Friday, January 31, 2020

The Deal of the Century

Gary Bauer
I just returned from a historic event in the East Room of the White House where President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a new peace plan.

The room was electric, filled with Christian and Jewish leaders, as well as key administration officials who worked on the plan, including Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Ambassador David Friedman.

There were also several ambassadors from Arab nations in the audience, a hopeful sign that others in the region are eager to work with Israel and the United States to advance peace in the Middle East.

The president received more than a dozen standing ovations, and Prime Minister Netanyahu received nearly as many as they outlined their vision for lasting peace. This is not a “pie in the sky” deal. Nor does it force Israel to do anything that will hurt its security. Here are some of the key elements of the Trump plan:

Jerusalem remains the undivided capital of Israel. This is essential from Israel’s stand point, and something that Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel and I worked very hard to guarantee.

The Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

Hamas must be disarmed, and the Palestinians must reject terrorism.

The so-called “refugee problem” will be settled outside the boundaries of Israel.

Israel will suspend construction in disputed territories for four years to give both sides time to implement various aspects of the deal.

The president pledged $50 billion of investment to provide hope and economic opportunity to the Palestinian people.

Trump spoke directly to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying, “If you choose the path of peace, America will be there to help you every step of the way.”

Netanyahu praised Trump as “the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House.” He hailed the Trump peace plan as “a realistic path to a durable peace,” that recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and other strategic areas of Judea and Samaria.

The prime minister vowed, “If the Palestinians are genuinely prepared to make peace with the Jewish state … Israel will be prepared to negotiate peace right away."

The Real Problem

Almost every American president and Israeli prime minister has tried and failed to negotiate a lasting peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. The problem is not Israel or the United States.

The real obstacle to peace is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others to recognize the right of Israel to exist at all. Their so-called "leaders” have rejected every peace deal ever offered to them. They have to want peace with Israel.

As I noted above, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed the hope that the Palestinian leadership would not be stupid and reject this deal out of hand. Unfortunately, Mahmoud Abbas has already done just that.

Another major problem is that the Palestinian people are themselves divided between Abbas and his Fatah Party in the West Bank and Hamas, which rules Gaza. It’s not at all clear who speaks for the Palestinian people.

The 84-year-old Abbas is now in the 15th year of his four-year term of office and is expected to step down sometime this year. Polls show that Hamas, a terrorist organization funded by Iran and dedicated to Israel’s destruction, could easily prevail in a new election.

How do you compromise with an opponent who wants you dead? Nonetheless, Prime Minister Netanyahu has once again joined with President Trump to try to find a way forward.



Hispanic Vote May Be Key to Trump Victory

A decade ago, political talkingheads were claiming that “demography is destiny.” A political neophyte named Barack Obama had won the presidency, the first black man to do so. Longtime Clinton friend and Democrat campaign strategist James Carville famously prophesied an age of Democrat dominance, even writing a book entitled 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.

And who could doubt him? The Democrat juggernaut — a coalition of black, Hispanic, women, and liberal white voters — looked unstoppable.

Then the Democrats, thanks to the Tea Party revolution, suffered historic losses in the 2010 midterms and again in 2014. And then, in what is arguably the biggest upset in American political history, Donald Trump defeated the powerful Clinton political machine and won the presidency.

But Democrats are banking on that being an anomaly — not to mention a side effect of an unfair and “racist” Electoral College. After all, if demography is destiny, then destiny is on their side. The share of the white vote has been steadily shrinking, replaced primarily by a growing Hispanic vote. As the Hispanic population grows, Republicans will be ushered into political obscurity.

Or will they?

A recent article in The Atlantic argues that Democrats should not assume that they will continue to dominate the Hispanic vote. Moreover, viewing Hispanics as a monolithic voting bloc and focusing only on the immigration issue is an enormous mistake.

The article notes that the first “warning sign” of the year came in the first week of January, in the form of a rally at the King Jesus International Ministry in Miami, where 5,000 Christian Trump supporters gathered to hear and cheer their president.

Huge rallies with Trump supporters, including Christians, are not unusual these days. So why was this one notable? Because King Jesus is home to the largest Hispanic evangelical congregation in America.

During the rally, President Trump declared, “The day I was sworn in, the federal government war’s on religion came to an abrupt end.” He also warned, “A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith can not endure.”

And this, says Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, is what Democrats are overlooking.

By assuming Hispanics will always vote Democrat and are driven primarily by immigration, Democrats are making little effort to understand the other issues that are important to Hispanic voters. Those include good jobs, a decent education for their children, the rising cost of college, affordable housing for their families, etc.

They also overlook that Hispanics, who are heavily Catholic, may not be fully on board with the agenda of a Democrat Party that has veered far left on issues like abortion, marriage, and gender itself.

When several candidates began speaking Spanish at a Democrat presidential primary debate, they were accused of “Hispandering,” speaking Spanish as a cheap way to ingratiate themselves to a voting bloc, similar to Hillary’s cringe-worthy display at a black church in Selma, Alabama, on the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, screeching, “I don’t feel no ways tired…” in a horribly affected black accent, quoting lines from a Negro spiritual.

When it becomes obvious that Democrats are taking the Hispanic vote for granted, it opens the door for Republicans to get their message through.

According to Garcia, “Latino conservatives in Florida and in Texas, by the way, are amenable to the Republican message and are willing to forgive Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric to a certain extent. … That’s a small minority. But, you know, the difference between 20 and 30 percent could mean the difference of winning Texas or Florida or losing them.”

Setting aside the fact that Trump is not anti-immigrant (he has long praised legal immigration) or anti-Latino (he has often praised the work ethic and family strength of Latinos), Garcia has a point.

In 2016, Trump won 29% of the Hispanic vote, and in 2018, 32% of Hispanics voted for Republicans nationwide. And in states Democrats are hoping to flip, 2020 results may surprise many people.

In Georgia, the Hispanic vote more than doubled between 2014 and 2018, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp of Georgia made an impressive showing (39%) among Hispanic voters in 2018. Greg Abbott of Texas (42%) did even better. Right now, President Trump is polling around 32% with Hispanics.

With a third of Hispanics supporting a border wall, and Hispanic unemployment at an all-time low, President Trump may see an even bigger surge among Hispanic voters.

The Atlantic reports that many Latino leaders are very unhappy with the poor level of outreach they see from Democrat candidates, as well as poor campaign strategy. One of the political organizers referred to the anemic Democrat effort as a “master class” in “political malpractice.” Many Hispanics are feeling unappreciated and neglected by Democrats.

This could spell huge trouble for the Democrats in the November elections.

Several major polls in recent months show Trump’s approval rating among black voters surging to 30% or higher (Trump got just 8% of the black vote in 2016), likely as a result of record-low black unemployment, criminal-justice reform, and record funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

If Republicans can hold firm or increase its percentage of the Hispanic vote, while doubling or tripling their percentage of the black vote, the 2020 elections may be even more of a shocking, crushing defeat for Democrats than 2016.




