June 27, 2017 – CORRUPT MEDIA

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The corruption of the media is today’s subject. We start with the latest issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis which is taken from a speech given by Michael Goodwin at a Hillsdale Leadership Function in Atlanta. Mr. Godwin calls the corruption the demise of journalistic standards. He’s more polite than Pickerhead.

… It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left. I used to do that myself. I grew up at The New York Times, so I’m familiar with the species. For most of the media, bias grew out of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Fueled by the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the media jumped on the anti-authority bandwagon writ large. The deal was sealed with Watergate, when journalism was viewed as more trusted than government—and far more exciting and glamorous. Think Robert Redford in All the President’s Men. Ever since, young people became journalists because they wanted to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, find a Deep Throat, and bring down a president. Of course, most of them only wanted to bring down a Republican president. That’s because liberalism is baked into the journalism cake.

During the years I spent teaching at the Columbia University School of Journalism, I often found myself telling my students that the job of the reporter was “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not even sure where I first heard that line, but it still captures the way most journalists think about what they do. Translate the first part of that compassionate-sounding idea into the daily decisions about what makes news, and it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that every person afflicted by something is entitled to help. Or, as liberals like to say, “Government is what we do together.” From there, it’s a short drive to the conclusion that every problem has a government solution.

The rest of that journalistic ethos—“afflict the comfortable”—leads to the knee-jerk support of endless taxation. Somebody has to pay for that government intervention the media loves to demand. In the same vein, and for the same reason, the average reporter will support every conceivable regulation as a way to equalize conditions for the poor. He will also give sympathetic coverage to groups like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

I knew all of this about the media mindset going into the 2016 presidential campaign. But I was still shocked at what happened. This was not naïve liberalism run amok. This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it. …

… As we know now, most of the media totally missed Trump’s appeal to millions upon millions of Americans. The prejudice against him blinded those news organizations to what was happening in the country. Even more incredibly, I believe the bias and hostility directed at Trump backfired. The feeling that the election was, in part, a referendum on the media, gave some voters an extra incentive to vote for Trump. A vote for him was a vote against the media and against Washington. Not incidentally, Trump used that sentiment to his advantage, often revving up his crowds with attacks on reporters. He still does.

If I haven’t made it clear, let me do so now. The behavior of much of the media, but especially The New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered.

The Times’ previous reputation for having the highest standards was legitimate. Those standards were developed over decades to force reporters and editors to be fair and to gain public trust. The commitment to fairness made The New York Times the flagship of American journalism. But standards are like laws in the sense that they are designed to guide your behavior in good times and in bad. Consistent adherence to them was the source of the Times’ credibility. And eliminating them has made the paper less than ordinary. Its only standards now are double standards. …

… Incredible advances in technology are also on the side of free speech. The explosion of choices makes it almost impossible to silence all dissent and gain a monopoly, though certainly Facebook and Google are trying.

As for the necessity of preserving capitalism, look around the world. Nations without economic liberty usually have little or no dissent. That’s not a coincidence. In this, I’m reminded of an enduring image from the Occupy Wall Street movement. That movement was a pestilence, egged on by President Obama and others who view other people’s wealth as a crime against the common good. This attitude was on vivid display as the protesters held up their iPhones to demand the end of capitalism. As I wrote at the time, did they believe Steve Jobs made each and every Apple product one at a time in his garage? Did they not have a clue about how capital markets make life better for more people than any other system known to man? They had no clue. And neither do many government officials, who think they can kill the golden goose and still get golden eggs. …

 

 

 

As luck would have it, a great example of media bias was on the blog The Other McCain. And since last week’s Georgia election is the gift that keeps on giving, this post grows out of that night’s CNN’s coverage.

Tuesday night, I monitored election results from Georgia’s 6th District special election on my phone (via AoSHQ Decision Desk) while finishing up a day mowing lawns for my son’s contracting business. We were leaning on the truck and enjoying cold beverages while Jim chatted with his business partner when the Decision Desk called it for Republican Karen Handel — a sweet moment. Democrats had poured an estimated $30 million into “Pajamaboy Carpetbagger” Jon Osoff’s doomed campaign and came away with another “L,” their fourth consecutive special-election defeat since Trump’s election.

Democrats’ hope of returning to power by riding a wave of anti-Trump “backlash” has been exposed as a delusion based on denial. Along with their media allies, Democrats simply refuse to accept the reality that American voters have rejected them. Democrats are the ex-boyfriend who refuses to move on, and voters are the girl getting stalked on Facebook by an obsessed loser who can’t take a hint. It’s creepy.

The now iconic image of the CNN crew at 9:43 pm ET Tuesday is a perfect distillation of a problem we can call the Establishment Media Bubble.

