Friday, January 10, 2020

I was right about the Ayatollahs!

Trump's warnings worked!  I predicted that the only thing that the Ayatollahs would do after Trump took out their terror general would be something tokenistic.  And that is exactly what happened.  They did fire missiles at two American bases but aimed the rockets so they would do minimal damage and forewarned American intelligence of what was coming.

They were rightly scared of Trump's threat to hit them hard. They did not want to be the next dead Iranian.  To make their attitude triply clear they also announced that there would be no more attacks. So Trump just hit them with more sanctions. All the doomsters now have lots of runny egg on their faces! The red flag of war turned out to be a feather duster

Iran deliberately missed causing maximum damage to two US bases in Iraq, with most of its ballistic missiles failing to hit their target, intelligence sources claimed today.

Tehran launched what it promised would be a 'crushing revenge' strike against the US over the death of General Soleimani - but succeeded only in damaging two airbases in neighbouring Iraq.

Satellite images released today show only minor damage to the bases in Ain al-Asad in western Iraq and Erbil International airport in the north as Iran wanted to avoid escalating the conflict to all-out war, according to US and European government sources.

Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode on impact or else missed their targets. The remains of one rocket was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from Erbil air base, which was the intended target.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired 22 ballistic missiles at the al-Asad airbase and Erbil in the early hours of Wednesday, but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi solider.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as 'a slap' and said they 'are not sufficient [for revenge]' while vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region.

But foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now 'concluded', praising Iran's 'proportionate' response and adding: 'We do not seek escalation or war.'

It came as Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, revealed today that Iran gave him a tip-off about last night's missile strikes, giving time for troops to scramble to bunkers.

He received a call from Tehran warning him an attack was imminent in retaliation for the US killing of its highest ranking general, his spokesman said.

Iraqi officials then passed the information on to US troops before the attack began, according to CNN.

US troops also got a heads up with a warning from America's advanced detection system based in Maryland.

Iran was believed to have tried to hit certain parts of the bases to minimise casualties and especially to avoid US fatalities, three sources said. This assessment was said to include some intelligence from inside Iran confirming the nature of the attack plan.

One of the US sources said: 'They wanted to respond but almost certainly not to escalate.'

Pentagon officials reportedly said they believe the Iranian military targeted areas of Iraq not heavily populated with Americans in order to 'send a message' without killing US personnel.

Iranian television had tried to claim that 80 'American terrorists' were killed, but that figure was quickly rubbished by Iraqi and US officials.

America said that 'early warning systems' detected the missile launches and sirens were sounded at the Asad base, allowing soldiers to seek shelter. It is not clear whether they were also informed by Iran.

Prominent analysts suggested Iran may have deliberately pulled its punches because they are fearful of the 'disproportionate' response threatened by Trump if US personnel were killed.



No matter what candidates say, America isn't leaving the Middle East anytime soon

Jeff Jacoby

TWO DAYS after the US drone strike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Iraqi parliament passed a measure directing the government to oust American troops from its soil. The following day, a senior Marine Corps commander sent a letter notifying Iraqi officials that US forces "respect your sovereign decision to order our departure," and would begin preparations for "movement out of Iraq."

So US troops are finally heading home?  Of course not.

The parliamentary resolution adopted on Sunday, though heavily played up by American media, was merely a nonbinding request and had the support of only Shiite lawmakers — most of the Sunni and Kurdish members boycotted the session. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kataib Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group backed by Iran, threatened vengeance against any member of parliament voting No on the resolution.

And just as Iraq's government isn't actually expelling US troops, US troops aren't actually planning to leave. The letter from Marine Gen. William Seely turned out to be an unsigned draft released by mistake. "There's been no decision made to leave Iraq," said Defense Secretary Mark Esper. "Period."

The whole episode embodied, in miniature, the single most obstinate reality of America's involvement in Iraq and the Middle East. Withdrawing our troops may seem a straightforward objective, but it just isn't possible.

Pledges to get America out of the Muslim world have become as much a part of presidential campaigns as rallies and fundraising letters. Bernie Sanders, denouncing "endless war," vows to pull the plug on US "military interventions" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pete Buttigieg promises that if he becomes president there will be no "open-ended" commitment of troops in the region, and intones: "The best way not to be caught up in endless war is to avoid starting one in the first place." Elizabeth Warren declares flatly: "We ought to get out of the Middle East. I don't think we should have troops in the Middle East."

Yet the Democrats are saying nothing that Donald Trump didn't say when he was running to succeed Barack Obama.

"We should have never been in Iraq," Trump insisted during one 2016 debate. "We've been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven't won anything." He called for a total US withdrawal from Afghanistan. One of Trump's "most consistent and specific positions," Reason magazine recalled last year, was his "skepticism about American military interventions in other countries."

Then again, the same was true of Obama when he ran for the White House. "I'll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home," he assured voters in 2008. Eight years before that, George W. Bush made clear that American foreign policy had to be "humble" and that "we can't put our troops all around the world."

In fact, US troops are deployed in most of the world's countries; in some cases they've been present for more than 70 years. Most of those deployments aren't controversial because they aren't hazardous or in regions roiled by dictators or terrorism. The American presence in the Middle East is so vexing precisely because that part of the world is constantly in crisis and has so many hostile actors.

Which is why America can't leave, as presidents to their chagrin keep learning the hard way.

Obama came to office convinced that America needed to lower its profile in the Middle East. He favored a foreign policy in which Washington eschewed intervention and practiced restraint. Sticking to that policy, he pulled US troops from Iraq, refused to assist protesters in Iran, and didn't retaliate when Syria deployed chemical weapons. The results were disastrous. "After the United States left Iraq in 2011," writes historian Hal Brands, "the state nearly collapsed, ISIS surged to prominence, and an emergency military intervention — which has now lasted nearly five years — was needed to repair the damage."

In 2014, President Obama paid tribute to troops at Ft. Bragg, N.C., where he celebrated bringing US forces home from Iraq. Within months, though, he had rush military personnel back to Iraq as the threat from Islamic State grew increasingly deadly.

Until Thursday, Trump was largely following in Obama's footsteps. Iranian attacks — from firing missiles at Persian Gulf oil tankers to shooting down a US drone — were growing increasingly brazen. When a US contractor was killed in Kirkuk, Trump finally decided that a red line had been crossed, and meted a lethal punishment to Iran's terror master.

Does the killing of Soleimani presage a fundamental change in strategy? Will rolling back Iran's widening aggression become a serious US priority at last? That, no one yet knows. All we can know for sure is that America won't be leaving the region anytime soon.

Like it or not, the United States cannot abandon the Middle East without quickening its enemies and unleashing fresh chaos. Whoever wins the White House in 2020, the world's most treacherous and dangerous neighborhood will need the stabilizing presence of the world's democratic superpower. US troops have been permanently deployed in the Middle East for 30 years. It will likely be another 30 before they can safely leave.



ObamaCare turns 10 – but decade of failure is nothing to celebrate

As the calendar flips to 2020, we’re coming up on a decade since the passage of ObamaCare.

But Democrats aren't celebrating 10 years of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law March 23, 2010. That's largely because President Obama’s signature legislative achievement hasn’t yielded the affordable care Democrats promised.

Let's start with that opening adjective – "affordable." ObamaCare's champions insisted that their elaborate system of subsidies, taxes, regulations, public insurance expansions and state-level insurance exchanges would ultimately drive down the price of health coverage. Obama himself promised it would save the typical family $2,500 a year.

But the cost of health insurance has skyrocketed over the past decade. Premiums on ObamaCare’s exchanges have increased 75 percent since the marketplaces went live. Off the exchanges, the average employer-sponsored family health plan now has annual premiums of over $20,000.

That was all too predictable. ObamaCare required insurers to cover 10 "essential" benefits, including things like substance abuse treatment and children's dental services, even if consumers didn't want or need them.