"IT WAS ONLY TO SELL A BOOK": John Bolton's manuscript leaks as memoir preorders begin on Amazon; Trump fires back (Fox News)

MIDEAST TURBULENCE: Three rockets hit U.S. embassy in protest-hit Iraqi capital (AFP)

TOPSY-TURVY: Trump soars to highest job-approval rating of presidency despite impeachment trial (The Daily Wire)

MEANWHILE... For all the gravity of a presidential impeachment trial, Americans don't seem to be giving it much weight (AP)

TARGETING ORIGINALISTS: The ethical advisory arm of the federal judiciary is circulating a draft rule that would ban judges and their clerks from belonging to the Federalist Society (RealClearPolitics)

WHAT'S NEXT — THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE? Michelle Obama wins Grammy award — for reading her own book (PJ Media)

AND NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON: Little Sisters of the Poor get a shot at the Supreme Court (Washington Examiner)

TWO CAN PLAY THIS GAME: Oklahoma bans state travel to California in tit for tat over LGBT laws (National Review)

POLICY: March for Life was also a model of intersectionality (Washington Examiner)

COMMUNIST MILITANCY: Sanders campaign rocked again: More staff caught advocating violence against opponents (The Daily Wire)

THE GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY: U.S. budget deficit to top $1 trillion in 2020 despite strong economy, CBO says (Reuters)

GOVERNMENT ISN'T THE SOLUTION: Healthcare access has declined in past two decade despite ObamaCare (Washington Examiner)

VILLAGE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM, PART I: Public schools are teaching The 1619 Project in class despite concerns from historians (Reason)

VILLAGE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM, PART II: Minnesota college helps "white students only" deal with "the nasty little racist inside them" (Campus Reform)

VILLAGE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM, PART III: How Drag Queen Story Hour indoctrination expanded across America (The Daily Caller)

POLICY: How the U.S. should respond to Britain's Huawei 5G decision (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: Trump's peace plan is a rejection of Obama's anti-Israel pivot (The Federalist)


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 30, 2020

Supreme Court allows Trump’s immigration rule on public benefits to take effect

A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to put in place a policy connecting the use of public benefits with whether immigrants could become permanent residents.

The new policy can be used to deny green cards to immigrants over their use of public benefits including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers, as well as other factors.

The justices’ order came by a 5-4 vote and reversed a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that had kept in a place a nationwide hold on the policy following lawsuits that have been filed against it.

The court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, would have prevented the policy from taking effect.

Federal appeals courts in San Francisco and Richmond, Va., had previously overturned trial court rulings against the policy. An injunction in Illinois remains in effect, but applies only to that state.

The lawsuits will continue, but immigrants applying for permanent residency must now show they wouldn’t be public charges, or burdens to the country.

The new policy significantly expands what factors would be considered to make that determination, and if it is decided that immigrants could become public charges at any point in the future, that legal residency could be denied.

Roughly 544,000 people apply for green cards annually. According to the government, 382,000 are in categories that would make them subject to the new review.

Immigrants make up a small portion of those getting public benefits, since many are ineligible to get them because of their immigration status.

In a separate opinion, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch urged his colleagues to confront the “real problem” of so-called nationwide injunctions, orders issued by a single judge that apply everywhere. In this case, even though the administration won rulings in two different appellate courts covering 14 states, its policy could not take effect.

“What in this gamesmanship and chaos can we be proud of?” Gorsuch wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas



Leftists Aim to Bar the Federalist Society

Never content to let the flow of modern politics take its natural course, leftists have devised a new way to stymy the progress President Donald Trump has made in appointing strict constructionists to the federal bench. Elections matter.

The Committee on Codes of Conduct of the U.S. Judicial Conference recently released a proposal to prohibit judges from belonging to the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 by a group of conservatives and libertarians dedicated to preserving the legal order of the nation by promoting, among other things, an originalist view of the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the concept that the role of judges is to say what the law is, not what some enlightened bench occupant thinks it should be. As you might imagine, leftists absolutely loathe this organization.

In Trump’s three years in office, nearly 200 federal judges have been confirmed, a remarkable achievement that may stand as one of the president’s greatest successes. This work has prevented the Left from populating our court system with judges who legislate from the bench and push a tyrannical agenda.

The Conduct Committee, which performs as the ethical advisory board of the federal judiciary, intends to ban judges from joining the Federalist Society or the American Constitution Society. In its draft proposal, the Conduct Committee states: “Official affiliation with either organization could convey to a reasonable person that the affiliated judge endorses the views and particular ideological perspectives advocated by the organization; call into question the affiliated judge’s impartiality on subjects as to which the organization has taken a position; and generally frustrate the public’s trust in the integrity and independence of the judiciary.”

The American Constitution Society (ACS) was created as the leftist answer to the Federalist Society, and it’s included as part of the Conduct Committee’s plan solely as a means of projecting an appearance of fairness. Don’t be fooled.

The ACS is but one of many organizations that lean left and hold sway in America’s judicial system. And it is hardly the most influential. A vast majority, nearly all, of the nation’s law schools are populated with leftist professors who promote a predictably left-of-center view to their students. Leftists also hold political sway over the American Bar Association. ABA routinely writes amicus briefs in court cases, nearly always on the left side of an argument. It also has a government-affairs office that spent $860,000 on lobbying just last year. These are two activities that the Federalist Society as a rule does not engage in. Yet, ABA doesn’t even show up on the Conduct Committee’s radar, and the Federalist Society is squarely in its crosshairs.

Ed Whalen, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and longtime Federalist Society member, told RealClearPolitics, “In short, the ABA has a consistent and longstanding practice of advocating liberal causes. If a line is to be drawn between the Federalist Society and the ABA, it is the ABA that should be deemed to be on the wrong side of the line.”

The Federalist Society operates in several states and frequently holds meetings to explore and discuss legal issues, frequently soliciting qualified speakers from both sides of an argument. It encourages intellectual honesty and curiosity. It is also the only significant counterbalance to the Left’s attack on Rule of Law. Which, again, is why the Conduct Committee wants the Federalist Society out of the way and is willing to sacrifice ACS in the process.

The Conduct Committee’s proposal, which Whalen had a hand in helping make public, has already provoked a vigorous debate. The proposal remains open during a 120-day comment period that will end May 20. Expect this fight to continue to that date, and possibly beyond.



The real threat to our republic

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has come out swinging in the past month often appearing with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) in his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for president.  In fact, it could be argued that Ocasio-Cortez is responsible for bringing life to a moribund campaign and helping the 76-year-old Sanders come back from age questions after he suffered a heart attack during the campaign.

Ocasio-Cortez continues to make headlines that would doom past politicians. Her latest screed at a Martin Luther King, Jr. day event reveals the heart of the CheOC philosophy, “And to be ethical, if you’re a billionaire today, the thing that you need to do is give up control and power. So I don’t want your money as much as we want your power. The people. Not me.”

But let’s be clear, she views herself as the representative of the people, so she really means she wants more power to exercise on behalf of “the people.”

It is time to take the freshman congresswoman from New York seriously.  She is campaigning with the front-running candidate for the Democratic Party nomination who is a close second in Iowa and leads in New Hampshire. If not for some chicanery by the Democratic National Committee in 2016, many people believe that Sanders would have been the party nominee rather than Hillary Clinton.  So Sanders seriously could become President, which means that CheOC would likely be in a position to wield that power.

Ocasio-Cortez’ comments take on new meaning when combined with those of two Sanders field staffers in a pair of Project Veritas videos.  Both field staff leaders independently called  for those who don’t agree with them to go to re-education camps and gulags, with one wanting to compel billionaires to work twelve hours a day breaking rocks. The videos reveal that Bernie operatives view themselves as being in a revolution and if people fight against them, they have no rights and must be crushed.

There is no peaceful transition of power in the Bernie Sanders campaign world, as at least one promised that cities will burn if Bernie is defeated, and there certainly is no giving up power once it is attained.  The collectivist mission to save the planet is too important to be bothered by niceties like voting, and minority rights, which is why they view their fight as a revolution against a system which protects the minority against an avaricious majority.

