Friday, April 05, 2019

Trump is unravelling before our eyes -- or so says the Washington post

LOL. Jennifer Rubin, who  wrote the article below, sounds like a rich and spoilt Jewish girl from NYC, maybe even a JAP, who has never  spoken to a working class person in her life.  And she probably has never spent much time with the elderly either.

Mr Trump sounds a lot like an older working class person. He grew up in Queens, a demographically mixed suburb, so would have heard a lot of working class speech during his growing up. And he spent a lot of time talking to the workers on his building projects during his real estate development career.  So he is familiar with working class speech and finds it congenial. His mother was Scottish so goodness knows what speech in the family home was like. It would however have legitimated different accents and idioms to him.

But as the child of a rich family most of his growing up was probably in the hands of employees -- nannies and the like.  So the earliest speech he heard much of would have been theirs, most probably working class speech. So he may even be reverting to a pattern that was most familiar to him in his growing up. People tend to do that as they get old. In short, he does something that no NYC snob would do:  He has adopted a lot of working class speech patterns.

And working class speech is very different from university speech.  It tends to be disorganized, disconnected, rambling, poorly contextualized and use few long words. It sounds most unlike a book.

A working class manner enables Trump to speak in a relaxed, disorganized way.  He is not a Leftist intellectual or a policy wonk and he doesn't speak like one or want to be one.

We had a political leader much like that in my home State of Queensland, Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen.  He was a small farmer and spoke like one.  Media figures thought his rambling, disconnected speech made no sense at all.  But it made plenty of sense to his voters.  They kept him in office for nearly 20 years.  So 8 years of Trump would seem eminently feasible.

And Trump's muddled speech that Jennifer Rubin hears as neurologically impaired could also be another type of impairment -- elder speech.  Old people do tend to forget their words and use generic substitutes.  For instance, the lady in my life and I are both of Mr Trump's vintage and we  both listen to a lot of early classical music.  But one day she wanted to say something to me about a harpsichord, an instrument very familiar to us both.  But words failed her.  So she referred to it as "that piano thing".  Mr Trump's speech could well lack precision because of that. He is 72. He could, for instance say "father" when he meant "grandfather".  But rule by the elderly is very common, almost the norm, so such minor failings are of no concern

And some of the things that Rubin pillories are not so silly.  The health effects of wind turbines are very much a matter of dispute and a bit of paranoia about vote counting could indeed be revelatory.  And the things he said about Obamacare are not necessarily contradictory. At this juncture, who knows what paths to abolishing it may be needed. Many different options and procedures should surely be discussed and explored and that is happening.

And closing the border does not mean what she apparently thinks it means.  It means closing all authorized crossing points.  Illegal "leakage" will continue until the wall is built.

In the past 24 hours, Trump - who will be 74 in November 2020 and is "tired," according to aides - has:

* Falsely declared multiple times that his father was born in Germany. (Fred Trump was born in New York.)
* Declared that wind turbines cause cancer.
* Confused "origins" and "oranges" in asking reporters to look into the "oranges of the Mueller report."
* Told Republicans to be more "paranoid" about vote-counting.

He is increasingly incoherent. The Washington Post quotes him at a Republican event on Tuesday: "We're going into the war with some socialist. It looks like the only non, sort of, heavy socialist is being taken care of pretty well by the socialists, they got to him, our former vice president. I was going to call him, I don't know him well, I was going to say 'Welcome to the world Joe, you having a good time?'"

Even when attempting to defend himself, he emits spurts of disconnected thoughts.

"Now you look at that [presidential announcement] speech and you see what's happening and that speech was so tame compared to what is happening now, that trek up is one of the great treacherous treks anywhere, and Mexico has now, because they don't want the border closed."

I don't presume to diagnose him or to render judgment on his health. All of us, however, should evaluate his words and actions.

If you had a relative who spoke this way, you would urge him to get checked out or advise him to slow down (although Trump's schedule, with its hours of "executive time," is already lighter than the schedules of many retirees). Remember that this guy is the commander in chief, holder of the nuclear codes.

Even Republicans realise that his decisions are more erratic and illogical than ever. He doubled down on his intention to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in the courts, then insisted he had a terrific replacement, next said he would assign others to figure out the plan and take a vote before the 2020 election, and finally declared that they would vote on such a (nonexistent) bill after the 2020 election.

Senator Mitch McConnell was compelled to stage an intervention and tell him there would be no vote before 2020. (I suppose if the court strikes down Obamacare before that, McConnell would tell 20 million people covered by Obamacare to fend for themselves.)

Trump, even after declaring an "emergency" and robbing the Pentagon budget to pay for a border wall, declares we are at a "breaking point" and wants to close the border. That comes as news to his aides, who know you can't close a 3057km border, and in saying so risk causing a panic flight to get across before such an order.

Even Trump staffers know that if you could pull it off, closing the border would crash the economy.

As to the latter, Trump says he doesn't care because security is more important than trade. (We'd have neither with his scheme.)

Collectively, we need to stop treating his conduct as normal. Politicians should start saying aloud what we all intuitively understand: Trump is unravelling before our eyes.

There is reason to be concerned about how he'll make it through the rest of his term. Giving him another four years is unimaginable.



Trump Takes Lead on Protecting US from Oft-Overlooked Danger That Threatens Grid

One of the most potentially devastating threats to American security is the threat of an electromagnetic pulse. Such an event could be life-changing and could ruin electronic devices in large sections of the country.

Thankfully, the Trump administration is alert to this threat and is taking steps to confront it. Last week, the White House unveiled an executive order titled “Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses.” This is a necessary first step in what will be a difficult road to creating full protection from an electromagnetic pulse.

An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy. The potentially most devastating pulse would be caused by a nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude, though the sun can also generate bursts of energy just as damaging during solar storms.

An electromagnetic pulse or similar event would paralyze the country, since it would fry electric circuits and damage critical infrastructure. Our life now depends on a stable supply of electricity more than at any other point in our history. Suddenly losing electricity would be truly devastating—think Jericho or “The Walking Dead” (minus the zombies).

This is not pie-in-the-sky business. North Korea’s ballistic missiles are now capable of reaching the United States. It also possesses nuclear weapons, and its official documents talk about using the electromagnetic pulse against the United States.

The president’s executive order assigns Cabinet secretaries with electromagnetic pulse-related responsibilities within their own purview. For example, the secretary of state is given the task of leading coordination efforts with U.S. allies and international partners. The secretary of defense is put in charge of improving and developing the ability to rapidly characterize, attribute, and provide warning of an electromagnetic pulse.

Other responsibilities are assigned to the secretaries of commerce, homeland security, energy, and the director of national intelligence.

The executive order mandates that the assistant to the president for national security affairs, through the National Security Council staff, be in charge of coordinating “the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of [electromagnetic pulses].”

Delegating this issue to the National Security Council staff carries a risk given the council’s relatively high staff turnover rate. The administration will have to ensure that mandated action items are delivered according to the timelines outlined in the executive order.

While the U.S. military currently tests its equipment to withstand the effects of an electromagnetic pulse, no such comparable effort is ongoing in the civilian world. For the most part, the military depends on the civilian power grid to meet its own power needs, which makes it all the more puzzling that the military doesn’t pay that much attention to whether the civilian systems are secure. There are no easy ways to harden the grid and increase its resilience.

The most critical task is to increase the key stakeholders’ (e.g. electric companies and owners of the grid) access to information about electromagnetic pulses and align authority and responsibility in both the public and private sectors in order to prepare for and respond to an electromagnetic pulse attack.

The president’s executive order is a good first stepping stone.



Kavanaugh Comes Through, Conservatives Get Big 5-4 Supreme Court Victory

President Donald Trump adding two conservative judges to the Supreme Court has already had a major effect on big cases and rulings.

As noted by Fox News, the nation’s highest court on Monday ruled 5-4 that death row inmates do not have a Constitutionally protected right to a painless execution.

The vote was along party lines, so the addition of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh played a big role in the case. Here’s more from Fox News:

    A Missouri man convicted in a brutal rape and murder can be executed by lethal injection because he is not guaranteed a “painless death,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday, quashing Russell Bucklew’s bid to avoid the needle because of his rare medical condition.

    In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court granted Missouri the right to proceed with execution protocol for Bucklew, who was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders, who was dating Bucklew’s ex-girlfriend. Bucklew had previously assaulted the couple and stalked his former lover the day of the murder in order to find out where she was living. After shooting and killing Sanders, Bucklew fired at his former girlfriend’s 6-year-old child — and missed — before kidnapping the woman and raping her several times. He was eventually arrested after a car chase and police shootout.

    “Today we bring this case to a close at last because we agree with the courts below that Mr. Bucklew’s claim isn’t supported by either the law or the evidence,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said in summarizing his majority opinion.

