “armageddon,” the “end of the world,” and “one of the worst bills in the history of the United States of America.”

Larry Summers, former National Economic Council director to President Obama, claimed tens of thousands of Americans would die from tax reform. That is one hell of an accusation to make.

Looking back, we now know the GOP tax cuts will save the average family at least $1,000/year and have sparked tremendous economic growth, just like JFK would have intended. And miraculously enough, we all survived to tell the tale.

If President Kennedy were alive today, the rising stars in the Democratic Party would shut him down.



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 25, 2019

Voter ID laws do NOT affect minority turnout

Jeff Jacoby is not comparing like with like below.  Determining minority turnout is easy.  You just have to observe who turns up at the polling places and count them.  And if the turnout is comparable to total population numbers you can say that turnout has not been suppressed.  For instance, if you observe that 30% of the voters are black and 30% of the population is also black, you have a clear proof black voting has not been suppressed overall.  So Jeff gets that right.

But voter fraud is a quite different kettle of fish.  How do you know how much fraud goes on?  People don't declare to all and sundry that "This is the third time I have voted today".  They keep it quiet.  So saying what the effect of ID laws is on fraudulent voting is very difficult and any figures offered about that are just a guess.  So until people start waving a flag declaring that they are voting illegally, we cannot say what Jeff wants to say -- that voter ID has no effect on illegal voting.  We assume that it does reduce illegal voting but nobody can say by how much

DEMOCRATIC AND LIBERAL activists have been railing for the last few years against voter ID laws, under which citizens must produce some form of official identification before they can cast a ballot.

Such laws, claim the activists, amount to voter suppression because they disenfranchise blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities, who are less likely to possess the necessary photo ID. The New York Times last summer listed Alabama's photo identification requirement as its first example of how lawmakers "limit the right to vote." Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who narrowly lost a high-profile race for governor, insists that voter suppression is "the crisis of our day" and described her state's voter ID law as "designed to . . . scare people out of voting." The NAACP recently filed a federal lawsuit in North Carolina, alleging that the state's new law requiring voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot is "a brazen effort" to "legislate voter suppression" and "suppress the votes of people of color."

Yet for all the sound and fury, the campaign to demonize voter ID laws has proved singularly ineffective. There is good reason for that, as a sweeping new study by scholars at Harvard Business School and the University of Bologna confirms.

Opinion polls consistently find strong support across the board for making voters show identification before voting. In a 2016 Pew poll, 77 percent of registered voters — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents — backed a voter ID prerequisite. A Gallup poll found even broader support: 80 percent of respondents favored ID laws, with nonwhites virtually as strong in their support as whites.

The scaremongers' charge that photo ID laws are racist ploys to suppress Democratic and minority votes have fallen on deaf ears even among most Democratic and minority voters. Why? Perhaps because they know perfectly well that Election Day ID rules haven't suppressed their votes. Far from it.

In last November's midterm elections, exit polls showed that nonwhite voters were 29 percent of the electorate, the highest share ever recorded. "Black Voters Propelled Blue Wave," a Roll Call headline pithily observed — not only did Democrats sweep to a majority in the US House, but the 116th Congress is the most racially diverse in American history. Black turnout has been climbing almost everywhere, including in heavily Republican states. In Georgia, for example, minorities last fall accounted for a record 40 percent of the turnout, belying Abrams's accusation that black voters were suppressed.

In short, minority voting has not been infringed, even as voter ID laws have grown increasingly common. Which is just what researchers Vincent Pons and Enrico Cantoni found when they analyzed the impact, across multiple states and election cycles, of enacting rules requiring citizens to show ID before voting.

The denial of voting rights was once widespread in this country. A major focus of the Civil Rights Movement was the restoration to black Americans of the voting rights they had been systematically denied in Southern states.

The effects of voter ID laws are "mostly null," they conclude in a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Strict ID laws have no significant negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any subgroup defined by age, gender, race, or party affiliation. Most importantly, they do not decrease the participation of ethnic minorities relative to whites. The laws' overall effects remain close to zero."

At the same time, Pons and Cantoni found no evidence that voter ID requirements have a significant impact on voter fraud or on public confidence in the integrity of elections. In states where ID laws have been adopted, there has been no increase in either the number of fraud cases or their likelihood of being reported. Nor has there been any perceptible increase in other kinds of political participation.

