Friday, November 01, 2019

The J Street Democrats

Ben Shapiro
This week, four of the top candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders — gathered at the J Street Conference to explain why the United States ought to pressure the state of Israel to make concessions to terrorists, why the Obama administration was correct to appease the Iranian regime and why American Jews ought to value the opinions of Bernie Sanders over those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the future of Jewish safety. Two other top Democrats — Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden — sent video messages in support of the group.

By contrast, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee held its annual conference in March, not a single Democratic presidential candidate showed up. The Democrats are, by and large, simply too ashamed to stand with an actual pro-Israel group, although prominent congressional leaders still show up to mouth nostrums about bipartisan support for Israel.

But the heart of the Democratic Party has moved against Israel. That’s because Israel is economically successful, while its enemies are not; Israel is liberal, while its enemies are not; Israel is the tip of the spear of Western civilization in an area known for its tribalism and brutality. This means that according to the radical left, Israel is an exploitative country hell-bent on domination, despite its lack of territorial ambition — Israel has signed over large swaths of land won through military victory to geopolitical enemies, and offered much more repeatedly.

So the Democrats built up and gave credence to J Street, a Trojan horse group dedicated to undermining American support for Israel and justifying left-wing hatred of the Jewish state. J Street was founded by Clinton operative Jeremy Ben-Ami and Israeli far-left political figure Daniel Levy in late 2007. One of its chief sources of funding — a source obscured in the early years by its founders — was anti-Israel radical George Soros.

The media quickly began treating J Street as a legitimate representative of mainstream Jewish opinion on Israel, and so did Democrats, particularly in the anti-Israel Obama administration: Rather than having to deal with those troublesome actually pro-Israel voices at AIPAC, it was easier to bring in a few ringers from J Street to pretend that advocating for negotiations with Hamas represented an acceptable opinion in the pro-Israel community.

And those sorts of positions routinely crop up at J Street. J Street repeatedly urged the Obama administration to abstain from anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. Proponents of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have found comfort at their events. J Street was an adamant backer of Barack Obama’s Iran deal when the pro-Israel community unanimously opposed it. J Street has refused to condemn a government deal between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and has even undermined Israeli self-defense in conflicts with Hamas. On campus, J Street regularly hosts groups dedicated to smearing the Israel Defense Forces.

So it was no wonder that Bernie Sanders arrived at the J Street conference and quickly suggested aid to Israel be redirected to the Gaza Strip, run by Hamas, to the cheers of attendees. It was no surprise when Buttigieg suggested that the Iran deal correctly ignored Iran’s terrorist funding and ballistic missile testing, while also suggesting that America reconsider aid to Israel if Israel continues to build in disputed areas of Judea and Samaria. It was no shock when Julian Castro pledged to open an embassy in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians — despite the fact that no solution has been negotiated with regard to the final status of Jerusalem.

Leaders in the Democratic Party may maintain that their anti-Israel turn is due to Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who understand Israeli politics know better. There is wide consensus in Israel that no negotiation can be expected with Hamas, Islamic jihadis or the Palestinian Authority; those negotiations have ended in blood too many times. Absent a peace partner, there can be no peace. Democrats must know this. But they’d prefer to blind themselves to that knowledge — and use J Street to cover their tracks.



More Laws Equal Less Justice

There are way too many laws on the books, making unsuspecting Americans into "criminals."

Most Americans are law-abiding citizens, or so they think. Yet they would be shocked to discover they are likely criminals, since the average American commits three felonies per day!

In their defense, the vast majority of these “criminals” have no idea they are breaking the law. How could they? When the federal government can’t even provide an accurate count of how many statutes and regulations carrying criminal penalties are on the books, how can the average American possibly know?

The current best estimate is that there are more than 300,000 laws and regulations carrying criminal penalties. Three. Hundred. Thousand. As Professor John Baker once said, “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.”

Thanks to Congress and its habit of passing laws with little or no requirement for mens rea (a consciousness of guilt, meaning the person knows that what they are doing is wrong), it is literally impossible for any American to know whether some action they take is violating the law.

This is wrong on many levels.

One, it creates anger and contempt for the law. James Madison warned of this in Federalist 62, declaring “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be to-morrow.”

Second, it is immoral to deprive a man of life, liberty, or property for an activity that he was not even aware was a crime. Yet it happens every single day in America.

For example, most Americans know (even if only from watching crime dramas) that bank deposits of $10,000 or more have to be reported to the IRS. This is supposed to be a tool to crack down on tax evasion, drug dealing, and money laundering. But did you know you can be fined and go to jail for making deposits of less than $10,000 as well?

Lyndon McLellan didn’t, and he paid the price … literally.

McLellan is the owner of L&M Convenience Mart, a small mom-and-pop convenience store in poor, rural North Carolina. The very nature of the business means most of his customers paid in cash for the gas, drinks, home-cooked food, cigarettes, and other goods they purchased. Each day he worked long hours to make a success of a business where long hours and low profit margins are the norm.

McLellan worked nearly every day since 2001, rarely taking a vacation, often running the register, sweeping floors, and cooking food from open to close. Every few days McLellan’s niece would deposit a few thousand dollars with his bank. After more than a dozen years of hard work, the IRS came in one day and seized his bank account, which amounted to just $107,702 — less than what many American families make in a single year.

The reason?

The IRS accused McLellan of “structuring” violations — intentionally making deposits of less than $10,000 in order to avoid federal reporting requirements. Lyndon pleaded his innocence, and pointed out that he had vendors to pay, which he could not do if his bank account was frozen. If he could not pay his vendors, then they would stop providing goods and his store would be forced to close. Even after his accountant meticulously matched receipts with deposits to show that the money was legitimate, the government dismissed the evidence.

Luckily, the Institute for Justice took on his case, and after several years McLellan prevailed in court. He was eventually able to get his money back — though the government initially tried to keep the money even after the charges were dismissed.

Sadly, this is just one of countless cases that keep our courtrooms and prisons packed, even when the “crime” is simply a transgression of a statute that as often as not makes no sense, prevents no crime, and protects no victim. Consider Barbara Horst, the Ohio grandmother charged with a felony for having 14 scrap tires in her truck, when the legal limit was 10.

Thanks to these miscarriages of justice, innocent Americans are becoming criminals faster than ever, even though violent crime and property crimes have been steadily dropping for years.

Though a rising number of prosecutors are pushing back on the criminalization of victimless crimes (or disproportionate punishment for minor offenses), it still leaves the average American at risk of prosecution for unwittingly committing a crime, the only hope of escape being a lucky draw of a reasonable prosecutor. The Institute for Justice does fantastic work, but they can only take on a handful of cases each year.

Our laws should be simple and easily understood by people of average intelligence. They should deprive citizens of liberty or property only as punishment and restitution for depriving others of the same. The more laws we have on the books, the less likely we are to see justice prevail, and the more likely we are to see the laws used by those in power to oppress the innocent.

So the next time you hear someone say, “There ought to be a law,” just remember — the next Lyndon McLellan or Barbara Horst could be you.



NSC testimony reveals deep state arrogance

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman that he was “uncomfortable” with President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:

“Leaked testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to the House Intelligence Committee is shocking in its revelation on three critical points. First and foremost, a career NSC employee somehow believes that his policy preferences supersede those of the elected President of the United States. This reveals the ongoing deep state battle where unelected bureaucrats resist the constitutional powers vested in the President with full belief that they have moral authority. One simple question to Vindman: Who the heck elected you?

The second troubling aspect of his testimony is that he clearly believes that the Democrats would engage in partisan retribution against the Ukraine government as a result of their help in getting to the bottom of the origins of the Russiagate scandal and any potential findings of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden. Ironically, this is exactly what the Democrats falsely say they are impeaching Trump over, saying that exposing 2016 interference by Ukraine is in itself interference.

Third, as an officer in the U.S. military Vindman appears to be violating the military code of conduct that allows for disobedience of an unlawful order but does not allow testifying to the legislative branch in opposition to a presidential national security policy that he was uniquely privy to.

“It no wonder that the President of the United States cut out career foreign service and national security council personnel from decision-making related to Ukraine and presumably elsewhere in the world. And it begs the question as to what value any of these resister bureaucrats provide when the President cannot include them in the decision-making process due to their infidelity to their constitutional and legal duties. At this point, it is reasonable to question whether the entirety of the National Security Council should be required to submit their resignations and reapply for their jobs if they believe they can actually inform and in good faith implement the President’s policies.”