    The court previously ruled inmates challenging the method a state plans to use to execute them have to show there’s an alternative that is likely to be less painful.

    Bucklew argued death by lethal injection would be extremely painful because a blood-filled tumor in his throat caused by a rare medical condition would likely burst during the execution — causing him to choke on his own blood and cut off oxygen to his body for up to four minutes.

    He said this would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. As an alternative, Bucklew wanted to die by inhaling pure nitrogen gas through a mask, a method no state has ever used to execute a prisoner.

Several prominent media figures noted how Kavanaugh being on the bench played a big role in how the final vote came down.

“SCOTUS’ conservative majority offered a sweeping defense of the death penalty this week, including in cases when an inmate faces risk of extreme pain,” wrote ABC News host Devin Dwyer.



Nancy Pelosi's Perv Problem

Michelle Malkin

If you're a sleazy male Democrat, you can always count on Nancy Pelosi to run interference for you and your pervy proclivities. While she has soaked up plaudits as a champion for women (most recently as the VH1 Trailblazer Honors recipient last month for International Women's Day), what she really deserves is Cheerleader of the Year Award from the Democratic Bad Boys Club.

The latest beneficiary of her soft-glove treatment is former Vice President and potential 2020 Democratic presidential aspirant Joe Biden — a.k.a. the veep creep. She gently advised him to "pretend you have a cold" and joked during a Politico interview that he should emulate her "straight-arm" policy of keeping distance from others. Giggle, giggle, blink, blink. Reporters laughed along.

(And these are the same people who mock straight-arrow Vice President Mike Pence of taking extra precaution around women!)

For years, alert conservative women have so relentlessly documented freaky Uncle Joe's penchant for pawing members of the gentler sex that even mainstream media outlets were forced to pay attention. The cringe-tastic headlines and disturbing photo montages, which featured several young girls held hostage between Biden's claws, could no longer be ignored:

"9 Times Joe Biden Whispered in Women's Ears."

"Joe Biden's Top 10 Creepiest Moments."

"17 times Joe Biden acted like a total creep."

"The Audacity of Grope."

"Joe Biden's woman-touching habit."

"VP Joe Biden goes #FiftyShadesofGrey during last night's awkward Top Ten List."

But not until two Democratic women came forward this past week was Biden forced to respond. Nevada Democrat Lucy Flores accused the hair-sniffing 76-year-old Beltway barnacle of making her feel "uneasy, gross, and confused" at a campaign event in 2014. Former Connecticut Democratic aide Amy Lappos described how Biden "rubbed noses with me" at a private fundraiser in 2009 after grabbing her face with both hands. It was "absolutely disrespectful of my personal boundaries."

If these were women accusing Republican men of such behavior, Pelosi would be issuing scathing recriminations, not jokey etiquette tips. But Nan's nonchalance about her fellow Democrats' invasions of personal space is par for her cad-supporting course. I remind my readers of Pelosi's twisted track record:

In 2017, she defiantly stood by accused groper John Conyers calling him an "icon" who "has done a great deal to protect women" and downplaying his secret sexual harassment settlement with a former female staffer — one of three former employees alleging sexual abuse.

In 2013, Pelosi refused to call on her old pal and former Democratic mayor Bob Filner of San Diego to resign after multiple women accused him of harassment and assault. One staffer claimed Filner had ordered her to "work without her panties on." Others alleged he forcibly kissed them. Another said she had contacted Democratic higher-ups in California about a half-dozen women. "What goes on in San Diego is up to the people of San Diego. I'm not here to make any judgments," Pelosi declared.

In 2011, Pelosi refused to condemn disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner until his interactions with an underage girl in Delaware were exposed by conservative bloggers and confirmed by police. Only then did Pelosi rush from behind to lead the demands for Weiner's resignation.

In 2010, then New York Democratic Rep. Eric Massa resigned amid a sordid sexual harassment scandal involving young low-paid male staffers he allegedly lured to his Capitol Hill playhouse for "tickle fights." Pelosi's office had been informed months before, by a staffer of former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, of Massa's predatory and harassing behavior with multiple congressional employees. Massa's former deputy chief of staff and legislative director also contacted leading Democrats on the House Ethics Committee. Former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also knew of Massa's misconduct. But Pelosi said and did nothing until allegations went public. A toothless House Ethics Committee investigation went nowhere.

Also in 2011, seven-term liberal congressman and former Democratic Rep. David Wu of Oregon was exposed by his own staffers, who revolted against their drunk-texting, tiger costume-wearing boss and pressured him to seek psychiatric help. House Democratic leaders, desperate to keep one of their own in office, ignored the pleas. Only after The Oregonian newspaper published allegations by a teenage girl who had complained for months to apathetic Capitol Hill offices of an "unwanted sexual encounter" with Wu did Pelosi make a show of calling for a House Ethics Committee investigation — which went, you guessed it, nowhere.

Yet, just days ago in The New York Times, feminist Tina Brown heaped praise on creep-enabler Pelosi's unique leadership tied to her XX chromosomes — a woman's "rich ways of knowing" that rejects "traditional male paths of ejaculatory self-elevation." Reality does not match the rhetoric.



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, April 04, 2019

How the Left Keeps Me Religious

Its lies and corruption awakened me to the centrality of religion.


Nothing keeps me religious more than the Left, not even religion itself. I am not even particularly “spiritual.” My religiosity is overwhelmingly rational (the title of my Bible commentary is “The Rational Bible”). I believe in God because creation rationally suggests a Creator.

The force that has most propelled me to religion is the great (secular) religion of the last hundred years: the Left. If most people of the Left (the Left, not liberalism) — people who have not only rejected but scorned God, Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible — were decent individuals, were committed to intellectual honesty, and had produced some great art and works of wisdom, then leftism would have constituted a serious challenge to my religious beliefs.

But the very opposite is the case. While liberals have done some good, everything the Left has touched it has ruined. The most obvious example is universities. As Harvard professor Steven Pinker, a liberal and an atheist, put it, the Left has rendered the universities a “laughingstock.”

The most godless, religion-free, and Bible-free institution in the West — the university — has become both the stupidest and most morally corrupt institution in the West. That is what first awakened me to the indispensability of God, religion, and the Bible. I first wrote about it some 25 years ago (“How I found God at Columbia”).

Our universities, because of the Left, are intellectually and morally sick. And if that is not a result of their antipathy to the Bible, its God and Judeo-Christian thought, then what is it the result of?

Let’s begin with the moral. The Left and the universities teach gullible young students lies, immoral ideas, and foolish doctrines. At almost any university in the English-speaking world, the United States — arguably the most decent large society in history — is depicted as a vile society, founded by bigots who engaged in genocidal evil, sustained by racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and greed. Its wars are depicted as racist and imperialist. Students are taught that it is a racist “microaggression” to say that “there is only one race: the human race” or “America is a land of opportunity” or “I try to treat everyone the same.”

At universities, minority students are taught that they are hated by all white Americans — perhaps the greatest libel since the medieval blood libel that charged Jews with killing Christian children to use their blood for Passover matzos.

The universities teach that in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, it is humane, democratic, liberal Israel that is the villain, not the totalitarian, genocidal theocrats of Hamas. I debated this very issue at Oxford University, where my opponents, two left-wing academics, argued that between Israel and Hamas, Israel was the greater threat to Middle East peace.

The godless Left and universities teach that there’s no male and female in the human species, that these terms are mere “social constructs.” A few weeks ago, two trans females came in first and second place in a Connecticut high-school track race for girls. These runners won solely because they were biological males. Yet, not only they were allowed to race against females, but they also set new records in Connecticut girls’ track. Anyone who complained that this was unfair — which to every non-leftist it was — was attacked by the Left as a “hater.” A writer for The Nation defended the male bodies that won the races because, in his moronic words, “trans women are in fact women” (italics added). As I showed in my last column, truth has never been a left-wing value.

Moreover, I could not find one “feminist” organization that defended the girl runners of Connecticut. Feminism is no more interested in protecting women than Communism was in protecting workers.

The Left is also the Western home of contemporary anti-Semitism. There are individual anti-Semites across the political spectrum, but the incubator of modern anti-Semitism is the Left. Thanks to leftists such as Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the British Labour Party, and the two new female Muslim members of the U.S. Congress, anti-Semitism is becoming respectable in the West for the first time since the Holocaust. The Left has rendered “Zionism,” the oldest national movement in history — the 2,000-year-old Jewish aspiration to return to Israel — a term of opprobrium. While many individuals continue to support Zionism, the one non-Jewish group to continue to defend it is the evangelical Christian community.