If these findings are accurate, they suggest that Americans are wise not to give much credence to the accusations of voter suppression flogged by activists on the left. They suggest as well that suspicions of rampant voter fraud pushed by activists on the right are mostly a bugaboo. This isn't to say our democracy is pristine — legitimate problems include "vote harvesting" scams, unbearable lines at polling places, and cyberattacks on state voting systems. But on the whole, American voting is fairer and more open than it has ever been before.

The denial of voting rights was once widespread in this country; rampant voter fraud was, too. But citizens today who wish to participate in elections have little trouble doing so. The cynics and alarmists on both sides ought to chill out. There are serious issues worth fighting over. Voter ID laws aren't among them.



Californians Want to Flee Their Socialist 'Paradise'

A majority of residents want to leave the state over problems their own leftist voting record created

The problem with California is Californians — at least that’s what the latest survey data indicates. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 53% of California residents are considering moving out of state due in part to high housing costs, homelessness, and an overwhelming belief that the state’s best days are behind it. But to whom are Californians looking to solve these problems their own voting for leftists has caused? Well, 53% believe it is the federal government’s job to solve California’s problems. Sorry, wrong answer.

Like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shifting blame to President Donald Trump and the Republicans for ending the federal government subsidizing high SALT deductions in tax heavy states, too many California residents are blaming the feds for the very problems their local politicians have created. As Stacey Lennox, writing for The Resurgent, observes, “Judging by the responses, it is as if citizens of this state by and large see themselves as victims. Like they have completely forgotten they put the yahoos in office who have made the policies that have caused housing prices, homelessness and other problems to skyrocket.”

The other entity Californians believe owes it to the state to contribute more is business — you know, the biggest drivers of the state’s economy. According to 63% of Californians, businesses need to do more to improve the state, not their leftist elected officials. Some 59% believe corporations need to spend more on community issues. An astounding 67% want tech-industry business leaders to do more for the state, and 68% see the tech industry as not regulated enough, with 59% wanting regulations increased.

For all those conservative Californians who suffer under the increasingly socialist nightmare, you have our sincerest sympathy and we lay out the welcome mat to relocate to conservative states where individual freedom and limited government is still prized. But to all you Californians voting Democrat — you made your bed; now lie in it.



Mark Levin: SCOTUS ‘Changed the 1st Amendment,' ‘We Don’t Have a Free Press Today’

During his nationally syndicated radio talk program, “The Mark Levin Show,” on Wednesday night, host, attorney, and constitutional scholar Mark Levin said the Supreme Court of the United States “changed the First Amendment” in 1964 with its decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, and that “we don’t have a free press today.”

“What the Supreme Court did in 1964 is it changed the First Amendment,” said Levin. “It changed the history behind the First Amendment, and it’s – it put its finger on the scale of justice, and it leaned very, very heavily toward media corporations.”

“We don’t have a free press today,” Levin added. “We are pretenders.”

Levin’s comments came after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan should be revisited. New York Times v. Sullivan established the standards that must be met for a media statement to be considered libel, expanding legal protection for the media.

Below is a transcript of Levin’s remarks from his show on Wednesday.

“What the Supreme Court did in 1964 is it changed the First Amendment. It changed the history behind the First Amendment, and it’s – it put its finger on the scale of justice, and it leaned very, very heavily toward media corporations.

“Now, one might say, ‘Well, then, people would use all these lawsuits to try and put them out of business.’

“You know, that’s the effect that every business has to deal with. CNN is a massive corporation. It’s part of a massive conglomerate. MSNBC is part of a massive conglomerate. We’re talking about tens of billions of dollars, both. The New York Times is owned by the richest man on the face of the earth. The Washington Post is supported by one of the richest men on the face of the earth. [Editor’s note: the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, and The New York Times is owned by The New York Times Company, which is chaired by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.].

“What I’m saying to you is, I don’t encourage fabricated or fallacious lawsuits of any sort, whether you’re suing ExxonMobil, Walmart, Microsoft, Apple, or a media conglomerate. But are we better off because of this decision in... [New York Times v. Sullivan]? You know, our great justice, Clarence Thomas, who understands American history – one of the few who does – John Roberts doesn’t. Kavanaugh doesn’t. He said maybe we ought to re-visit this... [New York Times] v. Sullivan, rather, this... [New York Times] v. Sullivan decision in 1964, and immediately, he’s attacked as doing Donald Trump’s dirty work. How’s he doing Donald Trump’s dirty work? Donald Trump will be out of office – one term, two terms – long after this has significance.

