Friday, September 27, 2019

Why the Democrats Have Gone Insane

Impeach! Impeach, they say! If only he were Buckingham, they would take off his head as well. Trump has become the Democrats' version of Richard III, if he wasn't already. (Okay, he was.)

They even moved to open an impeachment "inquiry" (whatever that means -- a little bit chicken, if you ask me -- they've been doing it for the last three years anyway) after Trump announced he was making his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky public Wednesday in unredacted form. And now he's announcing the whistleblower's complaint, whatever hand it is -- second, third, who knows? -- will be released later in the week. Talk about a reckless jumping of the gun on the Democrats' parts. This reeks of outright panic.

So what's really going on here? Why have the Democrats, to put it bluntly, gone berserk? Why are they risking a backlash of cosmic proportions (other than appeasing their psychotically-inflamed base, of course)?

One, distraction. They live in absolute fear of the coming revelations about the Russia probe, from Inspector General Horowitz but even more from the DOJ's John Durham, who can actually put people in jail. The Dems know -- if they have a brain (and a few do) -- these revelations are likely to point up the line at the leaders of the Democratic Party all the way to President Obama. They were all involved to one degree or another with illegally spying on or undermining Trump and his administration and supporters before and after the election. The extent of this we are only beginning to understand.

Pelosi Makes It Official: Democrats Are Impeaching Trump

To put it mildly, not good. Whether you call this treason is up to you, but you can be sure Middle America (i.e. those elusive independent voters) will not appreciate it.

But there's something worse -- and Pelosi's knows it. The only hope for Democrats to defeat Trump is, remote and quixotic as it may be, impeachment. In the midst of the current brouhaha, Joe Biden -- their great (alas white male) hope -- is being exposed as not just a senile plagiarist, but a senile, corrupt plagiarist with a freaky family out of a Southern gothic novel with tentacles reaching into China and Ukraine. Again, not good.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Dems have tacked so far to the left that they wouldn't be able to win an election in Shenyang. Sanders, speaking of senility, is almost risible. He wants to restrict population for reasons of "climate change" when every one of the myriad social programs he so vehemently urges depends on strong continued population growth for economic survival, irrespective of taxes. (Is he that stupid? I don't think so. He's just a liar.)

As for his somewhat subtle clone, Ms. Warren, her proposals are if anything more extreme because she fails to acknowledge (though Colbert did his best to encourage her) that they are going to cost a ton of taxpayer money that approaches national bankruptcy. Even taxing the rich at one hundred percent won't come near supporting her ideas. Wait until Trump gets ahold of that.

So for the Democrats, trouble ahead, trouble behind. Ergo, impeachment.

Of course it will never happen. (Pelosi knows that too. That's why she never held a congressional vote on this "inquiry.") And indeed the whole spectacle might be amusing in a macabre sort of way if there weren't important things going on in the world. The president is engaged in negotiations of tremendous significance with the Chinese and trying to neuter as much as possible the violent mullahs of Iran, but the Democrats don't care. In fact, they would prefer he fail, and seem to be doing everything in their power to make it so. To call that un-American is an understatement. Actually, it's despicable and deeply immoral, not just for the citizens of this country, but for the world. What children!



Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein Fight to Keep Gay Trump Nominee Off 9th Circuit Court of Appeals


The Washington Blade, an LGBT news outlet, reports that Donald Trump has tried two times "to confirm a gay U.S. prosecutor to a federal appeals court despite objections from Sen. Kamala Harris over his qualifications for a lifetime judicial appointment."

Patrick Bumatay is a gay Filipino serving as a U.S. attorney in Southern California. He was put on a list of six individuals intended for nominations to the federal bench by the Trump administration.

Bumatay has been nominated to serve on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, he would become the highest-ranking gay judge serving a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

Bumatay's nomination has been stymied by objections from both Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). This disagreement led to the president removing Bumatay's nomination for the Ninth Circuit and nominating him for a seat on the U.S. District Court in Southern California instead. However, when U.S. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski left the Ninth Circuit Court because of sexual misconduct allegations that included showing pornography to employees in his chambers, the president nominated Bumatay again.

Washington Blade reports that Harris has decided, once again, to fight Bumatays nomination saying,

"Once again, the president has put forth a highly flawed nominee to the Ninth Circuit, without the support of California’s senators. I first objected to Mr. Bumatay after his initial nomination to the Ninth Circuit a year ago and again raised concerns about his qualifications and fitness when he was nominated for the district court...A nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench must demonstrate exceptional skill, professionalism and respect for the principle of equal justice under law. Mr. Bumatay does not meet this standard. Mr. Bumatay has a troubling prosecutorial record, lacks the requisite experience, and has drawn criticism from members of California’s legal community, across party lines. It is clear that he lacks the judgment and qualifications to serve on the Ninth Circuit."

The Washington Blade requested specific examples of Bumatay's unfitness for the job from Harris's office. No word on when or if Harris will respond.



“Left Wing Obsession” Leads New York Times To Libel Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh With Fake News Headline

In a brazen smear, the once respected paper has published another rape accusation without interviewing the accuser – who now denies the accusation

At least one New York Time reporter says “Every Single Person We Spoke to Said Kavanaugh Has Been a Great Person and an Exemplary Judge,” even as a key witness in Christine Blasey Fords’ congressional testimony says “I was told behind the scenes that certain things could be spread about me if I didn’t comply”

Leland Keyser, who Christine Blasey Ford said was a witness to when Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, now doubts that it ever happened. Meanwhile, The New York Times reporters who've written a new book about the Kavanaugh confirmation have blamed their editors for omitting a crucial fact (that the supposed female victim from the "new" accusation does not recall the alleged incident ever happening).

These events, and more, are unfolding as the US Congress is attempting to impeach Judge Kavanaugh and President Donald Trump. The entire Kavanaugh episode illustrates just how low the liberal political wing in America is willing to sink



Out-of-touch Democrats push destructive forced unionization bill

Since gaining control of the U.S. House, Democrats have clearly demonstrated that they are not fit to govern. While one might have assumed that gaining a bit of power would have caused them to behave more responsibly, that has not been the case at all. When Congressional Democrats are not busy ignoring the nation’s problems or scheming to overturn the result of the 2016 presidential election, they are pushing radical legislation that shows how just out-of-touch they are. Case in point, Democrats are supporting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 forced unionization bill or PRO Act, which would empower and enrich union bosses while disempowering workers and killing jobs.

Here are a few of the PRO Act’s destructive provisions:

The legislation would essentially overturn Right to Work laws in more than two dozen states and force private sector workers to pay fees to a union – even if they adamantly oppose the union – just to keep their jobs.

It would force employers to hand over workers’ contact information, including home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Workers would have no choice in the matter, and union organizers could use this information to harass workers until they agreed to sign a union card.

It would expand the definition of employee to include more independent contractors thereby disrupting the gig economy and endangering jobs.

It would make national franchising companies, such as McDonald’s or Holiday Inn, responsible for the actions of employees of individual franchisees. This would disrupt the franchise industry and endanger more jobs as franchising companies sought to minimize their potential liability.

It would require that unionization elections occur quickly. By minimizing the amount of time that employers have to make their case against unionization – and the amount of time that undecided workers would have to make up their minds – unions gain an unfair advantage.

It would also impose harsher penalties on employers who violate the National Labor Relations Act while leaving the current penalties in place for unions who violate the same law.

Democrat support for the PRO Act is overwhelming. There are now 208 Democrat cosponsors of the House version of the bill, H.R. 2474. What that means is that over 87 percent of the House Democrat caucus supports the PRO Act. House cosponsors include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, current presidential candidates Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), former presidential candidates Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), and over half of the supposedly centrist Blue Dog Caucus.

There are now 40 liberal Senate cosponsors: 39 Democrat and one Independent. In other words, over 87 percent of the liberal Senate caucus (which includes two Independents) supports this bill. Senate cosponsors include Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), current presidential candidates Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and former presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

The good news is that not one single Republican supports the disastrous PRO Act and that it will not be enacted this year or next; the bad news is that it could pass as soon as 2021, if the elections go poorly next year. Regardless of whether the legislation ever passes, the PRO Act shows that the Democrat Party has grown radical, and voters and donors need to accept this fact. In particular, investors and businesspeople need to recognize that these policies are bad for the economy. So even if they are liberal socially, they are voting or donating against their own interests when they choose to support them.



