|Cache||Democrats know they can’t beat President Trump by running on the issues the American people care about, which is why they’ve employed the politics of personal destruction.|
Welcome to FreedomWorks Foundation’s nineteenth regulatory review of 2019! Our Regulatory Action Center proudly updates you with our favorite tidbits from the swamp. We want to smash barriers between bureaucracy and the American people by delivering regulatory news straight to FreedomWorks activists. Check back in two weeks for the next edition.
1) Video of the Week: Unsurprisingly, the United States is not the first country to experience ballooning budgets and astronomical deficits. In the mid-1990’s, Canada’s debt grew to as high as 70% of GDP, similar to our current debt situation. In this weeks video, John Stossell sits down with Canadian economist David Henderson to discuss how Canada managed to tackle their debt problem by cutting government spending and reducing waste.
2) Why Is the CDC Still Fostering Potentially Deadly Confusion About Vaping and Lung Disease?: “Media outlets, following the lead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to blame recent cases of severe respiratory illnesses among vapers on "vaping" and "e-cigarettes" in general, falsely implying a link to legal nicotine products. This misinformation is fostering public confusion that may lead to more disease and death, both from smoking and from the black-market products that have been implicated in the lung disease cases.” https://reason.com/2019/09/24/why-is-the-cdc-still-fostering-potentially-deadly-confusion-about-vaping-and-lung-disease/
3) FBI using Facebook ads to gather Russian intelligence: report: “The FBI is reportedly using Facebook ads to gather intelligence on Russia, specifically targeting those who may be or know Russian spies. The FBI is running ads in the Washington, D.C., area, CNN reported on Wednesday, that direct to the FBI field office's website that describes its counterintelligence team and encourages visitors to meet "in person." https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/fbi/464069-fbi-using-facebook-ads-to-gather-russian-intelligence-report
4) Federal Court Upholds FCC Decision to Roll Back Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules: “Today, by a 2-1 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided largely with the FCC, upholding the primary regulatory rollback as a valid exercise of its authority. In the nearly 200 page opinion, which is heavy on technical detail, the court wrote that while the challengers raised "numerous objections" aiming to show that the FCC's reclassification is "unreasonable," the judges found them "unconvincing." https://reason.com/2019/10/01/federal-court-upholds-fcc-decision-to-roll-back-obama-era-net-neutrality-rules/
5) Trump to issue executive order ‘protecting’ Americans from ‘Medicare for All’ campaign proposals pushed by Democrats: “The executive order, which he is scheduled to discuss at a speech in Florida later Thursday, is intended to bolster Medicare Advantage, private Medicare insurance for seniors that currently covers 22 million people, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters. The plan would also offer more affordable plan options, increase use of telehealth services and bring payments in Medicare fee-for-service program in line with payments for Medicare Advantage, officials said.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/03/trump-to-issue-executive-order-protecting-americans-from-medicare-for-all.html
6) Treasury to create tool to help people redeem billions in unclaimed savings bonds: “Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on Wednesday said that the Treasury Department will create an online tool to help people redeem billions of dollars in savings bonds. About $26 billion in matured savings bonds are in the U.S. Treasury and have yet to be redeemed. Using the department's forthcoming tool, people will be able to verify against Treasury Department records if they have any savings bonds dated after 1974 that can be redeemed, Kennedy's office said in a news release.” https://thehill.com/policy/finance/464057-senator-treasury-will-create-tool-to-help-people-redeem-billions-of-dollars-in
7) Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown: “The Trump administration is under fire from conservative groups and some GOP lawmakers, who are pushing back over its planned crackdown on e-cigarette flavors. They say the administration is overreaching, and the flavor ban will harm small businesses, a violation of core Republican free market principles.” https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/464470-trump-takes-heat-from-right-over-vaping-crackdown
Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham lead condemnation of foreign policy move that could prove ‘disaster in the making’Donald Trump with Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, in the Cabinet Room on Monday. Lindsey Graham said abandoning the Kurds would be ‘a stain on America’s honour’. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/APDonald Trump was dangerously isolated on Monday as, in a rare rebuke, some of his most loyal allies revolted against his decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria.Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led a chorus of Republicans who, having defended the president on almost every other issue – including over impeachment – decided to draw a line in the sand.“A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” McConnell said. “And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”He added: “As we learned the hard way during the Obama administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal.”The criticism was significant because McConnell is usually at pains not to cross Trump even at his most capricious. Last week the Kentucky senator released a Facebook video promising to stop Democratic-led impeachment in its tracks.Article 1 of the United States constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to initiate impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of the president. A president can be impeached if they are judged to have committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" – although the constitution does not specify what “high crimes and misdemeanors” are.The process starts with the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment. A simple majority of members need to vote in favour of impeachment for it to pass to the next stage. Democrats currently control the house, with 235 representatives.The chief justice of the US supreme court then presides over the proceedings in the Senate, where the president is tried, with senators acting as the jury. For the president to be found guilty two-thirds of senators must vote to convict. Republicans currently control the Senate, with 53 of the 100 senators.Two presidents have previously been impeached, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Andrew Johnson in 1868, though neither was removed from office as a result. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before there was a formal vote to impeach him.Martin BelamThe unusual fracture emerged on Sunday night when, shortly after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the White House announced removal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border area. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” it added.Critics of all political stripes have long feared that the move could open the way for a Turkish strike on Kurdish-led fighters in the area. Kurdish groups have fought alongside a small US presence in Syria to drive Islamic State militants from the region.The Republican backlash was rapid and potentially unnerving for a president whose fate is tethered to the party and the assumption that it will acquit him in the Senate if, as widely expected, the Democratic-led House of Representatives votes for impeachment.Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, who has become an outspoken defender (and frequent golf partner) of Trump, did not acquiesce this time. Abandonment of the Kurds would be “a disaster in the making”, he said, and “a stain on America’s honour”.Graham told Fox News: “I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is. I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”Graham wrote on Twitter that if the plan goes ahead, he will introduce a Senate resolution opposing it and seeking reversal of the decision. He added: “We will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, whose attempts to defend Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president have provoked mockery, said: “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you, America should keep their word.”Michael McCaul of Texas, the lead Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, also urged the president to reconsider. “The United States should not step aside and allow a Turkish military operation in north-east Syria,” he said. “This move will undermine our ongoing campaign to prevent an Isis resurgence and will ultimately threaten our homeland.“Additionally, the United States needs to stay engaged to prevent further destructive involvement in the region from our adversaries like the Assad regime, Putin and Iran.”Notably, senator Marco Rubio of Florida, reluctant to criticise Trump even when the president suggested that China investigate former vice president and 2020 election rival Joe Biden, was clear , describing the retreat as “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria”And Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, admonished Trump without mentioning his name. “We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she tweeted. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. TurkeyIsNotOurFriend”Ominously for Trump, even conservative Fox News aired dissent. Host Brian Kilmeade described the pullout as “a disaster”, telling viewers of Fox & Friends: “Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?”Republicans who have contradicted Trump before did so forcefully again. Utah senator Mitt Romney described Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal”, adding: “It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster.”Romney and Democratic senator Chris Murphy issued a joint statement insisting Trump’s administration “explain to the American people how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests”.Democrats also piled in but there was a lone voice of support for the president on Capitol Hill. Republican senator Rand Paul, long a critic of foreign intervention, said: “So many neocons want us to stay in wars all over the Middle East forever. [Trump] is absolutely right to end those wars and bring the troops home.”Trump himself was undeterred by the blowback. Speaking at the White House on Monday, he said he has “great respect” for the prominent Republican critics. And added: “People are extremely thrilled because they say it’s time to bring our people back home. We’re not a police force. They’re policing the area. We’re not a police force. The UK was very thrilled at this decision … many people agree with it very strongly.”
WASHINGTON – An attorney for the whistleblower who sounded the alarm about President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine said Sunday that “multiple” whistleblowers have come forward, deepening a political quagmire that has engulfed the president as well as several of his Cabinet members.
The news comes as House Democrats are accelerating their impeachment inquiry and subpoenaing documents related to Trump’s efforts to push foreign countries to investigate one of his political opponents, former vice president Joe Biden.
“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” the whistleblower’s attorney, Andrew Bakaj, said in a tweet. “No further comment at this time.”
Mark Zaid, who also is a member of the original whistleblower’s legal team, confirmed to the Washington Post that the team is now representing a second whistleblower, someone who works in the intelligence community. The second individual has spoken to the inspector general of the intelligence community and has not filed a complaint.
“Doesn’t need to,” Zaid said in a text message, adding that the person has “first hand knowledge that supported the first whistleblower.”
News that the original whistleblower’s team is representing a second person was first reported Sunday by ABC News.
Trump seized on the latest development in a Sunday night tweet.
“Democrat lawyer is same for both Whistleblowers? All support Obama and Crooked Hillary. Witch Hunt!” he said.
The crisis, which began last month with media reports revealing the original whistleblower’s complaint, has quickly metastasized across the Trump administration, ensnaring senior officials such as Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who came under further scrutiny over the weekend.
Trump largely stayed out of public view, spending Saturday at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, and Sunday at the White House. In tweets, he attacked Democrats and some Republican detractors, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, whose ouster he demanded Saturday after Romney criticized him.
He also appeared to directly link the 2020 presidential race to his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Biden, contrary to a tweet on Friday declaring that “this has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens.”
“And by the way, I would LOVE running against 1% Joe Biden – I just don’t think it’s going to happen,” Trump tweeted Sunday, arguing that Biden and his family were “PAID OFF, pure and simple!”
“Sleepy Joe won’t get to the starting gate, & based on all of the money he & his family probably ‘extorted,’ Joe should hang it up,” Trump added. “I wouldn’t want him dealing with China & [Ukraine]!”
Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates responded by calling it “puzzling” that Trump would claim to love the prospect of a matchup against Biden, “seeing as how he just sent his administration into a tailspin by trying to bully a foreign country into spreading a comprehensively debunked conspiracy theory about the vice president.”
Biden’s son Hunter served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation.
As vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, whom Biden and other Western officials, including Republicans, accused of not sufficiently pursuing corruption cases. At the time, the investigation into Burisma was dormant, according to former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.