“But that’s what you can expect from the critics in the media. That’s what they do. They attack. We don’t have a free press today. We are pretenders. And you’ll notice, more and more talk show hosts are talking about this since I’ve been talking about this for years now, in great detail, going through the history, going through the specifics. More and more of them finally have the guts to speak out. It’s fun to watch. Many of our colleagues in talk radio supported comprehensive immigration reform until we took the point of the spear, here, and fought it like hell. Then they joined ranks. The silent coup – they were all hiding, until I spoke out about the silent coup, took the hits, but fought back. That’s free speech. That’s free speech.

“I don’t pretend to be part of the press. But the press does pretend to be part of the press. And the consequences of this, I think, have been very troubling. I don’t think we’re getting news. I don’t think we’re getting objectivity. We’re getting left-wing ideology.”



Jordan Peterson wisdom: Lying hurts the liar; Work hard and accept responsibility

As said during his recent Australian tour

Peterson started his Opera House talk by saying that he had over time tweaked one of his “12 Rules For Life” (that is also the name of his book). It used to be “Tell The Truth” but he’s since added “At Least Don’t Lie”.

He changed it, he said, because human beings, being puny and ­ignorant, don’t always know what is true. We might think we do, but we can’t possibly. The world is so big and everything is corrupted, and so at least don’t lie, which ­Peterson defines as “knowing something is not true, and saying it anyway”.

Why not? Not for the reasons you might think. Yes, it’s unethical to deceive people, but that’s not Peterson’s bag so much as this: “The more you lie to yourself and to others, the more corrupt you become.”

He doesn’t mean in business. He means when you lie, you damage yourself psychologically. You create pathways in your brain that are based on falsehoods, and they in turn become the architecture on which you ­depend in times of trouble. “Is that what you want?” he said. “To have lies in your ­corner?”

Of course you don’t, because if you’re depending on lies to save you, inevitably you’ll end up in a “way worse” position than when you started

From there, Peterson segued into a human being’s need not only for truth, but for forward ­motion. He seemed here to be speaking mainly to young men.

Peterson has on previous occasions acknowledged that women in their late 20s and early 30s have big decisions to make and not much time to make them.

His advice is usually for women to put their careers aside for a bit and have a family, because it’s important as you get older to have a close circle of intimates, by which he means a partner, children and grandchildren. You’re going to live until you’re 90, probably. Careers are fun and friends are good, but the people who knew you when you were young and those who will perhaps help take care of you when you are old? Way better.

Young men are also questioning the way forward: should they still be trying to get married and play the provider role? Because it seems to be going out of fashion.

Peterson says yes.

They should get up and get a job. Marry their girlfriends, take on more responsibility, aim for promotions at work, take them when they come, and generally head in the direction of their potential, because forward motion has a positive psychological effect on people. It directs young men, in particular, away from depression, and suicide.

“And you don’t have to change the world,” Peterson said, “just ­decide on three things that could improve your own life by 6pm today.”

That may be something as simple as picking up your dirty socks and putting them in the wash basket. Now your mum is happy and the household is happier, and you’re responsible, so good for you.

Peterson acknowledged that a lot of people struggle to move forward in life because they are caught up in terrible childhood experiences. “But you are no longer five,” he said. “You can’t fight back at five, but you don’t want to still be fighting those demons at age 58.”

Meaning: yes, your childhood was awful. It’s also over. So, no more excuses. Up you get.

The more people do this — speak truth, confront demons, strive forward — the better the world is for everyone, because what happens when vast numbers of people feel a sense of nihilism, and dismay?

When people get angry and start blaming others for their plight?

You get bullying. You get school shootings. You get acts of terror. You get Nazism, concentration camps, gulags, all of it hell.

“We should be moving away from hell,” said Peterson. “That’s a good thing for all of us to be moving away from hell.”

