Friday, March 15, 2019

Why the 'excellent' Electoral College is well worth keeping

by Jeff Jacoby

THE FOES of the Electoral College are back in the news.

Late last month, Colorado legislators voted to make their state the 13th (including the District of Columbia) to join the National Popular Vote compact, which is designed to circumvent the Electoral College by having states to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide.

By its terms, the arrangement only takes effect when it has been adopted by enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, the total needed to win the White House. The Colorado bill, which still requires the signature of Governor Jared Polis, brings the number to 181. That would increase to 184 if Delaware joins the compact, as its state senate voted to do last week.

Complaints about the Electoral College are an old story. The National Archives says there have been more than 700 attempts to scrap or modify the Electoral College. None has succeeded, obviously, and it is virtually certain that the popular-vote compact won't either. For one thing, it is unconstitutional — the Electoral College can be changed only by amending the Constitution. Even if that weren't an obstacle, a majority of legislatures will never sign on to a plan designed to undermine their own voters.

The standard indictment against the Electoral College is that it's anti-democratic. It is, of course: The framers of the Constitution devised it deliberately as a check on direct democracy, one of many such checks and balances — think of the power they entrusted to unelected Supreme Court justices, or to a Senate in which states, not people, are equal. Again and again, the Founders went to great lengths to thwart blind majority rule, not wanting important national decisions to be driven by unbridled public emotion, populist demagoguery, or the passions of the mob.

The direct election of the president, argued Elbridge Gerry as the Constitution was being drafted in the summer of 1787, could lead to "radically vicious" outcomes. Hence the interposition of an Electoral College, which ensures that presidents are elected not in one national plebiscite, but through elections within each state to choose electors.

Thanks to the Electoral College, it isn't enough for presidential candidates merely to pile up votes in the few states where they are most popular. In order to win, they must demonstrate appeal across numerous states. And because electoral votes have almost always been awarded on a winner-take-all basis, candidates have a powerful incentive to focus in particular on "swing" states — they work extra-hard to carry states where the public is closely divided, because the reward for doing so is significant.

The ticket that racks up the most votes nationwide nearly always wins a majority of the Electoral College. But twice in the last two decades, the popular-vote winner lost the electoral vote. Both times a Republican ended up in the White House, which explains why so many Democrats are now on the warpath against the Electoral College. All the states that have voted to join the National Popular Vote compact are solid blue states; except for Colorado, none has voted Republican in a presidential election for at least 30 years. Had the compact been in force in recent elections, the candidates those states supported — Al Gore in 2000, Hillary Clinton in 2016 — would have become president. The popular-vote pact would have ratified the choice made by most voters in those states.

But in 2004, when the popular vote was won by George W. Bush, 12 of the states in the compact voted for John Kerry. Enforcing the compact then would have meant overturning the will of the voters in those states. Critics of the Electoral College denounce it as undemocratic — but what could be less democratic than state legislatures deliberately nullifying the choice of a majority of their state's voters?

For a nation like ours — ideologically quarrelsome, geographically vast, socially diverse — the advantages of the Electoral College far outweigh its drawbacks. It guarantees that no one can become president without demonstrating an appeal that crosses state, regional, and communal lines. It makes victory all but impossible for candidates who write off whole constituencies of Americans — Mitt Romney's "47 percent," Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" — even if those candidates are intensely popular in a few specific states or within a few narrow demographic slices. Above all, it balances federalism with democracy: It preserves the central role of the states in American life without sacrificing the principle of one-person, one-vote.

With good reason, Alexander Hamilton pronounced the Electoral College system an "excellent" arrangement. With good reason it has endured for 225 years. Presidents come and presidents go, but the Constitution's system for choosing them is here to stay.



Is Income Inequality Fair?

Walter E. Williams
Some Americans have much higher income and wealth than others. Former President Barack Obama explained, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” An adviser to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has a Twitter account called “Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure” tweeted, “My goal for this year is to get a moderator to ask ‘Is it morally appropriate for anyone to be a billionaire?’” Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in calling for a wealth tax, complained, “The rich and powerful are taking so much for themselves and leaving so little for everyone else.”

These people would have an argument if there were piles of money on the ground called income, with billionaires and millionaires surreptitiously getting to those piles first and taking their unfair shares. In that case, corrective public policy would require a redistribution of the income, wherein the ill-gotten gains of the few would be taken and returned to their rightful owners. The same could be said if there were a dealer of dollars who — because of his being a racist, sexist, multinationalist and maybe a Republican — didn’t deal the dollars fairly. If he dealt millions to some and mere crumbs to others, decent public policy would demand a re-dealing of the dollars, or what some call income redistribution.

You say, “Williams, that’s lunacy.” You’re right. In a free society, people earn income by serving their fellow man. Here’s an example: I mow your lawn, and you pay me $40. Then I go to my grocer and demand two six-packs of beer and 3 pounds of steak. In effect, the grocer says, “Williams, you are asking your fellow man to serve you by giving you beer and steak. What did you do to serve your fellow man?” My response is, “I mowed his lawn.” The grocer says, “Prove it.” That’s when I produce the $40. We can think of the, say, two $20 bills as certificates of performance — proof that I served my fellow man.

A system that requires that one serve his fellow man to have a claim on what he produces is far more moral than a system without such a requirement. For example, Congress can tell me, “Williams, you don’t have to get out in that hot sun to mow a lawn to have a claim on what your fellow man produces. Just vote for me, and through the tax code, I will take some of what your fellow man produces and give it to you.”

Let’s look at a few multibillionaires to see whether they have served their fellow man well. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, with a net worth over $90 billion, is the second-richest person in the world. He didn’t acquire that wealth through violence. Millions of people around the world voluntarily plunked down money to buy Microsoft products. That explains the great wealth of people such as Gates. They discovered what their fellow man wanted and didn’t have, and they found out ways to effectively produce it. Their fellow man voluntarily gave them dollars. If Gates and others had followed President Obama’s advice that “at a certain point” they’d “made enough money” and shut down their companies when they had earned their first billion or two, mankind wouldn’t have most of the technological development we enjoy today.

Take a look at the website Billionaire Mailing List’s list of current billionaires. On it, you will find people who have made great contributions to society. Way down on the list is Gordon Earle Moore — co-founder of Intel. He has a net worth of $6 billion. In 1968, Moore developed and marketed the integrated circuit, or microchip, which is responsible for thousands of today’s innovations, such as MRIs, advances in satellite technology and your desktop computer. Though Moore has benefited immensely from his development and marketing of the microchip, his benefit pales in comparison with how our nation and the world have benefited in terms of lives improved and saved by the host of technological innovations made possible by the microchip.

The only people who benefit from class warfare are politicians and the elite; they get our money and control our lives. Plus, we just might ask ourselves: Where is a society headed that holds its most productive members up to ridicule and scorn and makes mascots out of its least productive and most parasitic members?



SOCIALIST BACKFIRE: New York City On Verge Of Going Bankrupt For First Time In FOUR DECADES

After decades of adopting and implementing socialist policies, New York City is on the verge of going bankrupt for the first time in nearly 40 years.

According to Breitbart, financial experts are predicting — and warning — that there are signs that the city is headed for a financial disaster.

The experts argue that many individuals and businesses leaving the city for lower tax areas coupled with city government spending being at an all-time high is also having a major effect on the Big Apple.

Making matters even worse, the last time New York City almost filed for bankruptcy was in 1975, when former President Gerald Ford was in office and would not give the city a bailout package to settle its massive debt.

Here’s more from the Breitbart report:

“The city is running a deficit and could be in a real difficult spot if we had a recession, or a further flight of individuals because of tax reform,” economist Milton Ezrati told the New York Post. “New York is already in a difficult financial spot, but it would be in an impossible situation if we had any kind of setback.”

The city’s budget deficit has reached an all-time high over the past year. New York City’s long-term liabilities— including pensions, bonded debt, and retirement benefits for city government employees— reached a record-high $257.3 billion, according to an October 2018 Citizens Budget Commission report.

Even though the city’s budget deficit has reached record highs, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shown no signs of curbing the city’s spending.

In fact, de Blasio is adding $3 billion in spending to the current $89.2 billion budget, and spending money at a rate that is three times the rate of inflation, according to the Post.

It also appears that de Blasio will not get help from fellow Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is trying to address a $2.3 billion state budget deficit by using auditors to bill wealthy residents fleeing the state for lower-tax regions.

Cuomo’s preliminary budget proposed $600 million in cuts to money allocated to New York City.

For starters, the Big Apple has been behind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s socialist “Green New Deal,” which studies reveal could bankrupt the entire nation.

One study revealed that the price tag for socialist measure comes out to $7 trillion, with another finding that it could actually cost nearly $50 trillion, which would be roughly seven times more than the original study.

The same goes for the “Medicare for All,” another socialist idea that NYC has been behind.

A study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that the “Medicare for all” plan would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years.

While getting “free” Medicare and health benefits sounds appealing, notable socialists fail to mention how taxpayers will be stuck footing the $32.6 trillion bill over 10 years.

A second study from revealed that the “Medicare for All” plan would cost the United States a jaw-dropping $218 trillion over the next 30 years.

All of those socialist policies and agendas sure are expensive, and it could be pushing New York City into a total collapse.



SICK! Nancy Pelosi SCOLDS Americans For Being Against Dem Measure Allowing Illegals Right To Vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolded Americans late last week for being against a Democrat measure that allows illegal aliens the right to vote.