TEMPORARY HIATUS: DC Circuit halts disclosure of Mueller grand-jury materials to consider an emergency appeal (The Daily Caller)

SWAMP LEAKAGE: State Department launches investigation into "deep state" targeting Trump's top Iran official (The Washington Free Beacon)

SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES: House passes Armenian genocide measure — no thanks to Ilhan Omar (

HYPOCRISY: Elizabeth Warren pledges to crack down on school choice, despite sending her own son to elite private school (The Daily Caller)

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? The NCAA will allow athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness in a major shift for the organization (CNBC)

THE LAST STRAW: China dumped 27% more trash into the ocean in 2018 (New York Post)

MORE TO THE STORY? Forensic investigator: Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy more consistent with homicide (National Review)

BABY, IT'S WOKE OUTSIDE: John Legend and Kelly Clarkson remake "Baby, It's Cold Outside" after critics said it promoted date rape (CBS News)

POLICY: The needless trauma of active-shooter drills (National Review)

POLICY: Baghdadi is dead. But we're no closer to victory in the "forever war." (American Enterprise Institute)

HUMOR: Texas luring jobs away from California with promises of electricity (The Babylon Bee)


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, October 31, 2019

New York Times Confirms: It's Trump Versus the Deep State

Even the Gray Lady admits the president is up against a powerful bureaucracy that wants him sunk

The New York Times on Thursday published a remarkable piece that essentially acknowledged the existence of an American “deep state” and its implacable hostility to Donald Trump. The Times writers (fully five on the byline: Peter Baker, Lara Jakes, Julian E. Barnes, Sharon LaFraniere, and Edward Wong) certainly don’t decry the existence of this deep state, as so many conservatives and Trump supporters do. Nor do they refrain from the kinds of value-charged digs and asides against Trump that have illuminated the paper’s consistent bias against the president from the beginning.

But they do portray the current impeachment drama as the likely denouement of a struggle between the outsider Trump and the insider administrative forces of government. In so doing, they implicitly give support to those who have argued that American foreign policy has become the almost exclusive domain of unelected bureaucrats impervious to the views of elected officials—even presidents—who may harbor outlooks different from their own.

This is a big deal because, even in today’s highly charged political environment, with a sitting president under constant guerrilla attack, few have been willing to acknowledge any such deep state phenomenon. When in the spring of 2018, The National Interest asked 12 presumed experts—historians, writers, former government officials, and think tank mavens—to weigh in on whether there was in fact such a thing as a deep state, eight said no, two waffled with a “sort of” response, and only two said yes. Former Colorado senator Gary Hart made fun of the whole concept, warning of “sly devils meeting in the furnace room after hours, passing out assignments for subverting the current administration.”

But now the Times’ Baker et al weigh in with an analysis saying that, yes, Trump has been battling something that some see as a deep state, and the deep state is winning. The headline: “Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him.” There’s an explanatory subhed that reads: “The impeachment inquiry is in some ways the culmination of a battle between the president and the government institutions he distrusted and disparaged.”

As the Times reporters put it in the story text, “The House impeachment inquiry into Mr.Trump’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Democrats is the climax of a 33-month scorched-earth struggle between a president with no record of public service and the government he inherited but never trusted.” Leaving aside the requisite rapier thrust at the president (“with no record of public service”), this is a pretty good summation of the Trump presidency—the story of entrenched government bureaucrats and a president who sought to curb their power. Or, put another way, the story of a president who sought to rein in the deep state and a deep state that sought to destroy his presidency.

Baker and his colleagues clearly think the president is on the ropes. They quote Virginia’s Democratic Representative Gerald Connolly as saying the nation is headed toward a kind of “karmic justice,” with the House impeachment inquiry now giving opportunity to once-anonymous officials to “speak out, speak up, testify about and against.”

Connolly and the Times reporters are probably right. The House seems headed inexorably toward impeachment. The president’s struggle against the deep state appears now to be a lost cause. To prevail, he needed to marshal far more public support for his agenda—including curtailment of the deep state—than he proved capable of doing. He is a beleaguered president and is likely to remain so throughout the remainder of his term.

The reporters note that Trump sought from the beginning to minimize the role of career officials. He gave more ambassadorships to political appointees—”the highest rate in history,” say the reporters (without noting that Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan weren’t far behind). The result, they write, has been “an exodus from public service.” They quote a “nonpartisan organization” saying the Trump administration lost nearly 1,200 senior career service employees in its first 18 months—roughly 40 percent more than during President Barack Obama’s first year and a half in office.

The reporters reveal a letter from 36 former foreign service officers to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo complaining that he had “failed to protect civil servants from political retaliation” and citing the removal of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Another letter signed by more than 270 former employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development expressed anger at the treatment of public servants and the president’s “cavalier (and quite possibly corrupt) approach to making foreign policy.”

The tone of the Times piece seems to suggest these expressions and actions constitute a kind of indictment of Trump. But a more objective appraisal would be that it is merely the outward manifestation of that “33-month scorched-earth struggle” the Times was talking about. Does a president have a right to fire an ambassador? How serious an offense is it when he appoints political figures to ambassadorships at a rate slightly higher than some previous presidents? If foreign policy careerists decide to leave the government because they don’t like the president’s effort to rein in foreign policy careerists, is that a black mark on the president—or merely the natural result of a fundamental intragovernmental struggle?

But the Times reporters give the game away more explicitly in cataloguing a list of instances where those careerists sought to undermine the president because they found his policy decisions contemptible. “While many career employees have left,” writes the Times, “some of those who stayed have resisted some of Mr. Trump’s initiatives.” When the president canceled large war games with South Korea, the military held them anyway—only on a smaller scale and without fanfare. Diplomats negotiated an agreement before a NATO summit to foreclose any Trump action based on a different outlook. When the White House ordered foreign aid frozen this year, agency officials quietly worked with Congress to get it restored. State Department officials enlisted congressional allies to hinder Trump’s efforts to initiate weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other nations.

Further, as the Times writes, “When transcripts of [Trump’s] telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked, it convinced him that he could not trust the career staff and so records of subsequent call were stashed away in a classified database.” And that was very early in his presidency, about the time Trump also learned there was a nasty dossier out there that was designed to provide grist for anyone interested in undermining or destroying his presidency.

And of course, now governmental officials are lining up before the House impeachment panel to slam the president over his effort to get Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, and his apparently related decision to hold up $391 million in security aid to Ukraine. As I have written in this space previously, this outlandish action by Trump constituted a profound lapse in judgment that was a kind of dare for opposition Democrats to fire off the impeachment cannon. And fire it off they have. “Now,” writes the Times, “[Trump] faces the counteroffensive.”

But that doesn’t take away from the central point of the Times story—that Trump and the deep state have been in mortal combat since the beginning of his administration. And the stakes are huge.

Trump wanted to restore at least somewhat cordial relations with Russia, whereas the deep state considered that the height of folly.

Trump wanted to get out of Afghanistan, whereas the deep state totally opposed such a move.

Trump viewed America’s role in Syria as focused on defeating ISIS, whereas the deep state wanted to continue favoring the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Trump was wary of letting events in Ukraine draw America into a direct confrontation with Russia, whereas the deep state wants to wrest Ukraine out of Russia’s sphere of influence even if it means opening tensions with the Bear.

Trump wanted to bring China to account for its widespread abuse of normal trading practices, whereas the deep state clung to “free trade’’ even in the face of such abuse.

These are big issues facing America. And the question hovering over the country as the impeachment drama proceeds is: are these matters open to debate in America? Or will the deep state suppress any such debate? And can a president—any president—pursue the Trump policy options without being subjected to the powerful yet subtle machinations of a wily bureaucracy bent on preserving its status and outlook?



Why Not Try Free Market Health Care?

John C. Goodman

I’m often asked if the free market can work in health care. My quick answer is: that’s the only thing that does work.

Show me a health care sector where there is no Medicare, no Blue Cross and no employer and I bet that’s a market that works very well.

Lasik surgery is one example. Patients get a package price and they know what they are going to pay in advance. There are no “surprise medical bills.” As my colleague Devon Herrick has shown, there is price and quality competition here – unlike other health care markets.

