Friday, February 07, 2020

2019 Novel Coronavirus—Important Information for Clinicians

Coronavirus Resource Center

Only about 2% of those infected die of it.  My rubrics below -- JR

In early December 2019 a patient was diagnosed with an unusual pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, China. By December 31 the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office in Beijing had received notification of a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown cause from the same city.1 Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province in central China, is the nation’s seventh largest city, with a population of 11 million people. Over the next few days, researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology performed metagenomics analysis using next-generation sequencing from a sample collected from a bronchoalveolar lavage and identified a novel coronavirus as the potential etiology. They called it novel coronavirus 2019 (nCoV-2019).2 The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to it as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).3

As of February 4, 2020, more than 20 000 cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported, 98.9% of them in China, and the outbreak is linked to more than 400 deaths. As the epidemic is evolving and the situation is rapidly changing, up-to-date reliable information on the number of cases and recommendations on management of cases and preventive interventions can be found at various sites, including the webpage developed by the CDC.3 Currently the number of infections outside of China remains small (approximately 180), but cases have been detected in 26 countries, including 11 cases in the United States.

While it is unclear how many people are truly infected, a modeling study suggests that as of January 25, 2020, 75 815 individuals have been infected in Wuhan alone.4 The authors calculated the basic reproductive number (the number of cases one infected individual generates), R0, of this outbreak to be 2.68 (95% CI, 2.47-2.86) and that the epidemic is doubling every 6.4 days. Because of extensive travel between China and cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, and Taipei, these locations have identified the majority of cases outside of mainland China. As testing becomes more frequent, the true number of cases and the full spectrum of disease will become more clear. However, for now, it appears that compared with the other 2 zoonotic coronaviruses that occurred in the last 20 years (severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS] in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome [MERS] in 2012), 2019-nCoV seems to have greater infectivity (eg, a higher R0) and a lower case fatality rate.1

From genetic sequencing data, it appears that there was a single introduction into humans followed by human-to-human spread. This novel virus shares 79.5% of genetic sequence with SARS-CoV and has 96.2% homology to a bat coronavirus.2 In addition, 2019-nCoV shares the same cell entry receptor, ACE2, with SARS-CoV. What is yet unclear is which animal is the intermediate species between bats and humans. For SARS it was civet cats, for MERS it is camels. While the source of 2019-CoV is yet unknown, early on the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was linked epidemiologically.1,5

The incubation period of this virus has been reported to be 5.2 days (95% CI, 4.1-7.0),6 although there is suggestion that it may be as long as 14 days. It is unclear when transmission begins and, although cases have been reported that suggest transmission during the asymptomatic phase, it is likely that the majority of secondary cases come from symptomatic individuals.

The clinical syndrome is nonspecific and characterized by fever and dry cough in the majority of patients, with about a third experiencing shortness of breath. Some patients have other symptoms such as myalgias, headache, sore throat, and diarrhea. The median age of patients is between 49 and 56 years.7,8 Cases in children have been rare. Although most cases appear to be mild, all patients admitted to the hospital have pneumonia with infiltrates on chest x-ray and ground glass opacities on chest computed tomography.8,9 About a third of patients subsequently developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and required care in the intensive care unit. This is particularly true for patients with comorbid conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.

When a patient presents with fever and respiratory symptoms (in particular a dry cough), clinicians should obtain a detailed travel history. If the patient has a history of travel to Hubei Province in the last 14 days, they should be considered a person under investigation (PUI)

There is little value to wearing a regular face mask absent a high probability of being exposed to coronavirus, but when there is a high degree of suspicion that a patient might have 2019-nCoV, they should have a face mask placed immediately and health care practitioners should wear N95 respirators.

To date, the management of infection has been largely supportive. Lopinavir/ritonavir is being investigated (Chinese clinical trial registry identifier: ChiCTR2000029308) based on previous studies suggesting possible clinical benefit in SARS and MERS. In addition, remdesivir, available through compassionate use, has also been tried and this latter antiviral was used in the first US patient identified.

In response to the outbreak, on January 23, 2020, Chinese authorities suspended travel in and out of Wuhan.10 Similar travel bans followed in other cities in Hubei Province, and in total close to 50 million people have been quarantined, an unprecedented effort to control any infectious disease. Similarly, other countries have responded by suspending travel to and from China and establishing screening at airports that have flights from China. The WHO on January 30 declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (and the US State Department has increased the alert level to 4, recommending that citizens not travel to China).

On January 31 the Trump administration took the unprecedented action to suspend entry into the United States of all immigrants and nonimmigrants who have physically been in China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the previous 14 days. All US citizens and permanent residents who have been in Hubei Province in the last 14 days will also be subject to quarantine.

The effectiveness of these quarantines in curtailing the outbreak is doubtful because these measures have not worked in prior outbreaks, such as the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) or the 2014 Ebola pandemics, and quarantines are contrary to previously proven public health measures and the International Health Regulations.10

What interventions will ultimately control this outbreak is unclear because there is currently no vaccine, and the effectiveness of antivirals is unproven. However, basic public health measures such as staying home when ill, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette including covering the mouth and nose during sneezing and coughing were effective in controlling SARS. As a new outbreak confronts frontline clinicians and public health authorities, these groups must work together to educate the public by providing accurate and up-to-date information and by taking care of patients with respiratory illness in a timely and effective way.



White House response to Trump acquittal

Today, the sham impeachment attempt concocted by Democrats ended in the full vindication and exoneration of President Donald J. Trump. As we have said all along, he is not guilty. The Senate voted to reject the baseless articles of impeachment, and only the President’s political opponents – all Democrats, and one failed Republican presidential candidate – voted for the manufactured impeachment articles.

In what has now become a consistent tradition for Democrats, this was yet another witch-hunt that deprived the President of his due process rights and was based on a series of lies.  Rep. Adam Schiff lied to Congress and the American people with a totally made up statement about the President’s phone call.  Will there be no retribution?  Speaker Nancy Pelosi also lied to the American people about the need to swiftly pass impeachment articles they dreamt up, only to sit on them for a month before sending over to the Senate. 

In the Senate, the Democrats continued to make their political motivations clear – Rep. Schiff proclaimed  the issues “cannot be decided at the ballot box” – proving once again they think they know better than the voters of this country.  This entire effort by the Democrats was aimed at overturning the results of the 2016 election and interfering with the 2020 election.

Throughout this wholly corrupt process, President Trump successfully advanced the interests of the United States and remained focused on the issues that matter to Americans.  He spent his time achieving real victories for the people of this country, and the Democrats – once again – have nothing to show for their fraudulent schemes. The President is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond.



‘Ripped Our Hearts Out’: SOTU Guest Whose Brother Was Murdered Reacts to Pelosi Ripping Up Speech

Leftist animals have no feeling for other people at all

A guest at the State of the Union address whose brother was killed by an illegal alien said it was heartbreaking to watch House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rip up President Donald Trump’s speech.

Appearing on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning, Jody Jones, whose brother was shot and killed by an illegal alien at a California gas station in 2018, recounted how he felt when Pelosi chose to rip up Trump’s speech at the end of the address, calling it “probably the most disrespectful thing I have ever seen in my life.”

“Felt like she ripped our hearts out. All the guests. We couldn’t believe it,” Jones said.

“I don’t care how you feel about somebody. That was probably the most disrespectful thing I have ever seen in my life. Because, when she did that, it just tore us up. We couldn’t believe it,” he continued.

It wasn’t lost on the Fox News hosts or Jones that his brother’s name, Rocky Jones, was on that paper.