Overdue Tax Bill For Ocasio-Cortez’s Failed Business Remains Unpaid

Prominent Leftists don't have to obey the same rules as everyone elsde

A tax warrant against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s failed business venture remains open over six months after her office said the unpaid state taxes would be promptly paid back.

The state of New York issued a tax warrant in July 2017 against Brook Avenue Press, a Bronx-based children’s books publisher Ocasio-Cortez founded in 2012, for $1,618.36 in unpaid corporate taxes.

New York issues tax warrants against businesses if they “fail to timely resolve” their tax debt and don’t respond to notices of their debt, according to the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.

The New York Post first spotted the New York Democrat’s unpaid tax bill in early March. An Ocasio-Cortez spokesman told The Post at the time that it was the first they had heard of her business’s unpaid taxes and that the balance would be paid right away.

Former Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent told The Post her lawyers were looking into the matter in a March 23 story noting that the back taxes remained unpaid

Brook Avenue Press’s back taxes remain unpaid six months later.

The Bronx County Clerk confirmed in a phone call with the Daily Caller News Foundation Monday that the Brook Avenue Press tax warrant remains open and that a satisfaction of judgement has yet to be filed in the matter.

Ocasio-Cortez presumably has the means to pay off her business’s unpaid taxes with a congressional salary of $174,000.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

New York state dissolved Ocasio-Cortez’s company in 2016 using a procedure reserved for corporations that fail to pay taxes for at least two years or fail to file tax returns.

Ocasio-Cortez reported she was the founder of Brook Avenue Press in her financial disclosure report filed with the House of Representatives in May.

As a member of Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has called for tax rates up to 70% on income earners at the “tippy tops” to fund her signature policy proposal, the Green New Deal, which would fully decarbonize the U.S. by 2030.

Ocasio-Cortez sang a different tune on taxes as a small business owner in 2012 when she came out in support of a bill that would provide tax deductions for business start-up costs.

“You don’t really make a profit in your first year,” Ocasio-Cortez told the now-defunct DNAinfo when she was trying to get Brook Avenue Press off the ground. “To get taxed on top of that is a real whammy.”




"BILLIONAIRES SHOULDN'T EXIST": "Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday rolled out his plan to levy an 'extreme wealth tax' on millionaires and billionaires, which he plans to enforce through the creation of a 'national wealth registry,'" National Review reports, which adds, "Sanders' annual tax on the top 0.1 percent would apply to Americans with a net worth of over $32 million, or about 180,000 households, and would raise approximately $4.35 trillion over the next decade, the Sanders campaign estimates. ... Under the plan, the IRS will be required to audit 30 percent of the top one percent's wealth tax returns and 100 percent for billionaires." The senator further groused on Twitter, "Billionaires should not exist." And socialism should?

THANKS, OBAMA: "Iran has spent more than $16 billion during the past several years to fund militant terrorists across the Middle East, cash that was repatriated to the Islamic Republic under the terms of the landmark nuclear deal, according to new disclosures from the Trump administration. As Iran's economy teeters on the brink of collapse under the tough sanctions regime imposed by the Trump administration, the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leadership has spent its limited cash reserves to bolster terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as militant terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen." (The Washington Free Beacon)

FENTANYL SURGE: "The flow of the deadly narcotic fentanyl from China to the U.S. has surged despite President Trump's trade war with the communist county and President Xi Jinping's promise to crack down on the illicit trade. Customs and Border Protection agents have seized nearly 2,400 pounds of fentanyl this year through Aug. 31, enough to kill roughly 475 million people. That represents a nearly 32% increase from the same period last year. CBP's numbers represent a sliver of fentanyl flowing into the U.S. because U.S. authorities missed so much of it. China, the world's largest producer of fentanyl, accounts for 68% of the synthetic opioid's movement." (The Washington Times)

TURKEY'S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS: "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted at an interest in acquiring nuclear weapons, telling the United Nations that it is unjust for the weapons to be possessed only by major powers. 'It bothers us like anyone else that the weapons of mass destruction are used as leverage in every crisis instead of their total elimination,' Erdoğan said Tuesday during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. 'The position of nuclear power should either be forbidden for all or permissible for everyone.'" (Washington Examiner)


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 26, 2019

How To Help The Poor Without Subsidizing The Rich

If you are a high net worth individual you probably already know about it. A seminar on the subject at Manhattan’s Harvard Club attracted financial advisors to some of Americas richest dynasties – including the Pritzker and Soros families.

A Las Vegas meeting on the subject was organized by former White House aide Anthony Scaramucci and attracted such attendees as Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. It has spurred the Swiss bank UBS to create a fund for its “ultra high net worth” clients – people who have at least $50 million in investable assets.

So, what’s all the excitement about? They are called OZs, or Opportunity Zones. They are the hottest investment opportunity around, and they were created by a mere 8 pages in the 185-page tax reform bill the Republicans passed in 2017.

Today In: Business
In theory, the idea was to provide capital to revitalize the urban areas that President Trump has portrayed as “wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness and infested by rats.” In practice, it’s gentrification on a grand scale – as luxury high-rises for the rich replace run-down buildings and other structures.

For example, an OZ project in New Rochelle, N.Y., is financing an upscale apartment building that has a yoga studio, 24-hour valet parking and a spa for residents’ pets. One in New Orleans’ trendy Warehouse District is building a hotel with an opulent restaurant and a roof-top pool.

As explained in a New York Times investigative report (which is the source of most of what I am relating), here is how it works. Investors in an OZ can defer any capital gains taxes for up to 7 years. After 10 years, an investor can cash out and not owe any taxes at all. On paper, an opportunity zone is a census tract where poor people live. But there can be affluent areas within the tract and that’s where the investments can be targeted.

Bottom line: A tax break meant to benefit the poor has become a boon to hedge funds, real estate developers and wealthy investors.

Here is what the tax reform bill might have done instead. Almost 40 years ago, Stuart Butler, then at the Heritage Foundation, proposed Enterprise Zones – a concept first imagined in Margret Thatcher’s Britain. Butler’s idea was to take a depressed area, remove burdensome taxes and regulations and allow laissez-faire capitalism to flourish. Within no time at all, he expected the South Bronx, for example, to look like Hong Kong.

This idea was championed by Jack Kemp, HUD secretary during the George H.W. Bush presidency, and by New York congressman Charlie Rangel. It was partly implemented during the Clinton administration.

But by most measures, the experiment was a failure. The reason? No regulations were actually repealed. What we got instead was increased spending and a few tax breaks – making government a partner in every private decision that was made. We didn’t get less government. We got more government – on top of the government we already had!

That prompted a different approach by my colleagues and me  – one called enterprise programs.

Here is the idea: instead of carving out a geographical area for deregulation, let’s carve out essential services that are needed by low-income families. All too often, burdensome regulations are pricing poor people out of the market for the services they need the most. So why not remove those regulations?

Take transportation. Did you know that low-income families use taxi cabs more than any other income group? The reason: they are less likely to own a car. So, in cities where taxi regulations have done little more than create a transportation cartel, poor people are hurt the most.

Uber and Lyft have made a huge dent in this market – but they are mainly serving the high end of the market. It’s still illegal for me (without a license) to drive a van to a low-income neighborhood in South Dallas, pick up a group of would-be workers, transport them to a job site in North Dallas, and charge each of them a couple of bucks for the ride.

Then there is medical care. Studies show that nurses following computer protocols in MinuteClinics provide care that adheres to best practices as well or better than traditional primary care physicians. Yet in most states, access to this type of high-quality, low-cost care is limited by regulation. That’s why there are virtually no MinuteClinics in rural Texas.