Competition works. Over the past decade, the real price of Lasik surgery fell 25%, despite a huge increase in the number of procedures and all manner of technological change – the type of change we are told leads to cost increases everywhere else in medicine.

A similar story can be told about cosmetic surgery – another sector where the third-party payers have no role to play.

What about conventional procedures – like knee and hip replacements? Can the market work there? Where patients pay with their own money, it already is working. Canadian patients routinely come to the United States for these procedures (in order to avoid lengthy waits for surgery in their own country). They get package prices and they pay about the same amount that Medicare pays. That’s about one-half to one fourth of what employer plans typically pay.

By the way, there is nothing the Canadians are doing that you can’t do. There are three requirements: (1) you must be willing to travel, (2) you must pay in advance and (3) you can’t have an insurance company step in after the fact and argue about whether the entire procedure was really necessary.

MediBid is a company that puts patients and doctors together for all manner of procedures. It has created an online competitive market. Patients submit data and their need for a procedure. Providers bid on price. Patients can also check out quality information about the providers.

Then there is the international market for medical tourism. You can shave one-third off the cost of surgical procedures and maybe more by traveling to Health City Cayman Islands. The center posts quality information online (infection rates, readmission rates and mortality rates) and I suspect that their numbers easily beat comparable figures at the hospital nearest you.

It’s also worth noting that most of the cost-saving innovations in health care have emerged outside the third-party payer system – initially catering to people paying with their own money, even if the third-party payers eventually came around.

Walk-in clinics emerged for patients who bought primary care with their own health care dollars.

Firms like Teladoc began providing phone and email doctor consultations – completely outside the third-party payer system.
If the idea of letting employees participate in a free medical marketplace seems too radical for some employers, I have a more modest suggestion. Liberate primary care.

That is, put two or three thousand dollars in an account for the employee every year and let the employee be completely responsible for all primary care, all diagnostics tests and maybe even all generic drugs.

Who is ready to serve these employees? Walmart, for one. Beginning this month, Sam's Club is offering customers packages of healthcare services, including discounted dental care, free prescription drugs, and telephone health consultations in Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Also, Walmart has opened its first Health Center in Dallas Georgia, following its business model of “everyday low prices.” A dental cleaning costs $25, a doctor’s visit $40. A test for a urinary-tract infection is $10; a pap smear $50; a vitamin B-12 injection $18; and a flu shot $39.84.

Then there is concierge care. At one time only available to the very rich, a model of what is now called “direct primary care” has been developed by Atlas MD in Wichita and is rapidly spreading across the country.

The cost is $50 a month for an adult and $10 for a child. For that the family gets 24/7 access to a physician (including by phone and email), who provides all the services people traditionally expect from a family doctor. The family also gets access to generic drugs for prices lower than what Medicaid pays.

Ameriflex is a Dallas-based company that helps employers set up a platform for employees to connect with direct primary care doctors – bypassing insurance companies altogether.

A market for primary care is fast developing. Employers are foolish if they don’t take advantage of it.




"SWINDLING FUTURITY ON A LARGE SCALE": Senate rejects Rand Paul's latest effort to cut spending (The Hill)

FOR THE RECORD: Confiscating the wealth of all billionaires wouldn't pay for three average years of Medicare for All (Washington Examiner)

DEFAMATION SUIT REOPENED: Judge reopens Covington Catholic High student's defamation suit against The Washington Post (Fox News)

TPS EXTENDED: U.S. to extend temporary protections for El Salvadorans for at least another year (CNN)

BREXIT: Britain set for an early election

INNOVATION, NOT REGULATION: MIT engineers develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from the air (MIT News)

POLICY: Why millions are still uninsured despite government intervention (The Daily Signal)


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, October 30, 2019

A big win for America — terminating al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed "caliph" of the Islamic State, is dead after a U.S. military raid of his compound in northwest Syria. Al-Baghdadi was corned in a dead-end tunnel underneath the compound, where he detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children. There were no serious casualties for Americans, and U.S. forces recovered his remains from the rubble of the collapsed tunnel to confirm his demise. Far from a profile in courage, al-Baghdadi died as the same cowardly thug he played in life.

"He was vicious and violent, and he died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying," President Donald Trump declared in a White House speech. "Baghdadi's demise demonstrates America's relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders, and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS."

This win substantially answers criticism of his recent decision regarding troop movements in Syria. The Middle East is a chessboard.

The operation that killed al-Baghdadi was named for Kayla Mueller, the American medical-relief worker who was captured by ISIS in 2013 and then spent two years being tortured and raped by al-Baghdadi himself before she was murdered in 2015.

The reason Trump said he did not give any advance notice to the House Intel Committee? "Adam Schiff is the biggest leaker in Washington," he said. "You know that, I know that, we all know that."

Importantly, The Wall Street Journal notes, "The raid also shows the importance of intelligence gathered from prisoners. Iraqi officials say their interrogation of captured ISIS fighters in recent months provided news about Baghdadi's location. The American left has tried to discredit interrogation since the Iraq war, but it remains crucial to preventing future attacks and killing terror leaders."

"Baghdadi's death is significant," says Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst on Islamic terrorism. "He was the supposed caliph, to whom thousands of followers around the globe pledged their allegiance. [But now the] caliphate controls little to no ground, and the self-declared caliph is dead."

That's true, but as the termination of Osama bin Laden proved, however weakened, the Islamic State threat will endure for years as part of the larger asymmetric threat from Jihadistan.



President Trump reaches 157 judges appointed, thanks to GOP Senate

With the support of Senate Republicans, President Trump has appointed 157 judges to the federal bench in less than three years. This means that Trump has filled 18 percent of the 870 Article III judgeships in the country. (Article III judges are the ones defined in Article III of the U.S. Constitution and have lifetime appointments.) Furthermore, Trump has now had more judges confirmed than any of his recent predecessors at the same point in their presidencies.

While many are aware that Trump has appointed two fine Supreme Court justices, it is less well-known that Trump has made significant progress in remaking the federal appeals courts, the 13 powerful courts one level beneath the Supreme Court. Of the judges confirmed under Trump, 43 are appeals court judges — a very impressive number. In fact, this is 14 more appeals court judges than George W. Bush, 16 more than Clinton, and 22 more than Obama had confirmed at the same point in their presidencies.

Additionally, Trump has flipped the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Virgin Islands). For those unfamiliar with the term, “flipping a circuit” means creating a majority of judges on a circuit court who were nominated by presidents from the same party. Trump is also on the cusp of flipping the Second Circuit of Appeals (which covers New York, Vermont, and Connecticut) and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Georgia, Florida, and Alabama). Trump has even made notable gains on the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands) where there are now 16 Democrat-appointed judges and 12 Republican-appointed judges with one vacancy.

Nor are these gains just academic; Trump’s appointees are making a difference. For example, Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, provided the key fifth vote in the Janus case, which established that all government workers have the right to work and cannot be compelled to pay union fees. This was a huge victory for conservative government employees who had previously been compelled to support liberal public employee unions. In addition, as Adam Feldman wrote on SCOTUS Blog, “The Supreme Court with Kavanaugh is distinctly different from the court with Kennedy. There is no longer a clear swing vote.” As evidence of this fact, both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined the other conservatives on the Court in a 5-4 decision allowing construction of the border wall to continue.

To try to stop this progress, Senate Democrats continue to obstruct judicial confirmations. They are simply terrified of the thought that they might not be able to use the courts to impose their will on the people as they have done so many times in the past. This fear has even led some Democrats to openly support packing the Supreme Court.

In spite of the great work Senate Republicans have done so far, much work remains to be done. Overall, there is still a small majority of Democrat-appointed judges among all active Article III judges. However, there are 120 current and future judicial vacancies, and nearly 50 judicial nominees are awaiting hearings or confirmation votes. By simply filling current vacancies, Republicans can create a majority of Republican-appointed judges. At the current pace, the Senate would confirm about 70 more judges by the end of Trump’s first term.

Many people voted for President Trump and Senate Republicans because they wanted to see conservatives appointed to the federal bench; and Trump and Senate Republicans have delivered for those voters. Long after the President leaves office, his appointees to the courts should still be working to protect our rights from the leftists who would take them away.