As I show in my commentary on Genesis, what the first book of the Bible depicts is not only God’s creation of the world but, equally important, God’s shaping primordial chaos (Genesis 1:2) into order. The divine order consists of distinctions; prominent examples include man and God, man and animal, male and female, good and evil, holy and profane, parent and child. The Left is a war against order; in its essence, leftism creates chaos. It has worked to destroy all those biblical distinctions. The present giveaway is the nihilist project of the Left to erase the male-female distinction, the only innate human distinction God cares about: “God created mankind in his own image . . . male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). “He created them male and female and blessed them” (Genesis 5:2). No ethnic or racial distinction matters in Genesis, only the male-female distinction.

The God-centered West produced Bach and Michelangelo. The Left, which dominates music and art, has produced mostly junk; there is nothing higher to aspire to, as excellence is not a left-wing value and the Left uses art to shock, not inspire. Hence the huge amount of scatological art, for example.

Belief in God and the Bible were instrumental to the creation of America — the last, best hope of mankind. The rejection of that God and that Bible is instrumental to wrecking America (and the rest of the West). That alone tells me how important that God and that Bible are. The Left knows it, too.



The Russiagate hoax has made the world a more dangerous place by undermining President Trump’s ability to defuse North Korea, China and Russia

Thanks to the Russiagate hoax that sought to falsely frame President Donald Trump as being a Russian agent when he wasn’t, the world has undeniably become a more dangerous place, as America’s partners overseas have had to contend with the real possibility that Trump would be removed from office.

As it turns out, President Trump is not going anywhere, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluding the Justice Department’s three-year investigation, quoted in Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But what deals overseas were lost because of the specter of the investigation?

A recent example came last month when President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit in Hanoi, Vietnam abruptly ended without a deal on denuclearization. Democrats on Capitol Hill had cynically arranged for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to testify before the House Oversight Committee against his former boss the same day, which dominated news headlines while the summit was ongoing.

It didn’t matter that Cohen ultimately offered testimony that was exculpatory for Trump — he had never been to Prague in 2016 to meet Russian agents as had been alleged and Trump never directed him to change his testimony to Congress on a potential real estate deal in Russia — the damage may have already been done.

On March 3, Trump took to Twitter to blast the outcome, stating, “For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the ‘walk.’ Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!”

Elsewhere, the ongoing investigation into Trump — which turns out was a dead-end with the no-collusion finding — may have been hampering U.S.-China trade talks, too. After the Mueller report was released, financial analysts brightened their outlook on a potential U.S.-China trade deal, CNBC reported in a March 25 story, “Mueller report fuels hopes for a US-China trade deal.”

“The Mueller report isn’t a game changer, but it should encourage China to keep up recent momentum in trying to finalize a deal with Trump… [T]he fact that an impeachment looks less likely will be meaningful for Beijing’s calculus,” Eurasia Group Asia director Michael Hirson told CNBC.

Similarly, The Economist Intelligence Unit Asia regional director Duncan Innes-Ker told CNBC, “The fact there wasn’t any smoking gun, indictment of Trump or Trump family members, puts the administration in a better position to fight for the 2020 election — and that has implications for the trade talks.”

The opposite line there is that while there was still the possibility of Trump being prosecuted or impeached, China felt it should just wait Trump out. Why make any concessions to a president who was about to be removed?

Now world leaders have to contend with the likelihood that Trump will be reelected in 2020.

While the trade talks directly impact China’s economic relationship with the U.S., they also impact how the two superpowers are going to interact going forward. This leads to the question, that if U.S. and Chinese differences on trade cannot be resolved diplomatically now, how will they be resolved later?

The same can be said of U.S.-Russian relations in the aftermath of the 2016 election campaign, where Russia was simultaneously accused of interfering with the election on behalf of Trump by hacking the DNC and John Podesta emails and putting them on Wikileaks and cultivating him as a Russian agent to serve in the White House.

Both sets of allegations led to intelligence agency and Justice Department investigations and were eventually under Mueller’s umbrella. During that time, tensions have absolutely mounted between the U.S. and Russia on nuclear weapons and hotspots like Syria and Ukraine and made the possibility of armed conflict more likely.

One year ago, U.S.-led forces in Syria were attacked by Russian soldiers, where more than 100 Russians were killed in the battle. Fortunately, both sides agreed publicly that the incident was not officially sanctioned by Russia, in what Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake calling it akin to Plato’s “noble lie,” an effort to prevent a wider escalation of tensions between the two superpowers.

The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has been abandoned by Washington, D.C. and Moscow, as both the U.S. and Russia have contended each side was in violation of the treaty with the development of ground-based missile systems banned by the treaty. The INF Treaty was the first ever nuclear arms reduction treaty in the nuclear age. It laid the groundwork for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Both of those in turn built off of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties of the 1970s and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (1970). New START, signed in 2011 and expiring in 2021, could be the next to fall in the wake of the Russia hysteria.

We’re in a new nuclear arms race.

More recently, Russia has just put troops in Venezuela to assist the beleaguered Maduro government and to create a deterrent against potential U.S. intervention there.

All the while, the overwhelming perception has remained that Russia intervened in the 2016 elections.

Disputes over Russia’s annexation of Crimea also remain at the forefront as Ukraine remains a potential hotspot that could draw the U.S. into conflict.

Last summer’s Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin might have been an opportunity to deescalate these tensions and shore up the nuclear security agreements. But that didn’t happen and it is hard not to point to the Russiagate allegations against Trump as having hampered those efforts.

In short, the red phone line has been cut.

Even today, despite the Mueller report’s findings of no collusion, doing a deal would not be easy for Trump, even if coming to an agreement might salvage or strengthen nuclear arms control agreements and benefit humanity by curbing an existential threat.

The problem is in 2016, Trump ran on trying to deescalate the relationship with Russia, and the U.S. national security apparatus launched the Russiagate investigation on him in response, kneecapping the entire presidency in the process.

Now, with Democrats unable to acknowledge the no-collusion finding, any potential agreement remains under a cloud of warrantless suspicion.

U.S. presidents all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt have always been able to talk directly with Moscow without the specter of such an investigation. Yet despite everything that has happened, it is still up to President Trump to attempt to repair the relationship, defuse these hotspots and salvage what remains of nuclear arms control agreements. We need to get back on the same page — for everyone’s sake.



What Iceland Can Teach America about Debt Reduction

Debt reduction is possible. Indeed, there can be huge reductions in a very short period of time.

Iceland is a tiny little country with just 338,000 people (about the population of Santa Ana, CA), but that doesn’t mean it can’t teach us lessons about public policy.

I wrote about the nation’s approach to fisheries in 2016 and explained that the property rights-based system is the best way of protecting fish stocks from over-harvesting.

And in 2013, I wrote about how modest spending restraint was helping to solve fiscal problems created by the financial crisis.

Today, I want to further explore Iceland’s fiscal policy, largely because of this remarkable chart that accompanied a Bloomberg report on the country’s budget strategy.

As you can see, debt skyrocketed during the financial crisis and has since plummeted at a very rapid rate.

This shows debt reduction is possible. Indeed, there can be huge reductions in a very short period of time.

So there may be hope for nations that are in the midst of fiscal crisis (such as Greece), nations that are about to suffer fiscal crisis (Italy is a prime candidate), and nations that will suffer a crisis if there isn’t reform (most developed nations, including the United States).

But what are the specific policy lessons?

Here are some excerpts from the accompanying article, which basically tells us that the government is focused on spending restraint.

Iceland will continue to reduce public debt and sustain a budget surplus even as it lowers taxes in the next five years, Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said. The plan is part of a financial road map… The balancing act between austerity and the proposed fiscal concessions means less room for the government to…step up other spending… “We will need to impose certain measures of restriction,” Benediktsson said. The government may have to seek cost savings of as much as 5 billion kronur ($42 million), he said. …The financial plan projects a decrease in taxes as well as the Treasury’s debt levels and interest burden. It also expects the bank tax to be lowered in four steps.

But the article didn’t tell us why Iceland’s debt fell so quickly.

So I dug into the IMF’s World Economic Outlook database and crunched some numbers. I specifically wanted to find out why debt fell, both before and after the 2008 crisis.

And I focused on three sets of numbers:

Annual inflation rate
Annual growth of government spending burden
Annual increase in nominal gross domestic product

Here are those numbers, both for the years leading up to the 2008 crisis, as well as what happened starting in 2009.

For both the 2001-07 period and 2009-19 period, Iceland followed my Golden Rule. Government spending (the orange bars) grew slower than the economy (the grey bars).

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that debt fell during both eras.

But debt fell much faster starting in 2009 for the simple reason that the gap between spending growth and GDP growth was very significant over the past 10 years. This is the reason for the big reduction in debt.

And this spending restraint also generated some data that’s even more important—the burden of government spending has dropped from more than 48 percent of economic output in 2009 to less than 41 percent of GDP this year.



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, April 03, 2019

Democrats beginning to face their own stupidity

Because they control the House only, they will get nothing enacted unless they do deals but they have shown no willingness to do so.  With a typically Leftist belief in magic, they seem to think that their House bills will somehow fly into law, bypassing the Senate and President.