On Saturday, Perry’s discussions with Ukrainian officials came to attention amid reports that Trump told Republicans on Friday that he made the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president at the request of Perry.
Asked about Trump’s comments, which were first reported by Axios, Energy Department spokeswoman Shylyn Hynes said in an email that Perry encouraged Trump to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to discuss energy security.
Pompeo, who was scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday, is facing growing pressure from Democrats seeking Ukraine-related documents.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Pompeo, who had spent much of the past week in Europe, missed a Friday deadline to comply with a subpoena for information about the State Department’s dealings with Ukraine. Pompeo asserts that a letter sent to the committee constitutes the department’s initial response.
The whistleblower complaint accused Trump of asking the Ukrainian government to help him with his reelection bid by launching an investigation into Biden. Democrats are also probing whether Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance from Ukraine was linked to his push for the government there to pursue political investigations that could bolster the president’s reelection bid.
Text messages between State Department officials, revealed by House Democrats last week, show that there was at least some concern that Trump was pursuing an improper quid pro quo.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” diplomat William Taylor wrote on Sept. 9 to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
Sondland, who has denied that Trump sought a quid pro quo, has agreed to meet privately on Tuesday with the three House panels – Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight – spearheading the probe, according to a committee aide.
On Friday, those three committees subpoenaed the White House for documents and wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence demanding that he turn over documents related to his talks with Zelensky.
Speaking at a Republican event in Louisiana on Saturday, Pence criticized Democrats but gave no indication about whether he would comply with their document request.
“Do-Nothing Democrats launched a partisan impeachment inquiry in a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the American people in the last election,” he said.
On Sunday, Trump’s campaign announced that the president would be traveling to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to hold a rally on Friday. The president will also have a rally on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
No White House officials made appearances on the Sunday morning news shows, leaving it up to congressional Republicans and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to defend the president in heated interviews during which they offered at-times-contradictory explanations for the president’s actions.
In a combative exchange on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd urged Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to explain why he told the Wall Street Journal about his concern in the summer that Trump had sought to link Ukrainian military aid to an investigation of the Bidens.
Johnson repeatedly declined to answer, instead raising a conspiracy theory and criticizing the media before finally stating that Trump had “adamantly denied” any quid pro quo.
Johnson also at one point said he does not trust U.S. intelligence agencies. “Something pretty fishy happened during the 2016 campaign and in the transition, the early part of the Trump presidency, and we still don’t know,” he said.
“We do know the answer,” an exasperated Todd responded, adding: “You’re making a choice not to believe the investigations that have taken place.”
Giuliani issued a defiant defense of Trump in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz” in which he argued that the president “has every right to ask countries to help us in a criminal investigation that should be undertaken.”
Giuliani was named in the whistleblower’s complaint and in a rough transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky as being a key intermediary in back-channel efforts to pursue the allegations against Biden.
But other Republicans sought to play down Trump’s comments, including his exchange with reporters outside the White House on Thursday in which he urged China to investigate Biden.
In an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, echoed a suggestion on Friday by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that Trump’s China statement was not “a real request.”
“George, you really think he was serious about thinking that China’s going to investigate the Biden family? … I think he’s getting the press all spun up about this,” Jordan told host George Stephanopoulos.
During the interview, Stephanopoulos repeatedly sought an answer from Jordan on whether he thinks it is appropriate for Trump to ask China and Ukraine to investigate Biden. Jordan dodged the question more than a dozen times.
Democrats on Sunday defended their party’s efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of the Intelligence Committee, supported Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s view that no vote by the full House is necessary for an impeachment inquiry to move forward.
She added that she thinks the House “will have to take a serious look at articles of impeachment” based on the evidence that has emerged.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, N.Y., a key member of House Democratic leadership, said on “This Week” that “the evidence of wrongdoing by Donald Trump is hiding in plain sight.”
“The administration, without justification, withheld $391 million in military aid from a vulnerable Ukraine,” he said. “The president then pressured a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 elections and target an American citizen for political gain. That is textbook abuse of power.”
|Cache||I was going to write about music but an e-mail from Rassa was about Miss Fury and I had no idea who Miss Fury was.|
MISS FURY was a comic book about the superhero Miss Fury. June Tarpe Mills created the character and the comic book. Who? From TARPEMILLS.COM:
June Tarpe Mills, known professionally as Tarpe Mills, rose from obscurity to become the creator of the world's first female comic heroine with the publication of Miss Fury six months before the creation of Wonder Woman. Tarpe Mills’ tremendous artistic talent poured onto the print page with action, glamour and fashion, and sexiness that was unheard of until Miss Fury. Tarpe Mills and her work has been memorialized by her July 19, 2019, induction into the Eisner Comic Hall of Fame at ComicCon SanDiego.
From AMAZON, a look at Miss Fury:
From the visuals alone, you have to wonder why, in the '00s, someone didn't cast Annette Benning or Catharine Zeta Jones or Halle Berry or Michelle Pfeiffer as Miss Fury in a film of the same name? Today, you could add Keira Knightly, Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman, Isabela Moner and Anne Hathaway to the list. Some might argue that you'd have to set the film in the forties. You wouldn't 'have to,' but even if you did, are you forgetting that both the Captain America film (2011) and the Wonder Woman film (2017) were set in that period and both were huge hits?
This is from WIKIPEDIA:
The Bell Syndicate first published the Miss Fury comic strip (then titled The Black Fury) on April 6, 1941, predating the first appearance of Wonder Woman by six months. The strip "ran in full color in the Sunday comics pages for 351 consecutive weeks from 1942 through 1949, and was also collected in comic book form by Timely Comics." Circulation included over 100 newspapers at its most popular stage. As the Miss Fury strip became more popular, it eventually became public knowledge its creator was a woman.
Miss Fury, the alter ego of socialite Marla Drake, was a character based loosely on Mills' own appearance.
During World War II, "Miss Fury" was painted on the nose of three American warplanes in Europe and the South Pacific. Two of the recurring villains were the Nazi agents Erica Von Kampf and General Bruno. Mills' own white Persian cat Perri-Purr was introduced in the strip, and during World War II Perri-Purr became an unofficial mascot of the American troops.
The artwork was created in a glamorous style with considerable attention placed on the heroine's outfits. These outfits varied from lacy evening gowns and lingerie to bathing suits and athletic costumes. Mills' attention to fashion in Miss Fury was mirrored in the work of her contemporary Dalia Messick's "Brenda Starr," and in this sense the women were ahead of their male counterparts who typically "dressed [their] heroines in plain red dresses."
Cut-out paper fashion dolls were included for the first time in the comic-book reprints of Miss Fury, leading Trina Robbins to guess that these books were intended for a female audience. Mills sent paper dolls to young women who had written fan mail requesting art.
Miss Fury was notoriously full of "kinkiness," including “whips, spike heels, female-on-female violence, and lingerie scenes.” One character's costume in a 1947 publication "was so daring that 37 newspapers cancelled the strip” that day. A bathing scene from the tenth Miss Fury Sunday page on June 8, 1941 ran in newspapers at the time but was later excluded from the 1942 Timely Comics reprint.
Trina Robbins said on Miss Fury:
Mills' art in Miss Fury was modeled on the work of Milton Caniff. Her portrayal of action across multiple panels, as well as the natural poses and facial expressions of her characters, has been described as "cinematic," echoing the film-noire style. Mills' characters also possessed a "pinup quality."
Dean Mullaney, editor and publisher behind Eclipse Enterprises, wrote that “[Mills’] art is drawn very traditionally—no surprises, no ah-ha moments.”
Evie Nagy for The Los Angeles Review of Books remarked that “the flow of Mills’s sequential art feels completely organic."
June Mills' legacy as the first woman to create a female action hero in comics was contextualized by Victoria Ingalls for the American Psychological Association. Out of a list of hundreds of female “superheroes” surveyed in her abstract, Ingalls identified only eleven as being created by a woman not working in a team with a male writer. Mills' Marla Drake is the chronological first of these eleven heroes.
According to Mike Madrid in his book The Supergirls, Marla Drake belongs to the “Debutante” caste of early comics female heroines, who include Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady), Dianne Grayton(Spider Widow), Diana Adams (Miss Masque), and Brenda Banks (Lady Luck). These characters form a ‘sorority’ of heiresses and socialites who had been forced into lives of propriety, submission, and “tedious leisure.” “Putting on a cape and mask liberated these women” to embrace their own identities, fight crime, and trade their “entitled boredom” for thrills.
Madrid wrote, “Mills’ approach to a secret identity seemed more realistic, injected with a feminine practicality.”
This is from an article at Australia's ABC:
Comics then and now tend to feature weak-kneed female characters who seem to exist for the sole purpose of being saved by a male hero — or, worse still, are "fridged", a contemporary comic book colloquialism that refers to the gruesome slaying of an undeveloped female character to deepen the hero's motivation and propel him on his journey.
But Mills believed there was room in comics for a different kind of female character, one who was able, level-headed and capable, mingling tough-minded complexity with Mills' own taste for risqué behaviour and haute couture gowns.
Where Wonder Woman's powers are "marvellous" — that is, not real or attainable — Miss Fury and her alter ego Marla Drake use their collective brains, resourcefulness and the odd stiletto heel in the face to bring the villains to justice.
And for a time they were wildly successful.
Miss Fury ran a full decade from April 1941 to December 1951, was syndicated in 100 different newspapers at the height of her wartime fame, and sold a million copies an issue in reprints released by Timely (now Marvel) comics.
Fighter pilots painted Miss Fury on the fuselage of bomber planes. Young girls played with paper doll cut outs featuring her extensive high fashion wardrobe.
From Australia's ABC -- emphasize. Point being, Miss Fury was not known just in the US. She had wide appeal. So why isn't Miss Fury on the big screen?
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, October 4, 2019. Protests continue in Iraq while, in the US, Joe Biden continues to tarnish the legacy of Barack Obama.
Last week, Sarah Chayes, "Hunter Biden’s Perfectly Legal, Socially Acceptable Corruption" was published by THE ATLANTIC. Yesterday on MORNING EDITION (NPR), Sarah spoke with David Green:
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is drawing attention to the questionable activities of more than one major political family. Former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter are under scrutiny for Hunter's work in the Ukrainian energy industry.
