Friday, November 22, 2019

Leftist Violence to Crush Dissent Undermines Rights

The very definition of rights is under assault by the Left. The consequences will be dire.

One of the most dangerous realities of America today is that the American people — blessed with unimaginable freedom and prosperity thanks to the revolutionary idea of our Founding Fathers that rights are granted not by government but by God — are disastrously uninformed as to what natural rights are and are not.

Even as the world watches heartbreaking scenes from Venezuela and Hong Kong, where oppressive socialist/communist regimes beat, imprison, and kill their own citizens for peacefully protesting the already oppressive activities of those regimes, America is teeming with foolish progressives demanding we turn to socialism to solve our problems, real or perceived.

Our Constitution established a list of “negative” rights; things government is prohibited from depriving citizens of without due process. For example, the First Amendment protects the freedoms of religion, speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and petitioning government for a redress of grievances. The Second Amendment protects our right of self-defense, the Fourth our right to personal property. And so on.

In each case, the right is protected simply by having government leave us alone. In fact, of all the rights protected by the Constitution, the only one requiring a positive action by another citizen is the right to a trial by a jury, for which jurors are compensated.

To leftist Democrats, everything they want is a “right”.

Democrats have long claimed healthcare, primary education, and retirement security as human rights. Now, with calls for “free” college, they claim secondary education is a right as well. In fact, the list of “rights” declared by progressives is dizzying — paid vacation, paid maternity leave, contraception, high-speed internet, a “living” wage, affordable housing, and more.

Before dropping out, former Democrat presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke even declared that a short commute is a universal right, tweeting, “Living close to work shouldn’t be a luxury for the rich… It’s a right for everyone.”

Take note of the fact that every single one of the progressives’ “rights” requires the time, wealth, property, or intellect of another person, regardless of the recipients’ ability to pay.

The last we checked, compelling one person to work for the benefit of another, especially without compensation, is the definition of slavery.

In a speech last week to the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention, Attorney General William Barr explained why this dichotomy puts conservatives at a distinct disadvantage when defending against the attacks of the political Left. He explained:

"This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day. … In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise. We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing. … This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a Rule of Law standard. The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying in a given circumstance, was universalized — that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?"

Over the last three years, we’ve witnessed the attempted coup by progressive Democrats and deep-state operatives to remove Donald Trump, the duly elected president of the United States, using manufactured evidence to frame him for colluding with our Russian enemies. After that failed, they now seek to impeach him over disagreements in foreign policy regarding Ukraine.

Then there are the more militant, violent factions of the Left, like antifa and Black Lives Matter. These groups have taken to the streets, rioting, dragging people from their cars and beating them, assaulting elderly people, and viciously beating reporters who covered their criminal behavior.

It is a tragic irony that, even as leftists demand a cornucopia of new “rights” at taxpayer expense, they are actively and often violently suppressing actual, enumerated constitutional rights. Leftists are relentless in their efforts to repeal the Second Amendment through gun control. They suppress free speech through “speech codes” that constrain utterances to only those expressions approved by the politically correct mob.

And when that fails, they turn to threats of violence, shouting down opponents, doxxing, disrupting speeches, firebombing, and physical violence.

Ironically, and completely lacking in self-awareness, American progressives demand more government even as they warn that the president is a despotic tyrant.

A stable, just society cannot long survive such lawlessness and violence. Americans must understand that if the rights of one are violated, the rights of all are violated.

No longer can Americans of good will stand idly by and allow the mob to crush those they oppose. We must defend our rights now or lose them forever.



Runaway Health Insurance Costs Under the Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to make the cost of health insurance more affordable by slowing the rising trend of increases in health insurance costs. The controversial law was passed in 2010 on a strict party line vote, with nearly all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed.

The law went into effect in 2013 and by now we all know the story. Instead of bending the cost curve downward, as promised by then-President Obama in 2010, health insurance costs spiked sharply upward when the law took effect in 2014 and then continued to increase through the remainder of President Obama’s tenure in office.

That trend changed only after 2018, as several modest reforms introduced by the Trump administration slowed that exponential rate of growth.

The average annual premium and deductible data comes from the private health insurance firm eHealth for the years 2008-2017 and 2018-2019. As of this writing, average cost data for the health insurance policies that Americans buy for coverage in 2020 should become available in several months.

The failure of the ACA to restrain the growth of the cost of health insurance was not a surprise. The Independent Institute’s senior fellow John C. Goodman predicted the Affordable Care Act would fail to restrain the rate of growth of the cost of health insurance coverage for Americans shortly after it became law in 2010. The government’s intervention sharply increased its cost instead.

All this has become relevant again today because many of the leading candidates now running for president in 2020 are calling for an even more radical and costly expansion of government control over health care in the United States without addressing any of the factors that led to the runaway health insurance costs that occurred because of the Affordable Care Act.

All of these presidential primary candidates supported the passage of the Affordable Care Act. If nothing else, their support for an even more intrusive government intervention in American health care is a tacit admission the ACA is a failure.



Wealthy Warren and Sanders Attack Wealthy

Socialist candidates arrogantly claim government is responsible for people's wealth.

Taking a cue from Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” pronouncement, Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released a new ad seeking to justifying her planned wealth tax. In the ad, Warren bloviates, “You built a great fortune? Good for you. I guarantee you built it at least in part using workers all of us helped pay to educate, getting your goods to market on roads all of us paid to build.” Ah, the socialist fallacy of government being the ultimate source for everything, including people’s wealth.

On the back of her fraudulent claim that an increased tax on wealthy Americans will fully fund her $52 trillion Medicare for All plan, Warren is also leveling a wealth tax on top of that. Just how many millionaires and billionaires does Warren believe exist in America? And why is she entitled to redistribute their money?

Part of the reason the economy is doing so well today is because Republicans cut taxes, which has proven to fuel economic growth with more jobs and higher wages. The only credit that can honestly be given to the government is that it got out of the way. Warren wants to hit the brakes on the economy out of spite, claiming that millionaires and billionaires don’t deserve to own or control their own fortunes.

Warren’s fellow socialist Bernie Sanders sees things the same way, with his call for an 8% tax on the richest Americans. Ironically, when Sanders was asked about a government-instituted mandatory firearms “buyback” program, he stated, “A mandatory buyback is essentially confiscation, which I think is unconstitutional. It means that I’m going to walk into your house and take something whether you like it or not. I don’t think that stands up to constitutional scrutiny.” Well said, Bernie. Now how about applying that same sound logic to the government’s taking of people’s hard-earned money simply because they have more than others?

Both Warren and Sanders see individuals as vassals of the government, rather than the government as beholden to the people. The government owes its existence to the people, not the people to the government. The Founders declared Americans’ rights to be inalienable precisely because they recognized those rights come from God and not from government. The government does not grant rights; rather it is tasked with recognizing them and defending them.

Socialists like Warren and Sanders advocate flipping the whole system on its head, and they point to wealth disparity as the sole justification for such a radical and foolish endeavor. Using the politics of envy, they condemn the wealthy and successful for the “sin” of industriousness. How dare the wealthy be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labors!




