Friday, April 19, 2019

Why Were Authorities so Quick to Rule out Arson in the Notre Dame Conflagration?

I feel I must hand it to those stalwart souls investigating the devastating conflagration at the Cathedral of Notre Dame Monday. The flames were not quenched at the 12th-century masterpiece of Gothic architecture when the authorities announced that they had ruled out arson as the cause of the blaze. (Some reports hedged their bets by adding “for now”; most were more apodictic.)

That was an extraordinary, not to say amazing, piece of forensic prognostication. Not only were the flames still lapping at the timbers of the cathedral when this conclusion was announced, but also think about the context. The fire broke out on Monday of Holy Week, the apex of the Christian religious calendar. For Catholics, Notre Dame is a focal point of what remains of the religion in a country besotted for decades by its adherence to “laïcité,” to aggressive secularism. For France generally, however, I suspect that the important thing is that Notre Dame is home to some 13 million tourists per annum, all armed with fist-fulls of dollars, euros, and yen.

In any event, the holocaust at Notre Dame was by no means unique. Last month, a fire broke out at Saint-Sulpice, the second largest church in Paris. Within a day or two, the authorities had determined that the fire had been deliberately set. You didn’t read about it in The New York Times, but what happened at Saint-Sulpice was only one of the most destructive acts of vandalism directed against Christian churches in France.

Over the past month, in fact, there have been at least twelve reported acts of vandalism against French churches: statues smashed or beheaded, altars desecrated,  human excrement smeared on church walls in the shape of a cross and decorated with communion hosts. France, like many countries in Western Europe, is swaddled in a nervous silence about the inroads made into their society by militant Islam. They, like many Americans, are terrified of being accused of “Islamophobia.”  Yet the Ministry of the Interior reported that in 2018 there were recorded 541 anti-Semitic acts, 100 anti-Muslim acts, and 1063 anti-Christian acts.

Auric Goldfinger, in the Ian Fleming novel, dryly observes to James Bond that “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.”

The French investigators have such extraordinary powers of forensic penetration that they can dispense with all such inductive aids to inquiry. Here they have not one, not two or three, but twelve acts of violent desecration in the past month, including an arsonist attack against the second largest church in Paris. Then Notre Dame catches fire—and what a fire it was—on Monday of Holy Week. Even before the fire was brought under control, the authorities ruled out arson. Has the world ever seen a more potent demonstration of investigative prowess?



Arizona City Overwhelmed By Migrant Mobs ‘roaming the streets’ Declares State Of Emergency

Yuma, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, declared a state of emergency Tuesday, saying it cannot handle the crush of illegal immigrants the government is being forced to release onto its streets.

Mayor Douglas Nicholls said the migrants are being released by the Border Patrol into his community faster than they can leave, and local shelters are already at capacity.

He warned of mobs of people “roaming the streets looking to satisfy basic human needs,” clashing with citizens looking to protect their own property.

“There is an imminent threat on having too many migrant releases into our community,” he said. “It’s above our capacity as a community to sustain.”

The move was designed to draw the attention of the country to what locals said was an untenable situation and to beg for solutions from the federal government, which has been at a political stalemate over what to do.

Mr. Nicholls said he is trying to get other Arizona communities to issue similar declarations, hoping a critical mass of voices will cut through the partisan gridlock.

The migrants are overwhelmingly families and unaccompanied children from Central America. They are fleeing rough conditions at home and are drawn north by lax enforcement policies that virtually guarantee they can be quickly released into communities, where most disappear into the shadows.

Of the children and families that came in 2017, more than 98% were still in the U.S. as of the beginning of this year.

The Trump administration has been searching for ways to change the incentives that draw the migrants to the U.S.

On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr announced that migrants who take the first step toward asylum claims will no longer have an automatic right to be released on bond while their cases are proceeding. The ruling, though, won’t generally affect the children and families, who are quickly released under other court rulings and laws.

Also Tuesday, a Homeland Security Department advisory council issued an emergency report calling for the government to take new steps.

One solution was to set up regional processing centers along the border to centralize the flow of migrants, with new and better facilities to care for the children and families.

The council also pleaded with Congress to pass emergency legislation to speed up asylum cases so a decision can be issued within a month and asked for a fix to the Flores court settlement that imposes a 20-day limit on how long illegal immigrant families can be held in detention.

In the meantime, the council said, the administration should issue an emergency regulation allowing migrant families to be held.

Yuma sits on the line between Arizona and California, surrounded by rough, vacant terrain to its east and west. That means it has become the drop-off point for thousands of illegal immigrants each week streaming into the remote parts of California and Arizona, guided by smugglers who bus them north and then leave them to walk across the border and demand attention from U.S. authorities.

Border Patrol agents arrest them en masse — a group of 360 people was apprehended near Lukeville, Arizona, earlier Tuesday.

But with no ability to hold them, agents engage in what is called “catch-and-release,” processing the migrants and then letting them go at a local bus terminal.

Communities along the border have issued desperate pleas for help, but Yuma’s state of emergency is the most striking reaction.

Mr. Nichollls said the local shelter’s normal capacity is 150 people but it can stretch to accommodate 250. It began Tuesday with 200 people, and Border Patrol agents said they were going to deliver 120 more people during the day, putting the facility well beyond its limits.

The mayor said even if the city had a bigger building, the number of people swamps the capacity for volunteers and supplies — though he did issue a call for donations of coloring books, diapers, snacks and bottled water.

He said the issue is transportation in a town of about 100,000 people, where bus links aren’t extensive and there isn’t enough capacity to ship people out as fast as they are being dropped off by the Border Patrol.

President Trump has proposed siphoning the illegal immigrants from the border into sanctuary cities elsewhere, saying it’s only right those communities step up, given their policies and proclamations about welcoming migrants. That idea has ignited a firestorm in Washington, where Democrats called it unbecoming.

Yet some sanctuary cities have stepped forward to say they would embrace the migrants.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf over the weekend said she would be happy to do so. “Oakland welcomes all, no matter where you came from or how you got here,” she wrote in response to Mr. Trump.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also accepted the challenge this week, saying his city “would welcome all.”

Mr. Trump cast his proposal as political payback, but others have said it’s a necessity, at least so far as releasing the migrants away from the border, where the communities are already overwhelmed.



Crazy Democrat policies in search of votes

Walter E. Williams

There's a push to change laws to permit both criminals serving time and ex-criminals the right to vote. Guess which party is pushing the most for these legal changes. If you guessed that it was the Democrats, go to the head of the class. Bernie Sanders says states should allow felons to vote from behind bars. Elizabeth Warren doesn't go that far but believes felons should have the right to vote. Democrats want the criminal class to have voting rights restored because they could become a significant part of the Democratic base.

These are America's murderers, rapists, burglars, child molesters and drug dealers. Over two million of these people are in prison. If we add in the number of people on probation and parole, there are 6.7 million people currently under correctional control. If cons and ex-cons get the right to vote, it's almost a guarantee that most of these people will cast their vote for a Democratic candidate.

Democrats don't stop with wanting cons and ex-cons to vote. It turns out that more than 50 percent of Democrats surveyed want illegal immigrants to have the right to vote, as they already do in some Democratic-controlled cities.

America's gun control advocates have the belief that outlawing guns would drastically reduce crime. Almost all handguns have been outlawed from private citizen use in the U.K. since 1996. Nonetheless, violent crime in the U.K. has risen almost every year since the ban. Criminals love the idea of a disarmed populace. While there are few gun crimes in the U.K., there's a recent report that in 2018 there were over 40,000 knife crimes committed. It's gotten so bad that some stores have stopped selling kitchen knives.

America's gun control advocates might have some solutions for the citizens of the U.K. They might advocate a thorough MI5 (U.K.'s secret service) background check for anyone wishing to purchase any kind of knife, including kitchen knives. They might advocate knife registration. There might be lengthy prison sentences for anyone caught with an illegal unregistered knife. With London's murder rate higher than New York City's, Mayor Sadiq Khan has implemented knife control policies as violent crime surges. Khan deployed over 300 additional London police officers to stop and search anyone they suspect is carrying a knife.

Here's something else to ponder: Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential elections are calling for reparations for slavery or for the study of reparations. Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren are leading the charge. Slavery was a gross violation of human rights. Justice would demand that slave owners make compensatory payments to slaves. Since both slaves and slave owners are no longer with us, such punishment and compensation is beyond our reach.

So which white Americans owe which black Americans how much? Reparations advocates don't want that question asked, but let's you and I ask it. Are the millions of European, Asian and Latin Americans who immigrated to the U.S. in the 20th century responsible for slavery? What about descendants of Northern whites who fought and died in the War of 1861 in the name of freeing slaves? Should they cough up money for black Americans? What about non-slave-owning Southern whites, who were a majority of Southern whites — should their descendants be made to pay reparations?

On black people's side of the ledger, thorny questions arise. Some blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves — to work farms or plantations. Would descendants of these blacks be eligible for reparations?

The bottom line is because blacks are doing well in the economic arena under the Trump administration, Democrats fear losing a significant portion of the black vote. Their call for reparations is another attempt to use the promise of handouts to insure that the black vote remains in their pocket. Reparations talk is simply another insulting Democratic rope-a-dope strategy.



