Friday, January 24, 2020

Bloomberg’s Huge Spending Transforms 2020 Campaign

The other presidential hopefuls are so moronic that I think Bloomberg will surge through the primaries and get the nomination.  Both Trump and Jimmy Carter came from way behind so the precedent is there

The presidential election is 10 months away, but Michael Bloomberg’s long-shot campaign is running like it’s already late October.

The candidate has spent $217 million so far on television and digital advertising, mostly ignoring the Democratic primaries and squarely challenging President Trump. The total is roughly three-quarters of the amount spent by all other campaigns, including Mr. Trump’s, combined.

It’s the game plan the billionaire used in his campaign for mayor of New York City in 2001, when he outspent his competitor nearly 5 to 1. Big spending has also made his philanthropy a dominant force on climate change, gun control and other issues. And it is how he has managed his lucrative business, paying up to bring in talent.

The flow of cash—dubbed the Bloomberg effect by media-measurement firm Advertising Analytics LLC—has upended the financial dynamics of the election. Television ad rates jumped 45% in Houston after the Bloomberg campaign bought $1 million worth of ads in November, Advertising Analytics said. The campaign paid as much as double the going rate for staff and promised jobs to workers through November, whether or not Mr. Bloomberg stays in the race. The candidate, who is funding his run entirely by himself, now has 1,000 campaign staffers

It’s a big part of the reason roughly $20 billion is expected to be spent on political advertising this election cycle, dwarfing the previous record of $12 billion in 2016, according to media research firm, Borrell Associates. “Everything about what Bloomberg is doing is unprecedented,” said Rufus Gifford, former finance director for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Mr. Bloomberg remains a long shot, Mr. Gifford said, “but when you have Donald Trump as president and one of the 10 richest people running for president, anything can happen.”

Kevin Sheekey, Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign manager, said there’s more to Mr. Bloomberg’s candidacy than his spending, pointing to wealthy but politically inexperienced candidates such as Meg Whitman or Ross Perot who failed in the past. “Money won’t just determine elections,” he said. “You have to have a record and a message.”

Lots of rich people have run for office, lots of candidates have claimed excellent business credentials and many have claimed to have top-flight data operations, which Mr. Bloomberg emphasizes. What sets his campaign apart is his $55 billion checkbook.


Mr. Bloomberg is No. 9 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, ahead of each of the Google founders, either Koch brother and the wealthiest members of the Walton family. A person familiar with the plans said he could spend $500 million on the primaries alone, and Mr. Bloomberg hasn’t ruled out spending $1 billion before November if needed.

“Certainly it’s going to be disruptive,” said Robert Wolf, former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas and a longtime Democratic donor. “We just don’t know how yet.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013, is currently supported by 6% of voters, compared with 27% for former Vice President Joe Biden in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. More voters have a negative than a positive view of Mr. Bloomberg, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll from mid- December.

Mr. Bloomberg said he entered the race at a moment when polling data suggested voters placed less importance on ideology and more on finding a candidate who could beat Mr. Trump. His campaign believed Mr. Trump was winning the race and was going unchallenged in political ads in competitive states as Democratic candidates focused on the primary battle.

At the time, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was surging. Polls showed Mr. Biden beating Mr. Trump but within the margin of error. Ms. Warren’s policies, such as a wealth tax, would likely hurt Mr. Bloomberg, and she is generally disliked by his circle of wealthy New Yorkers, according to a longtime staff member. Mr. Bloomberg has said he will back whoever wins the nomination, even if it is Ms. Warren or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

To offset criticism that he was running out of his own self interest, Mr. Bloomberg pledged $15 million to $20 million to register 500,000 voters before the election. His attacks on Mr. Trump are part of that effort. “There’s a sense that Bloomberg is doing something that the party can’t do—going negative on Trump,” Mr. Gifford said. “It’s work that the party doesn’t have the money to do, and other candidates don’t have the ability to do.”

After Mr. Trump’s campaign said it had bought a 60-second TV spot during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, the Bloomberg campaign bought a 60-second spot that will target the president. The Bloomberg campaign declined to disclose how much it was spending for the spot, but advertising tracker Kantar/ CMAG estimates it is worth $10 million.

Bloomberg spending has drawn Mr. Trump’s attention. When the campaign aired an ad saying the president had broken his promise of protecting those with pre-existing health conditions, Mr. Trump pushed back on Twitter and labeled Mr. Bloomberg “Mini Mike.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign said that because he started late, it is focusing on the Super Tuesday votes on March 3, rather than the early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. The plan plays to Mr. Bloomberg’s financial advantage and minimizes his weaknesses—shaking hands and making small talk with voters, and giving stump speeches. The Super Tuesday states, where 40% of delegates will be chosen, instead depend more on television and digital advertising.

In addition to huge TV spending—$193 million on ads since his campaign began—the campaign has spent heavily online. It spent $16.1 million on Google ads as of Jan. 11 and $6.8 million on Facebook as of the end of December according to Kantar/CMAG.

Mr. Trump has spent $6.5 million on digital ads, and Tom Steyer, the other billionaire Democratic candidate, has spent $5.6 million since Mr. Bloomberg entered the race in November, as of the end of last year.

The Bloomberg campaign is offering field organizers salaries of $6,000 a month. For state data directors, it’s between $10,000 and $12,000 a month, according to job postings.

The campaign’s 1,000-person payroll is more typical of an operation in the final months before Election Day. Mr. Biden has roughly 400 campaign staffers, while Mr. Sanders has built an 800-person staff.

The former mayor’s late entry into the race has forced the campaign to “create a sense of momentum and hope people will actually jump on,” said a person familiar with Mr. Bloomberg’s state operations.

Super Tuesday focus

Campaign veterans said money won’t necessarily bring in the best staff and said many experienced staffers want to work for people they support. Other campaigns, including Ms. Warren’s and Mr. Sanders’s, already have operations in Super Tuesday states and are ramping up hiring in later states.

Mr. Bloomberg has spent in markets that haven’t been targeted by other Democrats. His campaign has plunked down $21.2 million on television advertising in Texas, where none of the leading Democrats have spent a penny. It has spent $8.4 million in Pennsylvania, which doesn’t hold its primary until April 28. It has even poured resources into smaller states that are typically not on the primary radar. In Idaho, it has spent $979,000 so far; in Utah, $1.6 million.

“He is going far, far ahead of where the rest of the guys are scrumming,” said Kip Cassino, executive vice president at Borrell Associates, the media research firm. “He is basically saying, ‘I’m not going to win in Iowa, and I am not going to get out there and kiss pigs. And I won’t win in New Hampshire, but I will win in the rest of the states, and I will get the states that most everyone didn’t care about before.’ ”

At the beginning of January, candidates had spent close to $540 million on political ads in the presidential race over the prior 12 months, about 10 times what would have been expected at this point in this election cycle, Mr. Cassino said. “We have never seen anything like this,” Mr. Cassino said, referring to Mr. Bloomberg’s spending. “We are only just starting to see how distorting this might be.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s potential handicaps among Democratic voters include his support for Republican candidates in the past, including former President George W. Bush. Other issues that could hurt are his support for charter schools in his education-reform efforts, and the stop-and-frisk policy he adopted as mayor, in which New York police had wide latitude to detain and search passersby for contraband. A federal judge eventually ruled the policy violated the constitutional rights of minorities. Mr. Bloomberg apologized for the stop-and-frisk policy before he kicked off his campaign.

Some Democrats fear Mr. Bloomberg could drag out the primary with his limitless budget, or use his money to try to influence the leading candidates, hoping to pull some of them to the political center, which he sees as the way to beat Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bloomberg’s team said the data operation he is building will benefit Democrats overall, which he said are far behind the Republicans on the gathering and use of voter data. His data firm, Hawkfish LLC, launched in the spring. It has hired Facebook’s former chief marketing officer and the former CEO of Foursquare, the location tracking firm.

