Friday, August 02, 2019

Robert Mueller’s Feet of Clay

If your knowledge of the Robert Mueller fiasco in the United States is informed by any news service then you are ignorant of the facts. Therefore, let me give you the unvarnished facts as I see them.

First fact: Donald Trump is the most innocent politician in the world. How do I know this, you might ask? Nineteen, Hillary-loving, radical Democrat activists with law degrees, posing as impartial lawyers, investigated the heck out of him for two years on an unlimited budget and with the power to coerce witnesses, to threaten their families, to financially ruin them and to jail them. And yet they came up with squat. There is no other politician in the world who would have survived this kind of inquisition. None. Hence my conclusion that Trump is cleaner than Mother Teresa.

Second fact: Mueller had nothing to do with his own probe. He was titular. He came in each day to have coffee and engage in sheltered-workshop activities. Andrew Weissmann led the probe. He was the de facto Special Counsel. He hired all of the conflicted activists to assist him. He oversaw the writing of the report and the public statement that Mueller made after the report came out; sensibly instructing the doddery Mueller to take no questions about the report of which he had only passing acquaintance.

Third fact: Mueller escaped Weissmann’s supervision to attend Congress where he proceeded not only to reveal his ignorance of the report but of information about the events which precipitated the probe, which he was supposed to have led. For example, he knew nothing of Fusion GPS, the firm commissioned by Clinton’s lawyers to recruit Christopher Steele (the ex-British spy) to find, or as it turned out make up, Russian dirt on Trump.  I doubt you could find a backwoodsman out of telecommunication range with less knowledge.

Fourth fact: The Weissmann report set a French Revolutionary standard of jurisprudence by explicitly finding no prosecutorial evidence of obstruction of justice by the President but of finding insufficient evidence to exonerate him. To wit: the presumption of innocent defenestrated in the space of a few words in a dodgy and tendentious report. Look, take my word for it, I have never murdered anyone but I doubt you could find a court that would completely exonerate me from having ever murdered someone, somewhere, at some time. I’ll just have to live with it.

Fifth fact: It is curious on its face to suggest that someone trying to impede a process designed to bring false charges against him (in this case conspiracy to collude with a foreign power) is obstructing justice. But, be that as it may, Trump’s only ‘crime’ was to sound off in understandable frustration. A thought crime, as Orwell’s Winston Smith might put it. He did nothing of practicality to impede the Weissmann probe. He allowed White House staff to give testimony. He supplied all of the millions of pages of documents requested. He allowed the probe to run its course.

Sixth fact: The Democrats can’t let it go, however baseless is the case against Trump (and, vindictively, his family) because they have nothing else to run on. Theoretically they could run on policies on health care, climate change, inequality and immigration. But, in all of these areas, their agenda has been hijacked by callow far-left fruitcakes; prominently, though not only, by ‘the squad’: Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Thus, you get the complete takeover of health insurance by government and the provision of this insurance at taxpayers’ expense to illegal immigrants; you get the Green New Deal, confiscatory taxation, reparations for descendants of slaves, and open borders. And you see all of the twenty-plus Democratic candidates for president putting up their hands in unison for most or all this agenda; which, without doubt, has President Kennedy turning in his grave and would have only been a wet dream for even President Obama.

Seventh fact: The relentless attack on Trump the man has been become all the more vehement as his polices have produced enormous economic success. And, to rub it in, particular beneficiaries of this success are blacks and Hispanics, whom the Dems like to think are welded on to them. The Dems are caught in a pincer. Fighting against successful policies with looney-tune policies. Distraction is their only option.

Eighth fact: Western civilisation is disintegrating. As just a few disparate examples: witness police in the US being shirt-fronted and doused with water and doing nothing about it because they know that no one has their back among the great and good; witness the erosion of free speech in the UK; witness the overturning of the sanctity of millennia-old traditional marriage in the blink of an eye; witness the inculcation of gender confusion among school children; witness the erosion of the presumption of innocence when it comes to sexual assault allegations; witness Christian and Jewish clerics playing footsie with disciples of a noxious creed; witness economically-damaging and, more critically, culturally-undermining immigration policies. And, finally, in this abridged list, witness identity politics retribalizing nations. However, be sort of comforted, despite all of this woe, things have not yet gone so far downhill that a majority of Americans will vote for suicidal polices or be swayed by patently inane manoeuvrings to impeach Trump.

Ninth and best fact: Trump will win again.



When murders increase, so does support for capital punishment

Jeff Jacoby

WHEN ATTORNEY GENERAL William Barr announced last week that the federal government would resume executing Death Row inmates after a hiatus of more than 16 years, opponents were swift to object.

Within hours of Barr's announcement, Representative Ayanna Pressley introduced a bill to abolish capital punishment for federal crimes. The American Civil Liberties Union said it would challenge the new policy in court. And more than a dozen Democratic presidential candidates condemned the Trump administration and the death penalty. Among them was former Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime supporter of executing murderers who had switched his position just two days earlier.

The Justice Department has scheduled five men to be executed in December and January. Alfred Bourgeois, Dustin Honken, Daniel Lee, Lezmond Mitchell, and Wesley Purkey were all convicted of unspeakably cruel and depraved murders. Their victims ranged in age from 2 to 80, and most were tortured and terrorized before they were killed. There is no question about the guilt of these killers, nor any claim that they have been denied scrupulous due process of law.

Those who deplore Barr's decision make no attempt to argue that these men deserve to live. Instead, they denounced capital punishment itself, and accuse the administration of changing its policy out of "raw political calculus" (Slate) and as "one more stunt to distract Americans" (The Atlantic).

Of course politics were involved in Barr's move. But in carrying out the executions, the federal government will also be doing justice and upholding the rule of law. It wasn't the Trump Administration that convicted and sentenced these killers. It was independent judges and jurors who saw the evidence, observed the witnesses, heard the lawyers, and then concluded — unanimously — not only that the defendants were guilty of capital murder, but that death was the proper punishment.

If anyone is being political, it is Democrats like Biden, who favored the death penalty when it had widespread public support, and didn't turn against it until it became unpopular among Democrats. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1990s, Biden championed a crime bill that created 60 new death penalty offenses. "We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill," he proudly declared at the time. That measure passed by sweeping majorities in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, and was signed into law by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

What has changed since the Clinton era? Why has there been such a marked decline in the share of Americans who say that they support the death penalty for murderers? Death-penalty abolitionists credit themselves with making better, stronger, or more effective arguments. Here's a more likely explanation: Public opinion shifted because of murder rates, not policy debates.

In the 1990s, when Americans approved the death penalty by sky-high percentages, Americans were also being killed with sky-high frequency. There were fewer than 10,000 homicides annually in the United States in the early 1960s, but three decades later there were more than 24,000. The nation's murder rate soared over the same period from 5 per 100,000 to 9.5 per 100,000.

It was against that background that support for capital punishment, which had been falling since the 1950s, began to climb. In 1966, Gallup found that only 42 percent of the public favored executing murderers: an all-time low. In 1994, the year Clinton signed that crime bill, pro-death-penalty sentiment had risen to 80 percent: an all-time high.

And just as Americans embraced the death penalty when killings were on the rise, they backed away from it as killings decreased.

After hitting 9.5 in 1994, the murder rate began a downward plunge that criminologists are still trying to understand. It sank all the way to 4.4 in 2014 — and as it did, so did public approval of the death penalty. According to the Pew Research Center, the fraction of Americans supporting capital punishment dropped to 49 percent in 2016, the lowest level in four decades.

And since then? In 2014, the pendulum shifted again. Murders and the murder rate began moving back up. Sure enough, support for the death penalty did too. It rose to 54 percent in 2018.

To be sure, correlation doesn't prove causation. But six decades of correlation are hard to discount: The willingness of the public to put murderers to death rises and falls with the threat murderers pose. If homicides are back on an upward trend, more and more Americans will want killers put to death — and more and more politicians will decide they do, too.



A Sign of Hope for Affordable Health Care

The forthcoming rule will allow employees to pay for their health care needs using funds deposited by their employer.

A final rule on health reimbursement arrangements set to take effect in August could expand opportunities for American workers and their families to attain affordable health care, increase access to health care for employees of small businesses, and create new competitive market forces that will increase coverage charges for all.

The rule, which would loosen many of the restrictions that have limited the scope and utility of health reimbursement arrangements, represents a large step in shifting the rigid defined-benefits insurance structure toward a defined-contributions structure that allows patients to direct their health care spending.

“We want more decision-making and power in the hands of the consumer and worker over how to finance their health care,” said Brian Blase of the National Economic Council in summarizing the goal of the rule change.

A health reimbursement arrangement is an employer-based, tax-advantaged account that allows employees to pay for their health care needs using funds deposited by their employer. Employees can then use the funds to pay for health care expenses as agreed upon with the employer in the terms of the arrangement.

Funds deposited by the employer will not be taxed, and funds used by employees will not be taxed as income. Furthermore, funds in the account may roll over year to year depending on the terms set by the employer.

This rule change will create two new health reimbursement arrangements—the individual coverage HRA and the excepted benefits HRA—and allow funds in a health reimbursement arrangement to be applied to purchasing health insurance plans.