Trump embraces 5G revolution by freeing up wireless spectrum, removing regulatory barriers and boosting rural broadband

President Donald Trump is committed to winning the race to 5G wireless technology that will transform the U.S. and global economies in ways that have only been dreamed of in the past. Smart cities, driverless cars and trucks, factories run by robots and so many other wonders, all possible because of the next generation of wireless technology.

“The race to 5G is a race America must win and it’s a race, frankly, that our great companies are now involved in — we’ve given them the incentive they need — it’s a race we that we will win,” Trump declared at an April 12 speech, vowing that “we cannot allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future.”

The best part is, all the government has to do is get out of the way.

“In the United States our approach is private sector driven and private sector led. The government doesn’t have to spend lots of money,” Trump said, noting that industry would be investing $275 billion in 5G technology.

Accenture has estimated that 5G will create 3 million new jobs in the U.S. and boost the economy by more than $500 billion.

To help get the network up to speed — quite literally, as 5G will be about 100 times faster than existing 4G networks — Trump outlined his plan to free up “as much spectrum as possible.”

“We’re going to free it up, so they can get out there and get it done,” Trump stated.  Specifically, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Dec. 10 will be auctioning off 3,400 megahertz in three different spectrum bands. This will be a huge opportunity for 5G leaders like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to expand their networks.

According to an FCC fact sheet, “Since November 2018, the FCC has auctioned 1,550 megahertz of spectrum to be used by commercial wireless providers for 5G connectivity.  The third 5G spectrum auction will be the largest in American history; the FCC will be selling 3,400 megahertz in three different spectrum bands at one time.”

One area that can help it along even faster would be in approving the Sprint-T-Mobile merger, which would enable each company to share their respective 600 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum across the low and medium bands. While T-Mobile’s low band spectrum will help bring the network nationwide and particularly to rural areas, Sprint’s medium spectrum will give it the network capacity it needs to function in big cities and densely populated suburbs. This would put both companies on a sounder footing to compete with Verizon and AT&T, and create more competition in the 5G arena, which will reduce prices.

In prepared remarks, FCC chairman Ajit Pai outlined further efforts being made, including by deploying fiberoptics: “we’ve taken action to encourage the deployment of optical fiber.  That’s because 5G isn’t just about wireless.  We’ll also need strong fiber networks to carry traffic once it goes from the air to the ground.  We’ve done a lot to make that happen, including ending heavy-handed regulations imposed by the prior Administration.  Here too, we’re getting results.  Last year, fiber was deployed to more new locations than in any year before.”

In addition, Pai outlined efforts to create more access to rural broadband, stating, “the FCC aims to create a new $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund at the FCC [over 10 years].  This money will extend high-speed broadband to up to four million homes and small businesses in rural America.”

Taken together, it is a sound strategy to bringing a true 5G network nationwide.

It’s exactly the boost the U.S. economy needs to stay ahead in the 21st century. 5G will not only make America great again, it will make it greater than it’s ever been.



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 18, 2019

Statins have no effect on cholesterol for over 50% of patients

This study is one of the few that looks at the cholesterol/statin correlation directly. And it does so with a substantial sample (N=165,411) so is of considerable interest. As such its conclusions are gloomy for statin use. On half your patients it may do no good at all, assuming that high cholesterol is associated with heart disease.  Given the size of the effect, that conclusion is unlikely to be overturned in subsequent research so needs to be taken seriously in patient treatment decisions henceforth

On the other hand, they found that among the "unprotected" group heart disease incidence was marginally higher.  In those circumstances (where the effect is weak), limitations of the study must be noted: It must be noted that the sample was not a random one.  It was a sample of people who had seen their doctor with some heart problem. And we also should note that the controls for confounding factors were poor -- no demographics!

So with those large reservations, we could say that the present weak results are consistent with previous findings that high levels of cholesterol are problematic for people with pre-existing heart disease only

Sub-optimal cholesterol response to initiation of statins and future risk of cardiovascular disease

Ralph Kwame Akyea et al.


Objective: To assess low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) response in patients after initiation of statins, and future risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods: Prospective cohort study of 165 411 primary care patients, from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, who were free of CVD before statin initiation, and had at least one pre-treatment LDL-C within 12 months before, and one post-treatment LDL-C within 24 months after, statin initiation. Based on current national guidelines, <40% reduction in baseline LDL-C within 24 months was classified as a sub-optimal statin response. Cox proportional regression and competing-risks survival regression models were used to determine adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and sub-HRs for incident CVD outcomes for LDL-C response to statins.

Results: 84 609 (51.2%) patients had a sub-optimal LDL-C response to initiated statin therapy within 24 months. During 1 077 299 person-years of follow-up (median follow-up 6.2 years), there were 22 798 CVD events (12 142 in sub-optimal responders and 10 656 in optimal responders). In sub-optimal responders, compared with optimal responders, the HR for incident CVD was 1.17 (95% CI 1.13 to 1.20) and 1.22 (95% CI 1.19 to 1.25) after adjusting for age and baseline untreated LDL-C. Considering competing risks resulted in lower but similar sub-HRs for both unadjusted (1.13, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.16) and adjusted (1.19, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.23) cumulative incidence function of CVD.

Conclusions: Optimal lowering of LDL-C is not achieved within 2 years in over half of patients in the general population initiated on statin therapy, and these patients will experience significantly increased risk of future CVD.



Trump can’t finish the wall fast enough as apprehensions on southern border top 103,000 in March

By Robert Romano

Apprehensions on the southern border hit 103,492 in March, according to data compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the highest in a decade.

In 2018, apprehensions averaged about 43,424 monthly, 34,626 in 2017, 46,114 in 2016, 37,071 in 2015 and 47,436 in 2014. 2019 looks like it will be a record year, as there have already been more apprehensions through March at 422,334 than all of 2017.

Amid the surge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement only has about 52,000 beds to detain people who are apprehended — which guarantees that a good number of those apprehended will have to be released.

There are simply too many people coming, with not enough facilities to accommodate them and not enough judges to process them efficiently. The effect is catch-and-release. And Congress knows it.

Even the limit on beds comes down to deliberate decision-making by Congress, as this was a major sticking point in the discussions on ending the government shutdown. Democrats wanted a harder limit on beds even when faced with the data of how the system was being overwhelmed. Last year, the authorization allowed for an average daily of 40,520, but President Trump has been able to get the actual number up to 49,000 by moving things around. This year, the new baseline was increased to 45,274, which he can ratchet up to 52,000 by moving things around.

As it turns out, Trump was prophetic in requesting additional funds with the migrant surge now occurring. But what Congress has provided is not nearly enough. Not with over 103,000 being apprehended in a single month.

Ultimately, the federal government wouldn’t need so many beds if resources were brought to bear to secure the border entirely. Two years into the Trump administration, unfortunately, and Congress only inluded $1.6 billion from 2018 for replacing existing fencing with new steel barriers and $1.375 billion in 2019 for more steel barriers.

As it is, President Donald Trump had to resort to declaring a national emergency on the border so that military construction funds could be reprogrammed.

Reporting from Calexico, Calif., Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reported that with existing funding including the emergency funds, about 450 miles of wall will be built: “Around Dec. 2020, the total amount of money we will have put in the ground in the last couple of years will be about 450 miles. That’s probably about $8 billion, in total about 33 projects.”

In the meantime, while the system continues to be flooded, that means a lot of people are simply going to be released. So, President Trump is proposing to release them into sanctuary cities and states that Democrats have declared. The thinking is clear enough.

On Twitter on April 12, Trump stated, “Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only…The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”

Perhaps when leaders in Congress have to deal with the migrant surge directly in their local communities, instead thinking they can dump them in red states, they will sit down with Trump and finally get down to business to giving the resources the federal government needs to both deter and contain the illegal immigration surge now occurring.

While the President awaits Congressional action, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning suggested that human traffickers should be declared terrorist organizations: “The problem is now so severe that the President should simply declare the human trafficking cartels who are profiteering off the illegal immigration surge to be terrorist organizations and treated accordingly. The costs to both the American taxpayer and to those who depend upon our nation’s generous social safety net is unacceptable, but what’s worse is it is now endangering our national security, and those in Mexico who are facilitating the trafficking need to be dealt with the full force of the law.”

A terrorist organization declaration would invoke certain authorities that would allow the Trump administration to cut of the funds traffickers receive via remittances and other means.

Manning is right. Not enough pressure is being put on those making the journey as the resources Congress has provided are insufficient by a several orders of magnitude to deter and prevent the currently seen levels of migration.

The human traffickers realize the border is wide open, and unless something is done, this is crisis is not going to get any better. Something’s got to give.


Old problem, tired old solution: Democrats want to tax millennials to save Social Security

While so-called "Medicare for all" is grabbing the most headlines, a House Ways and Means subcommittee has held four separate hearings on the looming insolvency of another big entitlement program: Social Security. Subcommittee Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., recently released a bill to shore up Social Security’s funding through myriad new tax increases and 200 of his Democratic colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors.