Mr. Bloomberg has cited his research and spending on the 2018 midterm elections as evidence of his commitment to the party’s success. Democratic candidates won 21 of the 24 races in which he was involved. In most races, the spending focused on digital advertising early in the election cycle and TV advertising closer to election day, when ad reservations were more expensive and Republican groups could not as easily counter their message.

In an Oklahoma House of Representatives race, which appeared to be a long-shot for the Democrats, Mr. Bloomberg unleashed a wave of last-minute ads that attacked the Republican candidate. Democrat Kendra Horn won by a few thousand votes. “I supported 24 candidates who were good on guns and good on environment, and 21 of them won, and that flipped the House,” he said at a recent campaign stop in Philadelphia. “So if it wasn’t for that, you wouldn’t have [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi and you wouldn’t have impeachment.



Why progressives hate Trump so much explained

Progressives all have the same goal, even those who don’t know it outright.  The progressive goal is to destroy the American system and replace it with a utopian heaven on earth.  That’s it. 

This goal could be the entire American system as Obama wanted to fundamentally transform us.  Or it could be something like our health care system.  Either way, the progressive sets out to destroy the current American system to replace it with their version of a utopian heaven on earth, of which those of us who live in reality understand it’s never going to happen.

The United States of America is the most liberal and tolerant country in the world.  Americans are the most generous people as well.  It is literally built into our system to constantly improve the lives of those who were treated poorly in the past.

But when you fall for the Marxian ideals of a utopian heaven where everyone is equal, where no one wants for anything, and you really believe it could be achieved, then even a tolerant, liberal country like the United States is no match. That progressive religion truly is an opiate of the Marxists.

Under Obama progressives had a daily feeling of conquering where they defeated American system after system, and they built themselves up to really accept that it was possible to achieve that utopian heaven on earth.

Then Trump got elected and their entire world came crashing down on them big league.



UK: Employment hits new record as jobs market strengthens

After ten years of Conservative government (2010 to 2020) Britain's unemployment figures are similar to Trump's American figures

Record numbers of women in work have propelled the employment rate to a new all-time high, fuelling speculation the Bank of England will steer clear of an interest rate cut later this month.

A total of 32.9 million people were in work during the three months to November, with the employment rate standing at an unprecedented 76.3pc according to the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1974 at 3.8pc.

Wage growth held steady at 3.2pc, more than double the consumer prices index inflation rate of 1.3pc. This means families' pay packets are stretching further each month, boosting living standards.

Much of the growth was powered by a surge in women holding down a full-time job as fewer retire early or stay at home as full-time mothers.




SYSTEMIC HATE: Another Bernie staffer allegedly promotes violence: Kill the rich, put Republicans in camps (The Daily Wire)

WARNINGS IGNORED: Hillary defends the Clintons' longtime association with Harvey Weinstein, and it does not go well at all (Red State)

"MALICIOUS INTENT": Tulsi Gabbard files defamation lawsuit against Hillary for dubbing her a "Russian asset" (The Daily Wire)

"MY GOAL IS TO UNVEIL THE TRUTH ABOUT ABORTION": New England Patriots tight end and pro-lifer Benjamin Watson producing abortion documentary (The Hollywood Reporter)

TAXPAYER-SOURCED FUNDING: Planned Parenthood's annual report shows Big Abortion needs Big Government (

POLICY: The lethal legal legacy of Roe v. Wade (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: When will the #MeToo movement address pornography? (Washington Examiner)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Davos: Trump opens door to ‘tremendous’ UK trade deal as Mnuchin delivers warning over digital tax

President Donald Trump delivered a defiant defence of his record while his powerful entourage had a sobering message for the absent British government in Davos: the UK will face retaliatory trade sanctions if it persists with plans for a digital tax on the US tech giants.

Steve Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, had barely set foot on Swiss soil before hurling his throw-away bombshell. The British and Italians must suspend their plans for this contentious levy or face the full wrath of the Trump White House.

“If not, they’ll find themselves faced with President Trump’s tariffs,” he said on the margins of the World Economic Forum. A comprehensive trade deal between the two countries after Brexit will be effectively impossible in such circumstances.

Mr Trump was more oblique in his triumphant address to the Davos fraternity. “We look forward to negotiating a tremendous new deal with the United Kingdom: they have a wonderful new PM who wants very much to make a deal,” he said.

There was then a slight hesitation, as if Mr Trump was hedging the signal. The praise for Boris Johnson was not quite as effusive as usual. China’s Xi Jinping got markedly warmer treatment. “We love each other,” he said.

Mr Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal that Britain should heed the harsh lesson learned by France over its plans for a digital tax, which effectively singles out Facebook, Google, and the Silicon Valley names for discriminatory treatment. 

President Emmanuel Macron this week agreed under intense pressure – and faced with sanctions on Gallic symbols such as wine, cheese, and handbags – to suspend the measure until the end of the year as talks continue. Billed as a “truce” in Paris, it looks more like a humiliating climb-down to everybody else.

Mr Johnson included the digital services tax in the Conservative Manifesto despite warnings from his own Cabinet and an avalanche of criticism from both trade experts and free market analysts. “It is a bad idea based on dodgy economics and flimsy evidence,” said Julian Jessop from the Institute for Economic Affairs.

The tax is inherently discriminatory and would be almost impossible to collect. Mr Johnson pre-empted a joint OECD initiative, acting on behalf of 134 states, that is thrashing out a broader solution with Washington. This would go beyond the digital sphere to include a wider range of companies, levelling the playing field between Europe and the US.

Britain’s decision to push its own tax in defiance of the US at this pivotal juncture of the Brexit talks seems extraordinarily ill-judged. The Government has already ruled out trade concessions on agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and access to the National Health Services on terms already enjoyed by EU multinationals. This leaves little to talk about in US-UK trade discussions. The digital tax closes the door entirely. 

Mr Trump’s speech was a provocative romp through American exceptionalism, with a cunning focus on his “blue collar boom”, as if to reproach Davos Man and the pious liberal elites ensconced in their stunningly expensive sanctum sanctorum. “The American dream is back, bigger, better and stronger than ever before,” he said.

Unemployment is the lowest in half a century. The jobless rate for African-American youth is the “lowest in recorded history”. Ditto for disabled workers. “The poorest are making by far the largest gains,” he said.

“America’s thriving, America’s flourishing, and yes, America is winning again like never before,” he said. His listeners are sophisticated enough to know that a fiscal boom and a budget deficit of 5pc of the GDP at the top of the cycle will always buy you a boom, but still his words are unsettling for globalists sitting on a becalmed world economy. Then he twisted the knife.

“We are freeing our businesses and workers so they can thrive and flourish as never before. Today I urge other nations to follow our example and liberate your citizens from the crushing weight of bureaucracy,” he said.

Surely knowing that Greta Thunberg was in the audience, he could not resist a broadside against the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse". "They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers. I have them, you have them, we all have them,” he said.

“They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 90s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty,” he said.

This was at a summit dedicated almost entirely this year to saving the planet from climate change. The audience could only grit their teeth. But whatever the Davos tribe think of Mr Trump’s brand of “America First” they cannot deny the sheer unbridled dynamism of his country.

Separately, Glenn Youngkin from the Carlyle Group said the US economy’s share of world output has amazingly risen from 23pc to 25pc over the last decade. “If you had predicted that 10 years ago, nobody would have believed you,” he said.

The last word goes to Mr Trump, who told listeners: “America’s newfound prosperity is undeniable, unprecedented and unmatched anywhere in the world.” Touché.



The media’s progressive bias has a propaganda guide — The AP Stylebook

Jon Caldara

Journalists have no idea how their work is perceived by a very sizable percentage of Americans.