TAX RETURNS ON HOLD: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts puts hold on release of Trump tax returns (The Resurgent)

JUNK CARE FOR ALL: Elizabeth Warren relies on rationing in Medicare for All plan; cost-cutting measures would likely lead to long wait-times, limited care (The Washington Free Beacon)

NEVER MIND: Elizabeth Warren gives up on Medicare for All: By planning to pass single-payer in year three of her presidency, she's acknowledging it will never happen at all (Reason)

CONFLICT OF INTEREST, CONTINUED: Ilhan Omar funneled another $150,000 to alleged lover's consulting group (New York Post)

WOLVES AMONG SHEEP: Nearly 80,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have prior arrest records (National Review)

MIGRATION GATEWAY: Tough Trump asylum policy prompts migrants to enter U.S. and then flee to Canada (Washington Examiner)

"I WANT THEM TO KNOW HOW": Utah police training teachers for active shootings (Washington Examiner)

STOPGAP FUNDING BILL: House votes to avoid government shutdown for a month, sending funding bill to Senate (CNBC)

EPSTEIN PROBE: FBI looking into possibility that "criminal enterprise" was involved in Jeffrey Epstein's death (National Review)

GESTURES: Senate passes bill in support of Hong Kong protesters (UPI)

PUSHBACK: Navy seeks to eject four, including sailor championed by Trump, from elite SEALs (NBC News)

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: ISIS rebuilds in Syria after Turkish incursion and U.S. drawdown, Pentagon watchdog says (NBC News)

BALTIMORE MAYOR CHARGED: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh charged with fraud, faces up to 20 years in prison (National Review)

DIVINE INTERVENTION: Sixteen-year-old girl arrested before attack on predominantly black Georgia church (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

IRAN DISSENT: Iran imposes "largest Internet shutdown ever" as protests spread (National Review)

POLICY: How Medicare for All would make most families poorer (The Daily Signal)

POLICY: Trump admin is right to reapply sanctions to Iran's uranium enrichment (The Federalist)

BLIND PROGRESSIVES: Don’t care about Hong Kong or anti-Semitism but consider themselves to be the most caring, moral and progressive generation ever, committed to combating injustice, stamping out racism and saving the planet (London Telegraph)


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, November 21, 2019

Does the Left Hate America?

Whenever leftists are charged with not loving or even with hating America, they respond angrily, labeling the question absurd, mean-spirited and an example of right-wing McCarthyism.

But there can be little doubt that the left has no love for America, just as there can be little doubt that liberals and conservatives love America. Love of America is one of the many dividing lines between liberalism and leftism. (For a description of six differences between liberalism and leftism, please see my PragerU video "Left or Liberal?")

Here are six reasons to believe the left hates America:

1. No one denies that the international left -- the left in Europe, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere -- hates America. Therefore, in order to argue that American leftists do not hate America, one would have to argue that on one of the most fundamental principles of international leftism -- hatred of America -- American leftists differ with fellow leftists around the world: All the world's left hates the U.S., but the American left loves it.

This, of course, makes no sense. Leftists around the world agree on every important issue. Why, then, would they differ with regard to America? Has any leftist at The New York Times, for example, written one column critical of the international left's anti-Americanism?

2. Leftists want to "fundamentally transform" the United States. Five days before the 2008 presidential election, candidate Barack Obama told a huge audience in Columbia, Missouri, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

More recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced that she plans to "fundamentally transform our government," that America needs "big, structural change" and that her proposed Accountable Capitalism Act would bring about "fundamental change."

Likewise, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said earlier this year, "We're going to try to transform the United States of America," and last month he said, "This campaign is about fundamental change."

Examples are legion.

So, here's a question: How can one claim to love what one wishes to fundamentally transform?

The answer is obvious: It isn't possible.

If a man were to confide to you that he wants to fundamentally transform his wife, would you assume he loves his wife? If a woman were to tell you she wants to fundamentally transform her husband, would you assume she loves him? Of course not.

3. Leftists have contempt for the American flag.

I am unaware of a single left-wing individual or organization that has condemned NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the flag during the playing or singing of the national anthem that precedes NFL games. To the contrary, on the left, he is universally regarded as a hero. Indeed, Nike anointed him as one, making him its brand model.

Leftists might respond that Kaepernick's public refusal to stand for the flag and national anthem says nothing about his love for America, as it is only a form of protest against racial injustice. But that is nonsense. Would leftists argue that anyone who publicly refuses to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day really loves Dr. King?

4. Leftists routinely describe America as racist, sexist, xenophobic, imperialist, genocidal, homophobic, obsessed with money and morally inferior to most Western European countries. No moral person could love such a place. As one person commenting on a Paul Krugman column wrote, "Does loving your country mean you love or ignore the fact that we destroyed Iraq, shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, and waged a brutal war in Asia for reasons that today make no sense?"

5. America is the most successful country in world history -- while being the most committed to capitalism and remaining the most religious of all the industrialized democracies. To the extent that America is great, that means two of the institutions the left most loathes -- Christianity and capitalism -- are also great.

6. Love is, among other things, an emotion. So, here is a question about leftists' emotions: Do any leftists get the chills when the national anthem is played or when they see the American flag waving as the anthem is played? Given their rhetoric, it is most unlikely. Yet, every person I know who loves America does get a chill at such moments. Do leftists, as opposed to some liberals and conservatives, display the flag on any national holiday? How many leftists even own a flag?

Finally, if leftists do not love America, what do they love?

According to their own rhetoric, they love the planet -- Mother Earth, as they frequently refer to it. And they love animals.

They really love power, and they claim to love material equality.

They don't love Western culture -- and they now dismiss praise for it as a euphemism for white supremacy.

Interestingly, while they often claim to love humanity, many don't seem to love people. They give less charity and volunteer less time to the downtrodden than conservatives, for example. They have much less interest in having children and making families. They are far more likely than conservatives to cut off relations with friends or relatives with whom they differ politically. And if they really loved people, they would love capitalism because only capitalism has lifted billions of people from poverty.

But most of all, they love ... themselves.



Those Shaming Amazon about Bangladeshi Factories Should Be Ashamed of Themselves

It’s difficult to muster a lot of sympathy for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, reportedly the world’s richest individual, whose divorce this summer from his wife of 25 years cost him an estimated $38 billion. But recent attacks on Bezos and Amazon for selling clothing made in Bangladesh are ill-informed and unfair.

The controversy began in October when a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that Amazon sells clothes from Bangladeshi factories that other retailers have blacklisted for poor safety records. Amazon’s critics ignore that the blacklisting these factories denies Bangladeshi garment workers the opportunity to earn a living.

Concerns about the safety of Bangladeshi garment factories stem from the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,100 workers. In the aftermath of the collapse, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was established to promote factory safety and monitor compliance with safety agreements. The accord now includes more than 1,600 factories employing more than 2 million Bangladeshi workers.

Far more Bangladeshi firms, however, are not party to safety agreements under the accord. According to the International Labor Organization, there are more than 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh; one study estimates there may be as many as 8,000 factories if subcontractors are counted. The 3,400 to 6,400 firms that aren’t part of the accord also employ about 2 million garment workers.

Last February, I participated in a panel discussion at the University of Denver alongside Joris Oldenziel, the accord’s deputy director for implementation. Understandably, perhaps, Oldenziel believes all Bangladeshi factories should have to live up to the accord’s safety standards. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal report implied that Amazon was harming workers by sourcing from factories blacklisted by the accord. Both are wrong.

