Friday, December 20, 2019

Is Trump the Only Adult in the Room?

By Victor Davis Hanson

Donald Trump certainly is mercurial at times. He can be uncouth.  But then again, no president in modern memory has been on the receiving end of such overwhelmingly negative media coverage and a three-year effort to abort his presidency, beginning the day after his election.

Do we remember the effort to subvert the Electoral College to prevent Trump from assuming office?

The first impeachment try during his initial week in office?

Attempts to remove Trump using the ossified Logan Act or the emoluments clause of the Constitution?

The idea of declaring Trump unhinged, subject to removal by invoking the 25th Amendment?

Special counsel Robert Mueller's 22-month, $35 million investigation, which failed to find Trump guilty of collusion with Russia in the 2016 election and failed to find actionable obstruction of justice pertaining to the non-crime of collusion?

The constant endeavors to subpoena Trump's tax returns and to investigate his family, lawyers and friends?

Now, frustrated Democrats are trying to impeach Trump, even as they are scrambling to find reasons why and how.

Most presidents might seem angry after three years of that. Yet in paradoxical fashion, Trump suddenly appears more composed than at any other time in his volatile presidency.

Ironically, Trump's opponents and enemies are the ones who have become publicly unhinged.

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden recently had a complete meltdown while campaigning in Iowa. Biden called a questioner who asked about his son Hunter's lucrative job with a Ukrainian energy company "a damn liar." An animated Biden also challenged the 83-year-old ex-Marine and retired farmer to a push-up contest or footrace.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, fared little better. On the first day of his committee's impeachment inquiry, Nadler stacked the witness list by bringing in three left-wing law professors, as opposed to one Republican centrist witness -- as if partisan academics might sway the nation.

None of the three presented any new information or evidence. All three seemed angry, petulant and condescending. At least one came into the proceedings with paper and video trails of anti-Trump animus.

The nadir came when one of the witnesses, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, was reduced to making fun of the president's 13-year-old son.

At one point, Nadler appeared to fall asleep while chairing the hearing.

Nadler's Judiciary Committee was supposed to be empowered by the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment report. But the contents of that report were overshadowed by the revelation that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the Intelligence Committee, had obtained data on the private phone calls of ranking Republican House Intelligence Committee Member Devin Nunes, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, journalist John Solomon, former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and others. Schiff had obtained the data via congressional subpoena.

If the chairman of a committee overseeing an impeachment inquiry is secretly digging into the phone records of his own colleague, a reporter and the personal attorney of the president of the United States, how can anything he reports be trusted?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference to announce plans to proceed with articles of impeachment. But she would not say which particular charges would be brought against the president.

Then, Pelosi lost her cool and shook her finger at a reporter who simply asked her, "Do you hate the president?"

At that point, a furious Pelosi shouted back, "Don't mess with me!"

She then retreated behind the shield of her religion by lecturing the questioner that as a good Catholic, she was simply too moral to be capable of hatred. Pelosi finished her sermon by boasting that she "prayed" for the unfortunate Trump.

At a NATO summit in London, Trump was playing the unaccustomed role of NATO defender by challenging French President Emmanuel Macron's curt dismissal of the alliance. Macron said NATO is experiencing "brain death."

Meanwhile, in an unguarded moment, a few heads of NATO nations crowded around Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he chattered and ridiculed Trump in the fashion of a gossipy teen -- unknowingly being recorded on video, much to the delight of Trump's critics back home.

The common denominator of all this petulance is exasperation over the inability to derail Trump.

Trump's many enemies fear he will be re-elected in 2020, given a booming economy and peace abroad. They know that they cannot remove him from office. And yet they fear that the more they try to stain him with impeachment, the more frustrated and unpopular they will become.

Yet, like end-stage addicts, they simply cannot stop the behavior that is consuming them.



Actually, class warriors, skyrocketing inequality may be a myth

Jeff Jacoby

DEMONIZING THE RICH and condemning disparities of wealth have been pillars of Democratic Party politics for decades. Franklin Delano Roosevelt lambasted wealthy Americans who "did not want to pay a fair share" in 1936. Barack Obama pronounced income inequality "the defining issue of our time" in 2012. Few left-wing tropes are more familiar than the avarice of the well-to-do.

Bernie Sanders denounces current levels of wealth inequality as "outrageous," "grotesque," and "immoral." Elizabeth Warren accuses the rich of having "rigged the system" to "hollow out" the middle class.

These days, the most fervent bash-the-rich rhetoric comes from Democratic senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom are proposing steep new taxes on the accumulated wealth of America's most affluent families. Sanders denounces current levels of wealth inequality as "outrageous," "grotesque," and "immoral," and declares flatly that "billionaires should not exist." Warren accuses the rich of having "rigged the system" to "hollow out" the middle class, and insists that "runaway wealth concentration" is poisoning American society.

The idea that wealth and income inequality is off the charts — that the "1 percent" has cleaned up at the expense of everyone else — has gotten considerable support from the work of three influential economists, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. It's their research that Warren and Sanders rely on when they decry the super-rich for amassing ever more wealth while the vast majority of Americans is losing ground.

But what if Piketty, et al., got it wrong?

"Just as ideas about inequality have completed their march from the academy to the frontlines of politics, researchers have begun to look again," The Economist reported last month. "And some are wondering whether inequality has in fact risen as much as claimed — or, by some measures, at all."

Two of those researchers are economists Gerald Auten of the US Treasury and David Splinter of Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation. In a recent paper that has drawn respectful attention in the profession, they make the case that Piketty, Saez, and Zucman fumbled their data, and that their most explosive conclusions about rising inequality aren't supported by the facts. They conclude that, once taxes and government transfer payments are properly accounted for, the share of income going to the top 1 percent in the United States has barely changed since the early 1960s.

One point critics have been making for years is that data on wealth and income ought to reflect the nearly $2 trillion paid out by the government each year via Medicare, Medicaid, and other social welfare programs. Since most taxes are paid by upper-income Americans, while most transfer payments go to lower-income Americans, a good deal of inequality is constantly being neutralized by government antipoverty spending.

To that familiar correction, Auten and Splinter add more subtle ones.

They note, for example, that Piketty and his colleagues focused on tax returns filed by households, which show the income reported by the 1 percent outstripping everyone else. But the focus on household income, as opposed to individual income, skews the bottom line. Marriage rates have fallen disproportionately among poorer Americans, which means that income is divided among more lower-income households, though not among more people. When incomes are ranked by individuals, there is a lot less inequality.

Something else those beating the class-warfare drum tend to ignore is the sharp increase in corporate profits flowing to middle-class taxpayers through pension and retirement funds. Thanks to the advent of IRAs and 401(k)s, corporate ownership has been radically democratized. In 1960, Auten and Splinter point out, retirement funds owned just 4 percent of the US stock market. Today that figure is above 50 percent.

Yet another correction has to do with the way US incomes have been reported to the IRS since 1986. A major change in tax law that year encouraged small businesses to operate as "pass-through" entities, meaning that their income — previously included in corporate returns — could henceforth be included in individual tax returns. As a result, high incomes that used to be sheltered within corporate tax filings began getting reported as individual income: a surge in personal wealth on paper, but not in reality.

Academic analyses of taxpayers' earnings can be "fiendishly complicated," the Economist acknowledges. Politicians and ideologues generally aren't interested in nuance; they prefer to treat issues of income, wealth, and inequality as black-and-white morality tales. But the incessant claim by Sanders and Warren that working-class Americans are being impoverished as plutocrats in the "tippy top" grow ever richer is just not plausible.

There is more to wealth, after all, than hourly wages. "If you argue that income has shrunk you also have to claim that four decades' worth of innovation in goods and services, from mobile phones and video streaming to cholesterol-lowering statins, have not improved middle-earners' lives," the Economist comments. "That is simply not credible." As Don Boudreaux of George Mason University points out, the humblest working-class American today enjoys a standard of living and an array of amenities and comforts — from air travel to contact lenses to overnight package delivery — far superior to most of what even a billionaire like John D. Rockefeller could have commanded a century ago.