I testified on Wednesday at a hearing where this bill, the Social Security 2100 Act, was the focus. I was invited to offer some remarks on a group that does not get much attention in the conversation regarding Social Security: young people. My comments focused mostly on millennials, because that is the group for which we have data on their working lives, but the broader consequences to the future of the workforce should be explored before plans to hike taxes on workers and employees is viewed as the silver bullet for the program’s sustainability.

The bill would hike the payroll tax 2.4 percentage points, to 14.8%. While almost half of workers do not pay income tax, the payroll tax is the largest tax most workers pay. Increasing it confiscates wealth for workers that could otherwise be used to save and build equity.

This strikes workers at the beginning of their career particularly hard, not just because it deprives them of a longer window for savings, but also because millennial workers are different from other generations in significant ways. For one, they are more likely to start their own business. Over a third of millennials operate a “side hustle” in addition to their full-time job. This means many young people in the workforce today are not only employees, but potential employers as well. But as a sole proprietor, they would be responsible for both the employer and employee sides of the payroll tax hike in these plans, potentially increasing their payroll taxes by thousands of dollars.

The consequences to economic mobility should be obvious: A payroll tax hike makes each hire for an employer more expensive, and data shows that employers will respond by cutting wages. This will diminish income mobility for workers, particularly those at the beginning of their careers. It will put wage increases further out of reach for workers. What’s more, the income exemptions in this bill are not indexed to inflation, meaning they eat up a larger share of employee income over time. This will further erode young people’s earnings opportunities as they move up the income ladder.

Millennials already lag other generations in terms of wealth accumulation. Workers at the beginning of their careers see a higher share of their income go to payroll taxes, and fixed costs of living take up a higher share of their take-home pay. Increasing the payroll tax further diminishes the amount of money they have available to save and create wealth over time, and exacerbates this disparity between what is now the largest living generation in the country and other generations that have come before it. What’s more, data indicates that lower-income households make up for the loss of income by shouldering more debt, undermining opportunity for young workers to amass their own wealth.

The workforce today looks different than the workforce of different generations — this is a feature, not a flaw, of the American system. As our economy evolves, however, so too must our public policy. For many millennials who entered the workforce during the recession, the recent economic expansion has been their first opportunity to grow in their careers and build wealth. Proposals that would force this cohort to shoulder new tax burdens threaten to undermine this progress. While Congress has enhanced private savings opportunities to the widespread benefit of workers, it has yet to tackle the looming fiscal insecurity of government spending. Congress should consider bipartisan methods of meeting this challenge without simply redistributing the burden to future generations.



The Trump jobs miracle

If you want one number that encapsulates the enormity of the economic turnaround under Donald Trump it is this: Today in America so far this year there have been between 7.1 million and 7.6 million unfilled jobs. This number is larger than the entire population of the state of Indiana. That is how powerful and relentless the hiring spree has been under Trump policies.

Today, there are just over 6 million Americans who are “unemployed.” This means that even if every person in America looking for a job took a job (and had the skills to fill them), we would still have more than 1 million jobs that would not be filled. That’s the University of Michigan football stadium filled 10 times. That’s a lot of jobs.

Add to that the latest Labor Department numbers that the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits and it adds up to a glorious and irrefutable reality.

This is the best labor market for workers in 50 years.

Maybe ever.

This tight labor market is exactly what those of us on the Trump team hoped for when we designed the tax reform bill, the deregulation policies and other policy changes designed to allow American businesses to grow and prosper. The competition for workers explains why average wages in America have risen by 3.2 percent over the last year in an environment of little or no inflation. Add to that the average tax reduction of between $1,500 and $2,000 for the typical middle class family and it is no wonder that 71 percent of workers feel good about the economic direction of the nation, as a recent CNN poll found. Before the election of 2016 only about half that number of Americans rated the economy as good or great.

For the first time in a long time, Americans’ real take home pay is expanding. It feels good. People are spending because they have more money in their wallets and they are confident in their financial future. What a change from the malaise of the last decade, when almost every poll showed that jobs and the economy were the biggest worry of Americans.

The tight labor market and boost in wages are inextricably linked. Target just announced a new “minimum wage” of $13 an hour. That wage is headed to $15 an hour in 18 months. Is this because of a government minimum wage law? No. The company said it had to pay more to recrult and retain the best workers. There is nothing more empowering for middle class workers than having employers compete for their services.

Target isn’t the only company handing out big raises in the Trump era. Walmart is up to $11 an hour, and Amazon just recently went to $15 an hour for starting workers. Don’t forget to add to bonuses of up to $2,000, and paid vacations and other enticements.

Even as businesses are investing more in capital equipment — like machinery, computers, robotics, trucks and forklifts — they are hiring more workers at a brisk pace. Remember the worry that the Internet and robots were going to destroy all the jobs and America would be one long unemployment line? It’s not happening.

So now the worry is America is running out of workers. Not really. As wages rise, more working-age Americans who aren’t currently looking for a job will snatch them up. There are at least 10 million Americans who could be in the labor force if the offer to get off the sidelines is enticing enough.

The irony of all this is that at the very moment that the left wants to institute a “guaranteed livable income” for every American, President Trump is doing that and more by making sure that every last American who wants one can get a job.



Comey assumes jester role in spygate tragedy

Top secret surveillance is spying.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement blasting former FBI Director James Comey’s contention that “the FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance… I have never thought of that as spying”:

“James Comey’s latest embarrassing declaration that top secret surveillance of American citizens’ phone calls, emails, texts and other communications in a counterintelligence probe is not spying ranks right up with Bill Clinton’s parsing of the meaning of the word is. Comey signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to spy against the Trump campaign. In Washington, D.C., lies are excused if couched in the right flowery verbage. Comey cannot possibly believe that engaging in electronic surveillance largely based on documentation from politically weaponized spies, which he says was ‘selacious and unverified,’ as well as using human intelligence resources to observe and attempt to infiltrate the Trump campaign in the midst of a counterintelligence investigation is not spying.

“Comey’s Hamlet-like musings reflect more on his attempt to rerwrite history and restore his tattered personal legacy. If this tragedy is ever honestly written, Comey has cemented his role as the fool rather than the hero he portrays himself as.”



Feel the hate

Bella Abzug (1920 – 1998) was a bane of American conservatives for many years in the late 20th century. It was a relief when she died.  She was an aggressive feminist and all-round far-leftist with a very loud and abusive mouth


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 17, 2019

Bad conservatives?

I recently received the following email from M. DeV.  It appears to be a riposte to the way conservatives point to murderous Leftist regimes from the French revolution on.  I have a little spare time so I thought I might point out some of the lacunae in it.  I will add my coments at the bottom of it.

1. Those who promoted child labor were conservatives.

2. The brutal genocidal colonizers of the Americans were christian conservatives.

3. Franco was helped into power by conservatives.

4. Hitler was helped into power by conservatives such as Papen and Hindenburg.

5. World War I was started by conservatives.

6. Lenin was helped to get to Russia by German conservatives.

7. Those who opposed food safety laws were conservatives (thousands of children died in 19th century Britain because of arsenic poisoning).

8. The American Civil War was started by treasonous conservative democrats.

9. Centuries of European warfare was brought on by monarchists and conservatives.

10. Al Qaeda and the Taleban were created by the mujahedeen which was supported throughout the 1980s by American conservatives.

11. Iran Contra was treason by conservatives (Reagan should have been hanged for it).

12. Conservatism is a disease and the American GOP is a huge threat to the western world.

1. The man who did most to regulate and cut back child labor was Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Prime Minister of Britain in the late 19th century

2. The Pilgrim fathers had friendly relations with the natives from 1620 to 1675, when they were attacked

3. Franco was suported by the Falange, a Fascist  (Leftist) party

4. Hitler's rise was his own doing -- particularly by way of his remarkable oratory.  But at various points both the Social Democrat Left and the Communists sided with him

5. Who started WWI is contentious but it would have remained a local affair except for the intervention of the Rusian Tsar, who was above politcs

6. At the beginning of World War I, Germany was a constitutional monarchy in which political parties were limited to the legislative arena. They could control neither the government nor the military.  It was the military who sent Lenin to Russia

7. Those who opposed food safety laws were businessmen with various political loyalties.  They were gradually brought to heel by governments.  But again Disraeli was in the lead.  In 1874 Disraeli brought in an aggressive program of social legislation, including a pure-food-and-drug act

8. The American Civil War was started by treasonous Leftist  politicians.  Republicans were at that time the Left of American politics.  No other country in the world shed a drop of blood to free their slaves.  So why did America?  Because the Republicans were in the grip of Leftist self righteousness.  See here

9. Centuries of European warfare were brought on by national and dynastic rivalries.

10.Al Qaeda and the Taleban were native Muslim movements that started in opposition to the Soviets. American opposition to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan started under Jimmy Carter (D)

11. Iran Contra was part of an attempt to overthrow a Communist regime

12. Leftism is a disease and the American Democrats are Fascists.


LOL.  Trump can't win

As a catastrophic fire tore through one of the world’s most beloved cultural treasures, US President Donald Trump assessed the response from the other side of the globe and offered unsolicited advice for firefighters.