During a press conference in Austin, Texas, Pelosi argued that America must not suppress the vote of newly arrived legal immigrants, including those who arrive in caravans at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pelosi actually appeared to admit that the Democrats overall immigration goal is to ensure millions of new arrivals who come to the U.S. every year are eligible to vote in America’s elections.

“When we talk about newcomers, we have to recognize the constant reinvigoration of America that they are, that we all have been – our families,” Pelosi began.

“And that, unless you’re blessed to be Native American – which is a blessing in itself that we respect – but that constant reinvigoration of hope, determination, optimism, courage, to make the future better for the next generation, those are American traits,” she added.

She continued: “And these newcomers make America more American. And we want them, when they come here, to be fully part of our system. And that means not suppressing the vote of our newcomers to America.”

Did you catch that?

Pelosi argued that immigrants, not American citizens, make the nation “more American.”

She went on to argue that these “newcomers” should be able to participate in voting, which presumably includes the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and border crossers who arrive at the southern border every year.

“We, in California, see people coming from a different direction, but the same welcome. You see them coming, many from the south, southern border, but should be the same welcome,” Pelosi said.

Her scathing comments came just a few days after she claimed that President Donald Trump being office is like getting kicked by a mule.

While speaking with a local news outlet in Alabama, a reporter asked Pelosi, “Women across the country were traumatized at the loss for Hillary Clinton. Do you remember what that night was like for you personally?”

“It was like getting kicked in the back by a mule constantly,” Pelosi said.

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“It was physical— it was so unbelievable that not only would Hillary Clinton not succeed in winning, but that Donald Trump would be president of the United States,” she added.

Pelosi continued, “I thought that was just impossible to happen. But it did.”

Last week, Pelosi suffered several face spasms and brain glitches when trying to argue that Trump’s national emergency declaration is “unpatriotic.”

Aside from something clearly being wrong with Pelosi, her comments on argument that Trump’s national emergency declaration being unpatriotic will not sit well with many Americans who want the southern border secured.

Pelosi is completely obsessed with the going after the president and will say whatever she can for attention.

And now she’s attacking Americans if they don’t support the Democrats obvious plan to allow more illegals the right to vote.



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

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


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Media Hostility Could Help Trump Win Reelection

Ronald L. Trowbridge

Numerous high-profile investigations, including new probes just announced by Democrats in the House of Representatives, add to uncertainty about President Trump’s election prospects in 2020. Nevertheless, a strong case can be made that a hostile media environment will actually make the president’s reelection highly likely.

Although I have been a student of politics for decades, having worked for President Reagan and later Chief Justice Warren Burger, I have never seen the intensity of media hostility now directed at President Trump. But not until very recently did I come to the realization that such animosity works very much in the president’s favor.

My epiphany came on February 11, 2019, with President Trump’s campaign rally in El Paso. It was déjà vu all over again: 10,000 supporters, say local authorities, gathered to hear the president. I thought to myself: it’s the same huge, wild, yelling, clapping crowd that attended his campaign rallies in 2016. His poll approvals shot up to 52 percent, having been before El Paso at some 41 percent. It has of late been in the high 40s.

Caitlin Flanagan, a writer for the center-left, cerebral The Atlantic, has written two prescient articles that show that media animosity and myopia against Donald Trump could bring about his reelection. The stronger the resistance, the stronger the resistance to that resistance by a silent majority.

In January, Flanagan published the perceptive article, “The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story” with the tag line, “And the damage to their credibility will be lasting.” After showing how the media initially falsely reported that a group of MAGA-hat-wearing teenage boys had, for racist reasons, harassed a Native American elder drumming at the Lincoln Memorial, Flanagan concludes the piece by addressing the New York Times:

You were partly responsible for the election of Trump because you are the most influential newspaper in the country, and you are not fair or impartial. Millions of Americans believe you hate them and that you will casually harm them. Two years ago, they fought back against you, and they won.

Then her bombshell: “If Trump wins again, you will once again have played a small but important role in that victory.”

“If Trump wins again” is an explicit comment that the president’s reelection is possible, that the silent majority could rise again. Flanagan had voiced such irony and paradox in her Atlantic piece of May 2017. Her title said it all: “How Late-night Comedy Fueled the Rise of Trump.” She emphasized that “hosts of the late-night shows decided that they had carte blanche to insult not just the people within this administration, but also the ordinary citizens who support Trump.”

Hillary Clinton, two months before the 2016 election, blew herself out of the water by calling these ordinary citizens the “deplorables.” As Mitt Romney can attest, it is political suicide for a candidate to attack voters. Many today continue to attack ordinary people by commanding them to “Take off that MAGA hat!” or claiming “He has a MAGA hat and is therefore racist.”

The word may be spreading that an angry, myopic media can possibly help get Trump reelected. John Diaz, editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote a prescient editorial on January 25, entitled, “Covington Catholic story shows danger of a rush to judgment.” Like Flanagan, Diaz calls out “the danger of a rush to judgment” – an inclination that aids Trump by giving him more “Fake News!” ammunition to shoot on the campaign trail.

Earlier polls showed President Trump’s approval rating at a low 41 percent. But recall that this was roughly his favorable rating when he surprisingly defeated Hillary Clinton. The media is still angry about that one, and they were made to look foolish. But they seem determined to exercise the same animosity and myopia against Trump that he turned into an advantage. Similarly, I have to wonder if, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi are doing Trump a big favor by attempting to pummel him.

If Trump runs in 2020, the election could be a horserace. It is the inchoate, silent (electoral) majority that remains the greatest unknown. In 2016, Democrats, liberals, progressives, the media—all were certain that Hillary Clinton would win. Some even laughed about it in certainty.

We should remember Santayana’s insight: Those who “don’t remember history are condemned to repeat it.” But the hostile media apparently don’t remember history and are at it again.



Trump’s Proposed Foreign Ops Budget Again Targets UN Funding

For the third consecutive year, the Trump administration has proposed a budget that cuts spending on foreign affairs, including funding for the United Nations – but congressional Democrats are unimpressed.

President Trump’s FY 2020 budget proposal seeks $42.803 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, around $726 million more than requested in the 2019 budget, but significantly below what the U.S. Congress approved for 2019, $54.418 billion.

The State/USAID budget for FY 2018 was $56.386 billion and for FY 2017 was $59.752 billion.

The proposal to Congress says the funding requested for the U.N. and other international organizations aims to fully fund “those organizations critical to our national security but makes cuts or reductions to those whose results are unclear, whose work does not directly affect our national security interests, or for which the funding burden is not fairly shared among members.”

“The [State] Department will continue to work with the international organizations including the U.N. to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and more fairly share the funding burden.”

At the same time, the proposal says the administration is committed to “promoting U.S. leadership in international organizations as a means of countering actions by countries that do not share U.S. national security interests and values.”

--For the “contributions to international organizations” (CIO) account – which goes towards funding the U.N., U.N.-affiliated agencies and other international organizations – the administration is requesting $1.013 billion for FY 2020. (Actual CIO funding in FY 2018 was $1.467 billion and in FY 2017 was $1.359 billion.)

--For the “contributions for international peacekeeping activities” (CIPA) account – which funds U.S. assessed obligations to U.N. peacekeeping operations – the administration is asking for $1.136 billion in FY 2020. (CIPA funding in FY 2018 was $1.381 billion and in FY 2017 was $1.907 billion.)

--For the U.N. regular budget, the administration is requesting $473.7 million for FY 2020. (Actual funding for the U.N. budget in FY 2018 was $609.9 million and in FY 2017 was $593.2 million.)

‘Not the best use of taxpayer dollars’

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) both called the proposal “dead on arrival” in Congress.

“Even though the Administration doesn’t seem to get the message, it bears repeating: at a time when the United States is facing crises across the globe, investing in diplomacy and development advances American interests, values, and security,” said Engel in a statement.

Leahy said the budget was “not worth the paper it is printed on,” and predicted that it will be rejected by Congress.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he looked forward to reviewing additional details, saying the committee would hold hearings in the coming months and “carefully review the president’s proposal as we work to draft and pass spending bills for FY 2020.”

Briefing at the State Department, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said that “President Trump has made it clear that U.S. foreign assistance should serve America’s national interest and should support those countries that help us to advance our foreign policy goals.”

Doug Pitkin, director of the department’s Bureau of Budget and Planning, said the proposal includes reductions in some programs which the administration “believes are either a lower priority or perhaps are not the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

“An example of that is continuing to request lower amounts for contributions [to] international organizations than Congress has provided, as an effort to try to drive greater burden-sharing among those organizations.”

Pitkin conceded that there will be “back and forth” with lawmakers over the proposed budget, but said that just because Congress has not taken up some of the proposed reductions in recent years “does not change the administration’s position.”


The Better World Campaign (BWC), a group that “works to foster a strong relationship between the U.S. and the U.N.,” criticized the plan, saying it “greatly underfunds the U.N. regular budget and peacekeeping operations.”

“The proposed budget cuts will make it more difficult for the U.N. to help those who need it most around the world,” said BWC president Peter Yeo. “It will undermine ongoing efforts to implement the ambitious reform agenda that the U.S. has championed. And it will also exacerbate the financial crisis at the U.N.”

BWC called on Congress to reject the proposal.

The 193 U.N. member-states’ contributions to the U.N. regular and peacekeeping budgets are assessed according to their “capacity to pay,” a formula based on factors including population size and gross national income.