At a recent wedding reception, I ran into a lady I’ve known for about 15 years. In her mid-60s she is the sweetest, most proper lady in the world. Never once have I heard a harsh word slip through her lips. When the conversation turned to the media, without prodding she simply asserted a loud, unambiguous, “(expletive) the media.”

When Trump points to the reporter pool in the back of one of his rallies and states, “They are the enemy,” he is singing to people like this. It’s one of the major reasons he became president.

It is fascinating how the built-up frustration to the main-stream media carried Trump to victory. It’s more fascinating that the media has shown absolutely no introspection into their role in the phenomenon. They really think most Americans see them as they see themselves — brave warriors of truth, not torchbearers for progressive ideology.

One only has to listen to NPR reporters and their pee-your-pants excitement at covering Trump’s impeachment to conclude they still have no idea so much of America considers them the enemy.

I have been around the media since the mid-80s as a cartoonist, columnist, talk show host, and of course through my years of political work. I love reporters. Almost universally they are engaging, caring, smart and riotously funny. And almost every one of them I have ever known feels called to journalism.

And not a single one of them recognizes how monolithically progressive the main-stream media is. Few of them will admit their profession is dominated by people with a left-of-center philosophy. And none, I mean none, see that what they pump out is serving the progressive agenda.

Talking to a reporter about how left the media is like talking to an alcoholic about his drinking. He honestly can’t see the issue and will angerly suggest you are the one with the problem.

But instead to turning to AA for an example of how to admit their problem, reporters turn to the AP, the Associated Press, to encourage it. The AP codifies reporters’ progressively loaded language with the AP Stylebook. This yearly updated, dictionary-like guide for reporters and editors is meant to make their work consistent.

What it actually does is cement terminology to promote political conclusions. It declares the winners and losers in political debates.

For reporters, it recommends avoiding terms like illegal alien: “use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person.” The AP instead suggests using terms like “undocumented.” While this is just fine with reporters, because most of them agree, it promotes a side on the immigration debate.

The first rule in winning any political battle is winning the language used to define the issue. In this, the media plays judge and jury.

The AP has updated its style to say that gender is no longer binary and thus declared a winner in this divisive debate. They ruled that, “Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex and gender.”

It’s admirable that reporters want to be compassionate to transgender individuals and those transitioning, as we all should be. But AP reporters first have a duty to the truth, or so they say. There are only two sexes, identified by an XX or XY chromosome. That is the very definition of binary. The AP ruling it isn’t so doesn’t change science. It’s a premeditative attempt to change culture and policy. It’s activism.

The AP, once the guardian of grammar and proper word usage, now allows “they/them/their” as a “singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun.” So, the Associated Press is happy to change the plain grammatical meaning of words to promote an agenda. “They” is singular and up is down.

The terms defined in the Stylebook take at most a phrase or short sentence to describe. “Race-related coverage” takes more than four pages to bob-and-weave through political correctness. No wonder the country can’t have a coherent conversation about race. We’re not allowed to use words.

Even with all the latitude the Stylebook gives reporters to steer left, they still consistently violate AP standards to push their views further.

The AP asserts, “Often, (race) is an irrelevant factor and drawing unnecessary attention to someone’s race or ethnicity can be interpreted as bigotry.” If that is true, the media’s preoccupation with identity politics makes them worse than the KKK.

The AP declares “Music added to AP productions must not have an editorial effect, such as evoking sympathy.” Note to my friends on TV and at NPR: news with sound effects and music, your mainstay product, is commentary, not reporting. So just respect us enough to admit it.

The AP is so brazen as to state, “AP resists being used as a conduit for speech or images that espouse hate or spread propaganda.”

The AP is the conduit for propaganda. If they don’t own up to it and try to change it, they may help re-elect the president they loathe.



Saying that there are only two sexes is the unforgiveable sin

The excellent article on the media above produced a reaction.  Its author was fired.  By firing him, the newspaper confirmed all he said

A columnist at The Denver Post claimed on Friday that he was fired for recognizing only two sexes.

“What seemed to be the last straw for my column was my insistence that there are only two sexes and my frustration that to be inclusive of the transgendered (even that word isn’t allowed) we must lose our right to free speech,” wrote columnist Jon Caldara, the president of a libertarian think tank known as the Independence Institute, in a Facebook post announcing his departure from the paper.

“I don’t care who uses whose bathroom, what you wear, or how you identify. People from this community have rights which we must protect,” Caldara went on, “But to force us to use inaccurate pronouns, to force us to teach our kids that there are more than two sexes, to call what is plainly a man in a dress, well, not a man in a dress violates our right of speech.”

The paper’s editorial editor, Megan Schrader, wrote to the Washington Free Beacon acknowledging Caldara had left the paper, but did not indicate whether he was fired for the reason he claims.

“I am writing a job description as we speak to fill his position,” Schrader said. “I hope that conservative Colorado writers will apply knowing that we value conservative voices on our pages and don’t have a litmus test for their opinions.”

Caldara had published a weekly column for The Denver Post since 2016. The column touched on a variety of conservative and libertarian topics.




FLIMSY CHARGES: McConnell proposes swift impeachment trial with long days (AP)

FINANCIAL AID IN THE CROSSHAIRS: Supreme Court takes up church-state separation in Christian schools case (NBC News)

INDIVIDUAL MANDATE PUNTED: Supreme Court won't rule on ObamaCare before Election Day, declines to fast track (NBC News)

AMBIGUOUS FUNDRAISING NUMBERS: Trump outraises individual Democrats but is behind the pack (The Resurgent)

FOR THE RECORD: Illegal border crossings fall a staggering 90% in Arizona following Trump policy change (The Daily Wire)

AND WHAT DOES SANDERS WANT? Sanders floats "moratorium on 99%" of deportations, demolition of border wall (National Review)

FAILED "REFORMS": Mexico murders rise to record 34,582 in AMLO's first year in office (Bloomberg)

POLICY: Yes, Trump deserves credit on black unemployment (Washington Examiner)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is here 


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Some more interesting comments on Scruton


I asked him what he saw as the role of a conservative thinker in the modern world.

His answer was an almost perfect encapsulation of his approach to politics. “The role of a conservative thinker,” he replied, in his charmingly hesitant manner, “is to reassure the people that their prejudices are true”.

That brilliant Burkeian adage animated the whole of my subsequent career in politics, up to and through the Brexit referendum. These days, of course, “prejudice” has come to mean something like “being nasty to minorities”. But Roger was using the word in its literal sense, to mean prejudging new events on the basis of past experience. He understood that life would be impossible if we approached each new situation from first principles, ignoring what Burke had called “the wisdom of our ancestors”.

Roger was a conservative in the truest sense. He put is faith in the natural, the evolved, the organic. He preferred the tried to the abstract. He understood that we are curators of a vast and growing work, far more complex than any single generation could create on its own. As he was to put it many years later:

“Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation slow, laborious and dull.”

In truth, though, Scruton’s conservatism had no place for hatred. He was, as he would often say, motivated, not by indignation, but by love: love for our institutions, our laws, our nation.

Conservatism, as he saw it, was attitudinal rather than doctrinal. It resided in a series of instincts and manners, not in documents.



The Coming Fall of the Meritocracy

By economic historian, Martin Hutchinson

The last five years have been marked in most Western societies by a populist revolt against the values of a leftist university-educated elite. That elite had appeared invulnerable, and increasingly separated from the rest of us, as Charles Murray described in his 2012 study “Coming Apart.” There are thus two questions to be answered: how did the elite become so cut-off and misguided, and will its rule survive the populist revolt?