Perhaps this is why progressive passion for soaking the rich and closing the wealth gap rarely seem to be shared by most voters. When Gallup earlier this year asked Americans to name the "most important problem facing this country today," just 1 percent cited the gap between rich and poor. When respondents were given a list of a dozen "priorities" for Congress and the president to tackle, "the distribution of income and wealth" tied for last place.

Contrary to progressive belief, America is not divided into rigid economic strata. The incomes of the wealthy often decline, while many taxpayers go from being poor at one point to not-poor at another. Research shows that more than one-tenth of Americans will make it all the way to the top 1 percent for at least one year during their working lives.

The very rich, wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, "are different from you and me." Are they, though? You'd never know it to hear Warren and Sanders fulminate, but the gaping inequality they rail against might just be an illusion.



Trump Now Leads All of His Likely Rivals in National Polls, Even Biden

The fallout from the Democrats' impeachment of Trump keeps getting worse for Democrats. Not only do a plurality now oppose impeachment and removal, but Trump is now leading all of his likely Democrat rivals for the White House in head-to-head match-ups, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll.

According to the recent national survey, President Trump is "defeating former Vice President Joe Biden by 3 percentage points, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 5 points, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 8 points." He also bests Pete Buttigieg by 10 points, and Michael Bloomberg by 9 points.

While obviously polls this far out from the election are hardly reliable indicators, several factors make it clear that Trump is in a very strong position. At this time in the 2012 election cycle, Obama was consistently beating Romney in national polls. Given Trump's already overwhelmingly negative media coverage, the partisan impeachment hearings of the Democrats were the best chance to knock Trump's numbers down, but instead of all his likely rivals crushing him in national polls, he's now beating them.  What does that tell you?

Trump spent most of the 2016 election underwater in terms of national polling—so much so that pundits were almost universally predicting Hillary's coronation.

With the exception of an economic collapse, the height of an impeachment inquiry should be the worst possible thing for Trump. He's had Democrats being given hours and hours of air time claiming him to be a criminal. Yet, here we are — support for impeachment is underwater, and he's outpolling his likely rivals. Many underestimated him in 2016—including me—who should be looking at the numbers today and realizing that save for an economic downturn, Donald Trump will be extremely difficult to beat in 2020,



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.

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Finland versus the USA

The NYT has a large article up under the heading: "Finland Is Our Capitalist Paradise". Finns pay huge taxes but business activity also thrives there they claim

The argument runs that Finns get most big-ticket items "free" for their taxes. The authors are particularly impressed with the free education and free hospitals.  They claim that both are high quality.

And they write as if there is no free education and no free hospitals in the USA. Yet most Americans go to "free" local schools for their primary and secondary education and can go to government hospitals where they will be treated regardless of ability to pay.  So where's the difference?

We have only the word of the authors that there is a difference in quality but I am prepared to concede that many American public schools are ratshit and that American public hospitals can often afford to provide little more than emergency care. So why is that? Can socialized services be better than private ones?

A big part of the American difficulty is that the population of the USA is so diverse.  Many in that population would not even call themselves Americans.  That contrasts with the small and homogeneous population of Finland.  So the American population is orders of magnitude harder to manage than is Finland. So what works well in Finland might work much less well in the USA.

I cannot with any brevity take on all the claims in the NYT article so I just want to focus on one of the claims -- about the high quality of Finnish public hospitals.  Like most Leftist writing, however, they will only tell you the good bits and ignore the bad bits.

I have no new information about Finnish healthcare but I live amid a similar system in Australia.  We too have universal government health coverage. And the limitations of that are well known. Despite the free government healthcare available, 40% of Australians take out private health insurance.  Now why would they do that?

They do it for two reasons: Access and quality. If you have any serious problems, the difficulty is getting yourself in front of the doctor.  There are waiting lists for almost everything and even waiting lists to get on the waiting list!  You could die while waiting and some do. 

And the quality of treatment is public hospitals is poorer, if only because it is the private hospitals that have the latest machines.  Even when the public sector has the machines they may not have the staff to operate them.  There is for instance in Brisbane a public hospital hyperbaric chamber to treat divers with the bends but that hospital will simply refer distressed divers to a private hospital that has one. 

Similarly, there are apparently PET scan machines for detecting cancer in the public sector but they are very expensive to use so most patients will be referred to one of the private PET clinics, where patients will pay out of their own pockets for the scan. My last PET scan (in a private hospital) was arranged with only a couple of days notice

So I doubt that Finnish hospitals are much better than that. I would be most surprised if Finns get the "no waiting" experience that is common in Australian private hospitals.  And it is for access to such hospitals that Australians buy private health insurance

So that is a relevant comparison. Australians and Americans both are mainly of British and Northern European heritage and both have trouble coping with large "indigestible" minorities.  If you want to know what free universal healthcare would look like in practice in America, look to Australia, not Finland. 

The Australian system is not wholly bad.  The immediate and mostly free access to your family doctor ("bulk billing") is certainly hard to beat.  It is the hospitals that are the problem area.

This whole topic is a huge one so I am not going to go on to talk about American versus Finnish university education.  But it is clear that American university education has gone off the rails in recent years and is getting worse rather than better. Finland might well be better. It might need Mr Trump to take an interest in American university education for it to have any hope of improvement.


Neither Boris Johnson nor Margaret Thatcher got a majority of the votes -- any more than Trump or Bill Clinton did

What the NYT says below is right but far from new.  Australians are particularly aware of it because we have the British electoral system in the lower house and the European system in the upper house.  But I reproduce it as something to sober up any complacency about Boris's recent victory

LONDON — The answer to Brexit, the Conservative Party’s election victory and everything in British politics is (with apologies to Douglas Adams) 336,038.

That number is what you get when you divide the 3,696,423 total votes cast nationally for the Liberal Democrats party in last week’s election by the 11 seats the party actually won. By contrast, Prime Minister Boris Johnson led his Conservative Party to victory via a far more economical average of 38,265 votes for each of its 365 seats — a roughly tenfold difference in the parties’ ability to translate votes cast into seats.

The Conservatives’ triumph and the Liberal Democrats’ disaster were both the result, in large part, of a factor that is rarely discussed but crucial for understanding the country’s political chaos: Britain, like the United States, operates a “first past the post” electoral system, in which parliamentary seats are awarded to the candidate who wins the most votes in each individual race, rather than by proportion of the total national vote.

Brexit, which has polarized Britain around a new political divide since the 2016 referendum in which the country narrowly voted to leave the European Union, has thrown into sharp relief the ways that first-pastthe- post systems can skew political outcomes.

And so 336,038 also serves as an epitaph for the political career of Jo Swinson, the dynamic 39- year-old who was the leader of the Liberal Democrats until she lost her seat on Thursday. Just months ago she seemed triumphant, her party surging in the polls. But Thursday’s election put an end to those hopes.

The first-past-the-post system works well within a two-party system, but not where there are multiple parties. For Britain, that generally wasn’t a problem until Brexit fractured the long-stable coalitions of its two major political parties, creating an opening for challengers like the Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party.

“When you don’t have two parties, the first-past-the-post system is really bad at translating voter beliefs into seats,” said Sara Hobolt, a political scientist at the London School of Economics.

That weakness was on display in the most recent election, in which the roughly half of the electorate who oppose leaving the European Union found that their votes had only a fraction of the power that votes for the pro-Brexit Conservatives did.

2nd Place Is First Loser

Things looked very different in September, when Ms. Swinson took the stage at her party’s conference in Bournemouth, an old-fashioned resort town on the south coast of England. To rapturous applause, she promised a future that much of the country had hoped for since the 2016 referendum: If her party won power, she would stop Brexit.

In a different political system, that might have been her moment.

“There is a pattern to how small parties break through,” said Dr. Hobolt, a co-author of a coming book about challenger parties in Europe. “They find an issue that cuts across a mainstream party coalition and exploit it as a wedge.” Across much of Europe, the same issues at the heart of the Brexit debate, such as immigration and membership in the European Union, have been just such a wedge for small parties.