“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mr Trump tweeted earlier today as more than 400 firefighters tried to save the Notre Dame cathedral. “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”

France’s civil defense agency, Sécurité Civile, tweeted — once in French and once in English — less than two hours after Mr Trump sent his tweet and appeared to directly respond to the US president.

“Helicopter or aeroplane, the weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre Dame and result in collateral damage to the buildings in the vicinity,” the agency wrote in French.

And despite never posting updates in English, the agency then sent out a second tweet.

 Hundreds of firemen of the Paris Fire Brigade are doing everything they can to bring the terrible #NotreDame fire under control. All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.

Mr Trump’s tweet was almost universally slammed, with many of the president’s Twitter followers calling his advice “ignorant”.

"When California burned you did not seem to be a fire expert. Please, shut up. It is a tragic moment for the cultural heritage of humanity."

"Has anyone else found themselves wondering if, aside from the massive, ignorant ego inserting himself into the story by telling French fire fighters how to do their job, what's really happening here is this sorry excuse for a human is jealous because the news is not about him?"


My sympathies in the matter were somewhat reduced when I heard that the cathedral was a repository for the crown of thorns from Christ's crucifixion plus a fragment of the true cross plus one of the holy nails which held Christ to the cross.  I guess my Presbyterian background is showing but the word "idolatory" did spring to my mind


Boston Globe Writer Suggests Waiters Should ‘tamper’ With Republicans’ Food,/b>

Once again Leftists have no ability to foresee the consequences of their actions.  Once Democrats start polluting the food of conservatives, the way will be open for conservatives to do some polluting as well.  A lot of working people who voted for Trump might be angry enough to do that

A Boston Globe columnist called for waiters to contaminate the food of Trump administration officials.

“As for the waiters out there, I’m not saying you should tamper with anyone’s food, as that could get you into trouble,” O’Neil wrote. “You might lose your serving job. But you’d be serving America. And you won’t have any regrets years later.”

He added that “not pissing in Bill Kristol’s salmon” when he was a waiter was one of his eternal regrets. “I was waiting on the disgraced neoconservative pundit and chief Iraq War cheerleader about 10 years ago at a restaurant in Cambridge and to my eternal dismay, some combination of professionalism and pusillanimity prevented me from appropriately seasoning his entree,”

The Globe to found itself dealing with a wave of outrage. Herman Cain, one of President Trump’s two picks for the Federal Reserve Board, tweeted, “Who makes the editorial decisions at the Boston Globe?”

O’Neil hit back at the Globe for removing the article from its website.

“Absolute brain genius move by the Globe to edit my story three times then take it down altogether and put up a note saying I’m not on staff instead of perhaps standing by a long time contributor and siding with labor instead of bad faith critics who would hate them no matter what,” O’Neil said on Twitter. He added: “I will never write for them again.”



Appeals court rules Trump admin can temporarily continue to send asylum-seekers back to Mexico

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of President Trump on Friday when it determined that the government can at least temporarily continue to send asylum-seekers back to Mexico.

The asylum program was scheduled to be shut down at midnight under an order from District Judge Richard Seeborg, but the White House requested that the appeals court intervene.

The 9th Circuit temporarily stayed the lower court’s ruling as the parties get ready to submit their arguments next week on the government’s request for a longer stay that would likely last months.

“Finally, great news at the Border!” Trump tweeted Friday night.

The administration has defended the policy as necessary to deal with what it calls an immigration crisis at the border that is overwhelming existing enforcement mechanisms.

The lower court ruled earlier this week that the policy contradicted U.S. immigration law and issued a nationwide injunction but delayed its implementation to give the government time to appeal.

The administration has sent more than a thousand asylum-seekers, many from Central America, back to Mexico as their asylum claims make their way through the U.S.’s backed-up immigration system.

Trump has doubled down on his hard-line stance on immigration in recent weeks, threatening to close the border with Mexico, cutting off funding to El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, and overseeing a purge at the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump has said that many claiming asylum seek to do harm, saying last weekend some asylum-seekers should be "fighting for the UFC" and that approvals of asylum claims should be curtailed.

"The system is full. Can’t take you anymore," Trump said while visiting the border earlier this month, adding that for both "illegal immigration" and asylum-seekers, the answer is "I’m sorry. We’re full."



Abolish the Income Tax, Abolish the IRS

It's possible


Everybody hates income taxes. Some people say there are too many loopholes or too few incentives or that they're too high or too low or that the system is rigged against (insert your favorite group here) or biased in favor of (insert your least favorite group here) or that the IRS is abusive or too lenient and -- almost everybody agrees -- the whole thing is corrupt and corrupting.

I know several of these complaints contradict other complaints, but you know what? They're all true. Every single one. Our tax code is a jumbled mess of contradictions, and the IRS is alternately abusive and permissive.

At the left-leaning Daily News today, David Cay Johnston writes that "there’s a fundamental problem at the heart of the way we fund our government." He says that there are actually two tax systems, one for "working stiffs and retirees," and the other for "rich business owners [who] operate under a different system." Johnson's solution? Hire a lot more IRS auditors who will stick it to the rich.

That's just silly, of course. The rich already pay the vast majority of income taxes. The top 1 percent pays more than 35 percent of all income tax collected; the bottom half pays only about 3 percent. Those figures come from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation from before the 2017 tax reform law, which generally cut taxes even further for the middle class, while raising them a bit on wealthy blue state residents. If anything, the bottom half of Americans aren't invested in what happens in Washington, because they don't have any skin in the game.

But even if they did, is putting thousands or even hundreds of thousands of additional Americans through the IRS audit wringer a good way to increase fairness?

Over on the libertarian side, Reason's Liz Wolfe was driven to such despair by the burdens and complexities of our tax code that she got stoned before doing her taxes this year. While I don't recommend this at all, Wolfe wrote, much to my entertainment, "I smoked a massive joint with my husband and browsed flights to Budapest and Dubrovnik before realizing that I could not procrastinate anymore and also could not fly to Eastern Europe to avoid my tax burden." As the guy who invented drunkblogging, I don't judge. Whatever gets you through the tax season.

At The Federalist today, Laura Baxter lists nine conservative complaints against the income tax, arguing that today should be a "national day of mourning." Three of her arguments really stood out to me, and in no small part because they're interrelated. And not just interrelated, but probably an inextricable feature of the income tax.

They are:

*  The Tax System Is Far Too Complex

*  The Tax System Favors Special Interests

*  The Tax System Is Easily Weaponized

I encourage you to click over and read the whole thing.

Tax laws are written by people and people prefer certain other people or provide favors to other people in exchange for something they want themselves. And that makes our income tax system -- any income tax system -- ripe for corruption, graft, and abuse.

Which brings us to the Fair Tax.

The Fair Tax isn't exactly a new idea, but it's one worth reminding people of every April 15.

The Fair Tax would completely eliminate payroll taxes and individual and corporate income taxes by repealing the 16th Amendment. Washington would be funded instead by a national sales tax -- partly offset by a monthly "prebate" paid to every household. As described by Americans for Fair Taxation, the prebate is "an 'advance refund' at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free." You would take home 100 percent of your pay, and determine your own tax rate based on how much you spend each month.

The IRS is abolished, replaced by a tax collection mechanism every single merchant is already familiar with. Conspicuous consumption by the rich would be met with a heavy sales tax burden, but investments in jobs and growth and innovation would be tax-free.

Other benefits include zero compliance cost for individuals, no more audits, no more loopholes, and vastly reduced opportunities for official corruption and graft. Almost as good, perhaps, is that only legal U.S. residents are eligible for the prebate, but everybody, from native-born citizen to illegal alien, pays their fair share at the cash register.

For more information, you can visit



Israel Hopes for Same Treatment, After Int’l Court Backs Down on US Probe

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed a decision by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges not to authorize an investigation into alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, and implicitly expressed the hope an ICC probe into Israeli actions would meet the same fate.

“To come and put on trial U.S. or Israeli soldiers, or the State of Israel or the U.S., is absurd,” Netanyahu told a weekly cabinet meeting. “This corrects an injustice and will have far-reaching implications for the functioning of the international system regarding the State of Israel.”

A three-judge panel in The Hague ruled Friday that although the alleged offenses met criteria set down by the Rome Statute – the court’s founding treaty – an investigation “at this stage would not serve the interests of justice.” Accordingly it turned down chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to proceed.

President Trump hailed the development, which came a week after the State Department revoked Bensouda’s U.S. visa, in line with its recent decision to bar entry to anyone “directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel.”

The president called the decision “a major international victory, not only for these patriots [U.S. military and intelligence personnel involved in the conflict], but for the rule of law.”

Human rights advocacy groups voiced dismay, with Amnesty International accusing the ICC of “caving” to U.S. threats.



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 16, 2019

Why Trump drives the DC establishment nuts

A friend was researching a story, and the more questions she asked the more she felt she really didn’t know anything about the subject. She discovered neither did anyone else she was asking.