The writer Sarah Chayes is the author of the book "Thieves Of The State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security" (ph). And she argues this scrutiny is a good thing.
SARAH CHAYES: You know, when the son of a vice president gets a job in a field he knows nothing about while his father is vice president in a country that just had a revolution that, you know, typically, in that part of the world, post-revolution, all the oligarchs steal all the crown jewels, and the industry is one of the crown jewels - that is to say, gas - since when is that doing nothing wrong?
GREENE: Now, wrong does not necessarily mean illegal, Sarah Chayes told me. But she said too often these days, people with political ties or prominent political names are getting involved where they shouldn't be.
CHAYES: Almost any senior name that I start researching, I run into practices like this. It is extraordinarily widespread. And that's my question. How did we all convince ourselves that this isn't corrupt? And it seems to me that we're not going to recover, you know, even an approximation of the ideals on which we were founded as a nation unless each of us, as citizens, begins to make it less comfortable for our political and economic leaders to behave this way.
GREENE: Well, let me ask you this, then. If it is not unusual, why focus on this case of Hunter Biden and Joe Biden specifically?
CHAYES: Because it's in the news and because of the word that I kept seeing apply in this context, which is, no wrongdoing, or, they didn't do anything wrong. And I'm looking at that, saying, what? And if we can say that now, in this context, then there's something awry.
From her article at THE ATLANTIC:
When allegations of ethical lapses or wrongdoing surface against people on one side of the aisle, they can always claim that someone on the other side has done far worse. But taken together, all of these examples have contributed to a toxic norm. Joe Biden is the man who, as a senator, walked out of a dinner with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Biden was one of the most vocal champions of anticorruption efforts in the Obama administration. So when this same Biden takes his son with him to China aboard Air Force Two, and within days Hunter joins the board of an investment advisory firm with stakes in China, it does not matter what father and son discussed. Joe Biden has enabled this brand of practice, made it bipartisan orthodoxy. And the ethical standard in these cases—people’s basic understanding of right and wrong—becomes whatever federal law allows. Which is a lot.
To quote THELMA & LOUISE, "You get what you settle for." Is that what we're willing to settle for as a society? Corruption and lack of ethics? Or do we have standards that we apply across the board? Basic expectations from our public servants?
Situational ethics will never root out corruption.
Or is it this maybe?? Because let’s face it: Joe Biden’s son Hunter failed rehab 5 times, got kicked out of the Navy, dated his sister in law, and left a crack pipe in a rental car. The idea Hunter got a job getting paid $50,000 a month should strike everyone as suspicious.
The crack pipe?
That gets back to the Biden pass. His niece Caroline physically attacks a police officer and is arrested. She gets a pass, no time. A few years later, the niece steals over $100,000 and, again, no time sentenced, no time served. Hunter and his crack pipe?
Yea, because smoking crack isint a crime. "Prescott Police Department officials were unable to reach Hunter Biden and, after an investigation, declined to prosecute"
And, again, campaign staff insists Hunter is the father of the child that he's denying is hit, the one the mother is suing him for. These are the values of the Biden family. These are the values we want in the White House?
Two kinds of justice -- the ones for everyone else and the ones for the Bidens?
America deserves much better than that.
And what the media and the Joe-bots don't get, the American people do. MEDIAITE notes:
It's time for Joe to go.
It's no longer just about him.
Corrupt Joe makes it that much harder to call Donald Trump out for any corruption.
Corrupt Joe is tainting Barack Obama's legacy with every day.
What Joe allowed his family to get away with while he was Vice President?
That reflects poorly on Joe. It also reflects on Barack. And there's a lot more to come on that issue. Joe is harming Barack's legacy.
It's time for Joe to go.
He offers nothing that is needed and seems to believe it's 1996. He's out of touch, he's out of date and he's corrupt. He needs to go.
Turning to Iraq . . .
The death toll from days of violent demonstrations across Iraq has risen to 44 as unrest rapidly spread across the country despite a plea for calm from the prime minister.
In an overnight TV address, Adel Abdul-Mahdi said he understood the frustration of the public but there was no “magic solution” to Iraq’s problems. He pledged to make reforms, but this drew a scornful response from demonstrators.
REUTERS plays 'even handed' and head up the ass. Why? Maybe so they can continue to cover Iraq. It's not like the western press isn't intimidated and bullied by the Iraqi government.
That's been going on openly since 2006.
UN urges Iraq to probe protest deaths ‘transparently’ National News en.nationalhaber.com/un-urges-iraq-…
Mahdi is so inept as a prime minister that the president of Iraq has dominated the news for over six months. The presidency is a symbolic office in Iraq. It has no real power, pure ceremony. But that's how weak Mahdi is and how desperate the western press has been to ignore reality in Iraq.
A non-functioning prime minister? Well, hey, just report on the doings of the president and pretend like he's the leader of the country.
Journalist Mustafa Habib reports the following:
Health and Human Services Secretary-designee Tom Daschle finally bowed out after aggressive rehabilitative efforts failed. His chummy Senate pals on both sides of the aisle may have been willing to forgive his failure to pay longstanding back taxes owed on limo services, undisclosed consulting fees and dubious charitable donations worth an estimated $146,000, including interest and penalties. But the American people were not. (And an interesting postscript: He may have apologized and dropped out of the administration, but Daschle still owes Medicare taxes equal to 2.9 percent of the personal value of the car service he received from Democratic donor and crony Leo Hindery Jr.)
Just before the Daschle announcement came the withdrawal of Nancy Killefer. She was tapped to be President Obama's "Chief Performance Officer," overseeing compliance, organizational effectiveness and waste management across every federal agency. But the former Clinton Treasury official and head of the prestigious Washington office of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Inc., couldn't be bothered to manage her own household help effectively. She failed for a year and a half to pay employment taxes and had an outstanding tax lien on her home. The lien was worth less than $1,000 -- far less than the tax liability Geithner owed.
If I were a left-wing feminist, I'd be sorely tempted to whip out the gender card and give the Good Old Boys Club a few whacks. Killefer gets thrown under the bus, but Geithner gets to drive? No justice, no peace!
Now, compare President Bush's transition track record in 2001. Remember that the traditional 100-day period was shortened as a result of the election lawsuit. Wrote Paul Light of the left-leaning Brookings Institution at the time: "Bush gets an A on the transition into office. He survived his truncated 40-day transition with only one major mistake -- Linda Chavez, who withdrew her nomination for Labor Secretary after the flap over allowing an illegal immigrant to stay in her house. ... Bush also deserves an A-plus for the timely assembly of his White House team. Building around Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush White House is an MBA's dream: efficient, predictable, well controlled, on time, under budget."
During Tuesday's press briefing, glib White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did his best to bat down a rising chorus of questions about his boss's judgment -- not only on the nomination "glitches," but also on an ever-growing list of exemptions to Obama's no-lobbyists pledge. Echoing Bill Clinton's "most ethical administration ever" and Nancy Pelosi's "most ethical House ever" mantras, Gibbs defensively asserted: "The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set."
Then how, pray tell, did all the president's tax cheats make it past the front door? And where is Vice President Joe Biden to wag his finger at their lack of patriotism? Team Obama embraced these damaged candidates despite advanced knowledge of their lapses. Killefer's tax lien was four years old. Questions about Daschle's judgment have lingered for years. Ask GOP Sen. John Thune, who defeated Daschle the Dodger in 2004 after news broke of his bogus property-tax homestead exemption claim on his $1.9 million D.C. mansion -- which he listed as his primary residence despite voting in South Dakota and claiming it as his primary residence in order to run for re-election.
The buck stops at the desk of Barack Obama. A little of that humility and personal responsibility he spoke so much about during his inaugural address is now in order.
|Cache||While Trump Congratulates Communist China on Its 70th Anniversary, Senate Republicans Condemn It|
President Donald Trump marked the 70th anniversary of the “People’s Republic” with the following congratulatory tweet: “Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!”
But Senate Republicans have marked the anniversary with condemnation of the regime.
Arkansas senator Tom Cotton: “To see the price of the PRC’s anniversary celebration, look no further than what’s happening in Hong Kong: a ceaseless war against those who wish to live in freedom. From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to the camps in Xinjiang today, it has been a ghoulish 70 years of Chinese Communist Party control.”
Nebraska senator Ben Sasse: “Today Chinese tyrants celebrated 70 years of communist oppression with their typically brutal symbolism: by sending a police officer to shoot a pro-democracy protester at point-blank range. The freedom-seekers in Hong Kong mourn this anniversary, and the American people stand with them against those who deny their God-given dignity.”Rod's Comment: I understand that the government of China is not as bad as they were during the Great Leap Forward when they caused massive starvation that killed millions as they implemented a fantasy of entering the modern industrial age by requiring farmers to smelt their farm implements.
They are not as bad as they were during the Cultural Revolution in which thousands were murdered and many more were abused and sent to reeducation camps for wearing reading glasses or owning Classical records or books.
I understand that they are not now following an orthodox Communist economic model but have adopted elements of a market economy. I understand that the Chinese people have more freedom of expression than they did when everyone wore drab Mao suits. I understand we have to work with them. I understand Trump wants a better trade policy.
While they may not be as bad as in the past, they are still evil. They are a one-party authoritarian regime, trampling liberty in Hong Kong and expanding their boundaries and turning much of Africa into client states.
It is unfortunate that Trump has a soft spot for tyrants. I long for the age of Ronald Reagan when we had a president with the courage and convictions to call a despotic regime, "the evil empire."
|Cache||<p>Appearing on NBC’s <em>Today</em> show on Monday, <em>New York Times</em> columnist James B. Stewart hawked his new book, <em>Deep State</em>, by hailing bureaucrats undermining the Trump administration as noble public servants “protecting the Constitution” and the American people from the President. He denounced any criticism of the “deep state” as “very dangerous.”</p>
|Cache||Bill and Hillary Clinton left government broke and actually in debt from all the various legal bills they needed to fend over impeachment and other corruption-related investigations. Within a few years, they were very wealthy people and the money never stopped flowing in until Hillary lost a winnable election. The slush fund Clinton Foundation is not new in the swamp nor illegal Paul Ryan just moved millions from his campaign account into a private foundation but that is why the American people are so furious. We hate legal bribery and we know that this form of cashing in...|
‘Big Bad Trusts’ Are a Progressive Myth
Today’s tech titans, like yesterday’s industrial giants, will diminish in time thanks to competition
The resurgence of progressivism in America has brought growing support for a return to Progressive-era trustbusting. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan to break up tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. Berkeley professor Robert Reich, once the resident progressive of the Clinton administration, opines, “Like the robber barons of the first Gilded Age, those of the second”—the tech giants—“have amassed fortunes because of their monopolies.” Even in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, a newspaper headline declares, “Big tech needs to face a Theodore Roosevelt -style trust busting.”