In countries with proportional representation, the result has been a major party realignment: instead of two major parties, on the center left and center right, many countries now have four parties divided along both social and economic lines.

In Germany, for instance, the Green Party on the far left and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany on the far right have drawn support away from the center-left and center-right parties that have traditionally dominated politics. Though that means no party wins an outright majority, coalitions and compromise offer a way to reflect voter beliefs with relative accuracy.

If Britain had a proportional system, the pro-Remain parties could have formed a coalition with a majority in Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, the Greens and Labour, which all promised to stop Brexit directly or hold a new referendum offering that as an option, won over 50 percent of the votes between them.

But under first past the post, things played out very differently.

Instead of giving Remain voters the option of a powerful coalition government, the increased popularity of the Liberal Democrats and other small parties split the pro-Remain electorate, ultimately helping to hand victory to Mr. Johnson’s Brexiteers.

For example, in Kensington and Wimbledon, wealthy districts of London that voted to remain in the 2016 referendum, Conservative candidates scraped to victory with less than 40 percent of the vote after Remain voters divided between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The European Parliament elections in May, by contrast, used a proportional system.

Although the results are not directly comparable — voters tend to treat European elections as more of an expressive choice than a practical one — they did offer a hint of what a different system might bring. The British electorate was much more atomized, with the Brexit Party in first place with 30 percent of the vote, the Liberal Democrats second with just under 20 percent and then the Greens, Labour and the Conservatives clustered around 10 percent each.

But in first past the post, casting a vote outside of the two largest parties is a risky move.

“Two-party systems are particularly problematic when you have the kind of crosscutting dimensions you have now,” Dr. Hobolt said. Reflecting the will of the people can be political suicide.

‘A Geography Story’

Why weren’t Ms. Swinson and her party able to exert more influence over Labour’s Brexit platform, as the far-right Brexit party did over Mr. Johnson’s Conservatives? To stave off the Brexit Party threat, Mr. Johnson made support for Brexit by any means necessary a litmus test for Conservative politicians, going so far as to expel 21 legislators for voting to block a no-deal Brexit.

But pressure from the Liberal Democrats did not have a similar effect on the Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, grudgingly agreed to hold a new referendum, but avoided focusing on the Brexit issue, instead emphasizing his party’s economic platform and commitment to expanding the welfare state.

“That’s a geography story,” said Simon Hix, a political scientist at the London School of Economics who studies European politics. Brexit had divided the country along geographic as well as political lines: Large, cosmopolitan cities like London voted heavily to remain, while rural areas and postindustrial towns that have seen little benefit from globalization, including many traditional Labour strongholds, voted to leave.

The result was that Conservative Remainers were concentrated in a smaller number of wealthy areas, mostly in London, leaving the Conservatives with relatively few seats to lose from alienating them. Labour Leave voters, on the other hand, were more spread out — putting many more Labour seats at risk.

Mr. Corbyn tried to “have his cake and eat it,” Dr. Hix said, by prioritizing economic messages instead. But in an election where Brexit was the most salient issue, that strategy proved disastrously ineffective. Mr. Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” attracted leave voters in traditional Labour strongholds, winning those districts by oftennarrow margins. But Mr. Corbyn failed to pick up areas like Wimbledon and Kensington where many wealthy Leave voters could not stomach his far-left economic policies and cast ballots for the Liberal Democrats.

That may offer some lessons for the United States, which shares first past the post. “When you have all these liberal cosmopolitan voters piled up in urban areas, the left are winning those seats by massive margins,” Dr. Hix said. “But the right can win many more seats with smaller margins.” That helps to explain why immigration, transgender rights and other social issues, which are effective wedge issues in rural and postindustrial areas, have become so prominent in American politics.

The United States does not have small party challengers akin to the Brexit Party or the Liberal Democrats. But its primary system offers an opportunity for populist challengers within the major parties to exploit wedge issues. That strategy propelled Donald Trump to victory in the 2016 Republican primary.

“People say that the good thing about first-past-the-post systems is you don’t get radicalright parties,” Dr. Hobolt said.

“But there’s a danger that the radical right wing of a party takes over.”




UGLIER THAN A CHRISTMAS SWEATER: Congress finalizes 2020 budget bill ahead of impending shutdown; bill includes federal research into "gun violence" and raising the tobacco buying age to 21 (National Review)

TONE DEAF: Chuck Schumer issues list of Democrat demands for Senate impeachment trial, gets wrecked for hypocrisy related to Bill Clinton's impeachment trial (The Daily Wire)

BOMBSHELL OR BLUSTER? Giuliani says he has new proof of massive corruption in Ukraine involving Bidens (The Washington Times)

SKIPPING THE 2020 DEBATES? Trump slams debate commission, raising questions about his participation (The Hill)

A TINY FRACTION OF THE 47,000 INDIVIDUALS: Just 11 migrants have qualified for asylum under Remain in Mexico program (The Daily Caller)

THERE ALMOST SEEMS TO BE A PATTERN HERE: Starbucks again apologizes after employees allegedly treat law enforcement with disrespect (The Daily Wire)

POLICY: Eleven more examples of how firearms save gun owners' lives and property (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, December 18, 2019

Is Boris Johnson a conservative?

Peter Hitchens below puts the "No" case rather succinctly. I think an even more succinct  reponse to Peter is to say that Boris is a BRITISH conservative. The British Tory party has always been a bit wishy washy by strict conservative standards but that is inevitable in a  system where the winning party almost always has to be pretty centrist.  It was precisely that Jeremy Corbin made to effort to win the centre that he lost so soundly to Boris.  His nauseous antisemitism, love of terrorists and promises of an economic upheaval were just not British.

But the global warming craze is a dominant theme in the media with few prominent people opposing it so that is part of the political centre.  Few conservatives believe in it but at election time it would be too big a burden to gainsay it.  What conservatives do is pay lip service to it while doing as little as possible about it.  Politicians generally do the same -- something Ms Thunberg has yet to fully grasp. So Boris will do the same -- quietly scale back climate-related  initiatives and waffling as he does so.  Australia's Prime minister, Scott Morrison, is a past-master at that. It may be noted that the latest "Conference of the Parties" has just wrapped up in Madrid with zero agreement from anyone to do anything more about global warming. The British representatives were part of that.

And Tories as a centre-right party is in fact historically common in Britain. One could mention socialist policies favoured by Winston Churchill and his general acceptance of Attlee's innovations but it is clearly to Disraeli that Boris harks back.

Disraeli is generally acknowledged as an outstandingly successful Prime minister at the height of the British Empire in the late 19th century.  Yet it was Disraeli, not any Leftist, who introduced a whole raft of social welfare legislation to Britain.  He introduced some of Britain's first worker protection laws and extended the vote to many working class people who had never had it before. As a result of these social reforms Leftist MP Alexander Macdonald told his constituents in 1879, "The Conservative party have done more for the working classes in five years than the Liberals have in fifty."

So Disraeli married conservative caution, respect for tradition and respect for the individual to policies that are more typically advocated by Leftists.  It was a brilliant piece of centrism that kept him in power and enabled him to preside over a  peaceful and immensely influential Britain.  He kept the revolutionaries and other wreckers out of power and saved the best of British traditions. He called his policies "One Nation Conservatism" and Boris to has adopted both the term and a modern version of the policies concerned.  He will keep the wreckers out of power if that is all he does -- but just that is immensely beneficial. He will be very good for Britain.  American conservatives know how poisonous their present Left is. It was, if anything, worse in Britain

Just look at Al ‘Boris’ Johnson’s victory speech on Friday morning. Anthony Blair or Gordon Brown could have made it. There’s a red-green pledge of ‘carbon-neutrality’ by 2050. This means pointlessly strangling the economy by destroying efficient power generation, while making you pay for windmills through higher gas and electricity bills. Meanwhile, China sensibly continues to depend on cheap, reliable coal.

There’s a promise of ‘colossal new investments in infrastructure’. This means huge, inefficient projects such as HS2, which do no good, cost billions and hugely overrun their budgets and timetables – again at your expense.