A revolution where everything bends to their will with no dissent tolerated.

And this isn’t even the scary part.  The scary part is that Bernie Sanders did not fire these staffers.  The scary part is that Democrat candidates for President did not demand that Sanders disavow their views. The scary part is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow travelers have taken over the Democratic Party and no one in that Party or from their conventional and on-line media allies will stand against them. This is particularly  ironic because the Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires along with those who run Comcast (NBC), Disney (ABC) and Viacom (CBS) will be the first to be targeted for takeover as controlling media is the first step for revolutionaries in consolidating control.

The Democrat primary has exposed the divisions of the Party between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, and it is not looking good for those who propose a slower path to achieving the collectivist revolution. If you have any doubts, just search for national Democrat concerns over

So, when you see the next AOC joke, just remember, that the real AOC is not joking and if she and her followers win, they will be coming for your liberties and they won’t let little things like the Senate filibuster rule or the courts stop them.



Patriot on trial

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — On the witness stand was James E. Mitchell, a psychologist and architect of the Bush-era interrogation program that had inflicted torture on prisoners held in secret C.I.A. prisons after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Defiantly, he described how the program came about and why in his view it was necessary, growing emotional only when recounting how he came to the conclusion that it was his patriotic duty to personally implement the techniques he had devised.

Sitting yards from him in the military courtroom built specifically for their death-penalty trial were the five men accused of helping plot the attacks. All of them had been subject to the methods developed by Dr. Mitchell. Their alleged leader, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 by a team including Dr. Mitchell. They sat impassively as he testified at a pretrial hearing in their case.

It was an extraordinary moment in the slow-moving justice system set up to try foreign prisoners of the war on terror, with American lawyers for defendants who were tortured more than a decade and a half ago flipping the script to question an interrogator from the so-called black sites.

Dr. Mitchell, a former contract psychologist for the C.I.A., expressed no regrets or contrition, tearfully saying he did it for the American people at a time when President George W. Bush’s administration feared a follow-on attack by airplane or nuclear bomb to the Sept. 11 hijackings that killed 2,976 people.

“I’d get up today and do it again,” he said.

“I thought my moral duty,” he said, choking up, “to protect American lives outweighed the feelings of discomfort of terrorists who voluntarily took up arms against us. To me it just seemed like it would be dereliction of my moral responsibilities.




UNFORTUNATELY, THE PALESTINIANS AREN'T INTERESTED IN PEACE: Trump's Middle East peace plan expected to offer Palestinians conditional statehood (The Washington Post)

GOP TRAIN WRECK: Doug Collins to challenge Kelly Loeffler for Georgia Senate seat (Washington Examiner)

FOLLOW THE MONEY: House Democrats to vote to override state right-to-work laws, boosting labor movement (Washington Examiner)

A FINE ONE TO TALK: Authoritarian Hillary Clinton slams "authoritarian" and "Trumpian" Zuckerberg over Facebook's speech stance (National Review)

DEFIANCE: Britain says China's Huawei won't be banned from its 5G network (The New York Times)

CORONAVIRUS: China counts 106 virus deaths (aided by its censorship) as U.S., others move to evacuate (AP)

"WE'VE REACHED AN INFLECTION POINT": Concerned Veterans for America pushes for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan (National Review)

POLICY: The myth that the U.S. leads the world in mass shootings (Foundation for Economic Education)

POLICY: The Medicaid expansion cheat (Mises 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 


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Donald Trump to hand Israel full control of holiest site

Long overdue -- JR

Donald Trump is set to propose full sovereignty for Israel over Jerusalem’s holiest site as part of the most favourable peace plan ever offered to it, raising fears of renewed conflict over the contested land.

Under the plan Israel is expected to take up to 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlement blocs, as well as sovereignty over the Old City site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif.

The plan is not expected to hold out any immediate prospect of a Palestinian state. It envisages the Palestinian Authority forgoing any right to military power and recognising Israel as a Jewish state. It is not expected to make any provisions for Palestinian refugees.

Mr Trump greeted Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, at the White House on Monday and said he would announce “a very big plan” on Tuesday. He added: “It will be a suggestion between Israel and the Palestinians, it’s the closest it’s ever come and we’ll see what happens.”

He held separate talks with Benny Gantz, Mr Netanyahu’s challenger in next month’s election.

The timing, six weeks before Israel’s third election in a year, is seen as a boost for Mr Netanyahu, detracting from the corruption charges he faces.

Michael Herzog, a former Israeli peace negotiator, called the plan a “very significant paradigm shift” abandoning almost all Palestinian claims in favour of Israeli demands. “There are two national liberation narratives,” he said. “Previous plans have allowed these two narratives to exist but this plan is taking a decision in favour of the Jewish or Israeli narrative.”

Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, said the plan would be “dead on arrival”, adding: “It shows almost no regard to what Palestinians think.”

Dr Shikaki briefed the US team on his polling while they were formulating the plan, but said: “The way they read Palestinian opinion is detached from reality. They take 10 or 15 per cent support and make it 90 per cent.”

No Palestinian leaders have been invited to Washington for the announcement, having broken off contact with the Americans two years ago after Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there, boasting that he had “taken Jerusalem off the table” in negotiations.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, refused to take a call from Mr Trump on Monday. His spokesman said the Palestinian Authority was ready to withdraw from security co-operation with Israel under the Oslo accords and force Israel to “bear its full responsibility as an occupation government”.

He added: “We warn Israel and the US government against crossing the red line.”

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said that the plan would prompt Palestinians to switch focus from a two-state solution to demanding their full civil rights within a single state of Arabs and Jews. That could force Israel to choose between giving up its Jewish character or its democracy by denying Arabs a vote.

“It is an attempt to destroy the two states,” he said. “But it will open the doors of one person, one vote from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean.”

The Palestinian leadership has made no effort to corral Arab states together to offer a counter-proposal, but individual Arab states are unlikely to be able to support it. King Abdullah of Jordan said he would “absolutely refuse” to accept the plan, adding: “The word ‘no’ is understood by everyone.”

Jordan’s Islamic wafq, or trust, administers the Temple Mount and the country borders the Jordan Valley, which Mr Netanyahu is expected to seek to formally annexe though a Knesset vote on his return from Washington.

Abu Hamza al-Quraishi, a spokesman for Islamic State, called on all Muslims to “be the warhead in fighting Jews and foil the so-called ‘deal of the century’.”



Wealth will weaken if we ever yield to populism

This week’s Davos meeting of virtue-signallers and plutocrats was preceded last week by a meeting at Stanford University of the Mont Pelerin Society. Long dominated by Milton Friedman, among the society’s luminaries today are two former US secretaries of state, George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice.

Founded in the aftermath of World War II, the Mont Pelerin Society set out arguments that free markets based on property rights and the rule of law were the keys to delivering prosperity and freedom. Its meetings provided an intellectual bulwark to the then prevailing attractions of communism or at least to socialism.

As the 20th century progressed, the sclerotic state of the socialist world was increasingly evident. By contrast, adopting the Mont Pelerin principles saw a revived Germany and Japan, followed in the 1970s by the creation of prosperity in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. Similarly, we saw Chile breaking out of the pack of Latin American economies with lethargic growth. All these success stories had free or free-ish markets as their drivers.