According to progressive legend, when trusts and cartels in the late 19th century exploited consumers, trustbusters rode to the rescue. Today’s progressives are ready to reincarnate yesteryear’s remedies. The problem with this narrative is that it has little basis in fact.
If the Gilded Age was plagued by anticompetitive behavior, the data should show output falling and prices rising in monopolized industries. In a 1985 study, economist Thomas DiLorenzo tested this hypothesis for industries accused of being monopolistic during the debate on the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. He found that output in those industries actually increased by an average of 175% from 1880-90—seven times the growth rate of real gross national product. On average, prices in the so-called monopolized industries fell three times as fast as the consumer-price index. When it comes to the progressive itch to attack large firms, a famous line comes to mind: “Ignorance lies not in the things you don’t know, but in the things you know that ain’t so!”
Steel output grew by 242% from 1880-90, but during the 10 years after the Sherman Act, it grew by only 135%. Other “monopolized” industries with large differences in growth rates in the decades before and after the Sherman Act include copper (330% vs. 133%), petroleum (74% vs. 39%), refined sugar (65% vs. 48%) and cigars and cigarettes (121% vs. 40%).
Prices tell a similar story. On average, in the industries for which data are available, inflation-adjusted prices fell at a faster rate, or rose at a slower rate, in the decade before the Sherman Act than in the decade after it. The real price of steel rails fell by 43% from 1880-90, but fell by only 0.7% from 1890 to 1900. The wholesale price of sugar fell 22.4% from 1880-90 but fell by only 6.1% from 1890-1900. A similar pattern played out for copper, pig iron and anthracite coal.
In reality, the turn of the 20th century was an era of vigorous industrial competition driven by the implementation of new technologies, new sources of supply, and improved management. Economies of scale produced industrial concentration. Most of the trusts and cartels that subsequently formed to keep out competition gradually failed without any government intervention.
The history of the American Sugar Refining trust, which formed in 1887, illustrates this pattern. The Sugar Trust had only fleeting success at limiting production or raising prices over the ensuing 20 years. U.S. refined-sugar production more than doubled from 1887 to 1907. Despite the trust’s efforts to keep them out, competitors built factories and undercut its prices in less time than it took to prosecute a major antitrust lawsuit. In 1893, when the Grover Cleveland administration filed its first Sherman antitrust suit against American Sugar, the margin between the prices of raw and refined sugar was 1.15 cents a pound. By the time the Supreme Court decided the case in 1895, new competitors had driven the margin down to 0.88 cent a pound—a 23% decrease.
Unlike the trusts, tariffs and regulations actually succeeded in squelching competition in the Gilded Age. Standard Oil benefited from tariffs on oil and refined products. Henry Havemeyer, the first president of American Sugar, stated at a congressional hearing in 1899 that “the mother of all trusts is the customs tariff bill. . . . Without the tariff, I doubt if we should have dared to take the risk of forming the trust.”
The first legislative action of the trustbusting era came with the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 to regulate rail freight rates. Economist George Hilton and historian Gabriel Kolko found that railroads supported federal regulation because their attempts to stabilize rates through cartels had repeatedly failed. Real rail freight revenues fell 17.7% per ton-mile from 1870-90. The Interstate Commerce Act banned price rebates, the mechanism the overbuilt railroad system had used to reduce prices. When trucks began to compete with the railroads, Congress brought trucking under ICC regulation. Whatever its initial impact or intent, over time evidence mounted that transportation regulation actually impeded competition.
By the 1970s, the anticompetitive effects of economic regulation, especially in transportation, were acknowledged by progressives from Ralph Nader to economist Alfred Kahn. In the greatest deregulatory effort of the 20th century, President Jimmy Carter led the opening of competition in the railroad, airline and trucking industries. Peer-reviewed economic studies have consistently shown that the transportation deregulation of the Carter era produced significant price reductions and improvements in service.
The rise of Big Tech is virtually a replay of the rise of scale-driven industrialization at the turn of the 20th century. We’ve seen rapid growth of large firms fueled by technological innovation and economies of scale accompanied by declining prices. This time around, extraordinarily, the new “monopolies” are giving many of their products away.
There are legitimate policy concerns involving Big Tech, such as claims of censorship. But history shows little evidence that breaking up big tech companies or regulating them as monopolies will benefit consumers. Before policy makers repeat the failed experiments of the past, they should determine whether trustbusting is really about protecting consumers or merely about expanding the power of government.
Book Review: ‘Order Without Design,’ by Alain Bertaud
An Urban Planner Describes the Flaws of His Profession
Who should run cities, economists or urban planners? This is a trick question: the answer is that neither group can fully know how to run such complex systems. But if planner Alain Bertaud had to choose, he’d vote against his own profession.
In his recent book Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities, Bertaud writes that planners have largely botched urban growth worldwide, and should approach it by using more insights from economics. For decades, Bertaud has trotted the world to study and help plan cities himself. He worked first for the United Nations, then the World Bank, then as a private consultant. He’s now a research scholar at NYU, where he’s learned from that school’s renowned economists.
Economics would be useful to planners, he writes, because it’s scientific. It uses technical, real-world data to create models on how cities behave, and how they would behave if given variables change. This means economists can better understand markets, predict outcomes, and determine best practices based on a defined set of goals.
Planners, by contrast, are “normative”, meaning they shape their premises not through empiricism, but norms and fads from their micro-culture. Their use of terms like “quality of life”, “neighborhood character”, “livability,” and “sustainability” are not technical, but derive from how they and their peers subjectively define these words. This means that planners depend on truisms and pseudo-science to shape policy.
One example Bertaud describes comes from his time spent in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which in the 1970s was exploding in population, as rural Haitians migrated there to escape poverty. Bertaud was part of a team of U.N. bureaucrats who visited the city to advise on its growth. Many of his colleagues thought the growth should be dispersed nationwide, rather than concentrating in Port-au-Prince.
“At the time,” writes Bertaud, “planners were debating about the optimum size of cities, usually advocating for a size between half a million and a million people.”
Yet the economics literature had already debunked this notion. Economists back then were saying (as they do now) that cities get more productive the more they grow, due to agglomeration benefits, and there was no reason to cap population at one million people. Bertaud didn’t understand these benefits until he met an economist for the first time, while in Haiti. From then on, he became convinced that economists should have a bigger role in educating planners.
If that happened, planners would then be less prone to view cities as tabula rasas that should be designed based on their own cultural tastes, and more prone to view cities as what they actually are: labor markets. This “cities as labor markets” theory is the second big premise of Bertaud’s book.
A city’s fundamental raison d’etre is that it’s where people go to find jobs. Cities grow based on their ability to provide economic opportunity, and decline if that opportunity vanishes. The key role planners should play is not to choose which industries bolster these labor markets, but to set the conditions for growth, by allowing the development of housing and transportation that lets people access and expand these labor markets. Housing and transportation is where Bertaud thinks planners could better apply economic thinking. For example, rather than mandating zoning laws that are arbitrary and fixed, planners should observe the price signals in their markets, and use it as feedback to adjust the zoning. Every few years, zoning regulations should be subject to cost-benefit analyses, to ensure they’re accomplishing their stated goal, not just inflicting financial hardship and high home prices.
For transportation, planners should ignore their preconceived biases about the “right” transport modes and layouts, and instead focus on what will actually shorten commutes and improve mobility. This too can be done through price signals – namely tolls and congestion charging – that more efficiently delineate road space and ease traffic flow. Whether or not this leads to the overwhelming use of rails, buses, carpools or single-occupancy vehicles will vary by city, and depend on how those respective modes are priced.
One flaw of Order Without Design is that Bertaud never really defines “planner”, which causes him to isolate planners for unfair blame. Globally speaking, planners from the U.N. or federal governments may have power over land-use decisions. But in the U.S., policy is made less by professional planners—who graduated from planning schools and have AICP certification—than by politicians. The anti-economic thinking that drives our land-use policy is really more a reflection of the American people and who they vote for than of urban planners, who are largely powerless (if still misguided) advisors.
But the basic message of Bertaud’s book holds. Cities are often viewed and treated like aesthetic or cultural objects, rather than labor markets where people go to work. Their housing and transport grids are planned as such, ignoring this functional role of cities. Introducing economics to the urbanization process would help solve the problems now common in cities worldwide.
Jeff Jacoby: Instead of resurrecting the 'People's Pledge,' let's bury it for good
REPRESENTATIVE JOE KENNEDY, the youngest member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, announced last week that he would run against Senator Ed Markey, the oldest member, because, he said, "I've got new ideas and a new approach." Really? In nearly seven years in Congress, Kennedy has emitted few whiffs of originality or unconventional thinking. Why would that change if he replaced Markey in the Senate? In any case, as skeptics promptly pointed out, on political issues there are no meaningful differences between the two left-wing Democrats.
As if to validate the skepticism, Kennedy's first big campaign proposal, delivered in a press release on Tuesday, was a so-called People's Pledge to keep third-party advertising out of the Senate race. That was anything but a new idea: Markey had proposed the exact same thing when he first ran for the Senate in 2013 — and he was only recycling a gimmick from the race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown a year earlier.
But the People's Pledge isn't just a tired, old idea. It's a tired, old, bad idea. It is arrogant and antidemocratic, and its purpose is to squelch free speech — in particular, the form of speech most valued in the American constitutional system: speech about politics, candidates, elections, and issues.