The problems of a society dominated, not by inherited status or money, but by an academically-selected intellectual elite were first explored in the British sociologist Michael Young’s 1958 classic “The Rise of the Meritocracy.” Young’s satire accurately forecast many features of today’s intellectual elite-dominated society. He foresaw that children from disadvantaged backgrounds would generally fail the academic tests in their schooldays, and therefore be barred from the meritocratic elite, which would become largely closed and hereditary, though remaining convinced it had achieved its position through superior merit and hard work, not by accident of birth. Murray’s “Coming Apart” confirms the inbred, self-satisfied and self-perpetuating nature of the elite, as Young had predicted.

Young’s book was intended as a biting attack on the society-closing tendencies which he already saw emerging in the Britain of 1958, which he believed quite contrary to the open egalitarianism for which he had fought when writing the election manifesto for Clement Attlee’s 1945-51 Labour government. In later life, Young, by then Lord Young of Dartington, expressed shock that Tony Blair’s Labour government of 1997-2007, which he supported, appeared to welcome the meritocratic society that had arisen, rather than condemning its socially closed and intellectually rigid nature.

Young’s satire took the form of an imaginary PhD thesis written in 2033; we have not yet reached that date, but the last five years are indicating that the reaction to Young’s Meritocracy has already begun. There are several intellectual tenets that the Meritocracy devoutly believes, but which tend to its perpetuation and the enrichment of its members, rather than to the good of society as a whole. These fallacies are increasingly being questioned by electorates, and their overthrow may well result in the demise of the Meritocracy itself.

One devoutly believed fallacy central to the Meritocracy is the importance of university education. This is an essential prop to the Meritocracy’s survival: if university education, and in particular elite university education, ceased to be overwhelmingly important, barriers to entry into the Meritocracy would collapse and their earnings, wealth and social position would be devastated. The Meritocracy’s belief in university education has resulted in a relentless increase in the percentage of young people who attempt four-year college degrees, a relentless increase in the costs of those college degrees (because their perceived importance is increasing, allowing their providers to gold-plate facilities and bloat staffing) and a relentless increase in the pressure on university students to conform to Meritocracy beliefs and values.

The rising cost of college and the increasing diversity of the workforce may be changing this, however. Recent data suggests that there is no longer any wealth premium for college graduation for people born in the 1980s, though earlier cohorts still enjoy such a premium. That is largely a result of the increasing cost of college; the 1980s cohort incurred hugely more college debt than earlier cohorts, and so its progress to financial stability has been correspondingly hampered. As college becomes a less economically rational decision, young people are looking more closely at alternatives, such as vocational training for jobs that often pay considerably better than standard college-graduate jobs, while employers are looking more closely at applicants who acquired their skills outside the college arena.

Technology affects this further. For a diligent, self-motivated student, it is now possible to obtain the knowledge that previously required a college degree through online courses, at far lower cost than a college degree, and without the obnoxious political indoctrination. Conversely, the political indoctrination and “dumbing down” of college courses has now gone so far that a college graduate in many humanities subjects is far less educated and far less ready to contribute usefully to the world than was his grandparent graduating from the same college. The revolt against college education is only just beginning; it has much further to go and there is an enormous shakeout of the college sector to come, devastating existing institutions and further devaluing their economically worthless degrees. The Meritocracy does not know it yet, but college education, the central bastion of its power, is due for serious erosion.

A second core Meritocracy belief is in the superiority of Meritocracy-oriented careers. This results in legislation being passed to ensure that such activities remain highly paid, and that the vulgarities of the free market do not apply to them. For example, whereas any foreign graduate in computer science (not generally a Meritocracy-favored profession) can get a programming job in the United States via an H1B visa, foreign lawyers are much more strictly regulated; they must graduate from a U.S. law school and pass a local bar examination, and there are no H1B visas held open for them. Hence the starting salary of a U.S. graduate lawyer is about three times that of the equivalent computer science graduate.

This belief has also manifested itself in the discussion of how Britain should go about negotiating a trade deal with the EU once the initial Brexit has been achieved – a task that must be completed in a mere 11 months. The “quality” media, dominated and consumed by Meritocrats, are unanimous that the key need is to obtain access to the EU market for British banks, while the “old-fashioned” industry of fishing can easily be sacrificed. Yet politically and economically, such an approach would be madness. The best British banks, the merchant banks, were slaughtered by the Financial Services Act of 1986, and none of the remaining “clearing” banks have shown themselves capable of making decent money in EU domestic markets, in over 30 years of trying. Furthermore, banking income merely makes the overstuffed salons of London even more overstuffed, and its property market even more unaffordable, neither of them significant benefits for Britons as a whole.

Conversely, fishing is a very important British activity, naturally so for an island surrounded by an immense quantity of shallow fish-friendly water. A sensible trade deal would therefore hold rock-solid against any encroachment of foreign fishing boats into British territorial waters, thus enabling the British fishing industry to manage this immensely valuable and sustainable resource in an optimal fashion. It is not insignificant that the most important British fishing centers are in Northern cities like Great Grimsby, captured by the Conservatives in 2019 with a magnificent “swing” of 14.7%. The inhabitants of Great Grimsby are natural Conservatives, but for Boris Johnson’s government they must be nurtured so their new-found Conservative voting becomes a habit. London bankers, on the other hand, Meritocrats and EU Remainers to a man, are often foreign and even if not, vote Liberal Democrat or Labour – the fine old crusted Tories of the merchant banks (Lord Bicester, where are you now that we need you!) having been forced into extinction.

A third area of devout Meritocrat belief is in the desirability of high levels of immigration and the joys of a “diverse” society. The Meritocracy gets all the benefits of immigration — it provides cheap baby-sitters, maids and landscapers – while suffering none of the costs, since most Meritocrat jobs are protected from foreign competition. Diversity is also a positive; Meritocrats get to interact with other well-educated Meritocrats from different cultures, and the restaurant choices available have expanded immeasurably since their childhood. For non-Meritocrats, on the other hand, immigration means more competition for low-wage jobs, higher costs for housing, less availability of schools and medical facilities and a more unpleasant, crime-ridden environment, since the homogenous trusting society of a well-defined local culture breaks down when outsiders enter.

Finally, while Meritocrats often believe in theory in a free market, they find its openness to non-Meritocrats highly unpleasant, and therefore seek ways to control it through regulation. An overriding anxiety such as global warming is ideal for this purpose; it allows the Meritocrats to design regulations for the entire economy and ensure that activity is steered into areas where Meritocrats, being expert in their new regulations, have an excellent chance of success. If a Gosplan central planning system worked at all, they would support it, but a heavily regulated economy with agreed “ESG” societal goals on climate change, corporate governance and social engineering is an excellent second-best for them.

The European Union, therefore, was and is a quintessential Meritocrat project; it adds complex Meritocrat-designed regulations, provides innumerable well-paid jobs requiring advanced degrees, involves mixing with numerous different cultures, and quells the free market in an uncountable number of ways.

Technological change is undermining the Meritocracy’s elite university educations. Democracy is undermining the Meritocracy’s belief in promoting Meritocrat economic activities and in flooding their countries with immigrants. The lack of noticeable global warming will eventually undermine their belief in regulation to prevent climate change (though they may well find another environmentalist shibboleth to replace it). The sheer economic dysfunction of the EU will eventually cause its miserable inhabitants to rebel, as many are already doing. For all these reasons, Meritocracy is therefore doomed.

We should rejoice; Young’s 2033 was a very unattractive dystopia, and the collapse of Meritocracy will lead to greater freedom for all of us, even those lucky enough to be good at passing examinations.



Good News: President Trump to Take on Birth Tourism and Anchor Baby Crisis in America

There are some 33,000 births in the US to foreign nationals each year. Another 39,000 babies are born to foreign students, guest workers and other long-term temporary visa holders. And, an additional 300,000 babies are born to illegal aliens each year in the United States.