Trump invited Jody Jones to be one of his special guests at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address in Congress. Jones’ brother, Rocky, was shot and killed at a California gas station in 2018 by an illegal alien, and his presence Tuesday night was used to highlight the deadly consequences of sanctuary city policies.

The illegal alien who was held responsible for killing Rocky had been arrested for a DUI by local California authorities just days before the shooting. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed an immigration detainer on the individual, but because of sanctuary policy laws in the state, the detainer was ignored.

Jones asked that the legislation responsible for his brother’s death, SB 54, be abolished, and called on Pelosi to be more respectful.

“First of all, let’s do away with the SB 54. I don’t care how you feel about somebody. Think of other people and the others involved, please. Because what you did was very disrespectful, and it really ripped our hearts out,” Jones said.

During his address, Trump called on lawmakers to support legislation introduced by Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, that would allow people like Jones to sue sanctuary cities if a loved one is killed or hurt by such “deadly” policies.

As for Jones, he said this tragedy has affected his family tremendously, but it has not torn them apart.

“We are a pretty tight-knit family,” he said. “It’s really actually made us closer, and with the president inviting us, what an honor that was just to honor our brother and he sure did that.”




STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Susan Collins will vote to acquit Trump, saying he's "learned" from impeachment (CBS News)

2020 VISION: Trump job approval at personal best 49% (Gallup)

PROBABLY A GOOD IDEA: Nevada Democrats vow not to use the same app that contributed to Iowa caucus failure (National Review)

WHO'D A THUNK IT? Sacramento proposes homeless shelter near school. It doesn't go well. (Hot Air)

GOOD GUYS WIN THE SKIRMISH: Virginia Senate blocks another Northam-backed gun bill (Fox News)

CORONAVIRUS: Hong Kong and Taiwan, territories that China sees as its own, restrict travel from the mainland (The Washington Post)

POLICY: Impeachment shows the ethical difficulties of foreign assistance (The Hill)

POLICY: Brexit's three key implications for U.S. policymakers (The Heritage Foundation)


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

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


Thursday, February 06, 2020

Is Trump's Unorthodoxy Becoming Orthodox?

When candidate Donald Trump campaigned on calling China to account for its trade piracy, observers thought he was either crazy or dangerous.

Conventional Washington wisdom had assumed that an ascendant Beijing was almost preordained to world hegemony. Trump's tariffs and polarization of China were considered about the worst thing an American president could do.

The accepted bipartisan strategy was to accommodate, not oppose, China's growing power. The hope was that its newfound wealth and global influence would liberalize the ruling communist government.

Four years later, only a naif believes that. Instead, there is an emerging consensus that China's cutthroat violations of international norms were long ago overdue for an accounting.

China's re-education camps, its Orwellian internal surveillance, its crackdown on Hong Kong democracy activists and its secrecy about the deadly coronavirus outbreak have all convinced the world that China has now become a dangerous international outlier.

Trump courted moderate Arab nations in forming an anti-Iranian coalition opposed to Iran's terrorist and nuclear agendas. His policies utterly reversed the Obama administration's estrangement from Israel and outreach to Tehran.

Last week, Trump nonchalantly offered the Palestinians a take-it-or-leave-it independent state on the West Bank, but without believing that a West Bank settlement was the key to peace in the entire Middle East.

Trump's cancellation of the Iran deal, in particular, was met with international outrage. More global anger followed after the targeted killing of Iranian terrorist leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

In short, Trump's Middle East recalibrations won few supporters among the bipartisan establishment.

But recently, Europeans have privately started to agree that more sanctions are needed on Iran, that the world is better off with Soleimani gone, and that the West Bank is not central to regional peace.

Iran has now become a pariah. U.S.-sponsored sanctions have reduced the theocracy to near-bankruptcy. Most nations understand that if Iran kills Americans or openly starts up its nuclear program, the U.S. will inflict disproportional damage on its infrastructure -- a warning that at first baffled, then angered and now has humiliated Iran.

In other words, there is now an entirely new Middle East orthodoxy that was unimaginable just three years ago.

Suddenly the pro-Iranian, anti-Western Palestinians have few supporters. Israel and a number of prominent Arab nations are unspoken allies of convenience against Iran. And Iran itself is seemingly weaker than at any other time in the theocracy's history.

Stranger still, instead of demanding that the U.S. leave the region, many Middle Eastern nations privately seem eager for more of a now-reluctant U.S. presence.

For the last 20 years, much of the American orthodoxy had agreed with Europe that the increasingly anti-democratic, pan-continental and borderless European Union was the remedy to all of Europe's past 20th-century catastrophes.

As a result, American presidents did not do much when EU nations typically racked up large trade surpluses with the U.S., often a result of asymmetrical fees, tariffs and fines.

The U.S. largely ignored the increasingly anti-democratic and anti-American tone of the EU.

Nor did Americans object much when lackadaisical European NATO nations habitually welched on their defense-spending commitments.

Apparently, past U.S. administrations supposed that a paternalistic America would always be more eager to defend Europe than Europe would be to defend itself.

But then Trump again blew up more old assumptions.

NATO will now only survive if its members keep their word and meet their spending promises. An economically stagnant, oil-hungry and top-heavy EU will have to make radical changes, or it will sink into irrelevance and eventually break apart.

Trump got little credit for these revolutionary changes because he is, after all, Trump -- a wheeler-dealer, an ostentatious outsider, unpredictable in action and not shy about rude talk.

But his paradoxical and successful policies -- the product of conservative, antiwar and pro-worker agendas -- are gradually winning supporters and uniting disparate groups.

After all, the U.S. is beefing up its military but using it only sparingly. It hits back hard at enemies but does not hit first. For Trump, being conventional is dangerous; being unpredictable is far safer.

For all Trump's tough talk, his ace in the hole is American soft power -- based on a globally dominant economy, its global lead in the production of gas and oil, and an omnipresent cultural juggernaut.

For Trump the ex-television star, wars translate into bad ratings and worse optics. As a businessman, he believes needless conflicts get in the way of money-making and win-win deals.

The result of the new orthodoxy is that the U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies. And yet Trump's paradox is that America's successful new foreign policy is as praised privately as it is caricatured publicly -- at least for now.



Democratic Socialism: Straight Talk about Twisted Facts

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you’ve likely noticed that “socialism” has become increasingly popular in the United States, particularly among young people.

When we first noticed this trend in 2016, it made economist Robert Lawson and I, pause, scratch our heads, and ask, “Could this really be a trend with a future?”

We knew that socialist countries had killed roughly 100 million of their own citizens in the 20th century. We knew that socialist economies stagnated.

While socialists preached equality, the reality was, as George Orwell put it in Animal Farm, that some animals were more equal than others in socialist countries.

Orwell’s point? The political elite in truly socialistic countries fare much better than ordinary citizens. Historians long ago discovered Karl Marx’s idea of equality always gets subverted by people who really just want power and, therefore, inevitably organize authoritarian regimes.

How could our fellow Americans, most of whom are intelligent, self-reliant, caring people, want a socialist economic system?

Bob and I have written more than one hundred academic research papers on the importance of economic freedom and how a free enterprise system operates.

Many of these are boring academic articles and even the ones that aren’t boring clearly haven’t significantly influenced the young people attracted to socialism.

So we decided we’d try something different. We got drunk and traveled the unfree world and wrote a book about it.

Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink There Way Through the Unfree World is an off-color, Anthony Bourdain style romp around the globe, where we explore the functioning and history of socialist, fake-socialist and mistakenly-identified-as socialist countries.