Housing is another example. Local governments often block the use of inexpensive modular homes, limit the number of rental housing units, create minimum lot sizes, and impose cost-increasing amenities such as landscaping requirements. All too often, regulations designed to protect property values in affluent neighborhoods have the unintended consequence of reducing housing construction and availability in non-affluent areas.

Most home-based businesses are started by women and they are a principal way women entrepreneurs become self-supporting. But numerous local regulations stand in the way and day care regulations are among the most severe. Suppose you offered to take care of your neighbors’ children for a modest fee during the day, while their parents are at work. In most cities that would be illegal unless you obtain a license and meet all kinds of burdensome regulations.

The Brookings Institution estimates that almost 30 percent of all the jobs in the country require a government license. Whom does that type of regulation hurt the most? People with less education, lower incomes and fewer resources. It hurts them in two ways. On the supply side, occupational licensing is a barrier to a job. On the demand side, licensing raises the cost of goods and services people buy.

Our idea is to let the middle and upper-middle class keep all the regulations they want. For them, nothing would change.

But low-income families should have access to a free market.



Wise Judge Blocks California Law Targeting Trump

We’re all used to seeing California throw its weight around, but its new law requiring a presidential candidate to provide five years of tax returns to be eligible to appear on a primary ballot is a new low. Now, however, a federal district court judge has blocked the state from enforcing it, at least temporarily.

It’s the right decision. The law is nothing more than a political attack on President Donald Trump, the federal elections process, and the right of free association of citizens and all political parties.

California is weighing its options, but if it chooses to appeal, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court should affirm the district judge’s decision because the law violates the presidential Qualifications Clause and the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The Qualifications Clause in Article II, Section 1 sets out the sole requirements to be president of the United States. You must be a “natural born Citizen,” 35 years of age, and a resident “within” the U.S. for 14 years.

The key case on this is U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (1995). There was a movement across the country in the late 1980s and early 1990s to impose term limits on members of Congress. This political movement ended, however, when the U.S. Supreme Court held in Thornton that an Arkansas law limiting the number of terms that a member of Congress could serve was a violation of the separate Qualifications Clauses that apply to members of Congress.

The Arkansas law provided that once a representative or senator reached the maximum term, he could not have his name “placed on the ballot” — a ballot-access restriction akin to California’s new law.

Arkansas was adding an additional qualification to being a representative or a senator; the court, in a 5-4 opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, said that “States lack the power to impose qualifications.” Although the Thornton case dealt with congressional elections, the same constitutional consideration would apply to presidential elections and the presidential Qualifications Clause.

Arkansas also tried to argue that the term limit was not an additional qualification, but simply a ballot-access requirement. But the court disagreed. States can “adopt generally applicable and evenhanded restrictions that protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself.” States have the right to implement rules that are intended to avoid “voter confusion, ballot overcrowding or the presence of frivolous candidacies.”

But what states cannot do is try to disguise additional qualifications as ballot-access requirements.

In another decision in 1983 — this time involving Ohio — the Supreme Court in Anderson v. Celebrezze (also a 5-4 decision written by Stevens) threw out a March filing deadline for a presidential candidate to appear on the November ballot. The deadline placed an unconstitutional burden on the voting and associational rights of supporters of a candidate in violation of the First Amendment.

According to the court, “state-imposed restrictions implicate a uniquely important national interest” since “the President and the Vice President of the United States are the only elected officials who represent all the voters in the Nation.” Thus, “in a Presidential election a State’s enforcement of more stringent ballot access requirements” have “an impact beyond its own borders.”

So states have far less power to regulate presidential elections “than statewide or local elections, because the outcome of the former will be largely determined by voters beyond the State’s boundaries.”

Similarly, in 2001, in Cook v. Gralike, the Supreme Court, this time in a unanimous opinion written by Stevens, said that the authority of states is limited to regulating election procedures. The acceptable regulations are those necessary to impose “some sort of order, rather than chaos” on the “democratic process” as well as to protect the integrity of elections.

The new California law says its purpose is to “provide voters with essential information regarding the candidate’s potential conflicts of interest, business dealings, financial status, and charitable donations” so they can “make a more informed decision.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his signing statement that states “have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking higher office meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence.”

The law’s stated purpose reveals that it has nothing to do with regulating the “reliability of the electoral process itself” and ensuring orderly voting procedures. Newsom’s statement about the law imposing “minimal standards” also shows the law isn’t about protecting the voting process — it’s about imposing California’s minimal qualifications on anyone who wants to be president.

California passed a similar bill two years ago. When then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill, he not only acknowledged that it might “not be constitutional,” but he expressed his concern “about the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner.” He called it a “slippery slope.” Tax returns now, but what else might states start to demand he said. Health records? High school report cards? Certified birth certificates?

All of that might depend, as Brown warned, “on which political party is in power” and it could “lead to an ever-escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.”

Neither California nor any other state has the right to impose additional requirements for presidential candidates, whether they categorize them as “qualifications” or as restrictive ballot-access requirements.

More HERE 


A military mind that most of the world does not understand

Our military men on dire occasions do remarkable things

It was 2003 on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.

When all hell broke loose.

Ambush city.

The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades. And the kid out of Churchville was in charge. It was do or die and it was up to him.

So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire.

It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish.

And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack. He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.

Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines. Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.

And he ran down the trench.

With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.

And he killed them all.

He fought with the M16 until it was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man’s AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up another dead man’s AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.

At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.

When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon’s flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.

But that’s probably not how he would tell it.

He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble. Hoo-ah, and drive on.

“By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

That’s what the Navy Cross citation says.

And that’s what nobody will hear.

That’s what doesn’t seem to be making the evening news. Accounts of American valor are dismissed by the press as propaganda, yet accounts of American difficulties are heralded as objectivity. It makes you wonder if the role of the media is to inform, or to depress – to report or to deride. To tell the truth, or to feed us lies.

But I guess it doesn’t matter.

We’re going to turn out all right.

As long as men like Brian Chontosh wear our uniform.



NO MORE "CATCH AND RELEASE": "The Trump administration will no longer allow migrant families apprehended at the border to enter the U.S. under the immigration policy commonly known as 'catch and release.' The policy change was announced Monday by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. ... McAleenan said the end of 'catch and release' is a reaction, in part, to the record number of 144,000 migrants apprehended or encountered at the southern border in May. He said that 72% were unaccompanied children or families." (NPR)

BORDER ENABLERS: "The Marine Corps has charged 13 members with smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S., in addition to a range of other offenses including failure to obey an order, drunkenness, endangerment, larceny, and perjury, according to a statement released Friday. Lance Corporals Byron Law and David Salazar-Quintero were specifically charged with transporting illegal immigrants into the country for financial gain. The two were based in Camp Pendleton, located between San Diego and Los Angeles, Calif. The other marines included in the indictments, some of whom were charged with distributing cocaine and LSD, were not named." (National Review)

PRESS BRIEFINGS INDEFINITELY SHELVED: "White House Press Sec. Stephanie Grisham said Monday that she has no plans on bringing back the daily White House press briefings, saying reporters used them to make themselves famous. 'Ultimately, if the president decides that it's something we should do, we can do that. But right now, he's doing just fine. And to be honest, the briefings had become a lot of theater, and I think that a lot of reporters were doing it to get famous,' Grisham said on Fox & Friends. ... It has been over six months since a press secretary has held a traditional briefing in the White House press briefing room, according to Axios." (The Daily Caller)

NO RESPECT: "In August, a group of Trump supporters led by conservative activist Scott Presler went to West Baltimore for a massive clean-up operation following tweets sent by President Donald Trump highlighting the dire conditions in the area. Keeping to his promises, Presler has since led clean-up efforts in Newark, New Jersey and Virginia Beach, Virginia. And on Saturday, Presler and some 200 volunteers headed to Democrat-run Los Angeles, removing a stunning 50 tons of garbage, according to the activist. ... The impressive feat, however, has gone widely unnoticed by the mainstream media." (The Daily Wire)

NOLA CRIME: One in seven adults in New Orleans has a warrant out for arrest (The Washington Post)


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 25, 2019

More on the psychology of politics

The 2013 journal article below has just come to my attention. Its conclusion fits in well with my formulation.  When it says that Leftists have an external locus of control it says that Leftists are always blaming "society" or events in the world outside them for their unhappiness and anger.  Conservatives, by contrast, accept personal responsibility for their own lives and deeds.  They don't blame everything on others

Partisan Personality: The Psychological Differences Between Democrats and Republicans, and Independents Somewhere in Between

Kaye D. Sweetser


Focusing on the psychological underpinnings of partisanship, this study asks whether there is a difference in the personality profile for self-described Democrats and Republicans. Using a survey of young voters (N = 610), psychological measures such as the Big Five personality dimensions and locus of control were measured in conjunction with standard political interest variables such as political cynicism and political information efficacy. The results indicate supporters for the two major parties are wired differently, in line with previous findings about ideology. Democrats were driven by an external locus of control and Republicans by an internal locus. This research finds self-identified Independents as truly being somewhere in between.