It's the same as their apparent belief that if you turn off all the coal-driven power stations, the sun will suddenly start shining day and night and the wind will suddenly start blowing 24/7.  Their indifference to reality is profound. They live in a childish make-believe world

House Democrats are eager to boast about all they’re doing with their new majority. The only problem? Most of it’s headed for Mitch McConnell’s dustbin.

From a sweeping health care package to ambitious proposals on gun safety, climate change and voting reforms, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her sprawling class of freshmen are quickly following through on the campaign promises that won them the House. But after they pass their proposals, that’s as far as they’ll go — a frustrating dynamic that lawmakers grudgingly acknowledge.

“I’m not sure that anything we do is going to reach the floor of the Senate,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “That’s the reality.”

McConnell (R-Ky.), faced with his own reelection and defending a tough GOP map in 2020, has no incentive to work with House Democrats on their domestic agenda.

A Senate blockade will deny Democrats tangible wins to tout on the campaign trail, while keeping vulnerable Senate GOP incumbents from having to take difficult votes. Republicans also are intent on shielding President Donald Trump from potentially awkward veto fights on legislation that polls well.

As Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) put it: “We are the firewall.”

“Most of that stuff is really easy for Republicans in the Senate to message against,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “We think a lot of the ideas over there are crazy. I don’t see many of our folks who have much problem messaging against most of what their agenda’s going to consist of.”

Gridlock in divided government is a longstanding Washington tradition, with the fast-moving House frequently stymied by the Senate. It’s not all bad for Democrats, who can help lay the groundwork for Democrats’ 2020 agenda and show voters what the party can do if it sweeps into power in the next election.

But it’s the latest reality check for House Democrats, who assumed power amid the longest government shutdown in history and saw their agenda frozen for weeks until a deadlock over Trump’s border wall was resolved.

When Pelosi and her deputies were finally able to turn to their big-ticket items, including passing a gun background checks bill and a sprawling anti-corruption package, they were overshadowed by caucus infighting and procedural stumbles.

Now Democrats — particularly the 60-plus freshmen — are encountering a new reality: It doesn’t matter what they do as long as Republicans control both the Senate and the White House.

“Right now, we are not doing anything — House and the Senate combined,” said freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.). “I am frustrated that Mitch McConnell is a coward. Unwilling, unable to put legislation on the floor.”

Senate Democrats know this dynamic all too well, having seen McConnell stifle President Barack Obama’s agenda, not to mention his Supreme Court nominee in 2016. “He’s going to give it the Merrick Garland treatment,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of House Democrats’ agenda.

McConnell isn’t entirely unwilling to put liberal proposals on the floor, at least when he senses a political benefit. With the Democrats’ divided over the Green New Deal, McConnell put the measure up for a vote last week only to see 43 Democrats vote present — an awkward result for a blueprint endorsed by many Senate Democrats running for president.

Senate Republicans could also push for votes on “Medicare for All” or keeping the Supreme Court at nine justices to try and divide Democrats. Democrats say privately that the strategy of voting present is now viewed as the best way to deal with “gotcha” votes from McConnell.

But when it comes to the sweeping ethics and election reforms of HR 1 or other major progressive proposals, Democrats’ have little hope of getting Senate Republicans even on the record. That leaves relatively small-bore legislation as perhaps the only option for success in divided government, but there hasn’t been much focus on infrastructure improvements or other bipartisan ideas in either chamber.

Pelosi aides argue public pressure could force McConnell to act on bills passed by the House. “Public support for the For The People agenda was critical to our victory in November and it will be key to removing any obstacle in our way, including a Republican Senate,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Some House Democrats’ frustration is focused not on McConnell but within their own caucus. “It’s time to move off the talking points and on to legislating,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, a moderate Democrat who hasn’t been shy about criticizing his party’s leadership. “I haven’t heard about anything that deals with the economy or some of the other issues.”

Schrader noted he and other members of the center-left Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in January, urging them to prioritize passing a transportation bill.

“I assume this is just playing to the left wing of our base and that we’ll move on to the infrastructure, prescription drugs,” Schrader added of the current agenda.

Other moderates are also hopeful leadership will soon move past what they see as pie-in-the-sky messaging bills.

“I wouldn’t call it frustration. I would call it anticipation,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.). “I’m very hopeful that on both transportation and infrastructure, and on health care costs, we might be moving into that phase.”

House Democrats have held multiple hearings on infrastructure and prescription drugs, a precursor, aides argue, to bringing legislation to the floor later this year.

Pelosi’s staff is in the early stages of talks with the White House and senior Senate Republicans on a potential prescription drug package. But even infrastructure — an idea that at its broadest unites Democrats, Republicans and Trump — comes with its own hurdles.

House Democrats are expected to pivot to their infrastructure package in late spring or early summer. But, as in past years, finding a long-term solution for highway and other transit investments will be difficult. Lawmakers have resisted raising the gas tax for 25 years.

In the meantime, House Democrats are about to see a repeat dynamic from eight years ago, when emboldened Republicans took the House majority and sent then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dozens of conservative bills. Reid let virtually all of them languish.

“When you’re in the House, you’re consumed” with your agenda, said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a former House member. Then “you look at the papers ... and you go: 'No one’s talking about what we’re working on.' Because everyone knows it’s not going anywhere.”

Perhaps the best result for Democrats would be that inaction on their legislation puts pressure on GOP Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine or Martha McSally of Arizona to break with McConnell and demand votes on campaign-finance reform or environmental bills. While a long shot, that would at least make the point that even if Democrats beat Trump, they need to capture the Senate as well.

“If all they do under McConnell’s leadership is block everything in a presidential turnout year, I think they really risk losing some of their seats like Maine, like Colorado, like Arizona,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). “If they want to keep control of the U.S. Senate, they better deliver something.”



Embarrassing: Rachel Maddow Lies About Mueller Report as MSNBC Chyron Tells MSNBC Viewers the Truth

In a letter to lawmakers last Friday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr effectively destroyed all of the Democrats' talking points about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's soon-to-be released report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he chastised Democrats -- like Rachel Maddow -- who willfully mischaracterized his summary of principal conclusions.

Many Democrats in Congress and in the media spent much of last week darkly hinting that the attorney general was engaging in some kind of cover-up to protect the president.

In his letter, Barr put their conspiracy theories to bed, explaining that "the Special Counsel is assisting us" in the process of making redactions that are necessary by law, such as "potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods," "material that could affect other ongoing matters," and "information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties."

The attorney general also stated that because the president was not asserting executive privilege, the White House will not even be afforded a "privileged review" of his report before it is released.

On her show Friday night, Maddow demonstrated that she either didn't read Barr's letter, or she refused to accept its contents because she continued to mischaracterize the process by which Mueller's "confidential report" was being made accessible to the public. Unfortunately for her, the person handling MSNBC's chyron Friday night did read the report, so it contradicted her false talking points in real time.

"It's hard to believe that they'd leave the newly appointed Attorney General William Barr to himself to personally pick through the report to try to figure out which mentions in this 400-page report might pertain to an open case," she declared. "They wouldn't leave that to Barr to do that. Mueller would have done that!" Maddow exclaimed as the MSNBC chyron informed viewers that Mueller actually was "assisting with redactions."

"Mueller's team would have done that as part of producing anything that they handed over outside their own offices," Maddow continued. "They've done that with every other document they have produced in the course of this investigation. You'd assume they'd be able to do that for this document too. But William Barr says, [exaggerated sigh] it's taking him a really long time because he's having to do all that himself."

"Barr: Special Counsel Is Assisting with Redactions," the MSNBC chyron meanwhile informed viewers.

Barr on Friday announced that he would be able to release a redacted copy of the report by mid-April -- which is not what most people would consider "a really long time."



The Democrats' Voting-Rights-for-Teenagers Scam
By Candace Owens

An overwhelming majority of Americans know that lowering the voting age to 16 years old is a very bad idea. Nonetheless, a majority of Democrats are convinced that they know better than the rest of us.

Earlier this month, 125 House Democrats voted in favor of the initiative, backing a failed proposal that would have severely weakened the integrity of our democratic election system. The measure was defeated, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently attempted to keep the idea alive, arguing that she supports giving high school sophomores the right to vote in national elections.

“I myself, personally, I’m not speaking for my caucus, I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,” the lawmaker said. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school when they’re interested in all of this when they’re learning about government to be able to vote."

Even some of the most prominent Democrat candidates for president in 2020 — including Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar — are jumping on the bandwagon, publicly announcing that they are open to the idea of lowering the voting age to 16.

Pelosi’s Democratic Party colleagues may share her views on the matter, but the American people most definitely don’t — one recent poll found that 74 percent of likely voters oppose lowering the voting age, with just 17 percent endorsing the idea.