We take the economics and history of these places deadly seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. In the process we found out that a country’s booze ends up serving as decent metaphor for how the rest of the economy functions.

So, let’s get one thing straight. The term “socialism” meant/means something different to Marx, Lenin and economists like us who seriously study economic systems.

Measuring Just How Socialistic a Country Really Is

A socialist economic system requires collective (i.e. usually government), rather than private, ownership and/or control over the major inputs to the production process.

In practice, there are varying degrees of government ownership and control, but this is the margin or key indicator that measures how socialist a country is. The greater the degree of government ownership and control, the more socialistic a country.

By that standard, there are really only three countries in the world today that can accurately be labeled as socialist and they are all hell holes: North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Wait, what? No Nordic countries? Nope, because the Nordic countries are mostly capitalist. The vast bulk of their economic activity is based on private ownership and their citizens have a high level of economic freedom.

Nordic countries do have high taxes and big welfare states which makes them less than perfectly capitalist. Those high taxes have consequences.

It has slowed their rates of economic growth and made their booze extremely expensive. But, at least, private ownership (as opposed to state ownership) of the means of production doesn’t impoverish a country the way socialism does.

Venezuela: A Case Study in Making the Wrong Choice

Venezuela was once an extremely prosperous country. Then they gradually chose socialism over capitalism. Today Venezuela is in shambles. They made the wrong choice.

When we traveled there in 2017, the country was facing dire food and medical shortages, frequent power outages, the world’s highest inflation rate, violent crime, serious political unrest and was in a declared state of emergency.

But only several years before, Venezuela was held up as an example of successful “democratic socialism” by many celebrities, social media sites, news publications and the like.

In 1998 Hugo Chavez was democratically elected, in what international observers classified as a fair election, promising his version of “Bolivarian socialism.”

Venezuela sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves and, for a while, the government was able to sell oil on the international market and import enough stuff to make it appear to be prosperous.

But there’s a difference between appearances and reality. The socialist policies were destroying the ability of Venezuelans to produce at home.

When oil prices plummeted, the country was unable to feed itself. Even its beer producer, Polar, even had to cease beer production for lack of Barley.

Venezuela’s democratic freedoms have vanished. Socialism requires centralized control over the economy. With that control comes the power to punish political rivals and undermine democratic opposition.

Nobel Prize winning economist F.A. Hayek long ago argued in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom that it is impossible to maintain a large degree of democratic freedom without also maintaining a large degree of economic freedom.

Simply put, that’s why all socialist economies soon become totalitarian dictatorships. Venezuela is the most recent to fall prey to the promise of utopian coddling and a large degree of economic freedom only to plunge down the road to serfdom.

In Conclusion

Our global tour took us to Sweden, Venezuela, Cuba, Korea, China, Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, and then back in the USSA where we attended the largest socialist conference in the United States.

Most of the young people we met at the conference didn’t want the United States to become like the Soviet Union, but, not surprisingly, most of them also didn’t understand the link between economic and political freedoms.

Space doesn’t permit me to share more of our travels here. So, if you’re interested in learning more, pick up a copy of Socialism Sucks. Cheers!




TIME FOR ANSWERS: Senate Intelligence Committee will call Ukraine whistleblower to testify, Lindsey Graham reveals (The Daily Wire)

IF IT HELPS THE NARRATIVE... Michael Bloomberg ad uses Obama-era footage of caged migrants to criticize Trump (The Daily Caller)

GET WELL SOON: Rush Limbaugh announces he has "advanced lung cancer" (Fox News)

EXPLOITING A VICTIM: Climate alarmists' teenage puppet Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (The Daily Signal)

NOT JUST VIRGINIA: Hawaii gun owners face tidal wave of anti-Second Amendment bills (Bearing Arms)

THANKFULLY, MOST OF THE COUNTRY ISN'T LISTENING: Democrats who use Twitter are more ideological and less willing to compromise (National Review)

POLICY: Hopefully, Iowa has failed the nation for the last time (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: How Keynesian ideas weaken economic fundamentals (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 hereHome page supplement


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Race Relations Have Improved Dramatically Since Trump Took Office

The election of Barack Obama was seen as a watershed moment in America's history. The question of whether could elect a black man president had been answered, and some saw this as proof that America had moved beyond its past stains of slavery, segregation, and other racial injustices. While many debated the meaning of his election, an overwhelming majority of Americans (70 percent) predicted that Obama's presidency would result in significant improvements in race relations.

But that's not what happened at all. Polls that showed a majority of Americans believed race relations got worse under Obama. Because of Obama's divisive presidency, race relations actually reached an all-time low on his watch.

Obama's record on race relations was so horrible that it seems many have actually tried to blame his failure on Trump. Back in December, a USA Today columnist falsely implied that race relations improved under Obama and have been declining under Trump.

We now have new evidence that shows that Trump's record on race relations is far superior to Obama's as a new Gallup survey shows that satisfaction with race relations has increased 14 percent since Trump's inauguration. America's satisfaction with race relations went from 22 percent in January 2017 to 36 percent in January 2020, a remarkable jump considering the desperate efforts of Democrats and media to paint President Trump as a racist white nationalist.

There's still room for improvement, however. National Review notes that satisfaction with race relations "still remains 8 points lower than it was in 2001" and that a majority of Americans are still dissatisfied with race relations, but it's clear that Trump has been repairing the damage done by Barack Obama.

Americans may be more satisfied with the state of race relations, but Democrat attacks on Trump still have him well underwater with African Americans. According to a Washington Post poll, “more than 8 in 10 black Americans say they believe Trump is a racist and that he has made racism a bigger problem in the country. Nine in 10 disapprove of his job performance overall.” While African Americans may be convinced by the media Trump is a racist, they can't deny their situation has improved since he took office. Under Trump, African American unemployment is at its lowest rate in history. If Trump can adequately get the message out and convince them that he deserves the credit for this, his support amongst African Americans should increase in 2020, making him that much tougher to beat in November.



SUSPICIOUS: Over 18,000 Extra Names on Iowa Voting Rolls

On Monday, Judicial Watch reported that eight counties in the state of Iowa have registration rates above 100 percent, adding at least 18,658 extra names to the Iowa voting rolls. The Iowa caucuses are to be held on Monday.

Of course, this phenomenon isn't limited to just Iowa. According to Judicial Watch’s analysis of government data, "378 counties nationwide that have more voter registrations than citizens living there who are old enough to vote, i.e., counties where registration rates exceed 100%."

House Democrats Pass Bill to Fight Voter ID Laws Nationwide
These 378 counties have a combined 2.5 million registrations over the 100% mark. This problem is even bigger considering that the Census Bureau estimated in 2014 that that 64.6 percent of eligible adults were registered to vote in 2014. There are many other counties with suspiciously high registration rates.

“Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections and Iowa needs to undertake a serious effort to address its voting rolls,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that states can purge their voter rolls of dormant and invalid voter registrations, in a ruling widely believed will hurt Democrats for the obvious reasons connected to voter fraud.



Liberal know-it-all billionaires side with insurance companies on surprise medical billing

You may have never heard of them, but there is a new, young billionaire couple determined to leave their mark on society. John and Laura Arnold are not interested in the type of philanthropy that builds libraries and college buildings or feeds, clothes, shelters, and educates the poor. No, like George Soros, the Arnolds are on a mission to “change the country,” whether we like it or not.