Elijah Cummings and the Little Sisters

Peggy Noonan
I was writing a rather stern column about the mess in Washington, but I got kind of swept Thursday by the beautiful bipartisan tribute to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, in Congress’s Statuary Hall, a ceremony held just before his burial back in Baltimore.

I want to get beyond the merely sentimental. Everyone seems to have liked him a lot; I knew him slightly and liked him too. I would only add to his enumerated virtues the power of his warmth. I met him at an event five or so years ago and when we were introduced I went to shake his hand. He’d have none of that and enveloped me in a hug. I don’t remember what we talked about but it seemed important to the two of us, in one of those nice moments that sometimes happen, that we show a mutual appreciation for who the other was. We did, and held hands. I just found to my shock that remembering this leaves me a little choked.

There was something not sentimental but poignant and half-grasped in the tribute to him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke movingly about how Cummings came to Washington not to be a big man but to do big things. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “He was strong, very strong when necessary… . His voice could … stir the most cynical hearts.” Cummings’s friend Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said he had “eyes that would pierce through anybody standing in his way,” and like the others read Scripture. It was nice to hear the Bible read in Statuary Hall; the religiosity had a great sweetness to it. “In my father’s house are many mansions,” Mr. Meadows read, and suggested the Baltimore boy was in a grand new home.

What was poignant was how much the speakers enjoyed being their best selves. Congress knows how hapless it looks, how riven by partisanship and skins-vs.-shirts dumbness. For many of them it takes the tang out of things. They know it lowers their standing in America. They grieve it. It embarrasses them. They’d like to be part of something that works, something respected.

It wouldn’t be lost on the brighter of them that they were enacting in the Cummings ceremony a unity and respect, a shared purpose, that they wish they could sustain but are unable to.

They believe they are forced into their partisan positions by several things, among them that America is badly divided and the politically active on both sides, in their mutual loathing, pull toward the extremes.

As I watched the ceremony I thought of a dinner two weeks ago with a close friend. It was just the two of us and we found ourselves going deep about how we feel about everything. She is a spirited lefty, a longtime Democratic donor, I am a righty, a conservative as I define it, but neither of us has ever cared much about that because the essence of friendship is … essence. Who you are, which fairly enough includes politics but is not limited to politics. We’ve had 30 years of teasing and occasional sparring but this night we went to the thoughts behind our views. She asked me how I see my own political views; am I more lefty than I was? I found myself saying something I’d never said, that all my political thinking comes down to this: I am for whatever will hold America together, full stop. I see it breaking in a million pieces and my every political impulse has to do with wanting it to hold together, to endure, to go forward in history and the world. If that means compromise, fine. She thought about this, nodded and said softly that that makes complete sense right now. “That’s a program.”

But don’t most of us kind of think like this? Even if we haven’t articulated it or even noticed it’s what we think. But isn’t it the right primary intention?

A deep impediment is the air of political maximalism that careless people who never know the implications of things encourage. Years ago Rep. Bella Abzug of New York would point out that her father was a butcher, who owned the Live and Let Live Meat Market. I always liked that. Nobody says that phrase anymore, live and let live, but long ago everybody did. Now it’s part of what’s missing — a sense of give. So many people feel bullied, pushed around by vague and implacable forces. They fear the erosion of central freedoms.

Here is the first example that springs to mind. It reflects my cultural views and indignations, but I ask you to take it on its own terms.

In early October CNN had a town hall on LGBTQ issues for the Democratic presidential candidates. They said the sort of things they say, you can imagine them, you don’t need your neighborhood pundit to tell you. But at one point the essential nature of the new progressivism jumped out.

Don Lemon asked Beto O'Rourke: “Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?”

“Yes,” said Mr. O'Rourke, not missing a beat. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. So as president we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

Regular readers know we do not especially admire Mr. O'Rourke, that we believe the past year he has been having not a campaign but a manic episode. But he said what he said because he wanted to please a significant part of the Democratic base, and he received big applause.

Can we agree his is a radical, maximalist stand? Under his standard the Catholic Church would be ruined, and with it a whole world of charities, schools, hospitals, orphanages, other agencies, all of which help those with limited resources. Let’s just posit without bothering to defend the proposition that an America without the Catholic church would be a poorer, sicker, colder place, and one less likely to continue.

At almost the same time as the CNN town hall, the Little Sisters of the Poor, who serve the elderly and impoverished, were again in court asking for protection from the ObamaCare mandate that tells them they must include contraceptive coverage in their employee health plans. It’s been a long legal journey: The Supreme Court has already been involved. So has the Trump administration, whose directives regarding religious protection have been challenged by certain states, which got injunctions, which have been upheld by the appellate courts. The Sisters are forced to appeal to the high court again, which will, please God, affirm, with clarity and force, the constitutional rights without which they cannot exist.

Oh, progressives, if you only had the wisdom to back off, to see your demands as maximalist, extreme, damaging to the fabric, the opposite of live and let live. When you push in this way to control the culture of the country, do you ever ask, “When I win, will there be a country left?” [They don't care, Peggy]




OUT OF OPTIONS: Rep. Katie Hill resigns amid allegations of sexual relationships with staffers (The Hill)

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Obama judge orders DOJ to turn over Mueller grand-jury material for Democrats' impeachment probe (The Washington Times)

NEWS FROM THE SWAMP: Trump showered with boos, chants of "lock him up" at World Series game in Washington, DC (NBC News)

TOPSY-TURVY: Biologically male NCAA runner named conference "female" athlete of the week (The Daily Caller)

INFERNO: California declares state of emergency as wildfires spread (National Review)

POLICY: Missile defense needs Trump's attention (Hudson Institute)

POLICY: Why Bernie Sanders' universal jobs guarantee is not a worthy goal (Foundation for Economic Education)

LEFTIST LOGIC: Motorcyclist who identifies as a bicyclist sets cycling world record (The Babylon Bee)


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, October 29, 2019

If Elizabeth Warren really understood Native Americans, she'd know socialism doesn’t work

Executive Director of the New Mexico Alliance for Life Elisa Martinez argues socialism is not what America needs

Gallup, N.M., is known as “the heart of Indian country.” It’s sadly one of the poorest areas in the nation and has an important lesson for all Americans about our nation’s future.

My grandparents owned one of the first trading posts in Gallup. I grew up working in my dad’s small business.

I’m a Latina with New Mexico roots over 15 generations deep on dad’s side of the family and on my mother’s side we’re Zuni and Navajo. I’m an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and … I’m a Republican.

My life experience made me a Republican. Growing up I witnessed first-hand the poverty and destruction government policies had on my people and my peoples’ land -- the Indian reservation.

Overlapping, paternalistic federal and state programs, including fully funded and inefficient healthcare, dominate the reservations’ economies. The restrictions the government places on land use, ownership and business development are microcosms of socialist failure in its purest form.

The government “help” has never encouraged financial self-sufficiency. If anything, the programs have been a disincentive to economic freedom and prosperity.

While I firmly believe all Americans should benefit from a safety net, I also know government handouts are never as powerful as a hand up. The federal government set up the reservations more than 100 years ago and, just like liberal democrats today, created these subsidized economies because they think they know what’s best for us.

The result of more than 100 years of government assistance is Indian Reservations drowning in poverty. These well-intended programs have made our people the poorest Americans. Some reservations have unemployment rates close to 85 percent, and 29 percent of employed Native Americans nationwide live below the poverty level.

As a Native American woman, when I heard Sen. Elizabeth Warren speak of her heritage, I was intrigued. Then the tragic irony became apparent. Her policies proved she knew nothing about us.

As a Native American woman, when I heard Sen. Elizabeth Warren speak of her heritage, I was intrigued. Then the tragic irony became apparent. While she claimed to be one of us, her policies proved she knew nothing about us.

She’s never experienced firsthand how big government programs fail our people. In fact, she now advocates those failed policies for all Americans.

Over 10 years "Medicare-for-All" will cost $32 trillion. Green New Deal? $93 trillion. Her Green Manufacturing Deal; $2 trillion. In total about $127 trillion.

Economists say the new taxes she has proposed would generate only $3 trillion over 10 years. So where will she find the missing $124 trillion? Warren doesn’t explain that it will require raising taxes on all Americans.

To improve peoples’ lives we can’t force them to rely on the government.  Tax cuts and the free-market economy foster growth and opportunity, creating jobs and lifting the poor out of poverty.