Under those assessments, U.S. taxpayers are expected to provide 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget and – in 2019 – 27.89 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.

Legislation signed by President Clinton in 1994 set a 25 percent cap on the U.S. contribution to U.N. peacekeeping, however, and the discrepancy between that cap and the U.N. assessment led to arrears mounting.

Under legislation negotiated in 1999, the U.S. agreed to settle the arrears in return for a U.N. pledge to gradually reduce the assessment, which was then above 30 percent, to 25 percent.

In the meantime, according to the BWC, U.S. arrears stand at around $750 million and, under the FY 2020 proposal, would increase to more than $1 billion next year.



Pelosi Rejects Impeachment ... For Now

She concedes not enough evidence for impeaching Trump, while still leaving the door open.

In a wide-ranging interview published in The Washington Post Magazine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a statement that appears to be aimed at tamping down all the Democrat rhetoric on wanting to impeach President Donald Trump. “I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi stated. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”

So, what can be made of Pelosi’s statement? Three possibilities, and perhaps a combination of all three.

First, it’s important to note that Pelosi’s statement does not preclude any future impeachment attempts. Instead, she has simply conceded that Democrats do not presently have enough political capital to instigate impeachment proceedings. In other words, Pelosi recognizes that as things currently stand, an attempt at impeachment would be more politically damaging for Democrats than for President Donald Trump. And practically speaking, with the Senate under GOP control, an impeachment attempt without any real evidence would only push Republicans to further coalesce behind Trump. To put it bluntly, Pelosi knows it would be a politically damaging effort in futility.

Second, Pelosi may have deduced something about or even been privy to Robert Mueller’s forthcoming report. If, as we have long speculated, the report finds no evidence of any Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy, Pelosi will need to have her party repositioned in such a fashion as to avoid appearing to have invested any real political capital in Mueller’s findings. By downplaying the impeachment mantra that has been entirely linked to Russian collusion, Pelosi is attempting to pull back and make Democrats look the part of objectively minded statesmen, not the politically invested hacks they are.

Finally, Pelosi is flexing her intra-party authority over the young and popular upstarts within her own party. By publicly speaking out to a prominent Leftmedia outlet, Pelosi is communicating to her young leftist firebrands that whatever their rhetoric may be, she will be the one to decide what if any action will be taken on impeachment, not them. And no action will be taken — yet. Of course, that will all change if House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler’s fishing expedition turns up anything.



AOC Hates the USA
According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 51% of voters agree with this statement: “Right now we have people in Congress who hate our country.” Only 34% disagree, and 15% aren’t sure. But that a majority of voters, and perhaps as many as two-thirds of voters, feel that way should be cause for alarm.

You don’t have to look far to find politicians who are hostile to America. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC as she is often referred to) went on quite a tirade this weekend at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas.

Borrowing from Hillary, AOC blasted capitalism as “irredeemable.” If she likes socialism and taxes so much, she should start by paying her own!

She attacked Ronald Reagan as a racist for wanting to reform welfare. And she trashed America as “garbage,” saying that her ideas shouldn’t be seen as radical because America needs to be fundamentally transformed. She said:

“I think all of these things sound radical compared to where we are. But where we are is not a good thing. And this idea of like, ten percent better than garbage, it shouldn’t be what we settle for.”

Yes, her remarks are outrageous. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s just her. AOC is reflecting the kind of American history that has been taught in our schools for the last 30 years, which is all too often anti-American history.

Ocasio-Cortez is just the first of many leaders now rising out of that generation with the same worldview. I have commented many times on the fact that the Millennial generation is the least patriotic in history. That didn’t happen by accident.

Given her views about capitalism and America, I’m not surprised Ocasio-Cortez attacked Reagan; he loved this country and he cherished freedom.

Sadly, Reagan is often just a footnote in our textbooks. Or he is portrayed as presiding over an “era of greed” and criticized for employing racist tactics.

In reality, he presided over an era of tremendous growth, defeated the Soviet Union and was reelected in one of the greatest landslides in American history. He left office with a 63% approval rating — all before AOC was even born!

I could just imagine what Reagan’s reaction would be to Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism. As he once said, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”



Mumps, other outbreaks force U.S. detention centers to quarantine over 2,000 migrants

The number of people amassed in immigration detention under the Trump administration has reached record highs, raising concerns among migrant advocates about disease outbreaks and resulting quarantines that limit access to legal services.

As of March 6, more than 50,000 migrants were in detention, according to ICE data.

Internal emails reviewed by Reuters reveal the complications of managing outbreaks like the one at Pine Prairie, since immigrant detainees often are transferred around the country and infected people do not necessarily show symptoms of viral diseases even when they are contagious.

Mumps can easily spread through droplets of saliva in the air, especially in close quarters. While most people recover within a few weeks, complications include brain swelling, sterility and hearing loss.

ICE health officials have been notified of 236 confirmed or probable cases of mumps among detainees in 51 facilities in the past 12 months, compared to no cases detected between January 2016 and February 2018. Last year, 423 detainees were determined to have influenza and 461 to have chicken pox. All three diseases are largely preventable by vaccine.

As of March 7, a total of 2,287 detainees were quarantined around the country, ICE spokesman Brendan Raedy told Reuters.

More HERE 


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

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


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Yorkers Do To Florida What Latin Americans Do To America

Given the constantly reiterated left-wing charge that opposition to massive immigration is racist and xenophobic, it is important to restate the truth: The reason for opposition to mass immigration into the United States — from almost anywhere in the world, whether legal or illegal — has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. The issue is entirely one of values. Every immigrant, to anywhere, brings a set of social, moral, political and religious values. No one on earth is devoid of values, be they noble, ignoble or merely confused.

Wishful-thinking conservatives and Republicans have long argued that Latinos are potential Republicans because at heart they are social conservatives. They are said, for example, to oppose abortion and to have a strong commitment to the traditional nuclear family.

Yet, even assuming Latinos' overall opposition to abortion and strong belief in the mother and father-led family, this has paled in significance compared to Latinos' belief in big government. That the state should take care of people is now the most widely held belief in the world. More people believe in big government than believe in the God of the Bible. That is one reason, as I frequently note, that the most dynamic religion of the last hundred years has not been Christianity or Islam, but leftism.

America is the only country in the world founded on a belief in limited government. It is a uniquely American value. And that is precisely the problem: It is uniquely American. Very few immigrants to America bring with them a belief in limited government.

That is one reason Democrats want more and more immigrants — more or less from anywhere (except Western Europe). Almost every immigrant is another vote for the Democratic Party. The only exceptions are some Europeans who crave individual liberty, and people fleeing socialist and communist dictatorships, such as those of the Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela. First-generation Cubans became a bedrock of the Republican Party in Florida. So, too, first-generation immigrants from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe formed a strong conservative block. And today, one suspects most Venezuelans allowed to immigrate to the United States would find American millennials' love affair with socialism ludicrous.

However, in every case, the words "first-generation" are operative. Once the children of first-generation immigrants from left-wing tyrannies attend American colleges (or, increasingly, American high schools), they are likely to become left-wing Democrats. Their parents' horrific experience with big government — nearly always meaning left-wing government — becomes irrelevant to them.

Take, for example, Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google. Brin, about the 10th-richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $50 billion, was born in the Soviet Union, which he and his family fled, immigrating to the United States when he was 6 years old. Yet he is a man of the left who now censors PragerU videos and other conservative content and plays a major role in making Silicon Valley the closed left-wing world it is. Though his family fled the Soviet state, Soviet values have apparently influenced Brin more than American values have.

So, whether immigrants bring big-government values with them or embrace them within a generation, few immigrants of the last generation either brought American values or embraced them for long after coming here.

Nor is it only a belief in big government that nearly all immigrants bring with them. For example, many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa bring with them a value that permeates the societies from which they came — anti-Semitism. Witness the two newest Muslim members of Congress: Ilhan Omar, who came from Somalia, and Rashida Tlaib, whose parents are Palestinian.

The problem with mass immigration into America has nothing to do with ethnicity or race; it is entirely about values. The proof is this: The problem is the same with "internal" immigration. New Yorkers immigrating to Florida and Californians immigrating to Texas and Arizona do to those states what Latin Americans do to America: They bring different values — specifically, left-wing values, starting with belief in big government.

Next time someone labels your opposition to mass immigration "racist" or "xenophobic," tell them you are equally opposed to New Yorkers immigrating to Florida and Californians immigrating to Arizona. And for the same reason: They bring with them the very values that caused them to flee. The only difference is Latin Americans are largely unaware of what they are doing; New Yorkers, Californians and other leftists who move to conservative states know exactly what they're doing: voting for the government policies from which they fled.



On the Cusp of Catastrophe, California Has No Margin for Error

Californians brag that their state is the world’s fifth-largest economy. They talk as reverentially of Silicon Valley companies Apple, Facebook, and Google as the ancient Greeks did of their Olympian gods.

Hollywood and universities such as Caltech, Stanford, and Berkeley are cited as permanent proof of the intellectual, aesthetic, and technological dominance of West Coast culture.

Californians also see their progressive, one-party state as a neo-socialist model for a nation moving hard to the left.

But how long will they retain such confidence?

California’s 40 million residents depend on less than 1 percent of the state’s taxpayers to pay nearly half of the state income tax, which for California’s highest tier of earners tops out at the nation’s highest rate of 13.3 percent.