When these arrogant elitists are not busy trying to erode our gun rights, promoting abortion, funding spying on citizens, or trying to upend our electoral system, they are busy trying to cut medical professionals pay. Specifically, the liberal power couple wants to address the issue of surprise medical billing by reducing the amount of money that medical professionals are paid for providing out-of-network care to patients.

It is unclear why a guy who made his fortune betting on natural gas prices and a lawyer who worked in the oil industry would feel the need to weigh in on medical billing. But apparently they do. Of course, due to the fact that they are siding with the insurance industry, it does raise questions about whether or not they are invested in any insurance companies and stand to grow richer if their policy wishes are enacted.

To be sure, surprise medical billing is a problem. Even if you go to an in-network hospital for care, you could be treated by an out-of-network doctor and wind up with an unexpectedly large bill. There are a couple main proposals to address the issue.

One proposal, which the Arnolds support, would force out-of-network healthcare providers to accept whatever an insurance company pays in-network providers for their services. It is claimed that this proposal would save insurance companies money and, in turn, reduce costs for consumers and the government. Of course, it could lead to more providers exiting the field, which could be particularly problematic for rural areas that already lack adequate access to health care.

Forcing medical care providers to take whatever an insurance company offers is concerning. If this were to be made an acceptable practice, what would stop the government from arbitrarily reducing prices of anything that it purchases?

Imagine the amounts of money that could be saved if the government required office supply companies and cleaning companies to sell their products and services at cost. While that might seem absurd, is it any more absurd than arbitrarily reducing medical providers’ payments? Just before Enron’s implosion, John Arnold received an $8 million bonus. While he’s happy to suggest that the government should pass legislation that would lead to medical professionals being paid less, one suspects that he would have objected to a law that reduced his bonus even if it saved the government money.

A better proposal would require binding arbitration if a health insurance company and a medical care provider could not agree on pricing. As with the other proposal, insurers and providers — rather than patients — would be responsible for resolving disputes over surprise bills. States as divergent as Texas and New York have already passed such legislation.

For a number of years the Right has been telling “woke” entertainers to kindly “shut up and sing.” Now it is time for the Right to deliver a message to the “woke” billionaires, like George Soros, Tom Steyer, and John and Laura Arnold: “Shut up and drink your champagne.”

Just because these liberal billionaires have been financially successful does not mean that they have any special insight into health care, abortion, law enforcement, or criminal justice policies. If they are not adequately fulfilled by their champagne-drinking and feel the need to give back to society, maybe they should reconsider feeding, clothing, sheltering, and educating the poor – even though they might find it boring or beneath them.



Trump's Acquittal Won't Stop Democrats' Witch Hunt; More Investigations Are Coming

If you think that after Trump is acquitted by the Senate that Democrats are going to sit in a corner and lick their wounds, you have another thing coming.  Trump's inevitable acquittal won't stop Democrats from trying to find some crime they can pin on him. In fact, Democrats have "a list of inquiries they plan to pursue when the impeachment saga is over," Bloomberg reports.

“The investigations and oversight will continue,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, the chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee. “We’ve got several cases.”

According to the report, "Democratic-led committees in the House will keep seeking a wide range of evidence and testimony as they look into Trump’s administration, his policies and his businesses and finances." They will also continue to investigate his dealings with Ukraine.

Democrats Already Preparing for a SECOND Impeachment of Trump

Democrats have been trying force the release of Trump's tax returns, despite him having no legal or constitutional requirement to do so, or the fact there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing on his part.

The House Ways and Means Committee, led by Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, is still seeking the president’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. The House Financial Services and Intelligence committees, chaired by California Representatives Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff, have been pursuing in the courts information from Trump’s lenders, including Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp.

One of the cases before the Supreme Court involves Maloney’s committee and centers on whether the Constitution prohibits subpoenas issued to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, LLP. The committee wants Mazars to provide non-privileged financial records relating to Trump and certain of his business entities.

Trump sued in April to block the panel’s subpoena for eight years of financial records held by Mazars.

The committee also is pressing in federal court for documents tied to its investigation into the Trump administration’s failed bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The House Judiciary Committee is also attempting to gain access to secret grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Apparently they expect proof of Russian collusion to be somewhere in there, despite Mueller's debunking of the Russian collusion hoax.

House Democrats are undeterred by the risks of voter backlash over their endless investigations. “We’re not going to back off,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.




KEEP AMERICA GREAT: Trump's great Alice Johnson Super Bowl ad reminds us he deserves major credit for criminal-justice reform (Washington Examiner)

A BLIND SQUIRREL FINDS A NUT: NFL airs patriotic tribute to the American flag during Super Bowl (The Daily Wire)

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS: Michael Bloomberg's claim about "children" killed by "gun violence" is off by 73% (Reason)

INDIVIDUAL-MANDATE UPDATE: Fifth Circuit declines to rehear ObamaCare severability case en banc (Reason)

CORRUPTION: Ilhan Omar paid additional $215,000 from campaign coffers to alleged boyfriend's firm (The Washington Free Beacon)

INTRAPARTY SQUABBLE, PART I: 2020 Democrats slam party rule change that could let Bloomberg debate (Washington Examiner)

INTRAPARTY SQUABBLE, PART II: Hillary Clinton blames Bernie Sanders for disunity in Democrat Party (Washington Examiner)

"FOREIGN NATION[S] ... MUST SATISFY BASIC SECURITY CONDITIONS": Trump expands travel ban to six new countries (The Washington Times)

DESPITE THE BAN ON "POINTY KNIVES": Just-freed terrorist killed by cops after London stabbing spree (The Daily Beast)

POLICY: The coronavirus is a big economic deal (American Enterprise Institute)

POLICY: Why American scientists take Chinese money (National Review)


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 hereHome page supplement


Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Sean Gabb on Brexit

(Sean Gabb is an English libertarian and a patriot)

Yesterday evening – that is, the 31st January 2020 – at 11pm GMT, my country left the European Union. We did so after four years of heated and often hysterical argument. Nothing much seemed to have changed this morning. I went out shopping, to see the same people buying the same things at the same prices. Since we are now in a transition period, lasting till the end of this year, in which we remain within the Single Market and subject to the rules of the European Union, it would have been odd if anything visible had changed. Yet, if nothing visible had changed, one very important thing has changed.

The ruling class has suffered its first serious defeat in living memory. The coalition of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, educators, media people and associated business interests who draw wealth and power from an extended state was committed to European Union membership. This coalition was never uniformly committed to membership. Some elements were strongly committed, others only mildly. But all were agreed that membership was good for them, so far as it blurred the lines of accountability and gave the exercise of power a supranational appearance. This was the position before the 2016 Referendum, which was not expected to go as it did. When the result was to leave, ruling class support for membership strengthened. Long before it ended, the referendum campaign had become a vote of confidence in the ruling class. Losing this vote was a shock. The people could not be given what they had asked for. It would set a precedent. Give them that, and they would start believing they lived in a democracy where votes counted for something. If this happened, the people might be inclined to start asking for other things – all things variously unwelcome within the ruling class.

The ruling class response to losing fell under two headings. One was to deny the validity of the vote and to demand another, and to make sure that this one was rigged in favour of remaining. The other was to deliver an exit so partial that it amounted to continued membership, and that could be upgraded to full membership after a few years of propaganda. These responses eventually merged into a single project of dragging things out so long that the people would get bored and stop demanding that their voice should be heard.