With a per capita annual income of just over $1,500, poverty is widespread in Bangladesh. Factory work, even in unsafe factories, is a big step up for workers compared to subsistence agriculture, household services, or most other available alternatives. As I pointed out in my book, Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy, even the workers at garment factories that U.S. activists protest and label as harmful “sweatshops,” on average, earn far more than the “less than $2 a day” the vast majority of Bangladeshis were earning at the time of my analysis in 2010.

Better safety is not free, and companies respond to increased costs by shifting production to cheaper labor from other parts of the world or by investing in machinery and other automated processes that reduce employment. Forcing all companies to meet accord safety standards, either by passing new safety laws or by shaming companies like Amazon, jeopardizes jobs that provide millions of Bangladeshis the opportunity to escape extreme poverty.

When the overall pay is low, workers prefer the vast majority of their compensation to come in the form of wages, rather than safety expenditures or other benefits. That’s because they are in a struggle just to feed and clothe their families.

When productivity rises, so does total worker compensation. And as workers become wealthier, they demand more of their compensation in the form of safety and benefits. This process is underway in Bangladesh, and the accord is part of it.

Today, about only 10% of the employed population in Bangladesh is living on less than $1.90 per day. As productivity and compensation have risen, safety has also improved. The accord provides credible information on factory safety standards—or the lack thereof—giving workers more information to choose where they want to work.

The factories participating in the accord are disproportionately the larger firms with higher revenues. To force accord safety standards on smaller firms, where many of the poorer and less productive Bangladeshi workers are employed, would result in job losses for those who need jobs the most.

Sustainable safety improvements come through the market’s process of economic development. Amazon and other U.S. companies sourcing from accord factories, unlisted factories, and blacklisted factories are part of this process. If we care about the welfare of Bangladeshi workers, we need to continue to let the process play out.



The Bolivian ‘Coup’ that Wasn’t

Claiming to be the victim of a coup, former Bolivian president Evo Morales has been granted political asylum by Mexico, where he and his allies will continue to push the fiction that he was forced out by Bolivia’s powerful oligarchy.

Morales’s claim stands truth on its head. In fact, it was Morales who tried to engineer a coup—and not for the first time—by rigging the Oct. 20 presidential election.

Morales came to power at the beginning of 2006 after two previously elected presidents were toppled by Morales-led mobs. As is customary among those embracing “21st century socialism,” Morales then convened a constitutional assembly, the main purpose of which was to rubber-stamp his proposal to amend the constitution to allow the president to seek a second term, something the previous constitution expressly banned. Not surprisingly, the constitution was rewritten and Morales was reelected in 2009.

That, too, wasn’t enough for Morales. So he turned to Bolivia’s constitutional tribunal—the court in charge of protecting the constitution—to extend his rule even further. And to no one’s surprise, the court decreed in 2013 that he could stand for a third term, ruling that his first term didn’t really count since the country had been “refounded” in 2009 when the new constitution was adopted.

Morales then began to plot against the constitution’s two-term limit, with his cronies in the legislature approving a referendum that would put the two-term limit to a vote. When the vote was held in 2016, to Morales’s shock, the people rejected the proposal.

But Morales couldn’t take no for an answer. His constitutional tribunal decided he had a “human right” to be reelected. In perfect theater-of-the-absurd style, Morales and his stooges invoked Article 23 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, which states that citizens have a right “to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections.” So, once again, Morales stood for reelection.

Only this time things didn’t go so well. When it became clear that Morales wouldn’t win the needed majority and instead would have to face off against former president Carlos Mesa in a “mano a mano” contest Morales was likely to lose, the vote counting system mysteriously crashed. Twenty-four hours later, it miraculously recovered—and lo and behold Morales all of a sudden had a better-than-10-point lead, enough to avoid a runoff.

The electoral fraud triggered massive protests that eventually forced the government to accept an international audit by monitors from the Organization of American States. The monitors concluded that widespread irregularities had taken place and that it was “statistically unlikely” that Morales won the election.

Which brings us to the present mess. After the massive protests turned violent, with several police garrisons stepping in to protect the public from paramilitary thugs loyal to Morales, the head of the military, a longtime ally of the president, “suggested” that Morales stand down.

The general’s stance might have been imprudent, but it had nothing to do with a classic military takeover—so common in Latin America. Instead, it was a decision by the military leadership to steer Bolivia away from a bloodbath, which likely would have occurred if they had rejected the will of the people in support of Morales’s attempt to extend his tenure through a rigged election.

This is what led Morales to claim he was the victim of a coup. Since Morales’s vice president, a close ally, also resigned, as did the head of the senate, who was next in line to take over, this puts the new president of the legislative assembly in charge until new elections are held and the reins of power are handed over to Morales’s duly elected successor.

As I write, the chaos continues, as one might expect given the harm Morales has done to his country’s constitution and institutions, the violence his thugs have instigated and the fury his critics feel after he attempted to steal the presidential election.

But let us be clear: There has been no coup in Bolivia except the one Morales tried to engineer.



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, November 20, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard condemns the Democratic party

What she condemns is a description of them.  She sounds a lot like Ronald Reagan.  She would be a real threat to Trump but what she wants is not what the Donks want so she could never be nominated by them.  She believes in love. They are consumed by hate

By Michael van der Galien

I've got to admit: I only respect and like two Democrats running for president. The first is Marianne Williamson. The second (and more prominent candidate at the moment, since she's polling at a couple of percent nowadays) is Tulsi Gabbard.

Tulsi is has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. She's a lefty, but she's honest and upfront about it. More than anything, though, she fears no one, not even her party's own godfathers and godmothers. Heck, she has all but declared war on Hillary Clinton. That takes balls.

However, sadly for Tulsi, she has one major problem. A weakness that she won't be able to overcome.

No, I'm not talking about her age or lack of experience. Trump had never held office before he became president, so hey, everything goes nowadays. No, Tulsi's problem is... that she's simply a decent human being.

"You know, sometimes politicians who are stuck in Washington, and don't take the time to get out, don't get out to where real people live and play and work, they lose touch with the reality of where the heartbeat of our country is," she told a crowd at a recent campaign rally. "The heartbeat of our country, it's certainly not in Washington, D.C. The heartbeat of our country is in rooms like this. In communities like yours all across this country, standing up and saying it is time now for our voices to be heard."

"It has gone on for so long that self-serving politicians in Washington and the richest, and the most powerful, and the most elite among us, have been in control and have been in power, and they have left us behind."

OK, so far so good, but that's where it all went wrong:

"The problem is our politics has been so poisoned and tainted for so long by those who are only interested in their own political power, their selfish interests or lining their pockets, and using fear and hatred and bigotry to divide us for their own personal gain that they don't know what this looks like. They don't understand what the power of the people feels like. They think that they have the power but they have forgotten that really, the power lies within our hands."
And she made it even worse:

"When we come together and stand united, not motivated by fear, not motivated by hatred, not motivated by racism or bigotry, but motivated by love. Motivated by love. Motivated by love for our country and for each other and for our planet and for our future. When we stand united in this love, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome."