Kennedy wants his rivals (who include attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman Steve Pemberton, in addition to Markey) to repudiate in advance any "outside" advertising — that is, any advertising from any source other than the candidates' own campaigns. The purpose of the "People's Pledge" is to put teeth into that repudiation. It provides that if an outside organization spends money on TV, radio, or online ads in support of any candidate in the race, the campaign being helped would pay a penalty: It would have to donate half the value of the ad buy to a charity named by the other campaign. Political groups wanting to weigh in on the Massachusetts Senate fight would thus be dissuaded, since the more they spent to assist any candidate, the more cash that candidate would have to forfeit.
Warren and Brown were extravagantly praised when they agreed to this arrangement in 2012. Their pledge was welcomed as a victory for "civility," and the candidates were awarded props for coming up with a way to reduce the influence of money on their high-profile Senate race.
But the "People's Pledge" proved a bust. When all was said and done, the 2012 Brown/Warren race, far from restoring civility to politics, was among the nation's nastiest. And the candidates' agreement did nothing to diminish the importance of money. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Brown and Warren battle turned out to be the most expensive Senate campaign in the country. As Rosie Gray reported in BuzzFeed, Brown and Warren's much-admired pledge "appears to have accomplished roughly the opposite of its goal."
So when Markey, running for the Senate a year later, attempted to revive the pledge, his Republican opponent sensibly declined. When Secretary of State Bill Galvin tried the same ploy during his reelection fight in 2018, his Democratic challenger, calling it an "empty gesture," likewise refused.
Now that he's facing a serious challenge to his Senate seat, Markey no longer seems quite so enamored of the idea that third-party advertising should be kept out of the race. His campaign manager agreed only to "review the proposal" made by Kennedy. It's hard to imagine that Markey, facing the toughest reelection fight of his career, will spurn the help of independent groups. One such group, Environment Massachusetts, has already said it will raise $5 million for a campaign "to promote the senator's remarkable record" to the state's voters.
"Remarkable" isn't the word I would choose to describe Markey's congressional career. But if Environment Massachusetts and its supporters want to spend money to sing Markey's praises, why should they be stifled? If the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has endorsed Kennedy, wants to run ads promoting his virtues, why shouldn't it do so? For that matter, why should any group with strong opinions about the Senate race – charities, corporations, political parties, advocacy organizations, houses of worship, or simply an ad hoc amalgam of interested citizens – be deterred from weighing in?
The winner of the Massachusetts Senate race will have power to influence the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans, here in the commonwealth and around the nation. Health care, housing, taxes, immigration, foreign policy, judgeships, war and peace — senators have a say in all of them. Which means that virtually everyone has an interest in who gets elected, and compelling reasons, perhaps, to influence the voters' decision. Should they be silenced? Of course not!
Anyone with something to say about the Massachusetts Senate race should be encouraged to say it. No group with strong views on the issues or the candidates should be denounced for spending money to disseminate those views. Robust political expression is the very quintessence of free speech, and in an election campaign, "outside" and "third party" voices are just as legitimate as those of the candidates themselves.
The "People's Pledge" is a terrible idea. Let's hope we've heard the last of it.
Australia: Evidence of Cardinal Pell's innocence suppressed by the police. They were always out to "get" him
Cardinal Pell was convicted of pedophilia on uncorroborated evidence
There was an interesting report in The Australian yesterday about two women of irreproachable standing whose testimony was sidelined by Victoria Police during its investigation of George Pell. Inexplicably, the women were not called by the defence. Jean Cornish and Lil Sinozic are not run-of-the-mill observers or blow-ins. Church office-holders and former senior school teachers with a hawkish concern for the safety of children, they were arguably the most authoritative eye-witnesses of all. Like everyone else who was at St Patrick’s Cathedral, they dismiss the claims against Cardinal Pell as impossible nonsense. By now the revelation is not surprising.
At the committal hearing for the case in March 2018, Detective Christopher Reed admitted he didn’t bother taking statements from “nuns, choir members and other church officials which he told the court were favourable to Cardinal Pell.” He also failed to obtain the exact dates the Cardinal presided at mass in 1996. Asked why, under cross-examination by Robert Richter QC, Reed admitted that he executed a warrant at the wrong address. “I didn’t know where the archives were,” he said. It is a concern when a detective in a case of this magnitude doesn’t have the skillset of a Dominoes delivery driver. Surprisingly, Reed and Detective Superintendent Paul Sheridan managed to find their way to Rome to interview Cardinal Pell.
From the start, VicPol’s decisions about whose statements to heed, whose to avoid, who to pursue and who to disregard have been peculiar; some would say suspicious. Remember “the swimmers”? They were the public prosecutor’s B Team. If the “choirboys” failed, the swimmers would be beckoned forth from the red-brick shed of times gone by to regale a second jury with tales of surreptitiously brushed buttocks and sneakily squeezed privates beneath warm waves of sun-drenched, chlorine-flavoured play contemporaneous with the last Shah of Iran. There were, of course, no corroborating witnesses for this malarkey but there were many exculpatory witnesses. Alas for the pool accusers, their case was thrown out by County Court chief judge Peter Kidd in February.
Having hoisted them aloft to make a splash, the ABC (also known as the Keli Lane channel) subsequently abandoned the swimmers. Both video and transcript of its bizarre special on their accusations have been deleted. That’s understandable. As well as actionable, the 7.30 Report episode is embarrassing. The transcript can still be found online, however. If the men were so credible that they merited the combined power and treasuries of the ABC and Victoria Police, why were recollections of “repeated abuse by a female relief teacher” and a “vicious teacher who made him masturbate and perform oral sex” not pursued? Robert Richter asked police if they scorned these allegations (at the high end of seriousness) because officers were only interested in ‘getting’ Pell. “Detective Superintendent Sheridan rejected the assertion, telling the court there could have been a viable explanation.” But he didn’t say, and apparently didn’t know, what it was.
One of three possibilities logically follows: one, the supposed culprits are dead. Two: that Victoria Police allowed two hard-core child rapists to remain unsought so as not to imperil their manic Pell operation. A public failure to find or successfully charge “female relief teacher” and “vicious teacher” would have been fatal to the more banal charges against the Cardinal. Or three: that police concluded the accusations against the mystery teachers were either false or indemonstrable but charged Pell using the complainant duo’s other ‘evidence’ anyway. Whether the latter two scenarios would be justiciable as perversions of the course of justice is for legal officials in Victoria to determine. I’m sure they’ll be all over it any day now.
Were it a leftist beloved of leftists and not Cardinal Pell in solitary confinement – I should say, being tortured in solitary confinement (cf. the UN Special Rapporteur and the ABC, 2014) – the calls for a royal commission would be frenzied and incessant.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. Email me (John Ray) here.
|Cache||Public opinion may not determine the outcome of political controversies, but it affects the way elected officials react to events, especially high-profile issues such as impeaching and removing a president from office. Here are five big things we have learned from surveys about the impact of the information the American people have received during the…|
|Cache||Tom Grey on October 7, 2019 at 4:06 pm - The Dems are making it tough for The Donald to get much done. On the other hand, the country does better when the private, voluntary sector does more, and the public/ gov’t, force based sector does less. Most problems the gov’t tries to solve makes things worse.
Exactly right, if the American people are doing better on the whole without so much being done by "the government" then what are we paying them for.
I voted for Trump (although not in the primary) because it was better than the alternatives, and because I realized he would fight the status quo in D.C. In this, he's done remarkably well.
I call this time "The Great Clarifying." Honest people who aren't news/political junkies can now see the corruption and laziness of our institutions.|
Trump: We Were To Be in Syria for 30 Days, ‘Time for Us To Get Out of These Ridiculous Endless Wars’Cache
Donald Trump has a history of throwing curveballs that befuddle the left, and that’s exactly what he did on Monday. Using his favorite platform of Twitter, the president spoke directly to the American people to defend his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, surprising many on both sides of the political aisle.…
|Cache||Conservative: Impeach Hearings Shouldn’t Be Secret Democrats held two straight Intelligence Committee hearings on Trump-Ukraine in secret, reports the Washington Examiner’s Byron York. Two more scheduled for this week will be closed, too. Yet “there could not be a matter in which the American people have a greater stake” than the impeachment of a president,...|
Exclusive Excerpt—Charles Hurt: ‘Still Winning: Why America Went All In on Donald Trump—And Why We Must Do It Again’
When Trump jumped into the presidential race in 2015, he was a well-known figure. He had been in the hot glare of the New York tabloid media for decades. Everything from the unveiling of golden buildings that bore his name to raunchy details about his various divorces made headlines. His business accomplishments in the real estate world and his success as a reality television star put him on par with a tiny handful of stars known around the world by one name.
But when Trump descended the escalator in Trump Tower that day, he had made political headlines more recently for something entirely different.
Four years earlier, Trump shocked the political world by launching a campaign questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. For the entire political-media establishment inside Washington, D.C., this merely proved that Donald Trump was some kind of crazy conspiracy loon. For these establishment people, it also proved Trump was a racist. […] But outside Washington, Trump simply proved he was willing to talk about things and ask questions about things that the entire political establishment had deemed unmentionable—even racist.
Having already demonstrated his unflinching willingness to go crashing wildly into the choppy waters of political incorrectness, Donald Trump was ready to announce his campaign for the presidency. From the first words, it was clear this would be a different kind of candidate running a different kind of campaign.
“Wow. Whoa,” he said, admiring the crowd cheering him from all sides and the balcony above. “That is some group of people. Thousands,” he said.
That line still gets me. Literally, within the first ten words of Trump’s campaign—even before he actually announced his intentions—Trump was focused on crowd size. Much more on that later. But suffice it to say that in the years since Trump uttered those words, he has talked a great deal about crowd sizes, and it has driven his enemies absolutely out of their minds. Which, in turn, brings wild, lusty cheers from audiences who pack monster truck arenas to see their president perform.
After admiring the assembled crowd, he thanked them. He called it “an honor” to have them in “Trump Tower.”
Never. Stop. Selling.
I think it was along about that moment in his speech that I said to myself, This guy could be our next president.
His message was simple. Clear. Pro-American. He was selling something. He was telling a story. After seven years of bitter disappointment and the wasted opportunities of Barack Obama’s nerdy, professorial, lecture-some presidency, this guy could be just what America needs, I thought.