Color Me Confused: Take our guns, trash our economy, change our sex, label us racist. Vote Democrat?

Lately, it seems those on the far Left have taken a vacation from reality. Whether it’s gun control, global warming, gender identity, taxes, you name it, they have become totally divorced from reality.

Leftists tell us they want “commonsense” gun control, but in reality, they are advocating taking away our Second Amendment rights. Several of those who are running for president have come out and said that’s what they would do if elected.

Beto O'Rourke, dropping the f-bomb (multiple times), recently said he would take away all “assault weapons” (meaning any weapon leftists think is scary looking). Kamala Harris said she would give Congress 100 days to do what she wants and after that, she will do it by executive order. They want more gun legislation, even though the laws already on the books are not enforced and none of the proposed legislation would have stopped any of the recent mass shootings.

Global warming is going to destroy our country in 12 years. Or is it 11 years now? It’s hard to keep up as the timeline seems to be a moving target. Personally, I would move to Martha’s Vineyard because former President Obama just purchased a $15 million mansion there, so he will probably only stop the rise of the oceans in his neighborhood! Didn’t he say that at a certain point you’ve made enough money? I guess that only means “other people!”

And why do we have to be the only nation that has to destroy our entire economy to save the world? Why would we spend trillions of tax dollars to stop a problem the majority of countries are doing nothing about? Do you remember that in past climate agreements, China and India do not have to do anything for over 20 years. If we did everything AOC and others want, it could not begin to offset these polluters. Anyone remember the Olympics in Beijing in 2008?

President Trump cut taxes and reduced regulations that strangled companies. That allowed the economy to soar. We have the lowest recorded unemployment in 50 years, as well as the lowest unemployment for African-Americans, Hispanics, women, and Asians ever! A number of candidates for the Democrat Party tell us that if elected president, they are going to undue everything Trump has done to bring about fairness.

Bill Maher and other leftists are praying for a recession so Trump will not be reelected. They openly admit they don’t care about how many people will suffer. To them it’s worth the suffering (of others) if Trump is defeated. And that’s supposed to make me excited to vote for them?

At the beginning of the year, I went in for my annual physical. On the paperwork there were over 20 boxes for “gender” plus one box for other. Thank God male and female were at the beginning so I didn’t get bogged down trying to figure out who/what I was.

For thousands of years now, being a man or woman, boy or girl seemed to work out just fine. Suddenly, there are now some 58 genders we have to recognize according to some social-media platforms.

Take our guns, trash our economy, change our sex, label us racist, sexist, Nazis, homophobes, and on and on. That really inspires me to want to go out and vote for Democrats. How about you?



Why Liberals and Progressives Lie to Blacks

In a Slate article -- "Democratic Candidates Are Misrepresenting Michael Brown's Death"-- the reliably-liberal William Saletan wrote:

Last week, in a Democratic presidential debate, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro read a list of black Americans killed by police violence. Alongside Laquan McDonald, Walter Scott, and Eric Garner, Castro named Michael Brown, who was shot dead five years ago in Ferguson, Missouri. Several of the current Democratic candidates have accused the officer who shot Brown of murder. Brown’s death was a tragedy, but it wasn’t a murder.

Besides Castro, the candidates who have joined in this calumny were Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer, and quasi-frontrunner Elizabeth Warren. Saletan continued:

But at the core of the story, there was a problem: The original account of Brown’s death, that he had been shot in the back or while raising his hands in surrender, was false. The shooting was thoroughly investigated, first by a grand jury and then by the Obama Justice Department. The investigations found that Brown assaulted Wilson, tried to grab his gun, and was shot dead while advancing toward Wilson again.

Saletan, I suppose to protect his liberal bonafides, also notes: "Brown became an icon of the Black Lives Matter movement for understandable reasons." (Oh, really?) But let's leave that aside and examine why the candidates are promulgating such a well-proven lie (Saletan does a good job demonstrating its extent), not even correcting it when confronted by the press, in Warren's case most egregiously so.

The obvious is that they are fishing for votes. Warren has a putative weakness with African American voters. Tom Steyer is unknown to them (as he is to a lot of people). Harris is sinking fast and needs to shore up her rep and Julián Castro's campaign has barely been registering enough to keep him on the debate stage.

But beneath this are more disturbing beliefs, one of which is on the edge of disgusting and actually racist: that African Americans prefer to be lied to than told the truth. The corollary to this is that they are easily lied to if you stir them up. The level of disrespect in this is off the charts.

Also at play here, as it is everywhere in Democratic precincts, is Fear of Trump. African Americans are doing better under Trump than they ever have been in this country with unemployment at record lows and salaries up.

Further, Trump really did something never done before -- spearheaded and signed criminal justice reform legislation. Better not remind black people of that. Distract them or lie to them instead. Call Trump a racist, though why would a racist do such a thing?  (At the end of the first paragraph of his article, Saletan cites such reform as necessary with, unsurprisingly, nary a mention of Trump's achievement.)

This is all of a piece with the exploitation of African Americans by the Democratic Party that has been going on since the Age of Johnson, Lyndon. This only got worse under Obama when numerous prevarications and exaggerations encouraged a new separatism in a society that had made immense strides in racial equality. (A new documentary on the Trayvon Martin case explores the dishonesty behind this particular episode.)

This dishonesty to black people practiced by Warren and the others -- fomenting anger toward the police -- makes the lives of African Americans worse, frequently endangering them and resulting in their deaths, as Heather Mac Donald details so well in her The War on Cops. I often wonder how many liberals have read this book. I imagine very few because it so undermines their virtue-signaling narrative with uncomfortable and overwhelming facts. For someone like Warren to fan the flames of cop-hatred is despicable and immoral, but not surprising for someone so willing to lie about her Indian ethnicity. If black lives truly did matter to her, she would never say such a thing.

Just the other day, legendary power forward Charles Barkley, put it this way in his usually pungent manner: "Democrats only talk to black people every four years." He could have added: "And when they do, they lie."



Despite obstruction from Congress, Trump delivers on promises including building the wall

From day one of his Administration, President Trump has been working to deliver on his campaign promises. Because the hostile, liberal media does such a lousy job of informing voters of Trump’s accomplishments, a quick rundown of some of the promises he has kept is in order. As promised, Trump has rolled back numerous regulations, signed tax cuts into law, appointed conservative Supreme Court justices, approved the Dakota Access Pipeline, ended Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” withdrew the country from the Paris Climate Agreement, negotiated the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), withdrew the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, labelled China a currency manipulator, withdrew the United States from the Iran “deal,” defeated ISIS, moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, has forgone his presidential salary, and has helped bring back hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Furthermore, as with his promises of rebuilding the military and achieving energy independence, Trump is making considerable progress on building the wall.

To date, 66 miles of dilapidated barriers have been replaced with border wall; another 167 miles of border wall are currently under construction; and, by the end of next year, 450 miles of border wall should be completed. Nor does the good news end there: the 66 miles of new border wall are already paying off—big-time. In fact, border crossings along that stretch have dropped by 86 percent. Of course, the Trump administration is doing a lot more than just building a wall. It is also building roads, installing lighting, and placing cameras along the wall to further enhance security.