Small employers who cannot afford a traditional group plan, or employees dissatisfied with their employer’s group health plan, instead can be offered a health reimbursement arrangement to purchase a plan from the individual market.

Health reimbursement arrangements, which don’t have the administrative expenses of normal health insurance plans, can be much less costly than traditional employer-based group health insurance, an important consideration for small businesses.

Blase said a quarter of small businesses in 2010 stopped offering health insurance, and he expects changes in this rule will reverse that trend. In fact, he expects that in five years, 800,000 businesses will take advantage of these new plans, and 90% will be small businesses, covering 90 million workers and their dependents.

The administration expects that with hundreds of thousands of new consumers shopping for individual plans, the individual market will expand and grow robust competition in favor of the consumer.

Excepted benefits HRAs, capped at $1,800 annually, can be used for benefits that are exempted from the Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act provisions and, importantly, can be used to purchase limited-duration health insurance plans.

Because they are exempted from minimum essential coverage requirements, these plans can be offered at low prices with high deductibles but broad networks.

Excepted benefits arrangements must be offered along with traditional group plans. An employee who turns down an employer’s traditional group plan would be able to use tax-advantaged funds in an excepted benefits plan to purchase a short-term limited-duration plan.

Blase noted 27% of employees of small businesses choose to turn down their employer’s group health plan because it was a bad fit for their individual needs.

With an excepted benefits plan, employers still will be able to contribute to employee health even if they turn down the employer’s group health plan, giving both employee and employer increased flexibility in their health care choices.

In August 2018, the administration finalized changes to rules governing short-term limited-duration plans to make them less cumbersome to use, lengthening their maximum duration to one year, renewable up to three years. The previous administration had limited these plans to no longer than three months.

Individual Coverage HRAs, in contrast to excepted benefits plans, have no limits on tax-advantaged contributions. They can be used to cover out-of-pocket expenses or services not otherwise covered by an existing health insurance plan. The new rule should make them much more practical and easy to use.

The Affordable Care Act added certain provisions to the Public Health Service Act that were nearly impossible for health reimbursement arrangement to comply with, including a ban on annual and lifetime limits on spending, and the requirement to cover a large selection of preventative health services without cost sharing.

These plans also were not previously integrated with individual market plans, so they would be ineligible even if used to purchase a fully compliant health plan on the individual market.

As long as health reimbursement arrangement funds are used to purchase a compliant plan on the individual market, it will satisfy the requirements of the Public Health Service Act under the new rule.

According to Blase, compliant plans “can be grandfathered coverage … on Obamacare exchange coverage, or off Obamacare exchange coverage.”

He said the administration expected “the vast majority of people” would “use the individual coverage HRA to purchase an Obamacare plan off the exchange.”

Blase said the rules could do for health coverage what 401(k) and 403(b) did for retirement planning. This rule change greatly expands the potential uses of these accounts and makes it much more affordable for small businesses to offer their employees health care coverage.

If Blase’s expectations pan out, Americans will be directing a large part of their own health care spending, shifting the market power away from the insurance companies to patients, where it belongs.



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, August 01, 2019

Democrats slowly giving money for the wall

Brick by brick, figuratively speaking, with a serious assist from the Supreme Court ruling that reprogramming $2.5 billion of counter-narcotics monies may be used, Donald Trump is fulfilling his promise to get the southern border wall built.

In a 5 to 4 decision to stay an injunction by a federal district court that sought to slow down usage of the funds from the Department of Defense, the nation’s highest court said, “the Government has made a sufficient showing at this stage that the plaintiffs have no cause of action to obtain review of the Acting Secretary’s compliance with Section 8005” of the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019.

That’s because the law is clear. It states in part “Upon determination by the Secretary of Defense that such action is necessary in the national interest, he may, with the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, transfer not to exceed $4,000,000,000 of working capital funds of the Department of Defense or funds made available in this Act to the Department of Defense for military functions (except military construction) between such appropriations or funds or any subdivision thereof, to be merged with and to be available for the same purposes, and for the same time period, as the appropriation or fund to which transferred…”

The $2.5 billion specific to the court case were to be used for enforcing 10 U.S.C. Section 284(B)(7), entitled, “Support for counterdrug activities and activities to counter transnational organized crime,” which explicitly authorizes “Construction of roads and fences … to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States.”

In other words, the case was such a slam dunk for the federal government that Supreme Court majority chuckled it out of court stating there was simply “no cause of action” to enjoin the spending of the monies. The plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case in the first place. The outcome is that the money will be spent and Trump will get some new wall built.

It also likely means that the legal cases for the rest of the $5.6 billion Trump reprogrammed from military construction and other funds will similarly be upheld. The White House had also identified “[a]bout $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund… [and u]p to $3.6 billion reallocated from Department of Defense military construction projects under the President’s declaration of a national emergency (Title 10 United States Code, section 2808)…” that is reprogrammable under federal law.

That comes atop the $1.6 billion that Congress passed in 2018 for replacing existing fencing with new steel barriers and the $1.375 billion in 2019 for more steel barriers that was approved after the partial government shutdown earlier this year.

It also comes after Congress voted for another $4.5 billion the Trump administration had requested to deal with the humanitarian crisis on the border.

While some critics are moaning about the decision, given the law it was all but inevitable. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained on Twitter, “This evening’s Supreme Court ruling allowing @realDonaldTrump to steal military funds to spend on a wasteful, ineffective border wall rejected by Congress is deeply flawed. Our Founders designed a democracy governed by the people — not a monarchy.”

Here’s the best part: Democrats voted for all of it. Specifically, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, the bill which allowed the $2.5 billion for counter-narcotics barriers to be built, passed with 185 Democrats voting in the affirmative in the House. Every Democrat except for Sen. Bernie Sanders voted for it in the Senate. Similarly, overwhelming Democratic majorities voted for all the aforementioned bills as well.

Meaning, in 2020 when Democrats are promising to tear down Trump’s wall, which is getting built — the Army Corps of Engineers reports about 450 miles will be completed by the end of 2020 — they’ll have to first explain why they voted for it in the first place.

They built that.



Is it Trump who has driven the Democrats to the far Left?

From a Leftist writer

IN THE EARLY-morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 - the shock of the biggest political upset in modern American history still fresh - the president-elect took the stage at a hotel in midtown Manhattan and made a pledge to all the unemployed factory workers and struggling waitresses at the mythic heart of his campaign.

"The forgotten men and women of our country," he said, "will be forgotten no longer."

He was hardly the first politician to speak to the economic anxieties of the 21st-century American voter.

But he harnessed those anxieties like no one else, smashing both the Bush and Clinton dynasties in a matter of months - and dealing a grievous blow to the Washington consensus they represented.

Power, it was now clear, could be found - maybe must be found - in the rubble of the American Dream.

Trump's economic message was, not so subtly, a racial one, too. His "forgotten men and women" were unmistakably white - a patriotic petit bourgeois set apart from the "rapists" he insisted were pouring over the Mexican border and the Black Lives Matter protesters who hated their country.

Trump, of course, did not conjure American racism, any more than he conjured our industrial decay or the bad behavior that led to the #MeToo revolt. And he has done little to solve these problems; on the contrary, he's done everything he can to exploit them.

But he has done more than any single figure of the last half-century to put these challenges - the essential challenges of post-industrial, post-civil-rights-era America - at the center of our politics. He has forced a reckoning. And only now are we glimpsing its startling potential.

Start with race. Much of the focus, these past couple of weeks, has been on the political right - on the contemptible failure of mainstream Republican politicians to call out the president's racist slander of "the Squad."

But if the party had been truly Trumpified on race, leading Republicans like Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy would be offering full-throated endorsements of the president's comments, rather than tepid - if still despicable - half-embraces. "The president," the two leaders said, in identical statements, "is not a racist."

It seems likely that, after Trump leaves office, the GOP will more or less return to its previous posture on race - hardly enlightened, but not so openly, and corrosively, cruel.

The real action is on the left.  Trump's rise, as Jess McIntosh, a Democratic strategist and former senior adviser on Hillary Clinton's campaign, told me, "crystallized a problem that many people of color have known about for a very long time - but that a lot of white progressives were simply surprised by."

There is, indeed, ample evidence that rank-and-file Democrats have been repelled - and galvanized - by Trump's race baiting.

One study showed that Clinton voters' views on race actually shifted more sharply than Trump voters' in 2016, with white liberal sympathy toward minority groups "soar[ing] to the highest levels ever recorded" and support for policies like affirmative action surging.

Another survey showed a sharp spike in the share of white Democrats who believe inequality is caused by discrimination, rather than individuals' lack of initiative.

And a 2017 analysis by the Pew Research Center shows that Democrats, always more concerned about prejudice than Republicans, are now twice as likely to call racism "a big problem" - the gap between the two parties more than doubling after Trump's election.

The heightened, party-wide concern appears to be playing out in the Democratic presidential primary.

It's telling that the first major shift in the race, the shrinking of former vice president Joe Biden's once-yawning lead in the polls, came in the face of a highly charged confrontation over race, with Senator Kamala Harris taking a headline-grabbing swipe at the front-runner over his decades-old opposition to busing.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day," Harris said, in the first round of debates. "That little girl was me."

That it was busing that shook up the contest - an idea that even the most liberal Democrats have kept at a safe remove for decades - speaks to the sharpness of the Trump-era turn.