It wasn’t all super-serious. Towards the end of the show, Peterson took questions from the audience. He was asked about his snappy wardrobe of three-piece suits, and he acknowledged spending “way more that any reasonable person should” on clothes in recent years.

He also talked about cage fighting, and about how many problems have simple solutions, using as an example a client he once had, a young woman, who had complained about being tired and angry all the time. Turns out she was hungry.



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 24, 2019

Leftist millionaires show a total inability to think beyond nursery level

Below is a media release from a group calling itself the Patriotic Millionaires.  It's typical leftist abuse of language.  They are just rich leftists who want to sound good

They write under the heading "Patriotic Millionaires on the $15 Minimum Wage in IL: “Our State Will Thrive” but make the simplest assumptions about what will happen.  They just seem to expect that all low income earners will suddenly get more money.

That many of the poor will lose their jobs and get zero dollars as employers transfer their activities to other jurisdictions does not seem to have entered their baby minds.  That others will lose their jobs as employers automate more also does not cross their stunted minds.

And many businesses are economically marginal -- particularly in the hospitality sector -- so a sudden increase in their labor costs will simply send them over the edge into liquidation -- throwing employees who were glad to have a job into unemployment.

And most new entry-level jobs will simply not be created.  Many entry level jobs exist BECAUSE the low federal minimum wage makes the business activity concerned worthwhile.  The potential employer who might have created a job will do his sums using the $15 wage and do something else instead.

Far from helping the poor, this is an attack on jobs for the poor.  The poor often need their jobs badly and find it hard to find new ones so this is a really heartless attack by ignorant rich people on poor and needy people who are powerless to answer back

The Trump boom is creating jobs for everyone at every level but the State of Illinois is doing its best to disqualify many of its citizens from participating in that boom. It has made jobs at the lower end of the boom illegal

Note that the job destruction starts right now, even though the $15 hours don't cut in fully until 2025.  Businessmen have to plan ahead and it is the $15 level that Illinois businessmen will plug into their planning spreadsheets

Springfield, IL – Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, making Illinois the first midwestern state, and fifth state overall, to bring its minimum wage to $15 an hour. In response, Michael and Joan Pine, Patriotic Millionaires and Illinois residents, issued the following statement:

"Just two years after former Gov. Rauner vetoed similar legislation, Illinois' working families will finally get the boost they deserve.

So long as the federal minimum wage does not keep up with increases in the costs of goods and rising inflation, it will be necessary for states to step in. By Gov. Pritzker making a living wage one of his first priorities, he has shown a commitment to the working class and the businesses that service them. An increase in wages means more money for Illinois families to spend at their local businesses. As a result, our state economy, which relies on consumer spending, will thrive."

Email Sam Quigley at


Do We Really Need So Many Foreign Tech Workers?

Americans don't usually think of technical professionals as "guest workers," yet at any one time, there are more than a half-million foreigners holding tech jobs in the U.S. They are here thanks to the H-1B visa program. H-1B, so the official spiel goes, addresses an alleged shortage of "highly skilled" Americans to fill jobs "requiring specialized knowledge."

Growing evidence, however, points to companies' using the program to replace perfectly qualified American workers with cheaper ones from elsewhere. A new report published by the Atlantic Council documents the abuses. The authors are Ron Hira, a political scientist at Howard University, and Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.

Among their criticisms:

—Virtually any white-collar job can be taken by an H-1B visa holder. About 70 percent of them are held not by what we consider tech workers but by teachers, accountants and salespeople, among others.

(Denver Public Schools employs teachers on H-1B visas. During a strike, the district actually threatened to report participating foreigners to immigration authorities. It later apologized.)

"By every objective measure," Hira and Gopalaswamy write, "most H-1B workers have no more than ordinary skills, skills that are abundantly available in the U.S. labor market."

U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students in engineering and in computer and information science than are hired in those fields every year, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.

—Employers don't have to show they have a labor shortage to apply. They don't even have to try recruiting an American to fill the job.

Cutting labor costs is clearly the paramount "need." In Silicon Valley, computer systems analysts make on average just over $116,000 a year. But companies can hire H-1B workers at a lower skill level, paying them only about $77,000 a year to do the same work, the report says.