Is it a perfect system? No, but to see more families prosper and have better opportunities, free-market economic policies, especially tax cuts, are proven to work. Socialist government-controlled economies, with handouts and higher taxes, only lead to poverty and misery.

Today, the U.S. unemployment rate is at its the lowest point in 50 years.  The jobless rate for Hispanics hit a record low of 3.9 percent in September. African Americans maintained their lowest rate ever at 5.5 percent and adult women came in at 3.1 percent.

Our incredibly strong economy came about in no small part from President Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation of business. We need to preserve the working families’ tax cuts and expand them.

That’s what will help all of America’s families and that is one of the biggest reasons I am considering running for U.S. Senate in New Mexico. I’ve seen socialism, up close and personal. It’s not what America needs.



In the Heartland, Impeachment Isn't Very Popular

Despite impeachment hysteria suffusing every nook and cranny of the media, despite scare headlines that tell us Trump is on his way out the door, and despite being instructed what to believe by arrogant pundits on TV, it may surprise you to know that in several heartland states, a majority of people don't support impeachment.


In the context of the 2020 presidential election, we need to be looking to swing state polling to see how impeachment may play out on the campaign trail. The polls indicate that impeaching and removing Trump in these pivotal states is far from a slam dunk.
Wisconsin, of course, was the most infamous swing state of 2016. It was the tipping point state (i.e. the one that put Trump over the top in the electoral college). When the most accurate pollster in Wisconsin (Marquette) in 2018 reveals that impeaching and removing Trump is not popular, it's a critical finding.

Importantly, it's not just this Marquette poll that show that impeaching and remove Trump could be an electoral loser for Democrats (and potential winner for Trump) in the swing states.

Florida is one of the most important swing states in the nation. Trump won there by only a point in 2016. With 29 electoral votes, Democrats would likely take back the presidency with a win there in 2020. A poll of Florida voters conducted by the University of North Florida out this week shows the divide at 46% in support of impeaching and removing Trump and 48% opposed to it.

It gets worse for Democrats. The same states that helped Trump to a win in the Electoral College in 2016 are resistant to impeaching him.

Indeed, take an examination of the battleground states that Democrats almost certainly need to make inroads into in 2020. The New York Times and Siena College, 2018's  most accurate pollster, took  a poll of voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona. These were  closest states in the country that cast their electoral votes for Trump in 2016.
Just 43% of voters in these six states want to impeach and remove from office at this point. The majority, 53%, do not. This means that the margin for not impeaching and removing Trump in these states (+10 points) is running well ahead of Trump's margin in these states of about 1.5 points. Put another way, impeaching and removing Trump from office in these states is not a popular position.



Hey Bernie, it's 'Medicare for all' that would be 'cruel' and 'dysfunctional'

by Sally Pipes

During last week's Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders called the current U.S. healthcare system "dysfunctional" and "cruel."

Words like that are more appropriate descriptors of the government-run healthcare systems abroad that Sanders would like to import to the United States.

Take Canada, the closest analog to Sanders's vision of "Medicare for all." Canadians face some of the longest waits for medical care on the planet. Last year, the median wait for treatment from a specialist following referral from a general practitioner was nearly 20 weeks. Things were even worse in certain provinces. The median wait in New Brunswick, for example, was 45 weeks — just shy of a year.

Patients in the United Kingdom's government-run system, the National Health Service, also struggle to access timely care. At the end of August, 4.4 million Brits were waiting to start medical treatment after a referral. In September, more than 282,000 people waited longer than 4 hours in the emergency room to be seen.

Britons with cancer have it particularly bad. In 2017, about 115,000 patients received a diagnosis too late to give them the best chance of getting effective treatment, according to Cancer Research UK. Many patients don't receive care fast enough.

That poor care has devastating consequences. Only 81% of breast cancer patients in the U.K. survive five years after diagnosis, compared to 89% in the United States. U.S. lung cancer patients have five-year survival rates that are nearly twice as long as those in the U.K.

Long waits for substandard care — that's the "cruel" and "dysfunctional" reality of government-run healthcare.



Capitalism on trial: Profit is a good thing — except to the political left

Businesses thrive by offering people a better deal on goods and services.  That is a huge social benefit, one no government can emulate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) Accountable Capitalism Act would oblige large corporations to obtain a federal charter requiring directors to consider the interests of all stakeholders — not only shareholders and customers, but also groups representing society as a whole, such as their employees, local communities and civil society, including non-representative, anti-business NGOs.

The chief justice of the supreme court of Delaware – where more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 corporations have their legal home – has written a book arguing that corporations should be run for the benefit of their workers. The Financial Times has launched a “new agenda” campaign that intones: “Capitalism. Time for a reset. Business must make a profit but should serve a purpose too.”

None of this would have come as a surprise to Joseph Schumpeter, one of the 20th century’s great economists. No one understood better the dynamic, propulsive nature of capitalism. But, unlike most economists, Schumpeter also had a deep, subtle appreciation of capitalism’s cultural effects — that, while a system of free enterprise creates successful and prosperous societies, it also plants seeds that can lead to its own demise. “Unlike  any other type of society,” Schumpeter wrote “capitalism inevitably and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest.”

And, as Schumpeter saw it, the publicly traded corporation, lacking the visceral allegiance of private property, was capitalism’s weak point: “Defenseless fortresses invite aggression especially if there is rich booty in them.” It’s a prophecy that we’re seeing come to pass.

Recently, in a letter to the Business Roundtable,181 corporate CEOs disavowed the profit motive and corporate directors’ accountability to shareholders. The CEOs championed a view now widely held: that profit could only be justified for virtuous conduct, that profit should merely be a byproduct of making certain contributions to society. It’s a position that the Business Roundtable already implicitly accepts.

It’s entirely wrong. In fact, the profit that a business earns is a pretty good approximation of its contribution to society. One might think of it in terms of a simple equation:

Revenue (what people will pay in a competitive market) minus cost (the value of resources used to provide a product or service) equals profit (a first-order indicator of a business’s contribution to society).

Profit is one of the most powerful signaling devices in a free market. In their search for profit, businesses create the dynamic for economic growth — and rising living standards. Is this not a contribution to society, of the most dramatic kind imaginable?

The point is beautifully made in Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s “The Prosperity Paradox.” Christensen writes of poor, developing nations: “It may sound counter-intuitive, but enduring prosperity for many countries will not come from fixing poverty. By investing in market-creating innovations, investors and entrepreneurs inadvertently engage in nation-building.” Entrepreneurs and businesses don’t have to set out to improve the world — through their collective efforts of making useful goods and services, an improved world is the outcome.

Yet today, the publicly traded corporation is perhaps under greater threat than at any time since the 1930s. Corporations are blamed for the world’s ills: inequality and stagnant income growth, poverty in poor countries, environmental degradation and, of course, climate change. Using business as tools to tackle these problems highlights a deep confusion about the proper domains of democratic politics and of business. Last year, voters rejected climate initiatives in Arizona, Colorado and, for a second time, Washington State. Failing at politics, activists seek to politicize business — which, so the argument goes, must be accountable to vast networks of “stakeholders.”

American advocates of “stakeholder accountability” miss the implications of their proposals. Shareholders – whatever their nationality – share the same interest in a business’s economic success. In contrast, stakeholders, by definition hugely diverse, have correspondingly diverse and conflicting interests. America has more multinational corporations than any other nation. Around 45 percent of Amazon’s workforce is outside America; 61 percent of Exxon Mobil’s $234 billion operating capital is located outside the United States. Suppose the European Union passes its version of Sen. Warren’s legislation, requiring that American multinationals be held accountable to European stakeholders. Forget trade wars: We could soon have wars over corporate control.

Already, Warren has written to ten CEOs demanding they back her Accountable Capitalism Act. “Commitments are hollow if they are not accompanied by tangible action that provides real benefits to workers and other stakeholders,” she told them.

One of the primary grounds on which those “real benefits” will be evaluated is environmental practices. Though environmentalism has its roots in a wholesale rejection of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism, business leaders have a long history of subscribing to its core tenets — including the premise that resource-fueled economic growth is unsustainable. Robert Anderson, chairman of Atlantic Richfield, helped finance the first Earth Day in 1970 and provided the seed funding for Friends of the Earth, which is no friend of capitalism.