That reminded me of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ epiphany, which goes something like this:

"When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to fit in, and everything will be OK. That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again."

This explains the root of the Washington Establishment’s dysfunctional relationship with President Trump.

The antipathy is deeper than “he’s not our kind of people,” or policy disagreements. Consider Jobs’ epiphany.

The Washington Establishmentarians went to the finest schools where they learned “the world is the way it is,” the world being “the trans-Atlantic alliance,” “the international rules based trading system,” “the post-war architecture and institutions,” concepts formulated 70 years ago and considered sacrosanct in the empyrean precincts of Washington and academia.

The gilded reptiles of the swamp make a comfortable living as experts on the world The Way It Is. They don’t “bash into the walls” – they know their place and they fit in.

Then along comes Donald J. Trump. Rather than “Try not to bash into the walls,” he’s made a living bashing down walls, quite literally, and doesn’t apologize for it.

Unlike previous candidates who ran as outsiders but went with the Washington status quo once elected, President Trump doesn’t accept “the world is the way it is.” Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it.

President Trump didn’t accept the received wisdom on China that let Beijing get away with cheating, stealing and breaking every promise it made. He knew that China policy was made by people who were no smarter than he and that he could change it.

President Trump didn’t accept the status quo with NATO, a 70-year-old military alliance against a Soviet threat that no longer exists. The Establishment experts told him he deserves to be impeached, convicted and removed from office for suggesting allies pay their fair share. But then the allies ponied up more.

President Trump doesn’t accept America’s decline is inevitable, nationalism is bad, nations are outdated, and we are merely cogs in a “global economy without borders.” Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it.

Washington is full of people who base their self-worth on issuing great pronouncements telling us “the world is the way it is.”

President Donald J. Trump doesn’t accept “the world is the way it is,” and it drives them nuts that he has the gall to change it.



Stephen Moore is a pro-growth economic champion

Stephen Moore is an anti-establishment voice and critic of the D.C. swamp. It should come as no surprise that economists who never stray from mainstream, “acceptable” positions on the role of the Federal Reserve are also vehemently opposed to Moore’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. After all, to challenge the Fed’s orthodoxy is to challenge the Washington establishment.

President Trump won in 2016 by going against the established order. His victory showed the nation that what the “experts” want is not always what is best for the American people. His victory was a wake-up call to the nation that establishment experts are no longer unassailable. Having made a career of challenging the established order in much the same way, Stephen Moore is the dissenting voice so desperately needed on the Federal Reserve board today.

Respected economists warned that under President Trump, the U.S. would enter a recession almost immediately upon assuming office. Under Trump’s pro-growth economic policies, though, the United States has entered an era of prosperity it hasn’t seen in years. Tax cuts that many warned would severely damage the economy have instead resulted in the largest wage increases in years, record decreases in unemployment, and widespread investment that has benefited main street America and corporations alike.

Stephen Moore was one of the architects behind the crafting of President Trump’s tax cut and deregulatory agenda. These weren’t new ideas, though. They were simply the laissez-faire economic principles that had been discarded years ago in favor of the false consensus of big government, Keynesian ideas that slowed the growth of our economy. Moore has been a well known supply-sider throughout his entire career.

Moore, like President Trump, understands that prosperity comes not through government intervention, but through hands-off economic policies that provide for a pro-growth business climate. Challenging the orthodoxy of so many establishment economists, the same ones who oppose Moore’s confirmation, have instead benefitted millions of Americans.

Moore has written extensively about the dangers of politicians becoming too involved in the economy. He cites the administration of Herbert Hoover as an example of how things can go drastically wrong when America moves from laissez-faire economic policy to a command and control approach. Instead of buying into the faux orthodoxy of big government economists and pundits, he wants to unleash the American economic potential made possible when the government steps back.

Moore’s career demonstrates a willingness to challenge this economic orthodoxy revered as sacred by the Washington establishment. He has remained an ardent believer in small government, pro-growth economic policies that empower consumers and businesses alike. This is reason enough to trust him as Trump’s pick for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Among the many reasons to confirm Stephen Moore is that he believes in sound money. The Federal Reserve Board thinks it better instead to aggressively expand money supply. The quantitative easing that the Fed implemented following the 2008 financial crisis has initiated the slow-motion destabilization of the American Dollar.

Sound money is the basis for economic prosperity. Sound money is only possible with a return to the gold standard or a system where the value of our dollar is tied to a real commodity, something for which Moore has advocated. Without an anchor for the American dollar, inflation caused by the Fed’s tinkering with the money supply will lead to economic uncertainty, as it has for decades

Moore couldn’t disagree more with a central tenet of the Fed’s doctrine, quantitative easing. The Washington establishment puts far too much emphasis on the necessity for the central bank to tinker with our money supply, thus undermining the American dollar. Therefore, Moore’s voice of reason is much needed on the Federal Reserve Board to ensure a stable currency, the building block for free markets and economic prosperity.

By going against the D.C. status quo, Stephen Moore has shown he’s not afraid to embrace the anti-establishment background that has made him a breath of fresh air when it comes to American economics. As we’ve seen in the past few years, the Washington establishment has a poor record of getting it right. Stephen Moore’s confirmation to the Federal Reserve Board would bring another round of much-needed change to Washington.



Trump administration moves to stop 'dark' regulations from federal agencies

The Trump administration will take action Thursday to crack down on federal agencies’ ability to issue rules, memos and other documents that can have a binding regulatory effect without ever being reviewed by Congress.

Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought is issuing new guidance to all agencies on complying with the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that requires “major” rules be submitted to Congress at least 60 days before they take effect.

A senior administration official told The Washington Times that the Trump administration has found, with Government Accountability Office reports, that “agencies sometimes under-comply with CRA.”

“We decided that some additional guidance from OMB is necessary to the agencies to help them comply with the law,” the official said in an exclusive interview. “Many agencies often don’t know how the CRA works. Agencies often don’t even know to ask.”

While the administration isn’t characterizing the move as a broadening of the CRA, the official said the action “will result in additional items being sent to the Hill.”

OMB’s action will replace guidance for a 1999 Clinton-era executive order that the official described as the “cornerstone of OMB review” standards. The official said the new action will “create a uniform set of procedures” by having OMB review all major rule determinations, even those from independent agencies.

OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has authority for the review of executive branch regulations and other proposals.

The CRA gives lawmakers the ability to reject proposed rules, which can cover anything from classifying independent contractors as employees to offering discounts on auto loans. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. has referred to such actions, often issued as bulletins or memos, as “regulatory dark matter” because they require compliance without ever having been subject to a period of public comment and review.

“When you’re a regulated party, if an agency is telling you ‘This is how I intend to enforce this rule,’ you’re going to treat it pretty much as binding,” said another administration official. “It often does impose very significant obligations.”

During the first 60 days of the Trump administration, congressional Republicans used the CRA to undo 14 of the Obama administration’s last-minute regulations, many involving new workplace burdens on employers.

In addition to proposed rules subject to “notice and comment,” the senior official said, “there are other regulatory actions and guidance documents that also fit within the definition of the scope of the Congressional Review Act.”

“This memo will make clear that those items also must go up to the Hill,” the official said.

The GAO reported in 2008 and 2009 that federal agencies had failed to submit more than 1,000 rules to Congress.

Heritage Foundation analyst Paul Larkin said federal agencies cannot say they weren’t warned about complying with the CRA.

“Federal agencies cannot demand that the public comply with the law, including agency rules, if the agencies are free to disregard the law and their own rules,” Mr. Larkin said.

He added that under the CRA, agency “rules” that have not been submitted to Congress as required are not “in effect” and therefore are null and void.

“Agencies therefore have an incentive to comply with the CRA so that their rules can have legal effect,” he said.



The Republican Never Trumpers after Mueller

For much of the past two years, this constellation of Republican lawmakers, conservative pundits and policy wonks, and GOP operatives had hoped Mueller would help rid them of, as they saw him, the crude political rube who had hijacked their beloved Grand Old Party. Some campaigned loudly for Trump’s demise, on Twitter and cable news. Others, however, operated mostly in the shadows. Like dissidents in an authoritarian country, they held secret meetings in a conference room of a little-known Washington think tank called the Niskanen Center. About once a month, they shared private polling data on Trump, passed along the names of political activists around the country who opposed the president and, perhaps most important, discussed potential primary challengers who could lead the “Dump Trump” movement.

Just weeks before the Mueller news, a group of lobbyists, congressional aides and policy experts from conservative think tanks spent an entire session talking about how to sell free trade and fiscal restraint to voters in the age of Trump. Now, these Republicans face a reinvigorated and vengeful standard-bearer, fully embraced by a party establishment no longer encumbered by the looming threat of a criminal indictment from Mueller. “The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.

Publicly, the Never Trumpers say their unlikely cause endures. “This was never about Mueller or the Russia investigation,” says Rick Wilson, the Florida-based Republican operative and author of Everything Trump Touches Dies. “It’s about his unfitness for office.” “He’s incompetent and really bad for the party,” says Mike Murphy, the veteran GOP strategist, “and he’ll hand the country over to a party that’s going full socialist.”