The law also ordered insurers to charge all people of the same age the same rate, regardless of health status or history. And it capped premiums for the old at three times those for the young, even though health costs for older people are about five times those for younger people.

All those mandated benefits and extra regulations raise costs for insurers – which they pass along in the form of higher premiums.

Many employers and individuals have not been able to bear the higher costs ObamaCare has brought about. For example, the slice of small firms offering health benefits to their employees fell by one-quarter between 2012 and 2016.

Meanwhile, the only people who can afford coverage through the exchanges are those who receive subsidies from the federal government. More than 87 percent of exchange enrollees in 2019 were subsidized.

And so, despite a growing economy and falling poverty rate, the national uninsured rate ticked up last year, from 7.9 to 8.5 percent.

ObamaCare was also supposed to give people more insurance choices. Those who liked their health plans could keep them, Obama repeatedly promised. For those who didn't have good coverage, the Affordable Care Act would supposedly be a godsend.

Things didn't turn out that way. Many patients have seen their insurance choices dwindle. Aetna, for example, exited in 2018 after years of ratcheting down its presence on the exchanges. Executives reported they'd lost $900 million due to what they euphemistically called "marketplace structural issues."

The average number of insurers in each state declined 10 percent between 2014 and 2020. Consumers shopping for coverage on the exchanges in Delaware and Wyoming have just one "choice" of insurer this year. In 15 states there are just two insurers on the exchanges.

Democrats allege that "sabotage" by the Trump administration deserves much of the blame for ObamaCare's problems. But without the administration's intervention, things could have been worse.

Take the waivers the administration granted to seven states to give them more flexibility over how to spend ObamaCare's individual-market premium subsidies. A Heritage Foundation analysis found that average premiums in the waiver states for benchmark plans – which determine overall subsidy levels for everyone in the market – fell more than 7 percent last year. The result is lower premiums for customers – and lower subsidy bills for taxpayers.

In states that did not get waivers, average benchmark premiums increased over 3 percent.

ObamaCare has left a decade's worth of failure in its wake. Given that track record, Democrats can't be trusted to lead the next round of health reform.



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, January 09, 2020

Trump-Hating Leftists Usher in New Year of Trump Hatred

He stands in the way of their wish for a totalitarian America
Have you ever wondered why the political left is so inconsolably angry these days? Why does it consider President Donald Trump to be such a threat and his supporters so contemptible?

This isn’t my imagination. While most people expressed their New Year’s greetings in positive terms, the celebrity left defaulted to its Trump-hating form. Every day is a new day to rage against Trump, so why should their New Year’s Day pronouncements be any different?

Breitbart assembled a list of celebrity tweets illustrating the point. Rob Reiner tweeted, “Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a 2020 that doesn’t include an ignorant corrupt soulless liar occupying the People’s House.” Stephen King tweeted, “Of his lies we’ve had plenty … Kick his a— in 2020.” Rose O'Donnell couldn’t quite make it through a New Year’s tweet without denigrating Trump. “HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL,” she tweeted, adding the hashtag #2020removeHIM. Rosanna Arquette said: “Putin is not my president. happy new year.” In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Linda Rondstadt likened Trump to Hitler and the Mexicans to “the New Jews.” And the examples go on and on.

What is wrong with these narcissistic malcontents? It’s not like things are terrible in America. Economically speaking, we couldn’t be doing much better. We’re certainly better off than we were during the Obama years — by leaps and bounds.

Trump is also sticking up for America again, rebuilding our defenses; taking decisive action when our people or soldiers are in harm’s way, as with his immediate response to the attack on our embassy in Iraq; pressuring other countries to contribute to our mutual defense pacts; and expressing his pride in this country — as opposed to trotting around the globe and apologizing for it.

So what’s not to like? His tweets? Fine, but do you really think that’s what is driving them mad?

How about his alleged abuses of power? Please. They’ve been pressing for impeachment since before “Russia collusion” became their favorite mantra and long before they could identify Ukraine on a map.

They don’t hate Trump for having acted outside his constitutional authority — because he hasn’t. That was Obama. They don’t hate him because they believe he is extremely partisan. And if they were to believe it, they would have no credibility, for few presidents have been more partisan than Barack Obama, despite the progressive mythical narrative to the contrary.

You might recall how Obama used lawless executive orders to implement policy that Congress declined to legislate, forced Obamacare down our throats and smugly told his Republican opponents, “I won the election,” and that he didn’t “want them to do a lot of talking.” And surely you won’t forget how he bulldozed his stimulus package through Congress with less than a handful of Senate Republican votes after meeting with congressional Republicans just one day before the Democrats had drafted the 1,073-page bill.

They revile Trump because they can tolerate only one viewpoint — their own. They resent that they can’t cram down their ideas in all sectors of our society, our culture and our government. It’s not enough that they have virtual monolithic control of the messages disseminating from Hollywood, academia and the mainstream media. They want total power everywhere, without any dissent. They are furious that red-state America won’t roll over and surrender its sovereignty to them so they can complete the fundamental transformation of America into a socialistic, authoritarian state, and finish converting its culture into a post-Christian utopia. They are like agitated babies who’ve had their toys taken away and who militantly refuse to take a nap.

Trump is not just an annoying speed bump on their way to total societal and political domination but a force of nature to be reckoned with, wildly beyond their expectations. Having no respect for Trump or his ability, they wrongly assumed they could steamroll, marginalize or oust him and restore themselves to power.

They had no idea Trump would be so formidable an opponent. More importantly, they had no inkling that he represented something far greater than himself: a seemingly silent majority of everyday Americans who had had their fill of the left’s political and cultural tyranny.

Even though they’ve also directed their ire at Trump supporters — kicking them out of restaurants and other public places, and trying to suppress their liberties — they still seem to be operating under the illusion that if they can just remove Trump, they’ll easily recapture power.

Little do they realize that the more they mistreat Trump, the more they alienate his supporters — freedom-loving patriots from shore to shore. Or maybe their animus against him and us is so intense that they just can’t help themselves, and they don’t realistically consider the potential political fallout.

Or could it be that they are so cloistered in their elitist bubble that they still don’t realize the magnitude of support Trump has from tens of millions of people who will never give up on this nation as the world’s model for freedom and prosperity? The more they hate him, they more they abuse him, the greater our resolve to defend him — and America!



Trump Administration to Go After States Allowing Illegal Immigrants to Obtain Driver's Licenses

Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security "is taking aim at new laws in New York and New Jersey that allow immigrants to get driver's licenses without proof they are in the U.S. legally, and restrict data sharing with federal authorities," according to a report from the Associated Press.

Wolf sent a memo within the department requesting "a department-wide study on how the laws affect its enforcement efforts."

New York is the 13th state that has authorized illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. In addition to giving illegals a state-issued license, the New York state law actually prohibits the New York Department of Motor Vehicles from providing data to any agency that enforces immigration law barring a judge's order–which seems like a flagrant attempt to aid and abet individuals who have broken federal immigration law.

New York officials claim the laws are meant to reduce the number of people uninsured (because obviously illegals should be getting health insurance that we're likely paying for) and improve traffic safety and give illegals better opportunities for employment.

I guess Andrew Cuomo and the New York Democratic Party would prefer illegals getting jobs over actual Americans.

According to Wolf's memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press, the department must be “prepared to deal with and counter these impacts as we protect the homeland.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, laws such as New York's, make America less safe. “The Trump administration takes the mission of protecting the Homeland very seriously,” said Heather Swift, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. “These types of laws make it easier for terrorists and criminals to obtain fraudulent documents," she added.