In the late 1960s, the Aspen Institute, which Anderson also chaired, ran programs on the threat of climate change and the steps needed to avoid a planetary catastrophe. A two-day workshop in 1970 concluded that business-as-usual threatened the future of a decent, civilized world. “All insist,” the New York Times reported, “that the human family is approaching a historic crisis which will require fundamental revisions in the organization of society.”

Sound familiar? The world managed to survive that purported ecological emergency by ignoring it. We would be well served to ignore the similarly pitched appeals being made now. Otherwise, the attempt to solve global warming by intimidating American corporations could bring about Schumpeter’s grim prognosis of capitalism’s downfall.



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, October 28, 2019

Britain's Entrapment by the French: The Triple Anniversary of 2004

Professor Christie Davies sets out some history you are not normally told.  The article is from 2004

2004 is a year of three sad anniversaries in the unhappy relationship between Britain and France. Ninety years ago in August 1914 Britain was dragged into a war between France and Germany for which France was largely to blame. It was that French war that fatally undermined British power and thus Britain's ability and willingness to withstand the Nazi and Soviet threats that were the very consequence of the war that France began.

Not for the first time France had reduced Europe to ruins with her insane and criminal aggression. There ought to be a monument in English in Compiègne pointing this out. Britain's real folly though took place ten years earlier, one hundred years ago in 1904, when we agreed to the Entente Cordiale. The fact that it is always referred to in French tells us exactly who the beneficiary was. Without it Britain might well have prevaricated over and merely blustered about the German decision to send its troops through Belgium to get to France after war had broken out in 1914. More to the point the French might have had the sense not to go to war with their more powerful neighbour, Germany, if they had been fearful of what an unpredictable Britain might do.

France had been determined to go to war with Germany since her humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 when Germany annexed the German speaking provinces of Alsace and Lorraine which had been acquired in France's long creeping expansion on her eastern frontier. Indeed the history of France from the Thirty Years War to Louis XIV to Napoleon consists largely of aggression against her German neighbours . Napoleon III may have been tricked into going to war in 1870 but his bellicose response was entirely consistent with France's tradition of militarism and expansion. Napoleon III was after all the man who had meddled in Mexico during the American Civil War and fought against Austria alongside the Italians in order to acquire Nice and Savoy. He had also tried to obtain Belgium by subterfuge and behaved in a sufficiently threatening way towards Britain to cause us to improve our coastal fortifications. Bismarck merely sought the unification of Germany; there was no limit to Napoleon III's ambitions.

The French defeat in 1870 decisively confirmed France's decline from being the most powerful nation in Continental Europe to that of a feeble and unimportant country rapidly falling behind Germany in population, economic importance and military strength. A decent and sensible country would have accepted that its relegation to the second division was inevitable but the French now tried to drag every country they could find into fighting the Germans. The French threw enormous sums of money into the economic development and thus military strengthening of Russia, then lost it all and nearly ruined themselves. The French shamelessly manipulated the guileless British into thinking they ought to be at the heart of Europe even though they never got further than the Somme. This delusion of an enfeebled France that it somehow had a historic right to dominate Europe, if not by force then by chicanery, is still the source of many of our more recent problems.

The most tangible expression of the French obsession to reassert themselves was their determination to re-conquer Alsace-Lorraine, even though it was clear that this could only be achieved through a war of great destructiveness. The French had become that most dangerous of nations, a dissatisfied power seeking revenge and revanche, too weak to achieve its aims with ease yet strong enough to threaten the peace of Europe. By chance I have in front of me a textbook for French primary schools dated 3st May, 1902 called Mes Premieres Lectures, Historiettes Morales by M. A. Chalamet, member du conseil superieur de l'instruction publique. Much of it consists of fables about animals and sententious stories about bad but subsequently repentant children. It has the feel of a Sunday School prize given for regular attendance except that all reference to religion has been eliminated by the dogmatic state authorities in charge of French education. Sandwiched in the middle is a patriotic account of Alsace-Lorraine concluding, "Les Alsaciens-Lorrains n'ont pas oublie la France. La France ne doit pas les oublier". [The people of Alsace-Lorraine have not forgotten France. France must not forget them]. It is followed by the story of the trial of 'Un Patriote', Jerome Brunner tried by a German court for seditiously flying the French flag in Alsace. A childishly romantic little illustration shows Herr Brunner standing in the dock between two seated uniformed Germans in spiked helmets gesturing defiantly at the judge and boasting that his twenty year old son left Germany last month to join the French army. Here is the road map to the First World War in which many of the school-children fed on this twaddle would have been slaughtered. Even before the war they might well as teenagers during France's three year long period of conscription have been taken on an exercise into the hills above Colmar to look down on the spires of that German town and promise their officer that one day France would seize it back.

It is unfortunate that it has become customary to depict Imperial Germany as the great source of the worship of the uniform to the neglect of the red trousered French militarists who persecuted Dreyfus and coveted Colmar. Kaiser Wilhelm II was so shocked at the fanaticism, injustice and anti-Semitism of the French army in the trials of Captain Dreyfus that he offered to hand over German intelligence documents to prove the man's innocence. There are still historians in the French army who think Dreyfus was guilty. The sheer crackpot irrationality of the anti-Drefusards was the product of a militaristic revenge-seeking society desperate to believe in the infallibility of its anachronistic army.

By contrast the Germans had no designs on French territory. After all it was they who had chosen where the frontier should be. Their ambitions and their fears lay elsewhere. It was the French who sought the western front on which they were to be decimated. It was the British who in the end held the line on this front and the Americans who saved the day. The Anglo-Saxons whom the French so much resent had been manipulated into propping up an ungrateful France. In their simple-minded idealism the British and the Americans thought they had been fighting for democracy in the war to end war. They had not. They had merely been used as an instrument in the cynical power politics of the French. 1904 and 1914 led inevitably to the third anniversary remembered in 2004 , D-Day 1944 when the British, the Canadians and the Americans once again saved the French. This time the Anglo-Saxons really were fighting for democracy. The French were not. A large proportion of them had been enthusiasts for Petain and another massive segment were loyal only to the Soviet Union. It is no wonder that they subsequently both fought vicious colonial wars in Indo-China and Algeria and were feeble and unreliable allies in NATO.

"Why ", some readers may ask "are you telling us all these unpleasant truths about the wretched French?" Even those who do not doubt the facts may feel that to deploy these arguments in a modern context will only exacerbate our already difficult and adversary relationship with them. Why then does their argument not apply to the Germans? German political leaders are rightly annoyed at the way history is taught in British schools, what has been termed the Hitlerisation of British history teaching. In Britain German history is taught badly and tendentiously to seventeen year olds who have no knowledge of the German language by concentrating on the twelve quite atypical disaster years of National Socialism, 1933-1945. I have taught such students after they had entered the university where I have been appalled at their lack of analytical skills and their inability to think their way outside the interpretations that they had been fed. Those who designed the school syllabuses should be ashamed of themselves; they went for cheap popularity not true learning and have unfairly villainised an entire people by concentrating on a tiny segment of its history. It verges on Vansittartism. The idea that is put in their heads is one that in its extreme version was propounded by Sir Robert Vansittart in his pamphlet Black Record. German history becomes a tale of almost continuous brutal aggression from Arminius' (Hermann) ambush of Varus' legions in the Teutoburgerwald through to the Teutonic knights and the Prussian army, to blood and iron under Bismarck, to the Schlieffen plan, to the shooting of francs-tireurs and Edith Cavelle in Belgium, to the " unfair" waging of war by U-boats and Zeppelins. Everything that doesn't fit is left out and the aggressive episodes in the history of Germany's neighbours are not mentioned, particularly those that have involved repeated invasions and devastation of Germany. In this way all German history has evolved inevitably towards the Third Reich. In a world where everyone else was becoming benign and democratic, Germany was an "exception" and somehow this is the fault of certain inherent aspects of the German character that constitutes the very essence of the German people. If it were said about anyone else it would be immediately denounced as racist nonsense but it is still open season on the Hun. Vansittartism is alive and well.