Those pictured were CNN’s political director David Chalian, CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Berger, CNN’s executive director of Political Programming/Sr. Political Analyst Mark Preston, and Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

The pretense of journalistic objectivity, which is the Establishment Media’s stock in trade, has become so transparently implausible that no intelligent viewer could be deceived by it. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, the media’s pretense of political expertise was even more brutally exposed as a fraud — a hoax as bogus as “Haven Monahan.” …

 

… CNN, like every other Establishment Media organization, actively discriminates against Republicans in its hiring decisions. Mark Preston’s network is a sort of political cult that only employs True Believers. The organization’s journalistic standards are subordinated to its political mission, which is to persuade viewers to vote Democrat. Period. …

 

… Mark Preston is not an omniscient political genius. He is not really that much smarter than the average Democrat, or else he wouldn’t have been sitting there Tuesday night on the CNN set looking like a guy who just got home from Vegas and has to tell his wife how much money he lost. …

 

June 26, 2017 – MORE LAUGHTER

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More laughter as we look again at the race in Georgia’s 6th district. You know, the one where the Dem candidate was downgraded by the NY Times from “political neophyte” to “upstart.” Daily Beast is first.

… Democrats will have more soul searching to do. They are now zero-for-four in special elections since Trump became the president and need to understand why.

They’ll be quick to say the Ossoff race never should have been so close, which is true. And that Ossoff won in a sense just by being competitive in an R+10 district, which is sort of true.

But after $23 million, a candidate who genuinely ignited the grassroots, and a Republican president who may or may not be (but probably is) under FBI investigation and can’t stop talking about it, the real question Democrats need to answer is: What’s it going to take to win an election in the era of Trump?

As of Tuesday night, they still have no idea.

  

 

Red State says Dems have written a new song called Moral Victories.

… Republican and conservative voters don’t go to the polls with identity politics in their head. Filipovic doesn’t even get the irony that Ossoff, the straight white male, was defeated by a woman. 

Sooner or later, somebody in the Democratic party will realize some self-reflection is required and perhaps recognize they are the problem and not the voters they insist are too stupid to vote for the right candidate.

Until they do that, Democrats will sell lots of copies of ‘Moral Victories’ but won’t actually win anything of substance.

 

 

And we find out from HotAir Ossoff is calling for campaign finance reform. Now, that is chutzpah.

… With all due respect, Mr. Ossoff, you just lost the most expensive House race the country has ever seen. And you gladly took in and slathered cash all over the landscape in an effort to win it. There’s no dishonor in losing a hard fought campaign, but calling for campaign finance reform on the final day of that spending spree is a bit much even by the standards of lifelong Washington.

   

 

American Thinker wants to know how that referendum on Trump worked out for the Dems and their media minders.

… Get a load of this now comical pompous pre-election analysis that ran earlier this week in the New York Times (emphasis mine):

The hard-fought battle for Mr. Price’s seat in Atlanta’s northern reaches has not only become a financial arms race – by far the most expensive House contest in history – it has evolved into one of the most consequential special elections in decades.

Republicans, weighed down by Mr. Trump’s growing unpopularity, must demonstrate they can separate themselves from the president enough to hold suburban districts that only now are becoming battlegrounds.

And Democrats, facing a restive base hungry for victory after disappointing losses in Montana and Kansas, are under pressure to show they can notch something more than a moral victory in the sort of affluent seat they will need in order to take back the House majority.

An outright win in Georgia would serve as validation of the party’s overall strategy.

Didn’t turn out as they thought it would. ..

… Now the Democrats are left with a steaming pile of $23 million in campaign debt, shelling out $200 per vote, all because they thought hating on Trump was a winning strategy that would thrill the voters.  And if that isn’t clear enough a message, a similar race in the 5th District of South Carolina came out the same way.

The left wanted a referendum on Trump.  Today, they got it.

  

 

From Ricochet we can see the Dems are not in a moderation mode.

I’ve read the Republican “health care” bill. … They’re paying for tax cuts with American lives.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 22, 2017

Let us be clear and this is not trying to be overly dramatic: Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 23, 2017

Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 23, 2017

 

 

John Podhoretz sounds a note of caution for both parties.

… There’s no question national Democratic enthusiasm is real. The issue going forward for them and for Republicans goes to sustainability. The disappointment that will follow the Ossoff result could depress that enthusiasm at exactly the wrong moment.

That $30 million could’ve funded six House races next year in which Democrats would’ve had a better shot than they did here. Democrats only need to flip 24 Republican seats to take majority control of the House — and there are 23 districts held by Republicans that Hillary Clinton actually won in 2016. The Ossoff district wasn’t one of them.

The Georgia results ought to be a warning shot for Democrats, not a battle cry. They have to be smarter. They have to spend their money more wisely. They have to win where they can, not where they hope to.

As for Republicans and Trump: They, too, need to be cold-eyed and ruthless about what last night meant. It wasn’t great news for them to win a district by a margin 19 points lower than the one in November 2016. Triumphalism would be short-sighted and foolish. This was no triumph. They dodged a bullet.

 

 Good bunch of cartoons today.

