Friday, September 20, 2019

The Republican Party has no 'bedrock principles.' The Democratic Party doesn't either

Jeff Jacoby sets out below a useful history of both the Democratic and Repubican party policies.  As I have long pointed out, the Republican and Democratic parties have to a considerable extent switched places.  That is perhaps most clearly seen in policies towards America's great self-inflicted problem: Blacks.   In the 19th century Democrats wanted blacks kept on a leash whereas Republicans did not.  They even fought a bloody war over it.  And the war didn't have much effect on those attitudes, as the emergence of the KKK showed.

After the great change of the 1960s however, that substantially reversed.  Republicans continued to want to live and let live whereas Democrats became the big advocates of black emancipatuion and acceptance

So is Jacoby right? Does the Republican party have no lasting principles?  That is an interesting question but it is not the most important one.  We cannot identify the GOP with conservatives.  So we also need to ask whether conservatives have any lasting policies and principles.  And, superficially, the answer is that neither Republicans nor conservatives have any enduring policies.  Many conservative thinkers have argued over the years that conservatives have no fixed principles -- e.g. Feiling.  See also here

But that is not the whole of the answer. In my academic way, I regard the answer to one question as the starting point for another question so I immediately ask WHY the major parties have been so changeable in their policies.  And the answer is pretty clear:  Circumstances alter cases.  The realities that political parties face are always changing and it is to cope with new realities that policies are changed.

An interesting example of that is before our eyes at the moment in Hongkong.  With the encouragement of old crooks like Bernie Sanders, Many American student radicals are advocating socialism, sometimes vociferously.  But at the same time, their counterparts in Hong Kong are demonstrating AGAINST socialism. They have seen it up close and want no part of it.  Having a socialist behemoth looming over you is a lot different from a pleasant-sounding abtraction. Circumstances alter cases.

So is conservatism an illusion?  Is there really no such thing? If Left and Right can switch places so readily, is there anything  left to describe or talk about? Is there anything that alters how we respond to changing circumstances?

There is.  As I have repeatedly argued, we find some very strong and consistent influences if we go down to the psychological level of analysis.  In fact, as I have argued at great length elsewhere, we find that we have always had conservatives with us.  And regular readers here will be familiar with what I have proposed.  In brief:

Although particular policies change, policies called conservative do tend to have one constant characteristic: caution.  Policies referred to as conservative are normally cautious policies. Cautious and conservative are near synonyms. And to be called a conservative you are normally cautious about a lot of things.

So what makes some people systematically cautious? There could be a number of influences but I think it is mainly because they  are broadly content with their lives and the world around them. Even Leftists see that. They often refer to conservatives as "complacent". And surveys of happiness do normally show conservatives as happier.

And if you are happy with your situation, proposals to make big changes in it arouse caution. They have to be examined carefully lest they upset things you are happy with. Leftists, because they are basically unhappy people, want change with a passion. Conservatives will consider change but feel no urgency about it so need to be convinced that it will be to the good before they support it

So Jeff is right in that the policies of a political party will change as the world changes.  But just which policies will be adopted at any one time will reflect the personalities of the individuals concerned.  And conservatives are the happy or at least the contented people

OVER THE WEEKEND, the Washington Post published an op-ed column by Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh, and Bill Weld, the three candidates challenging President Trump for the 2020 GOP presidential nomination. They expressed indignation over the decision by Republican parties in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina to cancel next year's presidential primaries and award their convention delegates to the president without any input from the voters.

"Trump loyalists in the four states that have canceled their primaries and caucuses claim that President Trump will win by a landslide, and that it is therefore a waste of money to invest in holding primaries or caucuses," the three Republicans write. "But since when do we use poll numbers as our basis for deciding whether to give voters an opportunity to choose?"

I sympathize with the challengers. They have every reason to resent the state parties' maneuver, which denies them the chance to go before Republican voters and make their case that Trump should be replaced. But it was something else in their op-ed that caught my eye.

Sanford, Walsh, and Weld condemn Trump for having "abandoned the bedrock principles of the GOP," and insist that "if a party stands for nothing but reelection, it indeed stands for nothing."

Is that true? I would suggest that when all is said and done, major parties are primarily about winning elections — and that their "bedrock principles" are usually softer and more malleable than party members think.

Faithful Republicans and Democrats generally associate their parties with certain political values, and often imagine that those values go to the party's essence. At the Massachusetts Democratic Convention on Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren exhorted delegates to remember that "Democrats have been on the front lines in the fight for social, racial, and economic justice." In a speech to Republican lawmakers the day before, Trump listed the values that he said unite Republicans — they "defend the Constitution ... stand up for heroes of law enforcement ... reject globalism ... respect our great American flag." This is how most of us tend to think about parties: that they embody a core philosophy, which they win elections in order to implement.

But the opposite is closer to the truth: Parties strive to win elections, and over time adapt their views and ideology to do so.

In a forthcoming book, How America's Political Parties Change (And How They Don't), the respected political analyst Michael Barone observes that the Democratic Party (which dates from 1832) and the Republican Party (born in 1854) are among the very oldest political parties in the world. As he shows in fascinating detail, both parties' basic values have changed dramatically over the generations. The only thing about them that remains constant, Barone argues, is the type of groups each appeals to: Republicans are the party of those considered to be "typical Americans," while Democrats are "a collection of out-groups."

Over time, the makeup of those categories has shifted enormously. In the 19th century, Republicans were apt to be northern, Protestant, town- and city-dwellers; in the 21st century, they are more likely to be married white, southern Christians. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has gone from being the 19th-century party of southern slaveholders and big-city Catholics to the 21st-century party of urban blacks and affluent major-metro liberals.

Yet even more striking is how each party's "bedrock principles" have altered.

In the 1930s, Barone writes, the Democratic Party under Franklin Delano Roosevelt "stood for big government, deficit financing, and inflationary currency." A century earlier, the Democratic Party under Andrew Jackson "stood for pretty much the opposite." From the 1850s through the turn of the 20th century, on the other hand, the GOP was the big-government party: It favored the imposition of uniform policies on the states, denounced racial segregation, championed protective tariffs, and passed laws against corporate monopolies. By the 1920s, however, Republicans had morphed into a party skeptical of activist government and more inclined to focus on economic growth and lower taxes.

Changes in the parties' policy stands are often driven by the changing nature of their supporters. For example, the GOP was home to many liberals until the 1970s. They stayed Republican, Barone writes, because they detested the big-city machine bosses, the militant union leaders, and the segregationist southern politicians who were the Democratic Party's dominant players. As those elements gradually disappeared from Democratic politics, the liberal wing of the Republican Party disappeared as well.

Something similar happened with Democratic conservatives. They stuck with the party long after FDR and the New Deal did away with the party's Jeffersonian tradition of small government and laissez-faire economics. What finally drove them out, Barone writes, was not civil rights — a popular misconception — but foreign policy. Conservative Democrats were hawks, and the Democratic Party from Roosevelt through Johnson was the party of military action abroad, hefty defense spending at home, and vigorous Cold War anticommunism. But with the rise of prominent antiwar Democrats like Robert Kennedy and George McGovern, the party turned dovish — and more and more conservatives turned Republican.

The Democratic and Republican parties are always in flux. Their values, their rules, their powerbrokers, their supporters — all change over time. Only one thing remains fixed: the quest to win elections. That was true long before Trump showed up. It will be true long after he's gone.



Elizabeth Warren’s war on men is an insulting, losing strategy

Elizabeth Warren made the political calculation this week that she doesn’t need men to win the presidency.  “We’re not here today because of famous arches or famous men,” she told a rally in Washington Square Park Monday night. “In fact, we’re not here because of men at all,” she said, emphasizing the “m” word like an expletive.

Great. Then she won’t mind if men don’t vote for her, nor women who like men.

It’s a losing strategy, taken straight out of the playbook of Hillary Clinton, from whom, reportedly and inexplicably, Warren has been taking advice.

Millions of American women showed in 2016 that they weren’t prepared to vote for Clinton just because she had a second X chromosome. White, noncollege-educated women in particular voted almost 2-to-1 for Donald Trump in 2016.

Most likely, they didn’t approve of the denigration of their menfolk as “deplorables” abusing “white male privilege” when the truth is that the males they love are doing their best, even if jobs are scarce and they’re dying of overdoses.

So when a Harvard law professor stands on a stage in New York and says “we’re not here” because of men, there’s a lot of ideological baggage attached. Warren’s ­supporters in the 10,000-strong crowd understood before the words were even out of her mouth, giving her the biggest applause of the evening.

Actually, if you have an ounce of humility, you’d have to admit we probably all are here because of men, famous or not. Men who fought wars, men who drilled for oil, men who built monuments, men who cured illness, or men like Christopher Columbus, who sailed the ocean blue, and whose statue will be removed from Central Park for the crime of being male, if certain city officials get their way.

It’s hard to imagine Warren herself would be “here” without a father providing his male DNA, although the modern Democratic Party will tell you that men are not essential to the fertilization process anymore.

The Founding Fathers had a little input to our being “here,” too. But, for Warren, one of these men, in whose eponymous square she chose to hold her rally, was a provocation that had to be called out Monday night.

Immediately before saying “we’re not here because of men,” she dissed George Washington and the beautiful Tuckahoe marble arch that bears his name.

“I wanted to give this speech right here and not because of the arch behind me or the president that this square is named for — nope.”

That majestic, 200-year-old arch, under which Warren had set up her podium, flag, microphone and campaign signage, celebrates George Washington’s inauguration as the first president of the United States in 1789.