The progress on the wall is especially impressive given the astonishing level of resistance to securing the border. Congressional Democrats were so adamant that the border should not be secured that they were willing to partially shut down the government, leaving many of their supporters in the bureaucracy unpaid for more than a month.

Because President Trump stood by his guns, in 2018, $1.6 billion that Congress passed in 2018 for replacing existing fencing with new steel barriers and the $1.375 billion in 2019 for more steel barriers that was approved after the shutdown. And whatever Trump couldn’t get from Congress, he is getting from his national emergency declaration, reprogramming $5.6 billion from other Defense and Homeland Security funds to build the wall.

Even with tens of thousands of people streaming over the border each month, some Congressional Democrats absurdly tried claiming that there was no crisis at the border. Many Congressional obstructionists, along with their donors, are motivated by the prospect of gaining new voters or cheap, exploitable labor. So while they would have you believe they are acting out of compassion for illegal immigrants, they are actually being quite cynical.

Just a few years ago, senior Democrats agreed that securing the border and building a border wall was prudent; now, they support open borders and call anyone who wishes to secure the border a “racist.” Some even denounce Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for attempting to enforce laws passed by Congress. Democrat officeholders have gone so far left on immigration that even senior Obama administration officials, such as Eric Holder and Jeh Johnson, have warned them that they have gone too far.

On the progress on the construction of the border wall, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning stated the following, “ALG commends President Trump for continuing to fight against overwhelming odds to keep his promise to build the wall. Despite the efforts of Congressional obstructionists to keep our borders open to drug cartels and human traffickers, progress on the wall is finally being made.” Manning went on to say, “If the obstructionists in Congress truly cared about their constituents, they’d put aside their narrow interests and join President Trump in securing our border.”

The left has done virtually everything it can think of to prevent President Trump from securing our border, but they are failing. While a border wall, by itself, will not end illegal immigration, it is a key component of securing our border. The President deserves a lot of credit for fighting so hard to secure our border and for putting the interests of American workers and taxpayers first. Lesser presidents, at the urging of their donors and the liberal media, would have retreated on this issue long ago.




SPEAKING OF DIVERSIONARY TACTICS... According to Fox News, "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, embroiled in a blackface picture scandal, on Friday pledged to ban military-style assault rifles in the country's most ethnically diverse city in a bid to get his campaign back on issue." The blackface kerfuffle is not what we in our humble shop would even consider a "scandal." But what is a scandal is leftist politicians' deeply entrenched hypocrisy. Once that hypocrisy — which can include cooking 10,500 steaks while simultaneously dissuading meat consumption — goes public, diversion is the only resort.

ASYLUM DEAL: "The Trump administration signed an asylum agreement Friday with El Salvador, giving the U.S. the right to repatriate migrants who cross through El Salvador to reach the U.S. and who then request asylum here. Officials hope the agreement, along with a similar one signed with Guatemala over the summer, will change the incentives that have spurred this year's illegal immigration surge at the border." (The Washington Times)

NINTH CIRCUIT OVERHAUL: "President Donald Trump named two nominees for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, tapping a federal prosecutor and a conservative appellate lawyer for the west coast court. The nominees, Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke, are likely to elicit strong opposition for Democrats. If confirmed, the pair would raise the number of Trump's 9th Circuit appointees to nine, with one other nomination pending." (The Daily Caller)

WALMART PANDERS: NPR reports that Walmart "will stop selling electronic cigarettes, at namesake stores and Sam's Club locations. The nation's largest retailer is responding to growing health concerns around vaping, especially among young people." The ridiculousness of the anti-vaping crusade is supported by the fact that Walmart will continue to sell tobacco products that kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.

EAT MORE CHICKEN: "Chick-fil-A has more than doubled its annual sales since gay rights advocates called for a boycott of the chicken chain restaurant after it was revealed nearly a decade ago that the company donated to organizations that opposed same-sex marriage. In 2018, the company had $10.5 billion in total sales, becoming the third-largest chain in the nation behind Starbucks ($20.5 billion) and McDonald's ($38.5 billion). It was a 16.7% increase in sales from the year prior." (Washington Examiner)




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 24, 2019

Trump supporters are the new college radicals

Below is the first half of a big article in Newsweak.  It seems pretty factual

Stormi Rodriguez says she’d never been called a racial epithet before. Growing up in Mission, Texas, just 70 miles from the Mexican border, the 21-year-old daughter of a single, Mexican-American mother, had what she calls a “normal, pretty uneventful life,” in a heavily Hispanic part of the country. That changed one day in 2016, when she posted a picture of herself on Facebook wearing a red Make America Great Again cap. The student at Texas State University said she was promptly bombarded with abuse from the Donald-Trump-hating Left and called a variety of epithets, including “wetback.” “At college, some of my classmates called me a race traitor,’” she says.

Publicly supporting Donald Trump isn’t easy for young voters, especially in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Pop culture derides Trump daily. So too does much of the mass media. Pro-Trump college students like Rodriguez say their teachers are almost uniformly hostile to Trump, and so are the majority of their fellow students. It takes a fair amount of backbone to be young and a Trump supporter, even in a GOP stronghold like Texas.

But the more than a dozen young Trump supporters who spoke to Newsweek were firm in their commitment to the president and clear about their reasons. They don’t consider Trump racist and reject that label for themselves as well. They’re sick of “cancel culture” —when critics on social media call for a boycott of someone who has said or done something deemed offensive—and political correctness. “We’ve had it shoved in our faces all day every day, in school and then from the pop culture,” Isabel Brown, a graduate of Colorado State University, told Newsweek in July. They don’t share the attraction to socialism that seems to be felt by many in their cohort. And Trump’s unfiltered personality delights them.

They see themselves in the role traditionally played politically by the young: They are the rebels, the non-conformists, willing to stand up for what they believe in opposition to the establishment. Only this time, the establishment—on campus and in the broader society—is a culture that demands lockstep obedience to what Brown calls “far left ideas.” For whatever reason, she says, most people her age “aren’t rebellious, and aren’t even particularly thoughtful. They feel the need to adhere to a politically correct ‘progressive’ agenda.”

In this environment, she argues, “true rebellion is simply to say, ‘I disagree.’ I think conservatives were expected to be quietly polite, and we expected people would be quietly polite in return. Now we’ve learned that unless you boldly fight for what you believe in, the culture and the country will look very different.”

Young Trumpers are not a mere political curiosity. Voters age 18 to 29 are one of two demographics nationwide that may hold the key to Trump’s re-election, according to Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. (Moderate independent and Republican women make up the other group.) The goal is not to win the young voter demographic outright—the campaign knows that won’t happen—but rather to limit the margin with the Democratic nominee in key states, and in so doing perhaps tip the election to Trump.

That’s close to what happened in 2016, though not because of any sophisticated effort by the Trump campaign. Hillary Clinton got only 55 per cent of the youth vote, down from the 60 percent Barack Obama won in 2012; many young people did not, to put it mildly, view Clinton as an inspiring candidate. (In 2008 Obama won an extraordinary 66 percent of the under-30 vote.)

“In what is likely to be another close election, if Trump can do better with young people than he did last time, that could be critical,” says Mary Snow, polling analyst at the Quinnipiac University presidential polling organization. “There are plausible scenarios in which it could be decisive.”

The Trump campaign won 37 percent of the youth vote in 2016 in a campaign that was shambolic and underfunded. It will not be this time. Trump 2020 has already raised more than $125 million and the campaign is making a concerted effort to target young voters in battleground states. Parscale, who headed Trump’s digital media effort in 2016, says this will happen via social media, his forte, but also with “traditional boots-on-the-ground type organizing.”