In other words, California cannot afford to lose even a few thousand of its wealthiest individual taxpayers. But a new federal tax law now caps deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000—a radical change that promises to cost many high-earning taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

If even a few thousand of the state’s 1 percent flee to nearby no-tax states such as Nevada or Texas, California could face a devastating shortfall in annual income.

During the 2011-16 California drought, politicians and experts claimed that global warming had permanently altered the climate, and that snow and rain would become increasingly rare in California. As a result, long-planned low-elevation reservoirs, designed to store water during exceptionally wet years, were considered all but useless and thus were never built.

Then, in 2016 and 2017, California received record snow and rainfall—and the windfall of millions of acre-feet of runoff was mostly let out to sea. Nothing since has been learned.

California has again been experiencing rain and cold that could approach seasonal records. The state has been soaked by some 18 trillion gallons of rain in February alone. With still no effort to expand California’s water storage capacity, millions of acre-feet of runoff are once again cascading out to sea (and may be sorely missed next year).

The inability to build reservoirs is especially tragic given that the state’s high-speed rail project has gobbled up more than $5 billion in funds without a single foot of track laid. The total cost soared from an original $40 billion promise to a projected $77 billion.

To his credit, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, fearing a budget catastrophe, canceled the statewide project while allowing a few miles of the quarter-built Central Valley “track to nowhere” to be finished.

For years, high-speed rail has drained the state budget of transportation funds that might have easily updated nightmarish stretches of the Central Valley’s Highway 99, or ensured that the nearby ossified Amtrak line became a modern two-track line.

California politicians vie with each other to prove their open-borders bona fides in an effort to appeal to the estimated 27 percent of Californians who were not born in the United States.

But the health, educational, and legal costs associated with massive illegal immigration are squeezing the budget. About a third of the California budget goes to the state’s Medicare program, Medi-Cal. Half the state’s births are funded by Medi-Cal, and in nearly a third of those state-funded births, the mother is an illegal immigrant.

California is facing a perfect storm of homelessness. Its labyrinth of zoning and building regulations discourages low-cost housing. Its generous welfare benefits, nonenforcement of vagrancy and public health laws, and moderate climate draw in the homeless.

Nearly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, and nearly 1 in 5 live below the poverty line.

The result is that tens of thousands of people live on the streets and sidewalks of the state’s major cities, where primeval diseases such as typhus have reappeared.

California’s progressive government seems clueless how to deal with these issues, given that solutions such as low-cost housing and strict enforcement of health codes are seen as either too expensive or politically incorrect.

In sum, California has no margin for error.

Spiraling entitlements, unwieldy pension costs, money wasted on high-speed rail, inadequate water storage and delivery, and lax immigration policies were formerly tolerable only because about 150,000 Californians paid huge but federally deductible state income taxes.

No more. Californians may have once derided the state’s 1 percent as selfish rich people. Now, they are praying that these heavily burdened taxpayers stay put and are willing to pay far more than what they had paid before.

That is the only way California can continue to spend money on projects that have not led to safe roads, plentiful water, good schools, and safe streets.

A California reckoning is on the horizon, and it may not be pretty



Majority of Likely Voters Agree with Trump: ‘We Have People in Congress that Hate Our Country’

A majority of Americans agree with President Donald Trump that some members of Congress “hate our country,” a new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters shows.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last Saturday, March 2, Trump said:

“We have people in Congress, right now, we have people in Congress that hate our country.”

“And, you know that, and we can name every one of them, if they want. They hate our country. Sad. Very sad. When I see some of the statements they made. Very, very sad.”

In its national survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted March 5-6, Rasmussen asked: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement – ‘We have people in Congress, right now we have people in Congress, that hate our country’?”

While slightly more than half of likely voters agreed with the statement, only about a third disagreed that some members of Congress hate America:



Another Horror Story of Government Spending

That 90% of Silicon Valley start-ups fail is often mentioned in these columns. The 90% number is a reminder that bad ideas in Silicon Valley quickly fail. The Valley’s immense wealth isn’t an effect of constant success; rather it’s a certain consequence of persistent failure that forces constant learning and improvement. What makes no sense dies with great rapidity in northern California, so that good ideas can be born.

While what fails in the private sector is mothballed, what belly flops in the governmental sphere is frequently rewarded with more taxpayer funds. That’s why government waste is a first order redundancy. Of course it's waste. Absent the possibility of investor withdrawal whereby what makes no sense is rapidly starved of resources, what’s ridiculous just grows and grows.

Which brings us to a front page Wall Street Journal article from Tuesday. Even though airplanes can transport passengers from Chicago to St. Louis in less than 1 hour, Amtrak (our national train service) has a train route in place that can similarly transport passengers between the two cities. The problem is that what takes less than an hour by plane takes 5 ½ hours by train. Sadly, the Amtrak story gets worse.

As the Journal went on to report, “a fast-rail project is under way in Illinois.” It’s hard not laugh while typing, but this project will push the top speed of Amtrak trains traveling from Chicago to St. Louis up to 110 miles per hour, thus “shaving just an hour” off a trip that as previously mentioned takes 5 ½ hours. Fear not, the story gets even worse. 

You see, $2 billion was spent so that Amtrak trains traveling between STL and Chicago would take 4 ½ hours instead of 5 ½. Unsurprisingly, this non-improvement isn’t or won’t impress passengers. The present expectation is that, assuming top speeds of 110 mph, “the share of people who travel between the two cities by rail could rise just a few percentage points.” On its own, American Airlines already flies seven times per day from Chicago to St. Louis. In an hour. 

So while there are countless stories and lessons about the folly of government spending, the waste of $2 billion on something that makes no economic sense loudly exposes the horrors of Congress controlling so much of the wealth first created in the real world. The waste is monstrous. And this is just Amtrak. Ideally the Amtrak story instructs.

Ideally it’s a reminder that with government spending, it’s not a Democrat or Republican thing. Politicians exist to spend, so the cost of government grows and grows regardless of the Party in charge.

Readers would be wise to consider how the money is spent. The federal government costs close to $4 trillion each year, and with Amtrak in mind, readers might imagine all the other waste taking place across various federal programs. Crucial here is that the nearly $4 trillion used to be in the private sector.

Now it’s not, which means close to $4 trillion is annually allocated by politicians in obnoxiously obtuse fashion. That it’s misallocated is a blinding glimpse of the obvious. When failure doesn’t inform one’s actions, the inevitable result is economy-sapping waste.

It cost Amtrak $2 billion to “improve” service that was never necessary, while $500,000 was all it took for Peter Thiel to purchase 10 percent of Facebook in 2004. With the long history of nosebleed federal spending very much in mind, how many Facebooks have been suffocated by government waste that economists laughably tell us stimulates economic growth?

This is not a partisan issue. It’s one of common sense. Government, whether run by Republicans or Democrats, can only mis-appropriate what’s precious. Sane people on each side should energetically oppose the falsehood that is “government spending” simply because it’s not government spending.

"Government spending" is a horror story that cannot be stressed enough simply because it has everything to do with suffocating the amazing under the gargantuan weight of what has to be flamboyantly dumb by virtue of failure informing none of it. Call "government spending" what is: freedom-sapping economic contraction that robs us of trillions worth of experimentation necessary to employ us much better, improve our living standards, and substantially elongate our lives.



Harvard law professor says 'slimy' Jared Kushner is the 'beating heart' of the 'corrupt and deeply evil' Trump administration

Tribe is well-known for going off half-cocked at the very mention of the Trump name so  this is just more of the same.  He comes from an ethnic group that is reflexively Leftist

Constitutional law professor, Laurence Tribe, made the comments on Saturday. Tribe was responding to Newsweek columnist, Seth Abramson, who had called President Donald Trump's son-in-law 'the greatest domestic danger to America'.

'I’m with @sethabramson here. Smarmy, slimy, smiling Jared Kushner of 666 Fifth Avenue is the beating heart of this unprecedentedly corrupt and deeply evil administration,' Tribe tweeted. 'He’ll eventually be exposed as an insatiably greedy Benedict Arnold,' he added, implying that Kushner would betray the United States.

Tribe responded to Abramson's Twitter thread after he made the case that 'Kushner is going to get us into a *devastating* war with Iran'.

'Jared, singlehandedly. Jared, to make money for himself. I'll say now that Jared more richly deserves to be in prison for the rest of his life than Manafort, and Manafort richly deserves it. That's how bad this is,' Abramson wrote.

In a series of tweets, Abramson said that 'our foreign policy is totally off the rails in a way that is dangerous, and the sole reason for this is the Kushner-Trump axis'.



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

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


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Centrists squirm as 2020 Democrats swerve left

Comment from the Left-leaning Boston Globe below:

The sharp left turn in the Democratic Party and the rise of progressive presidential candidates are unnerving moderate Democrats who increasingly fear that the party could fritter away its chances of beating President Donald Trump in 2020 by careening over a liberal cliff.

Two months into the presidential campaign, the leading Democratic contenders have largely broken with consensus-driven politics and embraced leftist ideas on health care, taxes, the environment, and Middle East policy that would fundamentally alter the economy, elements of foreign policy and ultimately remake American life.

Led by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a democratic socialist who is the top candidate in the race at this early stage, many vocal leaders in the party are choosing to draw lessons from liberal victories in 2018 rather than the party’s breakthroughs in moderate suburban battlegrounds that delivered Democratic control of the House.