“We need to see the Mueller report,” conservative commentator Bill Kristol wrote on Twitter, echoing Democrats on Capitol Hill. The evidence “will confirm he ought not be re-elected.”

But privately, members of this group acknowledge the dream is dying, if not already dead, with the herculean task of bringing down an incumbent president from inside the party now infinitely harder, if not impossible. Yes, a bevy of other investigations in state and federal prosecutors’ offices, as well as in Congress, are proceeding on everything from hush money payments to money laundering to illegal donations, and Mueller’s confidential report—Barr has vowed to release a public version in the coming weeks—may yet contain damaging details about Trump’s conduct.

But for the moment, it seems the single, largest bullet is gone. After nearly two years of Russia-gate frenzy and impeachment talk, Democratic leaders are moving on, attempting to pivot to health care and other kitchen-table issues. And Trump and the GOP are now the ones on the offensive, with the president pledging to investigate the “treasonous” people behind the Mueller “witch hunt.” A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Trump’s job approval jumping 4 points, to 43 percent, in the wake of the findings.

Some Never Trumpers asked for anonymity to speak freely post-Mueller, an acknowledgment of the changing political currents and Trump’s new lease on life. “I’m not going to deny that this is a win for Trump, a big win. And it makes our job harder,” said one leading Never Trumper. “He’ll get a bounce from this. The question is: Will he piss it away by being Trump?”

Dumping Trump has always been a quixotic effort. Throughout his tumultuous presidency, he has remained overwhelmingly popular among registered Republicans. His approval rating among party members is 84 percent, according to a recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.

GOP critics, like former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, soon found their own campaigns foundering when they questioned the president, his positions or his appointees. “This is very much the president’s party,” Flake, who decided not to run for re-election to Congress last year, told The Hill. “When you look at the base and look at those who vote in Republican primaries, I think that is clear.”

But while much of the rank and file who supported others in the 2016 primaries got over their shock—winning the general election tends to heal a lot of political wounds—a significant minority didn’t, haunted by the image of Trump accepting the Republican nomination to the sounds of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”



Leftists never change

I came across the following report from 2003.  It could have been written yesterday.  The Left never can handle reality

Last year, at the ancient Valhalla Cinema in Glebe, the veteran documentary-maker David Bradbury premiered his latest film, Fond Memories of Cuba - and got more than he bargained for.

It was a Friday night. The theatre was full. Bradbury was there to answer questions afterwards. He's a '70s lefty but he witnessed, during several visits to Cuba, the gradual failure of the revolution which has been controlled by the same dictator for more than 40 years. The documentary concludes with the aggressive breaking up of a pro-democracy demonstration by police.

As the credits rolled, the insults flew. "Shame!" cried one woman as Bradbury walked on stage. "Bullshit!" shouted someone else amid other catcalls. A lively colloquium followed in which Bradbury had to defend his progressive credentials from attack by hard left throw-backs who can always rationalise away why the "people" don't need free elections.

Warning: never stand between inconvenient facts and utopian ideals. And never, ever, underestimate the power of preconceptions. Especially during the heightened reality of wartime.



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 15, 2019

Obedience to the authorities and Romans 13

Romans 13 was for a long while held to support the divine right of kings.  But does it? It is certainly a command to be a good citizen and one cannot easily object to that.  But the idea that one should just accept anything that any government does is surely troubling.  Even more troubling is the idea that all governments, however bad, were put there by God. So let's see where Paul may have been coming from in writing that.

I have previously suggested here and here that some of the commands to Christians given in the NT were not meant as instructions for all times but rather for the very transitional period when the first flowering of Christianity was in danger of being crushed under the feet of the established authorities, mostly Roman but also more local.  The imperative was for the faith to survive but once that was firmly in place "normal" rules could apply. That helps us to understand the most disobeyed instruction in the Bible:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Matthew 5:38

That advice runs against all nature.  No-one naturally behaves that way.  It is anti-instinctual. So it must have been designed for a very special occasion.  And it was.

It seems to me that these were instructions Jesus gave in full knowledge of the hostility that already existed towards him and the great danger his followers would be in after his death.  He wanted his teachings to survive his death and the disciples were to be the vehicle for that survival.  So he gave them instructions which would minimize hostility towards them.

How do we know that these instructions were for a transitional period only?  Easy.  Many of his other instructions were quite martial. "He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.".  Again: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword".  And Christ himself drove the moneychangers out of the temple. And when Simon Peter cut off the servant's ear with his sword, Jesus did not say that the use of the sword was wrong.  He simply said that the time was wrong for that -- John 18:10.

And Romans 13 is clearly an elaboration of the instructions in Matthew 5. Paul was a good apostle. It reads:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.  This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Paul was writing in the very beginning of the Christian expansion and there was already hostility to their "strange" beliefs in the Greek cities where they were mostly to be found.  So he wanted to instill attitudes of non-resistance to make them safe.  That both he and Christ saw non-resistance as powerful was in fact amazing wisdom for the time.  It was brilliant advice on how to survive hostility and danger. Psychologists these days teach "de-escalation techniques" for dealing with conflict but Christ and Paul taught such techniques 2,000 years ago.

But are we certain yet that the desire for a peaceful life lay behind those instructions?  I think there is one more piece of evidence that clinches it. It is in I Timothy 2:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty

So it is clear that deflection of aggression from the authorities is the single theme of Matthew 5, Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2. And in those times deflecting hostility was vital if the faith was to survive.  Being known as good people would help them survive.

But what if the survival of the faith is no longer threatened, as is the case in the modern world, with its billions of Christians?  I think in that case the instructions continue as useful tools but they are not something mandatory.  They were instructions for a particular time and circumstance.  So we may no longer use swords but armed self-defense is allowed. But Christian forgiveness still is a wise response to many conflict situations in 1 to 1 relationships.

So was Paul pulling a fast one in telling us that all governments were ordained by God?  Was he telling a white lie in order to get the early Christians to behave?

He was not.  He was simply re-iterating the doctrine of predestination, as found in Ephesians chapter 1.  John Calvin was much taken by that doctrine and did much to elaborate it and it survives as an official doctrine of Presbyterian churches to this day.  It is even preached in the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England, albeit in a rather strangled way. That does however raise new issues so I will leave a discussion of it for another day.


Leftists Whipping Themselves Into a Jacobin Frenzy

David Limbaugh

There's no question that animosity exists on both sides of the political spectrum, but have you noticed how personal it has become for many on the left?

It is disturbing how intolerant and filled with rage leftist extremists have become, and how many more people are falling into the category of leftist extremism.

But what concerns me as much as this pattern of ill will and abuse from leftists is that it is unchecked by their peers and often applauded. Instead of encouraging people to appeal to the better angels of their nature, they are beckoning them to summon their demons and become part of a mob mentality — as if we're witnessing a replay of events that preceded the French Revolution.

It's unsettling that they rationalize their misbehavior as justified, even warranted. They've convinced themselves that conservatives' views are so noxious they've forfeited any expectation to be treated civilly and they deserve to be shunned, muzzled and boycotted — especially members of minority groups who have strayed from the reservation. They are "garbage people," "deplorables" and subhumans who are not entitled to equal rights, let alone decent treatment.

Leftist mobs violently protest conservative campus speakers and harass conservatives such as Kirstjen Nielsen, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Pam Bondi, Mitch McConnell and Stephen Miller in public places. Conservatives are censored on Twitter and Facebook. Google, the mainstream media and other social media platforms refused to run ads for the pro-life movie "Unplanned," and Twitter often censors pro-life tweets.

Conservative students are shamed into silence on college campuses while their ideas are demonized in the surreal cause of promoting diversity and inclusiveness. Leftist students vandalize pro-conservative posters and seek to eradicate tributes to conservatives — such as the efforts by students at the Savannah College of Art and Design to remove the name of Savannah native Justice Clarence Thomas from one of the campus buildings because he is "anti-woman." Anti-woman? Just how crazed are these people?

Students at the University of California, Davis protested a photo of a heroic slain woman police officer holding a Thin Blue Line flag as "anti-black" and "disrespectful." For some, nothing is sacred, and to those lusting after another opportunity to be offended, everything is a provocation. Leftist protestors pepper-sprayed a group of high school kids meeting about free markets and the Constitution. Though many were hospitalized, the media ignored the event.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio impotently called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A's Manhattan restaurant because the chain owner, Dan Cathy, is a Christian who believes in traditional marriage. If you oppose Obamacare, it's not because you believe there is a better way to improve health care but because you don't want children to have access to it — as Jimmy Kimmel unapologetically asserted. If you support Social Security reform, you want old people to get sick or die. If you favor border enforcement, you are a xenophobe and a racist. If you oppose abortion, you want to deprive women of their autonomy and health care.

This is the kind of pervasive demonization of conservatives that leftists are engaging in every day, which leads to the horrific mentality that it's OK to deprive them of their rights and treat them as second-class citizens.