 

June 23, 2017 – JANE SANDERS

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It is maddeningly easy to commit felony bank fraud. All it takes is for natural optimism to find it’s way into a bank loan application. The story of Jane Sander’s peril in an FBI investigation follows. Jane is the wife of Bernie, the socialist from Vermont. Harry Jaffe, a writer from the area tells the story of the fall of Burlington College and Jane Sanders. The title is “Jane Sanders Lawyers Up” and was published by Politico.

Bernie Sanders was in the midst of an interview with a local TV reporter early last month when the senator fielded an unexpected question about an uncomfortable matter. 

“There’s an implication, and from at least one individual, an explicit argument that when they called for an investigation into Burlington College that you used your influence to secure a loan from People’s United—”

The senator cut him off. 

Sanders is used to fielding softball questions from an adoring local press, but his inquisitor, Kyle Midura of Burlington TV station WCAX, had a rare opportunity to put him on the spot. Investigative reporters had been breaking stories about a federal investigation into allegations that the senator’s wife, Jane Sanders, had committed fraud in obtaining bank loans for the now defunct BurlingtonCollege, and that Sanders’s Senate office had weighed in. 

Sanders had never responded to questions about the case, but he took the bait this time. Briefly. 

“Well, as you know,” he said, “it would be improp— this implication came from Donald Trump’s campaign manager in Vermont. Let me leave it at that, because it would be improper at this point for me to say anything more.” … 

… Sanders and his wife have been trying to ignore the federal investigation since reporters for VTDigger, an online publication, confirmed the FBI’s involvement in April. The original request for an investigation into the potential bank fraud did indeed come from Brady Toensing, an attorney who chaired Trump’s Vermont campaign, and whose January 2016 letter to the U.S. attorney for Vermont put federal agents on the trail. (Toensing, in an email to Politico Magazine, notes, “The investigation was started more than a year ago under President Obama, his Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and his United States Attorney, all of whom are Democrats.”) 

Now, Senator Sanders and his wife are taking the case more seriously. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ longtime top political adviser who heads Sanders’ political organization, Our Revolution, confirms to Politico Magazine that Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up. The couple has retained Rich Cassidy, a well-connected Burlington attorney and Sanders devotee, and Larry Robbins, the renowned Washington-based defense attorney who has represented I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and disgraced former Rep. Bill Jefferson, to represent Jane Sanders in the matter. 

Now, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department is handling an investigation that will proceed at the discretion of a U.S. attorney of Vermont that Trump has yet to appoint. … 

… The couple met and fell in love during Sanders’ startling 10-vote victory in Burlington’s 1980 mayoral race. His victory uprooted the Democratic machine in Vermont’s largest city and elevated an unabashed socialist at a time when Republicans across the U.S. started using liberal as an epithet. At the time, she was 31. He was her first husband; she was his second wife. For the next 23 years, she worked as his professional sidekick, enforcer and strategist. While he was mayor, Jane Sanders directed Burlington’s youth services division. When he ran for the House in 1990, she managed his campaign, then ran his congressional office as chief of staff. But when the chance came to step out and build her own legacy in 2004, she pounced and became president of BurlingtonCollege. … 

… On January 10, 2016, in the midst of Sanders’ sudden stardom—just weeks before the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire—the U.S. attorney for Vermont was sent a “Request for an Investigation into Apparent Federal Bank Fraud.” 

Backed by six exhibits and a dozen documents, the four-page letter described how Jane Sanders had “orchestrated” the purchase of 33 acres along Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, where her husband had minted his populist political brand as mayor. The deal closed in 2010, when the senator’s wife was president of BurlingtonCollege, a tiny, obscure, nontraditional school that always seemed to be struggling for students and funds. The letter alleged that to secure a $10 million loan and execute her grand plan to expand the college, Jane Sanders had falsified and inflated nearly $2 million that she’d claimed donors had pledged to repay the loans. 

Sanders had “successfully and intentionally engaged in a fraudulent scheme to actively conceal and misrepresent material facts from a federal financial institution,” the letter alleged. It pressed for a federal investigation into potential bank fraud. 

Bernie and Jane Sanders shrugged off the charges. Reporters, mesmerized by the rumpled Vermont senator’s razor-thin margin in Iowa and crushing defeat of Clinton in New Hampshire, ignored the letter. The allegations got no traction on the trail. … 

… Jane Sanders took over in 2004 as a self-described “turnaround” president. Steeped in alternative schooling, she had earned her undergraduate degree at GoddardCollege, a slightly larger alternative school in Plainfield, Vermont, that offers a “holistic” approach to higher education. She got a doctorate in leadership studies in politics and education at Union Institute and University, an accredited nontraditional school based in Ohio that specializes in distance learning. 

Sanders had big plans for BurlingtonCollege. As president, she immediately wanted to grow the student body and campus. “In 2005 she said that increasing numbers was vital because tuition dollars would help pay for the overall plan she was developing,” (Greg) Guma wrote in his deeply researched 2016 essay, Paradise Lost: The Fall of Burlington College. “As it turned out tuition dollars rose, but the number of students didn’t.” 