Conservative Christians Rally for Trump

Following the anti-Trump article penned by Mark Galli, Christianity Today's now-retired chief editor, in which he essentially declared that Christians who support President Donald Trump are violating their biblical beliefs and compromising their religious witness, hundreds of conservative Christian (and a few "Christian") leaders responded to that false dichotomy. In an effort to set the record straight, last Friday a group of conservative Christians calling themselves "Evangelicals for Trump" held a rally in Miami to express their political support for the president. Their aim was to challenge the political straw-man narrative that many on the Left (as well as many anti-Trump conservatives) have sought to cultivate — the false claim that a biblically consistent Christian cannot in good conscience support Trump.

An example of this underhanded and dubious political tactic to chip away Christian support for Trump is Vote Common Good. The organization's executive director, Doug Pagitt, a liberal who has long pushed against historical Christian orthodox beliefs, states, "There are many reasons why people have lost their faith in Donald Trump. We are not telling people to stop being Republicans; we are asking Republicans to not vote for this one. We are not trying to turn everyone into a Democrat. We are asking people to consider voting for one this time."

Notice the lack of any concern for the views expressed by any of the current Democrat candidates. The argument begs the question of a false binary in which Trump is assumed to be the greatest evil and therefore the only "righteous" choice remaining is anyone other than Trump. Based on this lazy and downright idiotic logic, Pagitt would rather Christians toss their vote to a hypothetical Adolf Hitler if he were the one running against Trump.

Fortunately, conservative Christians — like many conservative Americans in general — aren't so simplistic or easily duped into voting for candidates who aim to destroy Liberty. Conservative Christians know that all leaders are sinful and flawed, and that the choice of who to vote for more often than not comes down to a question of a lesser of two evils. It's a question of determining which political party and candidate's policy platform fits more consistently with a Christian worldview.

The "Evangelicals for Trump" rally in Miami loudly confronts the efforts of Democrats and the Leftmedia to stoke the false narrative that support for the president is morally indefensible. In fact, as Trump 2020 senior campaign adviser Jenna Ellis notes, "Evangelicals for Trump are quite soundly embracing our moral witness because this November, one candidate will advocate infanticide, abortion on demand, socialism, penalizing churches, the redefinition of marriage and family, destruction of individual freedom, greater reliance on welfare, censorship, and the entire bucket list of the anti-American, anti-Constitution, anti-freedom-loving liberal agenda." That candidate won't be Donald Trump.



The Award For Media Hyperventilating After The Soleimani Strike Goes To . . .

In the wake of Trump’s targeting of Iran’s Gen. Soleimani, the MSM seems to be competing among themselves for the most hyperbolic stories.  To give them their due:

We start with CBS and never-Trumper Mike Morrel for the headline soundbyte: “’There will be dead Americans’ as a result of Iran general being killed, ex-CIA deputy director says.” And how exactly will that be different than the previous weeks, months, years, or even decades of Iran’s war on the U.S.? No one thought to ask Morrel how many Americans died due to Iran and Soleimani during Morrel’s career at the CIA, nor to ask Morrel what he did to prevent those deaths, nor why he failed?

Slate’s Fred Kaplan writes the dramatic headline that “Trump Just Declared War on Iran.” Funny, I’m pretty sure Iran’s been at war with us since 1979. Kaplan doesn’t even try hard to muddy that reality; he just glosses over it, going so far as to imply that Soleimani acted at times as a U.S. ally.  Kaplan then quotes a statement from the mad mullah, Khamenei, that Iran will mount a “forceful revenge” and assures us that Khamenei means what he says. Only in the last paragraph of his article does Kaplan around to the recent Kataeb Hezbollah (really, Iran/Soleimani) strike against a military base, killing a contractor and wounding several troops, and Kataeb Hezbollah’s/Soleiman’s subsequent attack on American soil (i.e., our Embassy). He then dismisses those events as of no great importance. Apparently in Kaplan’s world there is nothing that Iran can do against the U.S. that amounts to war, nor anything the U.S. is justified doing in response unless it passes some new test Progressives developed only for Donald Trump: proportionality.

The NYT blares that “Iran is challenging Trump” by “announcing the end of the Nuclear Deal.” They tell their readers that “Mr. Trump’s gambit has effectively backfired,” as if the Nuclear Deal were viable and we were depending on it actually to stop the regime’s march to a nuclear arsenal. The fact that neither is true is explicitly why Trump pulled out of the “Deal” well over a year ago.

The next entry did not win the grand prize, but it has won the coveted Sherlock Holmes Award. That prize this evening goes to CNN, which publish the remarks of Chief Sitting Bull as if they are serious. CNN reports that Lieawatha is questioning “the timing of the Trump administration’s drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. . . ” CNN tells us that her question adds “to mounting skepticism about whether the President’s order was justified.” Sure, Soleimani was a really bad guy, but just the fact that he has spent the last 30 years of his life killing and plotting to kill Americans, and the fact that the attack was launched just as Soleimani was meeting in Baghdad with an Iranian proxy leader who had just killed an American . . . that timing is “very suspicious.” You know, sort of like her claims to Cherokee ancestry.

Which brings us to the runner up for the award Media Hyperventilation award – It’s the Intercept, which tells us that Trump “. . . May Have Kicked Off WWIII.” To paraphrase the article, Trump is a moron’s moron’s moron who acted very moronically. The article finishes with the flourish of a crie de couer that we’re all going to die because of Trump’s being a moron.

While the Intercept article is a very strong contender, even it can’t compete with the final nominee.

. . . Drum roll please . . .

Tonight’s grand prize winner for the most overwrought piece of melodrama goes to Gerrard Kaonga writing at the UK’s Sun for his WATCH Terrifying moment Iran unveils red flag at Mosque warning of severe battle to come. One can only hope that Gerrard was wearing his brown pants as he stared in abject terror.



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, January 08, 2020

Trump’s iconoclasm is a feature, not a bug

By economic historian Martin Hutchinson

Three years into his administration, President Donald Trump is subject to a level of obloquy surprising given the U.S. economy’s benign performance. Not only his political opponents, but even some nominal “conservatives” want to impeach him. The reason is clear: rigid thinkers committed to the “icons” of past consensus policy loathe President Trump with unparalleled venom for breaking those icons. But for more dispassionate thinkers, Trump’s iconoclasm clears the way to a better future.

The term iconoclasm dates from the anti-icon campaign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo III (717-741) although the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten had undertaken a similar campaign two millennia earlier. Like President Trump’s policies, iconoclasm was most popular in outlying parts of the Byzantine Empire (whose inhabitants had more contact with Moslems and Jews, both of whose religions forbid icons) than among the elites of Byzantium itself. While the iconoclasts had two period of considerable success, cultural and military, their writings and beliefs were eventually rigorously suppressed by the “iconodule” orthodox – a warning of the possible fate of Trumpism and Brexit, should those movements not succeed.

In modern usage, iconoclasm refers to any overthrow of beliefs cherished by a strong majority of the ruling elite. President Trump has been iconoclastic in many different areas; indeed, his combative and bombastic style is highly offensive to many of the long-term Washington and media elite. However, in certain areas his iconoclasm has involved significant movement in policy, which would not have been possible had an orthodox candidate, Republican or Democrat, been elected in 2016.

In trade, for example, the governing Washington orthodoxy since 1945 has been one of free trade, enforced by international agreements and institutions, on the grounds that conventional economic theory holds the economic gains from global free trade to be immense.

In the real world we live in, that orthodoxy is wrong in several ways. A pure Ricardian approach to comparative advantage, if applied to service industries such as software, allows the lower-wage countries performing theoretically simpler tasks to swarm up the value chain and take over the jobs of the rich-country specialists – we have seen this in action from the Indian software industry. Then a Gladstonian approach to free trade, allowing other countries to become protectionist while you remain free-trading, may hollow out the industries in which you initially have an advantage, outsourcing not 80% of the business but 100%. Furthermore, experience has shown that many countries, especially China, cheat on international trade obligations mercilessly, stealing intellectual property and building local monopolies that they use to expand into other areas.