To a large extent, that result simply reflects common sense. As a society, we’ve decided it’s in our best interest not to entrust 16-year-olds with a variety of privileges, such as getting married or watching R-rated movies. We don’t even give 16-year-olds full driving privileges — every single state imposes some sort of restriction on young drivers until they reach a certain age or amass a certain amount of driving experience.

There are also compelling scientific reasons to keep the voting age where it is. As we improve our understanding of childhood development and the brains of teenagers, it becomes increasingly clear that 16-year-olds simply lack the maturity, mental capacity, and decision-making skills to be thoughtful and informed voters.

According to a 2008 report from the University of California-Berkeley, most teenagers aren’t capable of processing information or controlling impulses in the same way as adults — a factor that largely explains the high crime rates among adolescents.

"For many teens, the output of their underdeveloped decision processing centers may be as mild as choosing a bag of cheese puffs for lunch or a new purple hairdo,” the report explains. “But some youngsters take bigger risks — such as stealing a car or trying drugs. More 17-year-olds commit crimes than any other age group, according to recent studies by psychiatrists."

More recently, scientists have claimed that the human brain may not reach full maturity until around age 30, suggesting that it would make more sense to consider raising the voting age than lowering it.

Besides, even if teenagers were capable of rational decision-making, they would still lack the life experience necessary to make fully-informed decisions. With extremely few exceptions, teenagers have never paid bills or taxes, or even worked a non-seasonal full-time job, detaching them from some of the most hotly debated policy issues in American politics.

Of course, the very qualities that cause nearly three-quarters of Americans to recoil from the idea of letting 16-year-olds vote are also what make them so attractive to Democrats. Someone who has never paid taxes, after all, probably won’t be very motivated to vote against tax increases, just as someone whose only experience in the workforce comes from part-time jobs probably won’t see any harm in raising the minimum wage.

The lack of impulse control plays right into the Democrats’ hands, too. Impulsivity is key to many of their flagship policy proposals, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. That’s because support for such measures invariably collapses once people look beyond tag-lines such as "free healthcare” and “save the planet” to consider the trillions upon trillions of dollars in new taxes and severe restrictions on individual liberty that those policies would entail.

Lowering the voting age is just a ploy by the Democratic Party to change the electoral system to favor them in 2020 so that they can avoid a repetition of their embarrassing defeat in 2016. Fortunately, the American people saw through this trick from the start.



Denying American Greatness
Everything that is wrong with the political left was on full display on MSNBC earlier this week. That’s generally the case just about every night on MSNBC.

But it was particularly outrageous Wednesday night when former Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about Trump’s slogan, “Make America great again.” Holder replied:

“When I hear these things about ‘Let’s make America great again,’ I think to myself: ‘Exactly when did you think America was great?’”

Of course, Holder’s rhetorical question was just his way of saying, “America has never been great.” Whatever period of time or example you might offer, Holder is ready to tell you why you’re wrong and where we fell short.

This is the left’s mantra. They deny America’s greatness by comparing it to some utopia that doesn’t exist and never did. If leftists like Holder think there’s a better country out there, I’m willing to pay for a first class one-way plane ticket!

In fact, I think we could break records with a GoFundMe page offering one-way tickets to any liberal’s workers paradise of their choice. Cuba, Venezuela, China – wherever they think the grass is greener, I’m willing to help them get there.

The truth is that America IS great compared to the other countries of the world, and I am willing to debate that with any one at any time.

After hearing about Holder’s remarks, Vice President Mike Pence gave Holder a brief history lesson, which he apparently never got in school. Pence posted four iconic pictures of American greatness on Twitter:

Washington crossing the Delaware River
American GIs raising the flag over Iwo Jima
Buzz Aldrin posing with the flag on the moon, and
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking on the National Mall.

Sadly, I suspect Holder will still fail the final exam.



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, April 02, 2019

Fed-Up Constituents Beginning To Turn on AOC: ‘You Are Not a Princess’

Democratic freshman New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s rapid rise to prominence would be considered by many as uneven, at best.

Her “Green New Deal” was a failure when it reached the Senate, she has quickly amassed ethics complaints and has even feuded with her own party.

Despite it all, Ocasio-Cortez still seems to be a media darling and is often treated as something like a rock star by the establishment media.

That is not sitting well with her constituents.

As The Washington Times reports, some of the voters who elected Ocasio-Cortez to be their representative don’t feel particularly well-represented and are turning against her.

“I see her on TV a lot but not in the neighborhood,” waitress Barbara Nosel told The Times. “You are supposed to come to the people without the media. You are one of us. You worked in a bar. You are not a princess.”

Despite her foibles, the 29-year-old congresswoman still has supporters in her 14th Congressional District, though even her backers are not particularly enamored with her style and seem to be turning against her to a degree.

“I admire her oomph. She’s Puerto Rican. She’s fighting for middle America,” Iris Acosta, a retired teacher, told The Times. “I just don’t like her being too fast, in your face. Go a little slower, and she could do a lot.”

Others think that her lack of experience should dampen her rapid ascent to stardom.

“People are billing her as a superstar. I think she doesn’t have enough experience,” lawyer Manuel Fabian, a registered Democrat, told The Times. Fabian also expressed doubts about America’s willingness to become a full-blown socialist country.

“The Green New Deal looks good on paper, but I’m reluctant to give the government so much power, and I don’t think this country is ready to embrace a socialist platform and I don’t think we ever will be,” Fabian added. “But I’m willing to give her a chance. She’s got to learn the ropes.”

Political science professor Michael Miller said he believes that the spotlight may be too bright, too soon for Ocasio-Cortez.

“Most members of Congress toil in relative obscurity, so voters may never learn that the member has done something disagreeable. But with the spotlight on her and every action scrutinized, of course, it is more likely that the typical voter finds something to nitpick,” Miller said.

The trepidation and concerns over Ocasio-Cortez from her own constituents falls in line with a broader trend of voters not being thrilled with her. A national poll released by Quinnipiac University on Thursday found the freshman congresswoman decidedly polarizing.

“All is definitely not A-OK for AOC. Most voters either don’t like the firebrand freshman Congresswoman or don’t know who she is,” Tim Malloy, associate director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said. Ocasio-Cortez will be up for re-election in 2020. Time will tell whether her constituents vote her back in.



GOP Shifting Focus After Mueller Probe, Eyeing Obama Officials

About time

If some Capitol Hill Republicans have their way, key members of former President Barack Obama’s administration will get a taste of the same kind of scrutiny to which special counsel Robert Mueller subjected President Donald Trump.

“What did President Obama know and when? How did this hoax go on for so long unabated?” Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul tweeted Wednesday.

“We need every ounce of information about the people at the very top of our intelligence community that were promoting the inclusion of this fake dossier,” Paul said, according to The Hill, specifically citing former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for their roles in launching the initial investigation of the Trump campaign.

“A high-level source tells me it was Brennan who insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report… Brennan should be asked to testify under oath in Congress ASAP,” Paul tweeted.

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Earlier this week, Attorney General William Barr announced that Mueller’s investigation, which lasted 22 months, found no collusion between Trump and Russia.

Republicans say the nation needs to know what went on during the final weeks of the Obama administration to launch an investigation with such a shaky foundation.

“I’m going to get answers to this,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, Politico reported. “If no one else cares, it seems that Republicans do. Because if the shoe were on the other foot, it would be front page news all over the world. The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing.”

He said he would focus upon how and why unverified information was used to launch investigations of Trump.

Graham said a full investigation is needed to determine “whether those who believed that the FBI and the Department of Justice were playing politics, that they wanted (2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary) Clinton to win and Trump to lose, that somebody can satisfy them. By any reasonable standard, Mr. Mueller thoroughly investigated the Trump campaign. You cannot say that about the other side of the story.”

 Lindsey Graham with Neil Cavuto suggested something's wrong with a system allowing the orchestration of spygate against Trump.

I shake my head because Graham knows as well as everyone else that this had been orchestrated from the top starting with former President Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given his blessing to Graham’s efforts to investigate potential misconduct during the Obama administration.

“I think it’s not inappropriate for the chairman of the Judiciary Committee with jurisdiction over the Justice Department to investigate possible misbehavior,” the Kentucky Republican said, according to The Hill.

McConnell noted that the Democrat-controlled House has organized a multitude of investigations of Trump.

“The House is not going to miss an opportunity in … the coming months to look at what they perceive to be things that require oversight. The Senate is involved in the oversight business just like the House is,” he said.

Former FBI Director James Comey is likely to find himself under fresh scrutiny, said Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

“I think Director Comey is probably near the top. He’s the one who said that his intention of leaking memos of his conversation was designed to prompt the appointment of a special counsel. It just strikes me as some vindictiveness and animus toward the president motivating a lot of the action,” Cornyn said.

