Friday, May 10, 2019

Shock: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Trump Admin on Asylum Policy

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the Trump administration can continue to send Central American migrants back to Mexico while their requests for asylum in the U.S. are adjudicated. The three-judge panel struck down a lower court's preliminary injunction blocking the policy, allowing it to continue on a temporary basis while the court considers broader issues in the case.

The decision from the San Francisco-based appeals court was a surprise victory for the White House, as the administration has lost in several other immigration-related rulings from the left-leaning court in the past.

Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, authored the 11-page opinion and wrote that the administration was likely to succeed on legal challenges to the policy under federal immigration and regulatory law.
O'Scannlain also said the Homeland Security Department could face harm if a federal court order freezes one of its enforcement tools.

"DHS is likely to suffer irreparable harm absent a stay because the preliminary injunction takes off the table one of the few congressionally authorized measures available to process the approximately 2,000 migrants who are currently arriving at the nation’s southern border on a daily basis," he wrote.

The two liberal judges — Obama and Clinton appointees — also backed the decision to allow the policy to stay in effect, but criticized DHS’s implementation of it in individual opinions.

"The government is wrong," Judge William Fletcher wrote, arguing that existing federal statute prevented DHS from sending the asylum seekers back to Mexico. "Not just arguably wrong, but clearly and flagrantly wrong."

Judge Paul Watford, an Obama nominee, wrote in his opinion that he believes the administration’s treatment of asylum-seekers is in violation of the U.S.’s obligation to not return those migrants to countries where they could face persecution.
He pointed to DHS guidelines that state that immigration officers ask applicants who are being returned to Mexico if they fear persecution or torture in the nation only if the migrants say so themselves first.

The judges did agree that migrants would not be facing certain injury if returned to Mexico.

"The plaintiffs fear substantial injury upon return to Mexico, but the likelihood of harm is reduced somewhat by the Mexican government’s commitment to honor its international-law obligations and to grant humanitarian status and work permits to individuals returned," the judges concluded.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who departed from the Trump administration last month, first announced the policy in late December.

"Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States,” Nielsen said when she introduced the policy.



Survey: 29% of Black Democratic Female Likely Voters Favorable or Neutral on Trump

A new survey of black Democratic women likely to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries showed that 29% of them "had a favorable or neutral opinion of Donald Trump," which is a "much different picture than the one portrayed in most media," said VoterLabs.

VoterLabs conducted the survey of 689 black Democratic female voters likely to vote in the primaries between April 19 and April 24. This was before Joe Biden announced he was entering the race.

As reported, "29% of respondents had a favorable or neutral opinion of Donald Trump," said VoterLabs. "Of those polled 16% responded that they 'really like him' or 'he’s okay,' with an additional almost 13% unsure or undecided, a much different picture than the one portrayed in most media."

“Trump’s numbers with black Democratic women show that his populist message still resonates with many," said Walter Kawecki, the founder and CEO of VoterLabs. "Given that [Bernie] Sanders also has a heavily populist message, and is currently enjoying strong support in this community, Trump’s numbers shouldn’t be that surprising.

“It’s also important to remember that Hillary Clinton badly underperformed with this group in 2016," he said. "Turnout among black Democratic women dropped from around 68% in 2008 and 70% in 2012, to about 64% in 2016."

"I think the take away here is that, to avoid a repeat of 2016, an emotionally resonant populist appeal, delivered in a way voters deem authentic, will be key to turning out this crucial Democratic constituency," said Walter Kawecki.

“The 2020 presidential contest may well hinge on whether black Democratic women turn out or stay home," he added.  "Failure to maximize turnout among this potentially pivotal segment of the Democratic coalition could prove disastrous for the party's nominee."

"Trump’s numbers show that Democrats should take this seriously," said Kawecki.



Senate Dem Campaign Committee’s Poll Shows People Favor Future Justices Like Kavanaugh over Ginsburg

Some amusing foot-shooting

A poll by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asking whether people would prefer more Supreme Court justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Brett Kavanaugh seems to have backfired.

The poll itself asked: “Do you want more Supreme Court justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg or do you want more like Brett Kavanaugh?”

The poll results, which were posted on Twitter on Friday afternoon and later deleted, showed 71 percent of respondents chose Kavanaugh over Ginsburg, who only got 29 percent of the vote.

The poll had two days of voting left before it was taken down.

The Washington Examiner reports that the poll had “just shy of 160,000 votes” when it was taken down.



Poorest Americans Are Benefiting Most From Strong Economy

It’s hard to escape the good economic news these days.

New reports show that in the first quarter of 2019, the U.S. economy grew by 3.2%, outpacing expectations by almost a full percentage point. In the month of April, unemployment fell to a 50-year low of 3.6%. Businesses continue to add hundreds of thousands of jobs month after month.

The sustained good economic news is in no small part thanks to last year’s tax cuts, and President Donald Trump’s work to cut unnecessary regulations that made it too costly to hire new workers or grow businesses.

The old cliché is that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s correct, but it misses the full scope of what a strong and growing economy does for the poorest among us. It is actually the poor, those who have been historically disenfranchised, people with disabilities, and lower-skilled workers who benefit the most from rising economic tides.

Let’s look at the details.

In April, the unemployment rate for Americans with a high school degree fell to the lowest rates since before the Great Recession. Unemployment for workers with disabilities fell from 8% to 6.3% over the last 12 months, the lowest level since the measure began in 2008.

Hispanic unemployment is the lowest it has been since 1973 (also when the measure began). Black unemployment remains close to historic lows, climbing slightly since the end of 2018.

One could hardly wish for a better trend. This economy is working for every class of American.

When the economy is strong and unemployment rates are consistently low, two things happen. First, job openings pull workers off the sidelines and into the workforce. People who had been so discouraged that they stopped looking for work start getting jobs again. That’s what we’re seeing. New York Times reporter Ben Casselman noted that more than 70% of new hires last month “weren’t actively looking for work, but got jobs anyway.”

Second, employers raise wages in order to keep good talent and attract new workers to fill job openings. And that’s happening, too. Until recently, wage growth had lagged behind expectations. Not anymore.

Following the 2017 tax cuts, the growth rate for average hourly earnings began to tick up, and over the past year, average hourly earnings rose by 3.2%. That’s a raise of roughly $1,400 in a year’s take-home pay. Before 2018, wage growth hadn’t reached 3% since 2009.

The recent wage gains have been largest for those who need it most. For the last six months, wage growth for production and non-supervisory workers outpaced the average for the entire economy.

In the past year, wage growth was 6.6% for the 10th percentile of workers with the lowest incomes, according to the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers. That’s double the 3.3% growth rate for workers at the top of the income distribution.

As poorer workers continue to benefit the most from the strong economy, we will see trends in wage inequality go down. By one measure, we have already “seen some narrowing of inequality, measured as wages at the top relative to the bottom,” as reported by Obama administration economist Jason Furman.

The American people seem to be internalizing all the good news. Job satisfaction and consumer confidence are high. Workers have the highest job satisfaction since 2005, and satisfaction improved faster for lower-income households in the most recent data.

Thanks to the strong economy, Americans who aren’t happy at their current work are voluntarily leaving their jobs for better opportunities at the highest rate since 2000, when the measure started.

In addition, consumer confidence remains high after surging to an 18-year peak last fall, signaling that Americans are confident in the economy. Retirees are also more confident about their retirement security and ability to live comfortably on their savings, reporting the highest retirement confidence numbers since the early 1990s.

For now, American workers are enjoying the benefits of pro-growth policies. But there is still more that Washington can do to ensure this economic expansion continues. The most pressing example is Congress’ unwillingness to cut federal spending, which has driven our debt to dangerous levels that are already dragging down our economy below where we should be.

If spending isn’t brought under control, our ballooning deficits could lead to higher taxes on current and future generations.

Right now, the powers of good policy are buoying the U.S. economy and workers. If our representatives in Washington can manage to keep taxes low and rein in federal spending, the future can be even brighter.   



Ronald McDonalds at the Helm

Leftist Clown Justin Trudeau Follows in the Footsteps of Obama


Over the last year, I’ve met a growing number of fellow Canadians who have begun to yearn for a Donald to lead the country. They have belatedly recognized that they have a Ronald McDonald at the helm in Justin Trudeau, whose antics may delight children but who is quite incapable in any adult capacity.

Most recently, our dear leader in sensitive trade talks with the Japanese prime minister referred to the country as China. We recall that Trudeau wished the Canadian Olympic team in Seoul, South Korea, best of luck in Pyongyang, North Korea. We learn from an interview in The New York Times that Canada has no core identity—not how a sober statesman speaks of his country. This is the man who, as the beneficiary of a family trust fund, never had to run a household out of his own earnings, could say “The budget will balance itself,” while leading the country into astronomical debt. According to his way of thinking, the Boston Marathon bombers needed to be sympathetically understood, since they must have felt “completely excluded.” He sought a gender-balanced cabinet “because it’s 2015.” This is the zany who on a diplomatic visit to India can affect Bollywood and dress in a ceremonial costume to the bemusement of his hosts.

This is the man chronically embroiled in scandals after promising administrative transparency. This is the man who appointed as his attorney general a Kwak’wala woman who wants to break up the country—and who, in an instance of poetic justice, later accused him of bullying and malfeasance. This is the man who has no shame about his servile Muslim vote-pandering, switching into another exotic costume and praying at the Jamea Masjid mosque in Surrey, British Columbia.