According to Axios — President Trump is going to focus on this crisis in the coming weeks. And Democrats will no doubt fight him on this too:

The Trump administration has a new target on the immigration front — pregnant women visiting from other countries — with plans as early as this week to roll out a new rule cracking down on “birth tourism,” three administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has threatened to end birthright citizenship and railed against immigrant “anchor babies.” The new rule would be one of the first tangible steps to test how much legal authority the administration has to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizenship for anyone born in the U.S.

“This change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry,” a State Department official told Axios.
The regulation is also part of the administration’s broader efforts to intensify the vetting process for visas, according to another senior administration official.



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 21, 2020

Trump Signs China Trade Deal, Pausing Sticky Economic Conflict

Note: Trump did NOT start a trade war.  He simply started fighting back

Pact Is a Turning Point in U.S. Trade Policy

President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China on Wednesday, bringing the first chapter of a protracted and economically damaging fight with one of the world’s largest economies to a close.

The pact is intended to open Chinese markets to more American companies, increase farm and energy exports and provide greater protection for American technology and trade secrets. China has committed to buying an additional $200 billion worth of American goods and services by 2021 and is expected to ease some of the tariffs it has placed on American products.

But the agreement preserves the bulk of the tariffs that Mr. Trump has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and it maintains the threat of additional punishment if Beijing does not live up to the terms of the deal. “Today we take a momentous step, one that has never been taken before with China toward a future of fair and reciprocal trade with China,” Mr. Trump said at a ceremony at the White House. “Together we are righting the wrongs of the past.”

The deal caps more than two years of tense negotiations and escalating threats that at times seemed destined to plunge the United States and China into a permanent economic war. Mr. Trump, who campaigned for president in 2016 on a promise to get tough on China, pushed his negotiators to rewrite trade terms that he said had destroyed American industry and jobs, and he imposed record tariffs on Chinese goods in a gamble to get Beijing to accede to his demands.

“As a candidate for president, I vowed strong action,” Mr. Trump said. “Unlike those who came before me, I kept my promise.” The agreement is a significant turning point in American trade policy and the types of free-trade agreements that the United States has typically supported. Rather than lowering tariffs to allow for the flow of goods and services to meet market demand, this deal leaves a record level of tariffs in place and forces China to buy $200 billion worth of specific products within two years.

To Mr. Trump and other supporters, the approach corrects for past trade deals that enabled corporate outsourcing and led to lost jobs and industries. To critics, it is the type of managed trade approach that the United States has long criticized, especially with regard to China and its control over its economy.

While other presidents have tried to change China’s economic approach, Mr. Trump has leaned into it. The agreement stipulates that “China shall ensure” that its purchases meet the $200 billion figure by 2021, all but guaranteeing an export boom as Mr. Trump heads into the 2020 election.

“Although the administration claims it wants to enhance market forces in China, the purchase commitments hailed by the president will only strengthen the role of the state in the economy,” said Daniel Price, a former George W. Bush administration official and the managing director of Rock Creek Global Advisors.

The president’s approach may pay off politically. He will head into a re-election campaign with a commitment from China to strengthen its intellectual-property protections, make large purchases of American products and pursue other economic changes that will benefit American business.

At a lavish White House ceremony crowded with cabinet members, lawmakers and executives from America’s biggest companies, Mr. Trump seized on the signing as a counterweight to impeachment proceedings that were taking place across town, where lawmakers were about to vote to approve House prosecutors for a Senate trial.

“They have a hoax going on over there — let’s take care of it,” he said.

But the agreement has plenty of critics in both parties, who say that Mr. Trump’s tactics have been economically damaging and that the deal leaves many important economic issues unresolved.

Those include cybersecurity and China’s tight controls over how companies handle data and cloud computing. China rejected demands that the text include promises to refrain from hacking American companies, insisting it was not a trade issue.

And the deal does little to resolve more pernicious structural issues surrounding China’s approach, particularly its pattern of subsidizing and supporting crucial industries that compete with American companies, like solar energy and steel. American businesses blame those economic practices for allowing cheap Chinese goods to flood the United States.

“A ceremony at the White House can’t hide the stark truth about the ‘Phase 1’ China trade deal: The deal does absolutely nothing to curtail China’s subsidies to its manufacturers,” Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which includes manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union, said in a tweet. “All those ‘forgotten men and women’ in U.S. factories have, once again, been forgotten.” The administration has said it will address some of these changes in Phase 2 of the negotiations and is keeping tariffs in place in part to maintain leverage for the next round of talks. Mr. Trump said he would remove all tariffs if the two sides reach agreement on the next phase.

“I will agree to take those tariffs off if we’re able to do Phase 2,” he said.

But Mr. Trump has already kicked the deadline for another agreement past the November election, and there is deep skepticism that the two countries will reach another deal anytime soon.

As part of the deal, Mr. Trump agreed to reduce the rate on tariffs imposed in September and forgo additional import taxes in the future.

But the United States will continue to maintain tariffs covering 65 percent of American imports from China, according to tracking by Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics. That leaves the United States with an overall tariff rate higher than that of any other advanced nation, as well as China, India and Turkey.

China will still tax 57 percent of imports from the United States in retaliation, according to Mr. Bown, though it’s possible some of those levies may be waived in the weeks to come.

The two sides did not immediately distribute copies of the agreement in Chinese, raising the question of whether translation issues had been fully resolved and whether the final text would be as demanding of the Beijing government in the Chinese version as in the English version.

“We also need to be sure that the wording of the agreement is the same in both the Chinese and English versions — history has shown that mismatches become easily exploited loopholes,” said Ker Gibbs, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

While updates about the trade war transfixed investors for much of the last two years, the official signing of the deal was greeted with something of a shrug. The S&P 500 rose roughly 0.2 percent.

A gauge of semiconductor companies, which have been particularly sensitive to the trade war, fell more than 1 percent.

The deal came under fire from top Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who criticized the agreement for failing to address China’s stateowned enterprises and industrial subsidies. He suggested that President Xi Jinping of China was privately laughing at the United States and that China has “taken President Trump to the cleaners.” “This Phase 1 deal is an extreme disappointment to me and to millions and millions of Americans who want to see us make China play fair,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Wendy Cutler, a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute who negotiated trade pacts for the Obama administration, called the gains “meaningful, but modest.” “Because the United States was willing to compromise with China and not press them on the most difficult issues, they were able to reach positive ground,” she said.

The trade deal contains a variety of victories for American industry, including opening up markets for biotechnology, beef and poultry.

Banks, insurers, drug companies and the energy industry are also big beneficiaries.

China has also agreed not to force American companies to hand over their technology as a condition of doing business there, under penalty of further tariffs.

And it will refrain from directing its companies to obtain sensitive foreign technology through acquisitions.

The agreement also includes a pledge by both countries not to devalue their currencies to gain an advantage in export markets.

The president trumpeted many of China’s concessions during the signing ceremony, singling out audience members who will benefit.

He called out a litany of Wall Street executives, many of whom have been pressing for greater access to China’s financial services market, including Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group and Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Citadel. He also mentioned the chiefs of Boeing, Citibank, Visa and the American International Group, and the chip makers Micron and Qualcomm.

Referring to the energy purchases in the agreement, Mr. Trump told Senator Joni Ernst, the Iowa Republican, who was in attendance: “You got ethanol, so you can’t be complaining.” But those victories have come at a heavy price. The uncertainty created by Mr. Trump’s tariff threats and approach to trade has weighed on the economy, raising prices for businesses and consumers, delaying corporate investments and slowing growth around the globe. Businesses with exposure to China, like Deere & Company and Caterpillar, have laid off some workers and lowered revenue expectations, in part citing the trade war.

And other sources of tension remain in the United States-China relationship. The Trump administration has taken a tougher approach to scrutinizing Chinese investments and technology purchases for national security threats, including blacklisting Chinese companies like Huawei, the telecom firm.

“I think it’s maybe a useful pause in the downward spiral of U.S.-China relations,” Susan Shirk, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, said of the trade deal.