In 2006, Sanders announced a $6 million plan to expand the campus. That plan never materialized. At the same time, faculty and students began to bridle at Sanders’ leadership style. In the four years since she had taken over, two dozen faculty and staff had left the tiny college. The Student Government Association in late 2008 described a “toxic and disruptive environment on campus.” Nearly half of the students and faculty members signed a petition demanding a meeting about the “crisis in leadership.” Even so, Sanders’ salary rose to $150,000 in 2009, according to college records, as tuition increased by $5,000, to $22,407 in 2011, and enrollment dropped to 156 students. 

Sanders’ 2008 dismissal of Genese Grill, a popular literature professor, exposed more of the college’s inner turmoil. In a letter to the school’s academic affairs committee, Grill described what she termed Sanders’ “harassment and unethical treatment of other faculty and staff members, many of whom have since left the college disgruntled and angry.” The American Association of University Professors noted the school’s lack of a formal grievance policy for faculty and offered to help create one. Sanders declined. She told reporters at the time that the guidelines would have been for tenured faculty and “would be extremely difficult to do at such a small college.” …

 

… Brady Toensing was never one to miss an opportunity. 

While Berniemania consumed most Vermonters—starting during his decade as Burlington mayor and continuing through his statewide campaigns for the House and Senate and 2016 presidential run—Toensing appreciated Sanders’ political skills but balked at his positions. The 49-year-old lawyer has conservative politics in his blood. 

His mother, Victoria Toensing, is one of the most committed conservative lawyers in Washington, D.C. She was Barry Goldwater’s chief counsel from 1981 to 1984, and served in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department. She later married Joseph diGenova, a storied lawyer who investigated Mayor Marion Barry while serving as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia during the Reagan administration. The two now run diGenova & Toensing, a law firm active in conservative causes (both had cameos on Fox News when they represented the whistleblowers in the Benghazi attacks). Though he lives and pays taxes in Vermont, Brady Toensing is a partner at his mother’s Washington-based law firm. 

For more than a decade, Brady Toensing has been vice chair of the Vermont Republican Party. He chaired Donald Trump’s campaign in the GreenMountainState and remained loyal even as more moderate elected Republicans vowed not to vote for Trump. Known in Vermont political circles as a jocular, entertaining activist, he’s constantly on alert for cases where he can slip the knife into Democratic politicians. In 2013, when news broke that then-Governor Peter Shumlin might have taken advantage of a neighbor in acquiring land, Toensing took the neighbor’s case. But the rise of Bernie Sanders clearly stuck in his craw—especially given what he considered to be the lack of scrutiny Sanders enjoyed. 

So it was no surprise that Toensing scrutinized Jane Sanders’ rise and fall at Burlington College. 

On July 7, 2014, Seven Days, a Vermont alternative weekly newspaper, published a deeply reported (There’s that “deeply” guy again- Pkrhd) piece by Alicia Freese about Burlington College’s plummeting fortunes. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges had put it on probation because of the school’s shaky finances. The college was about to sell off land to defray its mounting debt. 

Two weeks after Freese’s piece appeared, Toensing requested loan documents from the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency that had issued the $6.5 million bonds for the land. The August 1 response from the bonding agency produced a trove of documents that detailed how Jane Sanders convinced the bank and the church that Burlington College could pay back its millions of dollars in loans. … 

… In hindsight, it’s hard to avoid blaming Jane Sanders for the Burlington College fiasco. She took over a struggling-but-functioning institution and set it on a course that led to its demise. But in a state where Bernie Sanders is sacrosanct, no one was—or is—eager to unload on his wife. 

Carol Moore, a veteran Vermont educator, lowered the boom in an essay published by the Chronicle of Higher Education in September 2016. “BC’s fate was set when its former board members hired an inexperienced president and, six years later, approved the imprudent purchase of a $10 million piece of property for campus expansion,” Moore wrote. “Enrollment that year was about 195 and the budget just over $4 million, less than half of this ill-advised investment. What were they thinking?” 

She then suggests an answer: “Who is to blame for this appallingly inappropriate business deal? Perhaps a board that steered clear of the tough questions which needed to be asked. Or a bank in the state of an influential senator—a senator, as it turned out, with bigger ambitions?” … 

… Hiring a lawyer is no admission of guilt, but it does speak to the potential seriousness of the federal investigation. “It would be negligent for anyone involved in the matter to not retain counsel,” Weaver tells Politico Magazine. 

Charges of bank fraud, say legal experts, are not easy to prove. “It requires that the act be performed knowingly,” says William Lawler, a former federal prosecutor now with the law firm Vinson & Elkins. “Not every mistake is going to rise to the level of a crime.” 

As yet, the investigation has not concluded. Once FBI or other federal agents present the results of their investigation to federal prosecutors, the top lawyers will have discretion on whether or not to bring charges. 

Once the federal investigation concludes, the Justice Department will decide whether or not to bring charges—which some worry will give Donald Trump a chance to affect the course of action. 

That gives President Donald Trump a chance to affect the course of the investigation and potential for prosecution, as Trump’s Department of Justice—led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime senatorial colleague of Bernie Sanders—will make the call on whether to prosecute the wife of a senator who has been deeply critical of this president and once called him a “pathological liar.” 