Luke O'Neil, in an op-ed in The Boston Globe, expressed regret that when he waited on Bill Kristol at a restaurant 10 years ago, he did not insult him and spoil his food with urine and blood. Ironically, Kristol is one of President Trump's most ardent critics today, but a decade ago he was the bane of the left because of his support for America's war with Iraq. O'Neil remembered having served Kristol when he learned that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson resigned her post this week. He fondly recalled her being "shame-marched" out of a restaurant nine months ago because of the Trump policy that allegedly separates families at the southern border. He suggested that waiters would have been serving America if they had tampered with Nielsen's food. Far from being sorry for his piece, O'Neil later tweeted in response to conservative criticism, "People who carry out policies of ethnic cleansing or cheerlead for disastrous wars leading to tens of thousands of suffering or dead should not expect to be able to show their faces in public anymore thank you for understanding this basic premise."

Such unbridled personal nastiness reminded me of liberal writer Jonathan Chait's admission in 2003 that he loathed then-President Bush. What was most striking was not his antipathy but that he knew he risked nothing in sharing it — that the people whose respect he cared about would approve and think no less of him. He wrote: "I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it. ... I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements and his utter lack of humility (disguised behind transparently false modesty) at having done so. ... I hate the way he walks — shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo. I hate the way he talks — blustery self-assurance masked by a pseudopopulist twang. I even hat the things that everybody seems to like about him."

The left's extremism — its embracing of ever nuttier ideas, its sanctimonious hubris, its routine descent into personal ugliness, its relishing of incivility, its willful censorship, its discrimination against Christians and its dehumanization of conservatives and Trump supporters — is growing at an alarming pace. I pray that adults remaining on that side of the aisle can someday regain control of this careening leftist political juggernaut.



50 year low in unemployment insurance claims

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement on the latest unemployment claims numbers:

“Job growth in the Trump economy continues at an incredible pace with both the weekly unemployment insurance claims and what is considered the more reliable four week rolling average of the claims both reached levels not seen since 1969, when the workforce was approximately half the size compared to today.

“Unemployment insurance claims measure how many people are being displaced in the economy, and the 2019 Trump economy has fewer claims than 1969, the year that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon. The fact that America is going back to work is not a secret, but this record low of people facing the fear and uncertainty of being let go from their job is remarkable.”



I Wanted to Help Google Make AI More Responsible. Instead I Was Treated With Hostility

Kay Coles James

Google decided this year to create an advisory council that would help guide the company in the responsible development of artificial intelligence. When the company asked me to join, I agreed, welcoming the opportunity to contribute my perspective as a conservative leader — and to test my thinking with council members who might not necessarily agree with me. Together, I thought, we might be able to make valuable contributions as Google explores an important new frontier of technology.

Like many businesses and nonprofits, my organization, the Heritage Foundation, relies on Google search, YouTube and other Google products to promote our work, to reach audiences and to advance our mission. We’re also concerned about reports alleging that Google suppresses conservative voices and politically skews its search-engine results. It was reassuring to be invited to participate in the AI advisory council — a sign that Google wanted to treat a wide range of viewpoints fairly as it develops new technology. Given the massive control exerted by social media and Internet companies over the information Americans use every day, such broadmindedness is essential.

Unfortunately, some individuals inside and outside the company didn’t share this appreciation for a diversity of viewpoints. That became clear last month after the members of the advisory council were announced. Some Google employees were so alarmed by the prospect of a conservative invading their playground that they started a petition to have me removed from the panel. It gained more than 2,500 signatures.

But the Google employees didn’t just attempt to remove me; they greeted the news of my appointment to the council with name-calling and character assassination. They called me anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ and a bigot. That was an odd one, because I’m a 69-year-old black woman who grew up fighting segregation.

Last week, less than two weeks after the AI advisory council was announced, Google disbanded it. The company has given in to the mentality of a rage mob. How can Google now expect conservatives to defend it against anti-business policies from the left that might threaten its very existence?

I was deeply disappointed to see such a promising idea abandoned, but the episode was about much more than just one company’s response to intolerance from the self-appointed guardians of tolerance.

It was symptomatic of where America is heading. Whether in the streets or online, angry mobs that heckle and threaten are not trying to change hearts and win minds. They’re trying to impose their will through intimidation. In too many corners of American life, there is no longer room for disagreement and civil discourse. Instead, it’s agree or be destroyed.

My fellow advisory-council members have now been deprived of the opportunity to question me about what they might see as the contradiction of my policy views and my absolute unconditional acceptance of every member of the human family. They may not have agreed with me, but they would have understood me better — and I, them. With that, we would have had the opportunity to work together to make better public policy on an exceedingly critical issue.

I believe there are many opportunities for a civil discussion of religious values and how they conflict with other values. Some on the left are willing to engage in such an open-minded debate. But too often those on the left are turning into the very thing they say they despise, using hate and stereotyping to try to silence anyone they regard as an enemy. The public square is becoming so poisonous that good liberals and good conservatives must be wary of coming together to discuss ideas and seek solutions.

Being attacked is not new for me. As a black, conservative, pro-life, evangelical woman, I have spent most of my life being called names and being denounced for my beliefs.

In 1961, at age 12, I was one of two-dozen black children who integrated an all-white junior high school in Richmond. White parents jeered me outside the school, and inside, their kids stuck me with pins, shoved me in the halls and pushed me down the stairs. So when the group of Google employees resorted to calling names and making false accusations because they didn’t want a conservative voice advising the company, the hostility was reminiscent of what I felt back then — that same intolerance for someone who was different from them.

Uncivil discourse is an illness in America. We can do better — we must strive to show the world what a pluralistic society should be, a place where people of different faiths and viewpoints are willing to engage and willing to listen to others, especially when they bring different ideas to the table. From those conversations come a deeper understanding and better policies — and ultimately a better, more civil society for all.



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

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


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Obama judges have cleared the way for Trump judges to block completely all future Democrat initiatives

Like Harry Reid, the Left generally seem to be oblivious of the danger in setting a bad precedent.  They are incapable of thinking ahead. If Obama judges can regularly block Trump on shallow grounds -- see below -- Trump judges may decide in future that they can rule on frivolous grounds too. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Trump can appeal to SCOTUS for relief from lower courts but the majority of SCOTUS judges are now Trump judges too -- so would be unlikely to give Democrats any recourse.  All new legislating could grind to a halt, which would be a very good thing from a conservative viewpoint. Only Republican-sponsored legislation would get through the judiciary

Last fall, Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that “we do not have Obama judges” after President Donald Trump suggested that we did. While it is understandable that Roberts would like for the courts to be viewed as non-partisan, the fact of the matter is that President Trump is right: we do have Obama judges. We have seen that fact demonstrated as these judges have repeatedly sought to thwart the President’s agenda.

One area in which Obama judges have obstructed is immigration, and that obstruction started early in the Trump Administration. In April of 2017, William Orrick, a federal district judge in California, blocked Trump’s executive order defunding sanctuary cities. Last November, the uber-liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Administration must continue the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows illegal immigrants who arrived as children to stay here. Two of the three judges who made the decision were Obama appointees: John Owens and Jacqueline Nguyen. (The third judge was a Clinton appointee.) That same month, Jon Tigar, a federal district judge in California, blocked Trump’s policy requiring asylum seekers to apply at ports of entry.

Three Obama judges have blocked the inclusion of a simple citizenship question in the 2020 census — even though such a question was asked in the past. These three judges are Jesse Furman, a federal district judge in New York, George Hazel, a federal district judge in Maryland, and Richard Seeborg, a federal district judge in California. In addition, earlier this week, Seeborg ruled against Trump’s policy of having asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases are considered by immigration courts.

Obama judges have also weighed in against Trump’s energy policies. For example, Brian Morris, a federal district judge in Montana, blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline last November. The Trump Administration has approved construction of the $8 billion pipeline, which would create thousands of jobs. Once complete, the pipeline could transport over 800,000 barrels of oil a day to the Gulf Coast for refining.

When not opposing pipelines, Obama judges can be expected to halt drilling. Rudolph Contreras, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., blocked drilling on federal lands in Wyoming last month because the Administration “did not sufficiently consider climate change.” Soon thereafter, Sharon Gleason, a federal district judge in Alaska, reinstated Obama’s ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the northern Atlantic Ocean last month.

Obama judges have also meddled in health care policy. In January, Wendy Beetlestone, a federal district judge in Pennsylvania, and Haywood Gilliam, a federal district judge in California, blocked Trump’s regulation designed to free religious businessowners from an Obamacare requirement that they pay for contraceptives that violate their beliefs.  James Boasberg, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., has blocked two states from requiring able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work. In June of last year, Boasberg blocked Kentucky from implementing work requirements; and, last month, he blocked Arkansas’s Medicaid work requirements.

Fortunately, a little over two years into the Trump presidency, 96 judges have been confirmed, and more than 60 judicial nominees are awaiting confirmation. With the confirmation of Paul Matey to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals last month, Republican-appointed judges now make up a majority on that court, which has jurisdiction over Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Three other circuit courts are close to flipping from having a Democrat-appointed majority to having a Republican-appointed majority. Finally, not a moment too soon, Republican Senators voted last week to speed up the confirmation process for district court judges after years of Democrat Senators dragging out debate on nominees to waste time.