And now that the Democratic contest has opened up - now that a Harris, or Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, or Pete Buttigieg, or Cory Booker victory seems plausible - the transformative potential of the field's racial justice proposals has come into focus.

Take Warren, the Massachusetts senator who has staked her campaign on a fierce critique of inequity. She's calling for $7 billion in grants for entrepreneurs of color. That's start-up capital for an estimated 100,000 businesses - and a serious attempt at narrowing a racial wealth gap that can only be called grotesque.

The median white family in this country now has 10 times more wealth than the median black family, according to the Federal Reserve; and almost 1 in 5 black families have zero or negative wealth. "Because the government helped create the wealth gap with decades of sanctioned discrimination," Warren said, when she announced the plan, "the government has an obligation to address it head on - with bold policies that go right at the heart of the problem."

Many of her rivals for the Democratic nomination seem to agree. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., has proposed a sprawling "Douglass Plan," named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, that would establish a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs, invest sizable sums in historically black colleges, and aim to cut the disproportionately black and Latino prison population in half.

The size of the program is stunning; Buttigieg says it would be on the order of the Marshall Plan, which saw the United States put about $100 billion in today's dollars toward the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.

A plan of that size is unlikely to make it through even a Democratic-controlled Congress. But even one-tenth of the spending - on some of the less controversial proposals - could have a significant impact.

What may be the most intriguing idea in the entire contest would be even cheaper on an annual basis: Booker's "baby bonds" proposal, which would provide every child born in the United States with a $1,000 savings account.

The US senator from New Jersey would tier the government's annual contributions by family income; a child growing up in a family of four earning less than $25,100 would get $2,000 per year, with the amount lowered as families move up the income ladder.

Recipients, who could access the money at age 18, would only be allowed to spend it on "wealth-building" activities like paying for education, investing in a business, or buying a home.

The proposal is race-neutral, which is politically advantageous; many of the struggling white families in Appalachia and the Midwest who supported Trump would benefit. But a study by a Columbia University researcher shows that, with its tilt toward low-income families, it would nearly eliminate the wealth gap separating black and white young people.

That would have to count among the most powerful blows for racial equality since the civil rights movement.

Booker would cover the $60 billion annual cost by closing capital gains tax loopholes, imposing a surtax on very wealthy estates, and restoring the estate tax rate to 2009 levels; in short, he would transfer wealth from the rich to the middle class and the poor.

And that's a theme that runs through the Democratic candidates' approaches to the second great concern of the Trump era: an economy that increasingly favors the affluent at the expense of the rest.

From World War II to the 1970s, income gains were broadly shared up and down the economic ladder. But from 1979 to 2017, the top 1 percent saw their real annual wages increase by 157 percent, while the average American's purchasing power stalled.

Here again, Democratic voters are moving left. The share who say government should do more to help the needy has spiked since 2011 - with a particularly sharp uptick since Trump came on the scene. And there's overwhelming support for taxing the rich.

Warren's wealth tax is among the most sweeping proposals. She would put a 2 percent levy on fortunes of more than $50 million and a 3 percent levy on those of $1 billion or more. There are some legitimate questions about whether the super-rich would find ways to evade the tax; that is, in part, why wealth taxes are falling out of favor in many of the world's richest countries. But if Warren can extract anything like the $2.75 trillion over 10 years that her advisers estimate, it could make a real difference in the lives of the lower-income people she aims to help.

Even the "moderate" candidates in the race are proposing measures unlike anything on offer in the 2016 presidential primary - putting billions of dollars directly in the pockets of poor and middle-class people.

One such proposal, Harris's "Rent Relief Act," offers a refundable tax credit for those making $100,000 or less and spending at least 30 percent of their income on rent - going right at the biggest and most painful expense for many urban families. The program, according to a Columbia University study, would lift some 7.8 million people out of poverty.

It's the sort of tangible benefit for working people that is rarely taken up in Washington. And suddenly, it seems possible.

WOULD HARRIS HAVE proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for the poor, even if Trump weren't president?

Would most of the leading Democratic candidates for president be voicing support for some form of reparations for slavery, an idea that the country's first black president, Barack Obama, and the party's 2016 nominee, Clinton, explicitly rejected?

Maybe. Politics are, in no small part, a product of their time - and this is a time of gross inequality.

But politics are also highly contingent, shaped by the particular personalities in power. Bill Clinton gave us George W. Bush, who gave us Barack Obama, who gave us Donald Trump. And the peculiar personality in the White House right now offers the country a rare opportunity to tackle some of its biggest problems.

Where most Republican politicians elide questions of race and economic inequity - or search for subtle ways to exploit them - this one has tossed them, raw and quivering, into the public square. At the same time, he's built one of the least popular first-term presidencies of our time.

That combination has opened the door to the sort of challenger who would normally struggle to get traction: a genuine change agent. And liberal activists like Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is backing Warren, are determined to take advantage.

"Things have been so bad under Donald Trump - norms are shattered and people are hurting - that we actually have an opportunity to put someone genuinely inspiring and transformational in there," he said. "Why cut ourselves short by settling for someone who is merely going to return us to the status quo?"

But the choice is not quite as simple as Green suggests. His status quo "someone" - Joe Biden, of course - has been tacking to the left on some of the issues that liberals care about most.

When the former vice president teased a "middle ground" approach to climate policy in April, he faced an avalanche of criticism from environmentalists and lawmakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, co-author of the "Green New Deal."

"This is a deal breaker," she tweeted. "There is no `middle ground' w/ climate denial & delay."

But the plan Biden eventually released went much further than anything the Obama administration ever pursued. And it was on par with his opponents' most ambitious approaches: $1.7 trillion in spending, a tax on planet-warming pollutants, and a goal of eliminating the country's net carbon emissions by 2050.

That sort of proposal presents progressives with a genuine quandary: With polls showing Biden performing better in head-to-head matchups with Trump than his Democratic rivals, should they be so quick to dismiss him?

There is also the question of governing. If someone like Warren took the White House - and managed to win a thin Democratic majority in Congress along the way - she would probably have to sweep away the Senate filibuster to have any reasonable shot at pushing through her ambitious agenda. And that would be a challenge.

Several Democratic senators have voiced misgivings about such a move, worried that the next Republican majority would be empowered to gut some of the country's most important social programs.

Ultimately though, the arguments for a more cautious approach aren't as strong as they seem. On the electoral front, Biden is not the safe bet his supporters suggest. He's been a weak campaigner in the past. And recent experience suggests that candidates who stir voters' passions - candidates like Obama and Trump - are more likely to prevail in general elections.

The latest polls show Warren and Sanders leading the president. And it's not clear liberal candidates would cede so much ground to Trump in the center, given that he seems unwilling - or unable - to moderate.

When it comes to governing, the filibuster may not be the critical safeguard some Democrats suggest.

The fact is, in the early part of the Trump administration, Senate Republicans could have used a process known as "budget reconciliation" to gut Obamacare and slash Medicare on a simple majority vote. But they weren't able to summon the political will. Why? The programs they targeted are too popular. They've helped curb the worst excesses of our market economy. They've lifted millions out of poverty. And their example may be the best argument we have for going big this election season.



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, July 31, 2019

‘National Conservatives’ Set Out to Define Future of Politics on Right

What is the future of conservatism in America? That was the subject of consideration last week as scholars, thinkers, and attendees gathered at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C. Speakers gave special focus to the future of America and conservatism in the age of Trump.

The conference featured an eclectic group of speakers, from TV personality Tucker Carlson to tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, to Sen. Josh Hawley, the freshman Republican from Missouri.

Though speakers differed in their definitions of “nationalism” and what policies are needed for the future, they agreed on several big themes: National sovereignty is a huge issue of growing importance around the world, identity politics erodes national unity, and cultural issues are ascendant.

Perhaps most importantly, the conference highlighted how both major parties failed to address the concerns of a huge swath of voters, which led to the election of Donald Trump.

How We Got Here

Salena Zito, a Washington Examiner columnist and co-author of “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics,” said the most important thing that she’s learned through her reporting is that “what happened in 2016, Donald Trump did not cause. He is the result of it.”

Party leaders, the media, and America’s elite entirely missed the warning signs that a huge electoral shakeup was coming.

Zito said she realized something was changing in America back in 2006 when Democrats swept the midterm elections during the presidency of George W. Bush. Social conservatives who felt disconnected from the Republican Party over the Iraq War and the party’s economic policies turned out for the Democratic Party to send a message.

Yet these voters were soon disappointed by the Democrats who went on to spend an enormous amount on programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP), “Cash for Clunkers,” various bailouts, the economic stimulus, and Obamacare. These voters threw out the Democrats in 2010 in another wave election.

These signs should have been a warning, Zito said, that a huge electoral shakeup was coming for a presidential candidate who could tap into this populist energy. Ultimately, it was Trump who filled that void.

This populist angst wasn’t new to America, Zito said. In the 1890s, America went through a similar set of convulsive wave elections as the country dealt with the economic changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution, and voters sought answers from their leaders.

Many voters today face a similar economic anxiety as the technological revolution reshapes the economy. American society has also been rocked by cultural dissolution, such as the erosion of families and the opioid epidemic.