It is adorned with carvings of Fame, Valor, Wisdom and Justice, and an aspirational inscription reading: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”

Such sentiments are too noble and consequential for 2020’s Femocratic candidates, male and female, whose lifeblood is the dead hand of identity politics.

They malign the past as the squalid seed of the patriarchy; their woke revolution aims to erase history and replace it with a new America where none of us wants to live.

The problem for Warren is that, as Hillary Clinton discovered, most women don’t want any part of an identity politics that pitches them against men.

They don’t want men to be losers because they don’t want to marry losers, and they sure don’t want their sons to be losers.

Most women love men. They love their husbands, their sons, their fathers. They’ve had male mentors and male coaches and male teachers who’ve been good people.

Perhaps there’s something about having a bad experience with a man that propels some women into the public eye or attracts them to leftist politics.

Maybe the left has fashioned a culture in which the only way for a woman to get ahead is to ritually denounce men.

But it is perverse and goes against human nature.

In any case, if Warren really has been taking advice from Clinton, she’s a goner in 2020, regardless of poll numbers that have her biting at Joe Biden’s heels.

Even after losing the unlosable election to Donald Trump, Clinton didn’t have the grace or self-awareness to acknowledge that she was the problem.

Instead, America’s First Feminist blamed women. If they didn’t vote for her, it was because they were too weak and stupid to think for themselves. Women had been pressured by “fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for ‘the girl,’ ” she breezily told CBS News in the aftermath of the election.

That’s the new feminist take on democracy.

But don’t say Warren doesn’t do anything at all for men.

Her latest policy on reproductive rights ensures that all men have access to taxpayer-funded abortions.

What a relief.



Trump's welcome rule change: No more food stamps for millionaires

When Americans think of food stamp recipients, images of desperate lower-income Americans typically come to mind. Taxpayers desperately want to believe that their hard-earned dollars are helping poor people struggling to make ends meet with welfare benefits helping them get the vital nutrients they need to stay alive. Imagine the outrage, then, as taxpayers find out that some of the people on food stamps are in fact millionaires.

Because of a bizarre loophole in how food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) are administered by states, millionaires — or even billionaires — can receive food stamps. A loophole allows bureaucrats to simply ignore federally mandated asset requirements. As a result, an estimated 3.1 million to 5 million people currently on food stamps shouldn’t be receiving this welfare benefit. Taxpayers deserve better than having to share their paychecks with well-off Americans who are unlikely to be in want of a meal.

Federal loopholes often have a Kafkaesque quality to them, creating stranger-than-fiction situations that would be hilarious if they weren’t costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually. The puzzling policy was born out of the 1990s welfare reform package, which was designed to streamline efficiency and prevent people from having to reapply for multiple welfare programs. The changes stipulated that anyone receiving assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare program was also eligible for food stamps.

This made sense at the time when policymakers were laser-focused on reducing the administrative costs of the program and keeping the application process easy. But now, the 1990s are a faint memory, and welfare programs have morphed out of control. In particular, the TANF program has been expanded to the point that that the mere act of receiving a brochure or calling a toll-free number funded by a TANF program now counts as receiving a benefit from TANF. And receiving a TANF benefit makes citizens automatically eligible for food stamps often without any consideration of assets. In 36 states, rules don’t require bureaucrats to ensure that recipients’ assets aren’t too high to receive SNAP benefits.

This gargantuan oversight gap leads to all sorts of ludicrous situations. Leroy Fick received food stamps , even after winning $2 million in the Michigan State Lottery. Fick used his winnings to buy a new home and an Audi convertible, all while continuing to receive SNAP benefits.

Because the food stamp program is paid for by the federal government, but TANF benefits are distributed by the states, there is little or no incentive for states to behave with any accountability. This mismatch has resulted in wacky situations where TANF-funded family planning brochures have been distributed by one state simply to confer SNAP auto-eligibility onto eager recipients.

Fortunately, taxpayers may soon get a respite from this ludicrous loophole. The Trump Administration is finally looking into fixing this SNAP-fu, tweaking the rule so that a person can only cross-qualify if welfare benefits they are receiving under TANF are “substantial and ongoing.” By replacing the “one phone call or one brochure and you’re in” system, this proposed rule change is set to save taxpayers close to $10 billion over the next five years.

Taking advantage of the SNAP loophole is theft, pure and simple, not only from taxpayers but also from genuinely needy Americans. Reform proposals are not only common sense, but the only fair way to ensure that the SNAP program sticks around for the people who truly need it. All advocates for the less-fortunate should celebrate a much-needed change that saves taxpayers billions of dollars and helps the needy get food on the table.



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  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Trump pushing for crackdown on homeless camps in California

President Donald Trump has ordered White House officials to conduct a sweeping crackdown on homelessness in California, citing the state's growing crisis, according to four government officials aware of the effort.

The planning has intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use. It is also unclear whether the state's Democratic politicians would cooperate with Trump, who has sought to embarrass them over the homelessness crisis with repeated attacks on their competency.

Trump's directive is part of his broader effort to target California and a number of major U.S. cities in recent months, including Baltimore and Chicago. He has complained about what he says are years of failed Democratic leadership that have led to sustained poverty and crime.

Top officials representing the White House and Department of Housing and Urban Development arrived in California this week for a round of meetings. A particular focus has been the "skid row" section of Los Angeles, officials said. The president is directly involved with the initiative, officials said, and has asked for updates.

Among the ideas under consideration is razing existing tent camps for the homeless, creating new temporary facilities, or refurbishing existing government facilities, two officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning hasn't been publicly revealed. The changes would attempt to give the federal government a larger role in supervising housing and health care for residents.

The talks are fluid and concrete plans had not been reached.

Trump repeatedly assailed Democratic politicians in California over the state's growing homelessness issue, which he has called a "disgrace to our country." He has also criticized liberal-led cities such as Baltimore as "rat and rodent infested."



The Crackers and Frackers Could Hold the Keys to 2020

MONACA, Pennsylvania -- All Darrin Kelly wanted for the energy workers in Western Pennsylvania was that the Democratic presidential hopefuls would talk to them before going to war against shale.

That opportunity slipped away last Friday when Elizabeth Warren joined Bernie Sanders in calling for a total fracking ban.

"On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking -- everywhere," Warren tweeted.

"It is disappointing that any national candidate would not come in here and want to talk to the men and women of this area first before unilaterally making that decision," said Kelly, a charismatic Pittsburgh firefighter who is also the head of the powerful and influential Allegheny Fayette Labor Council, which represents workers stretching from Pittsburgh to the borders of Maryland and West Virginia.

The rest of the Democratic hopefuls will follow suit, with the possible exceptions of Joe Biden and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. At least, that's the prediction of Keystone College political science professor Jeff Brauer.

"The natural gas industry employs well over 40,000 people just in this region alone," Kelly said. "Countless more indirectly, providing economic opportunity for generations of families and communities that had been hollowed out by the demise of manufacturing and coal in this area."

Donald Trump won Pennsylvania with just over 40,000 votes in 2016.

Kelly doesn't think he is entitled to the presidential candidates' time. He just knows what happens when the energy labor force in Western Pennsylvania isn't behind the Democratic nominee. "You cannot win the presidency if you are a Democrat without Pennsylvania," Brauer reminds bluntly.

Democrats have won Pennsylvania in past presidential years because of outsized margins in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and their suburbs. That support has been declining since Bill Clinton won 28 of the state's 67 counties in 1996.

Barack Obama won 13 of the 67 counties in 2012.

Trump's magic came in rural and post-industrial counties such as Luzerne and Erie, but most importantly in the populous counties around Pittsburgh, where shale is king and fracking is seen as the second coming of the steel industry.

They may look like ordinary construction cranes to someone unfamiliar with the history of this region. But if you're from here, they look like something different. Building the ethane cracker plant, each of these cranes looks like a new colossus rising from the ashes of yesterday's despair.

Building the plant has brought in 6,000 good-paying jobs, with more to come. Ultimately, there will be 600 permanent jobs at the plant, with industry analysts predicting triple that amount in supporting industries.

Jobs postings are everywhere touting opportunities, no matter the skill level -- high school education, trade school certificate, chemists, engineers, information technology, labor. If you reliably turn up for work, there is likely a career for you in the oil and gas industry.

"And if you think our workers don't care for the environment or climate change you are wrong," said Kelly. "They are the ones not only working in the industry, but they live here, play here, raise their kids here, hunt, fish, boat, ski, swim, and hike. They want to be in a responsible industry," he said.

The high tides of the frackers and crackers will be offset by the sinking tide of the broader U.S. economy, experts predict. "We're going to probably enter at least a little bit of an economic downturn," Brauer warns, "which is the natural part of the cycle. And it's probably not going to be the greatest timing for President Trump since that's his strength."

"But if the Democrats continue to make these arguments and push these issues which are going to hurt the economy and these key states, then it plays right into Trump's narrative," he adds with a twist.

Brauer suggested Trump could easily argue: "This is part of the cycle and what's going to happen, but would you rather have me, who's going to have less regulations and not wipe out entire industries and try to build back the manufacturing base and try to get jobs to come back in the United States, or you have a Democrat who is so far to the Left, who's willing to get rid of entire industries because of some environmental concerns that can be addressed, without destroying the whole industry?"

That's not a tough question for most Western Pennsylvanians. But it poses a tough question for Biden and the other 2020 Democrats.



Do You Know What the Democrats Said at Their Debate?


The last debate among 10 Democrats seeking their party's nomination for president set a new low for demagoguery, contempt for America and just plain foolishness.