These progressive Democrats risk playing into Trump’s hands — he has repeatedly branded them “socialists” — yet they argue that their ambitious agenda can inspire a voter revolt in 2020 that elects a left-wing president.

“Those ideas that we talked about here in Iowa four years ago that seemed so radical at the time, remember that?” Sanders, returning to Iowa this past week for the first time as a 2020 candidate, crowed Thursday. “Shock of all shocks, those very same ideas are now supported not only by Democratic candidates for president but by Democratic candidates all across the board, from school board on up.”

The sprint toward populism amounts to a rejection of the incremental and often-defensive brand of politics that has characterized the party’s approach to highly charged issues for 40 years. Yet when nearly half of voters indicate in polls that they will not support the president’s reelection, many moderates say the cautious strategy in 2018 that helped the party pick up 21 House seats that Trump carried two years earlier should be the playbook for next year.

“What we saw in the midterms is a lot of people from the center and moderate part of the party really win and take back the House,” said Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, alluding to the careful and poll-tested campaigns many Democrats in Republican-leaning districts ran last year. “We need to make sure we’re being as pragmatic as we can.”

This moderate wing of the party lacks an obvious standard-bearer. Former mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, who would have run a centrist campaign, begged off this past week; Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Midwestern progressive who favors a within-the-system style of pragmatic politics, also decided not to run. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who is running, has presented herself as a centrist but has not yet gained traction.

Should former vice president Joe Biden enter the race, as his top advisers vow he soon will, he would have the best immediate shot at the moderate mantle. (And if he does not run, Democrats like former governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia or governor Andrew Cuomo of New York might try to seek that role.)

Biden’s candidacy would immediately thrust a fundamental dispute to the center of the Democratic race: Do Americans simply pine for a pre-Trump equilibrium, less chaos and more consensus, or do the yawning disparities of these times call out for a more transformational administration?

Sanders and other Democratic candidates, like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are plainly wagering that voters want more than a return to normalcy.

Warren proposed Friday that the government break up big tech giants like Amazon and Facebook, the latest, and perhaps boldest, proposal to come from her campaign. And Sanders’ platform — “Medicare for all,” free college tuition, and an aggressive plan to combat climate change — has grown in popularity, according to polls.

Speaking at the University of Iowa on Friday evening, Sanders took aim at “establishment Democrats” and won his loudest and most sustained applause by pledging to push through his universal health care bill.

Sanders and Warren, along with a new generation of high-profile progressives like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have emerged this winter as the clearest and most vocal arbiters of Democratic aspirations, if not the immediate congressional agenda.

They are, at least, hastening the tectonic shifts taking place in the party. It was no accident that House Democrats modified a resolution targeting Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — for her controversial claim that pro-Israel advocates carry an “allegiance” to a foreign country — after Ocasio-Cortez, other lawmakers of color, and the party’s leading presidential hopefuls rebelled against singling out Omar. The episode marked a striking departure from the down-the-line support for Israel that has characterized the upper ranks of most Democratic primaries.

Yet Biden, in speeches at home and abroad, has used much of the first part of this year pledging to restore the dignity he believes that the country has lost in the Trump years, promising a restoration rather than a revolution. And, as his supporters put it less subtly, his campaign would represent something else.

“Overwhelmingly, the primary electorate of the Democratic Party wants to win,” Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said. He argued that Biden could “repair a lot of the ways in which our position in the world has been harmed” while offering a “hopeful, optimistic, positive” vision at home that would heal the divisions he said Trump has exacerbated.

To such moderate Democrats, the most instructive recent election is not that of Trump in 2016 but rather the 2018 midterms, when many of the Democrats who won in battleground House districts and governor’s races were decidedly less confrontational than Sanders.

“The overwhelming majority of seats we picked up were by center-left candidates representing more centrist-type districts,” said Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, adding, “There’s still lots of folks on our side who are OK with compromise.”

Democrats in Washington are seeing the tensions within the party firsthand as they try to balance an agenda that their newly elected moderates can support while also mollifying more liberal newcomers who are eager to impeach Trump and pursue far-reaching goals, such as the Green New Deal.

“A lot of young people have come into a world where there was more diversity, more opportunities and where they had use of social media,” said Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland about the expectations of next-generation activists and lawmakers, some of whom serve on the oversight committee he chairs. “A guy like me, I had to fight to even get in the door.”

To tell some of these younger Democrats that a uncompromising progressive platform may be unattainable, let alone who can and cannot be elected president, is difficult given Trump’s victory and the chasm they see between the scale of the problems they will confront and the policies in place today.

And unlike many in the party’s pragmatic wing, these Democrats believe the recipe for success in the general election is not to nominate another seemingly safe candidate like Hillary Clinton, who was unable to galvanize the base and lost crucial votes to a Green Party nominee, but to put forward somebody who will energize reluctant voters.

“Obviously we’ve shown that we’re at a place where we’re OK with nontraditional candidates,” said Riley Wilson, a 29-year-old Nebraskan who crossed the Missouri River to see Sanders. He added: “I think so many people just aren’t involved at all in politics, and I think he would be able to bring some of those people into the fold because they’ll feel like they have options that they haven’t had before, politically speaking.”



Dad Of Sick Child Explains Why Government-only Medicine Always Leads To Rationing

Would you like all hospitals to run like the typical DMV?

The reintroduction of Democrats’ single-payer legislation has some families contemplating what total government control of the health-care sector would mean for them. Contrary to the rhetoric coming from liberals, some of the families most affected by a single-payer system want nothing to do with this brave new health care world:

Pouncing Joe Pilot, MD: "I promised you all a thread on the state of modern American healthcare from the unique perspective of both a pediatrician and a father of a gravely ill child undergoing surgery"

As this father realizes, giving bureaucrats the power to deny access to health care could have devastating consequences for some of the most vulnerable Americans.

Determining the ‘Appropriate’ Use of Medical Resources

To summarize the Twitter thread: The father in question has a 12-year-old son with a rare and severe heart condition. Last week, the son received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to help control cardiac function.

But because the defibrillator is expensive and cardiologists were implanting the device “off-label”—the device isn’t formally approved for use in children, because few children need such a device in the first place—the father feared that, under a single-payer system, future children in his son’s situation wouldn’t get access to the defibrillator needed to keep them alive.

The father has reason to worry. He cited a 2009 article written by Zeke Emanuel—brother of Rahm, and an advisor in the Obama administration during the debate on Obamacare—which included the following chart:

The chart illustrates the “age-based priority for receiving scarce medical interventions under the complete lives system”—the topic of Emanuel’s article. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this chart sure speaks volumes.

Also consider some of Emanuel’s quotes from the same article, in which he articulates the principles behind the allocation of scarce medical resources:

Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments.
The complete lives system discriminates against older people….[However,] age, like income, is a ‘non-medical criterion’ inappropriate for allocation of medical resources.

If those quotes do not give one pause, consider another quote by Zeke Emanuel, this one from a 1996 work: “[Health care] services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” When that quote resurfaced during the debate on Obamacare in 2009, Emanuel attempted to claim he never advocated for this position—but he wrote the words nonetheless.

The Flaw in Centralized Decision-Making

Beyond their Orwellian tone, these quotes ignore a more fundamental flaw in this kind of centralized system, where bureaucrats like Emanuel determine who gets scarce medical resources and who does not. Research into various drugs and treatments determines their effectiveness on average. But by definition, a single individual is by no means “average.”

The father in his Twitter thread hit on this very point. Medical device companies have not received Food and Drug Administration approval to implant defibrillators in children in part because so few children need them to begin with, making it difficult to compile the data necessary to prove the devices safe and effective in young people.

Likewise, most clinical trials have historically under-represented women and minorities. The more limited data make it difficult to determine whether a drug or device works better, worse, or the same for these important sub-populations. But if a one-size-fits-all system makes decisions based upon average circumstances, these under-represented groups could suffer.

To put it another way: A single-payer health care system could deny access to a drug or treatment deemed ineffective, based on the results of a clinical trial comprised largely of white males. The system may not even recognize that that same drug or treatment works well for African-American females, let alone adjust its policies in response to such evidence.

A ‘Difficult Democratic Conversation’

In a 2009 interview with The New York Times, Barack Obama mused aloud about whether government bureaucrats would have to make tough health care decisions at the end of human life:

The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here….There is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.

Some would argue that Obama’s mere suggestion of such a conversation hints at his obvious conclusion from it. Instead of having a “difficult democratic conversation” about ways for government bureaucrats deny patients care, such a conversation should center around not giving bureaucrats the right to do so in the first place.



Fascist Democrats Won't Condemn Anti-Semitism

Even Ilhan Omar voted for the resolution that was originally supposed to rebuke her

The whole point of the Democrats’ originally planned resolution this week was to rebuke the repeated and specific anti-Semitic remarks of a sitting member of Congress. The actual resolution they passed Thursday did not do that. Worse, but predictably, the 23 Republicans who declined to participate in what became a generic “anti-hate” charade are now being vilified for daring to vote against “condemning hatred and bigotry.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has been the source of much consternation since winning a seat in Congress last November, showing her true hateful colors on multiple occasions. Nevertheless, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) protested that Omar’s “words are not based on any anti-Semitic attitude” but are instead because “she didn’t have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people.” Translation: Omar is dumb, not racist. As for the resolution, Pelosi insisted, “It’s not about her. It’s about these forms of hatred.”