Finally, tariffs yield revenue; it is by no means clear that a moderate tariff is any more distorting to trade patterns than an income tax. Certainly, a country that relies entirely on taxing its domestic citizens and imposes no tariffs on imports puts itself at a fearful competitive disadvantage. Inevitably also, the international institutions set up to facilitate free trade become self-serving bureaucracies, often hampering the very cause they are paid to maintain.

For these reasons, President Trump’s iconoclasm on tariffs is not only refreshing but beneficial. Thus, the Fed’s recent study attempting to prove that Trump’s tariffs have damaged the U.S. manufacturing sector appears mere special pleading from paid-up members of the free trade lobby. In reality, any such study should take account not only of the short-term benefits to industries protected by tariffs and costs to industries forced to pay higher input prices, but also the economic benefits from re-balancing Federal revenues away from income taxes and towards tariffs.

More important, any such study should take account of the signaling effect on foreign countries that impose excessive tariffs on U.S. exports or cheat in matters such as intellectual property. If the tariffs impose greater costs on protectionist or cheating trading partners than on U.S. businesses and consumers, they are beneficial in the short-term, and may be even more so in the long-term as they force trading partners to improve their behavior.

It has been clear for some years now that the global trading system is broken, by China, excessive regulation and the interaction of “funny money” interest rates and globalization. Trump has begun the difficult work of creating a better system, in which cheating is not rewarded, outsourcing to poor countries is not excessively encouraged and national coffers are filled modestly by the proceeds of reasonable tariffs, lifting costs from domestic taxpayers. His iconoclasm in this respect was long overdue.

A second area of President Trump’s iconoclasm is immigration. This topic had been dominated in both political parties by the cheap-labor lobby, using accusations of racism to demonize those who opposed them. The result had been decades of decline for U.S. blue-collar living standards, as low-skill immigrants, legal and illegal, flooded the labor market. Even at high-skill levels, such scams as the H1B visa program, a system of indentured servitude such as was celebrated by the slavery proponent John C. Calhoun, among others, had depressed both the earnings of U.S. tech workers and the willingness of U.S. students to go into tech – producing a glut of useless lawyers and sociologists.

Trump has not gone the whole way in reversing this policy – indeed he has showed signs of expanding the odious H1B and H2B visa scams – but he has at least acknowledged the effect of unskilled immigration on low-skilled U.S. workers and the need for the U.S. to control its borders. In the latter area he appears to have made genuine concrete progress – two decades after such progress should have been a top priority. By doing so, he has both improved policy and opened the door to its further improvement, as Trump’s reforms become generally accepted and their benefits become generally apparent.

A third area where Trump has smashed icons is “climate change”. Here the genuine science remains doubtful; there appears to be a warming effect from carbon dioxide, but it appears to be minor. What’s needed is a genuine research effort, with proper checks on the falsification of weather data. However, the global feeding-frenzy of dishonest scientists, greedy bureaucrats and fanatical control-freak Marxists must be stopped at all costs.

Trump has not stopped the feeding-frenzy altogether, but by withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Accord, over the horrified squawks of the media and the Washington establishment he has slowed it considerably and made it clear to the world that those participating in it are engaging merely in pointless economic self-flagellation. Much more needs to be done — indeed Margaret Thatcher can considerably be blamed for giving this nauseating gravy-train initial credibility as far back as 1988. Still there is now at least some chance that the long-term prosperity of the world will be saved from the red-green controllers who never really got over the fall of Communism in 1991.

Finally, in foreign policy President Trump has smashed several icons. He has firmly sought to downplay the importance of the Middle East, recognizing that jihadism is barely among the top half-dozen of the challenges the West faces. Moreover, since the invention of fracking Middle East oil is no longer a tourniquet around the world economy. He has recognized that Wilsonian policies of “nation-building” in areas where the U.S. has no geographic or cultural ties are very expensive, strategically counterproductive and morally futile.

Trump has opened dialog with tyrants like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, recognizing that the previous half century’s policy of isolation had achieved nothing useful. He has positioned the United States as a strategic antagonist of China, recognizing that China’s nominally Communist autocracy has interests opposed to the United States and is ruthless in pursuing them. He has treated the European Union on a grown-up basis, recognizing that allies that contribute nothing to defense and undermine the alliance’s policies are useless.

The long-term outcome of these foreign policy changes is yet unclear, and it will certainly require at least another full term of President Trump for their full benefits to arrive, yet the recognition of hard realities and breaking of long-established foreign policy icons is in itself highly valuable.

In a few areas, Trump has not been iconoclastic and his policies may thus run into trouble. In monetary policy, he has even intensified the absurd Keynesian policy consensus for ultra-low interest rates and monetary “stimulus.” In fiscal policy, he has gone along with what had become a bipartisan policy consensus in favor of unbalanced budgets and wasteful public spending – the budget “hawks” had pretty well disappeared by the time Trump came to office. In both areas, the next few years are likely to produce an unpleasant economic reckoning, yet this will not be entirely Trump’s fault. Finally, in regulatory policy, where party policies were sharply differentiated, Trump has followed the Republican consensus for deregulation, and his party orthodoxy in this area has borne excellent economic fruit.

Even with decades in power, the Byzantine iconoclasts in the long run failed, and were duly written out of history. Trump’s iconoclasm will equally require much longer to bear full fruit – a second term and a like-minded successor in 2024, at a minimum. Yet if his iconoclasm can survive and avoid being trampled into oblivion by the mastodons of political correctness, Trump will have become both a successful and a very consequential President.



Trump Went Too Far in Threatening to Target Iranian Cultural Sites

Rick Moran writes well for a number of conservative sites but I have got to suspect that he has had a stroke or some other derangement recently.  Or maybe he is one of the last of the conservative "Never Trumpers".  He certainly goes all-out below to defame Trump.

He has leapt to the conclusion that he knows what Trump means by "cultural" (nobody does) and he gives no reasoning to say why it is wrong to attack cultural sites.  There are some United Nations documents that deplore attacks on cultural sites but the United States has not endorsed most of them.  In any case Moran does not refer to them. He in fact gives us no idea of where we are to find the "international norms of behavior" he refers to.  I would recognize his words as satire if I had found them on a satirical site.

It's a significant meltdown for Rick Moran.  He actually makes no argument in favour of his claims at all.  He just talks as if he were a judge delivering a verdict.  He just KNOWS! I can't imagine any actual Trump supporter taking the slightest notice of him

My best guess is that Trump has in mind demolishing one or two of their prettier mosques.  I cannot see any great sin in demolishing temples of the Devil. If it causes caution in Teheran it would be a good thing

As president, Donald Trump was absolutely correct to inform Iran that if it retaliates for the killing of the mass-murderer Qasem Suleimani that there would be a severe response from the United States.

But the president was dead wrong in threatening to hit Iranian cultural sites if Iran is stupid enough to attack us.

Trump may be too ignorant to know it, but his blustering threats have placed him outside of international norms of behavior and made it very difficult for our friends around the world to support us.

The reaction from Democratic presidential candidates to the killing of Suleimani was empty political gamesmanship, but their criticisms of Trump's threats to commit war crimes are spot on.

Trump's infantile view that talking tough denotes "toughness" means he has failed to heed the lessons of some of his more illustrious predecessors, including [LEFTIST] Theodore Roosevelt, whose "Walk softly and carry a big stick" served him and the United States well while he was president.

This is ignorance, plain and simple -- a man who speaks without thinking of the consequences. Let's hope he doesn't talk us into a war.