While the dominant narrative is that these voters are “angry,” this isn’t really the case, Zito said. Many of Trump’s voters were doing fine economically and socially and were personally content.

What these voters were looking for was leaders who affirmed “the dignity of work” and emphasized the community, Zito said. These voters looked around and saw their communities disintegrating.

The populist-conservative coalition that brought Trump to the presidency in 2016 is here to stay, she said.

“It is ripe with opportunity for conservatives from the old guard to bring them together with the ideas and ideals that are important to you, but it is also ripe with opportunities for them to show you what life has been like outside of the major urban centers,” Zito said.

National Unity vs. Identitarian Division

As many speakers at the conference noted, a major source of national disintegration and anxiety is the rise of identity politics, which threatens the idea of “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one.”

The left has maligned the concept of the “nation,” an idea that has been a source for much good, several speakers noted. The nation has not only enabled human flourishing, but has often placed an important check on to tribalism.

Critics of nationalism, noted Mary Eberstadt, a writer and fellow at the Hoover Institution, have offered no real alternative as a way to organize society. Eberstadt asked in her remarks, “What, after all, is an alternative to nationalism?”

“Anti-nationalism? Antipathy to one’s fellow citizens because they are one’s fellow citizens? Pathological aversion to one’s own country? A narcissistic flight to group identities that treat everyone outside those identities as somehow un-American? The questions answer themselves,” Eberstadt said.

The rise of modern identity politics is highly corrosive to the country, said David Azerrad, director of The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. It teaches nothing but grievance for those deemed to be oppressed, and self-flagellation for those deemed to be oppressors.

“The net effect of this relentless identitarian propaganda is to encourage passive resignation in the American people,” Azerrad said. “The goal is to get us to believe that identity politics is the engine that drives history with a capital ‘H,’ and that we must all submit to it.”

“To put it simply, identity politics is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of a nation,” Azerrad said.

The end result of it will be disunity and tribalism, he added. The only way to counteract this inevitability is to “accentuate our common ties as Americans.”

To counter the advance of identity politics, Azerrad suggested taking cues from Trump: We should boldly confront “identitarian fanaticism” and give a “spirited defense of civic nationalism.”

Competing Views of Nationalism

The conference, in part, focused on setting national conservatism apart from other kinds of “conservatism,” especially libertarianism. Many of the speakers advocated government intervention to address certain societal problems in a way that libertarians tend to reject.

Speakers such as “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance and Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson blasted what they considered the libertarian bent of conservative politics in recent decades.

“I believe that conservatives have outsourced our economic and domestic policy thinking to libertarians,” Vance said. “… What I’m going after in my talk is this view that so long as public outcomes and social goods are produced by free individual choices, we shouldn’t be too concerned about what those goods ultimately produce.”

In his remarks, Carlson said: “The main threat to your ability to live your life as you choose does not come from the government anymore, but it comes from the private sector.”

There was also some clear disagreement among the panelists about how to define “national conservatism.”

Yoram Hazony, author of “The Virtue of Nationalism,” explained why he believes it is necessary to restore nationalism as a vital, positive concept and expressed skepticism toward abstract or universal ideas as the basis for politics.

Hazony defined “national conservatives” as people who are “united in rejecting the idea of universal liberal empire,” and who reject the lens that views the world in terms of an economics of individualism, where political problems are reduced to economic theory.

The real political world, according to Hazony, is not simply comprised of atomized “free-choosing individuals.”

“The real political world is one of competing tribes and nations, it’s the real existence of tribes and nations that generates political phenomena such as national borders, independent national governments, national traditions, national cohesion, and national dissolution,” Hazony said.

Not everyone shared this exact account of “nationalism,” though.

Charles Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont-McKenna College in California, said that defining nationalism or national conservatism involves some paradoxes and gave some critiques of Hazony’s perspective.

Kesler argued that national tradition is simply not enough to carry the nation forward, that ideas still matter in how we define a positive kind of nationalism.

When nationalism is turned into an “ism,” Kesler said, “you are tending to diminish the distinctiveness of each nation.”

America, for instance, has a distinct history and creedal elements that set it apart from Europe, Kesler said. He argued that it’s impossible to separate America’s national self from its creedal nature, and it would be unwise to do so.

Kesler set himself apart from those who would define America purely on the basis of an idea or on a culture.

After all, Kesler said, the American founding rejected certain Anglo-Protestant cultural traditions—it did away with kings, lords, and an established national church—even though some cultural norms, like the English language, were preserved.

The American creed developed organically from within, but also against the predominant Anglo-American culture.

“The Revolution justified itself ultimately by an appeal to human nature, not to culture,” Kesler said. “And in the name of human nature and the American people, and God as supreme creator and lawgiver, judge, and executive, the revolutionaries set out to form an American union with its own culture.”

The cultural approach to natural identity, Kesler said, ultimately runs into problems if one doesn’t make distinctions between cultures.

Today, liberalism has set itself against America’s founding ideas. Progressives have jettisoned the timeless creed of the founding and adopted an evolving doctrine of progress.

To defeat this progressivism, America needs not just a tribal or national identity, but a cultural one.

“The American creed is the capstone of American identity, but it requires a culture to sustain it,” Kesler concluded. “And our task as national conservatives—nationalist conservatives—is to recognize the indispensability of the creed but also the absolute necessity of a hospitable culture, which combined with political wisdom can help shape a people to live up to its own principles.”



After race hustler Sharpton calls out Donald Trump’s racism, Trump calls him a ‘troublemaker’

​President Trump laid into the Reverend Al Sharpton on Monday, calling him a “conman, a troublemaker” after the civil rights activist announced he would hold ​a ​news conference to talk about the president’s comments about Baltimore.

​”I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He ​​loved Trump! ​’ He would ask me for favours often​,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter about the founder of the National Action Network, the New York Post reported. “Al is a conman, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops! ​”

Mr Sharpton announced on his Twitter account late Sunday that he and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who was also a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, would “address Mr Trump’s remarks & Bi-Partisan [sic] outrage in the black community.”

He responded via Twitter.  Reverend Al Sharpton:

“Trump says I’m a troublemaker & conman. I do make trouble for bigots. If he really thought I was a conman he would want me in his cabinet,” Mr Sharpton posted.

The president, in his string of tweets on Monday, continued to take aim at politician Elijah Cummings after describing his Maryland congressional district as a “rat and rodent infested mess” over the weekend.

“Baltimore, under the leadership of Elijah Cummings, has the worst Crime Statistics in the Nation. 25 years of all talk, no action! So tired of listening to the same old Bull … Next, Reverend Al will show up to complain & protest,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Nothing will get done for the people in need. Sad!”



Congress should learn from EU failed sugar experiment and reciprocally end subsides globally

By Rick Manning

The European Union succumbed to pressure from its candy industry and foreign sugar exporters to unilaterally end sugar subsidies in 2006 with the promise that consumers would be the big winners, an argument that is all too frequently heard in the halls of Congress.  Now, with the benefit of hindsight, the EU experiment can be put to rest as an abject failure.

A series of studies by Patrick Chatenay, the President of ProSunergy (UK) Ltd, conducted over the past thirteen years have shown that while initially prices did go down as foreign subsidized sugar flooded the market, as the European sugar producers were wiped out, prices climbed by 2012 to, “10% above what they were before the reform.  As any business manager will tell you, additional risk entails additional costs.  Since the end of 2010, the EU sugar market has been characterized by high and volatile prices, and a shortage of supplies – thus mirroring world market gyrations.  The sugar users who lobbied hard for the reform – companies such as Nestle, Coca-Cola and Kraft – are complaining just as loudly as before.”

The job costs in the first six years of the disastrous experiment totaled 120,000, as the unilateral action caused 83 sugar mills to close across the continent.

Because Newton’s Third Law of Physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, seems to apply to political swings, the European Union’s reaction to the job losses and the new dependency upon foreign sugar exporters was equally catastrophic as the EU put sugar subsidies back in place to the tune of $665 million a year in 2015.

To make matters even worse, Chatenay reports in a newly released report titled, “The European Union Sugar Industry at World Market Prices” that the remaining, weakened European sugar producers are continually pressured by an approximately 20 percent drop in prices which Chatenay predicts will lead to an additional “10 to 20 sugar (EU) factories closing within 5 years…”

Shockingly, or perhaps not, while the sugar producers are getting crushed in the system wrought by the initial unilateral ending of sugar subsidies, Chatenay identifies the large industrial sugar buyers as huge winners having gaining $3.4 billion, “with no discernable advantage” to the consumer.

Pretty sweet deal for Nestle and others, but for European taxpayers and the actual people who grow and process European sugar, it has been a nightmare with the consumer seeing little to no benefit.

While this outcome probably doesn’t surprise anyone who pays attention to corporate cronyism in America, there is a better, smarter path to ending sugar and other agricultural subsidies using the basic trade rule of seeking international reciprocity rather than engaging in the unilateral dropping of government subsidies.

Representative Ted Yoho, (R-Fla.) has legislation known as Zero for Zero, through which the U.S. government would end sugar subsidies upon the President certifying that other countries had done the same.  By providing up front Congressional action, U.S. government representatives will have a powerful negotiating tool to gain reciprocal actions from other sugar exporting nations.