And in the developed nations, unmistakeable benefits were seen from (economic) deregulation of prices, access to markets and breaking up of government monopolies. In the main, these favourable outcomes from free enterprise took place in democracies (not, of course, Chile or Hong Kong). Economic freedom, usually combined with political freedom, was bringing increased wealth, further legitimised by — perhaps even caused by — democracy. Democratic revolutions that embraced capitalism also transformed the failed socialist Eastern European economies. The later successes of China and India reinforced the importance of market systems as the growth progenitor.

All this has brought a massive increase in living standards, with the share of people living in poverty falling from 60 per cent 50 years ago to less than 10 per cent today.

No attendees of the Stanford meeting doubted market capitalism’s higher efficiency and ability to deliver growth, including for the benefit of poorer members of society. But recent developments that were debated at Stanford have undermined confidence that the model will continue to prevail.

These include the resumption of growth in the size of government and a weakening of property rights by, for example, the seizure of land usages rights. In Australia, government actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through planning laws and measures that restrain commercial activity include the increase in regulatory intrusions and permissions, like those that resulted in the Adani coalmine taking nine years to be approved. A worldwide consequence of such measures has been a general slowdown in growth rates.

There is also evidence that more people are not seeing the benefits of the growth that has taken place. Between 1970 and 2018 the top third of US income earners increased their aggregate share of total incomes from 29 per cent to 48 per cent, with the middle third falling from 62 per cent to 43 per cent and the poorest third seeing their share drop marginally to 9 per cent.

“This economy is not working for us” became a US left radical battle cry, especially among the young. Seeking more from the government now attracts 47 per cent support (up from 36 per cent in 2010). This has translated into surging support for a new form of socialism promoted by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Similar developments were seen in the UK, where Jeremy Corbyn, though losing the November Brexit election, attracted 70 per cent of the youth vote. The politics of envy is becoming evident, ironically led by the more highly educated who would be beneficiaries of greater dispersion of income.

This new form of socialism sees redistribution, reserving areas from commercial activities and abolishing cheap fossil and nuclear fuel accorded a higher priority over increasing aggregate income levels.

Another daunting development has been an upsurge in civil dissent, including deliberate attempts to paralyse economies and prevent free speech by groups such as the Extinction Rebellion.

Last year, this became open revolt in Chile, the most successful economy in Latin America with among the least unequal income distributions. A five-cent increase in the metro fare triggered mass fare evasion, with 17 metro stations bombed in a single night, an event clearly co-ordinated by a group that remains unidentified. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of people were on the streets with diverse demands ranging from lower taxes, higher pensions, better healthcare, and a variety of other free goods. The government has been forced to accede to many of these demands.

Democracy, which led to or at least coexisted with the diminished government controls driving higher income levels for more than 70 years, is now turning into populism and threatens to foment a new era of declining living standards. Donald Trump is now one of the few world statesmen with genuine public support and, trade policy aside, a smaller government agenda. But, although he is likely to be re-elected in November, even in the US economic prosperity is threatened by statism supplanting the proven superiority of free markets.



Democrats Want to Create 'The Irresponsible Society'

Last week, my colleague Megan Fox reported on remarks directed at Senator Elizabeth Warren by an angry father during an appearance in Iowa that went to the heart of what kind of country the Democrats want to create.

Warren has proposed canceling most student loan debt and offering a "free" college education to anyone who wants it. But where does that leave those who didn't take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt or paid their own way for college?

National Review:

“My daughter is getting out of school,”  he told Warren, while standing in her (what else!) selfie line. “I’ve saved all my money.”
“She doesn’t have any student loans,” he continued. “Am I going to get my money back?”

Warren immediately replied: “Of course not.”

The man, unsurprisingly, was not satisfied with her answer.

“So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?” he said.

“My buddy had fun, bought a car, and went on all the vacations, I saved my money,” he continued. “He makes more than I did. I worked a double shift.”

The man then accused Warren of “laughing” at him, repeating that his family would “get screwed” for having done “the right thing” — before Warren ultimately shut him down, saying: “I appreciate your time.”

Warren's dismissive attitude is significant largely because it reveals a larger truth about the modern left; reward the irresponsible; punish or ignore the responsible. Offering to wave a magic wand and make a trillion dollars in personal debt disappear or offering "free" college education -- which everyone but a brain-dead zombie knows isn't "free" at all -- is nothing less than attempt to turn America upside down.

And Warren can't adequately explain (who could?) why what she is proposing is "fair."

Washington Free Beacon:

"For Americans who are in that father's position, who felt they did the right thing and you're bailing out those who didn't, what's your response?" [CBS Anchor Tony] Dokoupil said.
"Look, we build a future going forward by making it better," Warren said. "By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you, or last month for you?"

"Are you saying ‘tough luck' to these people?" Dokoupil interjected.

"No," Warren responded. "Our kids have taken on a trillion and a half dollars in student loan debt. We have got to back that up and say we're doing better going forward."

The author of the NR piece, Katherine Timpf, believes what Warren is proposing doesn't go far enough. Even paying back those who did things the responsible way and saved, and scrimped, and sacrificed isn't "fair" enough. Timpf recounts her own monumental struggles to get an education to follow her dream of a journalism career, only to have her dreams of attending Columbia University dashed when she refused to take on a massive student loan debt.

Unless Elizabeth Warren can go back in time and put me in a Columbia classroom during the time I spent cleaning those Boston Market bathrooms, her plan wouldn’t be “fair.” Unless she can give me the hours of my life back that I spent sitting alone covered in scabies cream, her plan wouldn’t be “fair.” The angry Iowa father’s plan, although well-intentioned, wouldn’t be “fair” to me. Elizabeth Warren can’t “pay me back” for a loan that I decided against taking out — a decision that I’d made  precisely because I did not expect that anyone else would pay it back for me.
Many people have made sacrifices to continue their education, or to allow their children to continue theirs. Others have made sacrifices by taking a path that didn’t include continuing, because they could not afford to do so. None of these are things that could ever be replaced with cash.

In other words? No — I don’t think that I should have to pay for someone else making an irresponsible decision when they could have made a responsible one. What’s more, talking about this issue only in terms of money truly minimizes the fact that, really, it’s about so much more.

I guess it boils down to what kind of society do you want? It's not just student loan forgiveness, or "free" college tuition paid for by those who pay taxes. Government radically altering the nature of American society makes a powerful underlying statement: you're a chump if you play by the rules. You're a knucklehead if you live your life responsibly. You're a dolt if you're self-reliant.

It's not Lyndon Johnson's "The Great Society," it's "The Irresponsible Society."

That's not the kind of country I want to live in.



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 28, 2020

Local zoning saved from Obama HUD rule by Trump administration after five-year fight

By Rick Manning

In 2014, local zoning was slated for elimination by the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development using a proposed rule known as “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” but something happened on the way to far left utopians taking over decisions on where housing should be placed in local communities – Americans for Limited Government stepped into the fray.

A June 5, 2014, press release titled, “Time to defund HUD racial zoning rule in appropriations vote” fired the first shot in a five and a half year battle to stop the federalization of local zoning.   Below is the original press statement,

Time to defund HUD racial zoning rule in appropriations vote

June 5, 2014, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement urging the House of Representatives to defund implementation of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule that will empower the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to condition eligibility for community development block grants on redrawing zoning maps to achieve racial and income integration:

“Starting in October, HUD is empowering itself to redraw zoning maps in any locality that accepts any portion of the $3.5 billion a year in community development block grants from the federal government in an attempt to create evenly distributed neighborhoods based on racial composition and income. This is a utopian pipe dream, and social engineering at its worst.