Trudeau also visited the Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque in  his Quebec riding, undeterred by its Al-Qaeda ties. He saw no discrepancy in later wearing Eid Mubarak socks at a Pride parade. The inappropriateness is startling. This is the man who cannot utter a non-scripted sentence without painfully stumbling over his phatics, who believes that the term “mankind” should be replaced by “peoplekind,” forgets to mention Alberta in his list of provinces during a Canada Day speech, and greets the Belgian royal family with German flags. And this is the man who was praised for his sincerity, intelligence, and well-stocked library by editor and journalist Jonathan Kay in an obsequious article for The Walrus. One wonders who is the greater embarrassment, a risible prime minister or a groveling journalist, our Liberal political establishment or the media conglomerate which serves it.

The string of capers and inanities beggars belief and seems pretty well endless. Ronald McTrudeau, however, is clearly no anomaly among the majority of Western leaders and deserves some degree of sympathy from his detractors, who claim to be embarrassed by his repeated harlequinades and imbecilities. He was and is in good company.

We recall that former President McBama was also regularly praised for his superior intelligence and poise, though he could be incoherent off-teleprompter. This was a president who famously thought that the union consisted of fifty-seven or possibly fifty-eight states, that Austrians spoke Austrian, that a corpsman was a corpse-man, that Israel was a strong friend of Israel, that the Falklands (Malvinas in Spanish) were the Maldives, that Hawaii was in Asia, and so on. This was a man who in his Cairo address got his historical calendar wrong by several hundred years and stated, ludicrously, that Islam had always been part of the American story—true in a sense if one considers Jefferson’s and Madison’s wars between 1801 and 1816 against the Barbary pirates. This was a president who doubled the national debt, regarded America as unexceptional, and could bow and scrape before a Saudi monarch. This was the man who chose as his vice president a sorry individual whose trail of gaffes is legendary and whose political legacy is catastrophic. This was the man who never met a scandal he didn’t covertly fall in love with—after promising transparency. This was the man who empowered and subsidized the nation’s most implacable enemy, favoring Iran as his Canadian sidekick favored China. Both were enamored of Castro’s Cuba.

The similarities are quite remarkable. McBama was no less a clown than McTrudeau, who is simply a lesser Canadian version of his American counterpart. They can both be found cavorting in the political simulacrum of the Golden Arches. Tucker Carlson said of our national numbskull, “Trudeau doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a buffoon.” This is equally true of America’s dandiprat-in-chief, the former McPresident, whose passion for ice cream supersedes his passion for America.

There is nothing unique about these two. They are typical leftist leaders—you find them in England, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand (it’s a long list)—whose clownish nature is pro forma, whose lauded charm is meretricious, whose ignorance is off the charts, and whose policy enactments belong in the Theater of the Absurd or an Italian farce—were it not for the devastation they cause. A sorcerer’s apprentice at the levers of power is a recipe for social, political and economic disaster. As in Goethe’s poem, only a “master” can undo the damage unleashed by a goofball. Once there was a Ronald of stature at the helm, a masterful leader. Our current leaders on the left are Ronalds of a very different stamp, mere lightheaded apprentices.

The primary appeal of these unfinished specimens is to an infantile culture that cannot differentiate between responsibility and entertainment, dedication and performance, between a furrow on the brow and a crease in the pant leg. Unfortunately, many regard Donald Trump as a spoilsport who has come to puncture the enchantment and ruin the frivolous diversion from things as they are.

I don’t intend to diminish Ronald McDonald, who is justly beloved by actual kids. It is the two “Ronalds” examined here, representative of leftist Western leaders in general—if rather more preposterous—who commit an injustice by cloning his behavior in the political forum. The restaurant chain needs a “Ronald” to appeal to its clientele. The political world is in desperate need of a “Donald”—a Trump, a Netanyahu, an Orbán, a Wilders, a Salvini—if we can expect to enjoy what a nation has to offer.



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, May 09, 2019

Conservative critics of Trump's tariffs are WRONG

The received economic wisdom that has come down to us from David Ricardo onwards is that tariffs are uniformly impoverishing overall. And those who understand comparative advantage and the various theories involved can usually see only minor holes and exceptions in that theory. And it is true that in a fully free-trade world the theory would be 100% correct.  But we don't live in that world, nor are we likely to

Some critics allow that Trump's tariffs are reasonable as a temporary measure -- designed to coerce other nations to adopt freer trade policies.  That is certainly the headline aim of the tariffs and is sufficiently persuasive to most conservative commentators for them to adopt a "wait and see" posture.

But I believe that there is a warrant for tariffs of a PERMANENT nature.  And it is not a million miles away from popular thinking, as distinct from economists' thinking.

My hypothesis is that there is a trade-off between tariffs and unemployment such that as tariffs go up unemployment goes down. That sounds a crazy connection but it has been true since even before Trump's inauguration.  As soon as his election win was announced, Trump started to talk tariffs and almost immediately employment began to look up.  And what do we see now after more than 2 years of Trump? An almost unbelievable low of 3.6% unemployment.  Around the same time half way through the Obama administration, the figure was 8%.

You have to go back to the postwar boom under Ike to get much better than 3.6% --  and unemployment at that time was materially affected by the many workers who had been taken out of the workforce through death, disease and injury in WWII.  War is a heck of a bad way to maximize employment but it does have that effect.

So in the Trump administration, we do seem to have have a continuing demonstration that a tough tariff regime has led to reduced unemployment.

But is it all coincidence?  Obama diehards say that the low unemployment is a continuing effect of what Obama did -- though they can't name any mechanism for that.

One possible pointer to it not being a coincidence is the huge prospering of America behind the high tariff walls of the 19th century.  The tariffs were arguably the real cause of the civil war but despite that setback America developed rapidly from its primary-producing beginnings and was soon in a position not inferior to the major European powers.

So was unemployment low then?  We have no reliable figures to test that but the rate of industrial expansion strongly suggests that it was.  Millions of jobs were created.

So I think we now have two points of evidence in favour of my hypothesis.  But there is another example that is really stark.  What would you say to unemployment levels in an affluent society that stayed BELOW 2%?  Impossible?  It's not.  That is the situation that prevailed in Australia under Robert Menzies during the 1950s -- an era often remembered by those who were there (I was) as a golden age.

And guess what?  It was also an era of heavy protective tariffs.  There was a deliberate will to have everything possible made in Australia.  And if it could not reasonably be made in Australia, it could always be obtained from Britain.

That sounds all rather quaint to modern ears but the policy was underpinned by memories of wartime shortages.  During WWII, many things could simply NOT be imported.  Australia is a long way from anywhere else and so there was large scope for cargo-ships to be sunk by hostile powers.  So making as much as you could locally seemed not only obvious but urgent.

So the high tariff policy was not motivated  by an attack on unemployment but it did have that effect.

Now WHY would high tariffs cause minimal unemployment?  It's obvious psychologically.  If a businessman has a firm assurance that he will not be allowed to go broke by the sudden presence of cheaper goods from overseas, he will feel very easy in his mind about setting up shop.  He will feel confident that his investment in new manufacturing businesses will pay. And so all sorts of profitable businesses sprang up in Australia and searched for workers to staff them. There were jobs galore on offer and most people had a choice of what sort of job they wanted to do.  I remember myself the ease I had in finding jobs.

So that is the theory:  Tariffs stimulate business confidence and confident businessmen go on a hiring spree in their keenness to make money

It remains true that tariffs increase prices but the tradeoff of having most workers working is surely an at least equal compensation.  Dollars and cents are not the whole of personal or national welfare.

And the effect of the dollars and cents should not be exaggerated.  Despite its tariffs, Australia was in the '50s one of the most prosperous places in the world.  Australia is a major primary producer so there was often steak on the dinner table, most houses had a substantial backyard where you could grow most of your fruit and vegetables if you were so inclined, you could get on a steam train and go interstate to visit family and friends at vacation time, there was always the family car for local trips, the newspapers had lots of interesting news, particularly from overseas,  you could hear all the latest songs on the radio, the ladies all had pretty dresses and even in small towns there were several bars where one could drink cold beer after a hard day's work.  What else is there? -- JR


Donald Trump trade deal high risk but hold promise of historic win

Donald Trump’s decision to suddenly ramp up pressure on China over a trade deal is high risk — just look at the plunges on Wall Street today — but it also holds the promise of an historic victory for his presidency.

This is a pivotal moment for Trump and for his prospects of re-election in 2020.

If Trump can pressure China in the coming weeks to sign a deal which substantially reduces its unfair trading practices he will have done an immense favour not just to the US but to Australia and the world.

It would be a signature foreign policy legacy that he could take to the polls next year and say he kept his word about securing a better long-term trade deal on China.

Trump’s crash or crash-through style is often criticised but it is hard to imagine another US president who would have the courage to take on China so boldly at this moment in its history.

Of course there is still a genuine risk that this could backfire badly.

In the short term it appears likely that the US will follow through on its threat to increase tariffs on $US200 billion of Chinese goods on Friday in a move which is likely to invoke retaliatory tariffs from China. This is what spooked the markets today with Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by more than 500 points.

A long-term collapse in negotiations would lead to further escalation in the tariff wars between the superpowers at a high cost to China’s growth, to US consumers and farmers and also to skittish world markets which are watching this tussle nervously.