It is time for conservatives to rally behind the Zero for Zero plan as it provides a rational road toward ending subsidies without destroying U.S. sugar producers due to unfair trade practices.

And President Trump with his emphasis on establishing fair, reciprocal trade agreements with economic partners around the globe is the right person to end sugar and many other agricultural subsidies if Congress will just take the bold step of giving him the cudgel of already approved sugar subsidy elimination contingent upon our trading partners doing the same.

Europe tried the unilateral approach and the only beneficiaries were heavily subsidized foreign sugar producers like Brazil and industrial sugar buyers who raked in billions at the expense of farmers and more than 100,000 jobs, while the consumer saw little to no benefit.

It is time for Congress to get smart, learn from the mistakes of the EU, and adopt the Yoho bill. Let’s give President Trump the tool he needs to end sugar subsidies, while keeping America’s farmers strong and competitive.



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, July 30, 2019

I am not going to name any of them but many conservative writers have recently posted strong criticisms of the Trump/Pelosi spending deal

The spending being envisaged goes far beyond  what taxes will bring in so where is the money coming from?

There are two answers to that:  Borrowing money and simply printing any extra money you need.  But you can't do that! many people will say.  You just can't print money willy nilly!  Sadly, you can -- if you are President of the United States or some other country.  And ever since the gold standard was abolished, all governments have been doing just that.  Normally, however, governments are pretty cautious about how much new money they create. Milton Friedman's recommendation that the money supply should be expanded by no more than 4% p.a. is normally somewhere in the ballpark.

Obama, however, really got the bit between his teeth and created a huge pile of new money.  He was no Friedmanite and if he wanted to spend money on something he spent it.  And the media stayed Shtumm about it.

Now normally, that should have created galloping inflation.  The buying power of the greenback should have dropped sharply.  In Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe and Venezuela that has happened.  Runaway spending shot all prices up to previously unimagined levels, which completely destroyed people's savings.  Even big savings could no longer buy much.  Money that could once have bought a car might now only buy you a cup of coffee.

So why has that not happened in the USA? That's the big question.  Economists have no clear answer to it.  Some of the new money has gone into increased real estate prices and some has gone into historically low interest rates and some has gone into increased reserves held by financial institutions but there must be something more.  But what? And how long will the party go on?  Nobody knows.

But Trump is a qualified economist so he can see clearly what has happened and has decided that he will join the party.  He has decided that Obama must not have all the fun.  So he is in fact set to outspend Obama, which gives all conservative economists severe heartburn.

So is he wrong?  Is he building up a financial disaster for all Americans? Conventional economic theory says he is but actual practice in the Obama era says he isn't.  We are in an era of great gaps between economic theory and economic reality.  But that gap does create an opportunity for "free" infrastructure spending.  Obame spent the "free" money he created on gifts to Iran etc. So big infrastructure spending is at least a lot better than that.  Trump is simply using the time-out from economic orthodoxy on projects which will have lasting value.  He is very canny to have seen the opportunity and seized it.  He should be congratulated, not condemned for his wise spending  -- JR.


CNN anchor Victor Blackwell chokes up on air after Trump rips ‘infested’ Baltimore

Blackwell seems to think that "whitey" is to blame.  How about placing blame on those who live there -- mainly blacks and their usual high crime-rate -- and those who have run the city for many years: the Democrats

A CNN anchor got choked up on air Saturday after President Trump ripped Rep. Elijah Cummings and the city, calling it “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

“Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times. He’s insulted thousands of people, many different types of people. But when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people,” Victor Blackwell said.

“The president says about Congressman Cummings’ district that no human would want to live there,” Blackwell continued.

“You know who did, Mr. President? I did, from the day I was brought home from the hospital to the day I left for college, and a lot of people I care about still do.”



'Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco': Trump now attacks the House Speaker's city following his stinging attack on Baltimore and says Democrats 'always play the race card'

President Donald Trump is defending his verbal attack on the city of Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings and has taken to Twitter to revile Nancy Pelosi and her district of San Francisco.

Trump sparked outrage on Saturday when he blasted Baltimore as a 'disgusting, rodent-infested mess' and Cummings as 'brutal bully', leading Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats to condemn the president for his harsh words.

But the president seemed unfazed and shifted his focus to Pelosi on Sunday writing, 'Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco', adding 'it's not even recognizable lately'.

On Saturday Nancy Pelosi, who was born in Baltimore and is the daughter of a former Baltimore Mayor, came to Cummings' defense on Twitter.

'@RepCummings is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague. We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership,' she tweeted.

But Trump took her tweet as a chance to criticize her and call her a racist.

'Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party, that there is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore. Just take a look, facts speak far louder than words!'

'Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizeable lately. Something must be done before it is too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!

He was likely referencing San Francisco's homelessness crisis that counted over 8,000 homeless people in the streets, according to a January tally. 

Trump also blasted Democrats for 'playing the Race Card' and making him out to be a racist for his digs at Cummings, who is black.

'The Democrats always play the Race Card, when in fact they have done so little for our Nation’s great African American people. Now, lowest unemployment in U.S. history, and only getting better. Elijah Cummings has failed badly!' he tweeted.

Trump first launched his Twitter attack on Cummings on Saturday after the Democrat criticized conditions at the Southern border.

The outraged president defended the border detention centers as 'clean, efficient and well run, just very crowded', calling the camps superior to Cummings' own district in Maryland.

'Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place,' Trump tweeted.

'Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!' he added.



Bernie Sanders criticizes Trump for his 'racist' comments about Baltimore – four years after he compared the city to a 'Third World Country'

Bernie Sanders has launched a scathing criticism of the president following Trump's 'racist' remarks about 'rat infested' Baltimore - four years after he compared the city to a 'Third World Country'.

When Sanders was asked about the president's remarks, the senator said it was 'unbelievable that we have a President of the United States who attacks American cities, who attacks Americans, who attacks somebody who is a friend of mine.'

But a clip recorded on the campaign trail in 2015, during Sanders' first attempt to lead the Democrats, captured the candidate suggest the area showed no signs of being within a developed economy, referring to infrastructure and jobs.

The clip was dug up by a Twitter account called Trump's War Room and was shared in the wake of the backlash Trump received for saying Rep. Elijah Cummings' district was rat 'infested.'

Sanders' full comments at the time were: 'Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you're in a wealthy nation. You would think that you were in a Third World country.

'But today what we're talking about is a community in which half of the people don't have jobs. We're talking about a community in which there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable.'

The comments were not the first time Sanders singled out the congressional district for particular criticism. In 2016 he again used Baltimore as an example of the America's disproportionate distribution of wealth.



Elizabeth Warren wants to break up big tech. Its workers don't want to break up with her

Twenty years ago, Jeff Few joined Amazon when it was still an upstart, aiming to break the grip of behemoths such as Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster in the market for books and movies.

"I saw it as this force that would finally enable something closer to a direct democracy," Few recalled.

Now, Amazon is a titan of e-commerce, and Few, who lives in Seattle and went on to work for Apple and Adobe, has embraced, and donated $300 to, a Democratic presidential candidate who has fiercely criticized his industry and called for the breakup of its biggest players - Senator Elizabeth Warren.

He is far from alone among tech employees. Although Warren has painted tech giants such as Google and Facebook as modern-day villains in her scathing picture of the American economy, she is emerging as a top choice for donations from tech workers, according to an analysis of campaign contributions by The Boston Globe.

With her denunciations of big tech and corporate greed, Warren has tapped into simmering discontent within the industry itself about the size, power, and ethics of its companies. So, while tech executives have often resisted calls from Washington to regulate the industry, employees are contributing to Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the candidates with the most aggressive positions on corporate oversight.

"I agree tech companies are becoming increasingly powerful," said Vicki Tardif, who works on search products at Google and helped organize a major protest there last fall. She says she has contributed to Warren. "I'm a citizen first - I'm a Google employee second."

Looking at just the big four tech companies that she wants to break apart - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google - and some of their affiliates, Warren received some $144,000 in itemized donations from their employees over the first six months of the year.

Warren has been a particularly vocal critic of big tech in recent months. In March, she detailed a plan that would require the biggest companies - those with annual revenue of $25 billion - to separate their technology platforms from their e-commerce activities. So Google's massive ad-sales operation would split off from its ubiquitous search engine; Amazon could not have both an e-commerce platform and a sales business on it.

Warren looks to be setting the tone in a Democratic field that is generally taking a harder line toward the industry. Former vice president Joe Biden and Harris have said it is worth taking a look at her plan, but stopped short of a full-throated endorsement. Buttigieg has said he "potentially" agrees with it, but, during a town hall in March, raised questions about other aspects of big tech: "It's not how big they are, it's how they act." In May, Sanders said he agreed Facebook should be broken up.

Warren and other candidates have also called for big corporations such as Amazon to pay significantly more in taxes. But she, in particular, has drawn the ire of conservative tech mogul and Trump ally Peter Thiel, who called her the Democratic candidate he is most scared of.

In some ways, well-to-do tech employees backing populists such as Warren and Sanders are acting against their own interests. Both candidates are antitrust hawks who want to limit the reach of big corporations; both have supported job actions by low-wage workers at Amazon and drivers for Uber and Lyft.