Bernie Supporters Plan to Boycott Election if Biden Is Nominee

What a great idea!

Bernie Sanders supporters are known for their steadfast loyalty to the socialist Vermont Senator, and some are promising to sit at home on Election Day if Joe Biden becomes the party’s nominee. These supporters warn that nominating another establishment candidate will ensure Trump’s reelection because they’ll sit it out.

Sanders’ supporters feel he “isn't getting his due though he's proven to have staying power in public opinion and fundraising, even after suffering a heart attack last October,” reports the Washington Examiner. “As of last week, he leads a tight four-horse race in Iowa ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 3, raising a record figure of $34.5 million in the final financial quarter of 2019 for a total of $96 million.” Despite his strengths in the primary, they feel he’s being ignored and underestimated, and the possibility of nominating a socialist-lite candidate, they say, will dampen the enthusiasm of the grassroots.

More HERE 


Even without Jeremy Corbyn, The British Labour party are doomed – for this very simple reason

Crazy Leftists in Britain too

Soon enough, Jeremy Corbyn will be Labour leader no more. But this doesn’t automatically mean the party’s prospects will improve. Because, for all his many faults, Labour’s biggest problem isn’t Mr Corbyn.

It’s his supporters.

The supporters who put him there, and kept him there, and will choose his replacement. They’re the problem. In Tim Shipman’s book All Out War, published in 2016, there’s a quote from a despairing Labour MP who wisely requested to remain anonymous. “There are always going to be 500,000 people in this country who are off-the-page nuts,” the MP sighed. “The problem we’ve got is that they have all joined the Labour party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.”

Thanks to that mass pro-Corbyn influx in the summer of 2015, Labour has a bigger membership than any other party in Europe. But that isn’t a strength. It’s a weakness. Because those pro-Corbyn members have so little in common with the wider electorate. Which means it’s become near-impossible for Labour to appeal to both. Try to win over the one, and immediately alienate the other.

So the party’s stuck. Stuck in the clutches of people who seem to spend more time attacking the last Labour government than attacking the current Conservative one. Increasingly it’s not even clear that they want Labour to form a government at all. Many of them instead obsess about forming “a mass movement”, whatever that means. If they actually wanted to achieve anything, there’s only one mass movement they’d care about. The mass movement of voters from Labour to the Tories, as seen on December 12.

Even though their idol is stepping down, the Corbynistas are unlikely to become any less fanatical. This week Momentum, the official Corbyn fan club, asked its members which leadership candidate they wished to endorse. Well, I say “asked”. The online ballot form featured only one name: that of Mr Corbyn’s close ally, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Many of Mr Corbyn’s supporters probably don’t even think he should go. Before the election I covered a Labour rally in Northampton. A journalist from the Guardian asked Mr Corbyn, “If you lose the election, will you resign?”

The response from his supporters was immediate. “Why should he?” they blurted, in scandalised bewilderment. “Why should he?”

Obviously none of the leadership contenders can afford to say it, but Labour won’t get anywhere near office again until it rids itself of the Corbynistas. The quickest way to achieve this would be to make Jess Phillips leader. Most Corbynistas hate her so much that they would quit the party on the spot in disgust.

But, of course, she hasn’t a hope of becoming leader. Because the Corbynistas are still there to stop her.



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 20, 2020

Americans More Conservative as Democrats Turn Hard Left

The latest edition of Gallup’s annual survey of ideological and political leanings of the American people provides some interesting insights as we approach the 2020 elections.

According to the poll’s summary, “As Americans continued to lean more Democratic than Republican in their party preferences in 2019, the ideological balance of the country remained center-right, with 37% of Americans, on average, identifying as conservative during the year, 35% as moderate and 24% as liberal.”

This represents a 2% increase since 2018 of self-described conservatives and a 2% decrease in the number of self-described liberals. The number of moderates stayed the same.

That may seem a small fluctuation, but it’s a notable one. Nearly three-quarters of Americans identify as conservative or moderate, while less than one-quarter call themselves liberal at a time when half the Democrat Party identifies as liberal.

The Wall Street Journal notes that a major political trend of the past generation is the increasing number of Americans who identify as liberal (17% in 1992, rising to a peak of 26% in 2017, dropping to 24% in 2019). This led to predictions of an “emerging Democratic majority” made up of minority, young, and affluent white liberal voters. In fact, when Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, Democrat strategist and Bill Clinton ally James Carville declared Democrats would rule for the next 40 years.

Two years later Republicans enjoyed a historic wave election, winning back the House, and taking control of the Senate four years later.

One increasingly important factor in the political landscape is that while there has been a small decrease in the number of Americans who identify as liberal, the Democrat Party has, with remarkable speed, transitioned from a liberal party to a hard-left party.

No longer content to be a party of a Big Government “safety net,” the modern Democrat Party now embraces full-blown socialism, in principle if not always in name. Its leading voices demand nationalized healthcare under Medicare for All, “free” college tuition and other giveaways, and then ever-more-burdensome taxes on the productive classes to pay for it. This includes repeal of the 2017 Republican tax cuts that ignited the economy and spurred on historic lows in unemployment.

No longer a party that subscribes to the principle that “I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it,” the Democrat Party today seeks to silence opposing viewpoints through public shaming, doxxing, mob demonstrations, and even violence.

Where just eight years ago the Democrat Party claimed to want “tolerance” when it came to things like same-sex marriage, today it demands people of faith to abandon their religious beliefs and principles and bow before the altar of political correctness. All who refuse to submit to the demands of the Rainbow Mafia find themselves publicly attacked and the subject of lawsuits that destroy the businesses they have spent decades building.

Today’s Democrat Party seeks the complete destruction of traditional values. Leftists deny biological reality, embracing the lunacy of transgenderism (Gender Identity Disorder). They ridiculously claim that sexual behavior (i.e., hetero-, homo-, and bisexuality, etc.) is genetically determined but sexual identity (male, female) is based on personal feelings.

The Democrat Party also seems to reflexively side with the worst of humanity. That runs the gamut from creating “sanctuary cities” for illegal-alien criminals to siding with the leadership of the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, and condemning President Donald Trump for killing Qasem Soleimani, the terrorist mastermind responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American military personnel overseas.

Despite three years of almost universally negative coverage by the media, endless accusations that Donald Trump is “literally Hitler” and a pawn of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the successful completion of a circus sideshow impeachment effort (that will be exposed in the Senate for the fraud that it is), Democrats are utterly distraught that major election models predict a Trump reelection in November.

Unemployment is at historic lows, we have a new stock market record high seemingly every week, and median income is up $4,000 in three years. We also now have a president who kills our enemies rather than sending them planeloads of cash in the middle of the night. And yet the leading Democrat candidates for president range from solid progressive to radical left wing.

Democrats have no one but themselves to blame when they lose. They completely misjudged the American people. They thought we would embrace their anti-American, anti-business, anti-religion, anti-biology, pro-criminal, pro-terrorist agenda.

They were wrong.



‘Never Trump’ Revisited

A pundit examines his predictions in retrospect

David Harsanyi

One of the most irritating things about being a professional pundit is having random strangers hold you accountable for every column, tweet, and post you’ve ever written. Needless to say, I’ve accumulated plenty of bad takes over the past 20 years. An industrious critic with lots of time on his hands could, no doubt, rifle through millions of my words and unearth a number of contradictions.

These days, a popular way that Trump critics try to embarrass former “Never Trumpers” such as I is to point out that we’ve failed to embrace an appropriately adversarial attitude toward the presidency of Donald Trump. There’s an expectation—often, a demand—that “movement conservatives” be all in or all out on the Donald Trump presidency. Why aren’t we “against Trump” anymore, they wonder?