There is also a danger of an anaemic middle outcome, where Trump persuades China to purchase more US goods — and so reduce the trade deficit — but take little structural action on its unfair trading practices. That would be a poor return for the destabilisation caused by the year-long trade war and would expose Trump to criticism at home from Democrats and from US businesses.

But Trump’s actions this week — in suddenly and unexpectedly calling China out for what his chief trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer says was an attempt to renege on commitments made in previous talks — suggests that the president is pushing hard for a more meaningful trade deal.

The US wants China to stop stealing intellectual property, end cyber-theft of US technology, curtail subsidies to state-owned companies and end other forms of discrimination against foreign firms doing business with Beijing.

It was encouraging that the sticking point this week related to structural trade issues including the US push for China to stop compelling US companies to surrender their trade secrets to do business in China.

China’s pushback makes it clear that it is being driven hard by Trump’s negotiators to do something it does not want to do and has never done previously on trade.

But Trump was never going to extract meaningful trade reform from China by being an appeaser or making polite complaints. Yes tariffs have been a blunt instrument but there is no doubt that they have brought China to the table.

Trump is a gambler by nature but he appears to have made a key calculation that the US rather than China holds the stronger hand in this game right now.

Trump was buoyed by robust US economic data last week which showed GDP surging past forecasts, rising 3.2 per cent on an annualised basis while unemployment dropped to a 49 year low.

The president reportedly saw these figures as evidence that the trade war was having little overall impact on the US economy and that he could afford to leverage China further to secure a better long term deal.

By contrast, China’s growth is slowing and the slowdown has been made worse by US tariffs which hurt Chinese manufacturers and consumer confidence.

Economists estimate that an ongoing trade war with the US could cut China’s economic growth rate by between 1.6 to 2 percentage points over the next 12 months.

Under this scenario, there appears to be more pressure on China to seek a quick resolution to the trade dispute than there is on the White House.

Trump needs to be careful not to overplay this strong hand. China is unlikely to accept any final deal that makes president Xi lose face. But Xi appears to have misread the willingness of this populist president to take China on. This is a big moment and a big gamble but Trump deserves praise for putting the US into a position where an historic win is now possible.



Clever men are more fertile and have more children than others

This is very strong data and is more evidence that IQ is an index of general biological fitness

Clever men are more fertile and have more children than others, research has found.

The findings suggest that those with higher IQs are considered more attractive by women. In addition, being intelligent leads to status in society and more wealth - extra factors as to why eggheads are considered ‘a catch’.

The research overturns previous findings - that larger families are the preserve of people who are not blessed with higher IQs.

University of Stockholm scientists looked at a database of IQ scores of all Swedish men born between 1951 and 1967.

The IQ tests were used for conscription to the army’s national service and covered more than 779,000 men.

They then followed up how many children each man went on to have.

The scientists writing in the Royal Society Journal Proceedings B said: ‘We find a positive relationship between intelligence scores and fertility, and this pattern is consistent across the cohorts we study.’ They added: ‘Men with the lowest categories of IQ scores have the fewest children.’

The researchers said they controlled for additional factors such as levels of education and parental background. They said: ‘After such adjustments we find a stronger positive relationship between IQ and fertility.’

To assess the impact of family background, the researchers compared how many children brothers had.

They found that a brother with the lowest category of cognitive ability would have 0.58 fewer children compared to a brother with an IQ of 100, the average IQ level, while men with the highest category had 0.14 more children than someone of the average ability.

While it may sound comical to talk about an extra child’ or ‘14 per cent of a child’, across a whole population, this would mean thousands of extra children born to more intelligent people thousands fewer to the less intelligent.

The researchers said that earlier research on the subject had been flawed as, unlike the Swedish survey, they were not based on a whole population, but instead school classes or samples.

The authors say that possible explanations are that having a low IQ score is closely linked to poor health in childhood, which may be the reason why people with lower scores have fewer children.

They added: ‘The positive relationship between intelligence and fertility is probably explained by men with higher cognitive ability having higher status and more resources, and the fact that high cognitive ability is an attractive trait in the partner market.’

They said the trend emerging in Sweden is likely to be seen elsewhere: ‘We think that a plausible future scenario is that many societies will see the re-emergence of a positive association between high intelligence as well as other dimensions and correlates of status-and fertility.’



Trump Pardons Former Army First Lieutenant Convicted Of Murdering A Suspected Al-Qaeda Terrorist

Another excellent pardon

President Donald Trump issued a full pardon Monday to former Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna, who served five years in prison after being convicted of murdering a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist.

In May 2008, Behenna was questioning Ali Mansur Mohamed, a suspected terrorist who had allegedly been involved in an IED attack that killed two U.S. soldiers. The interrogation ended when Behenna fired two rounds into the terrorist — which the 1st Lt. claimed was in self-defense after Mansur lunged for his pistol.

A military court convicted Behenna of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone in 2009. The prosecution said Behenna was not acting in self-defense, but in retaliation for the deaths of his fellow soldiers, and killed Mansur while returning him to his hometown.

In a statement released Monday announcing the pardon, the White House noted that Behenna’s 25-year sentence was greatly reduced following certain concerns about the case. Behenna was released from prison on parole in 2014.

“After judgment, however, the U.S. Army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Mr. Behenna’s claim of self-defense. Additionally, the Army Clemency and Parole Board reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible in 2014—just 5 years into his sentence.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has repeatedly petitioned the White House for clemency, writing to Attorney General Bill Barr last month that Behenna’s conviction was predicated on improper procedure by prosecutors.

The White House cited Hunter’s support in its announcement, adding, “while serving his sentence, Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner. In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency.”

Some of Trump’s other high-profile pardons include Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff.

In March 2018, the president pardoned Kristian Saucier, a Navy sailor who served a year in prison for taking photos of classified areas of a submarine.



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, May 08, 2019

Why the Leftist obsession with the penis?

'It is a peculiar fact' stated Engels a few months after Marx died, 'that with every great revolutionary movement the question of 'free love' comes to the foreground'.' By the mid- to late-nineteenth century it was clear to advocates and opponents alike that many socialists shared a propensity to reject the institution of the family in favour of 'free love', if not in practice, at least as an ideal -- SOURCE 

The Leftist obsession with the penis generally flies just under the radar but it can be detected as far back as Karl Marx.  Most politically-informed people are aware that Karl was against the family, on the grounds that it was a conservatizing influence (which it is).

Marx could hardly have overlooked, however, a side-effect of a ban on the family.  It left the penis high and dry -- as it were.  There was nowhere for it to go outside the family.  Morals were very strict at the time about extra-marital sex.  There were of course abundant prostitutes in the 19th century but use of them was illegal, disgraceful and threatened syphilis.  All that was left for the penis was Mrs Hand and her five daughters.

Marx was himself married -- to Jenny von Westphalen, with whom he   had seven children.  Jenny was of an aristocratic family so Karl would have been well aware that it was common for wealthy men of the era to take a mistress -- so that would have been the liberation of the penis he envisaged for those who did not marry.  David Lloyd George, a Prime Minister of the UK during WWI, had a mistress (Frances Stevenson) for many years -- officially just his secretary of course

And in the 1920s and 30s "understood" homosexuality emerged.  Heavily Leftist British artists and intellectuals knew that they could not safely "come out" -- they could be prosecuted for it -- but nonetheless managed to create a general understanding that homosexuality was not only OK but rather "smart" -- J.M. Keynes, Lytton Strachey and the Bloomsberries generally.  The movie "Brideshead revisited" conveys that era very well.  You are never quite sure that the main character was queer.  So that was a rather clear example of a Leftist obsession with the penis.

And in the famous '60s, of course, there evolved a Leftist devotion to "free love", which had little to do with love.  It could more accurately be referred to as "penis liberation".  I was there.  I remember it well.  They say that if you remember the '60s, you weren't there.  But that refers to drug and alcohol abuse and I was teetotal throughout the 60s, incredible as that may seem.  Conservatives really are different. I was not totally abstemious about the other delights on offer, however.

That was also of course an era of huge student demonstrations against "the war" (in Vietnam) and a total rejection of all conventional morality.  Fortunately, Christians held the fort and civilization survived.

And then in the '70s and '80s Leftists waged an unsystematic but extensive campaign to legalize homosexuality, which eventually succeeded.  At last the penis could do its thing without the burden of reproduction or the threat of prosecution.  The ban on homosexual marriage lasted right into the 21st century, however, but that too was eventually ground down.  Use of the penis just for pleasure became at last respectable.

So what was left after that series of victories?  Where could Leftists go next in their devotion to the penis? One might have thought that the war was over but a new campaign began with great ferocity:  A campaign to "liberate" extreme sexual abnormality.  Now one person could enjoy not only the delights of the penis but also the delights of femininity.  "Transgenders" became the icons of modernity and liberation.  Some individuals went too far and cut their penis off but they generally regretted it. And in a pinnacle of penis devotion, some mentally ill women were encouraged to have surgery which would "give" them a penis.  Freud claimed that women suffered from "penis envy" but he never foresaw that in his writings.

And any criticism of the various abnormalities concerned was ruthlessly crushed, with criminal penalties threatened in some jurisdictions.  So that is where we are now.  Who knows what Leftist devotion to the penis will bring forth next?

So why?  It's all just a case of self-indulgence.  Leftists believe that "There's no such thing as right and wrong" so why not?  Leftists reject all moral and prudential restraints so their only task is to destroy such restraints on their own behaviour.  And that fits in with their overall program of destroying existing society as a whole.