Warren's and Sanders' success with tech workers is partially due to the industry's liberal leanings, and many employees interviewed for this story emphasized her overall candidacy in describing her appeal, not her specific positions on big tech.

"She's a wonk," said Alex Whitworth, a data scientist at Facebook who kicked $250 toward her campaign. "That's strongly appealing to me, as a wonk."

For other tech donors, their willingness to back candidates critical of their industry may also be due in part to tensions with their bosses. The tech industry has been roiled by walkouts and protests over contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other government agencies and the military. There is also lingering anger over the role social media networks played in the disinformation campaign Russians used in the 2016 elections.

"We have this tech-lash phenomenon that's been building over the past few years," said Ben Tarnoff, editor of Logic magazine, which covers technology. "There's a large and vocal constituency in the tech sector that is making the case these companies have a responsibility for the tech they're building."

Interviews with tech employees who support Warren and Sanders reveal a well of reservations about the increasing power of big corporations and enthusiasm for candidates who are addressing it head-on.

"I like working at Amazon. It's been the best job of my career," said Michael Sokolov, a senior software development engineer who donated $250 to Warren. "However, I don't like the fact that our economy is dominated by gigantic super-corporations."

Many Democratic candidates have criticized the tech industry while mingling with its luminaries at fund-raisers. Warren's success among its employees could undermine her image as a fierce critic, although her campaign pointed out it has a policy of not holding private fund-raisers or reaching out directly to members of any industry.

And some of Warren's long-held positions align directly with demands of tech workers scrutinizing their own industry. Last fall, thousands of Google employees walked out in protest of the company's policy requiring workers to settle disputes in forced arbitration, instead of through lawsuits, which workers said has allowed Google to keep accusations of serious problems such as sexual assault secret. Warren has been a vocal opponent of forced arbitration for years and proposed prohibiting companies that use the practice from getting federal contracts.

"We've been advocating for an end to forced arbitration. We had to push our company for that," said Tanuja Gupta, another organizer of the Google walkouts, who has donated $333.82 to Warren's campaign. "I find it incredibly appealing that there's a political candidate who's willing to do that for all workers and end forced arbitration."

Several donors expressed reservations about Warren's plan to break up tech companies, including whether it would do enough to address the industry's problems.



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, July 29, 2019

Democrats Have Lost What Was Left Of Their Minds

Imagine being a Democrat right now. You have the House, and the Republican majority in the Senate is small. In the race for the presidency, you have every advantage with the exception of incumbency. Yes, the economy is booming but there isn’t a mainstream media or cultural institution that isn’t on your side and willing to anything to help you win. All you have to do is not act crazy and you’re 99 percent of the way home. And that’s the problem, there are no longer any sane Democrats.

The House hearing with Robert Mueller on Wednesday was supposed to be their shining moment, their chance to rally the country to their thus far rejected cause. Instead, it was another in a long line of flops. After watching it, I wanted to call a hotline to, as I put it in my podcast, report a shameless display of elder abuse.

It’s true that Mueller didn’t want to be there, but it appears everyone was wrong about the reason why. He’s not “above the fray,” as he was portrayed by liberals, he’s lost a lot of steps. Most shockingly, the hearing exposed that he was, at best, barely involved in the investigation. He was a name to put on the letterhead to give it gravitas and the appearance of bipartisanship.

The hearing left those who watched it with the realization he was an autopen to sign off on subpoenas, letters, and the final report. I’d feel pity for him were there not so much destruction in his wake. No matter how many steps he’s lost, he knew he was driving people into bankruptcy chasing a unicorn and he sat there, silently, hammering paychecks.

But Mueller’s embarrassing testimony wasn’t the only problem for Democrats. They had to polish that turd, no matter what. This was their moment in the sun.

Democrats are running out of silver bullets to take out President Trump. First, they thought he’d implode. He didn’t. They said he’d destroy the economy, it’s thriving. They swore he colluded with Russia. He didn’t. The promised the Mueller report would change minds. It didn’t. They switched their focus to obstruction of justice. No one cared.

After dozens of unfulfilled promises and shifting goalposts, even with so many advantages working for them and a team of investigators with unlimited power, they have nothing. Because facts matter, evidence matters. So much of the past 2 years has been spent trying to change that, trying to “fundamentally transform” the country into something it was created to be the opposite of, and they failed. They’re handling it about as well as you’d expect.

On Wednesday, CNN and MSNBC were worth watching, for once. It was like watching the kid who annoyed everyone in elementary school learn their parents never loved them. They and Congressional Democrats wanted a way out. But it’s too late, they’re pot-committed.

By the next day they were back to their old form, calling for impeachment because, well, just because. The alternative would be to talk about their ideas – socialized medicine, American taxpayer-funded health insurance for illegal aliens, open borders, higher taxes, etc. They don’t want the public knowing that’s what they’re advocating for any more than the American public wants it.

Donald Trump’s existence and persistence is Chinese water torture to the left, and they’re at the breaking point. They’re down to the last gift box on Christmas morning and they know the “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle” not only isn’t in it, it’s not hiding behind the desk either.

They simultaneously declare impeachment proceedings must begin now because “no one, not even the President, is above the law,” without offering evidence of a crime beyond existing wrong in their eyes. They also do it while advising illegal aliens on how to thwart our immigration laws and avoid consequences. It seems some people are, in fact, above the law.

The drooling and incoherence will continue, as will the digging. Democrats know they’re drilling a dry well, but as long as they’re still drilling they can keep those on the hook from realizing they’re being hoodwinked.

And that’s where the Democrats are now – they’re the homeless guy losing an argument to a lamppost on a street corner. If they had the capacity to be sane, or even fake it for a while, they’d be doing it. Reality and the public’s understanding of it has taken the last sliver of rational thought they had, and with it their dignity. Donald Trump’s success and Robert Mueller’s testimony has driven them to the edge of crazy. On the plus side for them, carbon footprint was very small since it was a very short drive.



Racism accusations are a red herring to distract attention from destructive Leftist policies

The media wants to make the feud between President Donald Trump and four Democratic congresswomen known as “the squad” about race, instead of focusing on their policies which are dangerous for the country, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“I think the news media really wants to make this about race. You just did it. This isn't about race. It's not about gender. It's not about religion. These members of the House of Representatives more, it's not just these four, it's also some of the candidates who are running for President on the Democratic side fundamentally believe in policies that are dangerous for this nation, and as Republicans, we are going to fight against those even if the mainstream media accuses us of racism when we do that,” Cheney said.

She said it is “absolutely wrong” for the crowd at Trump’s rally last week to chant, “Send her back,” as the president has acknowledged, and “it should not have happened.”

Cheney said she would like to see the media “as focused on the substance of what this wing of the Democratic Party is advocating because that is really dangerous for our country.”

“Socialism is dangerous for our country,” she said, adding that the presidential election “and these issues that we’re talking about are fundamental to the future of this country.”

“When you have members of Congress who are as anti-Semitic as Ilhan Omar has been, when you have members of Congress who are advocating the, you know, complete elimination of the use of all fossil fuels, all air travel, the elimination of private insurance, the imposition of socialism on this country, we're not going to stand for that. We're not going to stand for policies that take freedom away from the American people. That's what this fight is about,” Cheney said.



Court declines to block new Trump administration rule barring most Central American asylum petitions

A federal judge Wednesday let stand a new rule that bars migrants who failed to apply for asylum in at least one country on their way to the southwest border from obtaining protections in the United States, dealing the Trump administration a temporary win.

Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the US District Court in Washington declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have blocked the government from effectively banning asylum for most Central American migrants, who have been arriving in record numbers this year.

The rule, now being applied on a limited basis in Texas, requires migrants to seek asylum in the first safe country they arrive in - in most of the current cases, Mexico.

"I do not find on this limited record the plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence of a certain great and immediate harm to meet this high burden," Kelly said Wednesday.

Under the policy, which the administration announced July 15, only immigrants who had officially lost their bids for asylum in another country through which they traveled or who had been victims of "severe" human trafficking are permitted to apply for asylum in the United States.

Hondurans and Salvadorans have to apply for asylum and be denied in Guatemala or Mexico before they became eligible to apply in the United States, and Guatemalans have to apply and be denied in Mexico. The policy reversed longstanding asylum laws that ensure people can seek safe haven no matter where they come from. On July 16, the day the new rule went into effect - initially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas - the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the policy in court in San Francisco. The case under review Wednesday in Washington was filed separately by two advocacy organizations, the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

The groups had asked the court to find that Congress did not intend that mere transit through another country would render an applicant ineligible for asylum in the United States, and to rule that the policy did not comply with required procedural steps. Kelly, however, disputed the plaintiffs' contention that Attorney General William Barr overstepped legal requirements when issuing the rule.

"I think at this point, the plaintiffs are reading too strictly a limitation on the attorney general's authority," Kelly said.

He also found that the two advocacy organizations did not provide sufficient support for the contention that there would be "irreparable harm" to the plaintiffs in the case if an immediate, temporary block to the policy were not imposed. Although the rule would impact migrants seeking asylum, "The plaintiffs before me here are not asylum-seekers," the judge said.

"They are only two organizations, one of which operates in the D.C. area, far from the southern border," he said.