With the 2020 election season approaching, I figured it was time to revisit the numerous critical pieces I penned about Trump during his first campaign and take inventory of my alleged moral failings. As it turns out, I’ve remained consistent in my basic political beliefs. I wish I could say the same of my critics.

At the time, I harbored three major trepidations about a Trump presidency: The first concerned Trump’s political malleability—perhaps a better way to put it would be that I feared he lacked political convictions. I was convinced that Trump wouldn’t govern like a conservative, either ideologically or temperamentally. I was skeptical that he would uphold his promises to appoint originalist judges, exit the Iran deal, cut regulations, defend religious liberty, and overturn his predecessor’s unconstitu tional executive decisions—and that he would do much of anything I regarded as useful.

I was convinced that the billionaire would govern like a latter-day FDR, which, let’s face it, might well be what many Republican voters were really looking for all along.

On this question, I was largely, although not completely, wrong. Trump, certainly a big spender, has failed conservatism in much the same way that Republican presidents typically fail conservatism, with a complete disregard for debt. Though in some surprising ways—his steadfast support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh even in the face of massive media pressure, or his insistence on moving the American embassy to Jerusalem in the face of foreign-policy groupthink—Trump’s obstinacy seems to have made him less susceptible to the pressures that traditionally induce GOP presidents to capitulate.

Through much chaos and incompetence and numerous self-inflicted wounds, Trump’s policy record is turning out to be a mixed bag: more moderate than his opponents contend, less effectual than his supporters imagine, and definitely more traditionally conservative than I predicted. I’m happy to have been wrong.

Granted, for me, a less energetic Washington is a blessing. Contemporary American political life features a series of unbridgeable divisions. Gridlock on a national level is a reflection of our intractable political differences. Frustrating as it may be, the system is working as it should. The nation is too big, too diverse, and too divided for the kind of centralized and efficient federal governance that many seek.

Whether we like to admit it or not, many of the most significant political victories of modern conservatism have been achieved by simply getting in the way. Trump, certainly, has been an obnoxiously effective impediment to an increasingly radicalized Democratic party. In the meantime, he has also taken a cultural rearguard action by helping fill the courts with constitutionalists.

Trump antagonists will dismiss this as a “but Gorsuch” argument. But ensuring that the judicial branch serves its purpose as a bulwark against government overreach—rather than being an unaccountable enabler of it—is nothing to sneer at. It’s a strategy that conservatives have long supported, and I don’t see why Trump should lead them to abandon that position.

“Aha!” critics will also say, “you’re willing to overlook all of Trump’s behavior in exchange for long-term ideological victory.” Absolutely! There are limits to everything, of course, but if the choice, as many voters rightly see it, is between a group that wants a nationalized health-care system to pay for abortion in the ninth month of pregnancy and one that doesn’t, it’s not a difficult one to make.

My second concern about Trump revolved around fears that his administration would mainstream protectionist trade policy and anti-market populism, already a staple of the progressive Left.

This change, sadly, has happened.

Perhaps Trump’s rhetoric on trade is merely a reflection of the growing grievances of many voters. Either way, trade wars are still raging, and highprofile conservatives such as Marco Rubio and Tucker Carlson feel perfectly comfortable railing against the market economy. The debate over capitalism within the conservative movement has only just started.

My third big fear was that Trump’s boorish and impulsive behavior would undermine his presidency. On this, the president hasn’t failed me, acting with all the grace, civility, and humility I expected.

While civility is an imperative in a decent society, we can’t ignore that Trump’s coarseness has also helped reveal the liberal establishment’s incivility and disdain for anyone who refuses to adopt its cultural mores. I’m sorry, I have a hard time taking etiquette lessons from people who can’t raise any ire over the Virginia governor’s casual description of euthanizing infants but act as if every Trump tweet should trigger his removal from office through the 25th Amendment.

So while I don’t like Trump any better today than I did when writing those critical pieces, I do live in the world that exists, not the one I wish existed. And that world has changed. What I didn’t foresee when writing about Trump’s candidacy was the American Left’s extraordinary four-year descent into insanity.

My own political disposition during the past four years has hardened into something approaching universal contempt. When I defend the president—as far as I do—it is typically in reaction to some toxic hysteria or the attacks on constitutional order that Democrats now regularly make in their efforts to supposedly save the nation from Donald Trump—whether they’re calling for the end of the Electoral College or for packing the Supreme Court, or they’re embracing shifting “norms” that are wholly tethered to a single overriding principle: get Trump.

Recently, for example, New Yorker editor David Remnick, the kind of high-minded, sane person we’re expected to take seriously, argued that removing President Trump from office was not merely a political imperative but a necessity for the “future of the Earth.” Four years ago, we might have found such a panicstricken warning absurd. Today, such apocalyptic rhetoric is the norm in media and academia.

As the Democrats’ allies in the media stumble from one frenzy to the next, it has become increasingly difficult to believe any of it is really precipitated by genuine concern over Russian interference or improper calls with a Ukrainian president or dishonesty or rudeness. The president has become a convenient straw man for all the political anxieties on the left, which have manifested in an unhealthy obsession and antagonism toward the constitutional system that allowed Trump to win.

Many of us would prefer a more articulate and chaste classical liberal as our president. I don’t have any special fondness for Trump, either, but I also don’t hold any special antagonism for him. Political support is a transactional arrangement, not a religious oath, and Trump has done much to like. I support policies, not people. If Trump protects the constitutional order, he deserves to be praised for it. If not, he doesn’t. But the notion of some Trump critics that conservatives have a moral duty to uniformly oppose the president for the sake of principle or patriotism—or because they once opposed him during a GOP primary—is plainly silly.



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 19, 2020

Conservatism = patriotism?

The late great English political philosopher Roger Scruton seems to have thought that patriotism is in fact the origin of conservatism.  There are many passages in his writings where he might as well be talking about patriotism when he is trying to define conservatism. 

I think the close alliance between conservatism and patriotism is an important insight.  Leftists often seem to be unpatriotic and if Scruton is right they HAVE to be unpatriotic.  The relationship between conservatism and patriotism is organic.  They are not two branches of the same tree.  They are one single tree.

I won't try to do a scour through his writings in order to demonstrate that but I do give below some passages from an article in the WSJ that he wrote in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks

It is a tautology to say that a conservative is a person who wants to conserve things; the question is what things? To this I think we can give a simple one-word answer, namely: us. At the heart of every conservative endeavor is the effort to conserve a historically given community. In any conflict the conservative is the one who sides with "us" against "them"--not knowing, but trusting. He is the one who looks for the good in the institutions, customs and habits that he has inherited. He is the one who seeks to defend and perpetuate an instinctive sense of loyalty, and who is therefore suspicious of experiments and innovations that put loyalty at risk.

Sept. 11 raised the question: Who are we, that they should attack us, and what justifies our existence as a "we"? American conservatism is an answer to that question. "We the people," it says, constitute a nation, settled in a common territory under a common rule of law, bound by a single Constitution and a common language and culture. Our primary loyalty is to this nation, and to the secular and territorially based jurisdiction that makes it possible for our nation to endure. Our national loyalty is inclusive, and can be extended to newcomers, but only if they assume the duties and responsibilities, as well as the rights, of citizenship. And it is reinforced by customs and habits that have their origin in the Judeo-Christian inheritance, and which must be constantly refreshed from that source if they are to endure.

In the modern context, the American conservative is an opponent of "multiculturalism," and of the liberal attempt to sever the Constitution from the religious and cultural inheritance that first created it.

For the conservative temperament the future is the past. Hence, like the past, it is knowable and lovable. It follows that by studying the past of America--its traditions of enterprise, risk-taking, fortitude, piety and responsible citizenship--you can derive the best case for its future: a future in which the national loyalty will endure, holding things together, and providing all of us, liberals included, with our required sources of hope.