While these and other Obama judges seem to view it as their job to resist the duly-elected President, the good news is that Trump and Senate Republicans are making good progress at changing the composition of the courts. It’s about time.



Democrats Still Kissing Sharpton's Ring

Several 2020 Dems showed up at Al's confab to foment racial division.

Several top Democrats flew into Manhattan over the weekend for the traditional airing of grievances at the “Reverend” Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention. First, let’s take a moment to remember how Sharpton came to fame.

In 1987, Sharpton created the template for hate-crime hoaxes like Jussie Smollett’s when he stumped for 15-year-old Tawana Brawley in a rape case. She claimed six white men, including some police officers, raped and assaulted her. Sharpton made it into a larger tale about white racism, but a grand jury found “overwhelming evidence” that she fabricated the story. Meanwhile, Sharpton & Co. ended up being ordered to pay $345,000 for defamation of the prosecutor.

Sharpton is a philandering tax cheat and racial con artist who’s made a fortune extorting businesses and individuals over concocted racism, all while hosting radio and TV shows, and even advising Barack Obama in the White House.

In short, he exemplifies the person Booker T. Washington decried, when he wrote in 1911, “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

Yet 2020 Democrats are still kissing his ring. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, and Pete Buttigieg all showed up for Sharpton’s confab.

Frontrunner Sanders declared, “It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we have a president today who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a homophobe, who is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot. I wish I did not have to say that. But that is the damn truth. … During Donald Trump’s presidency we have seen a sharp rise in hate crimes and that rise comes as this country continues to be plagued by institutional racism and racial inequality.”

Warren peddled another hoax about the supposedly “stolen” gubernatorial election in Georgia and Republican election fraud in general: “Massive voter suppression prevented Stacey Abrams from becoming the rightful governor of Georgia. … They know that if all the votes are counted, we’ll win every time.” Democrats want certain constituents to believe that every Republican victory is due to fraud.

Socialist heartthrob Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urged Democrats to pursue an “agenda of reparations” to go along with other unearned giveaways to win votes.

All in all, the Democrat remarks were befitting an event put on by a charlatan like Sharpton. They claim to be for unity when all they do is sow division.


Democrats have a lot to be worried about

And lying may not get them out of it

“I think spying did occur.” That’s Attorney General William Barr’s bombshell assessment of allegations the government was conducting surveillance of the Trump campaign.

Democratic senators were taken aback by Barr’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. They asked him to clarify his statement. Barr didn’t backtrack. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated,” Barr said, adding, “I have an obligation to make sure that government power is not abused.”

Democrats desperately want to keep the media narrative on the Mueller report. By obsessing over when, how and how much of the testimony behind it will be released, Democrats are trying to divert attention from an issue of far greater significance.

 “Congress is usually very concerned with intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane,” Barr stated matter-of-factly.

There are now serious questions about whether intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies were “staying in their proper lane.”

These are some of the questions Barr wants answers to:

Exactly how did the Russia hoax begin?

Who first claimed that the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin?

Who ordered confidential informants contact members of the Trump campaign?

Did Halper — or other informants — provide the FBI with the pretext for a counterintelligence investigation and the wiretapping of a presidential campaign?

What other Americans were targets of electronic surveillance? Sen. Lindsey Graham has asked, “of the 1,950 [electronic surveillance information] collections on American citizens, how many of them involved presidential candidates, members of Congress from either party and if these conversations were unmasked, who made the request?”

Did people in the Obama administration listen in to these conversations? Was there a politicizing of the intelligence gathering processes?

There are serious concerns that the Russia collusion investigation is the result of misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is preparing to send eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice concerning alleged misconduct from “Watergate wannabes” during the Trump-Russia investigation, including leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

There’s the matter of confidential informant Stefan Halper, who contacted Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Halper has a history of working with intelligence agencies and infiltrating presidential campaigns.

There’s the matter of the Steele dossier, the opposition research document of unverified information (and disinformation) from Russian intelligence sources.

The dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign, laundered through Obama State Department officials who gave it a thin sheen of veracity, and forwarded to the FBI. The FBI used that dossier to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court to wiretap the Trump campaign.

There’s the matter of the FBI using its counter-intelligence division to leak derogatory information that falsely implicated President Trump in the Russia collusion story.

There’s the matter of the wiretapping of American citizens whose identities were publicly revealed.

The special counsel did not investigate any of this. But Barr will.

The attorney general brought up the surveillance of Martin Luther King and antiwar groups in the Vietnam war era. “The generation I grew up in, which is the Vietnam War period, people were all concerned about spying on anti-war people and so forth by the government,” he said.

The misconduct by high-level officials at the Department of Justice and the FBI alleged in the Russia hoax are right out of the dirty tricks playbook the FBI and intelligence agencies used in the 1960s and 70s.

To refresh the memory of amnesiac Democrats, that playbook can be found in the final Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, “Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Book Two, Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans.”

What the committee wrote in 1976 is relevant today. “The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs … Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed” (page 5).

If we go down the list of “unsavory and vicious tactics” employed in the Russia hoax we find them detailed in the Senate report.

Informants infiltrating and framing enemies? Check.

“The most pervasive surveillance technique has been the informant … used against peaceful, law-abiding groups” (page 13). The pretext of looking for hostile foreign actors triggered investigations of Americans “engaged in lawful political activity [who] have been subjected to informant coverage and intelligence scrutiny.” (pages 175-176)

Compiling dossiers on enemies? Check.

Every president from FDR to Nixon used the FBI to dig up dirt on political enemies, including journalists (page 227), Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders.

Leak derogatory information to the media to manipulate public opinion and the political process? Check.

The FBI “affected the processes by which American citizens make decisions. … it distorted and exaggerated facts, made use of the mass media, and attacked [those] … it considered threats” (page 226).

As Barr told senators, congressional Democrats used to be concerned about abuses by our security agencies.

Now Democrats are guilty of perpetrating one of those abuses: “Intelligence investigations … continued for excessively long periods in efforts to prove negatives.” (pages 180 -182)

When the FBI found no evidence a key advisor to Martin Luther King was a communist sympathizer, “Using a theory of ‘guilty until proven innocent,’ FBI headquarters directed that the investigation continue.”

Having failed to find any evidence of collusion or obstruction, Congressional Democrats are more determined than ever to pursue open-ended investigations to prove a negative.

My suggestion to Democrats: While you’re waiting for Barr to deliver the Mueller report to you, read the Senate Select Committee’s report from 1976.

That will show you what you should be worried about.



Stacey Abrams Is Running on Stirring Up Racial Hostility

Speaking to a progressive group in Washington, Abrams declared that she won in 2018.  That has to come as news to everyone considering she was in Washington instead of the Governor’s Mansion last week.

Abrams then claimed that “black people faced hour-long lines — up to 4 hours — waiting to cast their ballots.” Her implication was that white voters did not face long lines.  Abrams has repeated done this since her loss.  In fact, white voters faced the same long lines as black voters.  The problems on Election Day transcended racial lines and had nothing to do with racial discrimination.

Abrams went on to clearly suggest the system was stacked against black voters and Republicans were doing it intentionally.  I have no doubt a lot of Democrats truly believe that.  The problem is this is a grievance fueled by distortions, misrepresentations, and lies.  It is Abrams’ path to 2022.  She intends to keep people as divided as possible with racial grievances.  If the state burns down in racial hostility, she will gladly serve as Governor of the ashes.

In fact, the pattern here is pretty interesting.  Of the 53,000 voters who got held up in the system for verifying voter registrations, 14,000 came from voter registration drives that Abrams conducted prior to the 2018 election.  Those registration forms were held because of wrong addresses, social security information, or other bad data.  Most importantly, the people supposedly affected have never come forward to fix their forms, which raises all sorts of questions about their legitimacy.

The voter lines on Election Day happened in counties controlled by Democrats.  Local government are responsible for conducting elections in Georgia and those counties failed to invest in new voting machines.  Republicans did not cause those long lines.  Additionally, some machines were secured in a federal facility as evidence in a federal court case filed by Democrats.  Even the laws Abrams complained about were laws enacted by Democrats in the late nineties.  Some of the Democrats who voted for those laws are still in the state legislature and Abrams herself made no effort to scrap those laws when she was in the legislature.

The pattern is actually pretty interesting.  Abrams, outside groups supporting Abrams, and Democrat officials created problems that caused long lines, delays in voter registration, purging of voter rolls, and rejection of absentee ballots.  Republicans, like Brian Kemp, simply complied with laws enacted by Democrats.  Once the problems occurred, Abrams and her acolytes then screamed loudly that Republicans were suppressing the vote in racially discriminatory manners.  It is no different than Wile E. Coyote complaining about falling in a hole he himself created to capture the Road Runner.

If Republicans had the audacity to raise these grievances, the media would have a field day with the hypocrisy.  But Abrams came close in 2018, closer than Beto O’Rourke against Ted Cruz in Texas.  So now Abrams is capitalizing on white liberal reporters’ guilt over failing to pay attention to her in 2018.  Those reporters who get outraged by the President exploiting grievances are giving her a pass.



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)