Claudia Cubas, the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition's litigation director, said the organization was disappointed in the decision. "This new rule is contrary to our laws, and we will continue to challenge this attempt to remove asylum eligibly from those who are fleeing violence and persecution around the world," Cubas said in a statement.

In recent years, the number of migrants petitioning through the asylum process has sharply increased.

In record numbers, migrant families and unaccompanied children have been turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents and requesting asylum, which typically enables them to remain in the United States for years as their cases wind through the backlogged immigration courts. Only about 20 percent of them ultimately win asylum, according to the government, and many of those whose applications are rejected remain in the country unlawfully.

The majority of the 688,375 migrants who were encountered at the border since the beginning of the fiscal year that began in October have come from Central America. Kelly did seem to concur with the administration's contention that there was a need to contain migration numbers at the border.

"The records suggest our immigration system at the border has been severely strained and that such an increase, if it occurred, would at minimum have negative repercussions," the judge said.

The administration announced the new asylum policy despite the fact that Guatemala and Mexico had not agreed to the plan, which means those countries have made no assurances that they would grant asylum to migrants who were intending to go to the United States.

The Trump administration has been negotiating for months with Guatemala and Mexico in the hope of reducing the number of asylum-seekers showing up at the nation's southern border. Talks with Guatemala broke down and the country's president, Jimmy Morales, backed out of a meeting that had been scheduled for July 15 at the White House. Talks with Mexico remain in flux.



Trump Enjoys The Best Week Ever

In the past week, President Donald Trump has enjoyed an incredible stretch of good news. In fact, it has been his best week since he entered the presidential race in 2015.

The highlight of the week was former Special Counsel’s Robert Mueller embarrassing performance during two congressional hearings. He spent six hours bumbling and fumbling through incomplete answers. He seemed unable to hear or understand many of the questions. Overall, it was a shocking display of ignorance. Not only was Mueller unaware of Fusion GPS, but he also seemed to be clueless about the type of partisan Democrats he hired for the investigation. The Republican congressmen who questioned Mueller exposed him as a figurehead who was not in charge of the two-year $40 million investigation.

After such a debacle, Democrats should have shifted gears and ended the witch hunt to start focusing on issues that are of true importance to the American people. Fortunately for President Trump, the Democrats cannot move on to other issues. They are all infected with a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Amazingly, Democrats, continue to act like unhinged political crazies. Even after Mueller’s weak testimony on Wednesday, many top Democrats were still claiming that impeachment was a viable option. This shows Democrats are detached from political reality as Americans are clearly tired of the Russian collusion investigation and the never-ending Democratic Party obsession with impeachment.

Polls commissioned by the Republican Party revealed that impeachment is especially unpopular in swing districts with opposition reaching 60 percent among voters. A recent nationwide Gallup poll showed that impeachment was only supported by only 45 percent of the American people and a solid majority, 53 percent, opposed it.

While the President pursues policies in line with his “America First” agenda, the Democrats are advocating a platform of radical ideas that are hopelessly out of touch with mainstream Americans. Unlike previous generations of party leaders, today’s Democrats support a bevy of radical positions including massive tax increases, open borders, socialized medicine, a $93 trillion Green New Deal and a host of other ideas that would destroy our nation in innumerable ways.

While President Trump enjoys very strong support from Republicans, Democrats are deeply divided between traditional liberals, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and radical socialists, like U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The relationship between the two has been very tense in recent months as they differed on several issues. This week, after the two women met, Speaker Pelosi praised her young colleague and informed the press that impeachment was still an option and the decision would be made in a “timely fashion.”

In response, President Trump called his Democratic Party opposition “clowns.” However, he is not only fortunate to have his radical political opposition pursuing “impeachment nonsense,” he is only benefitting politically from his economic policies. This week, it was announced that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by a solid 2.1 percent in the second quarter, beating the expectations of most economists. This follows an especially robust first quarter of 3.1 percent GDP growth. These reports clearly show the president’s tax and regulation reduction policies are working and the economy is expanding, which will improve his chances of winning re-election.

This was also a great week for the president in his quest to secure our Southern Border. In 2016, the top campaign promise of then-candidate Donald Trump was to “build the wall.” Unfortunately, upon entering the White House, the president has faced non-stop opposition from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

On Friday, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the President a tremendous boost with their decision to allow the administration to use a portion of the authorized funds, $2.5 billion from the Defense Department, to construct sections of the border wall.

After this Supreme Court decision, the president will be able to campaign for re-election by showing at least some progress on his promise to “build the wall.” It will help maintain his strong support among Republicans and those voters who care deeply about border security.

In his political career, President Trump has enjoyed both successes and setbacks; however, the events of this week were truly remarkable. With good news from the congressional hearings, the economic reports and the Supreme Court, the president’s chances for re-election have improved dramatically. The opposition’s main argument for defeating President Trump was exposed as a total delusion. Their policies have been revealed as radical pipe dreams, while the president’s policies are consistently showing positive results for the American people. By week’s end, the president is stronger politically, which is great news for the United States of America as his re-election is essential for the future security and stability of our nation.



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, July 28, 2019

Supreme Court paves the way for Donald Trump to build his wall

It was one of his biggest 2016 election promises - and today it looks like it may happen, and Donald Trump isn’t holding back his delight

The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Trump administration to tap billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to build sections of a border wall with Mexico.

The court’s five conservative justices gave the administration the green light to begin work on four contracts it has awarded using Defence Department money. Funding for the projects had been frozen by lower courts while a lawsuit over the money proceeded. The court’s four liberal justices wouldn’t have allowed construction to start.

The justices’ decision to lift the freeze on the money allows President Donald Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term. Trump tweeted after the announcement: “Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!”

The Supreme Court’s action reverses the decision of a trial court, which initially froze the funds in May, and an appeals court, which kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The freeze had prevented the government from tapping approximately $A3.6 billion in Defence Department money to replace existing sections of barrier in Arizona, California and New Mexico with more robust fencing.

The case the Supreme Court ruled in began after the 35-day partial government shutdown that started in December of last year. Trump ended the shutdown in February after Congress gave him approximately $1.4 billion in border wall funding. But the amount was far less than the $5.7 billion he was seeking, and Trump then declared a national emergency to take cash from other government accounts to use to construct sections of wall.

The money Trump identified includes $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion in Defence Department money and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.

The case before the Supreme Court involved just the $2.5 billion in Defence Department funds, which the administration says will be used to construct more than 160 kilometres of fencing. One project would replace 74 kilometres of barrier in New Mexico for $789 million. Another would replace 101 kilometres in Arizona for $646 million. The other two projects in California and Arizona are smaller.

The other funds were not at issue in the case. The Treasury Department funds have so far survived legal challenges, and Customs and Border Protection has earmarked the money for work in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley but has not yet awarded contracts. Transfer of the $3.6 billion in military construction funds is awaiting approval from the defence secretary.



The time when all Republicans were RINOs

There has always been a lot of conservatism in America but it has not always had a political voice.  The long rule (4 terms!) of Democrat presidential hero FDR had so thoroughly captured the media, the bureaucracy and the educational system that it was almost impossible for a conservative to get heard.  There was an absolute liberal consensus among public voices.  Liberals really believed that there was no reasonable alternative to liberralism and therefore saw conservative utterances as simply kooky. And their view prevailed.  So even the Republican party has become basically liberal -- just an alternative liberal voice

That could not continue, however.  The first conservative voice to gain some respect was Bill Buckley.  He was very much like an affluent Eastern states liberal and was always highly clubbable, respectful of indiviual liberals and very well-spoken and literate.  He could reason with liberals in their terms.  His impact was however only in Eastern States clubland.  He was not a man of the people

Then along comes Barry Goldwater.  From here on I quote from here:

AT the beginning of the 1960s conservatives were in a better position than at any time since the 1930s to challenge moderate Republicans for control of the party. But large obstacles remained. Not only were conservatives widely viewed as wild-eyed fanatics but they squabbled among themselves, had trouble articulating a positive program of reform, had few grassroots organizations, and lacked the funding to make the movement a serious political force.

The year 1960, though, brought a turning point for the conservative movement. That year Barry Goldwater published The Conscience of a Conservative. Generally dismissed in the national media, the book stands today as one of the most important political tracts in modern American history.

As the historian Robert Alan Goldberg demonstrates in Barry Goldwater, his fine new biography, The Conscience of a Conservative advanced the conservative cause in several ways. Building on William F. Buckley's pathbreaking work at National Review, Goldwater adeptly reconciled the differences between traditionalists and libertarians. The expansion of the welfare state, he wrote, was an unfortunate and dangerous development that undermined individual freedom. Suggesting that New Deal liberalism marked the first step on the road to totalitarianism, Goldwater argued that government should be removed from most areas of American life.

Yet he was no strict libertarian. Appealing to those on the right who longed to recapture lost certitudes, he argued that the state had a duty to maintain order and promote virtue. "Politics," Goldwater wrote, is "the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order."

Goldwater also united disparate conservative factions by focusing their attention on the dangers of Soviet communism. He wrote,

"And still the awful truth remains: We can establish the domestic conditions for maximizing freedom, along the lines I have indicated, and yet become slaves. We can do this by losing the Cold War to the Soviet Union."