National Socialism should be studied as sociology not as history. It is part of a wider set of vicious phenomena that are not limited to Germany - a continent wide anti-Semitism that was to be found from Paris to Odessa, the rise of stratification by militant parties which later became Continental Europe's deadly export to China, Cambodia and Iraq, the worship of force and collectivism as an antidote to Anglo-American "materialism". None of these things are peculiar to Germany. That they triumphed together in a singularly horrible form under National Socialism is due to defeat , reparations, the rise of Communism and the failure of the American economy in 1929 rather than anything specifically German. It could not have happened in Britain because we are not part of that Continental world but it could easily have happened in France if that country had been defeated early on in World War I, crushed with reparations and forced to cede core French-speaking areas of France to Germany along with Morrocco and bits of central Africa. There would soon have arisen a National Socialist French workers party with a screaming anti-semitic fanatic to lead it. All the elements to build a Nazi party in France had long been present.

In particular, we should not forget the anti-Semitism of the condemners of Dreyfus, Action Française and the Croix de Feu (the party Mitterand's first joined) which found in its final expression in the rounding up of Jews for deportation by the Milice. During the second world war, after the French defeat, Marshal Pétain, the legitimate ruler of France, placed in his high office by a free vote of the French parliament and an overwhelming majority of those votes would sit and glumly contemplate the ruin of France. After much thought he would say "C'est les Juifs" to a former President of the Senate from Martinique who would reply "Oui c'est les Juifs". At the end of the war when Charles Maurras the anti-Semitic leader of Action Française was expelled from the Academie Française he commented " Dreyfus has won". Fanatical anti-Semitism was not a German monopoly.

We have also already seen the rage for revanche and the blind militarism of the French after 1870. How much more enraged would they have been if they had been forced to surrender yet again in 1914? "Ancient combatants" and red trousered fascists would have brawled in the streets with treasonable communists taking their orders from the Soviet Union. The guilty men who had stabbed France in the back and signed a demeaning peace treaty would have been execrated and even assassinated. Hyper-inflation would have destroyed the savings under the mattress of every peasant in France. The collapse of the banks would have been blamed on the Jews as it had been before.

If a remilitarised National Socialist France had set out to assert itself in Europe there would have been no lack of atrocities for the heirs of Goya to paint. One of the best hidden scandals of World War II is the way the Free French army raped and pillaged its way through Italy. For the inhabitants of Elba there was only one thing worse than being occupied by the Germans and that was being liberated by the French. The horrors of the Epuration [purification; anti-Nazi purge] in France at the end of the war, the brutal reoccupation of Vietnam, the systematic use of torture in Algeria are all indications that the French would have been quite capable of sustaining a regime of truly Nazi brutality once it had been brought into existence.

The moral of the story is that neither in 1904 nor in 1914 should we have shown or have any sympathy with France's fear of being dominated by Germany , nor should we have any in 2004. A Europe dominated by Hitler would have been horrendous but a Kaiserly Europe would have been better than a war in which over a million British and Imperial troops were killed. What would it have mattered if the Germans had come to dominate the Balkans and run Baghdad for the Turks? As countries like Germany grow in wealth and power they have to be accommodated much as Britain chose to cultivate the growing United States after the Civil War and settle grievances on American terms. For Britain to ally itself with a nation on the way out like France was inane. It was also undemocratic. The conversations and implicit agreements between the British and French General Staffs after the Entente Cordiale were kept secret from the British people because of their traditional distrust and dislike of the French. Edward VII's direct discussions with the French were unconstitutional and his Francophilia was probably based on nothing more than his gratitude to a nation that had invented devices to raise and lower that corpulent king or his two female partners during innovative forms of sexual congress on a specially designed chair. How much better it would have been for the world if Edward VII had been gay! He could have taken his holidays with Krupp in Capri and established a rapport with Wilhelm through the camarilla led by Prince Philip zu Eulenberg, a shrewd, far-sighted and restraining influence on his Kaiser . Better Gomorrah than Armentières [A big battle of WWI]

In recent decades we have gone on making the same mistake. It is taken for granted that the French still have a legitimate interest in reining Germany in, in tying Germany ever tighter in a European Union lest it become too powerful. Many in France opposed and were fearful of German reunification precisely because it recreated a populous and powerful nation in the heart of Europe that will once again overshadow France. Yet why should a democratic and peaceful Germany not dominate Europe and not impose its commercial and agricultural interests on France. It should be Britain's policy to encourage such a development, much as we should have done in 1904-14. It would be better for Britain than the present unnatural Franco-German alliance in which the French, once again struggling to maintain the delusion of their own importance, exercise an influence out of all proportion to their real power. If Germany were to gain her rightful position at the heart of Europe, the French would soon discover the necessity for treating the Americans with a suitable degree of deference or even fawning. It is time for Britain slowly to disentangle itself from Europe and leave the French to their fate and the Germans to their inheritance



DECEMBER TARGET: Democrats set December impeachment target, but obstacles abound — like the fact the whole thing's a charade (Reuters)

ADVERSE SOCIETY: Soros-funded group Open Society Policy Center eclipses $70 million spent on lobbying since Trump took office (The Washington Free Beacon)

COMMON GROUND, PART I: Bipartisan bill would streamline path to citizenship for children of U.S. military (The Washington Times)

COMMON GROUND, PART II: House unanimously passes bipartisan bill to make animal cruelty a federal crime (USA Today)

NEEDLES IN A HAYSTACK: State Department says 100+ ISIS prisoners missing after Turkish invasion of Syria (National Review)

IDIOCRACY: Majority of Americans want First Amendment rewritten; 51% of Millennials want fines or jail time for "hate speech" (The Washington Free Beacon)

GOOD RIDDANCE: Florida Senate votes to permanently oust Broward Sheriff Scott Israel (Fox News)

POLICY: Refugee policy reforms — enduring or ephemeral? (National Review)


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, October 27, 2019

'Time to Accept Failure': Why Republicans Are Losing the Battle for America


Recently I had an experience that brought home to me why the Left is so decisively winning the culture war. It involved local politics, but the same kind of thing is happening all over the country.

A few weeks ago I spoke up in New Hampshire at the invitation of the Sullivan County Republican Party, and the whole incident showed in microcosm how the far left has gained control of the media, the educational system, and the culture in general, without any significant pushback from those who are supposedly committed to the freedom of speech and a free society.

My appearance led to what has now become the usual firestorm that ensues whenever someone who challenges the prevailing leftist narrative speaks anywhere. I was smeared by "journalists" Kevin Landrigan of the New Hampshire Union Leader and John Gregg of the Valley News, neither of whom bothered to ask me for comment while printing as unquestioned fact defamatory and false charges about me. Raymond Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, called me a "white supremacist," apparently having confused me with Richard Spencer, and refused to retract when repeatedly asked to do so. Democrat State Senator Martha Hennessey, after the manner of Nazi Brownshirts in the early 1930s, led a smear campaign on Twitter.

Two venues, the Eastman Community Center in Grantham and the Elks Club in Claremont, caved in to this and canceled the event; the Elks, at least, were directly pressured to cancel by Hennessey.

The event went on in a third venue. Here is the video. You can see for yourself if it's full of "hate."

Buckley is a liar and Hennessey is a fascist, so neither should be in positions of public service, but they're typical in the Democrat Party these days. What was far worse was the cowardly response on the Republican side. Instead of investigating the false charges being made about me, discovering I wasn't really any of the things that were being said, and standing up for the freedom of speech, all too many Republicans were ready to kowtow and do everything the Democrats wanted.

Sullivan County Republican Committee Chairman Keith Hanson, who invited me in the first place, stood firm and kept finding new venues when one would cancel, but some prominent local Republicans just stood. Hanson picked me up at the airport and drove me to the venue, and on the way told me about how the Democrats had gerrymandered themselves into total control of Vermont and were trying to do the same thing in New Hampshire; in response, Republicans are doing nothing. They don't seem to realize or care what is happening, and have ceded all the initiative and control of the narrative to the Democrats.

In the face of the left’s smear campaign against me, some of the Republicans showed this again, demonstrating that they were totally cowed and ready to surrender, happy to allow the left to dictate what they can do or can’t do. They don’t even seem to realize what is wrong with this.