Quickly, Trump got back to the size of his crowd.
“This is beyond anybody’s expectations,” he beamed. “There’s been no crowd like this.”
Then he attacked. Ferociously.
Some of the Republicans who had already announced for president botched their kickoffs. The air conditioner didn’t work, or something. “They sweated like dogs,” Trump sneered.
Worse, their crowds were too small for the rooms they hired.
And then the kill shot: “How are they going to beat ISIS?” he asked.
“I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Our country is in serious trouble.”
It’s a fair point. If you cannot pull off a simple announcement speech on television, then how on earth can you possibly be expected to destroy the most diabolical and determined jihad of our time?
There is a larger point here as well. It has to do with language.
In the very first moments of his announcement speech, Donald Trump was declaring a pact with American voters. Earlier, he had proved his willingness to go wildly off script from establishment officialdom when he brazenly questioned Obama’s birth certificate.
Now he was promising to use the same scalding rhetoric and blunt honesty to expose and fix a whole host of grievous maladies facing regular Americans across the country.
Maladies that had crept into American society over the decades under the blind—or, often, encouraging—eye of political leaders in both parties.
Terrorism, globalism, “free” trade, illegal immigration, legal immigration. Trump was willing to be as belligerent as he needed to be in order to finally stand up to ISIS, China, Japan, Mexico, and the entire global world order.
Trump shrewdly understood in that moment that if political candidates were incapable of speaking bluntly about thorny issues, or if they shied away from harshly identifying America’s enemies, then there would be no hope for anything ever getting better.
Standing there in my office, watching this amazing spectacle unfold, it was that different way of talking that most gripped my attention. A wildly fresh vocabulary with sharp notes of brazenly impolitic honesty.
“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problem,” Trump said, just a few lines into the speech.
My goodness, I thought. Nobody in Washington talks like this. But it sounds like exactly what you hear just about anywhere if you leave Washington, D.C., or New York City.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you,” he said, karate chopping the air.
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
On its face, this statement is technically true. Illegals from Mexico (and other places south of the border) come into the United States. They smuggle drugs into the country. They certainly commit crimes (including illegally crossing our border). And some of them are indeed rapists.
Trump was highlighting a real, destructive and expensive problem that a lot of American voters care deeply about. Yet almost nobody in Washington cares about fixing it.
Democrats are desperate to change the voting electorate. So, they want every warm body they can get into the country to hustle to the voting booth. Republicans, being more business friendly, are delighted to turn a blind eye on a process that floods our country with cheap labor.
The only group without a voice in this debate were millions of regular American voters. Until Trump announced his campaign.
Donald Trump’s furious assault on the political establishment brought condemnations from every corner of it. Sure, those people were perfectly content letting political sleeping dogs lie. China ripping off America was no big deal for them. Free trade was going gangbusters for the stock market and Wall Street. Everybody who was anybody was making a killing off illegal immigration. Cheap nannies for all!
But the seething rebukes of Trump and his announcement speech were about so much more than just those issues. They were about Trump’s language, his rough-and-tumble demeanor, and his willingness to court such political upheaval.
In her memoir, former first lady Michelle Obama eviscerated the man who followed her husband into the White House for just this. Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birth certificate, she wrote, “was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed.”
Again, any hint of questioning Obama’s American loyalty was deemed racist. Such a questioner was not just called out as dishonest or stupid or uninformed. They were flat-out racist for questioning Obama’s alliances.
That was not all Michele Obama had to say about Trump and his style of politics. Trump’s birth certificate inquiry “was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she wrote. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”
Wow. Perhaps Michelle Obama spoke too soon when she said that she was finally proud of her country once her husband got elected.
But I have to ask: What is more incendiary? Asking questions about where a political opponent was born? Or accusing a political opponent of deliberately and willfully trying to inspire “wingnuts and kooks” to assassinate the daughters of a president?
While we’re at it, what about a president who wades into local police issues around the country and his only contribution is to inject race into them? What about a president who goes around the world apologizing for America and giving long lectures about how America is exceptional, you know, like every other country on the planet is exceptional in its own way. In other words, nothing exceptional whatsoever about America. What about a president who belittles Americans for their “guns” and their “religion”?
After eight years of insufferable academia out of the White House, it should have been little surprise that American voters would be in the mood for something very different. They would be looking for a guy who speaks bluntly and paints vivid pictures. A guy who spent years savoring his time talking to the workers and tradesmen who built his buildings, and learned to talk like them. Above all, he was listening and listening and taking to heart what he was hearing.
Every now and then, some reporter churns a Trump speech through some word program on the Internet that calculates the grade level the speech was written at. As in sixth-grade level, meaning a sixth grader could understand it. And these simpering, obnoxious, arrogant asses somehow think that speaking so plainly is an insult, when Trump—along with American voters—knows it is actually the highest, most honest achievement there is.
Independent Authenticity Voter
Strangely, this was a counterintuitive gambit for some of the very same voters who wound up stunning the political establishment by voting for Trump—after having voted for Barack Obama. Twice! I call them the independent authenticity voters. They don’t much care about parties and don’t particularly like Washington politics. But every four years they generally turn out and vote. And when the noise of the campaign gets as loud as it does every four years, they are reminded of how much they despise politics and most politicians. But they mostly turn out and vote.
Overwhelmingly, they choose the lesser bastard. The least dishonest one. The one they think comes closest to being genuine and authentic. In 2008, that was obviously Barack Obama. His hopeful campaign about neither red America nor blue America but one red, white, and blue America resonated with these voters. Funnily enough, the late senator John McCain would have appealed to these very voters eight years earlier when he was still a true political “maverick” and before he got co-opted by Democrats and the media (I repeat myself) to kneecap Republicans at every turn. As bad as things were in 2012, President Obama still had enough authenticity left in the tank to beat the hopelessly repackaged Mitt Romney.
These voters yearned for someone authentic to be president. Most horrifying to mainstream political observers is the number of voters who voted for President Barack Obama—twice!—because they thought he was that authentic nonpolitician. Oh, how they were betrayed!
The accepted language of politics is defended by those who practice it as merely polite and responsible. And this is often true. I know many decent politicians and staffers and journalists who embrace polite language. And they are disgusted by anything else in the political arena.
If the 2016 election proved anything, it proved that Donald Trump was exactly right. There was, after all, a tremendous thirst out there for something different. Something new. Above all, something authentic.
So, from the very first lines of his announcement speech that day at the foot of his glass escalator, Mr. Trump proved to be impolitic. Unpolished. Dripping with authenticity. That guy you know who talks rough, who doesn’t own a set of church clothes but would be the first person you would call if you found yourself in a life-threatening situation and needed some really dirty work handled.
Trump knew at that moment that he had to break through all the soft, white noise of modern American politics. All the fake niceties of acceptable political speech. After all, it was a lie and had been for a very long time. Behind all those fake niceties were the raw, brutal realities of vicious politics played by the nastiest of operatives going back decades. They peddled in the most dishonest, soul-crushing, character-destroying sewage that you could imagine—but then wore nice seersucker suits at garden parties, talking all sorts of high-minded pleasantries.
Donald Trump saw all of this for exactly what it was. It was a fraud. Whether it was trade, immigration, wars, spending, or taxes—it was all a fraud. The American people were getting taken to the cleaner’s financially, and the American people were getting sold out as losers.
And Trump wasn’t even president yet! He was still just one of sixteen people vying for the Republican nomination. If you polled the media that day, every single reporter in all of politics would have given Trump a zero percent chance of winning the nomination, let alone the presidency.
After the speech was over, I called my office at the Washington Times and told my editor to scrap the column I had filed—that a new one was on the way. I endorsed Donald Trump, something I had never done before in a newspaper column. Because, after all, who gives a crap what I think about anything? But this was clearly something different. The speech was brilliant. It was daring, to be sure, but it also reflected an enormous amount of intentional thought. Trump had been listening very closely to voters. He had also been talking to some very smart people who clearly follow politics closely and understood the political landscape far better than any of the self-anointed geniuses inside the Beltway.
So I picked up the phone and called Steve Bannon, a friend who I knew liked to dabble in the more contrarian world of counterpolitics. We agreed the speech was great and, of course, Bannon told me he had been talking to Trump. A speech had been written. Bannon had seen it as late as the night before, he said. But the speech Trump delivered on live television to the country was entirely different than the one that had been prepared.
“Yeah, he didn’t read the speech,” Bannon marveled. “He got up there and just decided to wing it!”
Even at that point, Trump was not to be handled or scripted or managed or staffed. He was going on nothing but his own raw political instincts. And in the end, voters trusted Donald J. Trump to remain in character more than they trusted any politician to keep his campaign promises.
That turned out to be a pretty smart bet.
Dems Vote To Enhance Med Care for Illegals Now, Vote Down Vets Waiting 10 Years for Same Service
House Democrats voted Thursday to fast-track an electronic medical records system that would serve illegal immigrants, something America’s veterans have been seeking for years.
The House passed the bill on a largely party line vote of 230-184, American Military News reported. Only two Republican congressmen supported the bill — Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.
The proposal has yet to be considered by the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Democratic proposal would require the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to create an Electronic Health Records system.
Part of that system’s job will be to provide information to Congress on the health of migrants who enter the country illegally, according to The Hill.
The bill gives the DHS 90 days after the bill receives final approval to get the job done. In contrast, the Veterans Administration has been working for years to implement an EHR system for veterans.
Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois said it is important for Congress to ensure that workers at the border are doing their jobs.
“As DHS works to improve its medical screening of children and migrants at the border to ensure there is a minimum standard of care, the need for proper record keeping on those screenings will only increase,” she said.
Underwood said that the bill was based on her experiences touring America’s southern Border.
“When I was at the border I saw busy, overworked Border Patrol officials having to keep health records on paper. I also saw how these records don’t follow migrants between facilities and transfers of custody,” she said.