Trump’s largest potential impact on the case, though, could come in his choice of U.S. attorney for Vermont—a post that has been awaiting a nominee since the resignation of Obama appointee Eric Miller in February. This week, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, and Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, recommended that Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan become the state’s next U.S. attorney. …

 

 

June 21, 2017 – YOU GOTTA LAUGH

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You have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at looney liberals in the country as the results come in from the special election in Georgia. Trump only carried the district by two points in the fall’s election. But now, having seen the government Trump assembled, the voters in the district gave the GOP a six point win. The losing Dem is now called an “upstart” in today’s NY Times headline. Roger Simon says hollywood was the “yuuuge” loser.

As a resident of Hollywood, CA, I didn’t exactly see crying in the streets, but I did “feel their pain,” as the saying goes.

According to (where else?) Variety, the local entertainment industry went in big time in support of Jon Ossoff, the jejune sometime documentarian, in his quest to win the election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district.

Rosie O’Donnell [ je suis shockay], Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Sean Daniel, Connie Britton, Sam Waterston and Kyra Sedgwick are among those who have donated to Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign, while others have been participating in phone banks to get out the vote and a few, like actress Alyssa Milano, have volunteered to go door to door in the suburban Atlanta district.

Will these moral narcissists talk with Ossoff again, now that he has lost by a solid margin, more than predicted, failing to do any better than Hillary against their Public Enemy #1  (Donald J. Trump) despite having by far the largest war chest in American congressional history, nine times bigger than his opponent’s? …

 

 

More from Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.

Republican Karen Handel has what looks like a commanding lead in the special Georgia congressional race. With about 80 percent of the vote counted, she’s up by 52.4 to 47.6 over boy Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The folks at FiveThirtyEight have all but given up on Ossoff. …

… The Democrats placed an enormous amount of hope, not to mention dough, in this race. It looks like they have come up empty.

If so, they will try hard to spin this as a moral victory, or something. Don’t buy it. This is a bad result for them.

  

 

Jonah Goldberg sounds a note of caution.

… On the other hand, a Handel win is not anywhere near the victory/mandate/endorsement the Trump team will claim it to be. This is a Republican district. The only reason it was close: A lot of Republicans voted for a Democrat. So, the GOP victory on the merits is pretty limited. Spending enough money to scald a wet mule (to borrow a phrase from Haley Barbour) to hold on to a district that Tom Price (Trump’s HHS secretary) and Newt Gingrich held is not a sign of Republican health. I’m okay with calling that a moral victory for Ossoff, as the media certainly will. But a moral victory plus $1.89 will buy me a large coffee at my local Starbucks. Meanwhile, a literal defeat for the GOP would have been a disaster.

 

June 19, 2017 – CAMILLE PAGLIA

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The Weekly Standard interviewed Ms. Paglia this week which prompted a day just for her. The first question for her was on President Trump.

Camille Paglia is one America’s smartest and most fearless writers. Like Elvis, she’s the kind of superstar who really needs no introduction—though it is worth pointing out that Pantheon has just published a collection of her essays on sex, gender, and feminism, titled Free Women, Free Men. It’s fantastic and if you love her work, it’s must-reading. (And there’s another collection due out in the Fall of 2018, which is more good news.)

JVL Last week I sat down with Paglia over email to talk about Donald Trump, Islamist terrorism, and the transgender crusade. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

CP … The point here is that Donald Trump won the nomination fair and square against a host of serious, experienced opponents who simply failed to connect with a majority of GOP primary voters. However, there were too many unknowns about Trump, who had never held elective office and whose randy history in the shadowy demimonde of casinos and beauty pageants laid him open to a cascade of feverish accusations and innuendos from the ever-churning gnomes of the cash-propelled Clinton propaganda machine. In actuality, the sexism allegations about Trump were relatively few and minor, compared to the long list of lurid claims about the predatory Bill Clinton.

My position continues to be that Hillary, with her supercilious, Marie Antoinette-style entitlement, was a disastrously wrong candidate for 2016 and that she secured the nomination only through overt chicanery by the Democratic National Committee, assisted by a corrupt national media who, for over a year, imposed a virtual blackout on potential primary rivals. Bernie Sanders had the populist passion, economic message, government record, and personal warmth to counter Trump. It was Sanders, for example, who addressed the crisis of crippling student debt, an issue that other candidates (including Hillary) then took up. Despite his history of embarrassing gaffes, the affable, plain-spoken Joe Biden, in my view, could also have defeated Trump, but he was blocked from running at literally the last moment by President Barack Obama, for reasons that the major media refused to explore. …