SOLEIMANI FALLOUT: President Trump threatens Iraq with sanctions, says U.S. won't leave unless "they pay us back" for air base (USA Today)

SERIAL CHEATER WITHDRAWS: Iran "abandons" limits of 2015 nuclear deal after top general killed in U.S. airstrike (Fox News)

ON ALERT: Three Americans killed in terror attack on African military base; rockets fired at U.S. embassy in Iraq (The Daily Wire)

ABOUT THOSE FOREIGN-POLICY CREDENTIALS... Joe Biden sided with terror leader Qasem Soleimani in handing control of Iraq to Iran (The Washington Free Beacon)

D'OH! Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters appeared to have been tricked by Russian pranksters into thinking she was speaking on the phone with Greta Thunberg and that the teenage climate activist had dirt on President Trump (Fox News)

OIL FUTURES: Why the oil market rally on elevated U.S.-Iran tensions may be short lived (MarketWatch)

SITTING ON A KNIFE'S EDGE: The $250 trillion burden weighing on the global economy in 2020 (Forbes)

"YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE REAL WORLD": Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais tears into Hollywood elite (Fox News)

POLICY: With a small step and a big one, Iran just escalated against America (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: Trump is quietly winning bigly at the border (Issues & Insights)


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, January 07, 2020

Donald Trump's Twitter threat to hit 'high level Iranian culture targets' draws accusations that he is plotting WAR CRIMES

They are not thinking big enough in trying to predict where Trump will strike.  It seems clear that fried Ayatollah is on the menu, direct attacks on the Mullahs themselves, maybe in their homes.  I quote Pompeo:

“We’ve made clear to the theocrats and kleptocrats that are running Iran today – running it into the ground against the will of their own people – we made clear to them that we would not respond just against these proxy forces that they run in Yemen and in Syria and in Iraq and in Lebanon,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

“We made clear that this cost would be brought home to them, to the leadership regime in Iran, and that we would raise costs. We wouldn’t just attack their asymmetric efforts, we would respond in a way that imposed costs on the decision-makers who are putting American lives at risk.”

And one thing Trump has shown is that he CAN target prominent Iranians

President Donald Trump has been accused by his critics of plotting war crimes after issuing a threat on Twitter to strike 'Iranian cultural' targets.

'Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,' Trump wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

It came in response to an Iranian threat to strike 35 U.S. targets in the region in retaliation for the American drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Solemani early Friday.

It is not entirely clear what Trump meant by targets 'important to Iran & the Iranian culture', and a White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from

The Geneva Convention Protocol 1 bans 'any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.'

However, neither Iran nor the United States have ratified Protocol 1. Both states are parties to 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which offers more vague language protecting cultural sites.

'For what it's worth, I find it hard to believe the Pentagon would provide Trump targeting options that include Iranian cultural sites,' tweeted Colin Kahl, a former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama.



The Left are up to their usual tricks

There is something really off in the media fury over Trump’s killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. Let’s leave to one side whether the killing was wise (spiked thinks not). The virtual weeping over Soleimani’s death is still seriously messed up.

Serious foreign-policy talking heads and others in the chattering classes are talking Soleimani up as an anti-ISIS hero, almost as an innocent man ‘murdered’ by evil Donald Trump. This is dangerous nonsense. Soleimani was an Islamist theocrat and imperialist who unleashed terror across the Middle East and who was in Iraq (where he was killed) as part of Iran’s violent repression of dissent in that country. He helped to crush dissent in Iran, too.

The sorrow over his death has nothing to do with anti-imperialism – rather, it is driven by geopolitical cowardice, by a fear of taking decisive action, and by a loathing of Trump so irrational that it convinces its adherents that Islamist hardmen are good guys in comparison. This is perverse. Stop crying for Soleimani.

Via email from Brendan O'neill, editor of "Spiked"


Housing, Homelessness, and the Future of America

Every day we see it. And every day, it gets worse. However, as dire as homelessness seems, all is not lost. You can play an integral part in changing the tide in 2020.

This past year, the blight of homelessness spread to areas never before seen. San Francisco, for example, has experienced an astonishing 30 percent increase in its homelessness population—making national headlines.

Especially in the midst of plenty, it grieves me to see so many spending the holidays without a roof over their head, and mired in despair.

Homelessness is a multifaceted issue, to be sure, but the amount of housing regulations is a significant culprit, especially for families.

In California, for example, regulations alone comprise a third of the cost to build. Once defined by its pioneering spirit, the Golden State’s immense entrepreneurial potential in construction is being bogged down by invasive bureaucracy. This is the case in most other parts of the country as well.

Remember: in urban areas such as San Francisco, there once was an array of very low-cost, private housing options for the poor—nearly all eliminated by “urban renewal,” or outlawed by regulations.

Costly regulation is leaving many little choice but to live in public spaces—a scene that is all too familiar.

Even more ominously, homeownership is increasingly out of reach for young people and even the middle classes.

Studies have shown that homeownership significantly supports the well-being of one's children, increased graduation rates being one example. Homes also represent the largest store of equity for most Americans. Therefore, the devastating decrease in homeownership across income levels bodes ill for the future of our society.

Regulations are undermining the very fabric of the American dream of homeownership.

Fortunately, the Independent Institute has solutions to reinvigorate the power of private entrepreneurship.

If only set free, entrepreneurs can dramatically alleviate our current housing shortage.

I should know. My father, Willard Garvey, built large numbers of extremely low-cost “starter” homes for GIs returning from World War II, as well as for low-income families in Mexico, Peru, India, and Thailand—at affordable, market rates opening homeownership to vast numbers who had never dreamed it possible.

In 2020, Independent will be pursuing several projects to present free-market solutions to housing and homelessness. Our work starts with the release of our latest California Golden Fleece® Award.

As you may know, the Fleece Awards are our state government transparency project, which both spotlights wasteful government taxes, regulations, fraud, and spending projects and, importantly, offers solutions rooted in private entrepreneurship and enterprise.

Our upcoming Fleece, set for release in January, exposes the devastating cost of regulations and provides both bold and actionable steps to free entrepreneurs from these undue and arbitrary burdens.  Once free, entrepreneurs can address the issues of homelessness and the housing shortage.

Having been consistently featured across mainstream media, including USA Today, Los Angeles Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News, the Fleece Awards are reaching a mainstream audience with free-market policy and private, community-based solutions.

Building upon this success, we expect our new Fleece Award to be among our most impactful yet.

Via email from The Independent Institute


Facts Are the Antidote to Trump Derangement Syndrome
Being a conservative in perhaps the most liberal state in the country, Massachusetts, I’m often asked why I support the president by those on the left, some of whom think he’s a racist, misogynist, homophobe, criminal and, for good measure, a bully.

I laugh and say, “It’s because none of those things are true!” and then hit them with facts, not #FakeNews.

Let’s start with the absurd allegation that President Donald Trump is anti-women. “If that were true,” I ask, “why has he created millions of jobs for women?” Under the Trump administration, the unemployment rate for women is 3.5%, the lowest in 66 years. Hence the poverty rate for women has fallen to record lows. In September 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported, “While both the poverty rate and the number of people in poverty fell for many demographic groups between 2017 and 2018, a large proportion of the decline can be attributed to female-householder families with no spouse present.”

Why is this so vitally important? It’s because financial independence truly empowers and liberates women, giving them the freedom to chart their own course on their own terms, beholden to no one.

Isn’t that the definition of feminism?

This means millions of women employed in the roaring Trump economy fueled by capitalist, free market principles aren’t dependent on “the Man,” aka the government, reliant on that next welfare check, nor are they dependent on a man in the traditional sense. One of the many benefits? Women in bad jobs or bad relationships have the power to change direction without the paralyzing fear or financial worry they won’t be able to pay the rent or afford life’s other necessities.

If you think this isn’t a game changer, ask any woman who’s ever been trapped in a dead-end job or an abusive relationship. She’ll set you straight.