“Neighborhoods are constituted not based on racial quotas, but on economics. Housing discrimination based on race has been illegal for decades. There is no discrimination in people choosing for themselves where they want to live, and yet that is exactly what HUD is seeking to regulate.

“HUD has no place in local zoning decisions, and it is up to the House of Representatives to defund this dangerous rulemaking through a rider to the Transportation and HUD appropriations bill coming up next week before the regulation’s projected October implementation.”

One day later, Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) picked up the cause by introducing an amendment to the HUD appropriations bill defunding the implementation of AFFH which passed four days later in the House by a 240 – 181 margin.  However, Senate passage was much more problematic.

Over the course of the next three years, I had multiple meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff facilitated by Erica Suares who is one of the unsung heroes in the Senate.  Those meetings always included at least five easy defunds that the Senate should pursue which were already in the House appropriations language.  The Gosar defund was always one of these.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) led the charge in the Senate with his legislation calling for ending the AFFH regulations, and his leadership helped keep the issue at the forefront in the appropriations defund battles.  Finally, on May 19, 2016, the Senate passed substitute language offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) which defunded the planning tools for AFFH implementation by an 87 – 9 margin.

However, even with the House and Senate passing different language trying to stop what became known as Obamazoning, it wasn’t until the massive spending Omnibus of 2017 when the Collins language prohibiting HUD from implementing AFFH became part of the spending bill, and with that you would think the story would have ended.

But noooo, because this is DC where bad ideas only go into hibernation but never truly die, some “conservative advocates” decided that the regulations revising AFFH should force local governments to change their zoning laws to cut red tape to enable more rapid housing development.  While the problem of local red tape delaying new home and other developments for years is real, Americans for Limited Government stayed philosophically consistent.  If the federal government dictating local zoning outcomes was wrong under the Obama administration, then it was still wrong under the Trump administration no matter the outcome goals.

Finally after meetings with HUD, a personal conversation with Secretary Carson, attending a HUD stakeholder meeting in Chicago, and multiple conversations throughout the Trump administration, the final AFFH rule was filed.

And we won.  It was amended to preserve local control over zoning laws.

Fighting for limited government is not an occasional venture, but an on-going, non-stop battle and last week, outside of the spotlight of the media, Americans for Limited Government won a huge victory.

Don’t expect any Fox News appearances or special reports, because the victory was about the guts of who makes decisions that impact each of our lives, and those who still believe that local government with all its faults, best reflects the will of its citizens than Washington, D.C., earned a hard fought victory against enormous odds.

As we enter the first week of the impeachment trial, it can seem that the world has been turned on its head, just know, that we can win.  It just takes a few great leaders and for each of us to keep in the fight and never give up.

Local zoning was saved, and a vast majority of Americans will never even know that it was threatened.



Beware Virginia’s mistakes or your state may be next

In recent years, Virginia has made a number of grave mistakes by electing out-of-touch liberal Democrats who are unfit for office. With the Democrats’ recent success at buying the state legislature with out-of-state contributions, Virginia residents can expect to soon begin paying dearly for those mistakes.

In 2017, Virginia elected Democrat Ralph Northam governor. During the election, Northam was endorsed by liberal newspapers even though he smeared his opponents portraying them as violent racists. Subsequently, voters learned that Northam had worn blackface, that his nickname was “Coonman” in college, and that he had a photo of someone dressed as a Klansman and someone in blackface on his page in his medical school yearbook. Although Northam initially admitted that he was in the photo in the yearbook, he reversed course the next day and denied it. Ridiculously, Northam claimed not to know how he acquired his racist nickname in college or how the racist photo wound up on his yearbook page. Embarrassed, members of his party and the media joined Republicans in calling for his resignation, but Northam refused. Before long, his party and the media embraced him once again.

Unfortunately, electing Northam was not the only poor choice Virginia made in 2017. It also elected Democrat Justin Fairfax lieutenant governor. After the election, voters learned that two women, who are both Democrats, accused him of forcible rape. Disgracefully, Democrats in the state legislature refused to support hearings to examine the allegations. Also in 2017, Virginia reelected Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring, who refused to do his job. In addition, Democrat Lee Carter, who is a proud Socialist, was elected to the House of Delegates.

Two years later, Virginia made more poor choices. In a special election last year, Northern Virginia voters elected Democrat Ibraheem Samirah, an anti-Semite, to the House of Delegates. Samirah had posted on social media that he thought it was “worse” to give money to Israel than to the Ku Klux Klan, and he has ties to Hamas. Samirah was then reelected in the 2019 general election. In that same election, Democrat Joe Morrissey, a statutory rapist and a disbarred attorney, was elected to the Virginia Senate. Morrissey previously served time in jail for having an illicit relationship with his 17-year-old secretary when he was 56 years old. In the wake of that scandal, Morrissey married the young woman; that was his first marriage despite the fact that he had fathered children with three other women. Furthermore, with their tidal wave of out-of-state cash, Democrats were able to flip a total of eight seats in the General Assembly in the general election giving them control of both chambers.

After seizing control of the state legislature, Democrats have wasted no time proposing one outrageous piece of legislation after another: infringing on gun owners’ rights, freeing violent felons, abolishing all safety regulations on abortion, expanding transgender rights, and banning spanking. As if that were not bad enough, Democrats have also proposed awarding Virginia’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of how Virginia votes, repealing Virginia’s Right to Work Law (which has been on the books for over 70 years), hiking the minimum wage, hiking taxes, hiking car fees, and allowing the use of speed cameras to more easily pick the pockets of motorists. To protect their fragile, new majorities, it is likely that Democrats will gerrymander districts next year so they can continue to drag Virginia down. The good news is that this assault on Virginia can be halted next year if Republicans put forward a strong gubernatorial candidate with a compelling agenda.

Nonetheless, at the moment, Virginia now serves as a warning to other states. Democrats simply cannot be trusted with power. They have little to no interest in pursuing the common good and will devote the vast majority of their energies to pursuing a narrow, divisive agenda to pander to special interest groups at the expense of everyone else. Voters elsewhere should take heed and reject the far-Left Democrat Party of today that embraces socialism and Bernie Sanders and despises faith, family, and free enterprise.



About those ‘Women for Trump’

“It would make me so excited to vote for a woman for president,” said Alice from Michigan. “I do think I will see one in my lifetime, and, as the mother of a daughter, it would especially thrill me.”

Yet Alice voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and expects to vote for him again in 2020. When I asked her why she didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, she said, “Hillary is an elitist Democrat who doesn’t care about women like me.” Alice wondered if liberal women would be willing to vote for female candidates like Nikki Haley, Ivanka Trump, or Condoleezza Rice.

What is in the minds of women who support Trump? This is a key question people ask me about the panel of 500 voters with whom I’ve interacted since 2016. They want to know how any woman can vote for a bully, whether they care that he has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, how they can support a president who puts children in cages, or why they would support someone who wants to take away the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Isn’t this a terrible model for their children?

To answer these questions, I took a deep dive with 50 women who support Trump. I found two overarching themes: first, that women valued Trump’s policies over anything else, and second, that they saw Trump as a refreshing change from those they perceive to be elitist candidates of either gender who failed to understand and respect the power and determination of conservative women.

Women could be the difference in the presidential election. According to the Pew Research Center, women tend to vote at higher rates than men. And numerous studies of voters in key swing states, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, have found that white working-class women could determine the next president.