These responses failed. The people had spoken, and they continued speaking – eventually giving the Conservatives their biggest majority in a generation. Because of this, our departure yesterday was more definite than had previously been imagined. Immediately after the Referendum, I think most of us would have accepted a slow disengagement – perhaps including ten or twenty years of remaining within the Single Market, though out of the customs and political union. The next three years of bad faith killed any taste for gradualism.

I have mentioned the bad faith of our own rulers. But the European Union also overplayed its hand. It could have put on a sad face, and entered into one of those “constructive dialogues” that give negotiating parties nearly everything they think essential, and leave no bitter aftertaste. Instead, the central institutions and the member states put on very hard faces and insisted on treating us like a defeated or beggared nation with nowhere else to turn. It may be that they wanted to make us an example to any other member state inclined to leave. It may be that they saw the political deadlock in London as an excuse for paying us back for everything we had done to them since Crecy and Agincourt.

And so we are leaving. Since yesterday, we have been outside the political union. We have another eleven months inside the economic union. During this transition, we can try to arrange a satisfactory close relationship. If this cannot be arranged, we are at perfect liberty to walk away and trade with the European Union on the same basis as we trade with Ecuador and Vietnam.

A further point is that the series of political crises we have faced since 2016 has strengthened trust in our governing institutions. We are most definitely not what we could have become had the right choices been made after about 1910. Even so, we can take pride in the nature and resolution of the crises we have faced. Our ruling class did not want us to leave. It liked the European Union for sinister reasons. It may also have believed continued membership was in the public interest. To keep us in, it used every legal device the Constitution allowed. It ripped up centuries of convention in the House of Commons. It poured out a flood of propaganda. It appealed repeatedly to the biased judges of the Supreme Court. Yet it never stepped actually outside the law. Nor did my side lose its head. Given the nature of the dispute, there are few countries that would not have descended into violence or other illegality. In my country, we were finally allowed a general election, in which the votes were freely cast and honestly counted. The voice of the people could be shouted down after June 2016. It was not shouted down after December 2019. We left last night with a few peaceful demonstrations of joy or disappointment. Today, it was shopping as usual.

So far as libertarians and conservatives are at war with a bloated managerial state, we have won just a single battle. It is, however, a potentially significant battle. Since the end of the Cold War, we have been told with increasing confidence that we were living in a “post-democratic age,” where government would move inexorably upwards to the supranational level. Well, the people of a rather important country have now established that their voice must be heard and that government must be accountable to them.

I will end by slightly adapting the words of Pitt the Younger after the Battle of Trafalgar: “England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save the world by her example.”

The people of my country have stood firm. How firm will the American people stand this coming November?



Dershowitz: ‘Pelosi Doesn’t Understand What Impeachment Is’: If Trump’s Acquitted, ‘The Impeachment Disappears’

“Nancy Pelosi doesn’t understand what impeachment is,” renowned Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday, debunking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) proclamation that, even if acquitted, President Donald Trump will be “impeached forever.”

An “impeachment” is simply a grand jury presentation and – just as being found innocent by a jury removes an indictment – a Senate acquittal makes an impeachment "disappear," Dershowitz explained in a Fox News Channel interview with host Sean Hannity:

“What she has said is, even if the president is acquitted, the impeachment stands - No." "That's like saying that, if a person is indicted and the jury acquits 12-0 in five minutes, he’s still indicted."

"No - the impeachment disappears. The impeachment is only a grand jury presentment."

Some Democrats even wanted to impeach President Ronald Reagan for “abuse of power,” Dershowitz recalled. If Reagan could be impeached for that, so could every U.S. president in history, he concluded.



Dershowitz dismantled the Democrats’ impeachment arguments

Monday, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz dismantled the Democrats’ impeachment arguments. He argued that the two articles of impeachment do not rest on identifiable crimes, much less impeachable offenses. I’ll spare you his historical lecture and summarize his main points.

Democrats are attempting to impeach President Trump for “obstruction of Congress” because he refused to comply with many of their demands during the course of their impeachment investigation.

But what they see as “Obstruction of Congress,” others see as “Separation of Powers.” If defending the authority of the executive branch is a crime, then the founders were criminals. But the left probably believes that anyway.

When disputes arise over the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, they go to the courts to decide the issue. But if it’s a crime for a president to resist Congress when it overreaches, then every president is going to be impeached.

The president is also being impeached for “Abuse of Power.” But that charge is what critics always say about their opponents. Even George Washington, the most admired of our founders, was accused of abusing his power.

Professor Dershowitz went on to cite 20 presidents, from Washington to Obama, who were accused of abuse of power. For example:

Thomas Jefferson dramatically expanded the size of the country through the Louisiana Purchase without congressional authorization.

Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War.

Franklin Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans during World War II due to concerns about national security.

Ultimately, Donald Trump is being impeached because he defeated Hillary Clinton, which the left considers a “high crime.” He’s also being impeached because he is doing what he said he would do.

He’s putting the interests of the country first with trade deals and immigration policies that put American workers first. He’s defending the sanctity of life and religious liberty by breaking the left’s stranglehold over our courts. Those are Trump’s “crimes,” which our political elites cannot tolerate.

Sadly, there is a group of Republicans who still think The New York Times is a legitimate news outlet. They should forget about John Bolton’s book. As Professor Dershowitz made clear, there is no impeachable crime here regardless of what is or is not in Bolton’s book.

By the way, Fred Fleitz, Bolton’s former chief of staff, published an excellent opinion piece calling on Bolton to withdraw his book until after the 2020 election.



Fat Black Plans to Be President by 2040

Former erotic novelist Stacey Abrams is on a mission. Having never quite gotten over her defeat in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, she's still dreaming big, claiming in an interview released on Friday that she has a "plan" to be president of the United States by 2040.

"Do you think the country will elect a woman president in the next 20 years?" asked FiveThirtyEight reporter Clare Malone.

"Yes, absolutely," Abrams responded.

When Malone asked her if she thinks this country would elect a black woman, Abrams gave the same answer.

But then, Malone asked, "Do you think they'll elect you?"

Abrams replied, "Yes, I do. That's my plan. And I'm very pragmatic."

Abrams narrowly lost her election in 2018, and to this day refuses to concede that she lost. Many Democrats, including 2020 presidential candidates have claimed, without evidence, that Abrams' election was stolen because of Republican voter suppression. Abrams maintained notoriety in the Democratic Party for being a sore loser. Hillary Clinton, who said that if Trump didn't concede the 2016 election it would be a "direct threat to our democracy" even said this past September that "Stacey Abrams should be governor" of Georgia.



Americans Are Feeling Pretty Optimistic

Trump's results more influential than Democrat wails

As the DC Demos' "Hate Trump" impeachment reaches its apex, the rest of the country is doing alright. 

Amidst all the partisan rancor and hatred spewing from our nation’s capital — at the apex of the Democrats’ impeachment charade and as broadcast across the nation by their Leftmedia propagandists, most Americans are more upbeat about the country and their own prospects.

A Gallup poll this week revealed some fascinating findings. Most encouraging is this: An astounding 84% said they’re satisfied with “the overall quality of life,” and “Americans’ overall satisfaction with the country’s direction is at its highest point since 2005.”

Gallup also says, “Average satisfaction across 27 issues is higher than when [Donald Trump] took office.” Issues with wide satisfaction include the economy (68%), “the opportunity for a person to get ahead by working hard” (72%), and military strength (81%). All three areas have gained tremendously since Trump was elected.