Here are some examples:

Andrew Yang: "In America today, everything revolves around the almighty dollar -- our schools, our hospitals, our media, even our government."

It is difficult to imagine a more contemptuous, not to mention erroneous, view of America. I would like to ask Mr. Yang: Does everything in your life revolve around "the almighty dollar"? In your friends' lives?

If his answer is yes, he is projecting the shallowness of his life onto that of all Americans -- a common trait on the left ("All whites are racists," white leftists tell us, admitting to how contemptible they are).

If his answer is no, he thinks he is morally superior to all other Americans. In either case, what is clear is his disdain for his country, a disdain that underlies all leftism.

Andrew Yang: "We have to get our country working for us again, instead of the other way around." Yang's statement is literally the opposite of one of the most famous lines spoken by an American politician since World War II: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country," from John F. Kennedy's inaugural address in 1961.

Upending JFK's message is a perfect example of what the left has done to the moral fabric of America.

Kamala Harris: "President Trump, you've spent the last two-and-a-half years full-time trying to sow hate and division among us ..."

In reality, it is the left that has spent full-time "trying to sow hate and division among us" -- and not for the last two-and-a-half years but for the last 50. It is the left that has mocked the notion of America as a "melting pot." It is the left that has defined Americans by their race and ethnicity.

Kamala Harris: "We know that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us, regardless of our race, where we live or the party with which we're registered to vote."

This is false on two grounds.

First, the left constantly tells us that every American who voted for Donald Trump or supports him is a racist at best and a white supremacist at worst. Does Harris have more in common with people whom she considers white supremacists -- or does more separate her from them?

As I constantly note, truth is a liberal and a conservative value but has never been a left-wing value. The left's only criterion in determining whether or not to say something is not whether it is true or false but whether it is effective or ineffective.

Second, the notion that we all have more in common than what separates us is not true no matter who says it. The only thing that the left and the non-left have in common is biological -- we are all homo sapiens. Valueswise, we are utterly different.

Elizabeth Warren: "Let's be clear: I've actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company."

One can only marvel at the ease with which leftists lie. In Warren's case, she had decades of practice, having promoted herself as one of Harvard's Native American professors of law.

The fact is, tens of millions of Americans like their health insurance company just fine (I was one of them until I was forced onto Medicare) -- far more than veterans who like their single-payer government health care.

Bernie Sanders: "'Medicare-for-All' ... allows you to go to any doctor you want."

Why did none of the moderators ask him the most obvious question: How is that possible?

Let's say an oncologist in Dallas had a stellar reputation and, therefore, tens of thousands of Americans wanted to see him either because they or a loved one had cancer. How would Medicare for All make that happen? Again, leftists will say anything to further their agenda.

Pete Buttigieg: This debate "reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington: scoring points against each other, poking at each other and telling each other that -- my plan, your plan. ..."

Mayor Buttigieg seems incapable of uttering anything that isn't pablum. Even his fellow Democrat Julian Castro immediately responded: "Yeah, that's called the Democratic primary election, Pete. That's called an election."

ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis: "I'd like to start with young black voters. Several recent polls indicate their No. 1 concern is racism."

Nothing more clearly divides left from right than this statement. The left says the No. 1 problem facing black Americans is racism. No one else does. Anyone who says racism is a greater problem than, for example, the absence of black fathers (more than three-quarters of black children are born to unwed mothers) either is woefully ignorant or purposefully wants to spread racial division.

Furthermore, if such polls exist and they are right, there is no hope for black America in this generation. It means that the left has successfully indoctrinated young Americans, white and black, into believing that a truly decent country is so indecent it hates its black population.

Beto O'Rourke (in response to Davis): "Racism in America is endemic. ... It is found in our education system, where in Texas, a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin."

This is one of the left's "proofs" of "endemic" American racism: America is so racist even kindergarten teachers and school principals -- all notorious Trump supporters -- expel black students solely because they are black, not because black students are disruptive at rates higher than their percentage in the classroom. Yet, despite the contempt in which Democrats hold teachers, teachers will overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

Joe Biden: "Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime."

After such a statement, that this man is taken seriously is a comment on those who take him seriously.

Unfortunately, the left and right do, in fact, have far less in common than what unites them. Reading these statements, you can see why.



Warren's Corrupt 'Anti-Corruption' Plan

Elizabeth Warren, who corruptly exploited her own bogus claims of Native American heritage to advance her academic career, has a plan to eradicate corruption from Washington. You might say she wants to borrow a popular refrain to "drain the swamp."

Warren laments, "In 1958, the National Election Survey first asked Americans a simple question: Do you trust the government to do the right thing most of the time? That year, 73% of Americans said yes. In 2019, that number is just 17%. Five out of every six Americans do not trust their government to do the right thing. Why have so many people lost faith in government?"

The senator blames "right-wing politicians" for spending "a generation attacking the very idea of government," before launching on her tired refrain about the "wealthy and the well-connected" — of which Warren herself is a prominent member. But we can think of two answers to her question that are intimately related. The first is this admonition from Thomas Jefferson's first inaugural address: "A wise and frugal government ... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

The second is that the warning issued by James Madison, author of the Constitution we celebrate today, has come to pass: "The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."

Why don't Americans trust the government? Because it's doing things poorly that it was never constitutionally empowered to do in the first place. Power, meet abuse. To say so is not "attacking government." It's advocating a limited and constitutional one.

Virtually the entire Democrat platform since, oh, about 1958 has been along the lines of the so-called "Great Society" — unconstitutional and failed welfare programs that "take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned," only to give it to someone who didn't earn it. Of course, Democrats really began traveling down the "progressive" road with Woodrow Wilson's income-tax-funded administrative state and stomped on the accelerator with Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" socialism.

Naturally, Warren only doubles down on the Democrats' top-down, government-control approach. Regulate this, outlaw that, tax the other thing. That's why it's almost comical that her plan echoes Barack Obama in its call for "big, structural change to fundamentally transform our government." How is it fundamental change to do more of what government has spent the last century doing?

In all honesty, we do indeed need a fundamental transformation — one that returns the federal government to its proper, constitutionally limited role. That means things like prioritizing national defense while ceasing the income redistribution that consumes two-thirds of the $4 trillion budget and feeds the very lobbying problem Warren claims to want to eradicate. Warren and her fellow socialists demand even more redistribution programs that would only exacerbate the corruption they claim to want to solve.

But as a final thought, the Founders thought the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" (i.e., lobbying) was important enough to place in the First Amendment. Yes, lobbyists can be corrupt, but no more so than the politicians and unelected bureaucrats crafting reams of rules dictating everything from what kind of light bulb we use to how much water our toilets flush. Warren's plan to gut the First Amendment simply because she doesn't want to hear from lobbyists who oppose such things isn't removing corruption; it's adding tyranny.



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  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The New York Times Anti-Kavanaugh Bombshell Is Actually a Dud

If you opened Twitter on Sunday morning, you were likely greeted with the bombshell headline of the top trending news story: “NYT reporters’ book details new sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh.”

The allegation, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly write in a New York Times story adapted from their forthcoming anti-Kavanaugh book, is this: “We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”

Wait a second. Who did what to whom?  Kavanaugh’s “friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student”?

Can someone explain the logistics of the allegation here? Was Kavanaugh allegedly walking around naked when his friends pushed him into the female student?

No, if I’m reading Pogrebin and Kelly right, the friends didn’t push Kavanaugh in the back. Rather, the “friends pushed his penis.”

What? How does that happen? Who are the friends? Who is the female student? Were there any witnesses besides Stier?

All that the authors write in the New York Times essay about corroborating the story is this: “Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)”

So they corroborated the fact that Stier made the allegation to the FBI, but the authors give no indication that they have corroborated any details of the alleged incident.

The book isn’t released until Tuesday, but Mollie Hemingway got a copy, and she writes on Twitter: “The book notes, quietly, that the woman Max Stier named as having been supposedly victimized by Kavanaugh and friends denies any memory of the alleged event.” Omitting this fact from the New York Times story is one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in recent memory.

If you take this confusing accusation in the essay at face value, it doesn’t even appear to be an allegation of assault against Kavanaugh.

If Kavanaugh’s “friends pushed his penis,” then isn’t it an allegation of wrongdoing against Kavanaugh’s “friends,” not Kavanaugh himself? Surely even a modern liberal Yalie who’s been to one of those weird non-sexual “naked parties” would recognize both the female student and Kavanaugh are both alleged victims in this alleged incident, barring an additional allegation that a college-aged Kavanaugh asked his “friends” to “push his penis.”

The new allegation is supposed to help lend credence to the on-the-record allegation that Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez made in 2018. Pogrebin and Kelly sum up Ramirez’s allegation: “She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.”

Pogrebin and Kelly downplay Ramirez’s own doubts about whether Kavanaugh did what she now alleges, choosing rather to lard up their New York Times story with details that are supposed to demonstrate how under-privileged Ramirez was: She had to sell ice cream during the summer in high school, bought a cheap car, and only had an above-ground swimming pool as a teenager (the horror).

None of these details corroborates her accusation against Kavanaugh. But the story is framed to make it seem like Kavanaugh was the type of privileged jerk who might expose himself in front of an under-privileged college classmate.

As I wrote last October, here’s why Ramirez’s allegation was dubious:

Deborah Ramirez is the Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s who now claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself as a college freshman at a party. Ramirez’s claim was already dubious because (1) named eyewitnesses deny the allegation and (2) Ramirez herself wasn’t sure in recent weeks if Kavanaugh had done what she now alleges. “Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself,” the New York Times reported. Ramirez was only willing to make the allegation, the New Yorker reported, after “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.”