Of course, the problem is that everything she says she doesn't want to be is exactly what the Democratic Party represents. This is the party that tells Trump voters that they're just angry white people, smelly Walmart shoppers and a basket of deplorables. This is the party that tells African Americans that they have to vote for Democrats or else they're Uncle Toms. This is the party that has started an impeachment procedure against the democratically elected president simply because he (and his voters!) don't share their views. This is the party that smears anyone who mildly suggests that perhaps -- perhaps! -- unborn life deserves some protection at some point.

In short, the Democratic Party is the party of hatred, racism, and bigotry. There's literally no chance of someone like Tulsi -- decent, unifying, brave -- winning that party's nomination.



Brooklyn: Man Arrested for Egging Synagogue Turns Out Not to Be a White Supremacist

But names like his are readily found in Pakistan

The New York Post reported Thursday that “a teenager who threw an egg at a Brooklyn synagogue and chucked another one at a woman in Borough Park has been arrested on a number of hate crime charges, police said.”

This took place in a neighborhood where many Orthodox Jews live. The young activist’s name turns out to be Mohib Hoque, and he was “hit with three counts of hate crime assault, three counts of hate crime aggravated harassment, three counts of hate crime harassment and hate crime reckless endangerment.”

Mohib Hoque. A white supremacist, perhaps? An avid consumer of “far-right” news analysis?

Anti-Semitic attacks have sharply increased in the U.S., and virtually the entire political and media establishment has agreed that this is attributable to the rise of “white supremacists” and the “far-right.”

One problem with this claim is that actual white supremacists are a minuscule band of losers; another is that the same political and media establishment attaches the label “far-right” to virtually everyone who dissents from the Leftist agenda. And a third difficulty with the mainstream view is that it ignores the increasing hostility toward Israel and Jews in general on the Left, and the deeply ingrained anti-Semitism of one of the Left’s protected groups, Muslims – as a recent incident in New York City indicates.

Young Mohib Hoque “allegedly chucked an egg at a 38-year-old woman who was walking on 38th Street near 14th Avenue at about 6 p.m,” and then “about 15 minutes later, Hoque allegedly threw another egg at a wall of nearby Congregation Bnei Torah Sanz.”

None of Hoque’s behavior is really surprising to those who are aware of what Islam’s core text, the Qur’an, says about Jews. Most people assume that any hostility any Muslim may have toward Jews is motivated by the alleged mistreatment of “Palestinians” by Israel. That mistreatment, however, is largely the work of “Palestinian” propaganda mills that fabricate Israeli atrocities on a large scale, and is also in some cases a result of the practice of Hamas and Islamic Jihad of basing operations in civilian areas so that they can use retaliatory actions as a basis for more victimhood propaganda.

While it may be that Hoque actually believes some of this propaganda and it moved him to express his hatred and contempt for the synagogue, the Muslim animus toward Jews is much more deeply rooted than most people realize. The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the well-being of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); they fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); they claim that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); they love to listen to lies (5:41); they disobey Allah and never observe his commands (5:13). They are disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more. They are under Allah’s curse (9:30), and Muslims should wage war against them and subjugate them under Islamic hegemony (9:29).

These aren’t just random verses tucked away in a dusty book that everyone has forgotten. The Qur’an is at the very center of Islamic culture and life, and has exerted its influence upon Islamic culture to such an extent that even many Muslims who don’t read it regularly and aren’t familiar with its contents share its hatred of Jews – in many Muslim-majority areas, that hatred is in the air.

The names of many of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City are not realized. If they were, it is likely that there would be more names such as that of Mohib Hoque than New York authorities are willing to admit.



USCIS: Nearly 80,000 DACA Recipients Have Arrest Records

With the question of the constitutionality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before the Supreme Court, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a study showing that nearly 80,000 DACA recipients have arrest records ranging from immigration violations to rape and murder.

The study should add fuel to the fire if Congress were to try and make DACA recipients legal.

Before jumping to conclusions, both sides should consider what exactly the USCIS studied.

Fox News:

The data released Saturday by  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shows only arrests or apprehensions for a criminal offense or an immigration-related civil offense and does not take into account whether there was a conviction, acquittal, dismissal or a lessening of charges.

This is important when giving weight to the study and judging its relevance. Getting arrested doesn't make you a felon and given the kinds of offenses that the overwhelming number of DACA recipients were arrested for, it certainly doesn't make one a violent or dangerous criminal.

But perhaps recipients of DACA should be subject to more scrutiny.

The report finds that of the nearly 889,000 applicants for the DACA program, 110,000 had arrest records. Of the more than 765,000 approved for DACA, 79,398 had arrest records. Of that number, 67,861 were arrested before their most recent DACA approval, while 15,903 were arrested after their most recent approval.

The offenses incurred by DACA requestors who were arrested before their most recent approval include battery (3,421), assault (3,308), burglary, breaking and entering (1,471), rape (62), murder (15) and theft or larceny (7,926). The largest population arrested were suspected of driving-related offenses excluding DUIs (23,305) and immigration-related offenses (12,968.)

USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, well known for his anti-DACA views, issued a statement:

“As DACA continues to be the subject of both public discourse and ongoing litigation, USCIS remains committed to ensuring transparency and that the American people are informed about those receiving DACA,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

“This agency is obligated to continue accepting DACA requests from illegal aliens as a direct result of the previous administration’s decision to circumvent the laws as passed by Congress. We hope this data provides a better sense of the reality of those granted the privilege of a temporary deferral of removal action and work authorization under DACA,” he said.

The "reality" is that the Supreme Court is likely to find the program unconstitutional. But there is a strong sense in Congress on both sides of the aisle, that punishing someone who was brought here illegally by their illegal parents, shouldn't have to suffer the consequences.

I'm sure that part of that deal will be to prevent violent convicted felons from being allowed to stay in the country. But what about the others? Should drunk drivers be deported? Should a previous civil immigration violation be a reason to kick an otherwise law-abiding illegal out of the country?

These are questions for Congress as the issue of DACA once again comes before it.




LANDMARK SCUFFLE: Trump asks Supreme Court to let him keep his tax returns secret, setting up a landmark fight (CNBC)

TRADE PROGRESS: Nancy Pelosi says finalized trade deal with Mexico and Canada "imminent" (National Review)

BACKGROUND HERE: Federal judge rules U.S.-born "ISIS bride" not an American citizen, U.S. not required to repatriate her (National Review)

AWKWARD: U.S. manufacturing group hacked by China as trade talks intensified (Reuters)

IRON FIST: Hong Kong violence continues to escalate as China's Xi Jinping makes strongest statement yet (Hot Air)

POLICY: Don't reauthorize the Export-Import Bank — defund it (Washington Examiner)

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards hangs on to his Louisiana seat; however, Republicans procure a supermajority in the state senate (Vox)

"WE'RE ABSOLUTELY GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES HERE": Twitter rolls out ban on political ads covering candidates, elections, and legislation (National Review)

DISASTROUS: Elizabeth Warren's tax plan would hit some with rates over 100% (The Daily Wire)

LAGGING BEHIND: Immigration jails in Trump era are packed, but deportations are fewer than in Obama's (The Washington Post)

TRANSPARENCY: Trump's team delivers a big win for patients by making health costs clearer (Washington Examiner)

AN INDICATOR THAT TRUMP WILL PERSEVERE: As impeachment fizzles, the stock market soars (The Federalist)

SHAPING WHAT YOU SEE: How Google interferes with its search algorithms and changes your results (The Wall Street Journal)

POLICY: Improving surface transportation through federalism (The Heritage Foundation)


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, November 19, 2019

UK: Why Boris will win

One of the strange things about General Election campaigns is that you can never really predict what will capture the public imagination.