And it's not unheard-of for companies to ask American workers to train the H-1B workers taking their jobs. "60 Minutes" featured Robert Harrison, a senior telecom engineer at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. Asked whether training his replacement felt like digging his own grave, Harrison responded:

"It feels worse than that. It feels like not only am I digging the grave but I'm getting ready to stab myself in the gut and fall into the grave."

Why does this program continue without serious reform? Mainly because its big boosters include such marquee tech names as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Eric Schmidt. Big Tech has showered think tanks with funding to brainwash Americans into believing that their country is starving for tech expertise.

Are there rare tech skills that justify companies' looking abroad? There are, but that's the purpose of the O-1 visa. About 10,000 are granted each year to individuals with "extraordinary ability or achievement."

I asked Hira whether we need H-1B at all.

"I think there's a place for the H-1B program," he responded. "The O-1 is a cumbersome process that requires a lot of paperwork, both in preparation and review. But we need to raise the standards of the H-1B program so that the quality and skills of the workers are much higher."

Also, we should substantially raise the wages paid to H-1B workers and make employers show that they tried to recruit Americans and offered them positions. Other guest-worker and green-card programs have that requirement.

Finally, put in force an effective means of enforcement. Right now, compliance is driven by whistleblowing. A random auditing system would far more efficiently find abuses.

Apparently, the argument that "tech jobs need filling" has, in many cases, oozed to "we want cheaper foreigners." The H-1B program demands a major overhaul.



White Nationalism Is a reflection of the Left's Identity Politics

Constitutional conservatism has always rejected this ploy in favor of Liberty for all

On Wednesday, it was learned that federal investigators had arrested a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant on weapons and drug charges last Friday. Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, a self-identified white nationalist, had been stockpiling weapons in his Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment in preparations for his plan to instigate a race war. The charges referenced Hasson as “a domestic terrorist” who intended to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” In his own words, Hasson was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”

Hasson had created a specific hit list of “traitors” that included congressional Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, as well as Leftmedia personalities such as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and CNN host Don Lemon.

In a 2017 letter to “a known American neo-Nazi leader” following the deadly violence at the infamous racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Hasson wrote that he was “a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military. I fully support the idea of a white homeland… We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost. How long we can hold out there and prevent niggerization of the Northwest until whites wake up on their own or are forcibly made to make a decision whether to roll over and die and stand up remains to be seen.”

Thankfully, the authorities arrested Hasson before he attempted to follow through on his murderous plot.

What examples like Hasson serve to expose is the underlying evil behind identity politics, whether it comes in the form of white nationalism or in more widely accepted forms like Black Lives Matter or the Women’s March. The evil of identity politics is fomenting rabid tribalism. It is the antithesis of constitutional conservatism, which espouses the God-given dignity, rights, and Liberty of each individual over that of any one identity group. An individual should be judged by actions and ideas, not identify-group classification.

The hatred of others based upon their immutable characteristics is not a conservative or politically right-wing perspective, even though the mainstream media often erroneously conflates the two — often with the help of the hate-baiting Southern Poverty Law Center. Instead, it is an expression of identity politics. (One party in America specializes in this, and it’s not Republicans.)

By its very nature, identity politics highlights tribal grievances (real or imagined) and then uses these grievances to vilify and blame another targeted group as the “problem.” It seeks to pit groups against each other by preaching the flawed Marxist ethic of oppressor vs. oppressed, creating overly simplistic paradigms like bourgeois vs. proletariat or rich vs. poor. In Hasson’s case, that manifested as sociopathic white nationalism, and there’s nothing remotely “right wing” about it.



Just How Far Left Are Democrats Going?

Gallup finds a stark and staggering leftward shift in the opinions of rank-and-file Democrats

We’ve spent much of the last two years chronicling how far and fast Democrats are moving to the extreme left. But don’t take our word for it — take the word of average Democrats.

In a new Gallup survey, “Understanding Shifts in Democratic Party Ideology,” the organization attempts to discern an answer to what average Democrat voters think on a range of current issues. What researchers found is staggering, though it confirms what we’ve written for years:

As Gallup has previously reported, the percentage of Democrats nationally who identify as politically liberal has been increasing. This has occurred in three distinct phases: 1) 2001-2006, when the percentage was trending steadily upward; 2) 2007-2012, when liberalism held steady near 40% for several years in a row and 3) 2013-2018, when liberalism resumed its upward trajectory.