Sept. 11 was a wake-up call through which liberals have managed to go on dreaming. American conservatives ought to seize the opportunity to utter those difficult truths which have been censored out of recent debate: truths about national loyalty, about common culture and about the duties of citizenship. You never know, Middle America might actually recognize itself at last, when addressed in this way.


Scruton was also spot-on here

"The Left is united by hatred, but we are united by love: love of our country, love of institutions, love of the law, love of family, and so on... what makes us conservatives is the desire to protect those things, and we're up against people who want to destroy them."

There are also some good quotes from here in which we see his conception of a close interrelationship between patriotism and conservatism

So do I agree with Scruton?  I think I do. I have long seen hate and anger as the wellspring of Leftism and that seems inimical to love of country.

My previous comments on Scruton are here and here

I must stress in closing that we are talking here about the wellsprings of conservatism rather than day to day political issues.  Patriots can and do have different opinions about current issues.  There are even some gullible conservatives who think anthropogenic global warming is a thing


NAFTA no more as President Trump wins USMCA passage in Senate, keeps signature campaign promise to put America first on trade

A little more than a year after President Donald Trump promised to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if Congress did not adopt the USMCA — on Dec. 1, 2018, he said, “I’ll be terminating it within a relatively short period of time.  We get rid of NAFTA.  It’s been a disaster for the United States… And so Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well…” — on Jan. 16, the Senate has overwhelmingly adopted the USMCA 89 to 10.

Senate passage came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) finally relented and allowed the trade deal to come up on the House floor, followed shortly thereafter by easy House passage 385 to 41 on Dec. 19, 2019.

Pending Canadian ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal, NAFTA is all but a memory.

None of this is surprising. President Trump won the Republican nomination and then ultimately the election in 2016 in the Rust Belt particularly on the political strength of his trade agenda, uniting conservative and union households and savaging Hillary Clinton as pro-NAFTA.

Now, Trump’s success in reshaping American politics around trade has now been confirmed by the massive bipartisan support for the USMCA.

Key bellwethers on the Democratic side came with pro-union Democrats including U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) all supporting passage. Both Democratic Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters voted for it. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) stands out as an exception as voting no, but then again, he’s running for President. But so is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and she supported it.

That tells you everything you need to know right there.

The blue-collar Democrat voters who supported President Donald Trump in 2016 and put him over the top ended up supporting the Trump trade agenda, making passage of the USMCA a political certainty even as Democrats in Congress were itching to impeach Trump and get the Senate trial underway. For those Democrats, there was greater political risk in going against Trump on trade than anything else.

To get the trade agreement done, Trump effectively threatened tariffs on Mexico plus withdrawal from NAFTA to bring all parties to the table, hammered out a deal and got it safely across the finish line — all in time for 2020.

And, as President Trump promised, the deal moves the ball in the America first direction.

Country of origin requirements are being increased to 75 percent, up from 62.5 percent, requiring automobiles will have at least three-quarters of their parts made in North America.

Mexico will recognize the right of collective bargaining and all parties agreed that “40-45 percent of auto content be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour,” according to the U.S. Trade Representative. In 2016, average pay in Mexico for manufacturing was $3.91 an hour. In 2017, the Associated Press ran a report entitled “In Mexico, $2 per hour workers make $40,000 SUVs.” This is a tremendous concession, and most certainly an improvement on NAFTA from a U.S. producer perspective.

On agriculture, Canada is allowing in greater access for U.S. dairy products.

On currency, the USMCA “address[es] unfair currency practices by requiring high-standard commitments to refrain from competitive devaluations and targeting exchange rates, while significantly increasing transparency and providing mechanisms for accountability,” according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

Since 2008, the Mexican peso has depreciated against the U.S. dollar by 50 percent, from $0.10 per $1 USD to $0.05 per $1 USD. The new provision will give aggrieved parties an opportunity to target currency devaluation as an unfair trade practices, something that could set a new gold standard for trade agreements. This mirrors provisions in the newly signed executive, phase one trade deal with China, as gaining these provisions in USMCA is what enabled U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to extract them from Beijing as well.

On intellectual property, cross-border copyrights, trademarks and patents will be enforceable to cut back on knock-offs, plus additional protections for pharmaceutical and agricultural producers.

On financial services, U.S. financial services will be allowed to compete with local financial services in Canada and Mexico, getting most-favored nation treatment.

On textiles, the agreement will “[p]romote greater use of Made-in-the-USA fibers, yarns, and fabrics by: [l]imiting rules that allow for some use of non-NAFTA inputs in textile and apparel trade… [and by] [r]equiring that sewing thread, pocketing fabric, narrow elastic bands, and coated fabric, when incorporated in most apparel and other finished products, be made in the region for those finished products to qualify for trade benefits,” according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning welcomed news of USMCA’s passage, declaring, “President Donald Trump kept his promise and ended the giant sucking sound that was NAFTA. The overwhelming Senate passage of Trump’s signature trade deal is an affirmation that a President who is determined to put America’s interests first can rewrite the rules for international trade.”

And all the so-called experts, the same ones who predicted Trump couldn’t win in 2016, said that such agreements with Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea were impossible to negotiate because Trump was threatening to use tariffs, that instead we’d have trade wars and recessions or depressions.

Boy, was that wrong. Instead, Trump levied the tariffs, the trade in goods deficit with China was cut by 13 percent in 2019 and everyone came to the table. It’s the year of the trade deal.

Now all the agreements are in the bag, unemployment is at a 50-year low and U.S. labor participation among working age adults is on the rise. The economy is humming, and USMCA will only help it grow even more as it boosts U.S. exports.

Meaning, President Trump was right all along on trade. His art of the deal to use U.S. leverage in the trade negotiations paid off big time and now the victories are mounting with USMCA and the China deal — all in time for 2020. Watch for trade to continue to dominate the landscape this election year as it reshapes American politics yet again and tells us whether 2016 and President Trump was a fluke — or the future.




HARDLY IMPARTIAL: Nearly all of Pelosi's impeachment managers supported impeachment before whistleblower complaint was filed (The Daily Caller)

BUREAUCRATIC BATTLE: Federal watchdog finds OMB violated law by withholding Ukraine aid — conveniently timed for the beginning of the Senate impeachment trial today. (Axios)

JUDICIAL OBSTRUCTION: Judge blocks Trump order that lets states, cities reject refugees (United Press International)

AND YET LIFE CONTINUES: The last decade was the warmest on record, NASA and NOAA find (NBC News)

"CREDIBLE THREATS," OR CONSTITUTIONAL END-RUN? Northam declares state of emergency, Capitol weapon ban ahead of gun-rights rally (Associated Press)

STRENGTHENING HIS IRON FIST: All senior Russian officials resign as Putin announces reforms that would weaken his successor (National Review)

POLICY: Today is Religious Freedom Day: Why America must recommit to religious freedom (The Daily Signal)

POLICY: Counter Iran with an independent Kurdistan (Washington Examiner)

TRUMP DEFENSE: Trump impeachment defense team will include Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr and Democrat constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz (CNBC)

AND YET THE TIMES SUGGESTS THE TIMING IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: Justice Department investigating years-old leaks and appears focused on James Comey (The New York Times)

FOR THE RECORD: No evidence ties Trump to troubling surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch (Washington Examiner)

MARITAL FRAUD: Investigators with ICE, FBI reviewing criminal allegations against Ilhan Omar (The Daily Wire)

NOT COMPLETELY UNSCATHED: Eleven U.S. troops were injured in January 8 Iran missile strike (Defense One)

RECIPROCATION: Army may send missile-defense systems to Middle East to counter future Iran strikes (

AN ASSAULT ON COMMON SENSE: Thirteen states, DC, and New York City sue Trump administration over food-stamp work requirements (National Review)

RAINBOW MAFIA: Media label Tennessee religious liberty bill as "anti-gay" (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: Why it's not simple to just raise the corporate income tax (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.

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