… Had Hillary won, everyone would have expected disappointed Trump voters to show a modicum of respect for the electoral results as well as for the historic ceremony of the inauguration, during which former combatants momentarily unite to pay homage to the peaceful transition of power in our democracy. But that was not the reaction of a vast cadre of Democrats shocked by Trump’s win. In an abject failure of leadership that may be one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the modern Democratic party, Chuck Schumer, who had risen to become the Senate Democratic leader after the retirement of Harry Reid, asserted absolutely no moral authority as the party spun out of control in a nationwide orgy of rage and spite. Nor were there statesmanlike words of caution and restraint from two seasoned politicians whom I have admired for decades and believe should have run for president long ago—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. How do Democrats imagine they can ever expand their electoral support if they go on and on in this self-destructive way, impugning half the nation as vile racists and homophobes? …

… the media, consumed with their preposterous Russian fantasies, were fixated on former FBI director James Comey’s maudlin testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Comey is an effete charlatan who should have been fired within 48 hours of either Hillary or Trump taking office.) Meanwhile, Trump was going about his business. The following morning, he made remarks at the Department of Transportation about “regulatory relief,” excerpts of which I happened to hear on my car radio that afternoon. His words about iron, aluminum, and steel seemed to cut like a knife through the airwaves. I later found the entire text on the White House website. Some key passages:

“We are here today to focus on solving one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately needed infrastructure, and that is the painfully slow, costly, and time-consuming process of getting permits and approvals to build. And I also knew that from the private sector. It is a long, slow, unnecessarily burdensome process. My administration is committed to ending these terrible delays once and for all. The excruciating wait time for permitting has inflicted enormous financial pain to cities and states all throughout our nation and has blocked many important projects from ever getting off the ground…”

… Of course this rousing speech (with its can-do World War Two spirit) got scant coverage in the mainstream media. Drunk with words, spin, and snark, middle-class journalists can’t be bothered to notice the complex physical constructions that make modern civilization possible. The laborers who build and maintain these marvels are recognized only if they can be shoehorned into victim status. But if they dare to think for themselves and vote differently from their liberal overlords, they are branded as rubes and pariahs.

In summary: to have any hope of retaking the White House, Democrats must get off their high horse, lose the rabid rhetoric, and reorient themselves toward practical reality and the free country they are damned lucky to live in. …

 

Earlier Paglia was interviewed by the Free Beacon

… What impact, if any, do you think Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 had on feminism? Former Texas state senator Wendy Davis said Clinton faced a “misogynistic climate” during the election. Do you agree with this?

Misogyny played no significant role whatever in Hillary Clinton’s two defeats as a presidential candidate. This claim is such a crock! What a gross exploitation of feminism—in the service of an unaccomplished woman whose entire career was spent attached to her husband’s coat tails. Hillary was handed job after job but produced no tangible results in any of them—except of course for her destabilization of North Africa during her rocky tenure as secretary of state. And for all her lip service to women and children, what program serving their needs did Hillary ever conceive and promote? She routinely signed on to other people’s programs or legislative bills but spent the bulk of her time in fundraising and networking for her own personal ambitions. Beyond that, I fail to see how authentic feminism can ever be ascribed to a woman who turned a blind eye to the victims of her husband’s serial abuse and workplace seductions. The hypocrisy of feminist leaders was on full display during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which incontrovertibly demonstrated Bill Clinton’s gross violation of basic sexual harassment policy. Although I had voted for him twice, I was the only feminist at the time who publicly condemned Clinton for his squalid and unethical behavior with an intern whose life (it is now clear) he ruined. Gloria Steinem’s slick casuistry during that shocking episode did severe damage to feminism, from which it has never fully recovered. …

 

Continuing her book tour, Paglia was interviewed by the Examiner.

… Fresh off a spirited panel with Christina Hoff Sommers hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum, the iconic feminist dissident, who serves as a professor of media studies at the University of the Arts, accused journalists of colluding with the Democratic Party in an effort to damage the Trump administration.

“Democrats are doing this in collusion with the media obviously, because they just want to create chaos,” she said when asked to comment on the aforementioned stories. “They want to completely obliterate any sense that the Trump administration is making any progress on anything.” …

 

And from an essay in Time, Paglia writes;

… The Free Speech Movement, led by a fiery Italian-American, Mario Savio, erupted at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964, the year I entered college. It was a cardinal moment for my generation. The anti-establishment stance of the Free Speech Movement represented the authentic populist revolution of the 1960s, which resisted encroachments of authority by a repressive elite. How is it possible that today’s academic Left has supported rather than protested campus speech codes as well as the grotesque surveillance and over-regulation of student life? American colleges have abandoned their educational mission and become government colonies, ruled by officious bureaucrats enforcing federal dictates. This despotic imperialism has no place in a modern democracy. An enlightened feminism, animated by a courageous code of personal responsibility, can only be built upon a wary alliance of strong women and strong men.

June 15, 2017 – THERESA MAY – BLUNDER WOMAN

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While we’ve been watching the Comey circus, important things were happening – to wit – the disaster of an election in Great Britain. We have some comments from some of our favorites from years ago; Theodore Dalrymple and Tunku Varadarajan. Dalrymple is the nom de plume of Anthony Daniels who was a doctor in the British prison system and is now retired. He writes in City Journal

Theresa May has proved an apt pupil of the David Cameron school of political incompetence. Lacking principle, she is not even good at being unprincipled: a Machiavellian, it turns out, minus the cunning.