James “Jim” Beard is the former Sullivan County Republican Committee Chairman and failed candidate for New Hampshire Executive Council. The night before the event, he wrote this in an email to Hanson:

"Time to accept failure....Keith, it is time to send a email blast to everyone who responded, everyone who bought tickets with 100% refunds and accept your mis-management for bringing this event to Sullivan County. Tomorrow evening, you will be alone with 10-20 people inside the VFW Hall in Claremont with a group of maybe 50 protestors outside. This is not how SCGOP candidates wish to be portrayed, nor how they will win elections.

This entire charade is an embarrassment for the SCGOP and I suggest you step aside. Let us return to good ole' [sic] fashioned hot dog roasts on the Newport Common where people came together from all works of life in the community, socialize and build common understanding. That is how we Republicans solicit votes...interaction with the public.

You can write your own resignation..."

Yes, that's right, "let us return to good ole' fashioned hot dog roasts." Facedown the protestors? Stand on principle? Not good ol' James "Jim" Beard. The Democrats are at open war against the freedom of speech. They're stigmatizing and silencing all opposition to jihad mass murder and Sharia oppression of women and others. They are forcing a radical socialist agenda on the country. And this clown thinks he is going to beat them with hot dog roasts. Or rather, he is happy to lose, as long as he gets his with mustard.

Then there is Representative Steven Smith, senior Republican advisor in the NH House and chairman of the Sullivan County delegation, Sullivan County District 11. Nadir Ahmed, an Islamic apologist whom I bested in debate years ago, wrote to Smith, apparently offering to speak in Sullivan County and spread some soothing lies where I had told uncomfortable truths. Smith's response to him, which Ahmed then gleefully sent to me, couldn't have been friendlier (in sharp contrast to his rude and arrogant tone with me when I wrote him after this), and shows where Smith stands.

"I saw your messages to the SCGOP Facebook page and did not want you to think you were being ignored. Thanks for your offer. I am currently trying to sweep up Mr. Hanson's mess. He may not be with the organization much longer and he is not responding to messages. Your offer is interesting, but the timing is terrible. Let me think about it once this all dies down. I watched the video. The think [sic] is, I am losing faith that minds can be changed these days."

Did Smith attend my event? He did not. Does he have the first foggiest idea of what I actually say? Almost certainly not. But he knows the Democrats and the establishment media don't like it, so he is ready to carry water for them and help further their agenda. Rep. Smith, I'd be glad to come back to New Hampshire at my own expense and debate your friend, or anyone else you choose. But somehow I doubt you have either the courage or the goodwill to sponsor such an event.

Why do jellyfish on the order of Beard and Smith rule in the Republican Party? The Democrats are fighting a war, and the Republicans are playing jacks. Where are the men with spines? Where are people standing up to this totalitarian agenda of the left, and affirming that opposition to jihad terror is not morally wrong or evil, and that such opposition should be allowed a platform? Not, for the most part, in the Republican Party, not just in Sullivan County, New Hampshire, but all over the country. Instead, Republicans keep roasting their hot dogs, and hoping that their leftist masters won't demand too very much of them.



Lynching Hypocrisy

"Lynching" is a provocative word, given America's history of an estimated 4,400 blacks murdered in lynchings over a roughly 70-year span. Being provocative is what animates Donald Trump, so it's no surprise that he chose the word to describe what Democrats are doing with impeachment. "So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights," Trump said. "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!"

There are times when Trump takes to social media with reactionary, petty, vindictive, and ridiculous things. This is not one of those times.

We're going to go out on a limb and speculate that, before Trump's thumbs got to typing his tweet, he already knew what media outlets were soon forced to report: A slew of Democrats — led by Joe Biden — used the word "lynching" to describe Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998. We don't recall a flood of Leftmedia stories back then slamming Democrats for that deliberate word choice or giving historical lectures about the awful history of lynching. But here we are, swamped with such stories now. Of course, these sanctimonious lectures leave out the inconvenient truth that actual lynchings were perpetrated mostly by Democrats.

Biden provided the most humorous "gotcha" for Trump. "Impeachment is not 'lynching,' it is part of our Constitution," Biden huffed. "Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It's despicable."

But then CNN grudgingly went to the 1998 tape of Biden telling Wolf Blitzer, "Even if the president should be impeached, history will question whether or not this was a partisan lynching."

Confronted with his own words, Biden was forced to apologize, saying, "This wasn't the right word to use and I'm sorry about that." But, he insisted, Trump is the real sinner because he "chose his words deliberately" (as if Biden hadn't) and "continues to stoke racial divides in this country daily."

Poppycock. Trump isn't "stoking racial divides"; Democrats are.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board argues, "No President should use the word in the off-hand and self-indulgent way that Mr. Trump did in his tweet." The Journal adds, "The more he forces Republicans to defend words or actions that don't deserve defending, the more their resentment will build and the more political trouble he will be in."

That may be true, but it's also Beltway-New York echo-chamber pablum. Trump was elected precisely because he wouldn't behave like other presidents and because voters were fed up with other Republicans refusing to stand up to Democrats. In any case, his "trolling" consistently provides one important service to the country: revealing the shameless hypocrisy of Democrats and the Leftmedia.



Elizabeth Warren's Health Care Pickle
From the beginning, the 2020 Democratic race has been a different kind of contest. Candidates aren’t competing to see who can run America the most efficiently. That’s the old politics. Instead, they’re pledging to remake this country entirely: rip out the old America — irredeemably tainted by racism, sexism and free enterprise — and replace it with something completely new and different. At the heart of this effort is the promise of Medicare for All. You may have heard the phrase. The most popular Democratic candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have both endorsed it. But what exactly does “Medicare for All” mean?

You should know. It’s not a tweak to some regulation. It’s not even Obamacare, which, once upon a time, Republicans denounced as “socialism.” Medicare for All is actual socialism. Health care spending amounts to about a fifth of the entire U.S. economy. Warren is demanding total control of all of it immediately. If Medicare for All became law, it would amount to the biggest expansion of government since World War II, by far. So, it’s worth asking how exactly this would work and who would pay for it. Warren has been asked that question repeatedly. Each time, she has refused to answer.

No matter how hard she’s been pressed — and even some fairly strident Democratic partisans have asked her — Warren has refused to explain what it would cost or who would pay for it. We now have a credible estimate.

According to a study by the Urban Institute, in just its first 10 years, Warren’s Medicare for All plan would cost an additional $34 trillion. Keep in mind that the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that the United States will collect just $46 trillion in taxes over the same period. In other words, Warren’s health care plan alone will consume the overwhelming majority of all tax dollars in the United States. That’s before we spend a single dollar on Social Security, education, national defense and everything else.

The Urban Institute has no motive to attack Warren. It’s a progressive think tank. They likely didn’t even account for the cost of Warren’s pledge to give free health care to every illegal alien who sneaks into the country. Who’s going to pay for all this? Divide $3.4 trillion a year by 320 million Americans and you get more than $10,000 per person. Not per taxpayer. Per person. That includes every child, every retiree, every prison inmate. That would be the largest tax ever assessed in American history, by far. It would change everything. An awful lot of people would just leave the country.

How do you pay for Medicare for All? That’s not a minor detail that can be settled later. It’s the single most important question. Under pressure from the other Democrats in the field, Warren has now promised an answer: “I plan over the next few weeks to put out a plan that talks about, specifically, the cost of ‘Medicare for all’ and, specifically, how we pay for it,” she said last week at a town hall event.

At some point in the last few years, Warren stopped functioning as a conventional senator and became a kind of messiah. Details like what things cost, whether something is constitutional, whether the majority of Americans even want it — none of that seems to interest her anymore. Warren has seen the future, and in that future, she has complete and unquestioned control of America; she is the most powerful person in the world. You can almost hear her repeating the phrase to herself: “the most powerful person in the world.” It’s intoxicating. And scary.

Warren is to be commended for issuing highly detailed policy proposals in a number of areas. This ironically makes her refusal to provide details on Medicare for All that much more noteworthy. She details the little stuff but thought she could get away with proposing to fundamentally change our country without explaining who would pay the price. Her bluff has been called, and she’s now on the line to explain her way out of this jam.

She hasn’t provided a date for the new details she’s promising. Given the costs involved, we can’t imagine any funding proposal that wouldn’t destroy our economy. As far as the election goes, it’s also hard to imagine how any honest funding proposal of the scale needed to meet Warren’s ambitions would not destroy her political candidacy, at least in a general election. We’re waiting on the edge of our seats for this one.



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