The percentage of Democrats identifying as politically liberal averaged 32% in the first period, 39% in the second and 46% in the third. At the same time, the percentages identifying as conservative and moderate fell equally.

Though all identity groups within the party have moved left, the starkest shift has been among college-educated whites — a testament to the stranglehold “progressives” have on the higher-education system because, Gallup notes, “the percentage of all college graduates (including postgrads) increas[ed] by 13 points.” Just 34% of that cohort identified as “liberal” in the early 2000s. Now it’s 54%. The shift is on issues running the gamut, too. Whether it’s gun control, climate change, or abortion, rank-and-file Democrats are moving left.

Democrat politicians have exploited and driven this shift. Remember a dozen years ago when the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Chuck Schumer supported border security and opposed same-sex marriage and single-payer health care? Heck, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (sponsored by then-Rep. Schumer), and implemented “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Now, not only have those same politicians — and the entire party — shifted, but they utterly vilify anyone who hasn’t adopted the radical new positions of open borders, forcing bakers to serve same-sex weddings, and Medicare for All. In fact, the latter is practically a litmus test for the 2020 presidential field.

Pondering the fallout of this shift, National Review’s David French writes, “Any study of the political polarization in the 21st century has to account for the fact that it is extraordinarily difficult to achieve any kind of national consensus when one side is rapidly and constantly changing its demands. … The terms of the debate changed. The goalposts shifted.”

Indeed they have, and yet, somehow, leftists are even more angry than they were before all their victories. In any case, even with Donald Trump in the White House and the Senate under GOP control, Gallup’s findings portend trouble ahead for the cause of Liberty.



Supreme Court Delivers Unanimous Victory for Asset Forfeiture Challenge

States are bound by the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against excessive fines and fees when they seek to seize property or other assets from individuals charged or convicted of a crime, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday.

It's a decision that hands a major victory to critics of civil asset forfeiture, and it opens another avenue to legal challenges against that widely used (and often abused) practice by which states and local governments can seize cars, cash, homes, and pretty much anything else that is suspected of being used to commit a crime.

The case before the Supreme Court, Timbs v. Indiana, involved the seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover SUV from Tyson Timbs, who was arrested in 2015 for selling heroin to undercover police officers. He pleaded guilty to his crimes and was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years of probation. On top of that, the state of Indiana seized his 2012 Land Rover—which he had purchased with money received from his late father's life insurance payout, not with the proceeds of drug sales—on the ground that it had been used to commit a crime.

Timbs challenged that seizure, arguing that taking his vehicle amounted to an additional fine on top of the sentence he had already received. The Indiana Supreme Court rejected that argument, solely because the U.S. Supreme Court had never explicitly stated that the Eighth Amendment applied to the states.

On Wednesday, the high court did exactly that.

"For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history," wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the opinion. "Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies," she wrote, or can become sources of revenue disconnected from the criminal justice system.

Indeed, some local governments do use fines and fees as a means to raise revenue, and that has created a perverse incentive to target residents. After the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a federal investigation into the city government found that 20 percent of its general fund came from criminal fines. And Ferguson is not alone in relying heavily on revenue from fines. Making clear that the Eighth Amendment applies to the states will make it far easier to challenge unreasonable fines and fees—including not just asset forfeiture cases, but also situations where local governments hit homeowners with massive civil penalties for offenses such as unapproved paint jobs or Halloween decorations.

Some of those cases are already getting teed up. As C.J. Ciaramella wrote in this month's issue of Reason, a federal class action civil rights lawsuit challenging the aggressive asset forfeiture program in Wayne County, Michigan, that was filed in December argues that the county's seizure of a 2015 Kia Soul after the owner was caught with $10 of marijuana should be deemed an excessive fine.

More broadly, Timbs is a good reminder of how ridiculous the argument in favor of civil asset forfeiture really is. During oral arguments in November, Indiana's solicitor general got boxed into a corner by Justice Stephen Breyer, who managed to twist the government's lawyer into arguing that Indiana should be allowed to seize vehicles for as small an offense as driving 5 mph over the speed limit, which literally elicited laughter in the courtroom.

After Wednesday's ruling, there's a better chance that more civil asset forfeiture cases will be laughed right out of court for being what they obviously are: unconstitutional, excessive punishments that don't fit the crime.



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)