In both the virtual and real-world efforts, the campaign will have considerable help from outside groups—support it didn’t have in 2016. One of them is Turning Point USA, founded seven years ago by Charlie Kirk, then 18. The group organizes what Kirk calls “conservatives” on college campuses across the country, but “conservative” in this sense means Trump supporters. The group has more than 1,000 college chapters and claims more than 40,000 members. Kirk will lead them next year in an effort that he acknowledges is based on the 2012 “Obama for America” campaign targeting young voters. The Turning Point effort will be as much about “clip boards and tennis shoes” on campus as it is about social media, in what Kirk vows will be an “unprecedented’’ effort to muster the pro-Trump vote on campuses across the country. “There’s never been a pro-GOP effort at this scale before, targeting young voters,” he says. “This can be done. We will make a difference.”

Conservatives organizing on college campuses is not, of course, a novel concept. Young Americans for Freedom, a group founded by William F. Buckley in 1960, has had chapters on U.S. campuses for decades. The YAF was founded on and has continued to preach the standard conservative catechism: support for free markets and free trade, limited government and a robust American engagement abroad (originally rooted in staunch anti-communism). The YAF sees itself as the promoter of “true” conservatism” in the Buckley and Ronald Reagan mold, which is why some of its alumni had trouble swallowing the Trump campaign in 2016. Donald Trump is not and will never be a true blue conservative—which is why there will always be a sliver of “never Trumpers” within the GOP—but a lot of young voters don’t care about policy purity. The YAF’s membership rolls have increased by five percent since 2016. As Kirk acknowledges, there aren’t one or two defining issues among young Trump backers in the way that free market economics and staring down the Soviet Union motivated Reagan supporters more than a generation ago.

The appeal of Trump is, as much as anything, attitudinal. In an era of suffocating political correctness, on campuses in particular, the president’s incorrectness is, for many, not just refreshing but liberating. “He’s patriotic, he’s pro-America, he wants to bring back the American spirit and he’s not afraid to say it, and I’m all for that,” says Brown, a Turning Point USA alum who worked for Prager University, an online education site started by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager. In September she started graduate school at Georgetown University in biomedical science policy and advocacy.

The various ways that Trump has broken with convention don’t repel these young supporters; it attracts them. Take his addiction to Twitter. Brown, 22, who grew up in a conservative Colorado household in which her parents stressed the “importance of forming one’s own opinion at an early age,” loves the fact that Trump tweets almost daily: "It's the way he communicates directly with his supporters," she says. "We love it."

Nearly all the young voters interviewed for this article praised Trump's outspoken patriotism. "Trump loves America," says Kearyn Bolin. "I love that about him." The biracial Texas State student was raised in Houston by a single mom. She wasn't always interested in politics (and was too young to vote in 2016), but her mother paid attention to Trump. “She always said America is a business and it would be good for a businessman to run it.”

In 2017 Bolin, 20, attended a Turning Point USA meeting and liked what she heard— particularly in comparison to the anti-Trump rhetoric she encountered all the time on campus. “Trump delivers on his promises. He means what he says and says what he means. I think that’s what a president should do.”

Many Trump fans have tales of being bullied; an exchange of views doesn’t seem to be possible, they say. When Stormi Rodriquez started a Turning Point USA chapter at Texas State, she says she was physically threatened. “There were some protesters outside the meeting, including one guy who came up to me and was pounding his chest like he wanted to fight. It was very, very scary. Believe me, whatever political ideology that guy associates with, I want no part of.”

“What has happened to the left to make it so closed-minded,” asks Brown, “where if you don’t agree with every little bit of their policy agenda you’re  castigated as an evil, racist xenophobe and they just shut the discussion down?” She has lost relationships with friends and even relatives who can’t abide her support of Trump. She handles this, she says, by moving on, concluding that anyone who will let politics get in the way of friendship or familial love and respect “is not someone I needed in my life to begin with.”

Tales of friendships lost are common. Allison Ackles, 21, a senior at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, says she was very close to a group of about 10 friends at school when she went to a Turning Point USA event in Dallas two years ago. Her friends were all standard-issue college-age lefties, and when she returned from the conference—” a transforming event” she calls it—” I told my friends that I was thinking more conservatively now. All ten of them ultimately stopped speaking with me.”

To many young Trump supporters, the left has simply “lost its mind,” as Kirk puts it, on a whole range of issues. Take economics: At this summer’s Turning Point USA convention in Washington, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul brought a packed ballroom to its feet when, echoing Trump, he proclaimed that “America will never be a socialist nation.”

“It’s really strange that so many Democrats seem to embrace socialism when the economy is so strong,” Ackles says. Trump “is doing a great job…Unemployment is low for everyone—African Americans, Hispanic Americans, everyone. There are plenty of jobs. What’s not to like?”

Spencer Ross, 23, a recent college graduate from Richmond, Virginia, agrees. He grew up in a rock solid Republican household, he says, and thinks the case for capitalism is self evident: “You had to either be asleep in economics class or just be ignorant” to support some of the policies the major Democratic presidential candidates favor, he says. “Free healthcare for illegal immigrants—really?” says Ross. “Did they actually all raise their hands in support of that?” (At the June 27 debate in Miami, all 10 candidates on stage did just that.) “They all apparently believe in the magic money tree that they can shake and get whatever they need to pay for everything. It’s insane.”

More HERE 


The Anti-Trump Whistleblower Story Looks Like Another Phony Scandal

The so-called whistleblower "scandal" that the media is hyping up every which way has Democrats once again falling all over each other to declare another "impeachable offense," despite having virtually no details about the conversation between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. But, like everything else that's been thrown at Trump, this appears to be another phony scandal. The Daily Wire's Ashe Schow reported Saturday that the whistleblower complaint "is nothing more than a rumor reported by someone in the intelligence community." In fact, CNN reported this fact, but buried it in an article:

The whistleblower didn't have direct knowledge of the communications, an official briefed on the matter told CNN. Instead, the whistleblower's concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration's determination that the complaint didn't fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said.

Schow noted, "this is yet another anonymous source giving more context on what another anonymous source told a different outlet, but it still calls the entire story into question." The original Washington Post story, despite being on the front page, was vague, relying on “two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter” who were “speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly." They alleged that Trump had made a “promise” to a world leader—which, based on what we know right now, is incorrect.

The Post filled out its story with information about a “standoff” between Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and Congress.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson – who was appointed by Trump – determined the whistleblower complaint to be of “urgent concern,” according to the Post. But Maguire argued he was not required by law to turn the complaint over to congressional Democrats seeking to impeach Trump.

The reason Maguire didn’t turn the complaint over is because of what CNN reported – that the person who made the complaint had no direct knowledge of what was said and was merely reporting a rumor. Why the inspector general determined it “urgent and credible” remains to be seen.

All the reactions to the story since have been based on speculation as to what occurred on the call. Trump is alleged to have pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and offered a quid pro quo... which, according to the Wall Street Journal, there wasn't:

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” whether allegations were true or not, one of the people said. Mr. Trump didn’t mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the call, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on an investigation…

Nevertheless, if you can dream it, someone is alleging it. Even Hillary Clinton has chimed in with an eye-roll-worthy tweet:

Just like the Russian collusion hoax, there's no evidence of this yet, but that isn't stopping people like Hillary from making her allegation, or others declaring an incident they know nothing about an impeachable offense. In March 2012, Barack Obama was caught on a live microphone whispering to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he needed Russia to give him space on issues such as missile defense, before adding: "This is my last election, after my election, I have more flexibility.” It was on tape, but few in the media cared. Some even defended Obama, but generally, it was treated as much ado about nothing. As of this moment, all we have is speculation about Trump, and the media is once again calling for impeachment.

So far, all we know is that the whistleblower at the heart of this situation didn't actually overhear anything. The one thing we do know is that in 2016, Joe Biden successfully pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to ax the country's top prosecutor, who was investigating his son's company, by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. Biden even bragged about it.

The prosecutor, who was fired, was leading a corruption investigation into a company that employed Biden's son, Hunter

This whistleblower "scandal" may be another nothingburger for Trump, but it could be a much bigger problem for Joe Biden.



Pelosi plan takes a sledgehammer to Medicare

The proposal puts the U.S. health care system on a pathway toward socialized medicine

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is surrendering to the radical, socialist wing of the Democratic Party on health care, according to her new, $32 trillion drug-pricing proposal leaked last week.