The resolution was so watered down to include “Islamophobia,” anti-Hispanic sentiment, and even law-enforcement profiling that Hamas-supporting Omar herself voted for it. Again, given that its original purpose was indeed, contra Pelosi, a rebuke of Omar, that should tell you all you need to know about the radicals who now run the Democrat Party.

Now, the resolution didn’t cover every kind of hate — just those flavors Democrats wanted to highlight. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said he was “shocked” that the measure “refused to similarly condemn discrimination against Caucasian Americans and Christians.” We’re sure he meant “shocked” about as facetiously as Captain Renault in “Casablanca.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) opposed the resolution, calling it a “sham” that was actually “designed to protect anti-Semitic bigotry.” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) added, “By refusing to mention Rep. Ilhan Omar by name and allowing her to keep her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrats have sent a message that anti-Semitism is less serious than other types of hate.” Indeed, House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said as much, dismissing families of Holocaust survivors as not truly understanding how the former refugee Omar is the one “living through a lot of pain.”

Why has anti-Semitism been legitimized by Democrats? Because they are increasingly becoming fascist — a bastardized socialist philosophy in which anti-Semitism is deeply rooted. Their 2020 platform is one of authoritarian government control of private industry, class warfare, and a race-based hierarchy of victim groups. That’s fascism in a nutshell, despite the fashionable leftist historical lie that puts 20th-century fascists and their ideological descendants on the Right. After all, as Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels is attributed to have said, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

And if anyone knows how to repeat a lie often enough, it’s Democrats.



Hispanic Unemployment Breaks Another Record Low, But TOTALLY Ignored By Telemundo & Univision

President Trump is breaking records left and right. In the month of February, the Hispanic unemployment rate hit another record low, the fourth time since this past June. So what did the two main Spanish news networks in America (Telemundo and Univison) have to say about this great news? Absolutely nothing!

Trump has done more for the black and hispanic communities in the past two years than Obama did in his entire presidency. That’s a fact. Check out what the Epoch Times reported:

Hispanic unemployment dropped from 4.9 to 4.3 percent between January and February, following the previous trend of historically low unemployment for the group and in general, which was somewhat broken in January by the temporary increase in furloughed workers due to the partial government shutdown.

Telemundo and Univision both ran articles on the unemployment data, but neither mentioned the historical significance of the Hispanic rate. The Telemundo article didn’t mention the Hispanic rate at all.



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

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


Monday, March 11, 2019

Let me try my hand at prophecy: About Mr. Trump's Emergency declaration

Prophecy is a mug's game.  Something like 95% of prophecies don't turn out.  But there is a class of prophecy that does turn out: Prophecies based on a correct understanding of natural phenomena.  The big challenge there is "correct".  Warmists think that CO2 warms the earth. But that is demonstrably not correct.  There is no synchrony between the two. But prophesying the position of the earth  relative to the other planets at any one time can be done with great accuracy because we do have a very good and correct knowledge of orbital dynamics.

And in principle, the same applies with regard to all other natural phenomena, including what people do.  The social sciences exist because people think they can see regularities in human behaviour and once you have a regularity, accurate prophecy should be possible.  And in economics that definitely happens.  If you restrict the supply of something, its price will go up, for instance.  It always does. 

But when you get into the other social sciences prophecy is rarely possible.  My academic background is principally in psychology and the only sound generalization from human psychology that I know of that has much in the way of real-life application is the generalization that your educational success will be almost entirely a product of your IQ.

But as well as my background in psychology, I also have a substantial background in sociology and economics.  I taught in a sociology school for a number of years and I am also a former high School economics teacher. So it would seem possible that a combination  of three social science disciplines might occasionally enable accurate prophecies.  And I have repeatedly found that it does. What I think will happen or should happen in the world of politics often does end up actually happening.  I am a pretty good knowledge-based prophet.

So far I have never put one of  my prophecies into writing so perhaps it is now time that I did.  I may be hilariously wrong but I can handle that.  And what I want to prophecy is quite daring.  I want to forecast both the verdicts and the reasoning of both the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of the United States.  And I dare to do that without having any formal knowledge of law or any legal qualifications.  So I am setting myself a very difficult task indeed. I am setting myself up for a fall but it will be fun if nothing else

I refer to the Emergency Declaration that President Trump is using to fund his wall. It generally takes a while for matters to come up before a court but it should fairly quickly come before the 9th Circus.  I anticipate that there will be 4 arguments put to the court in favour of the declaration:

1). The courts have no jurisdiction over how the Commander in chief discharges his duties.  It is for the commander to command and he, not the courts, has the final word about that. So he can therefore use military resources to build a wall. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers carries out many tasks without explicit congressional authority and a wall is just another example of that.

There are some legal restrictions on what the commander can do with the military but none mention wall building.  And even the restrictions that do exist are customarily applied only lightly.  Many wars have been initiated without the authority of Congress, for instance

2). Since passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976, every U.S. President has declared multiple national emergencies, so Trump is not doing anything out of line. And  123 enumerated powers are invoked by an executive declaration with no Congressional input. This should actually be the core issue in the case and will no doubt be  examined in great detail so I will say no further about that approach.  The sudden arrival of whole caravans of illegals could well be held to be an emergency requiring extra powers.

3). Reallocating funds away from their original purpose is routine so again Trump is well within precedent.  He could do his intended reallocation of funds even WITHOUT an Emergency declaration.  To deny him that customary right would greatly hobble all future administrations and cast into legal limbo many past funding arrangements.  That is surely not to be done lightly.

4). Government by regulation is already well established.  Mr Obama used his "pen and phone" to circumvent Congress on some quite major matters -- notably the creation of DACA immigrants. Trump is simply trying to ENFORCE the law by using regulatory powers.  Obama explicitly CREATED a whole class of new law with no Congressional authority.  The courts have so far upheld the authority of the DACA declaration so it should be merely consistent to uphold Trump's much less innovative declaration.

This argument, by the way, is a complete answer to the idiocy of Rand Paul, who says he will vote against the emergency declaration in the Senate because he fears what a future Democrat president will do with the precedent.  He forgets that the precedent has already been set -- by Obama -- and that Trump's declaration sets no new precedent. Rand Paul is doing a classical act of trying to close the door after the horse has escaped.

So I am pretty sure that at least one of those arguments will ultimately prevail.  There is even a possibility that one will prevail at the 9th Circuit level.  Let me go out on a limb and prophecy that the 9th Circuit with find the emergency declaration improper but will allow that Trump is nonetheless entitled to build his wall using recycled funds because recycling funds has strong precedent.  If that is the verdict, the matter will probably not go to SCOTUS.  If it does go to SCOTUS, they will probably use that reasoning too.


Medicare for All Would ‘Result in Care for None,’ Doctor-Turned-Lawmaker Says

A congressman from Maryland who is also a physician says Medicare for All would end up depriving Americans of health care, rather than make it more accessible.

“The Medicare for All plan that was announced a couple of weeks ago by my Democrat colleagues, over 100 of them, really will result in care for none. That’s the bottom line,”  Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., an anesthesiologist by profession, said Wednesday at Conversations with Conservatives, a monthly press question-and-answer session hosted by The Heritage Foundation. 

“You can’t offer ‘free’ care to everyone and expect anything but rationing to be the result,” said the six-term lawmaker. “The costs are huge. We already have a trillion-dollar deficit in the federal government spending. To add more to it will result in rationing.”

Medicare for All—specifically, the plan from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.—comes with a price tag estimated at $32.6 trillion over 10 years.

Among other things, Sanders’ plan would “prohibit ordinary Americans from purchasing any alternative health coverage, except for items such as ‘cosmetic surgery’ or health services that government officials decide are not ‘medically necessary,’ according to a recent commentary from Bob Moffit, a senior fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

The Maryland lawmaker says socialized health care is not the answer to rising health care costs and limited insurance options.

“When you dissect this plan, piece by piece, including the elimination of all private insurance, not even socialized medicine in England has that … so, we go well beyond the socialized medical schemes of Europe in the Medicare for All plan,” Harris said. “It is just going to be a nonstarter.”

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who owned his own dental practice prior to serving in Congress, joined Harris and Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., at the Conversations with Conservatives event, said more effort needs to be placed on making the free market work in health care.

“It is amazing what actually happens when you lower premiums, lower drug prices, lower doctor and hospital visits, and it empowers people to create new ideas,” Gosar said. “Making a market-driven solution is actually beneficial.”

DesJarlais, a physician by profession now in his fifth term in Congress, said Medicare for All would only make the ability to receive health care more of a problem.

“Access is the big thing. There just is not enough to go around,” he said.

“And when you consider that Medicare for All would eliminate what over half the country realizes now in an employer-based plan, most people, despite all the horrors we have heard about Obamacare, which is really bad, get their insurance through their employer,” DesJarlais added. “So, it would change that and eliminate private insurance altogether, and so people would be left with what the government tells them they can have.”

Harris said the importance of patient care needs to be restored as part of health care reform.

“When I was trained, almost 40 years ago, the bottom line is the relationship between the patient and her doctor was the most important,” he said. “That was it. Fast-forward to now. You got an insurance company in the room. You got a government bureaucrat in the room. You have a pharmacy benefits manager in the room. You got all these outside parties that are now involved in that relationship.

“We have got to come full cycle and restore it to the primacy of a patient,” Harris said.