There’s a promise of a ‘long-term NHS budget enshrined in law, 650 million pounds extra every week’. This is a crude submission to the lobby that imagines that the only thing wrong with the NHS is its budget. In truth, we could spend every penny the country has on it and it still would not work as it is supposed to.

And there’s the usual thoughtless, ignorant rubbish about police numbers. Please. The problem with the police is not how many of them there are. It is the fact that they spend their time doing the wrong things, and refuse to return to the simple, solitary foot patrol, which is the reason for their existence.

What did you think it meant when Mr Johnson appeared standing in front of a backdrop inscribed with the words ‘The People’s Government’, a phrase that could have been concocted by Blair’s mental valet, Alastair Campbell?

What did it mean when he then said: ‘In winning this Election we have won the votes and the trust of people who have never voted Conservative before and people who have always voted for other parties. Those people want change. We cannot, must not, must not, let them down. And in delivering change we must change too. We must recognise the incredible reality that we now speak as a one-nation Conservative Party literally for everyone from Woking to Workington.’



The Left can never admit that they got it wrong

UK: Jeremy Corbyn has doubled down on his support for Labour's wildly left-wing policies despite the party's spectacular election defeat.

The outgoing opposition leader grudgingly shouldered some personal responsibility for the catastrophic collapse in votes, but used two newspaper columns to pin the blame on Brexit and the media.   

Labour suffered its worst performance at the polls since 1935 after Boris Johnson reduced the party's Red Wall of traditionally northern strongholds to rubble.

While accepting the result was 'desperately disappointing', Mr Corbyn said he was 'proud' of the radical anti-rich and spending spree platform he stood on during the campaign.

Insisting his tax-hiking government blueprint was popular, he wrote in the Observer: 'I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of political debate.

'But I regret that we did not succeed in converting that into a parliamentary majority for change.



Very Quietly, Democrats Cave on Funding Border Wall in New Spending Bill

Congress reached a "deal in principle" to fund the government through next year, a deal that includes at least some funding for the president's proposed border wall. This after Democrats solemnly swore they would not vote for "one dime" of wall funding.

The Hill:

There were some indications that Democrats gave ground on the wall, moving from the zero-funding position they took in their original version of the bill.

Following a Wednesday meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Lowey acknowledged that they may lose some votes on the left.

“Not everyone can vote for the bills, and we just need enough votes to pass, and I’d like to get the majority of Democrats, at least. And I hope we get some Republicans to support the bills, because it’s always good to have bipartisan support,” she said.

It's not likely that too many Democrats will advertise the fact that their leaders completely caved to Trump and that they betrayed their far-left supporters. Otherwise, the government will shut down and no one wants to see who gets blamed by the voters for it.

Trump still had to do a little horse-trading to get his wall funding.


The White House signaled in negotiations it would accept significantly less money -- the current level of $1.375 billion -- than requested on the border wall in exchange for maintaining the authority to transfer funds from Pentagon accounts to finance new wall construction, according to people involved in the talks. That agreement made it into the final deal, a source familiar with the talks said. The deal does not include any money backfilling the $3.6 billion in military construction funds the administration transferred earlier this year to fund the wall -- a key priority for Democrats.
The spending bill, as usual, makes a mockery of good government and sound government fiscal policy.

The bipartisan foursome of the top appropriators reached the agreement after meeting in the Capitol on Thursday, capping a day of harried negotiations, proposals and counter proposals that will significantly curtail the threat of a government shutdown. Staff will work through the weekend to produce the final legislation



Wisconsin Judge Rules More than 200,000 Voter Registrations Should Be Tossed

A Wisconsin judge has ruled that more than 200,000 voters who failed to respond to an October mailing, flagging them for having potentially moved, must have their names stricken from the registration rolls.

A lawsuit, filed on behalf of three Wisconsin voters by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), alleged that the Wisconsin Election Commission was not following the law when they allowed a two-year grace period to go by for residents who had moved to change their address. The commission sent a mailer asking people to update their addresses. About 234,000 failed to respond in the 30-day window.

The judge, Paul Malloy, denied a request by Election Commission attorneys to put his decision on hold. He ordered the Commission to follow the law requiring voters who didn’t respond to be deactivated.

Instead of obeying the law, the WEC sued.

Epoch Times:

“Instead of reversing course, the Wisconsin Election Commission has stubbornly doubled down. This lawsuit is about accountability, the rule of law, and clean and fair elections.”
The case is important for both sides ahead of the 2020 presidential race in narrowly divided Wisconsin, which President Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. Liberals fear the voters who could be purged are more likely to be Democrats. Republicans argue allowing them to remain on the rolls increases the risk of voter fraud.

The WEC, which has an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, is fighting the lawsuit. It argues that the law gives it the power to decide how to manage the voter registration list.

This seems a pretty straightforward house cleaning task that in normal times wouldn't get a second look from anyone. But, of course, it's seen by the left as "voter suppression" because dead people and people who have moved -- perhaps to another state -- didn't respond to the mailer.

I guess most of the dead people are Democrats.

Malloy gave a sensible reason for his ruling.

“I don’t want to see anybody deactivated, but I don’t write the legislation,” Malloy said. “If you don’t like it, then I guess you have to go back to the Legislature. They didn’t do that.”
If you think the law suppresses votes, then change the law. Malloy isn't a liberal judge who believes you can just make the law up as you go along.

As of Dec. 5, only about 16,500 of those who received the mailing had registered at their new address. More than 170,000 hadn’t responded, and the postal service was unable to deliver notifications to nearly 60,000 voters.
If the post office can't deliver the mail to an address where you're registered to vote, that's a pretty good sign that you've moved or are dead. But we should keep them on the rolls because...Democrats say so.

The Democrats on the commission claim that the last batch of people who were dropped from the rolls under similar circumstances was confused and angry and that there were complaints. No word if they have any proof at all of any of that.

With registering to vote so ridiculously easy -- same-day registration is allowed in Wisconsin -- you have to wonder why there's any controversy here at all. The reason is simple: it allows Democrats to scare voters into thinking that Republicans don't want them to vote. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date voter registration rolls is critical to holding a clean election.

So why are Democrats so hysterically opposed?



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, December 17, 2019

Conservatism and The Problem of Nationalism

Kim R. Holmes --  the Executive Vice President at The Heritage Foundation -- makes a long and impassioned argument below against nationalism among conservatives.  It is of course Trump who is really in his sights.

And he has something to explain:  Is "American exceptionalism" a form of nationalism?  He offers a fairly good reply to that

As ever, however, the Devil is in the details.  What do we mean by nationalism?  Nationalism undoubtedly has a very bad track record in Europe.  Holmes sets that out well. But is American nationalism different?  Because of its historical associations I agree with Holmes by rarely making use of the word.  But when I do, I am always mindful of Orwell's clarifying comment on the matter from the 1940s:

By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

Whatever he calls it from time to time, I think Trump clearly speaks in favour of what Orwell called patriotism rather than nationalism.  Far from wanting power outside America, Trump is a traditional American conservative who wants OUT of the rest of the world and he is doing that withdrawal as well as he can, attracting considerable criticism while doing so.

So Trump is actually validating the distinction Orwell made.  His patriotism is so different from nationalism that it could almost be called anti-nationalism.  So any idea that American conservatives -- who are now almost all Trump supporters - are in the grip of anything like European nationalism is precisely wrong.  Holmes need not worry.  Patriotic Americans are ever-ready to help people of other nations but they don't want to control them

And Orwell's comment about the individual submerging himself in nationalism should be noted. Could people as individualistic as Americans ever do that?  Not many, I fancy.

There WAS an era when America WAS nationalist but that was around a century ago under the leadership of that great "Progressive", Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt did at least ride his own horse into battle against the Spanish in America's conquest of Cuba but that is about all you can say by way of praising him

At first glance, the new nationalism of conservatives will seem benign and even uncontroversial. In his book, “The Case for Nationalism,” Rich Lowry defines nationalism as flowing from a people’s "natural devotion to their home and to their country." Yoram Hazony, in his book “The Virtue of Nationalism,” also has a rather anodyne definition of nationalism. It means "that the world is governed best when nations agree to cultivate their own traditions, free from interference by other nations."