The Pelosi plan takes a sledgehammer to the Medicare system at the expense of patients, innovators and free enterprise and puts the U.S. health care system firmly on a pathway toward Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders-style socialized medicine.

The proposal empowers government bureaucrats to set the prices of the top 250 prescription medicines. If a manufacturer does not agree with this price or refuses to “negotiate,” the government will hit it with a 75 percent excise tax on the gross sales of a drug from the previous year — not a 75 percent tax on profits, but a 75 percent tax on sales.

The pan would also impose foreign price controls on American drugs by forcing manufacturers to calibrate prices of lifesaving medicine to those of half-a-dozen nations from Australia to Germany.

The bill would impose a retroactive inflationary penalty for drugs covered under Medicare Parts B and D. This retroactivity (which goes back to 2016) is particularly egregious because it would punish manufacturers for past decisions made, the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws be damned.

The Pelosi plan does not constitute a good-faith effort to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Instead, the proposal represents a giant step toward government controlling the means of production within the pharmaceutical industry — a textbook example of state socialism.

Medical innovation only exists because manufacturers are able to invest significant time and money in research and development. This is especially important to senior citizens, whose quality of life is often governed by access to lifesaving medicine.

On average, it takes more than a decade to bring a new drug to market. Of all the experimental drugs under development, 90 percent do not receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration and never come to market. In 2016 alone, American drug companies invested $90 billion for therapy research and development of drugs, more than three times the R&D money spent by the National Institutes of Health.

This process is inherently risky — more than 150 experimental Alzheimer’s therapies have been tried over the past 20 years. Despite these challenges, American innovators continue striving toward a cure for Alzheimer’s. This persistent search for a cure contributes significantly to the estimated $300 billion in annual costs associated with the disease.

Prescription drugs comprise just 14 percent of health care spending. Hospital services comprise 30 percent of health care spending, and is growing at a faster rate than pharmaceutical care.

The United States is a world leader and accounts for almost 60 percent of medical innovation in the world.

This innovation means more lifesaving and life-preserving medicines, and contributes to a strong U.S. economy and supports high-paying jobs across the country.

Mrs. Pelosi’s plan to impose punitive taxes, foreign price controls and retroactive penalties would cause research on drugs to fight Alzheimer’s and other diseases to come to a screeching halt.

More HERE 


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 23, 2019

The Man Democrats Loathe More Than Trump

Sen. Mitch McConnell is in charge of a vital firewall

If you think Donald Trump is the Democrats’ Public Enemy No. 1, get one of them started on the Senate majority leader. “I would never want us to be as malevolent or cynical as Mitch McConnell is,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), a relatively moderate presidential candidate, told The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board this week. Underlying that hostility, Mr. Bennet immediately acknowledged, is a grudging respect for Mr. McConnell’s effectiveness: “I think we need to be as strategic as Mitch McConnell is.”

The central example is Mr. McConnell’s refusal in 2016 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. “The worst thing that’s been done in the last 10 years, and maybe in our history, in terms of judges is what he did on Merrick Garland, ” Mr. Bennet said. (Worse than what his party did to Brett Kavanaugh, he added in response to a question.)

Mr. McConnell agrees on the significance of what he did in 2016, calling it the “biggest accomplishment of my career.” On the day Scalia died in February, the Kentucky Republican declared that no Supreme Court nomination would reach the floor that year. The next president would fill the vacancy. It was a gamble. He needed at least 50 of the other 53 Republican senators to stick with him.

They did, and one of them attributes Donald Trump’s victory to it. “That call, in a close presidential race, tipped the race,” says Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming. It clarified the choice for conservative voters who found Mr. Trump’s character appalling.

Mr. McConnell, 77, has been instrumental in Mr. Trump’s successes on Capitol Hill, too. He delivered tax reform in 2017 with a 51-48 majority and no help from Democrats. He allowed the First Step Act of 2018, a criminal-justice reform bill that he had opposed, to come to the floor and pass with bipartisan support—including his own vote. And he’s pushed through judicial confirmations at a record clip. “We intended to take full advantage of the opportunity to continue to transform the courts for as long as we have the ability to do so,” he says. His motto is “leave no vacancy behind.”

Not that Mr. Trump always appreciates his efforts. The president blamed the majority leader for ObamaCare’s survival after the late Sen. John McCain bolted. “Can you believe,” Mr. Trump tweeted in August 2017, “that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done.” But the two men put aside their differences the following month at a White House lunch. At an October 2018 rally in Richmond, Ky., Mr. Trump called Mr. McConnell “the greatest leader in history.”

In some ways Mr. McConnell is Mr. Trump’s opposite—a taciturn insider rather than a bombastic outsider. From the start of his Senate career in 1985, his ambition was to be majority leader. He begins discussing it on page 5 of his 2016 memoir, “The Long Game.” He made a name for himself by defending Kentucky’s tobacco industry and opposing campaign-finance regulations. Outside the Senate, those stances brought more opprobrium than popularity. But inside, Mr. McConnell quietly built support as he rose in the ranks to majority whip in 2003, minority leader in 2007, and majority leader in 2015 after Republicans took the Senate.

The Senate has changed dramatically in the 35 years since Mr. McConnell’s arrival. “There’s been a kind of realignment of the two parties to the point where almost every Republican is more conservative than every Democrat and almost every Democrat is more liberal than almost every Republican,” he says. Some observers bemoan this polarization, but not Mr. McConnell: “I don’t think that’s necessarily a condemnation of today’s Senate.”

It does, however, lead to condemnations from whichever party isn’t in charge. “We have the least effective Senate,” Mr. Bennet told the Journal, accusing his colleague of hypocrisy. Five years ago, then-Minority Leader McConnell inveighed against the “tyranny” of Harry Reid, who led the Democratic majority, “and the fact,” in Mr. Bennet’s words, that Mr. Reid “never let anything go through regular order, and the fact that we never had amendments.” Mr. McConnell is doing the same, Mr. Bennet said: “You’ve got all these theoretically grown-up people down there who literally never vote on an amendment.”

Some Republican senators echo these criticisms, albeit in private. Mr. McConnell declines to answer them, but an aide tells me the majority leader doesn’t plan to change course: “When he has tried open debate, it fizzles out pretty quickly because individual members block each other’s opportunities to offer amendments.”

Mr. McConnell usually manages to hold his caucus together despite the grumbling. In 2017 he rallied all 52 Republican senators to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, allowing the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch—something he probably couldn’t have done had Mr. Reid not done the same for lower-court nominations in 2013.

Most bills still require 60 votes to reach the floor, and Mr. McConnell believes this is as it should be. “The legislative filibuster is one of the key safeguards of American government,” he says. “It makes persuasion necessary and makes policy less likely to swing wildly with every election. America doesn’t need a second House of Representatives. America needs the Senate to be the Senate.” He says he’ll fight to retain the legislative filibuster if Democrats take the Senate in 2020 but declines to discuss his strategy.

The tax bill passed with a simple majority through a process reserved for budget bills, but even that requires near-unanimity among Republicans, who now hold 53 seats. Mr. McConnell follows the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. “You wear 20% of your ties 80% of the time,” he says, “meaning 80% of your ties, you only wear 20% of the time. It applies to a group too. You spend 80% of your time with 20% of your members. Most of the time is spent with the people who are high-maintenance or who like to create challenges.” Usually, he adds, “I do things one-on-one—for a number of reasons. Because it doesn’t embarrass somebody in front of somebody else.”

The foremost member of the 20% club is Maine’s Susan Collins. Her vote is often the hardest to get and the most needed. Ask Republican senators who won the most favors in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and they’ll invariably answer Ms. Collins. It was worth it, Mr. McConnell says. Her vote was critical, and she really wanted to vote yes, so long as the bill helped Maine. “Mitch’s strength is understanding that each of us represents a state that may be different from Kentucky,” says Ms. Collins, one of only two GOP senators from states Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

Ms. Collins also saved Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination last year after he was accused of youthful sexual misconduct. “Mitch didn’t know how I was going to vote,” she says. “He did not ask and I didn’t volunteer.” She told him over lunch immediately before announcing her “yes” vote in a speech that methodically dismantled the case against Justice Kavanaugh. The vote to confirm was 50-48.