Day after day, the nation's politicians trudge up and down the country, and most people barely even notice they're there. And then, quite suddenly, a stray remark seizes the nation's attention and can never be wiped away.

Two years ago, for example, Theresa May travelled the land intoning her terrible mantra about strong and stable leadership, and nobody cared. Then she told an interviewer that the worst thing she'd ever done as a girl was to run through a field of wheat, and everybody remembered it.

For Boris Johnson, that moment came during his mock-spontaneous campaign video, released online a few days ago. In case you haven't seen it, the Prime Minister is interviewed wandering around his campaign headquarters, making a cup of tea and greeting random staff members.

He talks about wanting to get Brexit done, and about liking Marmite. Then comes the remark that, in the public mind at least, seems to sum him up.

What, asks the interviewer, has surprised him most about being Prime Minister?

The biggest shock, he says, is that he can no longer have a takeaway. The other day, he adds, 'I couldn't actually get a Thai curry to deliver to Number 10 because of the security problems'.

Classic Boris, you might think. The kind of man who's desperate to get stuck into a decent curry. A man who likes the Rolling Stones and forgets to take out his teabag before pouring in the milk. A man of the people.

Of course, there's more to it than that. You can bet that every line in that campaign video was carefully scripted, right down to the last syllable. As recent months have shown, Johnson is a very canny, even ruthless, operator and he knew exactly what message he was sending.

Indeed, his critics — some of them inside his own party — claim the whole thing is an act. They point to his upper middle-class background, his classical education at Eton and Oxford, his plummy accent, his membership of the Bullingdon Club, even his air of carefully manicured dishevelment, and see an Establishment figure in populist clothing.

But that takeaway line resonated because it matches what the public already think. For in Johnson, many working-class voters do see a man of the people, to an extent unmatched by any Tory leader in living memory.

The very fact that so many people automatically refer to him as 'Boris' is very telling. Even that campaign video begins with the interviewer, in a strong Estuary accent, greeting him with the words: 'Hi Boris, all right?'

Even when he went to South Yorkshire, meeting residents who were angry that the official response to the floods had not been quicker, people automatically called him by his first name. 'You've took your time, Boris, haven't you?' said one heckler.

Afterwards, the Mail's man in Yorkshire, Chris Brooke, noted that even diehard Labour supporters, who thought he should have done more to help the flood victims, invariably called him 'Boris', not 'Prime Minister'. And although they might not be his biggest fans, many were pleased to shake his hand and even sit down for a cup of tea.

Nobody called Mrs May 'Theresa'. Nobody bumping into her predecessors called David Cameron 'Dave' or Michael Howard 'Mike'.

The last Conservative leader to whom ordinary voters referred by her first name was Margaret Thatcher — 'Maggie'. And she was the last Tory leader who strongly appealed to ambitious working-class voters, not least because she sold them their council houses.

Yet according to the latest polling data, Johnson's appeal to working-class voters is even stronger than Mrs Thatcher's in the early 1980s.

A ComRes poll this week, for example, found that fully 43 per cent of skilled and semi-skilled manual workers — those people at the bottom of the social pyramid — are planning to vote Conservative, up from just 35 per cent in 2017.

A YouGov poll, meanwhile, found that among all working-class voters, the Tories are on 47 per cent, a staggering 20 per cent ahead of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

This picture might change on Election Day, of course, but I doubt it. Every last bit of evidence suggests that the Tories are far more popular than Labour among working-class voters, turning the time-honoured stereotypes of British politics on their head.

Not all of this, mind you, is down to Johnson. Contrary to Labour gibes that the Tories have never been anything more than the party of the rich, they have typically attracted between a quarter and a third of the working-class vote.

But in the past few years, there has been a marked surge in the Tories' working-class support. Some 38 per cent of working-class Britons voted Tory in 2017, the Party's strongest showing since 1979.

One of the central factors, obviously, is Brexit. Some political scientists believe Brexit has shattered the old political alignment, with millions of voters abandoning old haunts for new homes.

For the Conservatives, the obvious downside is their abandonment by affluent urban Remainers who might once have been regular Tory voters. In 2017, for example, they lost Canterbury, a classic leafy, middle-class university city, for the first time since 1835.

Or take Oxford West and Abingdon, which is positively stuffed with PhDs. The Tories won it in 2010 and 2015, but lost it two years ago to Lib Dem Layla Moran, almost entirely thanks to Brexit.

But the Tory calculation is that they can afford to lose seats like this if they pick up more working-class constituencies in the North and Midlands. They have high hopes, for example, of winning the veteran Dennis Skinner's seat in Bolsover, where as recently as 2005 they came third with just 17 per cent of the vote.

To capture Bolsover would be extraordinary indeed, but it is part of a pattern. The Tories' route to victory depends on success in the North, where they hope Labour voters' frustrations with the Brexit impasse, fury at the metropolitan political class and utter contempt for Jeremy Corbyn will outweigh decades of tribal loyalty.

This is where the Boris factor comes in. To paraphrase the old Heineken advert, Johnson refreshes the parts other Tory leaders cannot reach — in particular, the declining towns of Northern England.

Obviously Brexit, again, is part of the story, since the Prime Minister was the front man for the Leave campaign. Even his inability to get Britain out on October 31 — or, as he promised, to 'die in a ditch' if he failed — has not hurt him among most Leave voters.

There are other issues. Nobody doubts that Johnson, who wrote a book about Churchill, quoted Rudyard Kipling when he visited Burma and criticised Barack Obama for disliking the British Empire, is a patriot to his fingertips.

And given that Corbyn has consistently supported Britain's enemies, sympathised with the IRA and even talked of dismantling the Armed Forces, it is hardly surprising that so many patriotic Labour voters are planning to jump ship.

But there is more to it than Brexit, or even an anti- Corbyn backlash. The truth, as almost everybody in politics grudgingly admits, is that Johnson has the X Factor.

Six years ago, novelist Jonathan Coe wrote a remarkably prescient essay arguing that the key moment in Johnson's rise was his first appearance on the BBC One panel show Have I Got News For You. For Coe, very far from being a Boris fan, this was the moment the future Prime Minister cemented his public image as a 'loveable, self-mocking buffoon', an everyman rather than an Etonian.

He made people laugh, but he laughed at himself, too, pretending to be stupider than he actually was. And although the audience knew exactly what he was doing, they laughed nonetheless.

In an age of robotic, bland politicians, frightened of looking silly or saying anything controversial, that made him stand out.

Even his outspoken newspaper articles cemented his reputation as a free spirit, who refused to be shackled by the po-faced, politically correct thought police.