New Tax Proposal Could Devastate Americans’ Retirement Accounts

A new tax proposal in Congress aims to stick it to the rich. But if passed, it could devastate the U.S. financial system and ruin the value of ordinary Americans’ retirement accounts.

The proposal, introduced by a team of Democrats in the House and Senate, would assess a penalty each time someone sells a stock, bond, or other financial instrument. It would tax each of the roughly 10 billion U.S. equity market trades each year, among other transactions.

The goal, presumably, is to hit the rich. But the stock market is not just a tool for the wealthy.

Some of the largest shareholders and beneficiaries of our modern financial system are pension funds for public-sector employees and private retirement account holders. Firefighters, teachers, university endowments, and private retirement savings all benefit from sophisticated equity markets. Many employers issue short-term debt to cover payroll and young start-ups sell securities to fund their growth.

The stock market may seem opaque to the average American, but they still benefit from it through new jobs, advances in productivity, and increases in retirement and other invested savings.   

This proposal would handicap markets for U.S. saving and investment. It would levy a tax of 0.1 percent on the value of every stock, bond, and derivative transaction in the U.S. or made by a U.S. resident.

Depending on the purveyor you listen to, this new tax could make the stock market fairer and less volatile. The tax would stop the dreaded practice of high-frequency trading, whereby large volumes of trades are made quickly by algorithm. Its backers also project that it would raise a sizable chunk of revenue that purportedly would be paid by the “rich.”

But a financial transactions tax fails to meet each of these goals. It would increase rather than decrease market volatility; it would hurt digital traders, who benefit the market; it would not raise as much revenue as projected; and the tax would ultimately be paid by American savers through lower investment returns and fewer economic opportunities. 

A financial transaction tax is not a new idea. The Congressional Budget Office regularly includes it in its yearly list of budget options. Its report notes, however, that the tax could “have a number of negative effects on the economy stemming from its effects on asset prices, the cost of capital for firms, and the frequency of trading.”

These concerns bear out in the real world, too. Evidence from France’s experiment with a transactions tax in 2012 shows that it lowers trading volumes and reduces market liquidity, which hurts market quality.

Fewer trades mean it is harder to buy and sell stock, and markets operate less efficiently. Inefficient markets hurt everyone. They translate into fewer new jobs and less productive investment. 

Italy also tried a transactions tax. There, it  increased market volatility. 

The transactions tax is designed to cut out short-term and speculative traders who trade for small gains by increasing cost of the trade. But without these participants, market prices are less accurate, leading to more frequent and larger price swings. This is borne out in a 2015 study that shows how the tax would indeed increase the likelihood of boom-bust cycles and exacerbate overall return volatility.

In addition, University of California, Berkeley professor Maria Coelho found that financial transactions taxes are “poor instruments” for fixing the market problems identified by advocates. 

As written, the bill is so expansive that it would likely tax short-term, non-exchange traded commercial paper that is used to cover short-term business obligations, like payroll. So a transactions tax could make paying workers more expensive.

The tax would also increase costs for small businesses and start-ups trying to raise funds. A start-up that sells $50 million in securities would now owe a $50,000 tax—not a trivial sum.

But most of all, the tax would hurt ordinary American savers.

In the United Kingdom, it was estimated in the 1980s that cutting the limited financial transactions tax rate “from 2 percent to 1 percent would have led to a 10 percent rise in share prices.” To the extent there is a transactions tax, stock values will fall.

A transactions tax would therefore decrease the stock of wealth for any American who has investments. Private retirement accounts and pension plans could be hurt the most.

Consider a retirement account: a $300,000 self-directed IRA equities portfolio turning over once every year. Just a 0.1 percent tax would result in additional costs of $300 annually. This may sound minimal, but a $300 annual investment growing at 7 percent amounts to more than $20,000 after 25 years.

Perhaps most fundamentally, the tax would impose its largest effective rate on marginal investments—those investments that just barely make a profit. These are the more common type of investments , even though high-return projects are also important.

For instance, under the proposed tax, a block of 1,000 shares of a $25 stock that is sold for $25.01 would face a 250 percent tax rate on the profit made from the sale. By design, these marginal investments are the type that would be most harmed by a transactions tax. The higher the tax rate, the larger the harm.

Despite claims that a new tax would have little effect, history shows that traders respond markedly to new transactions taxes. This means such proposals raise “significantly lower revenues than projected,” as Coelho found in Italy and France.

It is unlikely the new tax would raise anything close to the $777 billion over 10 years that proponents hope for.

It is clear that financial transactions taxes are a poorly designed policy for achieving their proponents’ stated goals. But even if it were the best way to raise revenue, we should question whether maximizing revenue is even a proper goal for governments to have as a matter of policy. 

The government class will always have an insatiable desire to tax and spend at ever higher levels, which means it will search for new and innovative ways to raise revenue. Governments, like most monopolies, are prone to waste and inefficiency.

A better course of action is for Washington to let people of all income levels keep more of the money they earn—to spend, save, and invest how they see fit for themselves, their family, and their local communities.

Washington already has plenty of ways to tax Americans—rich and poor alike. Adding a new tax to the financial system is not the way forward—especially when it will hurt American workers, students, and retirees the most.



Senate Delivers CRUSHING Blow To Democrat Agenda With 52-46 Vote

The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed another judge to serve a lifetime appointment on a prominent court, and Democrats are furious. The Senate voted 52-46 this week to confirm Eric Murphy to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The confirmation is significant because it gives President Donald Trump another young, conservative judge a lifetime appointment on a critical appeals court.

As noted by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur, this is the 90th judge Trump has successfully nominated since he took office two years ago.

“[Donald Trump] has now put 90 judges on the U.S. courts for lifetime-tenured jobs. Ninety. 54 district court judges, 34 circuit court judges, 2 Supreme Court justices,” Kapur wrote.

“These are young conservatives—mostly aged 40s or 50s, some 30s. They will shape the law for generations,” he added.

Soon after the confirmation vote, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown — who many thought was running for president but announced he was staying in the Senate — attacked Murphy as being “far right” and “inexperienced.”



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

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


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Are the Japanese conservative?

In 2002, a reader of this blog, Derk Lupinek, who was living in Japan, sent me an email questioning my definition of conservatism.  He said that my definition seemed irrelevant to Japanese politics.  Here is what he wrote:

"I live in Japan, and when I first moved here I found myself trying to decide whether the Japanese were deeply conservative, as I had been led to believe, or whether they were actually quite liberal, especially given their attitudes toward sex.

They clearly do not value individual liberty, which would mean they are not conservative by your definition, but they seek to preserve their culture down to the most excruciating details, leaving me with the feeling that they are in fact deeply conservative, at least in the sense that Philosoblog intends.

So, while I do agree with your definition as it relates to conservatism in the West, it certainly doesn't account for deeply conservative individuals in other cultures, and those individuals are indeed trying to "conserve" something.

In other words, you seem to be using the term "conservative" to refer to a political movement that has occurred in the West, and Philosoblog is just using the term more generally to refer to a psychological mindset. Am I mistaken?"

I think I can now give a fuller reply than I did in 2002: I agree that "conservative" has come to have the lexical meaning of "opposed to change".  And that is fine.  I have no desire to re-write the dictionary.

But to understand what is going on we have to look at WHY conservatives oppose some changes. My point is that those individuals usually labelled "conservative" in the Anglosphere are motivated primarily by a love of liberty and that their opposition to what the Left want stems not from an opposition to change in general but from skepticism about the wisdom and  benefit of Leftist policies, which are invariably authoritarian.  Leftists want to stop us doing things we normally do and make us do things that we would not normally do, which is the irreducible core of authoritarianism

So, yes, the Japanese are conservative but they have different reasons for that -- reasons that I know little about.

So it is OK to characterize all conservatives, including Western conservatives, as being opposed to change -- as long as we do not take big mental leaps to say WHY they oppose some changes.

The claim that conservatives oppose ALL change is patently absurd Leftist propaganda.  Notable conservatives such as Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Donald J. Trump are clearly energetic agents of change. Mr Trump seems to do just about everything differently. So by and large it is only the poorly thought-out  ideas of the Left that conservatives rapidly reject. They have no attitude to change as such.  They just don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The people who DO have a particular attitude to change are the Left. Change is their entire message.  They basically want to change everything -- out of an arrogant and ignorant assumption that they know how to create a new Eden.  The Soviets even thought that they could create a "New Soviet man".

Currently, the "Green New Deal" championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exemplifies just how sweeping in scope and just how empty-headed Leftism can be.  In good Leftist style, AOC wants to change just about everything in America. Sadly for America her ideas are hugely popular among American Leftists.  She would create huge destruction given her way

The "New Deal" that the "Green New Deal" refers to was a series of economic initiatives in the 1930s by Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that was modelled on the policies of Fascist Italy.  Hillary Clinton's slogan in the last presidential election -- "Better together" -- was also the central idea of Italian Fascism.

And there is always the unapologetic authoritarianism of "Bernie" Sanders:

He really has defended government bread rationing and he really does pledge that he will "transform the country"

In such circumstance politics is largely a contest between the self-righteous and impetuous dreamers who want to tear down our existing society in order to move us towards a new Eden and those who stand in the way of that folly. As Bill Buckley famously said: "A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ’Stop!’"  Bill was a very polite man so he said "history" where I would have said "Leftist folly".