Some answers also might come to light through the watchdog group Judicial Watch.

“President Obama’s top spy chiefs appear to have been ringleaders in the illicit effort to overthrow President Trump,” the group said in a statement on its website.

“Now we want to know the details of their connections to the network. We have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking records of communications between former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and CNN around the time the Clinton-Democrat National Committee anti-Trump dossier was being pitched to key media outlets,” it said.



Trump Abruptly Cuts Direct Aid to 3 Central American Countries

The Trump administration says it is cutting direct U.S. aid to three Central American countries. The State Department said in a statement that it will suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Trump has made slowing immigration from those countries through Mexico a bedrock issue of his presidency.

The announcement comes as Trump threatens to shut down the U.S. border with Mexico overall over immigration.

Trump says he is likely to shut down America’s southern border next week unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration. Such a severe move could hit the economies of both countries, but the president emphasized, “I am not kidding around.”

Trump says that “could mean all trade” with Mexico. Trump has been promising for more than two years to build a long, impenetrable wall along the border to stop illegal immigration, though Congress has been reluctant to provide the money he needs.

In the meantime, he has repeatedly threatened to close the border.

But this time, with a new surge of migrants heading north, he gave a definite timetable.



Trump Admin. To Quadruple Number of Asylum Seekers Sent Back to Other Side Of Border

Border enforcement officials intend to quadruple the number of daily asylum applicants who are sent back to the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

As part of its multi-faceted attempt to clamp down on the massive amount of illegal immigration taking place at the southern border, the U.S. government plans to increase the number of asylum applicants who are pushed back into Mexico as they await their claims in court, according to a Trump administration official who spoke with the Associated Press.

There are roughly 60 asylum seekers a day who are sent back to Mexico at the El Paso, Calexico and San Ysidro ports of entry.

These individuals are permitted to return to the U.S. for their court dates, but with a backlog of more than 700,000 immigration cases, they may wait years for their cases to progress through the system.

Numerous immigration hardliners — including President Donald Trump — argue that many migrants are lodging bogus asylum claims as a means to enter the U.S.

“You have people coming, you know they’re all met by the lawyers … And they come out, and they’re met by the lawyers, and they say, ‘Say the following phrase: I am very afraid for my life. I am afraid for my life.’ OK,” the president said during a speech in Michigan on Thursday.

“And then I look at the guy. He looks like he just got out of the ring. He’s a heavyweight champion of the world. It’s a big fat con job.”

Immigration officials aim to return as many as 300 migrants a day by the end the week. However, the plan as so far been slow to develop.

In San Ysidro, for example, the Mexican government has been willing to take in up to 120 asylum seekers a week, but the U.S. has sent back only 40 per week during the first six weeks.

The entire effort is part of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which does not apply to Mexican nationals or children.

The plans come as the Trump administration has embarked on several different initiatives to curb illegal immigration.

Trump declared a national emergency, allowing him to allocate billions more in funding for a wall construction at the southern border.

The State Department on Saturday announced it will work to withhold around $700 million in financial aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for — as Trump argues — failing to stem the flow of illegal immigrants leaving their counties.

Trump has also warned he prepared to shut the U.S.-Mexico border down completely.



Trump Calls for Stripping Washington Post, NYT of Pulitzer Prize for Russian Collusion Reporting

President Donald Trump on Friday called on The Washington Post and The New York Times to be stripped of Pulitzer Prizes that the newspapers received last year for reporting on Russiagate.

The Post and The Times shared the 2018 Pulitzer for a series of reports on developments in the Russia investigation.

Many of the core allegations in the reports were undercut with the recent revelation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mueller wrote in his 400-page report, according to Attorney General William Barr.

According to Barr, Mueller also did not establish “that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate” conspired or “knowingly coordinated” with Russian efforts to use social media platforms to spread disinformation during the 2016 campaign or to hack Democrats’ emails and disseminate them online.

On Sunday, after Barr released the summary of Mueller’s findings, Donald Trump Jr. also blasted The Post and Times over their award-winning reports.

In announcing the awards in April 2018, the Pulitzer committee praised the Post and Times’ Russia reporting.

“For deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration,” the committee said.

None of the 20 stories cited by the Pulitzer committee have come under particular scrutiny, but most furthered the narrative of collusion between the Trump team and Russia.



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, April 01, 2019

This has been the best week of Donald Trump’s political life

If anyone has a reason to smile right now, it’s Donald Trump. The US leader just had one of the best weeks of his life — and it could change everything.

Dark clouds that have been hanging over the US President’s head for years were destroyed in just a couple of days.

Now, Mr Trump is effectively untouchable. Chances of impeaching him before the next election are pretty much at zero, and at the same time, the Pentagon has thrown a wad of fresh cash at his border wall.

Here’s what’s gone down this week.


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For almost two years, the biggest threat to the President’s administration has been a special counsel investigation into whether he colluded with Russia to influence the results of the federal election.

For many Democrats, impeaching the President rested on the results of this report. If he was found guilty, there may have been enough grounds to begin the impeachment process. Without that, not so much.

“The special counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or co-ordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election,” Attorney-General William Barr wrote to Congress about the report.

This means the possibility of impeaching Mr Trump is now highly unlikely.

“In terms of the political consequences, the possibility of impeachment is at near zero,” Dr David Smith from the United States Studies Centre told earlier this week. “Nancy Pelosi already said she wasn’t keen on impeachment unless there was bipartisan consensus. This makes it impossible for there to be any bipartisan consensus.”

While the President faces a separate legal investigation into hush money payments, this is unlikely to play out until he’s left office.

Democrats are still pushing for the actual Mueller report to be made public — particularly in light of Mr Barr’s letter noting that the report “does not exonerate” the President.

They are hoping the report can provide insight into how the investigation was conducted, and potentially pinpoint any evidence of obstructing justice on Mr Trump’s part.

But regardless, the verdict won’t change — and that’s very much a reason for the billionaire to celebrate.


So, back to those hush money payments. Porn star Stormy Daniels alleged that she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.

In January last year, it was revealed that Mr Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen had paid Daniels $US130,000 one month before the US election to keep her from discussing the alleged affair.

Last August, Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges, including a campaign finance violation, for his role in the transaction. It formed part of his three-year prison sentence.

Mr Trump has consistently denied that he ever personally directed Mr Cohen to make the payments — a move that would constitute an impeachable offence.

While it hasn’t been proved whether Mr Trump did direct Mr Cohen to do so, it hasn’t been great for the President’s reputation.

So it came as good news to him this week that Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has been charged with extortion and fraud.

Avenatti is facing up to 50 years in jail after he was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and attempting to extort more than $US20 million ($A28 million) from Nike Inc.

The arrest came just one day after the Mueller announcement. US lawyer Nick Hanna said the timing of the two incidents was not related.

His charges would seem especially sweet to Mr Trump because the lawyer’s fame came from the affair.

He gained a huge Twitter presence, appeared at rallies, become a guest on late-night talk shows and was interviewed by US media networks like CNN and MSNBC dozens of times.

He also showed a willingness to match Mr Trump’s brash speaking style, matching the President insult for insult. He even once announced that he was considering a run for the Oval Office in 2020.

Avenatti was freed on $US300,000 bail and continues to deny the allegations. But that hasn’t stopped his opponents from making digs:


Earlier this week, the US Congress failed in its attempt to block Donald Trump’s national emergency over the border wall.

The Democrat-controlled House tried to override the President’s first veto — which required two-thirds of the chamber’s support, or 290 votes — but ended with a total of 248 votes in favour versus 181 against, meaning it will not move to the Senate for consideration.

This all gives Mr Trump the power to move forward with one of the core issues of his presidential campaign: the border wall.

This was the core promise of Mr Trump’s campaign and he needs to fulfil it to keep his support base strong.

The outcome was expected, with Congress overriding a veto being a rare success. Just last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the vote wouldn’t be about getting enough votes, but about sending a message.

Still, the fight to get around Congress and secure more money for the border wall looks set to get easier for Mr Trump now.


At the beginning of the week, the Pentagon announced it had authorised the transfer of up to $US1 billion to build extra barriers along the US-Mexico border.

The shift in funds was justified under Mr Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.

The Democrats strongly objected to the move, with Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, issuing a letter that read: “We have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.”

But it didn’t matter. 91km of “pedestrian fencing” is now set to be constructed along stretches of the border in Arizona and Texas.

The Pentagon said the cash fund transfer would help “block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of Federal law enforcement agencies”.



Epic projection:  Democrats accuse others of what they do

“This president is the first president in the modern history of our country who is trying to divide our people up based on the color of their skin, the country they were born in, their sexual orientation, their gender, their religion. And that is an outrage.”

That was Bernie Sanders, a Democrat candidate for president in 2020, at a CNN town hall event in late February. And as the Vermont Socialist explained, “our job is to bring our people together, not to divide them up.” This was not a new theme for Democrats.