But critics wondered how adding more responsibilities to overworked Border Patrol officials would fix anything
“I oppose this bill because it is poorly conceived, erroneously drafted and extremely risky,” Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana said.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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
A small but interesting slice of history
Impeachment has become very boring. This may be less so
On September 22nd, 1735, Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister (although the title was not used until much later), moved into Number Ten Downing Street (although it did not have that number then). Its famous door (through which it was not then entered) has become an iconic symbol of Britain's democratic government. That famous door was not added until 40 years later, and was made of oak until after the 1991 IRA mortar attack on the building, following which it was replaced by bomb-proof material. The black bricks that surround the door, separated from it by the cream-coloured casing, are in fact yellow underneath. They were turned black, as were nearly all London buildings, by the 19th and 20th Century smog of the coal fires that heated every home and the smoke from industrial chimneys. Since everyone was by then used to seeing them black, when they were cleaned in the 1960s they were painted black.
Walpole, with the support of two successive monarchs, became Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister, with a spell of more than 40 years. The kings valued his ability to deliver majorities in Parliament to have bills passed to become Acts of Parliament. George II was sufficiently grateful that when Downing Street reverted to the Crown, he offered it to Sir Robert. With admirable restraint, Sir Robert declined it as a personal gift, but suggested it be reserved for holders of the office of First Lord of the Treasury, then the Prime Minister's official title, and one today's Prime Ministers still hold. A brass plate beside the door of Number Ten testifies to this.
Walpole was a moderate. When Europe was at war, he preferred Britain to be out of it, and persuaded George II to stay out of the War of the Polish Succession. In 1733 he proclaimed, "There are 50,000 men slain in Europe this year, and not one Englishman." Without the costs of war, Walpole contrived to reduce taxes. The Land Tax went down from 4s in 1721, to 3s in 1728, 2s in 1731, and finally to 1s in 1732. He also established a Sinking Fund to reduce the National Debt.
He was trying gradually to shift the tax burden away from the gentry, who paid the land tax, and onto the merchants and their customers who paid customs and excise taxes. In modern terms he was trying very sensibly to shift the tax burden from stock to flow, but doing it gradually. He pointed out that gentry "squealed like hogs" at the tax burden, whereas merchants were more like sheep, giving up their wool peaceably.
He built up the Whig ascendency, but his low-key avoidance of controversy and his granting of more tolerance to religious dissenters won him support from moderates of both Whig and Tory groups. The historian H T Dickinson, one of my teachers, wrote, "Walpole was one of the greatest politicians in British history. He played a significant role in sustaining the Whig party, safeguarding the Hanoverian succession, and defending the principles of the Glorious Revolution."
The residence at 10 Downing Street that he occupied is not what it seems. Walpole had the architect William Kent connect two houses, making the Downing Street front one effectively a passage through to the main building behind it. A corridor connects it to the Cabinet Office much further up Whitehall, and there is a tunnel under Whitehall that we're not supposed to know about that connects it to the Defence Ministry. What is now the Cabinet Room was used by Walpole as his study.
In many ways Ten Downing Street resembles the British constitution it safeguards. There is much more to it than the outward appearance might suggest, and it adapts and changes over time to meet the new challenges it is called upon to face. Yet it preserves the outward form, providing reassurance of continuity. It is modest, rather than grandiose, reminding us that the Prime Minister is a person like us, who lives in a house, as we do, rather than some god-like remote dignitary. Its understated presence reminds us, too, that government and Parliament in this country are here to serve the people, not the other way round.
When people move house, a removal van pulls up outside their house. That is, quite rightly, what happens in Ten Downing Street when we change governments.
Democrats' Excessiveness Will Backfire
How many times do Democrats get to cry wolf before a rational body politic tells them to go fly a kite? Instead of retreating with tails between their legs over their failed Russia hoax, they're already at it again.
Did any Democrats leading the false charge that President Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election ever apologize for putting the country through this nightmare? Did any of their media water carriers ever backpedal from their anti-Trump sensationalism?
Of course not, because in their minds Trump is so evil and his presidency so bad for the country that even ignoble efforts to remove him are morally warranted. What's wrong with deceit and abuse of process if it will rid the country of the orange scourge?
Alert people should now recognize that Democrats are still willing to go to almost any lengths to undo the 2016 election -- or preempt Trump's 2020 reelection. Their raw contempt for Trump and his supporters knows no bounds, and their just-launched "impeachment inquiry" is further evidence of it.
I note in my soon-to-be-released new book, "Guilty By Reason of Insanity: Why the Democrats Must Not Win," that there is no real fissure in the Democratic Party between the old guard and the young radicals, the latter of whom are led by the "Squad." Sure, there is sometimes spirited debate between the established powers and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's socialist quartet, but in the end, the entire party has embraced a thoroughly extremist leftist agenda.
Even if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have us believe that she and her veteran Democratic colleagues are more measured, there is no doubt where her party is headed. Even if in her heart of hearts, she thinks the Young Turks are going too far too fast, which I strongly doubt, the Democratic Party base is not about to allow her to vacillate, much less to moderate.
So it is that Pelosi, despite having long resisted Rep. Jerry Nadler's and other Democratic congressional militants' efforts to initiate impeachment proceedings, has snapped to attention over these new hyped-up allegations concerning Ukraine and opened an impeachment inquiry herself.
Just like the Russia hoax, this one already involves more damning evidence against Democrats than Trump. Democrats, in a monumental act of projection, tried for three years to interfere with an election by falsely claiming Trump interfered with that same election. Now they're alleging that Trump abused his presidential power with Ukraine by trying to expose Joe Biden's possible abuse of power with Ukraine. In addition to Biden's alleged misconduct, three Democratic senators wrote a letter to Ukraine's prosecutor general in May 2018 urging him to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. This is plot thickening on steroids.
Pelosi acted precipitously, before Trump released notes from his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and before release of the whistleblower complaint against Trump, both of which are turning out to be nothing -- veggie burgers with no fries. Then again, with the liberal media in their pocket (or vice versa), Democrats have little to fear from performing such stunts.
Some commentators argue that though Democrats know they don't have the votes to convict Trump in the Senate, they are pursuing this "inquiry" because their agenda isn't resonating with the people. Corruption charges will distract from their policy bankruptcy and might cripple Trump enough to defeat him in 2020. Others say their angle is more subtle -- to snooker Trump and his officials into committing a process crime by defying court orders to produce documents, or perhaps lying to Congress or the FBI.
Of course, liberal commentators dispute that Democrats are trying to distract from their preposterous agenda, because in their view, the Democrats' insane environmental and fiscal proposals and their ruthless obsession over identity politics are winning ideas. Thus, they don't need to fabricate phony corruption charges. These allegations are legitimate. Though there was manifestly no quid pro quo in Trump's comments to Zelensky, the Trump haters divine evil intent and malice aforethought with every Trump stream-of-consciousness utterance.
That they were all embarrassingly wrong for three years over Russiagate gives them no pause. They are incorrigible and shameless.
Some Trump supporters are concerned about this, fearing that Democratic relentlessness will finally bear fruit. I honestly don't think so. Once again, the Trump haters, so consumed with venom that they've lost objectivity, have overplayed their hands. This impeachment fantasy is going nowhere. Democratic excessiveness is part of what led to Trump's rise in the first place, and there's good reason to believe it will aid in his reelection. People have had enough of this insanity. By becoming more extreme and unreasonable, the left is only solidifying and amplifying Trump support. So bring it on.
The Death of American Citizenship
The American founders institutionalized the best of a long Western tradition of representative government with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These contracts outlined the rare privileges and responsibilities of new American citizens.
Yet the concept of citizenship is being assaulted on the premodern side by the legal blending of mere residency with citizenship.
Estimates of the number of undocumented American residents range from 11 million to more than 20 million. The undocumented are becoming legally indistinguishable from citizens and enjoy exemption from federal immigration law in some 500 sanctuary jurisdictions. An illegal resident of California will pay substantially less tuition at a California public university than a U.S. citizen of another state.
Multiculturalism has reduced the idea of e pluribus unum to a regressive tribalism. Americans often seem to owe their first allegiance to those who look like they do. Citizens cannot even agree over once-hallowed and shared national holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.
It is eerie how such current American retribalization resembles the collapse of Rome, as Goths, Huns and Vandals all squabbled among one another for what was left of 1,200 years of Roman citizenship -- eager to destroy what they could neither create nor emulate.
Citizenship has always been protected by the middle classes -- on the idea that they are more independent and self-reliant than the poor, but can stand up to the influence and power of the elite.
Biden: Undocumented Children 'Become Americans Before a Lot of Americans Become Americans'
Yet until recently, we had seen a decade of stagnant wages and entire regions ossified by outsourcing, offshoring and unfair global trade. Historically, with the demise of the middle class so follows the end of constitutional government.
But citizenship also faces a quite different and even greater postmodern threat.
Many of our coastal elites see nothing much exceptional in America, past and present. They prefer the culture and values of the European Union without worrying that the EU's progressive utopian promises have been wrecked by open borders, economically stultifying regulations, and unapologetic and anti-democratic efforts to curb free expression and local autonomy.
Often, such "citizen of the world" mentalities fuel shame over the origins and traditions of America. Transnational organizations and accords on climate, criminal justice and human rights are seen as superior to their American counterparts.
A new progressive iconoclasm seeks to destroy statues, rename streets and buildings, and wipe away art that does not reflect more global values.
Does voting -- the bedrock right of the democratic citizen -- matter that much anymore? In California, tens of thousands of votes were "harvested" by paid campaign operatives. There was also abuse in state agencies in sending out voter registration forms to those who were not legally entitled to vote.
Lone activist federal judges frequently overturn legislation and referenda they find contrary to their own political take on legal theory -- without worry that the votes of millions are canceled in a nanosecond.
Meanwhile, the proverbial "swamp" of the bureaucratic, administrative and regulatory state is so vast and unaccountable that a few clerks can harass entrepreneurs, issue edicts with the force of legislation that ruins lives, or indict, regulate or audit a targeted individual into legal bankruptcy.
In recent years, we have seen a cake maker, a video maker, and a national security adviser so hounded by federal bureaucrats that they either were nearly bankrupted, ended up in jail or were reduced to penury through legal costs.
We still have a Bill of Rights, but many of our constitutional protections are being rendered impotent. If a rural family cannot find ammunition at the local Walmart or gun store due to organized boycotts and threats to such establishments, then the constitutional right to bear arms is not always exercisable in a practical sense.