Leftists, of course claim that they are acting out of compassion but there is not the slightest compassion evident when they attack in various ways people who believe in Biblical morality.  They don't even show tolerance then, let alone compassion. Listen to almost anything they say about Donald J. Trump and the resultant outpouring of hate will convince you that hate drives them, not compassion -- JR.


Time to End Hospitals’ Right to Blank Check for Emergency Care

Emergency medical care is an exception to the general principle of market exchange, whereby services are voluntarily bought and sold, with sellers competing on price. Under federal law, hospitals are required to treat patients that arrive needing emergency medical treatment, regardless of their ability to pay—but allowed to subsequently charge whatever they wish.

In recent years, medical providers have increasingly exploited this arrangement by threatening exorbitant charges for out-of-network emergency care in order to force insurers to agree to generous reimbursement terms across the board. Patients have frequently been caught in the crossfire, and forced to pay large “surprise bills” for emergency care by hospitals or doctors who remain out of network.

Emergency care is necessarily an unfree market, but it is a small and discrete part of healthcare, accounting for less than 7 percent of hospital spending. Ending the right of providers to fill in a blank check for emergency medical procedures would directly help some of the most vulnerable patients, who are being subject to exorbitant bills. But it would also prevent providers from leveraging this exceptional situation to undermine price competition for the bulk of hospital services.

The seemingly narrow issue of payment for out-of-network emergency care therefore has broader significance. The rising cost of healthcare is often discussed as a general phenomenon afflicting medical services, but the problem is primarily a matter of medical costs and expenditures most closely tied to hospital care.

According to a recent study in Health Affairs, whereas between 2007 and 2014 inpatient hospital prices increased by 42 percent and outpatient hospital prices rose by 25 percent, inpatient physician prices increased by 18 percent, and outpatient physician fees increased by only 6 percent. Over the same period, while many expensive new drugs have become available, the price index for existing drugs increased by only 2 percent.

Much attention has been paid to the responsibility of hospital mergers for this trend, but prices at hospitals with local monopolies average only 12 percent more than those at facilities with four or more local competitors. By contrast, prices for equivalent services can be three times higher at different facilities within the same hospital market.

What gives hospitals such pricing power, if it isn’t just market share? A major factor is the current billing rules for emergency care.

Congress enacted the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to require hospitals to treat and stabilize the condition of patients arriving at emergency departments, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay. Yet, this legislation imposed no limit on the amount that hospitals and clinicians could then bill patients for the care they received—even if treatment began while they were unconscious.

The main constraint on hospital prices is normally the ability of insurers to steer patients to in-network facilities with which they have negotiated better rates. Yet this constraint is all but absent for emergency-care situations in which patients must often seek treatment at the nearest possible facility. Knowing that patients will expect their insurers to cover emergency-care costs, hospitals have increasingly used the threat of exorbitant out-of-network bills for emergency care to negotiate more generous reimbursement arrangements (high fees without constraints on volumes) for in-network elective care.

A similar dynamic has become clear among clinicians who frequently treat emergency patients. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, whereas physicians in general contract with insurers at an average of 128 percent of Medicare rates, those in specialties able to impose out-of-network emergency bills are able to drive a harder bargain: with emergency physicians billing an average of 306 percent and anesthesiologists billing 344 percent of Medicare rates. This has yielded a phenomenon known as “surprise billing,” where out-of-network providers of emergency care bill enormous amounts in excess of charges covered by insurers—leaving individuals to pay the balance. Most shockingly, this may even happen for out-of-network clinicians practicing at in-network hospitals.

As a solution to this specific problem, scholars from the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute recently recommended prohibiting clinicians from independently billing for emergency, ancillary, and hospitalist services—a reform which would make hospitals responsible for paying them and collecting reimbursement by affiliating with insurance networks. As the patient has little say over which emergency-care physicians, anesthesiologists, or pathologists will bill for services incident to their care, and hospitals have control over who operates within their walls, such a proposed reform makes a lot of sense.

Yet a broader reform is required to remedy the incentive for hospitals to themselves threaten emergency-care patients with exorbitant charges. Various legislative proposals regulating out-of-network bills for emergency care were introduced in the last Congress, and congressional staff have been working to develop reforms which could pass this year.

One prominent idea is an approach that has already been employed by some states—to subject out-of-network rates for emergency care to independent arbitration. This seems appealing because it does not appear overly prescriptive or rigid; but it is really just a form of buck-passing rather than an actual solution. Instead of having legislators weigh trade-offs in consultation with insurers, hospitals, patient groups, and research organizations, it would simply require judges with no healthcare staff, expertise, or relationships with effected stakeholders to improvise consequential decisions with complex unintended consequences. The administrative costs of appealing fees could be substantial, and under the pressure of interest-group lobbying, such an arrangement may inadvertently lead to payments drifting upwards.

A similar danger is involved in proposals to establish default out-of-network rates based on averages or percentiles of in-network rates: Hospitals may be able to inflate their permitted out-of-network reimbursements by manipulating in-network payment arrangements.

The best approach is rather to cap the rates that hospitals are allowed to charge for various out-of-network emergency-care services at a specified proportion of Medicare rates. Scholars at the Brookings Institution have recommended a tight cap of 125 percent of Medicare rates, under the belief that this could immediately improve insurers’ negotiating power with respect to reimbursements over elective care, and hence substantially drive down hospital costs.

Yet, such a cap would likely decimate hospital revenues overnight, and is therefore likely to be impractical. Nonetheless, a looser cap of 150 percent of Medicare rates (or higher for some specialties) would serve to protect patients from surprise bills greatly in excess of charges covered by their insurer, while preventing hospitals making use of the threat of out-of-network price gouging to cripple the ability of insurers to negotiate reasonable in-network payment arrangements.

A cap limited to out-of-network fees for emergency care could hardly be more different in spirit from proposed single-payer or all-payer reforms, which propose to effectively set a comprehensive floor on payment rates for all medical services—elective as well as emergency; in-network as well of out-of-network.

By eliminating hospitals’ default right to fill in a blank check for emergency care (whose provision is already mandated by federal law) a cap on out-of-network emergency charges would in no way restrict market forces from shaping the delivery of elective care (which accounts for over 93 percent of hospital spending). Providers could still insist on their preferred reimbursement arrangements before agreeing to deliver elective care, and insurers could still negotiate discounts from preferred networks of providers. Nor would such a cap restrict the freedom of hospitals and insurers to agree to better terms of contract to pay for emergency care in-network.

In fact, restoring balance to the default arrangement for out-of-network emergency care could encourage more reasonable payment agreements more broadly—by preventing hospitals from threatening exorbitant out-of-network bills to drive up reimbursement rates and veto cost-controls in payment arrangements across the board.



Free of the Mueller probe, President Trump can finally engage in vital nuclear arms talks with Russia, China and others

It is no coincidence that not until after Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned in his final report to Attorney General William Barr finding no conspiracy or coordination by the Trump campaign with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election that President Donald Trump is now free to act as a president would in engaging in nuclear arms talks with Russia, China and other great powers.

On May 3, speaking with reporters prior to a meeting with Slovak Republic Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, Trump said he had a discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin about nuclear arms in response to a question about the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expires in 2021.

“We’re talking about a nuclear agreement where we make less and they make less, and maybe even where we get rid of some of the tremendous firepower that we have right now,” Trump said.

While the Russian collusion probe by the Justice Department and intelligence agencies, beginning in 2016 and not wrapping until March 2019 — which ultimately found that Trump was no Russian agent after all and had nothing to do with the hack of the DNC and John Podesta emails or putting them on Wikileaks —continued on, nuclear arms agreements around the world have been fraying.

The Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia was terminated. Denuclearization talks with North Korea have stalled.

And there’s no question that one of the biggest reasons has been because President Trump’s ability to negotiate was hampered by the ongoing investigation by Mueller. Foreign leaders could hedge that perhaps Trump was a lame duck who might be removed from office soon.

The effort to sabotage the President and his ability to engage in foreign policy by his own security services has unquestionably made the world a more dangerous place.

Now, clear of any charges, Trump is free to negotiate.

Which is good, especially on nuclear arms control. With thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at one another, we need to have a president who can communicate with his counterparts.

Trump also mentioned including China in a new agreement. Which, if you want to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists like Islamic State or al Qaeda, or simply to have agreements that are accountable to everyone, you need cooperation among the world’s nuclear powers — all of them. In that context, including China and other nuclear powers should be welcomed. The biggest problem with the INF Treaty was that it did nothing to bind other countries. So, this could be a worthwhile endeavor.

Trump said, “We’re spending billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, numbers like we’ve never spent before. We need that, but they are also — and China is, frankly, also — we discussed the possibility of a three-way deal instead of a two-way deal.  And China — I’ve already spoken to them; they very much would like to be a part of that deal. In fact, during the trade talks, we started talking about that. They were excited about that. Maybe even more excited than about trade. But they felt very strongly about it.”

Trump continued, “So I think we’re going to probably start up something very shortly between Russia and ourselves, maybe to start off.  And I think China will be added down the road.  We’ll be talking about nonproliferation.  We’ll be talking about a nuclear deal of some kind.  And I think it will be a very comprehensive one.”

In talking, the worst thing that can happen is that we’re not able to come to a full agreement, but dialogue is still better than continuing on the current escalation cycle without communicating. Only the most virulent warmonger ready to start World War III over the DNC emails would find fault here.