Democrats Are Goose-Stepping Towards Irrelevancy

In a party where loyalty is paramount but the goalposts keep moving, what happens next?

Democrats recently held a meeting where party leaders made it clear loyalty is the only thing that matters. Unsurprisingly, a headline from The Washington Post article describing the meeting vastly understated reality: “House Democrats explode in recriminations as liberals lash out at moderates.” Socialist/Marxist hard-core radicals lashing out at progressives is more like it — in a party where ever-increasing demands for “authenticity” are the only currency that matters.

What kind of authenticity? “Triggering the blowup was Wednesday’s votes on a bill to expand federal background checks for gun purchases,” the Post explained. “Twenty-six moderate Democrats joined Republicans in amending the legislation, adding a provision requiring that ICE be notified if an illegal immigrant seeks to purchase a gun.”

In other words, Democrat Party members who would like to take Americans’ guns away were furious that some of their colleagues supported making sure illegals can’t get guns. As a result, media-made “superstar” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared through her spokesman that Democrats who side with Republicans “are putting themselves on a list.”

It’s going to be quite a list, and ideology is only half of the equation. As Victor Davis Hanson so aptly explains, Democrats are a party where “ending capitalism, the internal combustion engine, and so-called white privilege become, for now, the new revolutionary agendas.” And while the old party elitists may pay lip service to the first two tenets, he warns, “The third canon of race unfortunately is not apparently, like gender, a social construct, but innate, unchanging and genetic — and historically an igniter of tribal strife every time it is elevated to being essential rather than incidental to identity.”

The new breed of Democrats, whose ignorance is only exceeded by their arrogance, couldn’t care less. If the old guard won’t get more tribal, they are eminently expendable. Thus, when former VP Joe Biden called current VP Mike Pence a “decent guy,” he infuriated leftists who believe Pence’s anti-same-sex marriage stance is all that matters. And when failed New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon called him out, Biden backtracked. “You’re right, Cynthia. I was making a point in a foreign policy context, that under normal circumstances a Vice President wouldn’t be given a silent reaction on the world stage. But there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President,” he tweeted.

Biden is the tip of the iceberg. Bernie Sanders? Just “an old white, and rather affluent career politician, still barking at the class-struggle moon,” as Hanson puts it. A person “burdened by his utter lack of intersectionality,” National Review editor Rich Lowry adds. Elizabeth Warren? Her Native American “ancestry” has proved to be as tenuous as her explanations for exploiting it, making her just another rich, old, white women.

Kamala Harris? In order to authenticate her “blackness,” the daughter of a Tamil Indian mother and Jamaican father told a radio audience she used to get high in college while listening to “Snoop” and “Tupac” — neither of whom released music until years after she graduated. Cory Booker? Apparently inventing a drug dealer friend named “T-Bone” was his ticket to “down with the struggle” relevancy.

And on it goes, as each of these Democrats and others try to out-authenticize one another by moving further and further left. Ocasio-Cortez wants a 70% tax rate? Punked by Ilhan Omar, who wants to jack it to 90%. Both are outflanked by Warren, who apparently believes advocating for outright wealth confiscation will mitigate her tribal deficiencies.

The party’s new breed and their establishment fanboys and fangirls are also on board with a Green New Deal, universal Medicare (and the subsequent elimination of private insurance), tearing down the existing border wall, reparations for black and Native Americans, abolishing ICE, and embracing post-birth abortions.

And yet, as always, Democrats remain fearful too much elucidation of their intentions is their worst enemy. “Democratic leaders agree that candidates need to be careful not to say anything now that could haunt them in the general election, if they become the nominee,” The Washington Post reports.

The haunting is in full swing. As Hanson points out, Democrats are a party “in which over a dozen and often overlapping victim cadres agree that each degree of non-white-maleness adds authenticity and becomes a force multiplier of left-wing radicalism.”

It is a force multiplier whose ultimate destination elicits a question: How could any white, heterosexual, male — routinely vilified as “privileged,” “cisgender,” and “toxic” — still be a member of the Democrat Party, much less one of its presidential candidates?

And what about Christians, who were referred to as “bitter clingers” by the former Democrat president, and saw the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, vilified as a promoter of “extremist” views by two Democrat senators?

Jewish Americans? How many anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, pro-BDS, Louis Farrakhan-supporting Democrats does it take to engender irreparable alienation?

After all, the House failed to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.

Yet the rush to the left remains undimmed. “So many Democratic presidential prospects are now claiming the progressive mantle in advance of the 2020 primaries that liberal leaders are trying to institute a measure of ideological quality control, designed to ensure the party ends up with a nominee who meets their exacting standards,” Politico reports.

Quality control? Exacting standards? Ideological purity with all the attendant fanaticism is more like it. “You don’t just get to say that you’re progressive,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told party donors at a conference last December. She and her followers envision 2020 as a watershed election where they will get a chance to “leverage our power.”

As always, power is all that matters to the American Left. That’s at least partly why DNC chairman Tom Perez announced Fox News would be barred from holding a Democrat Party presidential debate because of its “inappropriate relationship” with President Trump. Apparently 90% negative coverage of the president by the media is insufficient.

The list of initiatives mentioned above is all about the Liberty-crushing empowerment of progressive-controlled government, and their desire to abolish the Electoral College and pack the Supreme Court with four new leftist justices is all about making the arrangement permanent. Yet why are the same Democrats who hid behind a facade of “tolerance” for decades now embracing in-your-face radicalism?

Two reasons: The election of Donald Trump so enraged them they can’t contain themselves, to the point where they’ve made it clear they intend to investigate unprecedented portions of his adult life, and the lives of his associates and family, irrespective of their relationship to his presidency — and irrespective of what the Mueller investigation finds.

In other words, Democrats are embracing the Stalinesque “show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” mindset championed by the Soviet dictator’s secret-police director Lavrenty Beria.

Yet far more important, Democrats think a combination of mass immigration — absent assimilation — and five decades of indoctrination-based education, that produced legions of Americans united solely by the idea they live in an inherently flawed nation needing radical transformation, has reached critical mass.

Don’t bet on it. “Progressives are like a worn rope being pulling apart at both ends,” Hanson states. “At one end, there is an effort to radicalize prior radicalization, and on the other end victimhood is heading toward parody.”

Not parody. Self-inflicted political irrelevancy.



Jonah lives!

Director of Dive Expert Tours Rainer Schimpf, 51, from South Africa, had set off with his team of divers to document a sardine run when events took a surprising turn off Port Elizabeth Harbour, east of Cape Town.

In a situation reminiscent to the Old Testament's Jonah and the whale, Mr Schimpf was left facing a potentially fatal outcome as he entered the inside of the large creature's mouth.

Mr Schimpf and his team, who had split into two groups, had been documenting a natural event which sees the likes of gannets, penguins, seals, dolphins, whales and sharks come together to capture large quantities of fish.

The team were 25 nautical miles from shore when the sea suddenly began to churn and Mr Schimpf was swallowed into the mouth of the beast like the Bible's Jonah.

During the biblical story, Jonah is tossed into the water during a storm and stuck in the belly of the beast for three days before he is thrown up onto the shores of Nineveh.

Following the incredible incident, Mr Schimpf told Barcroft TV that he had been trying to film a shark going through a bait ball when his surroundings suddenly became dark and he felt the large whale grab hold of his body.

He told Barcroft TV: 'I could feel the pressure on my hip, there is no time for fear in a situation like that – you have to use your instinct.'

Mr Schimpf added: 'Nothing can actually prepare you for the event when you end up inside the whale – it's pure instinct.

'I held my breath because I thought he is going to dive down and release me much deeper in the ocean, it was pitch black inside.'

As the experienced diver, who has been a dive tour operator for more than 15 years, was sucked into the whale's mouth, his colleague and photographer Heinz Toperczer kept the camera focused on Mr Schimpf and watched on in horror from the team's boat.

He later described how he saw dolphins leap out of the water and a white spray erupt from the top of the whale as his colleague was swallowed by the sea animal.

After being spewed out of the creature's mouth, Mr Schimpf was able to swim back to his boat unharmed.

Bryde Whales are known to grow up to 40-55 feet in length and are typically found in Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific ocean. The whales are usually dark grey and can dive to depths of 300 metres.



On Hill, Homeland Security Officials Describe Emergency at the Border

Changing immigration laws could reduce the inflow of illegal border crossers by almost two-thirds, a top border security official testified Wednesday at a Senate hearing.

Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Border Patrol should be able to detain families as a unit, which is prohibited under the government’s interpretation of current law.

Congress also should reform the asylum laws and make it easier for immigration officials to send illegal border crossers to to their home countries, McAleenan said. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked whether a change in law or more resources—including funds for a border wall—would make a bigger dent in illegal immigration. 

Border Patrol officials need both, McAleenan replied.

“But the immediate impact—63 percent of our traffic at the border would be addressed by a change in the laws,” McAleenan said.

The hearing comes as President Donald Trump makes his case to Congress for the national emergency he declared Feb. 15 to secure funds to build a wall or other barrier along sections of the southern border.

On the other side of the Capitol, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, McAleenan’s boss, testified Wednesday before the House’s Democrat-controlled Homeland Security Committee.

At the House hearing, Nielsen testified that illegal immigration across the border is “spiraling out of control” and is now a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“Our capacity is already severely strained, but these increases will overwhelm the system entirely,” Nielsen said. “This is not a manufactured crisis. This is truly an emergency.”



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)