Brett Kavanaugh was nominated, audited and confirmed by the Senate as a Supreme Court justice. But if the New York Times and cable news can relentlessly charge without proof that nearly 40 years ago he was a teenage sexual pervert, then a distinguished judge can be rendered impotent without legal impeachment.
If a student cannot safely express opposition to abortion on demand, question the global warming narrative, or object to safe spaces, trigger warnings and race-based theme houses on campuses, does it matter that there is in theory still a First Amendment?
We are unwinding at both ends. Tribalism, the erosion of the middle class and de facto open borders are turning Americans into mere residents of a particular North American region between Mexico and Canada.
Yet even more dangerously, thanks to the fiats of unelected bureaucrats and officials, along with the social media lynch mobs who boycott, harass and shame us, our constitutional rights are now increasingly optional. They mostly hinge on whether we are judged worthy by an unelected, politically correct and morally righteous elite.
In theory, American citizenship remains the same; in reality, it is disappearing fast.
ANOTHER ASYLUM DEAL: "The Trump administration signed an asylum agreement with the Honduran government Wednesday, marking the latest in a string of asylum deals with Latin American countries aimed at controlling the immigration crisis. The Department of Homeland Security announced it reached a deal with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, allowing the U.S. to send some asylum seekers from 'third' countries back to his country."
BORDER OBSTRUCTION: "The Senate again voted on Wednesday to end President Trump's emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, paving the way for a veto showdown with the White House," The Hill reports. "Senators voted 54-41 on a resolution to end the declaration, which Trump used to shift billions of dollars from the military toward wall construction." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed: "The vote [yesterday] is the surest and likely the only way to restore funding the president has stolen from our troops and military projects across the country." He didn't care to mention the jobs, money, and even lives that have been stolen from the American people as a direct result of illegal immigration.
A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: "A new national survey shows Elizabeth Warren now sitting atop the 2020 Democratic field, further cementing her ascendancy in the party's presidential primary after a pair of polls reported her leading in the first two primary states," according to Politico. "Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents polled by Quinnipiac University said they favor Warren, according to a survey released Wednesday morning. Twenty-five percent said they prefer former Vice President Joe Biden." Rep. Dan Crenshaw speculates: "This impeachment inquiry seems worse for Biden than it is for Trump. Now the Hunter Biden-Ukraine issue is on everyone's radar AND we know that Democrats overstepped with their 'quid pro quo' accusation. Have to wonder whether they did this to help Warren/Sanders."
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: "The marriage vow that usually involves a variation of 'for richer or poorer' may no longer apply. Women may now want to add 'as long as you make as much money as me.' It seems many men aren't getting up to the income level that women prefer in a potential marriage partner, according to the New York Post. That has left successful ladies single and disgruntled, according to a Cornell University study." (Fox Business)
SPENDING BILL PASSES: "The Senate on Thursday cleared a spending bill that will fund the government through Nov. 21, giving lawmakers and the White House more time to reach agreement on the annual appropriations process. The vote was 82-15, with all of the 'no' votes coming from Republicans. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the continuing resolution, holding off another partial government shutdown for at least 51 more days. But this could be the first of several stopgap bills amid tense debates about abortion policy and the border wall." (Roll Call)
REFUGEE ADMISSIONS LOWERED: "The Trump administration is proposing to resettle 18,000 refugees in the United States in the new fiscal year, reducing last year's record-low refugee admission ceiling by a further 40 percent. ... The final ceiling will be decided after consultation with Congress — as required by the Immigration and Nationality Act — but the Departments of State, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, in a report on Congress, are proposing an 18,000 limit. That's by far the lowest since the modern U.S. refugee resettlement program began in 1980, when the Refugee Act was enacted." (CNSNews.com)
RECORD FOREIGN-BORN RESIDENTS: "The percentage of foreign-born U.S. residents has reached its highest level in more than a century, according to estimates from the 2018 American Community Survey released [yesterday]. A record 44.7 million people are foreign-born, or about 13.7% of the U.S. population. That's the highest rate since 1910 and comes amid a highly-charged political debate over whether the decennial Census survey should include a citizenship question. A subset of the foreign-born figure — the number of people in the U.S. but 'not a U.S. citizen' held at around 22 million in 2018." (Bloomberg)
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters announced a filing by the U.S. House of Representatives with the Supreme Court in support of the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumer Bureau or CFPB). The House’s motion in the Seila Law v. CFPB case to file an amicus brief follows a recent announcement by CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger that the agency would no longer defend the constitutionality of the CFPB Director’s for-cause removal provision. The Trump Justice Department also urged the Supreme Court to consider the case in order to strike down the for-cause removal protection for the Director of this independent regulatory agency. The CFPB’s for-cause removal provision is designed to provide a degree of independence to the agency and to prevent the President from removing the CFPB Director at will.
“As part of comprehensive Wall Street reform, Congress established an independent cop on the beat to protect seniors, servicemembers, veterans, college students, and all consumers in America against the abusive and predatory financial marketplace practices that led up to the Great Recession,” said Speaker Pelosi. “By not defending the Consumer Bureau’s independence, the Trump Administration is choosing special interests over America’s consumers. As the lower courts have recognized in upholding the constitutionality of the for-cause provision, ‘Congress established the independent CFPB to curb fraud and promote transparency in consumer loans, home mortgages, personal credit cards, and retail banking.’ In the grip of President Trump, we have already seen the Consumer Bureau abandon its mission to protect the American people from unfair and predatory conduct.”
“The independence of the Consumer Bureau is essential to ensuring that the agency can operate as a tough regulator that stands up for consumers,” said Chairwoman Waters. “Despite previous court rulings that made it clear that the Consumer Bureau is constitutional and here to stay, Kathy Kraninger insists on working to undermine and politicize the agency at the expense of hardworking Americans. This is yet another example of a Trump Administration appointee working to undermine the mission of the agency they were appointed to lead. I am pleased that the House of Representatives has filed a motion before the Supreme Court in support of the independence of the Consumer Bureau. As Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, I will continue to defend the strong, independent structure of this agency to ensure it fulfills its important mission of protecting consumers as Congress intended.”
In May 2019, the House passed the Consumers First Act (H.R. 1500), legislation introduced by Chairwoman Waters to block the Trump Administration’s anti-consumer agenda and reverse their past efforts to undermine the mission of the Consumer Bureau.
Click here for the full text of the court filing.
San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement following President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Northern Syria:
“The President’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Northern Syria is a deeply disturbing development that betrays our Kurdish allies who have been instrumental partners in our mission to eradicate ISIS. Despite what the President might say, ISIS remains a serious threat. This reckless, misguided decision undermines the efforts by our brave servicemembers and our allies to end ISIS’s tyranny.
“Once again, President Trump is deserting an ally in a foolish attempt to appease an authoritarian strongman. By turning operational responsibility over to the Turks, President Trump has abandoned our Kurdish partners. This decision poses a dire threat to regional security and stability, and sends a dangerous message to Iran and Russia, as well as our allies, that the United States is no longer a trusted partner.
“The President must reverse this dangerous decision. The American people deserve a smart, strong and strategic national security policy that keeps America safe.”
Trump says Schiff ‘helped write’ whistleblower complaint, after House panel admits advance knowledgeCache
|Chairman Adam Schiff has been lying to the American people for years. Now he is so desperate to damage the president that he literally made up a false version of a phone call. Enough is enough. I have signed a resolution to censure Schiff in the House of Representatives. — Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 2, […]|
|Cache||Ron Paul: Fed's Latest Bailouts More Proof Bad Times Ahead
Tyler Durden Tue, 10/08/2019 - 17:25
Since September 17, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has pumped billions of dollars into the repurchasing (repo) market, the first such intervention since 2009. The Fed has announced that it will continue to inject as much as 75 billion dollars a day into the repo market until November 4 [ZH - and today, Fed Chair Powell confirmed the ongoing buying of T-Bills in what he demanded the American public not call QE].
The repo market provides a means for banks that are temporarily short of cash to obtain short-term (usually one day) loans from other banks. The Fed’s interventions were a response to a sudden cash shortage that caused interest rates for these short-term loans to climb to 10 percent, far above the Fed’s target rate.
One of the factors blamed for the repo market’s cash shortage is the Federal Reserve’s sale of assets it acquired via the Quantitative Easing programs. Since launching its effort to “unwind” its balance sheet, the Fed had reduced its holdings by over 700 billion dollars. This seems like a large amount, but, given the Fed’s balance sheet was over four trillion dollars, the Fed only reduced its holdings by approximately 18 percent! If such a relatively small reduction in the Fed’s assets contributed to the cash shortage in the repo market, causing a panicked Fed to pump billions into the market, it is unlikely the Fed will be continuing selling assets and “normalizing” its balance sheet.
Another factor contributing to the repo market’s cash shortage was a major sale of US Treasury securities. Sales of government securities leave less capital available for private sector investments, increasing interest rates. This “crowding out” effect provides one more justification for the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the markets.
The crowding out effect is just one way federal debt increases pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates low. Increasing federal debt increases pressure on the Fed to maintain low interest rates to keep the federal government’s interest payments from reaching unsustainable levels. The over one trillion dollars (and rising) federal deficit is the major reason the Federal Reserve is likely to keep interest rates low or even adopt the insane policy of negative interest rates.
The American people are not even allowed to know what banks benefited from the Fed’s intervention in the repo market, or what plans the Fed is making for future bailouts — even though the people will pay for those bailouts either through increased taxes, debt, or the Federal Reserve’s hidden inflation tax when the next crash occurs. Of course, the average people who will lose their savings and their jobs in the next crash will not be bailed out. This is one more reason why it is so important Congress takes the first steps toward changing monetary policy by passing Audit the Fed.
The need for the Fed to shove billions into the repo market to keep that market’s interest rate near the Fed’s target shows the Fed is losing its power to control the price of money. The next crash will likely lead to the end of the fiat money system, along with the entire welfare-warfare state.
Those of us who understand the Fed is the cause of, not the solution to, our problems must redouble our efforts to educate our fellow citizens on sound economics and the ideas of liberty. This way, we can create the critical mass necessary to force Congress to cut spending, repeal the legal tender laws to restore a free market in money, and audit, then end, the Fed.