In September of 2018 at the University of Illinois, POTUS 44  accused Trump and Republicans of knowingly dividing America by “appealing to tribe, appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those who don’t look like us or don’t sound like us or don’t pray like we do.” As the previous president explained, “that’s an old playbook,” and he was right about that.

The greatest divider of modern times was Karl Marx, 1818-1883, author of Manifest der Kommunistischen Parte, the 1848 Communist Manifesto. Marx divided people into “bourgeois” and “proletariat.” In this class system, the bourgeoisie own the means of production, factories, business and so forth, which enable them to produce wealth. The proletariat are the workers, blinded by false consciousness from opiates such as religion. As Marx had it, the bourgeois capitalist bosses exploit the workers and this has been the model for the left ever since.

Feminists divide society into the classes of oppressive patriarchs exploiting women, who are all victims as a class. In this view, institutions such as marriage are prisons of patriarchy. In similar style, homosexual activists divide society into gay and straight people. In this view, the straight heterosexuals are defective “homophobic” oppressors, not partisans of different views on sexuality.

Racial theorists divide society into “people of color,” which implies people of no color. By some accounts, people of color dates from 1807 to designate anyone of any part African ancestry. The left currently deploys it to charge those pale skin shade, over which they had no choice, with “white privilege” that exploits the people of color. The Marxist exploitation model also divides society into a creditor class and a debtor class.

In this view, the privileged people of no color must pay reparations for slavery, abolished more than 150 years ago. Even the descendants of Union soldiers, and the people of no color who came to the USA after the Civil War, must now pay up.

This reparations demand is never applied to Cuba, where more than one million slaves landed, far more than the 388,000 in the United States, which has elected an African American president. Between 33 and 60 percent of Cubans have African ancestry but since the 1950s Cuba has been ruled by an all-white Stalinist dictatorship that holds many black political prisoners, put homosexuals into labor camps, and allowed no free elections.

Sanders charged that the president is dividing people by religion. The Democrat socialist is quiet about the Nation of Islam, which believes that the exploitive people of no color are the result of an experiment by a mad scientist named Yacub some 6,000 years ago. And in the NOI view, members of the Jewish religion are a satanic breed. This brand of hatred is obviously divisive but leading Democrats remain very chummy with NOI boss Louis Farrakhan, photographed with a smiling senator Barack Obama back in 2005.

Bernie Sanders also tags Trump for dividing people based on “the county they were born in.” Trump has no problem with Taiwan-born labor transportation secretary Elaine Chao. He does have a problem with people who break U.S. immigration laws and enter the United States illegally. Democrats want more of them, in their quest for an imported electoral college, and this further divides the country.

Bernie Sanders also believes that heath care is a right, which was the position of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where the socialist Democrat spent his honeymoon. The USSR’s Communist bosses maintained that health care was a substantive right, unlike merely formal, bourgeois rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and so forth.

So the presidential hopeful, who would have been the Democrats’ candidate in 2016 if Hillary Clinton had not rigged the process, is all-in on the socialist ideology. He’s basically an old Commie spouting the orthodoxies of the dreariest, most repressive regimes of modern times, perhaps of all time.

By implication, those who don’t agree with Bernie and the Democrats’ socialist Sanders Youth are dividing Americans, who seldom agree on politicians. The Nixon-Kennedy election of 1960, for example, was practically a dead heat.

When leftist politicians accuse others it is generally what they are up to themselves. Leftist Democrats such as Hillary Clinton divide the nation into the politically correct class and that basket of Islamophobic, homophobic, racist deplorables.

As POTUS 44 noted last year at the University of Illinois, the strategy of division is “as old as time. And in a healthy democracy, it doesn’t work.” It sure didn’t work for Hillary in 2016, so the Hawaii-born Harvard law alum, a composite character in his own Dreams from My Father novel, did get something right after all.




Jussie Smollet was great for Trump

I have said it before so I may as well say it again: No man in America has done more to help Donald Trump get elected in 2020, nor indeed done more to promote the fight for homophobia and white supremacy, than this self-indulgent, self-obsessed, delusional narcissist who was so utterly deranged as to think it was a good idea to do what he did and so utterly dumb to do it the way he did.

First, to the facts, as rare and irrelevant as they are these days: There is no question that Smollett arranged and paid for a racist and homophobic hate crime to be committed upon himself by persons he knew and paid to do it. We know this because the fake perpetrators confessed, the police had this and an overwhelming body of evidence, a grand jury indicted him and even the state’s attorney who inexplicably dropped the charges said the police were right.

Effectively the prosecutors just said “Yeah but nah” and let Smollett walk free, upon which he immediately proclaimed his absolute innocence — even though the very fools who let him walk free made clear the opposite was the case.

As a result this self-appointed black rights activist made liars of the black American police chief and the black police officers standing behind him, all of whom he had already tried to a make a fool of. He also incurred the righteous fury of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, best known for helping to elect the United States’ first black president.

All of these men are true heroes in the fight to advance African-Americans and Smollett shat all over them. But it’s even worse than that.

The key weapon in any racist’s arsenal, the white supremacist A-bomb, is that there is no racial disadvantage at all. That in fact all these claims of oppression and hate are coming from overprivileged douchebags who are trying to use this perception just to benefit themselves.

Most of the time this is rampant rubbish and it has no power when some skinhead or suit is just saying it because it’s obviously untrue. But get a clear-cut provable case of someone from the other side actually doing it and those bastards can hang their argument on it from here to kingdom come. To quote the great George Michael, who actually did do great things for gay people: “All we have to do now is take these lies and make them true somehow.”

And what did Smollett do? You guessed it. He took the lie and made it true.

This is the greatest free kick anyone anywhere could give any racist homo-hater and the state attorney’s office just ran up and planted it clean between the posts.



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 31, 2019

It’s Not Collateral Damage To The Victims Of The Mueller Witch Hunt

Now that the Mueller investigation has cleared President Trump and demonstrated beyond any doubt that the entire affair was a hoax founded upon lies perpetrated by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Obama administration, Democrat political operatives and the Deep State political class embedded in the government, conservatives and other fair-minded Americans ought to demand that those whose lives and reputations have been shattered by this hoax be made whole.

We’re talking about those whom the establishment media and the vile instigators of the Trump – Russia collusion narrative have dismissed as “collateral damage” in the investigation.

Honest, hardworking patriotic men like Michael Caputo, who served in the Army, worked for conservative luminaries such as Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, and advised numerous Republican political candidates before signing-on to the Trump campaign.

Caputo was dragged through hell by the Mueller investigation and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence merely because he had lived in Ukraine and Russia and had done public relations and campaign work in those countries… and worked for Donald Trump.

Caputo was forced to liquidate his children’s college fund to pay his legal expenses for the “crime” of being associated with Donald Trump.

Likewise, longtime conservative pundit, bestselling author and media personality Jerome “Jerry” Corsi was threatened with what amounted to life in prison and mired in untold thousands of dollars of legal fees for the “crime” of exchanging email with Roger Stone and correctly predicting the Wikileaks dumps on Podesta and the DNC and trying get in touch with Julian Assange to confirm his hypotheses.

Corsi was never charged with any crime, although special counsel Robert Mueller's team offered Corsi a proposed plea agreement, which would have required him to admit to one criminal charge with two components: lying to investigators and obstruction of justice before congressional or grand jury proceedings.

Corsi refused to sign the plea deal. He then released drafts of his plea agreement and indictment, went on a media tour slamming Mueller's team and published a book detailing his experiences with the special counsel.

Corsi accused Mueller's team of trying to push him to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit.

"I went in there to cooperate with them. They treated me as a criminal," Corsi told CNN. In the end, Mueller concluded his investigation without ever bringing charges against Dr. Corsi.

But there are others who didn’t fare quite so well as Dr. Corsi, especially Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos.

Papdopoulos, the young energy policy expert and volunteer Trump advisor who was set-up by the Obama administration to give them a pretext to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil the Trump campaign was arguably the most ill-used of all the figures in the Mueller investigation.

A neophyte in presidential politics, Papdopoulos was lured to London and set-up by Obama administration consultant Stephan Halper to pass along the bait that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Australian Ambassador, Alexander Downer.

Why and how the Ambassador found his way into contact with a junior figure like George Papadopoulos has never been explained, nor has the path of transmission of the information from Papadopoulos to Downer to the Obama intelligence apparatus ever been disclosed.

What is clear, based on what has been disclosed, is that the basis for the surveillance and interrogation of Papadopoulos was a closed loop system of false information being generated by Obama and Clinton connected operatives who then fed the information to Papadopoulos through Halper and then back through Downer to the Obama intelligence apparatus.