There is nothing particularly controversial at all about these statements. Defined in these terms, it sounds like little more than simply defending nationality or national sovereignty, which is why Lowry, Hazony, and others insist their definition of nationalism has nothing to do with the most virulent forms involving ethnicity, race, militarism, or fascism.

Here's the problem. I suppose any of us can take any tradition that has a definite history and simply redefine it to our liking. We could then give ourselves permission to castigate anyone who doesn't agree with us as "misunderstanding" or even libeling us.

But who actually is responsible for the misunderstanding here? The people who are trying to redefine the term, or the people who remind us of nationalism's real history and what nationalism actually has been in history? Which raises an even bigger question: Why go down this road at all?

If you have to spend half of your time explaining, "Oh, I don't mean that kind of nationalism," why would you want to associate a venerable tradition of American civic patriotism, national pride, and American exceptionalism at all with the various nationalisms that have occurred in the world? After all, American conservatives have argued that one of the great things about America was that it was different from all other countries. Different from all other nationalisms.

Here's my point. Nationalism is not the same thing as national identity. It's not the same thing as respect for national sovereignty. It's not even the same thing as national pride. It's something historically and philosophically different, and those differences are not merely semantic, technical or the preoccupations of academic historians. In fact, they go to the very essence of what it means to be an American.

I think I understand why some people will be attracted to the concept of nationalism. President Trump used the term nationalism. National conservatives think that President Trump has tapped into a new populism for conservatism, and they want to take advantage of it. They think that traditional fusionist conservatism and the American exceptionalism idea are not strong enough. These ideas are not muscular enough. They want something stronger to stand up to the universal claims of globalism and progressivism that they believe are anti-American. They also want something stronger to push back on open borders and limitless immigration.

I understand that. I understand very well the desire to have a muscular reaction to the overreach of international governance and globalism, and I have no trouble at all arguing that an international system based on nation-states and national sovereignty is vastly superior, especially for the United States, to one that is run by a global governing body that is democratically remote from the people.

So what's the problem then? Why can't we just all agree that nationalism defined in this way is what we American conservatives have been and believed all along—that it's just a new, more fashionable bottle for a very old wine? Well, because the new bottle changes the way that the wine will be viewed. Why do we need a new bottle at all? It would be like putting a perfectly good California cabernet in a bottle labeled from Germany or France or Russia or China.

The problem lies in that little suffix, “ism.” It indicates that the word nationalism means a general practice, system, philosophy or ideology that is true for all. There is a tradition of nationalism out there that we Americans are part of. All countries have “nationalisms.” All nations and all peoples are all distinguished by what makes them different. Their common heritage as nationalists is actually their difference. Their different languages, their different ethnicities, their different cultures.

At the same time, all nations supposedly share the same sovereignty and rights of the nation-state, regardless of their form of government. A sovereign democratic nation-state is, in this respect, no different than a sovereign authoritarian nation-state. Regardless of the different kinds of government, it's the commonality of the nation-state that matters. Therefore, the sovereignty of Iran or North Korea is, by this way of thinking, morally and legally no different than the sovereignty of the United States or any other democratic nation.

I firmly believe that not all nation-states are the same. There have been times in history when nations have been associated with racism, ethnic supremacy, militarism, communism, and fascism. Does that mean that all nation-states are that way? Of course not, but there is a huge difference between the historical phenomena of nationalism and respect for the sovereignty of a democratic nation-state. Nationalism celebrates cultural and even ethnic differences of a people, regardless of the form of government. The democratic nation-state, on the other hand, grounds its legitimacy and its sovereignty in democratic governance.

The biggest problem causing this misunderstanding is not recognizing the actual history of nationalism. It is, as I mentioned before, to confuse national identity, national consciousness, and national sovereignty with Nationalism with a capital N.

Nationalism as we historically know it arose not in America but in Europe. Our independence movement was a revolt of the people over the type of government that we had under the British. The founders at first thought of themselves as Englishmen, who were being denied their rights by Parliament and by the crown. Yes, Americans certainly had an identity, but it was not based on ethnicity, language, or even religion alone. It had already developed a very distinct understanding of self-government, and that was the key to the Revolution.

By this time, Americans already had a fairly strong sense of identity, but that identity was not nationalism. Why is that? Because nationalism had not been invented yet. It didn't exist at the time of the American Revolution.

Modern nationalism began in France, in the French Revolution. The revolution was a call to arms of the French people. The French nation was born in the French Revolution. The terror and Napoleonic imperialism were the highest expression of this new-born French nationalism.

Revolutionary French nationalism

Napoleon's nationalist imperialism, in turn, sparked the rise of counter-reactionary nationalism in Germany, and all over Europe. Germans, Russians, Austrians, and other nations discovered their own national consciousness and the importance of their own cultures in their hatred of the French invaders.

After that, nationalism raged across the 19th and 20th centuries as a celebration of nations based on the common national culture and a common language and a common historical experience. Nationalism was, in this sense, particularistic. It was populistic. It was exclusive. It was zero- sum. It celebrated differences, not the common humanity of Christianity as it had been known in the Holy Roman Empire or the Catholic Church or even in the Enlightenment.

The key to nationalism was the nation-state. Technically, it wasn't the people themselves who were free or sovereign as the people, but the people represented by and in the name of the nation-state. In other words, their governments. Sovereignty ultimately resided in the state, not the people. The state was above the people, not of, by, and for the people as in the American experience. To this day, this idea lives in the British monarchy, for example, where the Queen is the ultimate sovereign, not the people or the Parliament.

It is unfortunately a common historical error to equate nationalism with the historical rise of the nation-state in Europe and the international state system that arose after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The Westphalian Peace did recognize the sovereignty of princes, over and against the universal claims of the Holy Roman Empire and the Church, and it's true that the Protestant Reformation did solidify the sovereignty of the princes and the principalities as forerunners to the nation-state.

But these were princes. They were monarchies. They were dynasties. It wasn't until much later that the modern nation-state and especially the popular sentiments of nationalism arose in history. Whatever this state system was, it is not nationalism. Nationalism is an historic phenomena that did not emerge for another 150 years after 1648. Claiming otherwise is just bad history, pure and simple.

That brings me to the idea of American exceptionalism, which is, I believe, the answer to the question of America's national identity and what it should be.

It's a beautiful concept that captures both the reality and the ambiguity of the American experience. It's based on a universal creed. It is grounded in America's founding principles: natural law, liberty, limited government, individual rights, the checks and balances of government, popular sovereignty not the sovereignty of the folkish nation-state, the civilizing role of religion in civil society and not an established religion associated with one class or one creed, and the crucial role of civil society and civil institutions in grounding and mediating our democracy and our freedom..

We as Americans believe these principles are right and true for all peoples and not just for us. That was the way that Washington and Jefferson understood them, and it was certainly the way that Lincoln understood them. That's what makes them universal. In other words, the American creed grounds us in universal principles.

But what, you may ask, makes us so exceptional then? If it's universal, what makes us exceptional? It is, in fact, the creed.

We believe that Americans are different because our creed is both universal and exceptional at the same time. We are exceptional in the unique way we apply our universal principles. It doesn't necessarily mean that we are better than other peoples, though I think probably most Americans do believe that they are. It's not really about bragging rights. Rather, it's a statement of historical fact that there is something truly different and unique about the United States, which becomes lost when talking in terms of nationalism.

A nationalist cannot say this, because there is nothing universal about nationalism except that all nationalisms are, well, different and particularistic. Nationalism is devoid of a common idea or principle of government except that a people or a nation-state can be almost anything. It can be fascist, it can be authoritarian, it can be totalitarian, or it can be democratic.

Some of the new nationalists doubt explicitly the importance of the American creed. They argue that the creed is not as important as we thought it was to our national identity.  Let's just think about that for a minute.

What does it mean to say that the creed really isn't all that important? If the creed doesn't matter, what is so special about America?

Is it our language? Well, no. We share that with Britain, and now much of the world.