Policy — especially linked to the economy — matters deeply to women who voted for Trump, and to them it outweighs his coarse behavior. “In spite of all of the resistance, he has accomplished so much that is important to me,” said Dianne from New Hampshire. “Our economy is booming, unemployment is low, homeownership is up, our defenses are being reinforced, ISIS is weakened, and he is getting fairer trade deals.” Again and again, women stressed the health of their local economies: building booms, more jobs, and more people out shopping. And they credit the president for their prosperity.

The other big factor for female Trump voters is what they call his “respect” for them, a fundamental belief that Washington is run by people with multiple degrees from elite schools who look down upon them. They dwell on Barack Obama’s statement that they are bitter and clinging to their guns and religion and Hillary Clinton’s remarks about deplorables. Before Trump, they felt that they had no voice and no power. Said Anna from Iowa, “Donald Trump actually likes and respects people like me. He gets that the average citizen of the USA is not stupid, and the Democrats have not figured that out yet.”

These factors outweighed Trump’s boorish behavior. “He is not a politician,” said Susan from Ohio. “I wouldn’t want my daughter to date him, but I wouldn’t want her to date Bill Clinton or JFK or any of the other predators who have been in the White House.”

Trump also appeals to women who feel that the women’s movement has left them behind. Katie from North Carolina described it this way: “You know, not all women are pro-choice, not all women obsess over the glass ceiling, and many women want smaller government and a continued good economy.” Added Cynthia from Massachusetts, “The women’s movement does not represent me. A Women’s March with no conservative women involved? A real women’s movement would embrace all of us. It would fight for equal pay, equal opportunity, personal safety, and assistance in raising future generations. But feminists of today detest people like me, so why would I want to support them?” A majority of these Trump supporters feel alienation from liberal women, whom they perceive to be “angry” and “fist-clenching.”

Some of these women are open to alternatives to Trump — so long as that alternative isn’t too radical. Said Chrissy from New Jersey, “I am embarrassed by his tweeting and his behavior, and I also believe that we need someone who is less divisive — but I don’t see a choice when the Democrats stand for giving everything away for free.”

For every woman like Chrissy, however, there are many others who will support Trump regardless of who runs against him. They sound like Brenda from Pennsylvania. “He is the most transparent president ever, and he follows through on his promises,” she said. “He loves and supports his family, and he respects my money, rather than wanting to squander it.”

Is there a way to win the hearts of these women? Unless another candidate comes along who they believe respects them and their pocketbooks, they won’t be buying the book “A Very Stable Genius.” Instead, they’ll vote to reelect the president.



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 27, 2020

How Fragile Is Iran's Theocracy?


Iran's people barely can scrape together enough calories to keep body and soul together in the big cities, while entire parts of rural Iran are emptying out as rivers and wells go dry. Things are so bad that the number of babies born in Iran has fallen by nearly 25% in the past five years. Only Venezuela is worse off -- but the wicked Maduro government remains in power. Regimes that are willing to shoot their people dead in the streets (as Iran shot 1,500 protesters last November) can cling to power even under desperate material circumstances.

As I wrote at Asia Times yesterday:

One average salary pays for a small apartment outside the center, utilities, enough calories to keep body and soul together, and bus fare, which is subsidized. Throw in cell phone service, clothing, fruits and vegetables, and one or two meat meals a month, and an Iranian couple will require two average salaries. According to official data, food price inflation was 28% year-on-year as of December.
Medicine is another matter. Some imported items, for example, insulin pens, can’t be found at pharmacies in some provinces, according to a Persian-language report by IRNA. The Chancellor of the University of Isfahan told the national news agency that imported medicine such as chemotherapy drugs was in short supply, but that most other medication was available.

Import controls to spare foreign exchange have put autos outside the range of most Iranians. A VW Golf costs the local-currency equivalent of $48,000, according to Numbeo, or about 14 years’ average pay.

Reduced consumption has taken a toll on Iranian family life. According to the Tehran Times, citing Mohammed Javad Mahmoudi, head of the committee on population studies of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. According to Mahmoudi, the number of babies born in Iran fell by nearly 25% between 2015 and 2019.

That short-term decline in absolute numbers of births is unprecedented outside of wartime. The number of Iranian women of child-bearing age increased slightly over the same period, so the collapsing birth rate clearly reflects decisions not to bear children.

As I have reported in the past, Iran faces a demographic crisis over the next two decades as its population ages rapidly. There are five prime-age Iranians supporting every Iranian over the age of 65, but by mid-century, the ratio will collapse to just 1.6 to one. Strangely, the Iranian authorities have reported an increase in the “total fertility rate,” namely the estimated number of children that the average woman will bear during her lifetime. The increase evidently is due to optimistic assumptions about the future rather than observed behavior in the present.

Iranians face desperate conditions,  if not actual hunger, due to the effect of economic sanctions. Add to this the long-term effects of mismanagement of the country’s scarce water resources. Afshin Shahi wrote recently in the Journal of Asian Affairs: “Approximately 97% of the country is experiencing drought conditions. Due to gross water mismanagement and its damaging impact on the country, Iran faces the worst situation in the water resources of any industrialized nation. Tens of thousands of villages have been deserted and most of the major urban centers have passed their limits to absorb new rural migrants. Some officials predict that in less than 25 years, 50 million Iranians would be displaced from their current homes because of the pressing ecological conditions.”

The comparison to Venezuela is sadly instructive. Desperation can strengthen a murderous regime rather than weaken it, as I explained last February after the Trump administration unwisely appointed Elliot "Export Democracy" Abrams as its point man for Venezuela.

Venezuela is following the ugly pattern of Latin American civil conflicts during the 20th century.... This is a depraved and wicked government of narco-socialists, but it will not be easy to dislodge.

Latin American revolutions as a rule result in prolonged, bloody wars of attrition. The civil war referred to as "La Violencia" in Colombia lasted from 1948 to 1959, killed about 300,000 people, almost three percent of the Colombian population, and displaced more than one million. Unspeakable atrocities including crucifixions were widespread. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920 killed one million of Mexico's 20 million population. The El Salvador civil war of 1980-1992 killed about two percent of the population but displaced a quarter of the people.

The grisly death toll in such conflicts is the result of a system of corruption that reaches into the capillaries of society. The regime buys the loyalty of soldiers and police, and causes them to commit atrocities against the general population; the part of the population excluded by the regime wreaks a terrible vengeance on the regime's supporters, most of whom fight to the death rather than be hanged from lampposts. Typically the conflict continues until both sides bleed out.
....In a starving country where the government controls all the food, the cost of bribing a key military cadre is relatively low. The regime's bribed stooges won't give in easily, because everyone knows who they are.

The obvious alternative to Iran's Revolutionary Guard is the regular army. One hears rumors about discontent in the officer corps, but no real information. The Obama administration destroyed America's intelligence assets on the ground through a combination of malfeasance and incompetence (Iran cracked the CIA's system of communicating with its agents and rolled up its network several years ago).

Anything we can do to undermine the wicked mullahs of Tehran, we should. But we should have no illusions that the job will be easy.



Trump Becomes First President to Attend March for Life

I am not a religious person but this toon made me weep.  They were persons who were aborted

President Donald Trump today becomes the first sitting president to attend and speak at the annual March for Life rally. Over its 47-year history, no Republican president (and obviously no Democrat) has made an appearance at the nation’s largest pro-life rally. Though George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did offer brief supportive remarks via phone and satellite to the marchers, they always maintained a degree of separation.