It did not help that she had the charisma of a carrot and the sparkle of a spade. As she presented herself to the public, no one would have wanted her as a dinner guest, except under the deepest social obligation. Technically, she won the election, in the sense that she received more votes than anyone else, but few voted for her with enthusiasm rather than from fear of the alternative. Her disastrous campaign included repeated genuflections in the direction of social democracy. Even after her defeat, moral if not quite literal, she burbled about a society in which no one was left behind—never mind that it would entail a society in which no one would be out in front, that is to say, a society resting in the stagnant pool of its own mediocrity. …

… Corbyn and his party’s solutions to the country’s problems were supposedly to be paid for by higher taxes on the richest 5 percent of the population. This proposal overlooked the fact that the top 1 percent of earners already pay almost three times as much in income tax as the bottom 50 percent combined, and also the fact that wealth is dynamic rather than static, resembling more closely the bloom of a grape than a cake to be sliced. Taxes on capital (in other words, state expropriation) were Corbyn’s obvious next step, with capital flight the equally obvious consequence.

None of this worried the young, who had as yet no stake in property, only what are sometimes called ideals. The Labour Party offered them and others the beguiling vision of living perpetually at the expense of others—Frédéric Bastiat’s definition of the state. The Laffer curve meant nothing to them; punishing the prosperous was more important and gratifying than understanding how to maximize tax receipts.

The election could take Britain back more than 50 years.

  

 

Mr. Varadarajan used to write for the WSJ. This item came from Politico.

At the time of writing, the Conservatives are forecast to win 318 out of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, humiliatingly fewer than the 400+ that had been on Theresa May’s mind when she called her Oliver Twist election (with apologies to Dickens) earlier this year. 

Please sir, can I have some more, she had said, even as she sat fairly pretty on 331 seats. She had no real need to call this election, but she did, wagering on a win that would enhance her majority in parliament, crush the Labour opposition, and let the negotiators in Brussels know that they were dealing with a prime minister who had the mother of all mandates to exact from Europe the most favorable exit terms.

Even as the results come in, it’s possible to see who the winners of this remarkable election are, and who the losers. …

… Losers Bracket 

Theresa May

Her victory speech at her Maidenhead constituency was quavering, uncertain and inarticulate, words that might well describe the manner in which May has governed as prime minister. Disparaged as the Last Woman Standing — a way of saying that she got the job because no one else wanted it after the Brexit referendum, or was untainted enough to have it — May flubbed her way through a campaign that was so poor that it left Labour, under a leader who was a liability in his own right, with unexpected hope of pulling off an election upset. The true problem of May’s election call was that few in Britain had an appetite for it. Yes, she said that she needed a fresh and vigorous mandate to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, but many voters saw her decision to go to the polls as one born of hubris and greed. It will take a miracle for her to retain the PM’s job. Which means that she won’t. She had 330 days in office, which seem about as many as she deserved. …

  

 

Francis Turner at Liberty.Me described Theresa May as “Blunder Woman” and said the Tories were suggesting May was the reincarnation of Lady Thatcher, but was in fact their version of Hillary; ”only without the sleaze and pathological lying.” 

… What I think was worst about the Tory campaign is that they wrapped the campaign around Mrs May and then she hid away from the electorate and the media. She didn’t do TV debates, she didn’t do interviews, she didn’t do hustings. In fact pretty much all she did was show up in various places to make speeches in front of vetted loyalists. Even worse it all sounds a little like the failed campaign of Mrs Clinton last year only without the sleaze and pathological lying. Perhaps worse, thanks to a pretty miserable manifesto, she and her team then spent half the campaign rowing back key elements of it and generally denying that they were doing so. This did not exactly inspire anyone to believe the spin that Mrs May was a tough leader, a good negotiator or anything similar. All in all if you are going to run a campaign that suggests that Mrs May is the reincarnation of the Iron Lady Thatcher  then it would help your narrative if your candidate can actually stand up and face the media and the public and smite the naysayers. …

  

 

Michael Walsh of Pajamas Media has more discouragement.

… As Great Britain dies, mostly thanks to the deliberate suicide of the Labour Party, it’s the Tories who are going to suffer. What England needed in the weak Cameron’s wake was a decisive leader who would reverse the effects (insofar as possible) of Labour’s gambit to boost its electorate via immigration, and to start a serious crackdown on the hordes of foreign Muslims who are already fundamentally changing the nature of the British state. Unable to stand up to bogus charges of “racism,” the Tories capitulated in principle, and got two attacks in London and the massacre in Manchester in return.

No wonder they lost. Spinelessness is not an attractive character trait in anyone, much less a putative leader. What Mrs. May just discovered — and what we all should learn — is that the days of managing cultural decline via the administrative and the police state are over. At this point, it’s either fight back, defend your patrimony, or die.