Pogrebin and Kelly write that a couple of students say they had heard about the alleged incident in the days after it allegedly occurred, but the authors provide no indication there is any first-hand witness to corroborate the allegation.

We already knew before Kavanaugh was confirmed last October that the “corroborating” source for Ramirez’s claim, classmate Kenneth Appold, was not present when the alleged incident occurred, but Appold told the New Yorker he was “one-hundred-percent-sure” he heard about it from an eyewitness. Shortly before Kavanaugh was confirmed, the New Yorker reported that Appold’s supposed eyewitness “said that he had no memory of the incident.”

Maybe Pogrebin and Kelly’s book is stronger than their essay. But I’m skeptical. “In the end they turn up no smoking gun,” Hanna Rosin writes in her New York Times review of the book.



Dems Concede Trump's campaigning played a Major Role in Helping GOP Win NC Special Election

Democrat's have been desperately looking for signs that a blue wave is building that will give them dominance in Congress and flip the White House to their side.

They didn't get it in North Carolina's 9th district.

A closely watched special election gave the Democrat's a perfect opportunity to strike a psychological blow against Trump and the Republicans when their candidate, Dan McReady, jumped out to a huge lead in the polls. The Democrats poured money into the race  and worked to get out their vote in the GOP-leaning district.

Then, Trump entered the picture.

Even Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Cheri Bustos acknowledged that the president contributed to Bishop's win, writing in a statement, "We fell an inch short tonight, but it took more than $6 million in outside Republican spending and a last-minute Trump rally" to seal Democratic candidate Dan McCready's fate in the 9th District.

McCready's campaign spent approximately $4.7 million on the race, while Bishop's spent only $1.9 million. Outside spending primarily from national party committees helped Bishop to the tune of $5.8 million, though, compared to McCready's roughly $1.4 million.

The clean sweep heartened the president, who has long emphasized the national implications at stake. Trump unloaded on McCready in the fiery rally on Monday night, telling attendees that "to stop the far-left, you must vote in tomorrow's special election."

That effort, Trump said late Tuesday, had clearly paid dividends.

Trump tried out some attack lines on the Democrats during his rally on Monday that we might be hearing from a lot of Republicans come November 2020.

At the rally Monday, the president specifically called out McCready as a dangerous proponent of "sanctuary cities" and rolling back gun rights.

"Just recently, Mecklenburg County set free an illegal alien charged with first-degree rape and crimes against a child," Trump said, his voice rising. "Support for sanctuary cities is disloyalty to American cities — and McCready wants sanctuary cities, with all of their protections for people who are serious criminals. Tomorrow is your chance to send a clear message to the America-hating left."

The special election was called when the Republican candidate Mark Harris's 2018 campaign against McCready was accused of fraud in winning a close race. Trump won the district by 11 points in 2016 but, like many suburban districts, it had been trending blue in recent elections.

McCready was counting on a turnout of more moderate suburban voters to put him over the top. But the energy appeared to be all on the Republican side on election day. Trump's presence put Bishop over the top.

What should encourage the Republicans the most is not just Trump's obvious ability to energize Republicans, but that the GOP message still resonates with Trump voters. Whatever hopes the Democrats had of Trump supporters losing faith will have to wait another day.



Appeals Court Judge Says Not So Fast on Pathetic 30-Day Sentence for Rand Paul's Politically Motivated Attacker

Contrary to the punchlines of late-night comics, the attack that Rand Paul suffered back in 2017 when his neighbor tackled him over landscaping disagreements was not funny at all. The crime left Paul with major complications including recurring bouts of pneumonia after damage to his lungs, and multiple surgeries including a partial lung removal and corrective surgery on a hernia. It isn’t a stretch to say that Senator Paul could have died. The attack was severe and the damage has been long-lasting.

Unfortunately, his attacker, Rene Boucher, was not only lauded by late-night comics and cruel people on Twitter as a hero, but he was only given a 30-day sentence in jail for his violent crime. An appeals court ruled on Monday that Boucher will be resentenced as his current sentence is “well-below guidelines,” as reported by CBS News.

U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani was the sentencing judge who opined that the attack was "dispute between neighbors" and claimed it was not motivated by politics. She took into consideration that Boucher was a veteran, involved in community service, a church-goer with college degrees and an advanced medical career to impose the light sentence. Unfortunately for her, the appeals judge, Judge Jane B. Stranch, disagreed, saying those facts are "almost all disfavored as grounds for a below-guidelines sentence." Then she hit the defense with jaw-dropping rationale, not often seen in our courts.

"To prioritize a defendant's education, professional success and standing in the community would give an additional leg up to defendants who are already in a privileged position...Indigent defendants are less likely to impress a sentencing court with their education, employment record or local reputation. But they are no less deserving of a reasonable and compassionate sentence."

Check your privilege, Boucher. You’re not going to get away with assaulting a sitting senator with a slap on the wrist.



Long-Sought Village Jesus Visited After Crucifixion Possibly Found

Archaeologists may have discovered the village where Jesus is said to have appeared after he was crucified.

According to the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus was crucified, two of his disciples walked to the village of Emmaus; along their walk to the village, a stranger walked beside them and asked what had just happened in Jerusalem. It wasn't until they reached Emmaus and stopped for dinner that the stranger revealed that he was Jesus, in this biblical story.

In a paper set to be published in the series "New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region," two archaeologists propose that an archaeological site called Kiriath-jearim may be Emmaus. The location of Emmaus has long been a topic of debate, with a few different sites proposed in the past.

Archaeologists now propose that the site of Kiriath-jearim (shown here) may be Emmaus — the village that Jesus appeared in after he was crucified, according to the Gospel of Luke.

Several clues point to Kiriath-jearim being Emmaus. For instance, the Gospel of Luke says Emmaus is "60 stadia" from Jerusalem, a distance about equal to the 8 miles (13 kilometers) that separates Kiriath-jearim from the Old City of Jerusalem, wrote Israel Finkelstein, professor emeritus at the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Thomas Römer, a professor of biblical studies at Collège de France, in the forthcoming article.

Recent excavations at Kiriath-jearim have also uncovered a series of fortifications that were renovated during the first half of the second century B.C., and according to the Book of Maccabees, the Seleucid Empire (an empire ruled by the descendants of one of Alexander the Great's generals) controlled much of the region, fortifying several sites, including Emmaus.

Excavations indicate that these fortifications at Kiriath-jearim were renovated about 2,200 years ago, an event that appears to be described in the Book of Maccabees. Emmaus was one of the sites that was mentioned as being fortified at that time.

Excavations indicate that these fortifications at Kiriath-jearim were renovated about 2,200 years ago, an event that appears to be described in the Book of Maccabees. Emmaus was one of the sites that was mentioned as being fortified at that time.

The researchers can't be completely certain that Kiriath-jearim is Emmaus and not another site fortified by the Seleucids. But the fact that the site is located 60 stadia from Jerusalem supports the proposal. Additionally, the other sites mentioned in the Book of Maccabees that the Seleucids fortified don't appear to match up well with Kiriath-jearim.

Adding more evidence for the proposal, pottery found at Kiriath-jearim suggests that the site was inhabited around the time that Jesus is said to have lived. This means there would have been an active village at the site for Jesus' disciples to visit and where Jesus could have appeared.



Are the Democrats Committing Electoral Suicide?

Last Thursday's debate was supposed to be a boon for Democrats, but there are signs and signals everywhere that this is a party in trouble at the top -- and maybe everywhere else, too.

Presidential contender Marianne Williamson was locked out of the most recent debate, after appearing in the first two rounds, for not meeting the DNC's entry requirements. But she did watch, and concluded that "We might be in trouble here," based on what she saw -- or rather, didn't see. On MSNBC she said, "This president is not just a politician, he is a phenomenon. The Democrats are sharpening their knives and he will be bringing a gun to this battle."

I'm not sure Williamson and I watched the same debate, the debate in which the term "white supremacist" was freely thrown down at Trump by Joe Biden, the supposed moderate in the Dems' crowded field. Trump, who not only has Jewish grandkids but has worked closely with Don King and even with Al Sharpton, was called just about the worst possible thing in American politics, with zero evidence. And the rest of the candidates joined in the Bizarro World accusation. It isn't so much that the Democrats are bringing a knives to a gunfight; it's more like they're bringing kazoos to the symphony.

Jonathan Chait, another left-leaning writer, also noticed his party's predicament in his latest for New York magazine. Chait worries that Biden is the only candidate who might not be "too radical" to win in 2020, but that he might be "too old." Chait notes that "general election voters tend to punish more ideologically extreme candidates," but that the Democratic candidates are mistaken in their belief that primary voters are "ready to embrace socialism, or at least something close to it." The part of Chait's article that really caught my eye, however, is when he describes nearly two-dozen presidential contenders as "racing left, treating the consensus on progressive Twitter as though it were a simulacrum of the real Democratic Party."

It's one thing for Donald Trump to use Twitter to blast through the veil of political correctness that shades everything the Mainstream Media publishes. For Republican voters, and more than a few frustrated moderates and centrists Democrats, it's liberating. It's quite another thing when Democratic presidential candidates use Twitter to "embrace and extend" the political correctness (and the progressive radicalism) that infests left-wing Twitter -- and that the rest of the country has rightly tired of.

The question voters must ask themselves is this: Do I want a president who has made strides on restoring economic and wage growth, who is confronting China on trade, standing up to the mullahs, wiping out ISIS, hitting back against stultifying political correctness, standing out of the way of American's unprecedented energy boom, securing the southern border, cutting taxes and regulations... but whose tweets annoy me sometimes. Or do I want a president who promises to undo literally all of that -- and more?