It’s no surprise that there’s plenty of dissatisfaction, though. Income distribution, race relations, immigration, healthcare, abortion, poverty and homelessness, and “the moral and ethical climate” are all areas where dissatisfaction runs high. So, are politicians constantly talking about those issues because people are unhappy, or are people unhappy because politicians won’t leave those issues alone? We know it’s primarily the latter, because the Democrat platform is depends on fomenting division, hate and fear, and many of their constituents buy it.

We find it heartening that while one party is doggedly trying to impeach the president from the opposite party, most Americans see clearly the problems we face but have a positive view of the greatest nation on earth.



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 hereHome page supplement


Monday, February 03, 2020

Donald Trump set for impeachment acquittal after Senate votes to reject additional witnesses

Donald Trump is heading for a speedy acquittal next week after the Senate voted against bringing additional impeachment witnesses.

The US Senate has narrowly rejected Democratic demands to summon additional witnesses for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, all but ensuring Trump’s acquittal in just the third trial to threaten a president’s removal in US history.

But senators pushed off final voting on his fate to next Wednesday.

The delay in timing showed the weight of a historic vote bearing down on senators, despite prodding by the president eager to have it all behind him in an election year and ahead of his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke by phone to lock in the schedule during a tense night at the Capitol as rushed negotiations proceeded on and off the Senate floor.

The president wanted to arrive for his speech at the Capitol with acquittal secured, but that will not happen.

Instead, the trial will resume Monday for final arguments, with time Monday and Tuesday for senators to speak. The final voting is planned for 4pm Wednesday, the day after Trump’s speech.

Trump’s acquittal is all but certain in the Senate, where his GOP allies hold the majority and there’s nowhere near the two-thirds needed for conviction and removal.

Nor will he face potentially damaging, open-Senate testimony from witnesses.

Despite the Democrats’ singular focus on hearing new testimony, the Republican majority brushed past those demands and will make this the first impeachment trial without witnesses.

Even new revelations Friday from former national security adviser John Bolton did not sway GOP senators, who said they’d heard enough.

That means the eventual outcome for Trump will be an acquittal “in name only,” said Florida Democratic Representative Val Demings, a House prosecutor, during final debate.

Mr Trump was impeached by the House last month on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress as he tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid as leverage as the ally fought Russia.

He is charged with then blocking the congressional probe of his actions.

Senators rejected the Democrats’ effort to allow new witnesses, 51-49, a near party-line vote. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah voted with the Democrats, but that was not enough.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called that decision “a tragedy on a very large scale.” But Republicans said Mr Trump’s acquittal was justified and inevitable.

The Democrats had badly wanted testimony from Mr Bolton, whose forthcoming book links Mr Trump directly to the charges. But Mr Bolton won’t be summoned, and none of this appeared to affect the trial’s expected outcome.

Democrats forced a series of new procedural votes late Friday to call Mr Bolton and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, among others, but all were rejected.

In an unpublished manuscript, Mr Bolton has written that the president asked him during an Oval Office meeting in early May to bolster his effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to a person who read the passage and told The Associated Press.

The person, who was not authorised to disclose contents of the book, spoke only on condition of anonymity.

In the meeting, Mr Bolton said the president asked him to call new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and persuade him to meet with Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who was planning to go to Ukraine to coax the Ukrainians to investigate the president’s political rivals.

Mr Bolton writes that he never made the call to Mr Zelenskiy after the meeting, which included acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

The White House has blocked its officials from testifying in the proceedings and objected that there are “significant amounts of classified information” in Mr Bolton’s manuscript. Mr Bolton resigned last September — Mr Trump says he was fired — and he and his lawyer have insisted the book does not contain any classified information.

There is no question, Senator Lamar Alexander said, that President Donald Trump actions were “inappropriate” when he asked Ukraine’s leader to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden. But not bad enough, he said, to warrant Mr Trump’s removal from office, or even to hear from witnesses or other evidence.

That distinction has been embraced by other Republicans as the trial moves toward a near-certain acquittal of the president in the coming days.

It’s also in line with arguments from Mr Trump’s legal team, which after initially asserting that the president did “absolutely nothing wrong” moved toward insisting that Trump had done nothing impeachable — and attacked the trial as a partisan exercise.

The evolving arguments have allowed Republicans to cite political and historical grounds for acquitting Mr Trump without feeling compelled to condone his behaviour, a split-the-difference judgment that avoids a clean break with the president as he stands for re-election.

Mr Alexander, who is retiring from office at the end of the year, was the most vocal, saying he did not need to hear more evidence to conclude that Mr Trump was wrong to ask a foreign leader to investigate a rival.

“But,” said Mr Alexander, “the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.”

Similarly, Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican whose opinions have been closely watched because of her centrist reputation, issued a five-paragraph statement Friday that declared her opposition to witnesses without mentioning Mr Trump once or registering any support for his actions.

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” Ms Murkowski said. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything.”



The Cult of Western Shaming

Victor Davis Hanson

An ancient habit of Western elites is a certain selectivity in condemnation.  Sometimes Westerners apply critical standards to the West that they would never apply to other nations.

My colleague at the Hoover Institution, historian Niall Ferguson, has pointed out that Swedish green-teen celebrity Greta Thunberg might be more effective in her advocacy for reducing carbon emissions by redirecting her animus. Instead of hectoring Europeans and Americans, who have recently achieved the planet’s most dramatic drops in the use of fossil fuels, Thunberg might instead turn her attention to China and India to offer her “how dare you” complaints to get their leaders to curb carbon emissions.

Whether the world continues to spew carbons will depend largely on policies in China and India. After all, these two countries account for over a third of the global population and continue to grow their coal-based industries.

In the late 1950s, many elites in United States bought the Soviet Union line that the march of global communism would “bury” the West. Then, as Soviet power eroded in the 1980s, Japan Inc. and its ascendant model of state-sponsored industry became the preferred alternative to Western-style democratic capitalism.

Once Japan’s economy ossified, the new utopia of the 1990s was supposedly the emerging European Union. Americans were supposed to be awed that the euro gained ground on the dollar. Europe’s borderless democratic socialism and its “soft power” were declared preferable to the reactionary U.S.

By 2015, the EU was a mess, so China was preordained as the inevitable global superpower. American intellectuals pointed to its high-speed rail transportation, solar industries and gleaming airports, in contrast to the hollowed-out and grubby American heartland.

Now the curtain has been pulled back on the interior rot of the Chinese Communist Party, its gulag-like re-education camps, its systematic mercantile cheating, its Orwellian surveillance apparatus, its serial public health crises and its primitive hinterland infrastructure.

After the calcification of the Soviet Union, Japan Inc., the EU and the Chinese superpower, no one quite knows which alternative will next supposedly bury America.

The U.S. and Europe are often quite critical of violence against women, minorities and gays. The European Union, for example, has often singled out Israel for its supposed mistreatment of Palestinians on the West Bank.

Yet if the purpose of Western human rights activism is to curb global bias and hate, then it would be far more cost-effective to concentrate on the greatest offenders.

China is currently detaining about a million Muslim Uighurs in re-education camps. Yet activist groups aren’t calling for divestment, boycotts and sanctions against Beijing in the same way they target Israel.

Homosexuality is a capital crime in Iran. Scores of Iranian gays reportedly have been incarcerated and thousands executed under theocratic law since the fall of the Shah in 1979. Yet rarely do Western activist groups call for global ostracism of Iran.

Don’t look to the United Nations Human Rights Council for any meaningful condemnation of worldwide prejudice and hatred, although it is a frequent critic of both the U.S. and Israel.

Many of the 47 member nations of the Human Rights Council are habitual violators of human rights. In 2017, nine member nations persecuted citizens who were actively working to implement U.N. standards of human rights.