And here’s the thing, with New START expiring in Feb. 2021 with the option to extend to 2026, Trump, and only Trump can really do anything about it. There will be a matter of weeks after the next inauguration for a new president to perhaps come to a deal, but careful negotiations can take months and years. Extending is okay but improving and strengthening the agreement and extending the scope to non-signatories should be a focus.

Either way, the groundwork needs to be laid right now. There is too much at stake.

Stopping nuclear arms proliferation is not a partisan issue. It is an area of policy that affects every living being on this planet, and is where President Trump could really use the voices of both parties to help deescalate the new Cold War we are in. It’s time to let the President be the President and work with his counterparts on nuclear security issues — for all of our sakes.



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, May 07, 2019

Lost someone to Fox News? Science says they may be addicted to anger

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie has an article in the Boston Globe under the above heading.  It is a long article but it is mainly an account of how anger works physiologically.  No evidence at all is offered to justify the claim that Fox news listeners are particularly angry.

She has just one case study of a man who became more angry after listening to Rush Limnaugh.  But you can "prove" anything from one case

I reproduce below her few paragraohs that have some possible relevance to her contention. In the third paragraph she makes  a case that Americans are angrier than they were but quite overlooks that all the anger may be coming from Leftist hatred of Donald J. Trump.

The lack of self-insight among Leftists is truly crashing. Amid the daily outbursts of fury from the Leftist media at everything the President says or does, the mentally blind Ms McRobbie overlooks all that and in a perfect display of projection says that it is CONSERVATIVES who are characterized by anger.

Conservatives direct reasoned arguments and some mockery at Leftists but that constitutes "hate" appparently.  NO criticism of Leftism is allowed. Linda's article proves only how heavily she is beset by the usual Leftist defence mechanisms of projection, compartmentalization and denial.  But I suppose that I am being "angry" in saying that.

While all partisan news outlets follow the emotionally exploitative playbook, Sobieraj says, right-wing outlets have so far deployed it with more success — talk radio is around 90 percent conservative. Rage disrupts logical thought, reducing complex issues to black and white answers: build the wall, lock her up, make it great. However, the polemical nature of right-wing rhetoric may be pushing people on the left to react accordingly.

When anger addicts find a medium that resonates with them, they may not recognize how emotionally affected they are by the fiery rhetoric. “It doesn’t sound like outrage when you agree with it,” says Sobieraj. “It sounds like someone truth-telling and so it feels great — that’s why this content is successful.”

Inundated by extreme viewpoints designed to stoke emotions, Americans may be feeling more threatened, and therefore, more irate. A 2016 Esquire/NBC survey found that half of all Americans were angrier than they had been the year before; 31 percent of respondents were enraged by something in the news a few times a day, while 37 percent were angry once a day. Meanwhile, acts of road rage involving firearms have more than doubled since 2014, according to The Trace.



Israeli army poised to invade as air strikes continue

US President Donald Trump has tweeted out an ominous threat to Gaza militants after they launched a deadly rocket attack on Israel.

Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel on Sunday, killing at least four Israelis and bringing life to a standstill across the region in the bloodiest fighting since a 2014 war.

At least 66 other people have been wounded.

As Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes, the Palestinian death toll rose to 23, including two pregnant women and two babies.

Spokesman for the Israeli army, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricu, said it had struck over 250 sites in Gaza, according to the Independent.

The bloodshed marked the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 2014 war.

With Palestinian militants threatening to send rockets deeper into Israel and Israeli reinforcements massing near the Gaza frontier, the fighting showed no signs of slowing down.

US President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind Israel, warning militants of the “misery” they would endure if they continued their attack.

“Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defence of its citizens,” President Trump tweeted.

“To the Gazan people — these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace — it can happen!”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent most of the day huddled with his Security Cabinet. Late Sunday, the Cabinet instructed the army to “continue its attacks and to stand by” for further orders.

Israel also claimed to have killed a Hamas commander involved in transferring Iranian funds to the group.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction, have fought three wars since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza from Western-backed Palestinian forces in 2007.

They have fought numerous smaller battles, most recently two rounds in March.

While lulls in fighting used to last for months or even years, these flare-ups have grown increasingly frequent as a desperate Hamas, weakened by a crippling Egyptian-Israeli blockade imposed 12 years ago, seeks to put pressure on Israel to ease the closure.

The blockade has ravaged Gaza’s economy, and a year of Hamas-led protests along the Israeli frontier has yielded no tangible benefits.

In March, Hamas faced several days of street protests over the dire conditions.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement late Sunday that the militant group was “not interested in a new war.” He signalled readiness to “return to the state of calm” if Israel stopped its attacks “and immediately starts implementing understandings about a dignified life.”

With little to lose, Hamas appears to be trying to step up pressure on Netanyahu at a time when the Israeli leader is vulnerable on several fronts.

Fresh off an election victory, Netanyahu is now engaged in negotiations with his hard-line political partners on forming a governing coalition.

If fighting drags on, the normally cautious Netanyahu could be weakened in his negotiations as his partners push for a tougher response.

Meanwhile, Israel said it was suspending fuel deliveries to Gaza. Diesel, including Qatari-donated fuel for Gaza’s only power plant, had continued to enter despite the escalation. Gaza’s lone power station said it was turning off one of its three turbines, worsening chronic power shortages.

Later this week, Israel marks Memorial Day, one of the most solemn days of the year, and its festive Independence Day.

Next week, Israel is to host the Eurovision song contest. Prolonged fighting could overshadow these important occasions and deter foreign tourists.

The arrival of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, does not seem to be deterring Hamas.

But the group is also taking a big risk if it pushes too hard. During the 50-day war in 2014, Israel killed over 2,200 Palestinians, over half of them civilians, according to U.N. tallies, and caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.

While Hamas is eager to burnish its credentials as a resistance group, the Gazan public has little stomach for another devastating war.

“Hamas is the change seeker,” said retired Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion, a former head of the Israeli military general staff’s strategic division. “Hamas needs to make its calculus, balancing its hope for improvement against its fear of escalation.”

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Israelis have “every right to defend themselves.” He expressed hope that the recent ceasefire could be restored.

Previous rounds of fighting have all ended in informal Egyptian-mediated truces in which Israel pledged to ease the blockade while militants promised to halt rocket fire.

On Friday, two Israeli soldiers were wounded by snipers from Islamic Jihad, a smaller Iranian-backed militant group that often cooperates with Hamas but sometimes acts independently. Israel responded by killing two Palestinian militants, leading to intense rocket barrages and retaliatory Israeli air strikes beginning Saturday.

By Sunday, the Israeli military said militants had fired over 600 rockets, with the vast majority falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket- defence system. But more than 30 rockets managed to strike urban areas, the army said.

The Israeli military said it struck 250 targets in Gaza, including weapons storage, attack tunnels and rocket launching and production facilities. It also deployed tanks and infantry forces to the Gaza frontier, and put another brigade on standby.

“We have been given orders to prepare for a number of days of fighting under current conditions,” said Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman. Palestinian medical officials reported 23 dead, including at least eight militants hit in targeted air strikes. At least four civilians, including two pregnant women and two babies, were also among the dead.



US deploying forces in bold warning to Iran

The United States is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a clear message to Iran that any attack on US interests or its allies will be met with “unrelenting force”, US national security adviser John Bolton says.

Amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, Bolton said the decision was “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings”.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said in a statement. It marked the latest in a series of moves by President Donald Trump’s administration against Iran in recent weeks.

Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, in an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. It has also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Trump administration’s efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began last year when it unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal it and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.

“The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakeable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Bolton said.

Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish US policy on Iran, did not provide any other details.

A US official said the forces “have been ordered to the region as a deterrence to what has been seen as potential preparations by Iranian forces and its proxies that may indicate possible attacks on U.S. forces in the region.” The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States was not expecting any imminent attack on U.S. forces.



US Economy Add 263,000 New Jobs: Unemployment Hits 50-year Low

The U.S economy added 263,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department reported Friday, blowing past expectations.

The unemployment rate also dropped 0.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent, the lowest jobless rate since 1969, driven in part by a 0.2-point decline in the labor force participation rate to 62.8 percent.



So-Called "Experts" Are Wrong Again on the Trump Economy

Remember a few months back, when the so-called experts in the room warned us that the partial government shutdown would ruin the economy? Boy, were they wrong.

The markets were supposed to falter and economic growth was bound to slow, with President Trump’s “Libertarian Experiment” resulting in a recession. Fast forward a few months later, and we find that the only “problem” with these predictions was that U.S. GDP instead grew 3.2 percent.

This is not the first time that the talking heads and respected economists have totally missed the mark when trying to make predictions about the Trump economy. How many times will it take before the likes of Paul Krugman admit that they have been wrong all along? I’m not holding my breath.

Friday’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that U.S. GDP grew 3.2 percent in quarter one of 2019, compared to the forecasted 2.1 percent. To put it in the president’s vernacular, this is “[h]uge,” especially when you take into account that the partial government shutdown was supposed to be a massive drag on economic growth.

The superb quarter one GDP numbers tell us that a few things are at play. For starters, the Keynesian system of government transfers and dabbling in the economy isn’t the real driver of economic growth. But because most talking heads do not subscribe to supply-side theory, we see how they could be so concerned with how a partially functioning government would negatively impact the economy. Contrary to their assertions, government spending isn’t necessary for economic growth, as proven by quarter one’s GDP growth.