But Trump is unlike any previous Republican and is most in his element when speaking to a massive rally. While Trump’s checkered personal history and his past support of abortion cause some to question his commitment, his impressive presidential actions in support of life simply cannot be ignored or deemed insignificant. While he and the previous Republican Congress failed to defund Planned Parenthood, Trump has followed through on other promises — nominating pro-life judges, signing a bill allowing states to block Title X funding from going to “family planning” organizations that perform abortions, and reinstating a federal policy preventing foreign aid from being used to provide or endorse abortions.

Trump is now boldly enjoining himself to the pro-life movement in a manner avoided by prior Republican presidents. Of all the negative character flaws one can criticize Trump for, boldness to stand up for what he believes is not one of them. Trump’s decision is truly momentous in the history of the pro-life movement.



A GOP-led edge: Red states see less unemployment, more economic growth

Opinion polling isn’t everything. However, it often gives you a good barometer of the general shape of things, especially at the state level. As of mid-2019, every single one of the top 10 most popular governors in the country were Republicans, while eight of the 10 least popular were Democrats. Generally speaking, voters trust Republicans more than they trust Democrats to lead their states.

A deeper look at GOP-led states’ economic success explains why — but beyond the minutiae of simple policy, the bottom line is that electing a Republican often means increased growth and lower unemployment. An even stronger rule bears out the opposite when Democrats control the governor’s mansion.

Indeed, some correlations will always transcend state politics. But what becomes clear is that there is a strong statistical case that electing a Republican governor — even without a matching GOP statehouse — plays a significant role in states’ economic success. Look no further than the last election cycle paired with economic statistics, and this trend soon becomes clear.

State unemployment rates and GDP growth must be viewed relative to national averages. The average U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in 2018 and 3.7 percent in 2019. Strong employment growth at the state level is directly correlated with governorship. Among the 20 states with the lowest unemployment rates (three are tied for 20th, so there are 23 states ranking here), 17 had Republican governors prior to 2018. North Dakota, which has a 2.5 percent unemployment rate, prospers in large part because of its Republican leadership’s decision to embrace new hydraulic fracturing technology. As a result, nearly a third of job openings in the state remain unfilled longer than three months. And it’s not only high-skilled workers who benefit from strong job growth; fast-food workers in North Dakota earn multiples of the $7.25 federal minimum hourly wage, fetching as much as $20 per hour.

Among states whose unemployment rates increased the most last year, Democrats were most likely in charge. In states whose unemployment rates increased more than statistical noise (more than one-tenth of a percent), five of the eight have Democratic governors. Furthermore, among the eight states that saw the sharpest decrease in unemployment (0.5 percent or more) — Alabama, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia — five have Republican governors. And only New Jersey had a Democrat in charge before 2018.

Meanwhile, U.S. GDP increased by 2.2 percent in 2017 and by 2.9 percent in 2018. During the first three quarters of 2019, the average was 2.4 percent. When ranking GDP growth by state, the correlation between economic success and Republican governors becomes even more clear. Among the top 10 growing states in the second quarter of 2019 (the most recent detailed numbers available), only two of the 10 had Democratic governors prior to the 2018 election cycle. Among the four states that had growth above 4 percent, Texas (leading with 4.7 percent), New Mexico and Wyoming had GOP executives; Alaska was run by an independent. In fact, these states’ growth represent almost 10 percent of all economic growth in the nation during this period.

In the 10 states with the slowest GDP growth, Democrats have more to celebrate: The same figures show that eight of the 10 worst-performing states in Q2 2019 had GOP governors in the prior election cycle.

Sounds like a good case for a split ballot. However, six of those slowest-growing states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine and New Jersey) have since elected Democrats to the statehouse. Since Kentucky’s election occurred in November 2019, we can’t factor that in. However, among the other states, GDP growth collapsed in 2019 after electing Democratic governors. In 2018 these states grew on average by 2.24 percent. In Q2 2019 it was a measly 0.92 percent annualized rate — a drop of 59 percent! Michigan’s growth rate fell from 2.7 percent to 1.1 percent, Illinois’ from 2.1 percent to 1.1 percent, Wisconsin’s from 2.5 percent to 1.1 percent, and Maine’s from 1.9 percent to an embarrassing 0.6 percent. In New Jersey (whose election was in 2017), it’s been cut by two-thirds, from 2.0 percent to an anemic 0.7 percent.

So, electing a Republican governor seems to give your state a fair but imperfect shot at growth.

What about states that added a GOP governor last cycle? There’s only one case in point here: Alaska’s governor’s mansion went from independent to red in 2018 — and growth followed. The state’s economy changed from a -0.3 percent contraction in 2018 to the third highest in the nation, at 4.1 percent in Q2 2019.

Numbers only tell a part of the story. The total sum of opportunity costs borne by high-tax states with Democratic governors and legislatures include incalculable damage to the working and middle classes. The states’ economic health (or lack thereof) further accelerates the magnet for millions of families fleeing taxation and regulation in blue states for better economic prospects in red states.

In 2020, 11 governors’ seats are up for grabs — and considering that seven of these are currently Republican, the residents of these states should heed the stark lessons of catching the blue wave in 2018.




NEEDED VISA OVERHAUL: U.S. imposes visa rules for pregnant women on "birth tourism" (AP)

RIGHT TO WORK: Union membership falls to record low of 10.3% — down 10% since 1983 (The Hill)

CHALLENGES STILL LOOM: Trump administration approves Keystone pipeline on U.S. land (Associated Press)

INDEFENSIBLE: Less than half of Americans know six million Jews killed in Holocaust (Washington Examiner)

WARPED PRIORITIES: San Antonio's Chick-fil-A fight has cost more than $300K so far (KENS 5)

MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH? Immune cell that kills most cancers discovered by accident by British scientists (The Telegraph)

POLICY: How the oil-production boom has benefited America (The Daily Signal)

POLICY: Counting the homeless, searching for solutions (RealClearPolicy)


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 26, 2020

Donald Trump a clear winner at World Economic Forum, despite best efforts of climate doomsayers

The theme for the World Economic forum in Davos this week is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”. It’s a noble aim but one that’s looking increasingly unlikely.

“Davos Man” — the pejorative shorthand for the rich liberal elite who catch up in the Swiss Alps each year — is still in control of the agenda of the world’s most elite conference. The vague nouns beloved of Davos men and women — inclusion, resilience, climate ­action, sustainability — peppered the program, which is in full swing this week with more than 3000 delegates in attendance.

But their political power is slipping away, starkly illustrated when the conference’s two highly unlikely protagonists — Donald Trump and Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg — were anything but cohesive on Wednesday.

Trump, the face of resurgent populist politics throughout the West and a conventional approach to business and economic growth, clashed with Thunberg, who shot to stardom as the frustrated face of “climate action” — a sort of Joan of Arc who demands an immediate end to fossil fuel use.

German economist Klaus Schwab founded the World Economic Forum in 1971. A not-for-profit foundation, its mission is to “improve the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas”.

No event attracts such a prestigious flock of political and business leaders. Apart from the US President, this year’s talkfest saw Prince Charles, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai rub shoulders.

For Trump, this year’s conference was a platform to rub his success in the noses of the world’s elite, who had largely written him off when he was running for the White House in 2016, then derided his early years as President — and now face his likely re-election before the next Davos meeting in January next year.

“The American dream is back, bigger, better and stronger than ever before … and no one is benefiting more than America’s middle-class,” Trump told the forum.

It’s a claim, however galling for the audience, that is becoming harder to refute. Wage growth in the US has picked up under his presidency, rising back above 3 per cent and bringing to an end a period of real income stagnation more than a decade long.