Goldwater rejected the containment strategies that had guided U.S. foreign policy since the late 1940s, and called for an aggressive strategy of liberation. Conservatives might disagree about the proper role of government in American life, but surely they could unite to defeat the "Soviet menace."

Goldwater also dispelled the notion that conservatives were a privileged elite out to promote its own economic interests. "Conservatism," he wrote, "is not an economic theory." Rather, it "puts material things in their proper place" and sees man as "a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires." According to one right-wing magazine, Goldwater gave conservatives humanitarian reasons for supporting policies usually "associated with a mere lust for gain."

But perhaps the greatest achievement of Goldwater's book--and the reason for its startling success with the right--was that it gave conservatives, for the first time, a blueprint for translating their ideas into political action. In his introduction Goldwater rejected the idea that conservatism was "out of date."

"The charge is preposterous and we ought boldly to say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline. The principles on which the Conservative political position is based ... are derived from the nature of man, and from the truths that God has revealed about His creation. Circumstances do change. So do the problems that are shaped by circumstances. But the principles that govern the solution of the problems do not. To suggest that the Conservative philosophy is out of date is akin to saying that the Golden Rule, or the Ten Commandments or Aristotle's Politics are out of date."

Supporting states' rights, lower taxes, voluntary Social Security, and a strengthened military, Goldwater emphasized the positive in his philosophy and demonstrated "the practical relevance of Conservative principles to the needs of the day."

That altered the American political landscape, galvanizing the right and turning Goldwater into the most popular conservative in the country. By 1964, just four years after its release, the book had gone through more than twenty printings, and it eventually sold 3.5 million copies. "Was there ever such a politician as this?" one Republican asked in disbelief. The Conscience of a Conservative "was our new testament," Pat Buchanan has said. "It contained the core beliefs of our political faith, it told us why we had failed, what we must do. We read it, memorized it, quoted it.... For those of us wandering in the arid desert of Eisenhower Republicanism, it hit like a rifle shot."

REPUBLICAN Party leaders, however, ignored the "Goldwater boomlet." Vice President Richard Nixon, the front-runner for the 1960 Republican nomination, believed that the greatest threat to the party came not from the right but from the left. In July, Nixon met with Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of New York, and agreed to change the party platform to win moderate-Republican support. Conservatives were outraged, referring to the pact, in Goldwater's words, as the "Munich of the Republican Party."

A few days later, at the Republican National Convention, an angry Goldwater called on conservatives to "grow up" and take control of the party. And that, according to Brennan, is exactly what they set out to do. At a time when "liberal and moderate Republicans, like the rest of the country at that time and like historians ever since, continued to view conservatives in a one-dimensional mode," conservatives believed that Goldwater's popularity, the rise of a conservative press, and the growing strength of conservative youth groups boded well for the future.

Increasingly disillusioned with Republican moderates and with the whole tenor of American political debate, the right began to see organization as the key to political power. In the midst of the 1960 presidential campaign, for example, William Buckley, the conservative fundraiser Marvin Liebman, and almost a hundred student activists met at Buckley's estate in Sharon, Connecticut, and formed Young Americans for Freedom. Within six months the organization could claim more than a hundred campus and precinct-level political-action groups and at least 21,000 dues-paying members. Using newsletters, radio broadcasts, and frequent rallies, YAF had almost overnight become a powerful nationwide movement.

Had Young Americans for Freedom and other grassroots organizations remained isolated from one another, their impact would have been weak. But in 1961 the political activist F. Clifton White organized a movement to nominate a conservative for President. Traveling around the country, White exhorted conservatives to seize control of their local party organizations and elect conservative delegates to the national convention. The movement orchestrated by White gave conservatives control over the Republican Party and helped to persuade Goldwater to run for President.

Capturing the presidential nomination was one thing; winning the presidency proved much more difficult. In the early 1960s conservatives tried to distance themselves from the radical right. No group troubled conservatives more than the John Birch Society. With organizations in all fifty states, thousands of members (who, according to Brennan, were "zealous letter writers, demonstrators, and voters"), and a full-time staff, the society wielded significant influence. But Birchers, many of whom believed that Dwight Eisenhower and other government officials were Communist agents, tarnished the reputations of more-rational conservatives.

Buckley understood the problem: conservatism, he explained, had to bring "into our ranks those people who are, at the moment, on our immediate left--the moderate, wishy-washy conservatives. ... I am talking ... about 20 to 30 million people.... If they are being asked to join a movement whose leadership believes the drivel of Robert Welch [the founder of the John Birch Society], they will pass by crackpot alley, and will not pause until they feel the warm embrace of those way over on the other side, the Liberals."

But in 1964 Goldwater could not escape the taint of extremism. Brennan points out that despite their sporadic attacks on the radical right, conservatives were still political neophytes. Goldwater and his supporters believed that all they had to do was expose Americans to conservative ideas. But Goldwater had no positive program, and spent much of the campaign railing against Social Security and threatening to roll back the Communist tide. Moderate Republicans labeled him a racist and a warmonger, and Goldwater seemed to confirm such charges when he threatened to "lob" missiles "into the men's room at the Kremlin."

Perhaps most damaging, the media condemned him as a kook who sounded more like Adolf Hitler than like a Republican presidential candidate. Norman Mailer, writing in Esquire, compared the Republican National Convention to a Nazi rally. The columnist Drew Pearson described the "smell of fascism" in the air. Roy Wilkins, of the NAACP, told readers of The New York Times that "a man came out of the beer halls of Munich, and rallied the forces of Rightism in Germany" and that "all the same elements are there in San Francisco now." When Democrats mocked Goldwater's campaign slogan, "In your heart, you know he's right," by adding, "Yes, extreme Right," Goldwater's candidacy was doomed.

Poor campaign management, Goldwater's image, and the lack of unity in the Republican Party contributed to the Democratic landslide in November of 1964. But whereas liberals saw the election results as the final repudiation of the American right, conservatives took solace in Goldwater's 27 million votes and vowed not to repeat their mistakes. What appeared to be a defeat for conservatives was actually a dramatic success: Goldwater had paved the way for a generation of Republicans by appealing to the "forgotten" and "silent" Americans "who quietly go about the business of paying and praying, working and saving." He had also raised new social and moral issues that would prove vital to future conservative successes.

But the liberals, of course, never gave up and used their continuing control of the media to reassert their old consensus.  And that reached its highpoint in the Obama regime. They nearly got their old dominance back.  Like all Leftist regimes, however, it was intrinsically authoritarian and that paved the way for a big wave of dissent.  And that rejection of a kid-gloves dictatorship brought  Donald Trump to power. The lesson from it all is that the Left never gives up and never learns.  So, sadly, our fight with them must never cease.

There is a video below of a Barry Goldwater speech that describes an America that sounds distressingly familiar:


Trump administration proposed rule would cut 3 million people from food stamps

The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed a rule to tighten food stamp eligibility that would cut about 3.1 million people from the program, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said, drawing ire from Democratic senators and advocacy groups.

The administration has been rolling out rule changes related to the food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), after efforts to pass new restrictions on it were blocked by Congress last year. The program provides free food to some 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.

The USDA billed Tuesday’s move as a way to save money and help eliminate what it sees as the widespread abuse of the program. But Democrats and advocacy groups criticized it as an attack on the nation’s poorest.

“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” said Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to become eligible for food stamps automatically through SNAP, or if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

The agency wants to change that by requiring people who receive TANF benefits to pass a review of their income and assets to determine whether they are also eligible for free food from SNAP, officials said.

If enacted, the rule would save the federal government about $2.5 billion a year by removing 3.1 million people from SNAP, according to the USDA. Advocacy group First Focus on Children said 7.4% of households with children participating in SNAP would lose their access to food stamps.

“To cut money for people who need to be fed? It’s just another example of the heartlessness of this administration,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

President Donald Trump has long argued that many Americans using SNAP do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment, and should be removed as a way to save taxpayers as much as $15 billion.

“Some states are taking advantage of loopholes that allow people to receive the SNAP benefits who would otherwise not qualify and for which they are not entitled,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters on a conference call on Monday.

The USDA does not need congressional approval to stop states from automatically allowing recipients of TANF benefits to become eligible for SNAP, said Brandon Lipps, a USDA acting deputy undersecretary.

Current rules allow people to access SNAP benefits worth thousands of dollars for two years without undergoing robust eligibility reviews, he told reporters on the call.

“Unfortunately, automatic eligibility has expanded to allow even millionaires and others who simply receive a TANF-funded brochure to become eligible for SNAP when they clearly don’t need it,” Lipps said.

The liberal-leaning Center For American Progress advocacy group said the proposal would hurt the poor “by forcing states to take food assistance away from those with even modest savings of a few thousand dollars” as well as raise administrative costs for states.

The move could also potentially hurt discount retailers such as Dollar Tree (DLTR.O) and Dollar General (DG.N), which have blamed weaker traffic on reduced food stamp coverage in the past. Dollar General shares were down 0.67% while Dollar Tree shares were down 1.90%.

The Congressional Budget Office in December estimated the rule could save the federal government $8.1 billion from 2019 to 2028, lower than the USDA’s estimate. In 2016, the CBO said there were concerns the move would eliminate benefits for households in difficult financial situations and increase the complexity and time needed to process SNAP applications.



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)