Again, after being threatened and swamped with legal bills, Papadopoulos pled guilty to the process crime of making false statements to FBI agents relating to contacts he had with agents of the Russian government while working for the Trump campaign. The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain reflecting his cooperation with the Mueller investigation.

However, after Papadopoulos pled guilty and served 12 days in prison, no other indictments or convictions have ever been attributed to Papadopoulos’ cooperation with the Mueller investigation.

Perhaps the most egregious “collateral damage” has been the bankrupting and recent indictment of longtime conservative political strategist, best-selling author, media personality, style and public relations guru extraordinaire Roger Stone.

Mr. Stone, who helped launch the Trump campaign, left any official capacity long before the set-up of George Papadopoulos and the Russian collusion narrative were put in motion.

Stone’s “crime” was exchanging emails about Wikileaks with Jerome Corsi and using his considerable skills at generating media buzz to promote the narrative that what had been leaked by Wikileaks before the election was just the tip of the iceberg of dirt Assange had on the Democrats and Hillary Clinton.

That some of Stone’s predictions were unsubstantiated or inaccurate mattered not to the Congressional committees that called Stone in, nor did it matter that Stone voluntarily appeared before Congress. What mattered were perceived inconsistencies in his recollections – and perhaps his vigorous advocacy of Donald Trump and his unwillingness to kowtow to Trump’s persecutors.

After a lengthy and financially debilitating dangling over the hot coals by Mueller’s team of angry Democrats, Mr. Stone was indicted on one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering.

Again, as in the Papadopoulos case, these are all process crimes that would not have occurred had the unjustified Special Counsel investigation never taken place.

Caputo, Corsi, Papadopoulos and Stone are just four of the most prominent and obvious case of “collateral damage” from the Mueller investigation. Many others, such as former Navy officer Carter Page (who was surveilled but never indicted), longtime Trump staffer Hope Hicks and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have also been dragged through the mud and been forced to spend untold thousands of dollars to defend their freedom and their reputations.

Unlike Democrat and Far Left figures, such as Christine Blasey Ford, there is no million-dollar GoFundMe pot of gold at the end of the ordeal for Caputo, Corsi, Papadopoulos, Stone and the rest of those caught up in the hoax that became the Mueller investigation.

And that’s the vilest part of the Democrat strategy, first tried and perfected against former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin: Mire the target in legal fees that will punish them with bankruptcy if they are lucky enough to survive the gantlet of perjury traps Democrats set for them.



Why Democrats must go back to school on taxes

Try explaining marginal tax cuts to a room of 5th graders.

Once, on Ronald Reagan’s birthday, I tried to explain what the top rate was like before our 40th president took office. “Imagine doing some chores for your grandparents,” I said, “and your grandma gives you $10. Then, when you get home, your parents take $7 from you. That’s what the tax rates were like before President Reagan took office.

The students immediately said that wasn’t fair.

Even 5th graders get it.

The last time the top tax rate was 70 percent was back in the days when President Jimmy Carter talked about a country in a malaise. Now, socialists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Sen. Ed Markey want to bring that top tax rate back as part of the so-called “Green New Deal.”

AOC’s response when I tweeted about the fact that even 5th graders realized that wasn’t fair was to suggest that only a limited number of people would pay the tax. It reminded me of when former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” to spend.

Politicians in Maryland helped make that point years ago when they passed a “millionaire tax” presumably to soak the “rich.” Apparently, the targeted taxpayers decided to flee and revenue projections were not met. Eventually, the governor proposed a new tax on households making $100,000 or more.

Think about that: The income of a fire fighter and a nurse could easily exceed $100,000 (particularly on the East Coast). Hardly wealthy. Uncontrolled spending in Maryland eventually hurt the middle class. Sooner or later they ran out of other people’s money to spend.

History is full of examples like that.

Remember the federal budget deal in 1990 that increased taxes on “luxury” items?

So who got hurt by the tax? According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, “Yacht retailers reported a 77 percent drop in sales that year, while boat builders estimated layoffs at 25,000.” All of the fuss about sticking it to the rich really just ended up hurting the thousands of middle-class workers and their families who got pink slips.

The taxes also took in $97 million less than had been projected for the first year. Consumers were buying fewer of the “luxury” items — or at least not buying them in America. In effect, the socialist dream of taking from the wealthy ended up hurting sales, which lead to massive layoffs and revenue projections that missed the mark.

Conversely, tax reductions have consistently had a positive impact on the economy.

Tax rates were cut several times during President Reagan’s tenure and America enjoyed many years of economic recovery. Plus, revenues continued to go up.

Revenues also continued to grow under the tax cuts proposed by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s and during and around the Coolidge era in the 1920s. Liberals and many in the media (sometimes hard to discern which is which) mistakenly believe that lower taxes produce a reduction in revenues. History suggests otherwise.

But taxes are about more than just fiscal and economic policy. They are really about freedom.

Take Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax, for example. It’s not enough to just raise taxes on income, now they want to tax your savings, too.

To me, that is like telling a straight “A” student that she must share her grades with the other students. Rightly so, she would say this is not fair.

Instead of stealing from her, why not help each of the other students do better?

As President Reagan said, “the weakness in this country for too many years has been our insistence of carving an ever-increasing number of slices from a shrinking economic pie. Our policies have concentrated on rationing scarcity rather than creating plenty.”

Instead of fighting over who gets the last piece of shrinking economic pie, let’s help the people of our country produce a bigger pie so that everyone will have a chance to live a better life. That is a uniquely American idea.

We are blessed to live in the land of equal opportunity, but the outcome is still up to each of us. True freedom and prosperity do not come from the clumsy hand of the government. They come from people being able to control their own life and their own destiny through the dignity that is born of work.

As policy makers consider tax increases or tax cuts, I hope they will remember these simple facts. Lest they forget we celebrate the 4th of July and not April 15th, because, in America, we celebrate our independence from the government and not our dependence on it.



GOP launches path to nuclear option rules change in Senate

Senate Republicans took the first step Thursday toward triggering the “nuclear option” and cut down on the amount of time Democrats can obstruct presidential nominees.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a test vote next week on a change to Senate rules that would trim the 30 hours of debate allowed on each nominee once a filibuster is defeated.

That vote is expected to fail — and the GOP is then likely to use the nuclear option, a shortcut to change the rules by majority vote.

Mr. McConnell said he’s been forced into the move by Democrats who, he said, have blocked President Trump’s nominees “out of spite.”

“The Senate is going to do something about it,” he said.

The Kentucky Republican didn’t specifically mention the nuclear option on the floor, but did obliquely refer to it, urging Democrats to accept the rules change without having to resort to the more extreme option.

Mr. McConnell told colleagues earlier this month that Republicans have the votes for the nuclear option — though it does not appear any Democrats will back the normal rules change.

Some Democrats have said they agree that the Senate has gotten off track, but said they won’t approve any change that would help Mr. Trump — a standard that Mr. McConnell said is unsustainable.

“Fair is fair,” he said.

Republicans say Democrats have treated Mr. Trump unfairly by any yardstick.

They’ve had to face attempted Democratic filibusters on more than 120 of Mr. Trump’s nominees — easily swamping any previous administration’s total. Once a filibuster is surmounted, the rules call for up to 30 hours of debate to follow.

That means that if the full time is used, a single nominee can take more than a day’s worth of floor time, crowding out any other substantive legislative business.

Multiple times over the last two years the Senate has spent entire weeks approving four or five nominees.

Democrats acknowledge they’re treating Mr. Trump differently, but say it’s deserved because of the quality of his nominees.

The GOP’s rules change would still keep a maximum of 30 hours of debate on major nominees such as Cabinet-level positions, Supreme Court justices and circuit court judges. But other picks would only face a maximum of two hours’ additional debate once a filibuster has been surmounted.

The Senate experimented with a similar rules change in 2013, when Mr. McConnell led Republicans to join Democrats in lowering debate time for President Obama’s nominees. That experiment expired in 2015.

Thirty-five members of the Democratic Caucus who are still in the Senate voted for the change in 2013. Among them was Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is now Democrats’ floor leader.

On Thursday, he accused Mr. McConnell of changing his position to suit his own needs.

“Senator McConnell’s approach has always been to manipulate Senate rules when it helps him and then change Senate rules when the tables turn,” Mr. Schumer said. “This is just another step in his effort to limit the rights of the minority and cede authority to the administration.”

The only member of the Democratic Caucus to oppose the rules change in 2013 was Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent.

Ten Republicans who opposed that 2013 temporary rules change are also still in the Senate.

The nuclear option was used by Democrats in 2013, when they triggered it to reduce the threshold for overcoming a filibuster on most nominees from 60 to only a simple majority. That paved the way for Mr. Obama to stack an important appeals court in Washington, D.C., with his nominees.

GOP senators then used it in 2017, finishing Democrats’ work by applying the majority standard to Supreme Court picks. That paved the way for the confirmation of Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.



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)