Is it our ethnicity? Well, that doesn't work either because there's no such thing as a common American ethnicity.

Is it a specific religion? We are indeed a religious country, but no, we have freedom of religion, not one specific religion.

Is it our beautiful rivers and mountains?  No. We've got some beautiful rivers and mountains, but so do other countries.

Is it our culture? Yes, I suppose so, but how do you understand American culture without the American creed and the founding principles?

Lincoln called America the world's “last best hope,” because it was a place where all people can and should be free. Before Lincoln, Jefferson called it an empire of liberty.

Immigrants came here and became true Americans by living the American creed and the American dream. You can become a French citizen, but for most Frenchmen, if you are foreign, that is not the same thing as being French. It's different here. You can be a real American by adopting our creed and our way of life.

After World War II, the American way and our devotion to democracy became a beacon of freedom for the whole world. That was the foundation of our claim to world leadership in the Cold War, and it is no different today. If we become a nation just like any other nation, then frankly I would not expect any other nation to grant us any special trust or support.

Another benefit of American exceptionalism is that it is self-correcting. When we fail to live up to our ideals as we did with slavery before the Civil War, we can appeal as Lincoln did to our “better nature” to correct our flaws. That is where the central importance of the creed comes in. Applying the principles of the Declaration of Independence correctly has allowed us to redeem ourselves and our history when we have gone astray.

There is no American identity without the American creed. However, the nationalists are correct about one thing, in suggesting that the American identity is more than just about a set of ideas. These ideas are lived in our culture—that is true. It is also true, as Lincoln said about his famous “mystic chords of memory,” that our common experience and our common history form a unique story. It is a story that embodies the very real lives and relationships of people and a shared cultural experience in a shared space and time in history that we call the United States.

The sharing of experience in space and time - in and of itself - is not unlike what any other nation experiences. At the most basic level, yes, I would say that all nations are in that respect alike. But what made it different for Lincoln was that he believed and he hoped that the “better angels of our nature,” that was grounded in the American creed, would touch the mystic chords of memory that make up that story—and it was that “touch” that set us apart from other nations.

Let me end by making two points.

One, the degree to which national conservatism sounds plausible rests on a profound historical misunderstanding. Statements in and of themselves that sound true and even attractive have to be suspended in a state of historical amnesia to make sense.

When Hazony says, "National cohesion is the secret ingredient that allows free institutions to exist," it makes an almost obvious banal point, as least for the countries that are already free. The problem begins when he associates this with the general tradition of the virtues of nationalism as a concept. Then it gets really messy.

Is national cohesion the secret ingredient to free institutions to nationalists in Russia? In China? Or in Iran? Hardly. In fact, nationalism in these countries is the bitter enemy of free institutions. If the answer is, "Well, I don't mean that kind of nationalism," then the question gets really begged: Why make broad general statements about nationalism at all if the exceptions loom so large? If in fact the exceptions end up being the rule?

My second point is this. If this were just an academic debate over the idea of nationalism, then I suppose it really wouldn't be all that important. You could let the intellectuals split their hairs and historians make their points about the history of nationalism, and you could go and see whether or not the concept of nationalism really helps us politically—whether it's true or not.

I fear the problem is bigger than that for conservatives. The conservative movement today faces huge threats to our most basic principles. From the left, we face progressives who have always said that our creed and our claims to American exceptionalism were a fraud. They have always argued that we were a nation like any other. In fact, the more radical of them argue that we are actually worse than other nations precisely because our founding principles were supposedly based on lies.

Now, we face a new challenge on the sanctity of the American creed from a different direction. This time, from the right. It comes first from blurring the distinctions between nationalism as actually practiced and the uniqueness of American exceptionalism. Then it goes on to raise the specter of the nation-state as being an idea—if not the central idea—to American conservatism. That’s no different than what a continental European conservative probably would say about their traditions.

Frankly, I don't get this at all. American conservatives are skeptical of the government. They're skeptical of the nation-state. That's what makes us conservatives. So why elevate the concept of the nation-state that is so foreign to the American conservative tradition?

I fear the answer may have to do with the deeper philosophical transformation that is going on inside some conservative political circles. It is now becoming fashionable for some conservatives to criticize capitalism and the free market. Some are even arguing that there are now no limiting principles to what the state and the government can or should do in the name of their political agenda.

This used to be called “big government” conservatism. It was seen then as a liberal proposition, and it still is, in my view. It shares a troubling principle with modern progressivism. Deep down, having the government rather than the people make important decisions about their lives is, in principle, no different than a progressive arguing for the need for government to end poverty and eliminate inequality.

Apparently the idea is that, with conservatives in charge of government, this time it will be different. This time we will make sure that the government that we control will drive investments in the right direction, and we will make the right decisions on what the trade-offs are.

Does this sound familiar? Don't defenders of big government always argue that this time it will be different?

Put aside for a moment whether we conservatives would ever control such a government to sufficiently do the things that we want it to do. Do we want to empower a government even more in industrial and other kinds of economic and social policy that will surely use that very increased power to destroy the things that we love and believe about this country?

The best way, in my opinion, to protect America's greatness, its special claims, its identity if you will, is to believe in what made us great in the first place. It wasn't our language. It wasn't our race. It wasn't our ethnicity. It wasn't our industrial policy. It wasn't the power of government to decide what the trade-offs are. It wasn't in a government that decides what kind of work is dignified or what kind of work is not. And it certainly wasn't a belief in the nation-state or the greatness of nationalism.

It was our creed and the belief system that was personified and lived in a culture, our institutions of civil societies and our democratic way of government that made America the greatest nation in the history of all nations. In a word, it was our belief in ourselves as a good and free people. That's what made American exceptional. That's what made us a free country. And it continues to do so today.



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, December 16, 2019

A lesson Socialists need to learn!!

A man named Tom Nicholson posted on his Facebook account the sports car that he had just bought and how another man commented that the money used to buy this car could've fed thousands of less fortunate people. Tom’s response to this man made him famous on the internet.

"A guy looked at my Corvette the other day and said, 'I wonder how many people could have been fed for the money that sports car cost.'”

I replied, "I am not sure;

"it fed a lot of families in Bowling Green, Kentucky who built it,
"it fed the people who make the tires,
"it fed the people who made the components that went into it,
"it fed the people in the copper mine who mined the copper for the wires,
"it fed people in Decatur IL at Caterpillar who make the trucks that haul the copper ore.
"It fed the trucking people who hauled it from the plant to the dealer and fed the people working at the dealership and their families.

“BUT,… I have to admit, I guess I really don’t know how many people it fed.”

That is the difference between capitalism and the welfare mentality.

When you buy something, you put money in people’s pockets and give them dignity for their skills.

When you give someone something for nothing, you rob them of their dignity and self-worth.

Capitalism is freely giving your money in exchange for something of value.

Socialism is taking your money against your will and shoving something down your throat that you never asked for.


Britain’s divide isn’t North v South or red v blue. It’s between the ugly intolerant Left and the rest of us

Just like America

There is a troubling new divide running through our country, but it is not the one that people like to imagine. It is best shown by the Election result in affluent Putney, West London, where, in a rare victory, the Labour party gained a seat from the Conservatives.

Putney, like Kensington and Chelsea, is filled with rows of over-priced £1 million homes where residents would have faced huge tax hikes if Labour got into power. Yet the constituency still decided to vote for the socialist experiment that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were promising – and in so doing, upended a whole set of presumptions.

On the other hand, a seat like Bolsover, in Derbyshire, did something unheard of. Dennis Skinner had been the sitting Labour MP for nearly half a century, and made it a byword for the hardcore Labour heartlands.

In Bolsover you can buy a nice semi-detached house for about £100,000 – one tenth of Putney’s prices. But it was Putney that went Left and Bolsover Right.

Not that Left and Right are the correct way to describe the extraordinary upheaval of this last week.

The real chasm which has arisen is between a Conservative party that committed itself to fulfilling the will of the people, and two Left-wing parties which had devoted the past three-and-a-half years to subverting it.