Instead, free market policies that involve cutting taxes and red tape are shown to work much better. A “hands-off” approach to economic policy means that even when Washington can’t get its act together, everyday Americans continue to prosper. This should be a no-brainer. American workers and small business owners seem to understand it, so why can’t the Beltway insiders? This is the sort of perilous hubris that contributed to President Trump’s election in the first place, and will likely tee-up his re-election in 2020.

Apparently, the U.S. economy will grow at a robust pace even in the midst of a government shutdown, which if you live within the Beltway bubble was supposedly akin to living in a dystopian parallel universe. Obviously the rest of America, especially those pesky fly-over states, paid no heed to the doom and gloom predictions. Main Street America continues to thrive, unemployment remains low and consumer confidence remains at an all time high.

Thanks to Mr. Trump and the GOP’s pro-growth agenda, and despite the partial government shutdown, Americans from every demographic are finding success in today’s economy. With more than 2.6 million African-American-owned businesses in the United States today, the past two years have been a boon for African-American entrepreneurship like never before. This is the result of free market approaches, initiatives and platforms that come not from government, but from individuals.

At the same time, the past two years have been extremely good for women in the workforce and the economy. More than half of the jobs created since January 2018 have gone to women, and women’s unemployment is down to 3.8 percent. Pro-growth economic policies have benefited Americans of all stripes more than any government program ever could. The narrative that pro-growth policies only benefit the wealthy and advantaged is collapsing, fast.

Democrats and their friends in the media would do well to recognize that hands-off, pro-growth policies, rather than big government and identity politics, are the keys to enabling all Americans to prosper. The dire predictions made by pundits during the government shutdown have not come to pass and we have instead continued to see robust economic growth. Friday’s report should serve as a reminder not to trust everything that’s been written or said, especially if it’s “expert opinion.”



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, May 06, 2019

Donald Trump says Kim Jong-un will not interfere with economic potential of North Korea

I have long said that economics was Mr Kim's motive in wanting change.  With hugely prosperous China to his North and hugely prosperous South Korea to his South, he has got to be envious.  And in both cases a market economy has brought that prosperity.  So he wants to set that up for North Korea.  I see from the report below that Mr Trump has a similar analysis

Trump has said that Kim Jong-un would not do anything to jeopardise a deal with the US after North Korea allegedly test-fired missiles.

US President Donald Trump has reiterated his confidence a deal will be reached with North Korea as the South called on its neighbour to “stop acts that escalate military tension on the Korean Peninsula”.

North Korea fired several “unidentified short-range projectiles” into the sea off its east coast on Saturday. South Korean military initially described it as a missile launch but subsequently gave it a more vague description.

The South Korean military said it was conducting joint analysis with the US of the latest launches. Experts say the projectiles appeared to come from multiple rocket launchers, and were not ballistic missiles.

In a Twitter message on Saturday morning, Mr Trump said he was still confident he could reach a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“I believe that Kim Jong-un fully realises the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it,” Mr Trump wrote. “He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!”

Talks stalled after a second summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi in February failed to produce a deal to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Analysts suspect the flurry of military activity by Pyongyang was an attempt to exert pressure on the US to give ground in negotiations.

Trump raised the issue of North Korea during a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump told Putin several times “the need and importance of Russia stepping up and continuing to put pressure on North Korea to denuclearise”.

During a summit with Putin in late April, North Korea’s Kim said peace and security on the Korean peninsula depended on the US, warning that a state of hostility could easily return, according to North Korean media.



1,860 unconstitutional FDA rules

Will the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) change its rule-making practices when it learns that 98 percent of its regulations since 2001 were unconstitutional? That’s the figure we uncovered in a comprehensive study examining 2,952 Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations issued during a 17-year period.

If a federal agency enforces even one invalid rule against Americans, it breaches the public trust and the rule of law. Enforcing 100 invalid rules would constitute an unprecedented threat to democratic principles from a lawless agency. What we found at FDA dwarfs those figures. From early 2001 to early 2018, FDA issued 1,860 unconstitutional rules.

Though we didn’t know the full scale of the problem, we broke the news of FDA’s unconstitutional rule-making practices a year ago with our lawsuit challenging the FDA’s “deeming rule.” That regulation made vaping product retailers subject to the same requirements as cigarette manufacturers under the Tobacco Control Act. We explained that the deeming rule was not just bad policy, it also was illegal: a career civil-service employee named Leslie Kux signed and issued that rule, even though she had no constitutional authority to do so.

Because Kux was never nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, nor hired by the HHS secretary pursuant to a congressional authorization, she could not be an “officer of the United States” as the Constitution defines that term. Career employees such as Kux (who worked at the FDA for 30 years) fill vital staff roles in federal agencies, but they are not democratically accountable for significant policy decisions. Kux’s exercise of rule-making power — the power to issue final regulations that are binding on citizens — was an impermissible end-run around the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which allows only officers to exercise such coercive governmental power.

The deeming rule litigation is ongoing. Tellingly, the FDA demonstrated its fear that the rule is in jeopardy this month by seeking to cure the constitutional problem with a letter from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb two days before he left office, purporting to “ratify” the rule Kux illegally issued three years ago. The FDA still refuses to acknowledge its past violations of law; Gottlieb denied there was any problem to cure in his litigation-induced letter, but his unusual action speaks louder than his denial. What’s worse, FDA has not altered its unconstitutional practice of career employee rule-making.

We were curious just how common that practice is. In the study released today, Pacific Legal Foundation looked at every rule issued by HHS agencies from Jan. 20, 2001, through the first year of the Trump administration. Among this database of 2,952 rules, we found that 71 percent were unconstitutional, the great majority of which were issued by career staff.

The primary culprit at HHS is FDA. Since 98 percent of FDA rules were unconstitutional (all of those were issued by career employees), and FDA issues so many rules, FDA’s illegal practices skew HHS totals. For FDA rules, the signature of the Senate-confirmed FDA commissioner or HHS secretary is the rare exception. Instead of taking responsibility for the vast majority of FDA rules, the constitutional officers left final rule-making decisions to what some have dubbed “the deep state.”

The study by Angela Erickson and one of us also determined that the employee-issued rules at FDA were not just insignificant ones — 25 unconstitutional FDA rules during the study period each had economic impacts of $100 million or more. Besides the deeming rule, the unconstitutional FDA rules include a counterproductive rule governing skim milk labels, an important (and beneficial) rule regarding the approval of generic drugs, and many more.

Interestingly, other components of HHS have not shown the same disregard for the Constitution, or at least not at the same level. For example, 75 percent of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ rules were issued by a Senate-confirmed officer, and most were countersigned by the HHS secretary. An even higher percentage of CMS’s substantive rules were constitutionally issued.

Overall, only 2 percent of HHS’s substantive unconstitutional rules were issued by agencies outside the FDA. Compliance with the Constitution clearly is not too much to ask, and it does not bring the process of issuing important regulations to a halt. Instead, it ensures that Senate-confirmed officers are accountable for — and make the final decision regarding — rules that bind the public, as the people who ratified the Constitution insisted.

How could such a blatant violation of the Constitution go unnoticed for so long? An FDA commissioner in 1991 didn’t want the responsibility or distraction that issuing rules imposed and delegated that task to FDA career staff. Once the bureaucracy took over, no one ever thought hard enough about whether that was constitutional. In a similar vein, the Supreme Court ruled last year in Lucia v. S.E.C. that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been violating the Appointments Clause for decades in selecting its administrative law judges.

Ignorance or negligence is how such failures start, but stubbornness and imperious attitudes keep them going. At FDA, Leslie Kux and her career employee successor keep issuing rules, putting new regulations in continued legal jeopardy.

Like the SEC violation, the problem we uncovered at HHS will not go away if left to the career staff illegally wielding power. The longer agencies allow rule-making to continue deep within the bureaucracy, the more rules (good and bad) are jeopardized. Other lawsuits surely will follow ours, yet responsible elected officials should not wait for courts to force action. After all, employee rule-making is not merely a legal problem. Regardless of its constitutionality, it’s a monumental lapse in democratic accountability.

Agency heads should act promptly to ensure that future rules are signed by Senate-confirmed officers. Congress should assert its prerogative to prohibit delegations of rule-making power from Senate-confirmed officers to employees. And President Trump, with a stroke of his pen, could order that all rules issued in his administration are signed by Senate-confirmed officers.

The current administration committed to reducing the regulatory burden, and numerous members of Congress from both parties share this goal. For these reform-minded leaders, ending the unconstitutional practice of employee rule-making should be a top priority.



Clinton Projection Syndrome
Hillary Clinton recently editorialized about the second volume of special counsel Robert Mueller’s massive report. She concluded of the report’s assorted testimonies and inside White House gossip concerning President Trump’s words and actions that “any other person engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted.”

Psychologists might call her claims “projection.” That is the well-known psychological malady of attributing bad behavior to others as a means of exonerating one’s own similar, if not often even worse, sins.

After 22 months of investigation and $34 million spent, the Mueller report concluded that there was no Trump-Russia collusion — the main focus of the investigation — even though that unfounded allegation dominated print and televised media’s speculative headlines for the last two years.

While Mueller’s report addressed various allegations of Trump’s other roguery, the special counsel did not recommend that the president be indicted for obstruction of justice in what Mueller had just concluded was not a crime of collusion.

What Mueller strangely did do — and what most federal prosecutors do not do — was cite all the allegedly questionable behavior of a target who has just been de facto exonerated by not being indicted.