In May a constituent in Paducah asked Mr. McConnell what he’ll do if a high-court vacancy arises in 2020. “Oh, we’d fill it,” he replied. When I ask him to elaborate, he says he’d do it even at the 11th hour. Mr. McConnell allows that “it would be hard to process even a noncontroversial Supreme Court nominee”—perhaps by now an oxymoron—“in under two months. But certainly we would try if that happened.”

The left finds that prospect alarming. “If there is a SCOTUS vacancy next year and @senatemajldr carries through on his extraordinary promise to fill it—despite his own previous precedent in blocking Garland—it will tear this country apart,” David Axelrod, a top White House aide during President Obama’s first term, tweeted last month.

Mr. McConnell scoffs at the charge that he’s hypocritical and points to his statement on the Senate floor nine days after Scalia’s death. “Of course, it’s within the president’s authority to nominate a successor even in this very rare circumstance,” he said then. “Remember that the Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year where there was divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago. But we also know that Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution grants the Senate the right to withhold its consent, as it deems necessary.”

Mr. Axelrod’s histrionics are mild compared with other attacks on Mr. McConnell. At a Louisville restaurant last October, a man snatched the takeout box from his table and emptied it on the street. Also in Louisville, a mob assembled last month outside his house, and Twitter suspended his campaign’s account after it posted a video of their obscene shouts.

He shrugs off most of it; aides describe him as impervious. “I learned a long time ago that the higher you go up in politics, the more criticism you get,” he says, “and that just sort of goes with the job. I’m largely unaffected by the criticism of those who have a totally different agenda. I get up every day hoping I can advance a right-of-center agenda. . . . And to the extent that we’ve succeeded in doing that, and I think most would concede that I have, I’ve got my share of enemies who don’t like that.”

He did respond indignantly in July to being called “Moscow Mitch” for opposing two bills intended to thwart Russian interference in the 2020 election. In a speech on the Senate floor, he called the smear “modern-day McCarthyism.” He says he opposed the bills because Democrats had stuffed them with provisions having no connection to Russia.

What got to him, he says, was being “called unpatriotic, un-American, and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of boldfaced lies.”

Mr. McConnell has served longer than any current senator except Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley. He arrived on Capitol Hill in 1968 as an aide to then- Sen. Marlow Cook and later worked as a Justice Department lawyer and returned to Kentucky for a stint in local government. In 1984 he challenged Democratic Sen. Dee Huddleston, known for missing votes to give paid speeches. Roger Ailes, then a GOP consultant, produced ads for Mr. McConnell featuring bloodhounds searching for Mr. Huddleston. Mr. McConnell won by 5,269 votes.

He is now in his sixth term and seeking a seventh, which he is strongly favored to win. But he worries about the majority come 2020. “Colorado is a competitive state for us, and so is Arizona, and so is North Carolina,” he says, referring to the seats now held, respectively, by Sens. Cory Gardner, Martha McSally and Thom Tillis. “On the other hand, we think we’re going to win the Alabama seat back”—the one Democrat Doug Jones holds by virtue of beating Roy Moore in a 2017 special election. Republicans will hold their majority if they lose no more than three seats, or two if a Democrat wins the White House.

Mr. McConnell credits Democrats for helping. “Our people are very energized by all this left-wing socialist talk on the Democratic side,” he says. “Not only do our voters but our donors believe that the Senate is a firewall against the very worst that could happen if the Democrats get the entire government back.”



Administration considers plan to divert billions of dollars in additional funds for barrier

WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials are considering a plan to again divert billions of dollars in military funding to pay for border barrier construction next year, a way to circumvent congressional opposition to putting more taxpayer money toward the president’s signature project, according to three administration officials.

The president has pledged to complete nearly 500 miles of new barrier by the 2020 election — stirring chants of ‘‘Build the Wall!’’ at his campaign rallies. But that construction goal will require a total of $18.4 billion in funding through 2020, far more than the administration has publicly disclosed, the administration’s latest internal projections show.

Planning documents obtained by The Washington Post show the cost of building 509 miles of barriers averages out to more than $36 million per mile. The documents also show that the government would need to obtain — either by eminent-domain claims or purchases — land that lies under nearly 200 miles of proposed barrier.

At a Sept. 11 meeting at the White House led by adviser Jared Kushner, senior officials discussed a plan that would press lawmakers to backfill — or reimburse — $3.6 billion of Pentagon funds that the administration diverted this year to pay for fence construction, the officials said.

The White House also has requested $5 billion for barrier funding in 2020 through the Department of Homeland Security budget, but if that money is not approved, the administration plans to dip into the Pentagon’s construction budget for the second consecutive year to get another $3.6 billion, said the officials familiar with the plan.

The Democratic majority in the House is adamantly opposed to providing additional funding for the project.

If the administration carries out the plan, the White House will have defied Congress to divert a total of $7.2 billion of Defense Department funds over two years, money that would otherwise pay to repair or upgrade US military installations.

When the White House was asked about the plan Thursday, a senior official responded that the discussion was ‘‘a typical project-management meeting where administration officials discussed border wall progress’’ and that the goal was to ensure that border security priorities were being fulfilled ‘‘and that additional needs were being assessed in the event more funding became available.’’

Trump’s urgency about barrier construction has unnerved top aides responsible for the project’s completion, and it also has raised new concerns about potential shortcuts in contracting and procurement procedures.

Two days after the White House meeting, the head of the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the head of the US Army Corps of Engineers, asking for a briefing on border barrier procurement, saying the committee was investigating whether regular contracting processes were being bypassed to build the structure more quickly.

Committee Chariman Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, said lawmakers also were troubled by revelations in The Post that President Trump had urged the Corps of Engineers to steer contracts to North Dakota-based Fisher Industries, a company whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News.

Cummings’s letter cited concerns that the Corps of Engineers ‘‘is being pressured to bypass regular contracting processes in order to complete construction more quickly.’’

The committee gave a Friday deadline for Semonite to provide the briefing, according to the letter.

The Corps of Engineers also has been directed to hand over information about border construction bids to Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, who has promoted Fisher Industries to Trump. Cramer has said he has been ‘‘deputized’’ by the president to ensure that barrier construction remains on track.

A spokeswoman for the Corps of Engineers said the agency awards contracts through competitive procedures that provide ‘‘the best value to the government for the particular procurement action being undertaken.’’

The House this week voted down a Republican motion to ‘‘backfill’’ the military construction funds. The money has been diverted from child-care facilities and schools on military bases, as well as from maintenance and repairs on US bases.

Trump has pushed aides to build the border fencing as quickly as possible, brushing off concerns about property ownership and contracting procedures while reassuring others worried about wrongdoing that he will issue pardons if they are targeted for prosecution.

The administration has not said publicly how it plans to obtain funding next year to meet its ambitious construction targets, which will require the government to dramatically accelerate the pace of work and make aggressive use of federal authority to seize private land.




Trump tax-return victory

 According to CNBC, "A federal judge has sided with the Trump campaign's request to halt a California law that's aimed at forcing the president to release his tax returns. ... The ruling marks a major victory for Trump, who is fighting multiple Democratic-led efforts to force him to reveal the returns. California is expected to appeal." Meanwhile, NBC News adds that "Trump filed a lawsuit Thursday against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who subpoenaed Trump's accounting firm for eight years of Trump's personal and corporate tax returns earlier this month."

Fake hate groups targeted

"House Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee said on Thursday that over 60 alleged hate groups, mostly socially conservative organizations, anti-immigration entities, and religious groups should be stripped of their tax-exempt status," according to the Washington Examiner, which further notes, "The groups were designated as 'hate groups' by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that itself is controversial and whose founder was fired this year for misconduct." The SPLC is the biggest hate group of all, and yet Democrats are relying on it to destroy conservative institutions.


The triplets


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