It is a divide between people who have real-world concerns and those focused on niche and barely significant ones. It is a divide between those who worry about the way they are governed, how the nation will fare and how high immigration should be and those who hector them as backwards or bigoted for even noticing such things.

How, you might ask, have we reached such a state? There is a clue in the Labour Party’s dysfunctional reaction to its catastrophic defeat on Thursday.

Even after the Conservatives won in a near-landslide, the Leftist automatons that run the party are choosing to learn nothing.

They are not using this time for self-reflection or to work out how they approach this new division. Instead, they’re stuck on repeat – at increasing volume.

A perfect example of this was the self-proclaimed economist and full-time Corbyn-cheerleader Grace Blakeley, who treated viewers of ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday to the Corbyn-is-God mantra. Hours after her dear leader had led his party to an historic defeat she was on air, blindly insisting that Labour’s ‘democratically developed’ policies were ‘incredibly popular’.

Fellow studio guests, including former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, begged to differ. But Grace had an alternative universe to inhabit.

‘People in this country are in favour of fairly radical Left-wing policies,’ she shouted. During the ensuing studio meltdown, Grace was, in fact, Grace-less, continuing to shout ‘Yes they are’ repeatedly over Piers Morgan and everyone else.

It demonstrated just one thing. There is a reason that people like Grace can’t accept that they have lost – they haven’t met people who don’t agree with them.

Or rather, when they do, it’s usually on social media where it is all too easy to ‘unfriend’ or ‘block’ them. When it comes to the British electorate as a whole, ignoring them completely becomes a far more difficult task.

But this is what has happened. In recent years a portion of the British Left, like Grace, very carefully built itself an echo chamber and then moved into it.

That chamber has allowed them to consistently disregard the views of the majority of the British public, most significantly the results of the referendum of 2016.

This small, London-centred clique has, in the process, pulled away from the rest of the country.

It is for that reason that the divides we used to say existed in British politics (North vs South, red vs blue) have been completely overtaken. Now, the divide is between the radical Left and everyone else.

It didn’t have to be this way. After Ed Miliband’s failure at the 2015 General Election, the Labour party did not have to decide that the main lesson was that they hadn’t been ‘radical’ enough. But it in electing Corbyn as leader that’s exactly what they did.

It was the same after the 2016 referendum. Labour and the Liberal Democrats might, in the past, have accepted such a result, but for the first time in our history the cultists driving these parties decided otherwise. They chose not just to ignore it, but to insult the public by deriding them as thick or uninformed, and to try to get around them.

With devices like the ‘People’s Vote’ charade – as the campaign for a second referendum called itself – they thought we were too dim to notice what they were doing.

They tried to reduce our politics to simple binaries, a choice between ‘hope’ or ‘fear’, racism or tolerance, destroying the NHS or saving it.

They also started running with issues so marginal that they lost the general public completely. Take another one of Thursday’s sore losers: Jo Swinson. The now ex-Liberal Democrat leader decided, just days before the Election, to talk to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about something which affects around 0.01 per cent of the British electorate: the Lib Dem’s promise to introduce an ‘X’ gender option on passports for transgender people.

In Swinson’s echo chamber, it is important to get these things right. One false step and you’re Twitter toast. So on Swinson wittered, trying to claim that biological sex is a social construct, and that people who believe everyone is born either male or female are in fact ‘demonising’ trans people. It is hard to imagine a more niche issue.

How beautiful it was, then, only a couple of days later to watch Swinson at her constituency count, looking absolutely amazed that the people of East Dunbartonshire had not re-elected her as their MP. In typical fashion she blamed people who were opposed to ‘warmth’, ‘generosity’ and ‘hope’. But she lost by 149 votes. The irony is if she had been able to find a bit more generosity and warmth towards the people of East Dunbartonshire, perhaps she would still be in Parliament.

As it happens, I share the views of the majority of the country. I have seen the Leftist robots up close for years. I have sat in halls and studios with them and been insulted by them just as the rest of the general public have.

They have called me a ‘Little Englander’ because I happen to think that our country isn’t a good fit with the EU. They have called me a ‘racist’ and ‘scum’ because I’m concerned about too-high levels of immigration. They have called me a ‘bigot’ and a ‘transphobe’ because I refuse to pretend that biological sex does not exist.

And amazingly, at the end of all that, I felt no more desire to vote for them than I had beforehand. I suspect the general public have the same view.

Needless to say the message still hasn’t sunk in.

Immediately after Thursday’s exit polls emerged, the former journalist Paul Mason declared that the Conservative victory signalled ‘a victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour, selfishness over the planet’.

During demonstrations in Westminster on Friday night, other sore losers congregated to attack the police and insult our democracy.

‘I wish [Boris Johnson] a horrible death,’ one young, well-spoken female protester told the cameras. ‘I plan to work in the NHS. I plan to be a doctor. I plan to actually care about people,’ she continued, implausibly. ‘Go f*** yourself Boris Johnson. Honestly. What a c***.’

So yes, there is a divide in Britain right now. But it’s not like any of the old ones. It’s between the ugly, intolerant, metropolitan Left and the rest of us. And as Thursday so beautifully showed, there are more of us than them.



Donald Trump's 'best week ever', where his Space Force was approved and a new budget with $1.3 BILLION for the border wall was set

In a week overshadowed by news from the impeachment hearings, Donald Trump has had 'one of his best weeks yet,' according to an aide, after securing $1.3billion for the border wall and approval for Space Force in the House. 

It was a week of damning public testimony against the president, which ended with the House Judicial Committee advancing two articles of impeachment Friday. 

But while the news was dominated by the impeachment hearings, Trump has quietly had some of the biggest successes of his presidency. 

This week saw congressional negotiators finally reach agreement on a $1.37trillion spending package covering 12 spending bills, based on the bipartisan budget Trump proposed over the summer. It is expected to pass in the House next week before voting on the Trump impeachment.

The funding includes a $1.3billion package for his controversial border wall with Mexico.

But, two federal courts have stepped in, issuing nationwide orders blocking the Trump administration's use of $3.6billion in military construction funds to build the wall. ABC News reported that repurposing the funds would be 'unlawful.'

Trump also had a major milestone in his presidency as his much-heralded U.S. Space Force, a brand-new branch of the military, was passed by the House.

It would, in effect, be a military headquarters for space operations.

'Spacecom will defend America’s vital interests in space, the next warfighting domain, and I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody. It’s all about space,' Trump said in August.

He called the Space Command's establishment a 'landmark moment.' 

'Perhaps, for now, what he accomplished this week will be overshadowed by the impeachment, but by next summer, the impeachment may be seen as mean-spirited and partisan, and the string of victories will add to his incredible list of victories going into reelection season,' Trump biographer Doug Wead told the Washington Examiner.

'It is one of his best weeks yet,' an unnamed White House aide said.

'During impeachment, any other president would retreat into the bunker and be consumed with defense. Endlessly gaming various scenarios. Instead, Trump, the businessman, is looking for a way to use it to his advantage,' Wead told the Washington Examiner.

Trump also signed a Pro-Israel anti-Semitism executive order and a trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. He got approval of his 50th federal appeals judge and there was confirmation of a new Food and Drug Administration head.

Perhaps, though, most important to Americans, Wall Street hit another record Thursday.

The S&P gained 27 points to close at 3,168, while the Nasdaq added 63 points to 8,717.



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, December 15, 2019

Boris Johnson's triumph proves democracy-denying radical socialists backed by self-righteous celebrities on Twitter are electoral poison – and if Democrats fall for the same delusion, Trump will decimate them in 2020


Johnson's victory was a genuinely seismic moment, and one whose forceful tremors will be felt most keenly across the Atlantic in America.

Because make no mistake, the lessons from this election carry extraordinary pertinence for next year's US election.

Like Donald Trump and his 'Make America Great Again' mantra in 2016, Boris Johnson won with one very simple message that he rammed home every minute of every day of the six-week campaign.

'GET BREXIT DONE!' he bellowed ad nauseum, and this relentless three-word mission statement worked spectacularly well.

Johnson's Conservative Party was the only one to run on a platform of delivering the result of the 2016 Referendum into whether the UK should remain in or leave the European Union.