By and large, Johnson has stuck to that relentlessly good-humoured, self-deprecating formula. His most celebrated moment as London Mayor, for example, came when he celebrated Britain's first gold medal in the 2012 Olympics by taking to a zip-wire, which got stuck, leaving him dangling ludicrously while clutching two Union Jacks.

Trapped in his harness, a safety helmet jammed on his blond mop, he looked absurd — and that, in a sense, was the point. He was not afraid to look ridiculous; rather, he embraced it. It was later alleged that this was a deliberate stunt.

As a result, people have always felt comfortable with him. There is nothing starchy or censorious about him: quite the reverse. Among many voters his frankly disreputable private life probably works in his favour. People rarely enjoy the company of saints, but never mind meeting another sinner.



Attorney General Barr Shreds The Political Left During Federalist Society Speech

On Friday, Attorney General William P. Barr delivered the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society's 2019 National Lawyers Convention.

The most significant part of the speech, to me, was when Barr slammed the political left for their endless attacks on Trump, and their bogus narrative that Trump is subverting the Constitution.

One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this President constantly accuse this Administration of “shredding” constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law. When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to? I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the Travel Ban or some such thing. While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him. What I am talking about today are fundamental constitutional precepts.

The fact is that this Administration’s policy initiatives and proposed rules, including the Travel Ban, have transgressed neither constitutional, nor traditional, norms, and have been amply supported by the law and patiently litigated through the Court system to vindication.

Indeed, measures undertaken by this Administration seem a bit tame when compared to some of the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama Administration’s aggressive exercises of executive power – such as, under its DACA program, refusing to enforce broad swathes of immigration law.

Barr also specifically called out the resistance.

The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law. This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day. It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic.
Oh, but he wasn't done there:

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion.  Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the state to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection.  Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end.  They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications.  They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.

I strongly encourage you to watch (or read) the whole thing. After eight years of having partisan radicals running the show and turning the Department of Justice into a political weapon for Barack Obama, it's refreshing to see we have an advocate for the Constitution and the rule of law again.

Naturally, some on the left were triggered by this. As would be expected. They were spoiled by the corruption of the Obama years when Democrats were above the law and constitutionality was based on the whim of Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and Loretta Lynch, not the actual Constitution. It's clear from Barr's speech that he's on the side of the Constitution and rule of law, and that makes the left very afraid.



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, November 18, 2019

County Seizes Michigan Man's Home After He Underpays Taxes by $8.41

Halloween may have passed, but here is a horror story about the government using its power to tax as a means of seizing private property, then making a profit for itself. Michigan's Oakland County basically stole an elderly man's house and flipped it for a profit.


An 83-year-old retired engineer in Michigan underpaid his property taxes by $8.41. In response, Oakland County seized his property, auctioned it off to settle the debt, and pocketed nearly $24,500 in excess revenue from the sale.
Under Michigan law, it was all legal. And hardly uncommon.

Uri Rafaeli, who lost his property and all the equity associated with it, is just one of thousands of people to be victimized by Michigan's uniquely aggressive property tax statute.

This is yet another example of a law being passed with good intentions but soon turning into a nightmare when power-hungry officials pervert it:

The law, passed in 1999 in an attempt to accelerate the rehabilitation of abandoned properties, empowers county treasurers to act as debt collectors. In the process, it creates a perverse incentive by allowing treasurers' offices to retain excess revenue raised by seizing and selling properties with delinquent taxes—even when the amount owed is minuscule, and even when the homes aren't abandoned or blighted at all.

Reagan's immortal words about the government helping come to mind, with this being one of the more nightmarish examples of a bureaucracy running roughshod over the citizens.

This Reason article is quite lengthy but good. It goes into detail about Rafaeli's horrifying tale, as well as providing other examples of Oakland County's property confiscation racket.

The law may be filling the county coffers, but it doesn't seem to be doing what it was originally intended to do:

The county's aggressive home equity forfeiture scheme seems to be part of the problem. Over a two year period between 2017 and 2018, volunteers working with the Quicken Loan Community Fund, a Detroit-based nonprofit connected to the mortgage company, interviewed more than 60,000 property owners who owed taxes to the city. Most were aware that they owed taxes, but did not have accurate information about the process or the potential consequences.

Worse, the survey found that aggressive use of home equity forfeiture was leaving the city with more vacant properties, not fewer.

Perhaps the stated intention was merely a misdirection ploy. Avowed bureaucracy cynics like myself might say that the law is working exactly as intended.



NY Times: ‘Tidal Wave’ of Mass Immigration Hands Virginia to Democrats

Last week, Democrats took control of Virginia’s House of Delegates and the State Senate. Now, the Democrats hold power over the state’s legislature, the governor’s seat and the lieutenant governor’s seat — the first time since 1993 that this has occurred.

The New York Times now admits that four to five decades of mass immigration — where about 1.2 million legal immigrants are admitted to the United States every year — has shifted Virginia into a blue state:

Not long ago, this rolling green stretch of Northern Virginia was farmland. Most people who could vote had grown up here. And when they did, they usually chose Republicans.

The fields of Loudoun County are disappearing. In their place is row upon row of cookie-cutter townhouses, clipped lawns and cul-de-sacs — a suburban landscape for as far as the eye can see. Unlike three decades ago, the residents are often from other places, like India and Korea. And when they vote, it is often for Democrats....

“It’s a totally different world,” said Charles Poland, 85, a retired history professor whose family has lived in Loudoun County for four generations. His family farm is now dotted with subdivisions filled with four and five-bedroom homes that sell for $750,000. The family legacy is a road named Poland. “If my parents came back today, they wouldn’t recognize the place. The changes came like a tidal wave.” [Emphasis added]

As Breitbart News analyzed, Virginia’s foreign-born population has boomed over the last few decades. In 1990, Virginia was home to less than 312,000 foreign-born residents. Today, there are close to 1.1 million, almost four times what the population was three decades before.

In 2019, 1-in-10 Virginia residents are foreign-born. In 1990, only about 1-in-28 residents were born outside the U.S.

A 38-year-old immigrant from India interviewed by the New York Times explained that he voted for Democrats in the recent Virginia election because he supports gun control measures, calling it the “most pressing issue” for him.

Under current legal immigration levels, the U.S. is on track to import about 15 million new foreign-born voters in the next two decades. Those 15 million new foreign-born voters include about eight million who will arrive in the country through chain migration, whereby newly naturalized citizens can bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the country.

Republicans’ electoral prospects are only expected to get worse because of historically high legal immigration levels, according to research by Axios and the Atlantic.

Ronald Brownstein, senior editor for the Atlantic, noted this year that nearly 90 percent of House congressional districts with a foreign-born population above the national average were won by Democrats. This means that every congressional district with a foreign-born population exceeding roughly 14 percent had a 90 percent chance of being controlled by Democrats and only a ten percent chance of electing a Republican.

The impact of legal immigration levels was evident in the 2016 election despite President Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. Among native-born Americans, Trump won 49 percent to Clinton’s 45 percent, according to exit polling data. Among foreign-born residents, Clinton dominated against Trump, garnering 64 percent of the immigrant population’s vote compared to Trump’s mere 31 percent.



Mandatory Shortages
Governments create problems. Then they complain about them.

“A public health crisis exists,” says Kentucky’s government, citing a report that found “a shortage of ambulance providers.”