The US, with a freshly inked deal with China, appears to be winning the trade war. The stockmarket, Trump’s preferred measure of success, has continued to achieve new records. And the US economy is wallowing in the longest economic expansion in its history.

“ ‘America First’ does not mean America alone,” Trump memorably said in his first visit as President in 2018. He didn’t attend last year’s summit amid a partial US government shutdown. This year, the timing was particularly sweet given his impeachment trial was kicking off in the Senate back in Washington, DC, at the same time.

Trump was sending a message not only to the world but also to his Democratic foes. “We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty,” Trump said, in a none too veiled swipe at calls to stamp out fossil fuel use or impose taxes to curb carbon dioxide.

“Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism,” he said, calling on delegates to “reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse”.

Trump struck the wrong, upbeat tone at a conference convened on the premise of an urgent need for action to save the planet, revelling in the US’s new-found position as the world’s No 1 producer of oil and natural gas.

Enter Thunberg, the anti-Trump, who sat just behind Cormann as Trump spoke. Thunberg, who chided governments for “listening to her but not hearing” in her own speech, has become the chief prophet of doom since she burst on to the world stage last year.

“We don’t need to cut emissions, we need to stop emissions,” she urged, before going on to ­accuse leaders of “cheating and fiddling around with numbers” with talk of cutting emissions to “net zero” — which means emitting no more carbon than is absorbed by the planet — by 2050.

“Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour, and we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else,” she added, saying “planting trees” wasn’t enough.

Thunberg’s earnest pleas have sway in the world’s boardrooms, such as that of international financial consulting giant deVere.

Only last week global investment giant BlackRock announced it was to shift out of companies linked to fossil fuel.

If Davos has made anything clear, it’s that any revolution will be powered by fossil fuels. The views of the democratically elected Trump will overwhelm those of the technocrats.

While Thunberg won the latter crowd at Davos, it’s not clear she is helping the cause of furthering ­efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions among the broader public who ultimately pick our leaders.

She may be preaching to the converted, turning off those on the fence who might not think a teenager is the best authority on such matters, while making people who don’t believe in climate change even more ardent deniers.

“Despite the considerable investments, renewable energies, such as wind power and photovoltaics are still not capable of satisfying the growing global energy demand,” noted Eric Heymann, a top resource analyst at Deutsche Bank, in a recent analysis.

All the panels in the world can’t change that basic fact.



The Israel-U.S. Model Has Been a Resounding Success

Victor Davis Hanson
Whether by accident or by deliberate osmosis, Israel and the U.S. have adopted similar solutions to their existential problems.

Before 2002, during the various Palestinian intifadas, Israel suffered hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries from suicide bombers freely crossing from the West Bank and Gaza into Israel.

In response, Israel planned a vast border barrier. The international community was outraged. The Israeli left called the idea nothing short of “apartheid.”

However, after the completion of the 440-mile border barrier — part concrete well, part wire fencing — suicide bombings and terrorist incursions into Israel declined to almost nil.

The wall was not entirely responsible for enhanced Israeli security. But it freed up border manpower to patrol more vigorously. The barrier also was integrated with electronic surveillance and tougher laws against illegal immigration.

The wall also brought strategic and political clarity. Those who damned Israel but freely crossed its borders sounded incoherent when they became furious that the barrier prevented access to the hated Zionist entity.

The Trump administration is currently seeking funds to create new border walls and replace old, porous fencing in order to stem illegal immigration on the southern border.

The strategy seems similar: The wall will free up manpower for better border policing. It likewise provides a certain political clarity. The United States is often criticized by Mexico and other Latin American countries. It is now being taken to task for the effort to make it more difficult to illegally enter such a supposedly unwelcome and hostile landscape.

For years, Israel’s great weakness was its dependence on imported energy, while its neighboring enemies grew rich exporting oil and natural gas. Yet in the last decade, Israel has ramped up production to take advantage of its vast natural gas reserves — to the point that it is not just self-sufficient in fossil fuels but soon will become a major exporter.

Now, Israel cannot be threatened economically by either Iran or various Persian Gulf monarchies. Its economy is stronger than ever. Europeans suddenly are more accommodating, given that Israel may well become a natural gas exporter to a fuel-hungry Europe.

Like Israel, but unlike Europe, the U.S. was eager to frack and horizontally drill to tap vast new fossil fuel reserves. The change in U.S. strategic energy independence is similarly astounding.

America is now the largest producer of natural gas and oil in the world. Its output has increased world supply, dropped prices and hurt America’s oil-exporting enemies.

The relative power of Russia and Middle Eastern nations, such as Iran, over U.S. decision-making has radically diminished — along with the need to station huge numbers of American troops in the volatile Middle East.

As in Israel, opponents either argued that more drilling would ruin the environment or that it would not work. They seem to be wrong on both counts.

Israel’s foreign policy could be called Jacksonian. Israel allies with friends, neutrals and former enemies whenever they share particular strategic goals.

In the topsy-turvy Middle East, Israel is now sometimes a strategic partner with formerly hostile regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies. They all share greater fears of theocratic Iran and its terrorist appendages in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Apparently, much of the Arab world is no longer as interested in the Palestinian desire to destroy Israel. Many Palestinian groups are allied with a despised Iran, while many Arabs believe that Israel’s strength can sometimes be strategically useful.

Current American realism is similar. The U.S. is neither isolationist nor an interventionist nation-builder. Its foreign-policy goals are to enhance its military, expand its already powerful economy, limit its strategic exposure, and bank its resulting hard and soft power to use only as a deterrent force against those who kill Americans or endanger U.S. interests.

Instead of cajoling allies to join us in expeditionary wars abroad, the U.S. increasingly appears reluctant to intervene, especially in the Middle East. As a result, former critics are now becoming suppliants requesting U.S. assistance.

As with Israel, the U.S. is less eager to apply political litmus tests to its occasional allies. It also seeks to avoid quagmires where its overwhelming conventional firepower can be neutralized by terrorists and urban guerrillas.

The promoters of these unconventional policies, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump, are both despised by their respective establishments and under constant threat of removal by their livid political opponents.

Yet they both have transformed their respective countries. Their policies remind us that it is sometimes preferable to be respected rather than just be liked — and that when a nation is strong and does not beg for help, it often finds more than it needs.




A TALE OF TWO WHISTLEBLOWERS: Whistleblower who reported government waste, fraud, and abuse gets none of the protections the anti-Trump whistleblower received (RealClearPolitics)

VIOLATES FEDERAL LAW: Trump administration plans action against California over abortion-coverage requirement (The Wall Street Journal)

WARREN CORNERED: Father asks Elizabeth Warren if he's going to get his money back after paying for daughter's education (The Daily Wire)

VILLAGE ACADEMICS: Democrat professors outnumber Republicans 9:1 at top colleges (Washington Examiner)

VILLAGE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM: LGBTQ education is now mandatory in New Jersey schools (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

THE UGLINESS OF IDENTITY POLITICS: Miami PD suspends white officer who begins identifying as "black" (The American Mirror)

RIGHT TO LIFE: Tennessee governor announces fetal heartbeat bill, other abortion restrictions (National Review)

FOR THE RECORD: Toxic "forever chemicals" found in drinking water throughout the U.S. (USA Today)

POLICY: State Department is right to tackle "birth tourism" (The Heritage Foundation)

POLICY: Google is posing a serious threat to innovation (Issues & Insights)


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