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  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Leftist censors have grabbed another social media site: is the biggest image-hosting site that there is these days.  It is very easy to use so has left other image-hosting platforms -- such as Tinypic and Photobucket -- for dead.  It also offers permanence. It says that pictures you have uploaded there will stay up. 

But that has now fallen by the wayside.  Some pictures I have housed there have been replaced by an angry and unpleasant looking cartoon, presumably under the pretext that my pictures were "offensive"

One of the pictures I had up was of General Pinochet, who is/was a great Leftist boogeyman. He did solve Leftist terrorism in Chile by killing off a couple of thousand of the livelier Chilean Leftists. So I can understand his image being "disappeared".  But for most of the pictures no offensiveness is obvious.  A table of statistics that disappeared would seem inoffensive.  But it WAS a table of IQ statistics -- and IQ is as unpopular among the Left as General Pinochet. 

But the deletion that really amuses me is that they have taken down a picture I had up of myself!  I make no claim to being  good-looking but I didn't think I was that bad!    They have also taken down images of my discharge certificate from my time in the Australian army and photocopies of my university degrees. So they have been rather systematic.

Anyway, I keep very comprehensive backups so have simply rehoused all deleted images on another site so all images I had up are now back up.

So the question arises of what to do about this latest transmogrification.  In my case, I can't see any form of protest as being needed.  It is simplest just to replace the lost images from backups.  And I do have archive copies of all my blogs online which already include self-hosted picture backups.  My practice of putting up backup copies of my blog entries has probably seemed like overdoing conservative caution but it has clearly now come into its own.

Nonetheless, I will have to think in future about where I house pictures online.  I will probably host the more incendiary ones on one or another of my own sites and use imgur for the more mundane ones

It is something of an irony that I have a regular blog -- TONGUE-TIED -- devoted to coverage of censored content -- only to be censored myself


Fellow Millennials: Here’s Why We Must Reject Socialism

Reaghan Waites

Have you ever looked at your paycheck and thought, “Man, I really wish I earned less money!” I’m going to take a wild guess and say, “Probably not.”

Here’s a similar thought: Do you like big government? It seems like a loaded question, but it really isn’t.

For the vast majority of Americans, a mention of “government” or “politics” doesn’t usually elicit a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s usually controversial, often divisive. Bring it up at Thanksgiving dinner, and you’ll likely be met with at least one eye-roll.

So, for those of us who don’t want less money and aren’t huge fans of big government, why are so many of us casting ballots for people who want us to have just that?

That’s the stark reality of socialism: less money in our wallets and more lining the pockets of congressmen and senators who complain about income equality, all while earning annual salaries of about $175,000.

You’ve probably heard the criticism before: Capitalism is about greed. Socialism is about charity. But the exact opposite is true. It is socialism that inherently fosters greed.

As noted by Andy Puzder, former CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., socialism forces individuals to compete for the limited supply offered by the government. It fosters a scarcity mentality, rather than a healthy community mindset.

Free-market capitalism, on the other hand, is focused on providing for the needs and wants of society, creating a symbiotic relationship between businesses and consumers.

Every credit card swipe is an individual vote determining which businesses succeed and which do not. If a company is not providing value for customers, it will go out of business. That compels entrepreneurs to think of the customer first.

Generally speaking, socialism is a system in which the government owns and controls the means of production. But “free stuff” is now the trendy catchphrase associated with socialism, with the result that it is rising in popularity despite being largely misunderstood.

In fact, a New York Times study found that only 16% of millennials could adequately define the term.

What many erroneously embrace as “socialism” is actually welfare-state capitalism as practiced in Nordic countries.

Advocates of socialism deceptively point to nations such as Denmark and Sweden, but those nations are both ranked as free-market friendly as the U.S.

Then-Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in 2015 noted that “some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” but he disputed the assertion.

“Denmark is far from a socialist, planned economy,” he said. “Denmark is a market economy.”

Citing Denmark and Sweden as successful examples of “socialism” only blinds us to the horrific effects of actual socialism.

“Health care for all”—the signature promise from socialists—sounds compassionate. Eliminating income inequality has an almost moral vibe to it. However, promises of “free stuff” are at once unrealistic and accompanied by a hefty price tag.

When added together, so-called “Medicare for All” ($32 trillion), Social Security expansion ($188 billion), “free” college ($807 billion), paid family leave ($270 billion), and student debt forgiveness ($1.6 trillion), all proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would collectively add nearly $35 trillion to the national debt over the next decade alone.

That’s in addition to the $12.4 billion baseline deficit increase projected over the next decade and $22.4 trillion in current national debt.

The hard fact is that nothing is free. What some may perceive as a “win,” such as single-payer health care or “free” college, has to be funded by taxes taken out of our own paychecks.

So, how much more in taxes would we be looking at?  Under a Sanders presidency, middle-class Americans making $75,000 to $100,000 a year would likely pay $13,000 in additional taxes each year.

Just ask residents of Europe in general and France in particular about the true cost of a large welfare state. Europeans have to work on average more than two months longer each year than Americans to pay their tax bills. Those in France have to work more than six months of the year for their government—twice as long as Americans labor for Uncle Sam.

Do we have so little confidence in ourselves and our fellow Americans that we think the government can spend our money better than we can ourselves? That’s where socialism begins—but unfortunately, not where it ends.

Socialism is a failed experiment—it has laid waste to economies around the world. Moreover, it has come hand-in-hand with human rights abuses at the hands of totalitarian governments.

“We lived in a world swarming with invisible eyes and ears,” said a defector from the Soviet Union when asked about the constant state surveillance he lived under there.

The testimonies of the victims of socialism are chilling and provide cautionary tales of the true cost of socialism.

Take Daniel Di Martino. He grew up in socialist Venezuela and penned an opinion piece for USA Today recounting the failure of socialism in his home country. Di Martino recalls how the socialist regime imposed price controls and nationalized private industries, causing production to plummet. In response, the government placed rations on food and basic supplies. It was common for Di Martino to have to wait hours in line to buy even staples such as flour and toothpaste.

The Venezuelan government began to print more money in an attempt to compensate for massive spending increases. That added fuel to the inflationary fire, and prices began to double every few weeks.

Failing to learn from Venezuela’s experience (or perhaps being unaware of it), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has endorsed requiring the Federal Reserve to print more money for her spending proposals. But according to Di Martino, “this is exactly what produced Venezuela’s nightmare.”

The failure of socialism is widespread, and the stark differences between socialist utopia and socialist reality is the worst-kept secret of its advocates.

A recent example of socialist reality—this one from closer to home—underscores the point: Sanders had to cut the working hours of his own campaign staffers in order to pay them the $15 an hour minimum wage he has advocated other employers should be required to pay.

Therein lies the problem: What sounds good theoretically doesn’t always work in the real world. Let’s not choose that grim reality for America.



The 'moderates' in the Democrat field

An 18-year-old college freshman and the graduate student teaching assistant in her Women's Studies class are talking politics as they enter the campus coffee shop, and they have this exchange:

FRESHMAN: What exactly is "socialism"?

GRAD STUDENT: Oh, you have had a sheltered life, haven't you?  Socialism is what people need; it keeps things working by telling people what to do.

FRESHMAN: But you said you did whatever you pleased.

GRAD STUDENT: (chuckle) Touché.  Well, some people know what's best for them, and some people don't.  Besides, socialists don't tell people what to do in a mean, petty way; they tell them what to do in a kindly keep them out of danger.  Latte or cappuccino?*

One of the tactics that socialists use when they discuss their creed with normal people, like conservatives, is to define "socialism" very narrowly.  They stipulate that socialism requires state ownership of the means of production.  Such an explanation, which comes to us straight out of Marxist theory, would mean that Soviet communists were socialists, while Nazi fascists weren't.  But, just as the word "socialist" is part of "USSR," it's also part of "Nazi."  Also, both regimes were totalitarian police states, but let's not get sentimental.

Regardless of who "owns" the means of production, what all forms of socialism share is central control by the central government.  Central control of the means of production means that the central government must also be in charge of the distribution of its products, its goods and services.  It's this aspect of socialism that those running for the Democrat presidential nomination are pushing.

This year's Democrat candidates are all about thousand-dollar checks each month from the feds (Universal Basic Income), universal pre-K, free college, Medicare for All (including foreigners), you name it.  Whatever folks "need," the government will provide.  But most of the central government's spending is already distribution: the "welfare state."  Democrats will tell you you've paid for your benefits, but most Americans get far more in benefits than what they paid in taxes.

The difference between the two major parties is that while Republicans want to get some control over the growth of the social programs that we already have, the Democrats are out-and-out statists who want to expand the welfare state, take over the means of production, and control everything.

The most collectivist, most "Sovietic" candidate in the Democrat field is Bernie Sanders.  Bernie will not be outdone by any of the other Democrat candidates; whatever they propose, he'll go farther.  He now wants to cancel all medical debt.  And, like Attlee in Britain after WWII, he'll attempt to nationalize key industries.  Under Bernie, the feds will own the means of production, although his apologists might call it "social ownership" or some such.

On August 23, the Washington Examiner ran "Bernie Sanders wants to nationalize at least 30% of the American economy" by Tiana Lowe, who opined: "In the ideal America outlined by 2020 hopeful Bernie Sanders, the majority of the economy would be centralized and socialized."  Under his cockamamie Green New Deal, Bernie would "nationalize most of the energy sector."  Lowe's article is very short, but she gets at the heart of what a Sanders presidency would mean for America.