There are many reasons for Westerners’ selective outrage and pessimism toward their own culture. Cowardice explains some of the asymmetry. Blasting tiny democratic Israel will not result in any retaliation. Taking on a powerful China or a murderous Iran could earn retribution.

Guilt also explains some of the selectivity. European nations are still blamed for 19th century colonialism and imperialism. They will always seek absolution, as the citizens of former colonial and Third World nations act like perpetual victims — even well into the postmodern 21st century.

Virtue-signaling is increasingly common. Western elites often harangue about misdemeanors when they cannot address felonies — a strange sort of psychological penance that excuses their impotence.

It is much easier for the city of Berkeley to ban clean-burning, U.S.-produced natural gas in newly constructed buildings than it is to outlaw far dirtier crude oil from Saudi Arabia. Currently, the sexist, homophobic, autocratic Saudis are the largest source of imported oil in California, sending the state some 100 million barrels per year, without which thousands of Berkeley motorists could not get to work. Apparently, outlawing clean, domestic natural gas allows one to justify importing unclean Saudi oil.

Western elites are perpetually aggrieved. But the next time they direct their lectures at a particular target, consider the source and motivation of their outrage.




ADDRESSING EXPLOITATION: Trump to sign executive order combating human trafficking (The Hill)

IDEOLOGY TRUMPS MORALITY: Warren vows to give "young trans person" veto power over her secretary of education pick (National Review)

MEMO TO DON LEMON: Trump supporters score higher on verbal ability tests (The Volokh Conspiracy)

ATTACK FALLOUT: Fourteen more U.S. troops diagnosed with brain injury following Iranian missile attack, bring the total to 64 (NBC News)

POLICY: Do subprime auto loans threaten the U.S. economy? (RealClearPolicy)

POLICY: Poverty stats greatly overstate how many Americans are destitute (Intellectual Takeout)

WHO'S READY FOR MORE DEBT? House Democrats release $760 billion "green" infrastructure plan (National Review)

SELF-AWARENESS FAIL: Elizabeth "Fauxcahontas" Warren proposes criminal penalties for spreading voting disinformation online (CNBC)

"I DID NOT LIE TO THEM": Michael Flynn takes on "egregious" FBI misconduct, little-known FBI agent in guilty-plea withdrawal (Fox News)

BEYOND IDIOTIC: Convicted of sex crimes as a man, felon no longer deemed threat because of gender change (Storm Lake Times)

SLOW BUT STEADY: Fourth-quarter GDP rose only 2.1% and full-year 2019 posts slowest growth in three years at 2.3% (CNBC)

APEX REACHED? Drug deaths fall for first time in nearly 20 years, buoying U.S. life expectancy (Washington Examiner)

THOUSAND TALENTS PLAN: Acclaimed Harvard scientist is arrested, accused of lying about ties to China (NPR)

OPEN BORDERS: MS-13 gang member deported five times found in U.S. again (The Daily Wire)

WHEN THEY CAN'T GO OVER THEY GO UNDER: Feds expose longest illicit cross-border tunnel ever discovered on southwest border (The Daily Wire)


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 hereHome page supplement


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Impeachment Is Killing Trump Derangement Syndrome

You can only hit the rage button so many times.

Daniel Greenfield

71% of Americans watched the Watergate hearings live. The Iran-Contra hearings beat regular programming on the big three networks which aired them live and without commercial breaks. 20 million tuned in to watch Anita Hill recite her dishonest smears against Justice Clarence Thomas.

Televised hearings had worked for the Democrats before. And they doubled down on them now.

Around 20 million watched Comey’s testimony and the attempt to ‘Thomas’ Justice Kavanaugh. Michael Cohen’s appearance took ratings down to 15 million. Mueller’s belated appearance brought them down to 13 million. The first day of the House impeachment proceedings was watched by only 13 million.

The first day of the Senate impeachment trial saw ratings fall to under 12 million. By the second day, they had fallen to 9 million.

This is the era of the internet. Are television ratings down because people are turning to websites?

Google Trends tracks impeachment interest as about a quarter of the level in late December. Taboola shows impeachment stories dropping from 20 million-page views to 15 million-page views in one week. Newswhip shows an even more dramatic decline from 80 million weekly engagements for impeachment content during the House hearings down to 22 million for the Senate trial.

While the media remains obsessed with impeachment, it’s well aware that the outbreak of the coronavirus and Kobe’s crash are drawing in far bigger audiences than the antics in the Senate.

The Democrats had spent years building up to this climactic moment, but now no one’s even watching.

The declining ratings tell the tale of a scam gone wrong. The media spent years promising a definitive takedown of Trump. Comey’s testimony was going to take down Trump. And then the Mueller investigation would see him in prison. Impeachment was going to be the grand finale. But it’s over.

It was always over once it was clear that Trump had the votes to survive a Senate trial.

And if he does, then what’s the point? The ratings declines reflect public sentiment that the trial is pointless and fatigue with Trump Derangement Syndrome that had buoyed the media for years.

You can only hit the rage button so many times. And then the rats will no longer stir from their cages.

The New York Times’ stock price tripled after Trump won outperforming the S&P 500 by six times. In the week after his victory, it added 41,000 subscribers. The paper went from an $8 million loss to a $13 million profit. Much of the growth was driven by the paper’s stream of exclusives targeting Trump.

 But there are signs this year that the media’s free Trump ride is over. In November, the Times shocked investors with the news that ad revenues had fallen over 6%. In early trading, its stock was down 9%. While there’s still plenty of money coming in, turbulence is growing and growth is becoming more uncertain. And, more significantly, the New York Times has been losing the engagement battle.

In May, the New York Times fell out of the top three, displaced by the Daily Mail. By November, it had fallen to seventh place. Its Facebook growth fell from 25% in 2017 to 3.5%. Its Twitter follower growth also dropped from 50% annually to only 5%. Another way to see the 1619 Project is as a desperate bid for relevance and traffic even as the appeal of Trump Derangement Syndrome continues to crater.

The TDS crash was even more obvious on cable news where CNN closed the year with a 9% decline in viewers and MSNBC suffered a 3% drop. Numbers like these foreshadow a much bigger collapse.

National newspapers and cable news had been using Trump Derangement Syndrome to stave off the inevitable decline in their industry. And it worked. A handful of outlets grew and went on hiring binges even while their local and digital cousins held mass purges, shut down, or cut everything to the bone.

But everything has to end sooner or later.

Trump Derangement Syndrome is burning out the core audiences that made the media profitable. The Impeachment Eve rallies failed miserably with turnouts in the hundreds in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. A month later, turnout at the Women’s March had declined from the hundreds of thousands to the thousands. Even as impeachment was underway, the audience wasn’t there.

"Breaking Down the Big Impeachment Rally Mystery," an NBC News headline speculated. "Democrats have flooded the streets by the millions to protest Trump before. So why did the protests calling for his removal stay so modest?"

"I Don't Understand Why There Aren't Thousands of People Protesting the Senate Trial," Esquire fumed.

"Where the Hell are the Impeachment Protests?" Washingtonian demanded.

Same place as the ratings.

After Comey, the Kavanaugh hearings, and the Mueller investigation, burnout and defeatism has set in. Even as House and Senate Democrats pursued their misguided impeachment bid, their base was no longer showing up. Not in the streets or even on their television sets. They’re not up for it anymore.

Charlie Brown had finally figured out that he was never going to be allowed to kick the orange football.