What Mueller did not do was explain that much of the evidence he found useful was clearly a product of unethical and illegal behavior. In the case of the false charge of “collusion,” the irony was rich.

Russians likely fed salacious but untrue allegations about Trump to ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who was being paid in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to find dirt on Trump.

The Russians rightly assumed that Steele would lap up their fantasies, seed them among Trump-hating officials in the Barack Obama administration and thereby cause hysteria during the election, the transition and, eventually, the Trump presidency.

Russia succeeded in sowing such chaos, thanks ultimately to Clinton, who likely had broken federal laws by using a British national and, by extension, Russian sources to warp an election. Without the fallacious Steele dossier, the entire Russian collusion hoax never would have taken off.

Without Steele’s skullduggery, there likely would have been no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court-approved surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page. There might have been no FBI plants inserted into the Trump campaign. There might have been no subsequent leaking to the press of classified documents to prompt a Trump collusion investigation.

Given the Steele travesty and other past scandals, it is inexplicable that Clinton has not been indicted.

Her lawlessness first made headlines 25 years ago, when she admitted that her cattle futures broker had defied odds of one in 31 trillion by investing $1,000 from her trading account and returning a profit of nearly $100,000. Clinton failed to report about $6,500 in profits to the IRS. She initially lied about her investment windfall by claiming she made the wagers herself. She even fantastically alleged that she mastered cattle futures trading by reading financial newspapers.

To paraphrase Clinton herself, anyone else would have been indicted for far less.

The reason that foreign oligarchs are no longer donating millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and that Bill Clinton is not being offered $500,000 for speaking appearances in Moscow, is simply because Hillary Clinton is not secretary of state. She is no longer in a public position to hector her colleagues into approving pro-Russian commercial deals, such as the one that gave Russian interests access to North American uranium.

As secretary of state, Clinton also sidestepped the law by setting up a home-brewed email server. She transmitted classified documents over this insecure route and lied about it. And she destroyed some 30,000 emails that were in effect under subpoena. Anyone else would have been indicted for far less.

In truth, Clinton was at the heart of the entire Russian collusion hoax. Even after the election, she kept fueling it to blame Russia-Trump conspiracies for her stunning defeat in 2016. Unable to acknowledge her own culpability as a weak and uninspiring candidate, Clinton formally joined the post-election “resistance” and began whining about collusion. That excuse seemed preferable to explaining why she blew a huge lead and lost despite favorable media coverage and superior funding.

For much of her professional life, Hillary Clinton had acted above and beyond the law on the assumption that as the wife of a governor, as first lady of the United States, as a senator from New York, as secretary of state and as a two-time candidate for the presidency, she could ignore the law without worry over the consequences.

For Clinton now to project that the president should be indicted suggests she is worried about her own potential indictment. And she is rightly concerned that for the first time in 40 years, neither she nor her husband is serving in government or running for some office, and therefore could be held accountable.



Socialists like Bernie Sanders tell us that “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”

That’s a lie. Yes, rich people got absurdly rich. Last year, says Oxfam, “the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased (by) $2.5 billion a day.”

I say, so what? The poor did not get poorer. Bernie’s wrong about that. The poor are much better off.

“As we’ve increased the number of billionaires around the world, extreme poverty has shrunk,” says former investment banker Carol Roth in my video about inequality.

She is right. Over the past 30 years, more than a billion people climbed out of extreme poverty. Thanks to capitalism, more than a billion people no longer struggle to survive on a few pennies a day.

Bernie is correct when he says that the wealth gap between rich and poor grew. In America over the last 40 years, the richest people got 200 percent richer, while poor Americans got just 32 percent richer. But again, so what?

Gaining 32 percent is a very good thing (all these numbers are adjusted for inflation). Everyone’s better off, despite the improvement not being even. It never is.

Now the myth: The media claim in America there’s “a lack of income mobility” — that people born poor are likely to stay poor.

Some do. It’s true that people with rich parents have a big advantage. But it’s a myth that Americans are locked into their economic class.

Economists at Harvard and Berkeley crunched the numbers and found most people born to the richest fifth of Americans fell out of that bracket within 20 years.

Likewise, most born to the poorest fifth climb to a higher quintile. Some make it all the way to the top. In fact, says Roth, “3 out of 4 Americans will hit that top 20 percent at some point in their lifetime.”

You see America’s income mobility on the Forbes richest list. Most of the billionaires are self-made. They didn’t inherit money. They created their wealth.

Still, the very rich are ridiculously rich. The Forbes billionaires have more money than the bottom 64 percent of the U.S. population.

“Unfair!” say the progressives. “It doesn’t matter if nearly everyone got richer, income inequality itself is a huge problem.  It’s “threatening to tear us apart!” says New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.

It might, if people come to believe that inequality itself is evil. But one question: Why is that true?

Progressives like to point out that in Scandinavian countries, people say they are happier than Americans. Scandinavians have more equal incomes than Americans. But that proves nothing. Incomes are more equal in Afghanistan, too. Incomes are more equal when everyone is poor.

Forget money for a moment and think about how impossible it would be to make everyone equal.

I’ll never sing as well as Adele or play basketball like LeBron. The best athletes, singers, dancers, etc., are just physically different. I’ll never be as self-confident as Donald Trump or as verbally smooth as AOC.

“There’s inequality in everything. There’s inequality in free time, inequality in parents. I don’t have any parents or grandparents,” says Roth. “I have two kidneys. There are people out there who need one, don’t have one that functions. Should the government take my kidney because somebody else needs it?”

I suggest to her that some people having so much more than others is just inherently unfair.

“Life is unfair!” she replied. “Unfair is good. Unfair is a feature. It’s not a bug!”

Certainly, it’s wrong if government makes rules that create inequality. Racist laws forbidding some ethnic groups to do business where they please, or restricting where they live, are evil. So are government subsidies to rich people and well-connected corporations.

But allowing people to be different from one another, to employ their unique talents and succeed or fail by them, to rise as high as the market will bear — that’s an important part of freedom.

We won’t all end up in the same place, but most of us will be more prosperous than if government decided our limits.

And we will be freer.



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, May 05, 2019

The Death of Patriotism

The modern-day Left are NOT patriotic.  They were once, right up to JFK -- at a time when the ills of the world could be blamed on "the bosses".  But in a post-industrial society that no longer makes much sense. Most of the workforce were once employed in large industries such as mines and factories but such businesses now account for only a small fraction of the workforce so blaming a bad situation for the workers on a small clique of distant plutocrats just does not connect with the concerns of many voters these days.  The average employer these days is a small businessman who works alongside his employees so any faults can be attributed to him personally rather than to some large abstraction.

In that situation new villains had to be found to satisfy leftist hatreds and ego needs.  But there was no obvious single whipping boy.  The faults in society seemed to be all over the place.  So it was the society as a whole that seemed faulty.  Blaming "society" was an old Communist war-cry anyway so that cry became mainstream. Leftists generally began to hate society as a whole.  And the only society of interest to most American Leftists was American society.  So America as a whole became the new Leftist whipping boy.  America as a whole came to be hated.

But hating America is the direct opposite of patriotism.  So the best Leftists can usually rise to is to say they are loyal to "what America could become", which only a Leftist could call patriotism.  It commits the Leftist to nothing.

But patriotism is a widely felt sentiment among Americans so the Leftist cannot get too far out of tune with that or he will get totally marginalized and disregarded.  So he has to pretend to be patriotic.  Hence the occasional challenge from Leftsts:  "Are you questioning my patriotsm?".  The proper answer to that is: Yes.

Recently, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar received strong pushback for comments she made at a fundraiser for CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). Omar said the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack was “some people did something.”

Those words alone could be taken out of the context of her speech at the CAIR fundraiser. Omar stated that CAIR was founded after 9/11 to protect Muslims in this country from any backlash as a result of the attack. It was actually founded in 1994 and has a very troubled past, including with former board members indicted for sponsoring terrorism.

I’m sure there were a few racist idiots who were unkind to (those they thought were) Muslims after 9/11. I’m sure that hateful words were exchanged. Is that the same as nearly 3,000 Americans perishing in the flames of the World Trade Center Towers or the Pentagon or in a field in Pennsylvania? Seems like quite a stretch to me.

Omar can’t seem to help herself when it comes to criticizing this country (a country that took in her and her family as refugees fleeing war-torn Somalia), our president, and especially Jews. But when her comments start generating backlash from conservatives, she wraps herself in the flag and says, “You can’t question my patriotism!”

Patriotism: “The quality of being patriotic, devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.”

That seems to be a reoccurring trend in our country, especially from those on the far Left. Whenever they are criticized for remarks they make that portray our country as evil and a horrible place to live, they play the PATRIOT CARD. They respond by saying, “You can’t question my patriotism.” Omar just joins the ranks of a number of politicians (Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi come to mind) and media talkingheads who slap down anybody who calls them out for their slander and misrepresentation of what I believe is the greatest country on earth.

If this nation is so evil, then why did Omar’s family come here instead of the safe haven of say, Iran or Syria or any other Muslim nation, where she wouldn’t get her hijab in a bind every time she gets criticized for shooting off her mouth? I’m sure if she lived in Tehran, she could say anything she wanted without consequences. Why come here? Why do tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from south of the border continue to flood this country? Hasn’t word reached their home countries that we are bad and you don’t want to come here?