One thing about Sanders that is better than the other top-tier candidates in the Democrat field is that he doesn't seem quite as much of a liar as the others.  But for Americans concerned about Russia, Sanders should be the most unattractive candidate in the Democratic field; he even took his honeymoon in Mother Russia.  For those concerned about Pres. Trump's alleged collusion with Russia, voting for Bernie would seem most inconsistent.

If a commie candidate like Sanders isn't your preferred type of socialist, then Liz Warren might be your cup of tea.  Ms. Warren is a proponent of "dirigism," a sort of soft fascism.  Warren claims to be a capitalist, but then she also claimed to be an Amerind.  (Forget the blue eyes; a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do; how else to break the glass ceiling?)  And Liz has a plan for everything.  Why, even now, she's designing your life for you; you should be grateful.

Over at National Review, Kevin Williamson writes that of the Democrat field, Warren is supposedly "the smart one."  Williamson is a NeverTrump, but his article is worth reading.  He shows us why Warren is such an unregenerate fraud and gives us a delicious little history of "dirigisme."  (Williamson's position on "economic nationalism" may be less to your liking.)

And then there's Mayor Pete Buttigeek (sic), who's onboard with all the Dems' radical plans for transforming America.  What's different about Mayor Pete is that he has a Marxist pedigree.  You see, Pete's papa was an admirer and a biographer of Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist who theorized that the way to undo capitalism is not by violent revolution, but from within. Gramsci, one of the architects of the West's current problems, was a much more prescient predictor than old Marx. So Mayor Pete is a "red diaper baby," but the Dems want you to ignore that.

In April, the Examiner ran "Pete Buttigieg's father was a Marxist professor who lauded the Communist Manifesto" by Emily Larsen and Joseph Simonson. It's an informative article, especially if one isn't up on Gramsci. What's astounding is how a socialist like the elder Buttigieg could find employment at Notre Dame, even ascending to chair the English Department. It appears Catholic colleges have the same rot as public universities.

On a side note, Democrats would be foolish to nominate Mayor Pete, because much of the Dem's base is socially-conservative minorities, and they won't be in the mood to vote for a "queer." With Queer Studies in colleges and LGBTQ, that term can't be pejorative anymore, can it? I mydamnself could vote for a queer were he a true conservative. What's repels me about Mayor Pete is his know-it-all attitude and his presumption. He can't even run a small city properly, yet he presumes to run a superpower. Amazing!

When has America ever had to endure such a field of sanctimonious, morally superior clowns as the current crop of candidates for the Democrat nomination? And here's the thing: All of them are socialists who want to take America even further into that fetid cesspool of misery. All of them want bigger and bigger government, even though time and again Big Government has shown itself to be the problem. There are no "moderates" in the Democrat field.

Why are we supposed to think that government is more moral, more competent, and more admirable than the private sector? After all, it was the government that put us $22T in debt. It was government that sent our kids off to die in stupid foreign wars that were a result of stupid foreign policy. It was government that didn't protect American citizens from being killed, raped, and brutalized by illegal aliens. Rather than nationalizing the private sector, maybe we should privatize the whole damn federal government.

With control of both the means of production and the means of distribution, socialists would pretty much control something else -- our lives. But then, some people just don't know "what's best for them."



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  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 


Monday, September 16, 2019

Wake up, GOP challengers: This is Trump’s party now

The Trump campaign in 2016 did not transform the Republican Party: It revealed the Republican party.

The elements of Trumpism already were there: the skepticism of trade and the loathing of multilateral trade pacts; the hostility toward immigration, which is not limited to illegal immigration; the nickel-and-dime attitude toward US leadership abroad and our relationships with our allies; the hysterical dread of China as an economic competitor; the implacable hatred of the commanding heights of American life from Silicon Valley to the Ivy League; the cable-news histrionics; and, above all, the desire to be led in a social-media Kulturkampf against progressive condescension and self-righteousness.

Trump’s union with the Republican Party was neither a hostile takeover nor a marriage of convenience — the embrace was mutual and ecstatic.

And that is why the half-hearted primary challenges to Trump are going nowhere. The GOP is not William Weld’s party of WASP propriety and Chamber of Commerce libertarianism, and it hasn’t been for a long time. (Alas.) Neither is it the party of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, with his quaint scruples about debt and the deficit. Sanford is typical of the craven posture of contemporary conservatives: He already has vowed to vote for Trump just as soon as he loses to him.

Former Republican contender Carly Fiorina may complain about Trump on social media, but she apparently has no interest in challenging him. (Making a big noise on Twitter while doing approximately squat in the real world — who does that remind you of?) It is not John Bolton’s party, even on foreign policy, as Bolton has been forcibly shown.

On the other hand, Dan Bishop just enjoyed a come-from-behind victory in a North Carolina congressional race by promising to make himself as abject and slavish as possible in service to Trump, whom he celebrates as “the greatest fighter ever” to serve as president, Generals Washington and Eisenhower be damned.

Trump was a genuine celebrity before he was president, and Republicans have a weakness for that kind of thing. (Cf. Nugent, Ted.) But, personality cult aside, the Republicans are victims of their own success: They succeeded with Trump’s nationalist-populist agenda in 2016 and may very well succeed with that again in 2020. So, that becomes the playbook. They didn’t win on balanced budgets, constitutionalism or George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

The question for Republicans going forward will be whether “Build the Wall!” and the talk-radio drum circle will be sufficient to carry them forward without the novelty and celebrity of Trump.

A smaller related question is whether Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan conservatives can be kept in the Republican coalition and whether there are enough of them to bother with.

Those of us who saw Trump as an aberration in 2016 were wrong. A predominant number of Republicans hunger for exactly what Trump is serving up. We’ll see how that tastes to them on Nov. 3, 2020.



Here Are 4 Ways the Left Is Grabbing Power in America

The left is setting aside constitutional norms in a ruthless power grab according to a recently retired Congressman.

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah, who served on and chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and is now a Fox News contributor, made the case that the left is using a variety of underhanded strategies to fundamentally change American elections and tilt them in their favor.

Chaffetz lays out his argument in a new book, “Power Grab: The Liberal Scheme to Undermine Trump, the GOP, and Our Republic.” He argues that the left is using underhanded strategies to fundamentally alter the nature of U.S. elections, making them less stable and subject to rigging.

Chaffetz explained his argument in a talk at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Here are four of the tactics he highlighted on the left.

1. Trolling at Town Halls

One of the left’s more effective tactics, Chaffetz said, is using activists and media allies to go after conservative politicians at town hall events.

That’s what happened to Chaffetz during his last term in Congress.

He said Democrats mobilized a group called Indivisible Utah, which “had a specific manual to take over a town hall meeting.'”

Their strategy was to create the impression that Chaffetz was being attacked by his own constituents on account of President Donald Trump, even though he represented a predominantly conservative district.

“[T]hey wanted to create this illusion that a conservative Republican in a safe district—who just happened to be chairman of the Oversight Committee with the newly minted president of the United States, Donald Trump—that his voters were mad,” Chaffetz said.

“It was used as a tool and a prop. They paid people to come in. There were people from all kinds of states there,” Chaffetz said. “But they wanted to create this media illusion that it was an organic Utah phenomenon in a conservative Republican’s district.”

2. Weaponizing Nonprofits for the Democratic Party

In addition, the left has been effective at manipulating loopholes to weaponize nonprofit groups, Chaffetz said.

Nonprofit groups often hire for-profit groups to do fundraising using what’s called a 990 form, and one of the most prominent fundraisers for liberal groups is Grassroots Campaigns Inc.

“They will put on t-shirts—ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood—and then they’ll start knocking on doors,” Chaffetz said.

“Planned Parenthood will say ‘Hey, we’re raising money, 50 bucks, you know, for Planned Parenthood. You with us or against us?”

The person then might reply: “Oh, I love Planned Parenthood. Yeah I’ll give you $100.’ What does that tell you about that voter? … You think they are going to vote for a Democrat or do you think they are going to vote for the Republican?”

This process allows Grassroots Campaigns Inc. to collect data on voters that can help predict voting behavior. The problem, Chaffetz said, is that people working for these groups can then carry the collected voter data when they go to work for campaigns or a political party, like the Democratic National Committee, “bypassing all of the campaign finance rules.”

3. Nationalize and Skew Elections

Another big initiative of the left, according to Chaffetz, is to change the rules of elections to stack the deck in favor of Democrats and progressives.

This strategy can be seen in the legislative priorities of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Chaffetz said:

“If you look at the priorities that they have put forward in Congress and you look through any poll that’s out there about what are the most important issues, you’re going to hear about health care, you are going to hear about the economy, you’re going to hear about immigration.”

But this isn’t what the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives prioritized.

“Why is it that Nancy Pelosi has H.R. 1, House Resolution 1 … what is her first bill? Does it have anything to do [with] Pew’s top 20 or top 50 issues? No, it doesn’t,” Chaffetz said.

“H.R. 1 is about how to reconfigure elections. [Pelosi] wants to reconstitute how we do elections in this country because it’s their calculus. This is my theory that I lay out in the book, that they have to reconfigure how we do voting in this country for them to win long-term.”

H.R. 1, which the House passed but was never brought up for a vote in the Senate, would have made a number of changes to America’s election system. Among them are mandatory voter registration, a mandate that states allow felons to vote, and a ban on states setting their own rules about voting by mail.

These are just a few of the bill’s many proposals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill a “naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.”

4. Ballot Harvesting

A fourth strategy is the practice of “ballot harvesting,” which H.R. 1 did not address, Chaffetz said.