17.4 million people voted then to leave, a 52 percent majority of Britons, but scandalously the losing Remainers – who were quickly dubbed Remoaners - launched a concerted campaign to stop it happening.

Rather like Democrats after Hillary Clinton lost to Trump, they wouldn't accept the result and have spent the past three-and-a-half years screaming their heads off about how unfair it all is - and demanding another vote.

Since Johnson, one of the key architects of the Brexit win, became Prime Minister in the summer, Remoaner fury has grown ever more hysterical as they've branded him a lying cheating racist scumbag with a tawdry history involving women.

And they've mocked all his supporters as thick, racist morons who are just too stupid to know what they're doing.

Sound familiar?

Like the Democrats when Hillary ran, Remainers enlisted the very vocal support of Hollywood luvvies to fight their cause.

Hollywood actors Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan led the way, backed up by the likes of grime artist Stormzy and pop singer Lily Allen.

Grant, who seemed to forget that playing a fictitious Prime Minister in Love Actually is not a qualification to be a real politician, spent weeks marching around ordering people not to vote for Johnson or the Conservatives because they had the audacity to want to act on the democratic will of the people.

The absurdly affected arrogant and pompous twerp believed he was the one to save us all from ourselves.

Instead, Britons responded exactly how I assumed they would to a jumped-up hectoring thespian trying to destroy democracy - and voted against everyone he supported.

There was a wonderful photo taken in a West London restaurant of the precise moment multi-millionaire Grant read the devastating (for him) 10pm exit poll on his cell-phone and his head sunk in abject disbelief.

Like the Trump-hating liberal celebrities who so raucously endorsed Hillary, he was hit by a sudden thunderbolt of reality that his views are not shared by most actual real people.

Grant was only matched in his sneering self-righteousness by fellow thespian Coogan who the night before the election went on national television to condemn all 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit as 'ill-informed and ignorant.'

What stupefying arrogance!

Stormzy [a black rapper] just resorted to plain abuse, branding Johnson a 'f***ing pr*ck' in a message to his millions of social media followers.

And Lily Allen – who most Americans will only have heard of because she is dating Stranger Things star David Harbour - blamed the subsequent loss on the fact that 'racism and misogyny runs so deep in this country.'

Of course, the one thing uniting all these stars was their utter refusal to accept democracy. They just couldn't deal with the simple fact that their side lost.

So, they tried to overturn the result of the Referendum, and unsurprisingly, they've now lost all over again.

If there's one thing the British people hate, and Americans for that matter, it is snotty rich celebrities telling them they're idiots and their vote shouldn't count.

There was also another massive reason why Johnson won so big, and it was that his opponent, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, is a hard-core socialist so far left he makes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez look like a capitalist.

Corbyn pledged to spend £60 billion ($80 billion) investing in schools, hospitals, education, green energy and home-building.

But as with Ocasio-Cortez and her outlandish promises like free tuition, healthcare and a green new deal, he planned to pay for it all by punitively taxing the rich and middle class in a way that many economists feared would bankrupt the country.

Britons firmly rejected that hard-left agenda in this election, and this should also send a very firm message to Democrats as they choose their nominee to take on President Trump in 2020.

As I've been warning for months, there's not a cat-in-hell's chance of a socialist candidate beating Trump next November, especially not with the US economy doing so well.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both share Jeremy Corbyn's socialist agenda and both appear to be as popular as him on Twitter. But Twitter's not the real world.

It's become a cesspit echo chamber where many people only follow others who agree with their political opinions, thus creating a wall of partisan – and increasingly abusive - noise that bears little relation to reality.

Liberal Twitter was thus shocked when Trump won, stunned when Brexit happened, and is frothing at the mouth again now Boris Johnson's pulled off a huge success.

It was so blinded to the infallibility of its own beliefs that it never saw any of this coming.

And if Democrats don't forget about Twitter and base their candidate choice on cold, hard reality, they're going to get a similar drubbing to the Labour Party.

The clear takeaway from this UK election is that a radical socialist candidate, backed by whining supercilious celebrities, against a populist opponent with a fervent base of support, will fail.

And if the only tactic they come up with to win is to try to thwart democracy, they will fail badly.

The sinister establishment-driven attempt to stop Brexit happening is not dissimilar to the current equally ill-advised Democrat impeachment move on Trump.

Those who voted for Brexit and Trump don't take kindly to their democratic vote being abused in this way.

And their retribution comes at the ballot box.

If people think Boris Johnson's earthquake was big, just wait until the Senate acquits President Trump and he uses that victory to storm to re-election.



Leftist bright spark in the British election

Diane Abbott went viral on social media today after she was spotted wearing two left shoes from different pairs while canvassing voters.

The shadow home secretary was pictured with Meg Hillier, the Labour candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch, encouraging constituents to support Labour in a now-deleted tweet.

The photo quickly went viral online when users spotted Ms Abbott was wearing two black left shoes from different pairs.

One tweeter commented: “Clearly not a morning person. Not only wearing two different shoes, but two left-footed shoes!”



America too


Donald Trump claims victory in China trade deal and cancels massive new tariffs due to kick in Sunday saying Beijing has agreed to 'massive' purchases of U.S. products

Donald Trump said Friday that his administration had agreed to cancel a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods as part of 'phase one' of a broad trade deal, but insisted that earlier import taxes will remain in force.

In a press conference minutes earlier, however, China's State Council said it expected all U.S. tariffs on Chinese products to be phased out in stages.

Trump tweeted that '[t]he 25% Tariffs will remain as is, with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder.'

'The Penalty Tariffs set for December 15th will not be charged,' however, 'because of the fact that we made the deal. We will begin negotiations on the Phase Two Deal immediately, rather than waiting until after the 2020 Election.' Trump called it 'an amazing deal for all.'

Markets spiked briefly after the Chinese press conference began, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 167 points before settling back down near its morning opening level.

The tepid reaction from traders may indicate Wall Street is holding back its enthusiasm until the Trump administration produces a signed deal that analysts can pore over.

But Chinese officials announced they have agreed on the text of 'phase one.' They said the deal will provide more protection for foreign companies in China, and for Chinese companies in the United States.

Bloomberg reported that Chinese Vice Agriculture Minister Han Jun told reporters: 'Without doubt, to implement the agreement, our imports of American agricultural goods will increase significantly.'

The outlet said officials revealed the text of the nine-chapter deal covers details about 'intellectual property, forced technology transfer, food and agricultural products, finance, currency and transparency, boosting trade, bilateral assessment and dispute resolution.'




UPPING THE ANTE OF A SPENDING BILL: Clinton-appointed judge bars Trump from building border wall with military funds (Bloomberg)

NO EVIDENCE OF MISLEADING: New York judge rules in favor of Exxon in climate-change fraud case (National Review)

SPEEDY TRIAL: Republicans prepare to call no witnesses during Senate impeachment trial (National Review)

FOR AFTER THE TRIAL: Senate will not take up new NAFTA deal this year, declares McConnell (The Hill)

*WORST. HOMOPHOBIC. PRESIDENT. EVER. Senate confirms openly gay Trump nominee to 9th Circuit (The Washington Times)

*WORST. NAZI. PRESIDENT. EVER. Trump to sign executive order combating anti-Semitism (The Washington Free Beacon)

SAUDI SECURITY REVIEW: U.S. grounds Saudi pilots, halts military training after base shooting (Reuters)

ENSURING REGULATORY CONFORMITY: Defense Department Inspector General's office to probe use of military personnel on U.S.-Mexico border (National Review)

PRONOUN WARS: "They" declared 2019 "Word of the Year" by Merriam-Webster (The Daily Wire)

CREATING AND ENABLING A VICTIM: Greta Thunberg named Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year (ABC News)

OUTBREEDING THE INFIDELS: For the first time ever, Muhammad has made the list of top ten baby names in America (PJ Media)

POLICY: Paid family leave: Avoiding a new national entitlement (The Heritage Foundation)

POLICY: The cost of America's cultural revolution (City Journal)


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