Last month, the president signed into law up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal civilian employees, which will go into effect this year. Undoubtedly, this most benefits women, who disproportionally care for children. It’s also a stepping stone toward the president’s broader goal of implementing paid family leave for all Americans, which will benefit women across the nation by not penalizing them financially for caring for their families.

Since Trump took office, nearly 7 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps, which means millions of women have transitioned from poverty and government dependence to a career and self-reliance.

If that isn’t female empowerment, what is?

My liberal friends will then pivot and say, “But Democratic lawmakers and cable news ‘experts’ say he’s a racist!” To which I counter that thanks to the president’s leadership with the economy, the black unemployment rate is also at a historic low. The president has delivered on criminal justice reform, giving thousands of those wrongfully incarcerated a second chance at life while also implementing a number of initiatives that support the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. In fact, just last month, the president signed legislation that will permanently provide $255 million annually to HBCUs and dozens of other institutions that predominantly serve minority students. He also signed an executive order in 2018 that established the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council to improve revitalization initiatives that target economically distressed areas including so-called opportunity zones.

Now, would a racist be uplifting minorities and empowering them with enhanced housing and education opportunities, block grants, access to small-business loans, jobs, higher wages and tax breaks while also rebuilding their communities?


And when it comes to allegations of homophobia, the Trump administration last year launched a global crusade alongside LGBTQ groups and human rights organizations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Leading the charge? Richard Grenell, the openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany the president appointed.

When I hear, “Trump’s a criminal,” from some on the far left, I remind them that in America everyone is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers. Since the president has occupied the Oval Office, he’s been subjected to a daily deluge of investigations including a 22-month special counsel probe that found “insufficient evidence” of criminal mischief.

Undoubtedly, if any of these partisan investigations had found a scintilla of evidence of criminal wrongdoing, he would’ve been charged long ago.

Grasping for straws at this point, some of my Democratic friends will say, “OK, I guess you’re right, but he’s still a bully.” To which I respond that if you were to have the entire Washington establishment against you and the #FakeNewsMedia accusing you of treason and other accusations that are heinous, false, defamatory — and hurtful — wouldn’t you fight back, too?

That’s usually where the debate swiftly ends and they change the subject.

Bottom line: Plain and simple facts, not blind hatred fed by #FakeNewsMedia, should be one’s guiding light leading into the next election.




SANITY: Marine Corps authorizes concealed carry on bases following recent shootings (National Review)

CIRCLING THE WAGONS: Media struggle to explain recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks without blaming Jews, Trump (The Washington Free Beacon)

LIMITED VAPING BAN: Trump administration declares ban on mint, fruit-flavored vaping products (The Hill)

GUN-GRAB PROPOSAL: Virginia governor's call for 18-person gun-ban force comes under fire (Washington Examiner)

STOCKING UP: Guns and ammo "flying off the shelves" in Virginia as Democrats pursue confiscation (The Daily Wire)

REVISIONIST HISTORY: Ralph Northam calls for removing statue of Robert E. Lee from U.S. Capitol (The Daily Wire)

"A RADICALLY UNSETTLED PRECEDENT": Two hundred members of Congress are urging the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade (The Daily Caller)

"THE LIES ... HAVE BEEN FOREVER EXPOSED": First trans person to obtain legal "non-binary" sex status changes back to birth sex in blow to LGBT movement (PJ Media)

POLICY: The surprisingly good news about American family life — for kids (American Enterprise Institute)


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, January 06, 2020

Bye Bye Suleymani. Trump takes out Iran's terror-meister

The comments below are good but everybody seems to be ignoring the elephant in the room: The precise intelligence behind the strike. It was a hit on two moving cars from a "Reaper" drone.  If they follow form, the Iranians will be hysterical about "spies" at the moment.  They will be looking for the source behind the American knowledge that made the precision strike possible. They will be really freaked.

It will be like a snake eating its tail.  Several top Iranians  will come under suspicion and be executed.  The regime will weaken itself.

They will probably be right to search for American sympathizers.  As the democratic upheavals in Iran show, there would probably be millions of them in Iran right now.  So the search for "spies" will be a needle in a haystack job.

US military intelligence probably got a message about where the Iranian Solomon was and let Trump know of the possibilities.  Clearly, Trump was instantly decisive and grabbed the chance to nab a terrorist, a chance that probably existed for as little as an hour.

It could well have been just a chance bit of information that a decisive President made instant use of.  The network of "spies" that the regime will be obsessing over may not exist

As for Iranian "retaliation", it is unlikely to rise above the "token" level.  They have to face the fact that however hard they hit, Trump will hit them harder. He has made that clear

Kenneth R. Timmerman is executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, an organization that works to support democratic movements in Iran. He writes:

The killing of Iranian terror-meister Qassem Suleymani in a targeted U.S. air strike in Baghdad on Thursday will have a dramatic impact on Iran’s ability to conduct oversea terrorist operations and the stability of the Iranian regime.

But the real impact, one can legitimately wager, will be quite different from what you’ve been hearing so far from most of the U.S. and international media.

Rather than engendering some massive Iranian “retaliation,” as many talking heads have been warning, I believe this strike will throw the Iranian regime back on its heels, as wannabe successors contemplate their careers vaporizing in a U.S. drone strike and Iran’s civilian leaders fret that they have been exposed as emperors without clothes.

Put simply, the aura of the Iranian regime’s invincibility is over.

They have pushed us and our allies repeatedly, and have been encouraged by the modest response from U.S. political and military leaders until now.

But with this strike, the gloves are off. And the leadership in Tehran – and more importantly, the people of Iran – can see it.

Suleymani was not some run-of-the-mill terrorist. He was worst of the worst; a man with more blood on his hands than even Osama bin Laden. Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, 9/11, Benghazi: all of them were his doing.

But he was also the most respected and the only charismatic military leader to have emerged since the 1979 Islamist revolution in Iran.

No other leader in Iran today even comes close to Suleymani for sheer star power.

This is a huge loss for the Tehran regime; bigger, indeed, than if the Supreme Leader himself (who actually is a nobody) died or was killed.

I’ve been watching the Iranian regime for 40 years. The only military leader who even comes close to Suleymani was the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezai.

But Rezai failed miserably when he entered the political arena as a presidential contender, failing in three attempts to break ten percent. He never had the star power that Suleymani engendered – not from lack of trying.

We have two historical parallels to compare to Thursday’s events: Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988, when U.S. naval forces sank 1/3 of the Iranian navy in a matter of hours after repeatedly catching them dispersing naval mines against international oil tankers in the Persian Gulf; and the presumed Israeli assassination of Iranian-Lebanese terrorist Imad Mugniyeh in Damascus in February 2008.

In both cases, we were told Iran and their proxies were going to counter-attack with devastating lethality. Hundreds of Americans and Israelis were going to die. Thousands! The entire region was going to explode.

In the end what happened? Absolutely nothing.

That’s what I predict here as well.

The Iranians have been lulled into thinking they can act with impunity in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Finally, the United States has drawn a firm hard line on their bad behavior.

This is exactly what we needed to do.

I believe the Iranian people will draw the obvious conclusion that this once powerful regime has feet of clay. Expect bigger anti-regime protests inside Iran in the coming weeks, and popular revolts against Iranian interference in Lebanon and Iraq as well.

To me, the biggest question remains: is President Trump ready for the revolution he has unleashed? With this single act, the United States has set in motion big historical forces for positive change. Are we prepared to help the forces of freedom against tyranny and oppression?



Fair and reciprocal trade will be President Trump’s legacy as economy continues to boom

As we embark upon 2020, with the third year of Donald Trump’s presidency in the can, the American economy is as good as it has been in at least 70 years, and after what many economists predicted would be a mid-year downturn, 2019 has turned into a boon year for all Americans.