Local TV stations report on “people waiting hours for medical transportation.” “Six-year-old Kyler Truesdell fell off his motorcycle,” reported Channel 12 news. “The local hospital told (his mother) he should be transported to Cincinnati Children’s to check for internal injuries.” But there was no ambulance available. Kyler had to wait two hours.

Yet Kyler’s cousin, Hannah Howe, runs an ambulance service in Ohio, just a few minutes away. “We would’ve (taken him) for free,” she says in my new video. “But it would’ve been illegal.”

It would be illegal because of something called certificate of need (CON) laws.

Kentucky and three other states require businesses to get a CON certificate before they are allowed to run an ambulance service. Certificates go only to businesses that bureaucrats deem “necessary.”

CON laws are supposed to prevent “oversupply” of essential services like, well, ambulances. If there are “too many” ambulance companies, some might cut corners or go out of business. Then patients would suffer, say the bureaucrats.

Of course, Kentucky patients already suffer, waiting.

It raises the question: If there’s demand, then who are politicians to say that a business is unnecessary?

Phillip Truesdell, Hannah’s father, often takes patients to hospitals in Kentucky, “I drop them off (but) I can’t go back and get them!” he told me. “Who gives the big man the right to say, ‘You can’t work here’?!”


Phillip and Hannah applied for a CON certificate and waited 11 months for a response. Then they learned that their application was being protested by existing ambulance providers. Of course it was. Businesses don’t like competition.

“We go to court, these three ambulance services showed up,” recounts Howe. “They hammered her, treated her like she was a criminal,” says Truesdell. “Do you know what you’re going to do to this company?! … To this town?!”

“It wasn’t anything to do with us being physically able to do it. (They) just came through like the big dog not trying to let anybody else on the porch,” says Howe.

Three other ambulance companies also applied for permission to operate in Kentucky. They were rejected, too.

Truesdell and Howe were lucky to find the Pacific Legal Foundation, a law firm that fights for Americans’ right to earn a living. Pacific Legal lawyer Anastasia Boden explains: “Traditionally we allow consumers to decide what’s necessary. Existing operators are never going to say more businesses are necessary.”

One Kentucky ambulance provider who opposed the new applications sent me a statement that says “saturating a community with more EMS agencies than it can … support (leads) all agencies to become watered down.”

Boden replies: “That’s just absurd. We now recognize that competition leads to efficient outcomes.”

It’s not just ambulance companies and people waiting for ambulances who are hurt by CON laws. Thirty-five states demand that businesses such as medical imaging companies, hospitals and even moving companies get CON certificates before they are allowed to open.

Boden warns: “Once you get these laws on the books, it’s very hard to get them off. Monopolies like their monopoly. This started back in the ‘70s with the federal government.”

But the feds, amazingly, wised up and repealed the mandate in 1987, saying things like, “CON laws raise considerable competitive concerns (and) consumers benefit from lower prices when provider markets are more competitive.”

Unfortunately, politicians in Kentucky and many other states haven’t wised up.

When Virginia tried to abolish its CON law, local hospitals spent $200,000 on ads claiming competition will force hospitals to close. Somehow, hospitals operate just fine in states without CON laws. But the Virginia scare campaign worked. The state still has a CON law.

In health care, and all fields, it’s better to see what competition can do rather than letting the government and its cronies decide what to allow.




SO SERIOUS: swoons over drag queen at impeachment circus hearings (NewsBusters)

REHEARING REJECTED: U.S. appeals court again backs House request for Trump tax documents (Reuters)

NO CONFIDENCE: Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announces Democrat presidential bid (Associated Press)

"UNCONSTITUTIONAL BIDDING": Federal government can't just allow 3D gunmaking software to proliferate without a license, federal judge declares (Reason)

BIG BROTHER: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders pitch Green New Deal bill for public housing (The Washington Post)

CLOSING IN: China holding "in-depth" talks with U.S. on interim trade deal (Reuters)

CONSEQUENCES: Trump administration proposes employment restrictions for asylum seekers who enter U.S. illegally (National Review)

CHILDREN EXPLOITED: More than 600 children "recycled" by migrant smugglers at border (The Washington Times)

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: FBI's "lone wolf" report says domestic terrorists are rarely isolated (NBC News)

POLICY: How LGBTQ education is gaining in tax-funded schools, from pre-K on up (RealClearInvestigations)


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, November 17, 2019

Method in Leftist madness

Michael Novak's comments below date from 2006 but are still powerfully relevant

Conventional wisdom seems to say that the Left has gone around the bend, is jumping off cliffs, is stark raving mad.

But there is a method in the madness of the Left. There has always been a method in it. The Left is not engaged in an “argument,” it is engaged in a revolution in the name of all that is just and right and good. Therefore, it does not aim to out-argue its opponents, but to shame them, to drive them from the field in ignominy, to make them figures of ridicule, moral indignation, and revulsion.

Go back and read your Lenin. Revisit the show trials. The point is that no one dares defend such bad people. (This tactic works. Think twice before defending Bush on a college campus. How much indignation can you bear?)

Better yet, watch Ted Kennedy in action. His attacks on Judge Alito, like his earlier attacks on Judge Bork, were not intended as arguments, and certainly showed little regard for fact. They were all bluster, moral indignation, character assassination, ridicule, ostracism. If words could kill, his were the words of an assassin.

This leftist tactic has worked for over one hundred years, because there are not many people who can stand unafraid before it. Most do not want to attract attention to themselves, lest its indignation and vituperation and moral ridicule be turned loose upon them. The tirades in which these words are launched—Senator Kennedy’s neck muscles bulge, his flesh turns bright red, his voice rises ever higher so as to forbid anybody–anybody–from interrupting him—are meant to enforce acquiescence, not consent. They are meant to intimidate, not to present an argument. They are meant to reduce to subservience all who are obliged to listen, even friends and associates (however embarrassed they might be).

Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin had mastered this Leninist trick himself, and turned it upon the Left. His every tonality and accent dripped ridicule and moral disdain.

It is a method that can be learned by anyone. But Lenin was the first to put it in handbooks and train hundreds of agitators, organizers, cells, and units to use it.

Playing tapes of Senator McCarthy in some of his famous hearings and Senator Kennedy in the recent judiciary hearings would, I believe, be quite instructive as to the method.

But why does this method work? As a method of last resort, it has the merit of intimidating good people into silence. It strikes fear into most hearts. Ridicule and moral opprobrium, and manifestations of sheer hatred for one’s very being, are not easy to bear, especially for conscientious and upright and morally sensitive people. Such persons, like Mrs. Alito, feel like bursting into tears. Those near them feel powerless and weak, unable to help, unable to make appeal.

Moreover, hatred spreads. Once the speaker licenses moral ridicule toward the accused, and destroys in him any semblance of moral character, truthfulness, or decency, on what ground will such a person stand? What shred of dignity is left to cover him? Such a person is unfit to be seen in the company of better people—the intention is to banish him. Don’t even consider him! Reject him! Cast him out!

To say that Senator Kennedy has become a bully is not enough. He is a destroyer of the moral dignity of persons.