I believe we do have the right to question the patriotism of those who trash our country. I put my life on the line to defend this country and nearly lost it many years ago in the jungles of Vietnam. I have been back to Vietnam many times since the war. They do not have true freedom because our politicians abandoned them. South Korea is free today because we stayed.

Congresswoman Omar, I do question your patriotism because of your actions to undermine the freedoms we have in this nation. I believe every American can question your alleged patriotism and anyone else who would do harm to my country. Your ACTIONS speak much louder than your lame excuses.

True patriots are watching and we will call out anyone who acts in a manner that could be harmful to our nation.



The Left’s Hate Campaigns Against Trump Nominees

These are tough times if you are a big-government, economic liberal. Since President Trump has taken office, unemployment rates have remained below 4%, hiring among African Americans are at their highest levels in decades, our energy and manufacturing sectors are booming, and employers are scrambling to fill millions of job vacancies by offering competitive salaries.

So what can the frustrated liberal do if he wants to criticize the president’s economic policies? He personally vilifies the people the president wants on his team to further improve our economy, protect American jobs, and generate greater wealth for all.

Enter Stephen Moore, who has been named as a potential nominee by President Trump to serve on the Board of the Federal Reserve. As soon as Moore’s name was floated, he was savaged by the liberal press—and not for his economic knowledge or his views of domestic monetary policy—but via personal attacks on him and his family.

Ruthless attacks on Mr. Moore by the Washington Post and several other news outlets included descriptions of Moore’s relationship with his ex-wife and their children. In a completely predictable move, The New York Times, CNN and other news outlets condemned Moore’s humorous columns, written more than a decade ago, as sexist.

These personal attacks on Mr. Moore sadly replicate the same failed strategy of personal slander aimed at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and most of the president’s cabinet members. We have clearly reached a troubling point in American politics in which Republican presidential nominees are no longer reviewed based on the quality of their credentials (Moore’s are sterling) or the merits of their ideas (ditto), but are squeezed through a gauntlet of brutal, vicious attacks on their personal lives, reputations, and actions dating back as far as 10 years.

Newsweek saw fit to quote TV comedian John Oliver’s scathing criticism of Moore in its coverage. So odd how Oliver, a man whose knowledge of banking and finance likely ends with his checking account routing number, is elevated to “analyst” by Newsweek. Why? Because Oliver served up his usual, caustic foment against conservatives, a tired narrative the liberal press loves to drive.

CNBC at least attempted to assess Moore based on his qualifications—but that criticism came in the form of its “Flash Fed Survey” of 48 respondents. Yes, 48 people. Most of these “fund managers, economists, and strategists” said Moore just wasn’t qualified. Sure, let’s cherry-pick four dozen people who will give CNBC the survey results it wants and then post the biased trash as an honest review of sentiment toward Moore’s qualifications?  What a complete joke.

Why do Democrats hate Stephen Moore? Moore is a bright mind in Washington with years of economic policy research, analysis, and commentary on his resume. He is a former senior economist on the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, he has offered economic analysis and advice to two presidential administrations. He is an outspoken, free-market conservative, one who has criticized the Federal Reserve’s actions in the past.

The Federal Reserve is immensely powerful. It regulates our nation’s banks, controls the interest rates banks charge each other, as well as interest rates on loans made to private banks. Stephen Moore could serve the president and the nation in a variety of ways.

As qualified as Mr. Moore is to join the Federal Reserve Board, I selfishly believe he would better serve the conservative movement and the Trump administration by staying out of government agency work and be a qualified voice for Trump’s economic policies. Moore ably explains to the American people how the president’s economic agenda promotes job growth and prosperity for working families. I can think of no better champion for the president’s re-election than Stephen Moore.


Progressives just can’t quit the individual mandate

Since Congress effectively ended the unpopular requirement that all Americans obtain health coverage by zeroing out the fine for noncompliance as of the first of this year, three states and the District of Columbia have enacted mandates of their own. The mandate that Massachusetts imposed in 2006 is now back in force. And at least seven other states are considering similar measures.

If they succeed, one-quarter of the U.S. population will again have to choose between paying for costly insurance that’s of little value to them — and a burdensome fine.

Rather than resurrect Obamacare’s most hated provision, blue-state politicians should focus on making insurance more affordable for their constituents.

It’s hard to conclude that Obamacare’s individual mandate was anything but a failure. In 2017, three years after the mandate went into effect, more than 27 million people went without coverage.

They opted not to purchase coverage largely because it was too expensive. Between 2013 — the year before most of Obamacare’s rules went into effect — and 2017, average annual individual health insurance premiums doubled, from $2,784 to $5,712.

Those rate increases should’ve been obvious, in hindsight. Obamacare’s litany of rules practically order insurers to raise premiums. The law requires insurers to sell health insurance to everyone regardless of their current health status or demographic risk. They can’t charge sick patients more than healthy ones. And they can’t charge the old any more than three times what they charge the young — even though claims costs for the old tend to be five times those of the young.

To cover the cost of caring for the sick, insurance companies had to raise rates across the board.

Obamacare also requires all plans to cover 10 “essential health benefits.” Some people may not want or need some of the benefits — like maternity and pediatric care. But providing comprehensive coverage is expensive for insurers — and they’ve ratcheted up rates accordingly.

Obamacare’s supporters hoped the mandate would draw relatively young and healthy people into the insurance pool to help offset the cost of caring for the aged and infirm. But many people — in the neighborhood of 6 million — chose to pay the fine for being uninsured.

A surprising number of them, about 80 percent, made less than $50,000 a year. For these folks, expensive Obamacare coverage just wasn’t worth its high cost. Blue-state leaders have learned nothing from all this recent history. New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia have all re-imposed individual mandates on their residents. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed doing the same, as have both chambers of the state legislature. In Maryland, a bill that would reinstate the mandate has more than 80 cosponsors. Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Washington are all considering re-imposing the mandate, too.

If their residents wanted expensive Obamacare-approved coverage, they’d buy it. A new mandate doesn’t address their core concern — affordability.

Fortunately, the Trump administration is taking that concern seriously by expanding access to short-term health plans. These policies don’t have to comply with Obamacare’s cost-inflating rules and regulations. They can last up to a year, and insurers can renew them for up to three years.

Consequently, they’re much cheaper. Premiums for short-term plans average about $124 a month — 70 percent less than the unsubsidized cost of a plan for sale on one of Obamacare’s exchanges.

Several blue states have derided these affordable short-term plans as “junk insurance” — and limit or ban their sale. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Democratic leaders, meanwhile, just announced an investigation into the plans and companies, alleging that the insurers and brokers that sell short-term policies are misleading consumers.

Americans have rejected Obamacare’s coercive, one-size-fits-all approach. They want more affordable health insurance, not more mandates. Unfortunately, if they live in a blue state, their leaders aren’t interested in helping them.


Mueller report; The AG sets the record straight in a Senate hearing, while Democrats call for his head

Just when one may have thought Democrats couldn’t possibly get any more obtuse, they decided to go after Attorney General William Barr, claiming he “hid” information from Robert Mueller’s investigation report after he has literally done the opposite. Recall that Barr, in an unprecedented move due to the high level of interest for full transparency, released to the public Mueller’s entire 400-page report, minimally redacted to comply with rules regarding privacy and national security.

The release of Mueller’s report came only a few weeks after Barr’s four-page summary of it in which he correctly concluded that Mueller’s team found no evidence that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia (the whole impetuous for the creation of the special counsel in the first place) and that Mueller left undecided the question as to whether President Donald Trump had engaged in obstruction of justice. Barr determined that there was not sufficient evidence to support a charge of obstruction and therefore declared the case closed. These are the facts, but it is apparent that those afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome reject the facts if they don’t support their feelings.

This reality was on full display even before Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, with The Washington Post conveniently obtaining a “leaked” letter from the Mueller team advancing the narrative that Barr was engaged in a “coverup.” The assertion was asinine on its face, as it ignored the fact that Barr had released the full Mueller report. Furthermore, an unredacted version of the report was made available to senior members of Congress, but thus far only three have bothered to read it, and all three are Republicans. In other words, for all their squawking about a nonexistent “coverup” and lack of transparency, not a single Democrat has taken the opportunity to examine the unredacted report.

Following the five-hour hearing in which Barr handled himself ably and professionally, answering quite sufficiently all questions put to him, Democrats called for his resignation and even suggested his impeachment. Why? We all know the answer by now — Trump Derangement Syndrome. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “He lied to Congress. If anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law.”

The truth is, since Barr followed the facts rather than the anti-Trump narrative, he must be rejected. But what has gotten the Democrats and their Leftmedia cohorts most up in arms was Barr’s effective undercutting of the obstruction narrative.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) demanded to know why Barr didn’t find Trump guilty of obstruction over his instructions to former White House Counsel Don McGahn to get rid of Mueller. Barr noted the context of the situation: “There is a distinction between saying to someone, ‘Go fire him. Go fire Mueller,’ and saying, ‘Have him removed based on conflict.’” Feinstein, seemingly confused, asked what the difference was. Barr answered, “If you remove someone for a conflict of interest, there would presumably be another person [brought in as special counsel].”

Barr then deftly debunked the Democrats’ entire obstruction narrative, stating, “If the president is being falsely accused, which the evidence now suggests, the accusations against him were false and he knew they were false, and he felt that this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents, and was hampering his ability to govern. … That is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel.”

Exactly. But that won’t stop Democrats from churning this for another 18 months.



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)