Three economic drivers over the past year will be examined, the labor market, American consumer spending power and the state of international trade as the first two directly reflect the economic situation over the year and the latter sets the stage for the economic environment which our nation will compete in for the future.

The Labor Front by the numbers

The unemployment is at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. The January, 2019 unemployment rate was 4.0 percent, meaning the unemployment rate has continued dropping even as some economists claimed that the country was at full employment.

7.3 million jobs were available in Oct. 2019 according to the Dec. 20 released report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5.8 million unemployed Americans are in the workforce seeking job. In January, 2019, there were 6.535 million unemployed, meaning that there are approximately 720,000 fewer Americans unemployed at the end of 2019, than there were at the beginning of the year.

Note that there are 1.5 million more jobs available then people looking for jobs, and while the skills required and location of the available jobs and workers don’t match evenly, the 1.5 million

1.4 million more Americans are employed in Nov. 2019, than were employed in January 2019.

1.2 million more Americans entered the labor force between Jan. 2019 and Nov. 2019. This means that more people got jobs in 2019 than entered the workforce.

Why these matter?

Many economic doomsayers were predicting that demand for workers would diminish as the economy inevitably slowed, yet over the course of 2019, we have seen the unemployment rate dive to the lowest rates since the Vietnam War was raging and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

Fewer Americans are unemployed than at any time since Dec. 2000, when there were 21 million fewer people in the workforce.

In practical terms, the number and percentage of people who are unemployed reflects the economic anxiety in the country.  When neighbors and family members are unemployed and struggling to find work, those who have jobs worry that they too may be in jeopardy of financial hardship.  Conversely, when everyone you know has a job and there are help wanted signs up all over town, you feel secure not only in your job but in the idea that you can risk quitting your job to get a better one if you want.

This is the liberating effect of the current economic situation, and the fact that the number of unemployed Americans dropped by 720,000 since Jan. 2019 tells a story of historic levels of job security as we 2020 gets underway.

What happened to wages and spending power in 2019?

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released personal disposable income information for the third quarter of 2019 which ended on Sept. 30.  Since Sept. 30, 2018, Americans’ disposable, after tax, income has gone up by $1,811 to $50,184.

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that average hourly earnings continues to grow at 3.1 percent with real earnings, which account for the bite that inflation takes out of a paycheck, continue at 1.1 percent in November. The net effect is that wage increases are outpacing inflation allowing American workers to have more real disposable income at the end of November than they had in Jan. 2019.

The old adage that the harder I work, the further I get behind was driven by high inflation rates combined with minimal wage growth, so the only way to even keep even was to work longer hours to offset the hidden tax bite of higher prices at the grocery store, gas pump and elsewhere. This was turned on its head in 2019 as on average, people earned more money in November than they did in January, and the increased earnings were only partially offset by a stable, low inflation rate.

While the real raises are not astronomical, they are a welcome respite from the hamster wheel feeling that has afflicted Americans for a generation, where no matter how hard you run, at best, you end up in the same place.

2019 has been dominated by trade talk, has Trump’s focus on trade mattered?

President Donald Trump’s legacy will be determined by his trade agenda. The President has not been shy rhetorically on trade, but 2019 marked major progress in not just undoing 75 years of outdated policy, but in creating 21st century trade deals which put America’s interests first.

Negotiating a trade deal with Japan has been at the top of many administrations’ agenda, President Trump announced the first phase of an agreement with the Japanese had been agreed to in October, which includes increased U.S. farm sales to Japan at low to no tariff levels, and a digital section which should increase U.S. exports of digital products to Japan.

The U.S. Trade Representative office notes that the digital section of the first stage Japanese agreement, “meets the gold standard on digital trade rules set by the USMCA.”

And while the House of Representatives was playing smoke and mirror games on impeachment, they finally passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement replacing the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA not only has digital protections in it, but creates both an intellectual property barrier and transparency rules against currency manipulation which has the effect of driving the costs of U.S. produced goods higher vis-à-vis foreign made goods.

The intellectual property protection provisions of USMCA are one of the foundational changes that is the benchmark of the Trump trade agenda, and can be expected to be replicated and even strengthened in future negotiations with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Chile, the United Kingdom, EU, India and Brazil.

The goal is simple. Recognizing intellectual property rights is a fundamental aspect of capitalism, after all, if a person doesn’t own the product of his/her own mind than any other case for private property ownership pales. By creating a IP trade wall around China, President Trump will force the Chinese to choose whether to accept private property rights in their country, and abandon communism, or return to living in economic isolation behind their “Great” wall while the rest of the world’s economies thrive.

The much talked about China trade deal is an initial foray into this decision, but the tariff increases of 2019 merely set the stage for future discussions as the Chinese government is unlikely to follow the agreement to any great degree.

However, as Brexit and other world events unfold, the Trump trade plan will take center stage and the finely honed globalist trade system will be replaced by a mutually agreeable one between countries determined to meet their citizen’s interests. However, the President must win a second term to finish this job and create a capitalist trade wall which resets the global trading partnerships for the next fifty years.

A great American jobs economy makes reconfiguring the world’s trade economy a possibility as the Trump team negotiates from a position of strength, and 2019 will be marked as the year when the Trump promises became the world’s reality.

Only a non-politician who builds structures where no one else dreamed they might be could tackle and remake the global economy to benefit American citizens. President Trump’s entire presidency will be judged for generations on whether he succeeds or fails in making this vision of fair and reciprocal trade a reality.



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, January 05, 2020

Anti-Semites and Their Progressive Enablers

Jewish Americans can expect the Left to continue embracing its moral meltdown.

In New York, anti-Semitism has returned with a vengeance — abetted by the state’s new “bail reform” legislation.

Last week alone, eight anti-Semitic attacks were initially reported in New York City. All but one occurred in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Those attacks were followed by one in Monsey, where a man walked into a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration and attacked five people with a machete, critically injuring two. (He has been charged with a federal hate crime.)

And late Tuesday, reports surfaced of yet another savage assault against an Orthodox Jewish man by a group of seven black teenagers, and an incident where two men flashed a knife and yelled “Hey Jew boy” at a 17-year-old teen.

Unsurprisingly, Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed President Donald Trump and the hate “emanating from Washington.” Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed the incidents on a “pattern of hate in this nation” that “starts at the top.”

That would be the same Mayor de Blasio who has championed anti-police rhetoric to the point where officers are being assaulted in broad daylight, and the same Gov. Cuomo who once asserted that “extreme” conservatives “have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

Predictably, both men are staunch supporters of the bail-reform law that kicked in on New Year’s Day, but demonstrated its “effectiveness” prior to its official start date, precipitating the no-bail release of most of the suspects involved in the initial eight attacks.

Why were they released before the law took effect? “The de Blasio administration has made it clear that we all need to get into compliance with bail reform now,” a law-enforcement source explained.

The law also engendered the resignation of NYC police commissioner James O'Neill, who warned the legislation would release thousands of dangerous inmates.

O'Neill wasn’t exaggerating. “Courts are in the process of case-by-case reviews that by New Year’s Day will release at least 3,800 people from county jails across the state,” the New York Post reported in mid-December. “Some officials estimate that a quarter to a third of their jail populations will be back on the street. The city’s looking at about 900 releases, with an estimated 170 defendants sprung on Staten Island alone.”

One of the early “springees” was Tiffany Harris. She was released without bail, despite admitting she slapped and cursed at three Orthodox women in Brooklyn, and despite having another open harassment and assault case on the court docket since November. Harris also received a no jail sentence for committing felony criminal mischief in Manhattan.

How did her release work out? One day later, she was re-arrested for punching another woman in the face.

Harris is the tip of a highly inconvenient iceberg. Despite leftist assertions that every attack is due to the “Anti-Semite-in Chief” in the Oval Office, Tablet columnist Armin Rosen reveals that “the perpetrators who have been recorded on CCTV cameras are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic,” a reality that “inverts the perpetrator-victim dynamics with which most national Jewish organizations and their supporters are comfortable,” he adds.