Democrats finally understand that the battle to remove President Trump won’t be fought by Comey, Mueller, Schiff, and, Nadler, or any of the other grifters, but by a choice of extraordinarily poor 2020 candidates. While the media promised that Trump would be removed by misuse of the 25th Amendment, by Robert Mueller, or, finally by impeachment, the Democrats paid too little mind to 2020.

And, as a result, their best bet for taking down Trump has narrowed down to Biden or Bernie. Meanwhile good economic news is boosting Trump’s popularity and improving his chances.

Most Democrats now understand that removing Trump is a dead end. And defeating him now looks more unlikely than ever before. While they screamed in the streets, the election was already being lost.

This is what Trump Derangement Syndrome has wrought.

The only thing that years of concentrated fury have accomplished is the derangement and corruption of the Democrats. Trump Derangement Syndrome didn’t defeat Trump, it defeated the Democrats. Even as the election approaches, the party base is tired and feels futile. Every effort to bring down Trump has fallen short. Instead of using the 2018 election to build momentum, House Democrats squandered it.

And now they’re going to be heading into the primaries fresh off another defeat on impeachment.

Trump Derangement Syndrome has burned out Democrats. It hollowed out the media, turned the House victory sour, overshadowed the primaries, and put the party on a path to another catastrophe.

The mobs have left. The viewers aren’t there. Impeachment is the final act of Trump Derangement Syndrome. And the furious screamers aren’t sticking around for the miserable conclusion of the show.

Meanwhile the Democrats and the media that cultivated TDS are about to face their own reckoning.

Trump Derangement Syndrome was the weapon that was going to bring down Trump. Without it, they don’t have a plan to win. They’ve done their worst. And now there’s nothing else left for the Left.



Democrats: Destroying America   

From the 2016 election campaign right through the current travesty of impeachment, the Democrat Party and its march-in-lockstep media allies have made it clear that their hatred of Donald Trump — which necessitates his removal by any means necessary — transcends any resulting damage they have done to the nation. Damage that may be irreparable.

Let’s begin with a reality check. The current impeachment effort is only the latest vehicle being used to remove Trump from office. Previous vehicles included the emoluments clause, the Logan Act, the 25th Amendment, and the Russia investigation. Prior to his inauguration, the media campaigned for Democrats to reach a deal with Republicans and persuade Electoral College electors to defect, and The Washington Post reported efforts to impeach Trump had begun 17 minutes after he was sworn into office. Far more important, before Trump’s election, the Obama administration initiated its scandalous Crossfire Hurricane project to investigate Russian collusion with members of Trump’s campaign staff and the president himself.

Reality check number two: Any and all collusion that ostensibly occurred did so while the Obama administration was in charge. Moreover, rather than warn fellow Americans from the opposition party that the Russians might be seeking to influence the 2016 election, Barack Obama’s administration instead chose to assume those opposition party members were committing treason, thereby justifying all methods, even felonious ones, used to stop them.

On to double standards. The same Democrat/Media Complex that assured Americans for three years Trump’s collusion with Russia was incontrovertible were completely sanguine regarding Obama’s open-mic assurance to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he’d “have more flexibility” regarding his relationship with Vladimir Putin. And they remained sanguine two years later, when Putin seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

That same year, then-Vice President Joe Biden openly bragged about getting Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating corruption at Burisma, an energy company paying Biden’s son, Hunter, $83,000 per month by threatening to withhold a billion dollars in foreign aid. By contrast, Trump allegedly threatened (belied by a transcript of the conversation in question) to withhold funds that weren’t ultimately withheld in return for an investigation that was never undertaken.

But Trump is the one guilty of a “quid pro quo,” and any investigation into the corrupt machinations of Biden and his son can precipitate impeachment proceedings?

Robert Mueller’s investigation was tasked with finding Russian collusion. Yet it somehow managed to avoid determining how the thoroughly discredited Steele dossier — bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC — gained credibility among the highest echelons of the nation’s top law-enforcement agency.

The bigger picture? Does anyone seriously think President Trump could, among many things, gotten away with having members of his executive branch file warrants with the FISA Court under false pretenses; spying on members of Congress and the press; running weapons to Mexican cartel members; taking out an American citizen with a drone strike; selectively targeting conservative groups using the IRS; communicating with his secretary of state on an unsecured server; and sending pallets of cash to a nation sponsoring worldwide terror — without the deafening clamor for impeachment Barack Obama miraculously avoided?

Eight years of the Obama administration clearly demonstrated that the media are willfully blind — and justice is anything but. Yet the weaponization of impeachment has moved this nation into uncharted territory. Americans now live in a nation where private presidential phone calls with foreign counterparts “will be leaked and printed in the major media,” and impeachment will be a “casual affair” to be undertaken routinely, whenever the opposition party has a House majority, even if it is solely used for political gain, Victor Davis Hanson explains.

Moreover, as Nancy Pelosi amply demonstrated, timeliness is now irrelevant. “Once a president is impeached,” Hanson adds, “the writ may simply sit until the House majority feels that the climate or polls are ripe to refer the articles to the Senate for trial, whether in days, weeks, months, or years.”

Equally irrelevant is the “term high crimes and misdemeanors.” Nothing illuminates that better than charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, a nonsensical assertion borne out of the need for Democrats to keep impeachment front and center, rather than wait for the Supreme Court to ultimately decide what obligations co-equal legislative and executive branches of government have to each other.

“Whistleblower” is now a meaningless term. Going forward, anyone with second- or third-hand information, working in coordination with the opposition party, will be deemed acceptable and credible, even as their identity can remain secret indefinitely.

Investigations? Testimony can be taken in secret and selectively leaked to the media for partisan advantage, while witnesses can be prevented from answering questions posed by the opposing party. Law enforcement and intel agencies can hire foreign nationals, use operatives to co-opt the media, employ multiple “confidential informants” (read: spies) to glean information about members of the opposing party’s campaign, and unmask private citizens involved with those campaigns, all under the auspices of protecting national security.

To advance those investigations, any surveillance requiring a warrant can be rubber-stamped by FISA Court jurists, whose knowledge of being lied to will not precipitate legal consequences, but simply demands for “reform” — from the liars themselves.

Remarkably, Democrats and their contemptible allies have done it all while ignoring one of the oldest adages known to man: what goes around comes around. They have not only set the stage for the permanent paralyzation of government, they are well on their way toward making elections utterly irrelevant.

In fact, their point man in this charade, documented liar Adam Schiff, has made that abundantly clear. “The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box,” he insisted. “For we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.”

In other words, American voters are too stupid to be trusted, and unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats running the administrative state must prevail. Thus, an acquittal of Trump by the Senate will be deemed a “miscarriage of justice.” In turn, that miscarriage of justice will make the 2020 election “illegitimate,” unless a Democrat prevails.

If Trump wins? Additional impeachment proceedings. If a Democrat becomes president? The only flaw in Hanson’s argument is the traditional cowardice amply demonstrated by a GOP that would likely allow a Democrat Party to continue running roughshod over the Constitution, undoubtedly promoted under the absurd auspices of “saving the republic.”

By then, there will be no republic to save. “We are now on new anti-constitutional grounds, and the United States will probably never return to the constitutional customs and traditions of its first 233 years,” Hanson predicts.

Thus, Americans are finally discovering what fundamental transformation is really all about. A constitutionally contemptuous Democrat Party, suffused with a lust for uncontested power and thoroughly convinced of its moral superiority, has precipitated the ultimate irony:

Democrats had to destroy the nation in order to “save” it.



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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