When I was a boy, Democrats dominated everything. But Democrats since 1952 have held the White House only fitfully. They have lost the Senate. They have lost the House. They have lost the Supreme Court (which, although it is supposed to be independent of politics, was reconfigured to become the major motor of progressive reform). They have lost religious people, once their main base of support. They are losing popular appeal.

But by turning back to their Old Left handbooks, the Democratic leadership has found the acids that destroy opposition. Even though the nation is in a deadly war, they constantly attack the credibility and truthfulness of the President, ridicule him, call him names, morally assassinate him. That acid seeps through society.

As to building a better country, there is not much in this method to commend it. But for destroying the moral standing of the other side, it has had proven effect for many decades. It is not crazy for Democrats to conclude that, having lost so much, they have little more to lose.

And even if it is crazy, there is method in it. Canonical method, approved method.

In a democracy, alas, destroying the “in” power sometimes is sufficient for boosting the electoral success of the “outs.”



Donald Trump pardons three soldiers in war crimes cases despite swamp opposition

US President Donald Trump pardoned three armed services members who were accused or convicted of war crimes on Friday.

Trump reversed the demotion of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of murder, but convicted on a lesser charge in a war crimes case this summer.

'There are no words to describe how grateful my family and I are to our President - Donald J Trump for his intervention and decision', Gallagher said in a social media post after his demotion was reversed.

The president also ordered the release of Clint Lorance, a former army lieutenant who had been convicted of murder for ordering soldiers under his command to open fire on three unarmed Afgan men, including two who died.

And Trump cancelled murder charges against Major Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer whose trial was set to begin next month.

Trump personally called the three men after granting the pardons, which defied rulings made by military leaders seeking to punish the service members.

All three also had been favorites among conservatives who see them as heroes who should not have been prosecuted. Trump, when the White House was considering intervening in Golsteyn's case, commented at the time, 'We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill'!

In explaining his decision to clear the three service members on Friday, the White House released a statement saying 'The president, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted'.

'For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country', the statement explains.

'These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight''.



Elizabeth Warren has been light on detail for funding Medicare for All — until now. So do the numbers add up?

The senator has yoked herself to Medicare for All—a single-payer system free at the point of service proposed by her competitor, Bernie Sanders. Unlike Mr Sanders, though, she dodged questions on whether taxes on the middle class would rise to pay the $3.4trn in added annual costs. On November 1st she released a detailed financing plan “without increasing middle-class taxes one penny.” Other candidates, she declared, should put forward similarly detailed plans or “concede that they think it’s more important to protect the eye-popping profits of private insurers and drug companies and the immense fortunes of the top 1% and giant corporations.”

The details explain both the initial reticence and the subsequent defensiveness. The underlying sums strain credulity, requiring heroic assumptions on cost reductions and budgetary gymnastics on rev-enue-raising. This mars Ms Warren’s wonkish reputation. It may placate voters for the primary, but would surely damage her in a general election against President Donald Trump, if she gets that far.

Start with the spending. Over the next ten years Americans are expected to spend $52trn on health care. Under a generous single-payer system, spending would increase by $7trn, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute, a left-leaning thinktank, which serves as the starting point of the campaign’s calculations. Through a number of steps, Ms Warren whittles this difference down to zero. She argues that national health spending would remain 1 constant, even though more people would be covered (eg, the 28m citizens and undocumented migrants without insurance) and the use of medical services would increase were they free.

Among her modifications of the Urban Institute’s numbers are lower administrative costs (2.3% of overall spending, compared with Urban’s 6%). Ms Warren’s plan assumes a slower rate of growth in health costs (3.9% versus Urban’s 4.5%) and less generous payments to hospitals for services (110% of current Medicare reimbursement rates versus Urban’s 115%). Added to this are targets for reducing spending on drugs—by 30% on generics and 70% on branded medicines—enforced by the threat of large excise taxes, the possibility of overriding patents and the option of having the government produce drugs itself. Given the resistance to such a plan from doctors, insurers, drug companies and hospitals, this would be hard to pull off.

Even with these steps, and the redirection of all existing public spending on health care, Ms Warren has a $20.5trn budgetary hole. Filling it is made harder by her insistence that taxes on the middle class will not increase. Currently employers shoulder a significant portion of healthcare costs. Under Ms Warren’s plan, the same cheques would be redirected to the federal government. In practice this would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans. It would also increase the relative cost of hiring lowwage workers, hurting the people Ms Warren most wants to help.

She finds some money from the kind of conjuring promised by less rigorous campaigns, like better tax enforcement (which provides $2.3trn), comprehensive immigration reform (providing $400bn) and the elimination of the fund that pays for the defence department’s Middle East operations (another $800bn). After all that, she is still short by $6.8trn.

To make up the shortfall, Ms Warren plans to add levies on large firms and rich Americans—beyond those she has already proposed. On top of the repeal of Mr Trump’s tax cuts and a new 7% charge on corporate profits, she would eliminate the ability of businesses to immediately write down depreciating capital; she would also impose a minimum tax of 35% on their foreign earnings. A new financial transactions tax of 0.1% would be placed on sales of shares and bonds, wrecking the business of high-frequency traders (perhaps a plus from Ms Warren’s point of view). The country’s 40 biggest banks would pay an annual fee of 0.15% on “covered liabilities” (liabilities minus federally insured deposits). The wealth tax has been revised upwards too. Fortunes above $1bn would be charged a 6% annual levy. A Warren presidency could cost Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, $26bn over a single term. Nor could he escape by shedding his American citizenship. Ms Warren has proposed an “exit tax” of 40% on the net worth of billionaires to head off that threat.

These contortions are all the result of past decisions. Despite her earlier, more pragmatic instincts on health care, Ms Warren adopted two nearly incompatible pledges: to deliver Mr Sanders’ version of single-payer health care—more generous than that of Britain or Canada—but without any premiums or deductibles and without raising taxes on the vast majority of Americans. Because her evasiveness on funding was attracting criticism from her more moderate competitors, like Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden, Ms Warren released this plan, which seems to assume that anyone outside the top 1% of earners counts as middle class. During the primary election, the strategy could work. She can credibly answer her opponents’ claims by repeating her quasi-official catchphrase, “I have a plan for that”. Primary voters may shrug off the entire episode.

A general-election contest with Mr Trump would be a different matter. There was reasonable speculation that Ms Warren’s woolliness on health care was a tactical move, enabling her to strike a more centrist pose on securing the Democratic nomination. That option now looks closed off. The new plan opens her up to all manner of attack from Mr Trump, even though his own health plan is ill-defined, beyond a so-far unsuccessful drive to repeal Obamacare, and his record on health—2m more Americans are uninsured than when he came to office—is dreadful.

Going into an election promising to discontinue the health insurance of the 178m Americans who have private plans through their employers seems mad. “Democrats now have a 30-point advantage over Donald Trump on health care,” says Jim Kessler of Third Way, a centre-left think-tank. “If that gap narrows—and it will narrow if Democrats are for Medicare for All: it could narrow to zero—he gets re-elected.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-policy think-tank, 51% of Americans support Medicare for All while 47% oppose it. But when various objections to the programme are made—such as the elimination of private health insurance, and the possibility of increased taxes and queues for treatment—support drops to below 40%. As a policy, Warrencare might be described as negligent. Politically it looks more like malpractice.



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