Comfortable? Ideologically compromised is more like it. In a devastating account published in The Lid, columnist Jeff Dunetz chronicles Democrats’ increasing acceptance of anti-Semitism, abetted by leftists who are not anti-Semitic but “cowardly refuse to expose and/or fight the Antisemitism rampant in their ranks.”

He cites several collaborators, including Barack Obama, who “allied himself with Al Sharpton who was a leader of the anti-Semitic pogrom in Crown Heights and incited the anti-Semitic firebombing of Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem.” He notes that rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan was supported by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and that Israel hater and anti-Semite Linda Sarsour has shared platforms with “Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velasquez, Brad Sherman, Mike Quigley, Al Green, Robin Kelly, Jamie Raskin, Donald McEachin, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.”

He reminds us of the Democrat Party’s cowardly refusal to condemn Ilhan “It’s All About the Benjamins [money] Baby” Omar for that slur and another tweet where she asserted that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” He notes that Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has two anti-Semites on his staff, the aforementioned Linda Sarsour and James Zogby, a man who has referred to Israelis as “Nazis,” and sitting members of Congress as “Israel Firsters.”

What about our “anti-Semitic” president? Trump “recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” (in stark contrast to the chorus of boos that idea received at the Democrats 2012 National Convention), supported the the “Taylor Force Act to withhold U.S. taxpayer dollars from the Palestinian Authority until they stop rewarding terrorists with blood money,” pulled America out of the disastrous Iran deal, and “became the first president in US history to issue an official definition of Antisemitism” and “an executive order to fight the hatred of Jews.”

Trump signed that order to counter the increasing acceptance of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity on college campuses. It instructed each agency tasked with enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to embrace the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

A welcome development? Not for the Washington Post. “It is important to take measures to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism on campus, but not at the price of classifying Jews as a nationality,” the paper asserts. “This contradicts the feelings of most American Jews and opens up a dangerous discussion that really never existed in this country. In the end, in the name of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism, such a maneuver might lay the groundwork for a much more serious anti-Semitic threat.”

More serious than what? According to FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Jews and Jewish institutions remain the biggest target of religion-based hate crimes, accounting for 59% of the overall total.

And again, what’s going on in New York cannot be ignored. “Nobody wants to talk about it, but something is going on between the black and Jewish communities in the New York City area that needs to be addressed,” warns columnist David Marcus.

Why won’t it be? “The problem for all the silent elected officials is that the perpetrators of these violent crimes don’t fit neatly into their political-enemies list,” columnist Karol Marcowicz explained last May, following a series of previous attacks. “They aren’t MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacists.”

Indeed. Thus, Jewish Americans can expect the Left to continue embracing its moral meltdown, driven by an all-consuming hatred of President Trump.

Will it get worse? “From the streets of Chicago to the city council of Seattle, and in the pages of academic journals ranging from the Cardozo Law Review to the Harvard Law Review and of mainstream publications from the Boston Review to Rolling Stone, advocates and activists are building a case not just to reform policing — viewed as an oppressive, violent, and racist institution — but to do away with it altogether,” columnist Christopher F. Rufo reports.

What could possibly go wrong? Tragically, Jews are statistically the most likely group of Americans to find out.



The Dangers of Elite Groupthink

The Washington Post recently published a surprising indictment of MSNBC host, Stanford graduate and Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow.

Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote that Maddow deliberately misled her audience by claiming the now-discredited Steele dossier was largely verifiable -- even at a time when there was plenty of evidence that it was mostly bogus.

At the very time Maddow was reassuring viewers that Christopher Steele was believable, populist talk radio and the much-criticized Fox News Channel were insisting that most of Steele's allegations simply could not be true. Maddow was wrong. Her less degreed critics proved to be right.

In 2018, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and the committee's then-ranking minority member, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), each issued contrasting reports of the committee's investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign team and the misbehavior of federal agencies.

Schiff's memo was widely praised by the media. Nunes' report was condemned as rank and partisan.

Many in the media went further. They contrasted Harvard Law graduate Schiff with rural central Californian Nunes to help explain why the clever Schiff got to the bottom of collusion and the "former dairy farmer" Nunes was "way over his head" and had "no idea what's going on."

Recently, the nonpartisan inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, found widespread wrongdoing at the DOJ and FBI. He confirmed the key findings in the Nunes memo about the Steele dossier and its pernicious role in the FISA application seeking a warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

In contrast, much of what the once-praised Schiff had claimed to be true was proven wrong by Horowitz -- from Schiff's insistence that the FBI verified the Steele dossier to his assertion that the Department of Justice did not rely chiefly on the dossier for its warrant application.

When special counsel Robert Mueller formed an investigatory team, he stocked it with young, progressive Washington insiders, many with blue-chip degrees and resumes.

The media swooned. Washington journalists became giddy over the prospect of a "dream team" of such "all-stars" who would demolish the supposedly far less impressively credentialed Trump legal team.

We were assured by a snobbish Vox that "Special counsel Robert Mueller's legal team is full of pros. Trump's team makes typos."

Yet after 22 months and $32 million worth of investigation, Mueller's team found no Russian collusion and no evidence of actionable Trump obstruction during the investigation of that non-crime. All the constant media reports that "bombshell" Mueller team disclosures were imminent and that the "walls are closing in" on Trump proved false.

Mueller himself testified before Congress, only to appear befuddled and almost clueless at times about his own investigation. Many of his supposedly brightest all-stars, such as Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and Kevin Clinesmith, had to leave his dream team due to unethical behavior.

In contrast, Trump's widely derided chief lawyers -- 69-year-old Ty Cobb, 78-year-old John Dowd, and 63-year-old radio and TV host Jay Sekulow -- stayed out of the headlines. They advised Trump to cooperate with the Mueller team and systematically offered evidence and analyses to prove that Trump did not collude with the Russian to warp the 2016 election. In the end, Mueller's "hunter-killer team" was forced to agree.

When the supposed clueless Trump was elected, a number of elites pronounced his economic plans to be absurd. We were told that Trump was bound to destroy the U.S. economy.

Former Princeton professor and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman insisted that Trump would crash the stock market. He even suggested that stocks might never recover.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Trump would bring on a recession within a year and a half.

The former head of the National Economic Council, Steven Rattner, predicted a market crash of "historic proportions."

In contrast, many of Trump's economic advisers during his campaign and administration, including outsider Peter Navarro, pundit Steven Moore, former TV host Larry Kudlow and octogenarian Wilbur Ross, were caricatured.

Yet three years later, in terms of the stock market, unemployment, energy production and workers' wages, the economy has been doing superbly.

The point of these sharp contrasts is not that an Ivy League degree or a Washington reputation is of little value, or that prestigious prizes and honors account for nothing, or even that supposed experts are always unethical and silly.

Instead, one lesson is that conventional wisdom and groupthink tend to mislead, especially in the age of online echo chambers and often sheltered and blinkered elite lives.




THANKS, OBAMA: In 2011, Obama met with one of the leaders in Baghdad embassy attack (PJ Media)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM: Trump honored with "Bipartisan Justice Award" by black leaders (The Western Journal)

TOO GOOD TO IGNORE: CBS News reporter highlights minority improvements under Trump as most underreported story (The Daily Wire)

MASSIVE: Bernie Sanders tops Democrat field with massive $34.5 million haul in fourth quarter (ABC News)

MORE MASSIVE: Trump camp raises $46 million in final quarter; reelect team says impeachment drove best haul to date (The Washington Times)

MAGA: Trump beats own record for fewest new regulations issued in a year (The Washington Times)

POLITICAL FUTURES: New census data suggests previous report wrong: Republican states gaining seats in Congress (The Daily Wire)


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