Ballot harvesting is when an individual doesn’t have to be present to cast a vote. Instead, their vote can be cast by someone else.

“Democrats, in legislation, have supported the idea. They want to make this [the] law everywhere you go, that you do not actually have to be present to vote,” Chaffetz said.

“Vote harvesting allows someone [to] go around … collecting ballots from all of you. [They] can go knock on your door and say, ‘I know that you didn’t get to the poll, I know that you didn’t fill out your ballot, I know it’s inconvenient for you, but if you just give me your ballot, you know, fill it out, I’ll turn it in for you.”

A lot can go wrong with this process, Chaffetz said. He noted that even in Utah, thousands of votes for Democrats are alleged to have rolled in “after the deadline.”

Ballot harvesting made a huge impact in recent California elections, where the tactic threw a huge number of House Republican seats to Democrats. Thousands of new and unexpected voters showed up to certain districts and flipped seats.

“I don’t know how you win an election in California when Democrats play by different rules than Republicans and engage in this type of vote harvesting,” Chaffetz said.



Democrats Finally Fly Their Gun-Control Fascist Freak Flag in the Open

In all of the decades that the modern version of the contentious debate in America over guns, freedom, and the Second Amendment has been going on, the gun-control advocates have repeatedly assured gun owners of one thing: they don't want to take our guns away from us.

My, what a difference one presidential primary full of unabashed Democratic statists makes.

After years of being told that we are paranoid for saying that the anti-gun Left wants to confiscate our weapons, the anti-gun Left is letting us know in no uncertain terms that they want to confiscate our weapons.

Loudest among them is Robert Francis "Horse Mouth" O'Rourke who, seeing his relevance as a candidate dwindling by the hour, has decided to go all-in on making a pitch for being America's gun-grabber-in-chief:

This Soviet turn marks a departure for Beto in a couple of ways.

Last year, when the only constituency he was trying to woo consisted of residents of the great state of Texas, O'Rourke was still paying lip service to being a supporter of legal gun owners.

So much for that.

As recently as a few weeks ago, Beto was talking about a federal "buy-back" of AR-15s. Yes, that's euphemistic garbage -- the government can't buy back something it never owned in the first place. It's semantic whitewashing of what the program really would be: a huge first step to federal gun confiscation.

As of Friday, Cory Booker was still pretending a bit, but tipping the Democrats' hands nonetheless:

"Yeah, it’s mandatory. You have to set up a system to pull them off. But this idea, this imagery that the fearmongers and demagogues try to say of somehow armed police officers showing up & confiscating weapons, that’s the fear mongering."'s a mandatory surrendering of the guns to the federal government that will no doubt be unpopular with 99.9999999999% of the people it targets and we're supposed to believe that there will be no heavy-handed enforcement by the feds.

Has this clown even met the Internal Revenue Service?

Kamala Harris got out in front of everything earlier in the year when she promised that she would almost immediately become an executive-action nightmare on gun control if Congress didn't give her what she wanted.

While the Democrats keep referring to the AR-15 specifically, they also repeatedly use the phrase "weapons of war," which puts the slippery in "slippery slope."

"Weapons of war" is a catch-all that can also refer to sidearms, knives, and anything else ever used in a battle. They used to use rocks back in the catapult days, you know.

They naturally dismiss this idea as just more paranoia, even as they work to prove that none of us are actually paranoid.

Even -- let's just pretend for a moment -- if they were sincere and didn't intend to come after all firearms, when has the federal government ever shown restraint in matters like this? Give the bureaucratic behemoth an inch and it will immediately seek ways to take every mile on Earth.

The obvious takeaway from all of this is that we were right all along about the Democrats' intentions, which provides a perfect example for future debates when they're pretending to be anything other than what they truly are: Soviet-esque control-freak statists.



A rare Trump fan in the media

Lou has always been big on immigration restrictions

On Friday evening, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs told his viewers, “Have a great weekend. The President makes such a thing possible for us all.” Dobbs did not elaborate as to why or how President Donald Trump makes weekends possible.

Dobbs is a strong supporter of the President and often praises him on his show Lou Dobbs Tonight. His show has faced controversy in the past; he has argued that a “deep state” exists in the Justice Department to undermine Trump and he has been criticized for using anti-semitic language against Democratic donor George Soros.

On Sept. 12, Dobbs concluded his broadcast by praising Trump and the White House, adding, “The joint is hopping.”



Attacks on Saudi oil facilities by Iran-backed Shi-ites

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has told US President Donald Trump the kingdom was "willing and able" to respond to the latest attacks by Yemeni rebels on its oil facilities, state media reported.

"The kingdom is willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) told Trump during a phone call on Saturday, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

MBS was referring to Yemen's Houthi rebels, who earlier in the day attacked two state-owned Saudi Aramco oil plants, triggering enormous fires and disrupting global energy supplies.

According to a release by the Saudi embassy in Washington, Trump told MBS that Washington was ready to cooperate with the kingdom to protect its security in the wake of the drone attacks.



Trump has confirmed Hamza bin Laden, son of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and suspected leader of the militant group, was killed in a US counterterrorism operation

In a statement issued by the White House, Mr Trump said the operation took place in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, but he offered no further details.

"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives Al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," Mr Trump said.

The group was responsible for orchestrating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, which remain the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history, with almost 3,000 casualties.

A US official said Hamza had been killed months ago near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr Trump was briefed at the time on the operation.

Washington believes Hamza, who is thought to have been about 30 years old, had succeeded his father as the head of what remains of Al Qaeda, the official said. Osama was killed by US forces in 2011 at his Pakistan compound.



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  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 


Sunday, September 15, 2019

An evangelical Christian conservative versus a Catholic conservative

There are probably as many flavours of conservatism as there are conservatives.  The attempt to categorize them is always going to be approximate. So the recent debates between David French and Sohrab Ahmari are interesting.  Both seem to feel that they represent the REAL conservatism. French is the evangelical and Ahmari is the Catholic.

I think both have good points.  The emphasis on civility and principle by French does indeed strongly distinguish conservatives from the abusive and unprincipled Left.

Ahmari thinks the times are too urgent to stand on such principles.  He thinks we are in a war which we could lose unless we go for the jugular.  He thinks we have to use every strategy we can if we are to win.  I am inclined to agree with him.  My own writings are pretty savage at times.

But I think the great mistake is to claim that there is such a thing as conservative politics.  In the last few hundred years all sorts of doctrines have been identified as conservative and many of them would get little respect from modern-day conservatives.  There are, for example, still some people concerned about the gold standard but not many.  And who even knows about the silver standard?

So conservatism is not an unchanging ideology.  It is a tendency.  And that tendency can only be described at the psychological level.  Liberals and Conservatives may agree or not about political policies but at the psychological level they are as different as chalk and cheese.

To put it most starkly, conservatives are the happy people and Leftists are the miserable people.  Stark as that sounds, it is actually repeatedly shown in surveys of happiness.  It is always the consevatives who are shown as happiest.  So what might seem as a vague psychological statement is actually something verifiable by empirical research 

And another common finding of happiness research is that happiness is dispositional:  It changes little though your lifetime.  As even Gilbert and Sullivan saw, you tend to be born either a liberal or a conservative.  So the idea that a conservative is a constitutionally happier person is remarkably well grounded in the research.  Conservatives are happier and happiness is dispositional, genetic .

Most people, of course fall somewhere in between but the poles are the ones I have identified.  And it is the poles that we mostly encounter in political debates.

And given that psychological basis of politics, how those two types of personality play out in policy prescriptions will vary according to the time and place.  So on neither side is there a fixed set of principles from which all policies can be deduced.

And that suits Leftists very well.  They usually blame their unhappy feelings on things in the world about them rather than working on themselves. And because they are so unhappy, they want to tear down those things that they blame for their unhappiness. They think that if they could possibly get rid of that awful thing (e.g. Donald Trump) they would be happy or at least happier. 

So they put great energies into their tearing-down activities.  And the psychological accompaniment of their wish to tear something down is hate.  Particularly if something resists being torn down, they come to hate it with a passion, as we see from the Leftist reaction to Trump.  They loathe every little thing about him.  Even his remarkably successful economic policies win him no praise from them.  Their hate has become obsessive.

Because they do not have a fire of unhappiness burning inside them, conservatives, on the other hand, can pay more attention to the full picture and note both the good and the bad in a particular situation or policy.  They see, for instance, that limited welfare for the poor is regrettable but also see that more generous welfare provisions would lead to "dole bludging": people who decide to live on the taxpayer's dime when they are perfectly capable of earning their own living.  So conservatives seek a middle way.  Just tearing down one side of the problem seems brain dead to them.

That is very much in evidence in America right now.  The Democrats see a degree of suffering among illegal immigrants held at the Southern border and simply wish to tear down the border as a solution.  No thought to how the USA would be overrun by people with little to contribute seems to occur to them. Conservatives, in the person of Mr Trump, take a middle way and say that only genuine refugees and not economic migrants will be accepted.

So that history leads up to where David French goes wrong and Ahmari is right.  The old principles of a liberal order have served well in the past but it is now time to move on.  New circumstances require new responses -- and conservatives are once again trying to be pragmatic and seek a middle ground.  As an example, Mr Trump has responded to the continuing onslaughts on Americans by Jihadis not by trying to keep all Muslims out of America but by keeping out people from particularly troublesome Muslim nations.  That was one of his first actions on coming to office.

I am particularly interested in Ahmari's comment on the First amendment.  That Amendment must be the most regularly butchered law that there is.  It has regularly been used to attack Christians when it says you must not do that and  has been regularly defied by speech restrictions on American university campuses.  So if the Left can regularly defy it, might not conservatives stretch it too? 

I would pass Federal legislation to forbid any kind of political bias on campuses and allow speech and performances that offend public decency and morality to be banned whenever and wherever they occur. New circumstances can require new legal principles and that may possibly be done by modifying old laws.  Traditions can be powerfully useful and informative but they are not a straitjacket.

And I might perhaps note in passing that this idea of a middle way being desirable is very Catholic.  It underlay two encyclicals a century apart:  De rerum novarum and Centesimus Annus.  And, yes, I have read both of them, though not in the original Latin.


When Government Runs Health Care

DUBLIN—”When would you like to schedule your knee replacement surgery?” asked my American doctor before I left for Ireland?

I gave him a date that works for me (I’m calling it the result of an old basketball injury, not advancing age). His office scheduled it for that date.

Contrast this with a headline in the Irish Independent newspaper: “Surgery delays are ‘cheating elderly out of precious time.'”

While I’m not ready to claim “elderly status,” the story is a preview of what could happen in the U.S. if enough of us buy into the notion that government knows best when it comes to our health and longevity.

The head of the Irish Medical Organization, Dr. Padraig McGarry, is quoted as saying that older people are frequently waiting well over two years just to see a specialist before being consigned to another waiting list for surgery.

Ponder that for a moment. How would you react should your current doctor (assuming you are allowed to keep him/her) tell you to get in line and wait until further notice?

McGarry says he has seen patients deteriorate while waiting for surgery and many return to their general practitioner “who gives them medication which can affect their health in other ways…”

And Ireland isn’t even a part of Britain’s National Health Service. They’ve got their own system, part public, the Health Service Executive, and part private option. It’s the public system wherein the problems lie.

The most recent figures examined by the newspaper found 564,829 patients in the queue to see a specialist and another 68,807 patients waiting to have surgery.

Ireland’s population is less than 5 million. The population of the United States is just over 329 million. If tiny Ireland can’t make it work, what makes so many of our politicians think it will work in the U.S.?

Across the Irish Sea, the U.K. has its own horror stories about health care run by the government. Canadians who can afford it often come to the U.S. rather than wait for their government to approve and schedule surgery.

Adding to the dysfunction is the overregulated Irish system in which people don’t want to become doctors or serve in other health care capacities. Low pay is only one reason.

According to the Independent, there are “527 vacancies for hospital specialists,” as well as a “pay gap between newly recruited consultants and longer serving colleagues.”

The question endures: With governments doing so few things efficiently and at reasonable cost, why do so many turn to it first? Government has become its own type of religious cult. No matter the evidence to the contrary, many people continue to place their faith in it.

People who see government as a cure-all don’t always practice what they preach. We’ve seen that with some environmental activists who promote certain forms of transportation and alternatives to fossil fuels, along with more restrictive gun laws, while transporting themselves on gas-guzzling private jets and in SUVs, accompanied by armed guards.

One of the latest examples of such hypocrisy is the aging rock star Mick Jagger, who, as a British citizen, has access to his country’s National Health Service. Jagger apparently believes the National Health Service is for the “little people,” as the late hotel magnate Leona Helmsley said about income taxes.

When Jagger needed a heart valve replacement, he didn’t wait in line like so many others in Britain; he had the surgery in the United States. After recovering, he added criticism of President Donald Trump to his concerts, citing specifically the current administration’s policies on the environment and immigration.

How’s that for gratitude?

If I had to choose between the National Health Service and American health care, I’d stick with the system, if the government allows, where appointments can be made and kept and the only wait is in the doctor’s outer office.



Once again the media blame Trump for things that began under Obama

Eager to unearth presidential misconduct, Maddow accused members of the United States Air Force of abandoning their “integrity.”
To a certain kind of Rachel Maddow viewer, there are few more titillating preludes to a news segment than the one she delivered Monday: “If you have not seen it yet, you are going to want to sit down.”

Maddow’s story began, as many of her stories do, with President Trump, this time focused on his hotel in Scotland. The Turnberry Resort, a Trump golf hotel, is located some 50 miles south of Glasgow. Not far from that resort is the charming, if small, Glasgow Prestwick Airport; with a population under 10,000, the town of Penwick is not exactly a tourist destination, and the town’s airport has teetered on the brink of financial insolvency for nearly a decade. Because Glasgow Prestwick Airport is relatively close to the Turnberry Resort, fiscal issues at the local airport would portend similar doom for the Trump hotel, which relies on potential customers who fly in and out of Prestwick.

Here, in Maddow’s telling, is the rub: The United States Air Force refueled one of their C-17 aircrafts at Prestwick Airport on a return flight from Kuwait this spring. Maddow insists that it would have been “much cheaper” to fuel up at a military base — a supposed fact that heightened her alarm about the propriety of the stop in the first place. If this seemingly strange choice in fuel station weren’t enough, the Air Force subsequently stayed overnight at the Trump-owned Turnberry Resort. Both of these actions, said Maddow, were highly unusual and enough to arouse suspicion of malfeasance. Indeed, it was proof that the “U.S. military is in on it now,” the “it” being the Trump administration’s “corruption” and violation of the emoluments clause. The event might even reveal endemic corruption in the armed forces and could serve as a broader indictment of “the U.S. military and its integrity.”

I’m glad I sat down.

Indicting “the U.S. military and its integrity” is a rather serious charge to levy against the nation’s most respected public institution, but Maddow doubled down, bringing on her show one of the co-authors of the initial story from Politico, Natasha Bertrand, who called Maddow’s summation of events “absolutely perfect.” But reporting from Byron York at the Washington Examiner has brought the “perfection,” and indeed, the basic accuracy of Maddow and Politico’s story, into question.

The Air Force replied to the Politico report by challenging several key assertions made by both Maddow and Politico. First, the Prestwick Airport was independently contracted by the Department of Defense, and both parties agreed to terms that would allow the department to refuel at “standardized prices” — precisely the going rate that Maddow scoffed would be available only at a military base. Next, the Air Force’s use of the airport adjacent to the Trump hotel does not appear to be a novel phenomenon meant, as the Politico article speculates, to “line the president’s pockets.” Instead, well before the president’s inauguration, records show that the Air Force had used the small airport 95 times in 2015 and 145 times in 2016. While the number of stops there has since increased — the Air Force reports stopping in Prestwick 259 times through August of this 2019 — it is not as though the location was unknown to the Air Force or the Department of Defense until the president roped them into a secretive money-funneling gambit. And there are strategic features that make the otherwise obscure airport in Prestwick a preferable location for refueling. From the Air Force’s statement:

Additionally, Air Mobility Command [AMC] issued a flight directive to mobility crews in June 2017 designed to increase efficiencies by standardizing routing locations, with Prestwick being among the top five locations recommended for reasons such as more favorable weather than nearby Shannon Airport, and less aircraft parking congestion than locations on the European continent that typically support AMC’s high priority airlift missions. By considering factors like these to save costs and increase operational efficiencies, Air Operations Center contingency planners have increasingly turned to Prestwick to develop route plans for lower priority contingency needs such as training, deploy/redeploy and Guard airlift missions.

York’s report at the Examiner examined documents sent by State Department inspector general Steve Linick to Congress, responding to members miffed by a presidential visit to the Turnberry Resort. The document cites lower relative costs at the Trump hotel, compared with other inns in the area. From York:

During the visit, Linick said, State rented three rooms at Turnberry for two nights. The total cost was $728. Citing invoices from the hotel, Linick said the room rate for the night was 95.06 pounds, or $121.40, per night. Linick said the State Department looked at other hotels, including the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow, which charged 215 pounds per night; the Hilton Glasgow, which charged 249 pounds; the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor at 229 pounds; the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow at 185 pounds; and the Raddison Blu in Glasgow at 179 pounds per night. Other State Department employees detailed to the president’s trip stayed at some of those hotels.

As York observes, “at least on the president’s trip, Turnberry was a good deal.” The Air Force, which generally makes earnest attempts to be judicious in its use of taxpayer monies, likely made their lodging decision based on similar price realities.

None of this is to condone the prudence of staying at a Trump resort in such partisan and polarized times; York notes that “the publicity surrounding the new story appears to have made the Air Force nervous.” But it’s a stretch to insist that this is a coordinated Ponzi scheme to enrich the president, with the willing and eager help of the United States Air Force. Maddow finished the segment by insisting that “if this story were fiction, “you would walk out, because it’s too blunt.” It’s possible she was too clever by half.



Median income hit record high in 2018 while poverty declined

Median U.S. household income reached $63,200 in 2018, the highest figure on record, new data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau revealed.

The official poverty rate also reached its lowest level since at least 2001, dropping to 11.8% of Americans, or 38.1 million people who are in poverty, according to the Census Bureau measurements. The number of people in poverty in 2018 decreased by 1.4 million people from 2017 levels.

Between 2014-2018, the United States experienced the strongest four-year improvement in the official poverty rate in decades.

With the significant improvements to median income and poverty witnessed from 2015-2017, 2018 was not a particularly unusual year in terms of economic growth trends. It represents the cumulative effort of the economic recovery that started in 2009.

In 2015, for example, the poverty rate dropped from 14.8% to 13.5%, more than any other year since 1969. Also, the median household income rose by a record amount in 2015, with figures dating back to 1967.

California has the highest levels of poverty, with 18.2% of its people, or 7 million, in poverty. This is essentially due to the high cost of living in California versus other states.



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)