Americans made that choice in November, and yet the pushback from the DeepState and the Democrats remains ferocious. Absent the return of St. George, it’s hard to see how the UK comes out of this alive.

 

 

According to Walter Russell Mead of American Interest, there is one welcome victor because now May must align with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland.

… The biggest winner may end up being… Israel!

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in various combinations have been a potent force in British politics among both Tories and Labour since WW2. The non-Thatcherite Right and the Corbynite Left don’t have much in common, but dislike for Israel and for America’s support for it are strong at both ends of the British political spectrum.

One of the few reservoirs of strong pro-Israel feeling in the UK lies in Northern Ireland, the homeland of the Scots-Irish, who are the core of Jacksonian politics in the United States. The DUP is the most “Jacksonian” (that is to say rightwing, nationalist-populist) political force in the UK, and many of Ulster’s Protestants are as sympathetic to Israel as their U.S. cousins. Travelers in Northern Ireland will sometimes see Palestinian flags in Catholic neighborhoods and the Star of David banner in Protestant ones.

Last night’s election turned those Ulster Protestants into kingmakers; …

  

 

Spectator, UK has an inside look at how the Tories will reprogram Theresa.

Had Theresa May won the election with the landslide she expected, she’d have fired several of the cabinet with her trademark brutality. They knew who they were. And last Monday, three of them took the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister where she had gone wrong. In the first meeting of the political cabinet since she blew her party’s majority, Philip Hammond asked why there had been no economic message in the campaign. Andrea Leadsom said that while May had repeatedly claimed the election was all about Brexit, she had never said what Brexit was actually for. The most pointed contribution, though, came from Sajid Javid, who lambasted the high-handed way that May’s team had run No. 10.

However, this was ritual humiliation, not a mutiny. The Tories have decided to keep Theresa May who, in turn, has agreed to the departure of her two chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy. She knows, as her cabinet knows, that she has just committed the greatest unforced error in modern political history. In normal circumstances, she would be gone. But the Conservative party is in shock, petrified of another election and fearful that Jeremy Corbyn could become prime minister. Instead of deposing May straight away, they are going to try to reprogram her: to make her a different kind of politician. …

 

 

June 4, 2017 – CLIMATE

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Some of our favorites comment on the withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Richard Epstein posted a few days before Trump’s decision. 
The Trump administration is currently facing a major decision—whether to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords on climate change. The huge multi-national agreement was finalized in the closing weeks of the Obama administration, just days before Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election. The key commitment made by the United States under the accords is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the next decade by about a quarter of their 2005 rate, with further reductions to come thereafter. But during his campaign, Donald Trump promised to pull out of the accords, and, at the recent meeting of the G-7, was the lone holdout against a ringing endorsement of the agreement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been insisting that the United States stay the course, but it appears as if Trump is inclined to honor his campaign promise to pull out of the accords, a position in line with that of Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The President’s instincts are spot on here. He should withdraw the United States from the accords and be prepared to stoutly defend his decision on both political and scientific grounds. Ironically, the best reasons for getting out of the accords are the evident weaknesses in the reasons that a wide range of businesses and environmental groups offer for staying in. …
 
 
Craig Pirrong celebrates.
The wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments that has followed Trump’s widely expected decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord is truly amazing to witness. It is virtue signaling taken to a new extreme. Indeed, since so many people want to signal simultaneously, each apparently feels obliged to outdo the other in hysterics in order to attract the attention their precious egos crave. Hence the apocalyptic paroxysms of rage that started the moment Trump spoke.Truth be told, even if one believes the predictions of standard climate models, and even if one believes there will be compliance with the commitments of the Accord (which is slightly less likely than my becoming Pope), it would have a trivial impact on global temperatures: on the order of .2 degrees. The impact of the US withdrawal alone, given its declining CO2 emissions relatively (especially compared to China and India) and even absolutely (something the pious Europeans have not been able to manage despite their moribund economy and costly—and insane–commitment to renewables), means that Trump’s action by itself will have an immeasurable effect on climate in any time frame.

So despite all of the screeching that Trump has doomed—doomed I say!—life on earth, in reality the accord is not a practical agreement, but a ritual. And like all rituals, its primary purpose is to provide an opportunity to display obeisance to a creed, theology, doctrine, or dogma.

Which explains the overwrought reaction: …

 
 
 
 
Roger Simon likes getting rid of one of obama’s “three authoritarianisms.” 
Sometimes — maybe almost always — the world seems to run on Freudian projection. One of the salient recent examples is Barack Obama’s supporters — and Obama himself, literally and by implication — calling Donald Trump “authoritarian.”But in non-projected reality, during his administration, Obama is the one who imposed what we might deem – in appropriately Maoist parlance – the “Three Authoritarianisms.” They were the Paris climate accord, the Iran deal, and US intelligence agencies being used to surveil American citizens.

All three of these “authoritarianisms” were entirely ex-Constitutional. …

… Even a cursory look at history reveals that totalitarianism does not always come with the obvious iron fist of a Comrade Stalin.  Sometimes it arrives in a subtler manner, as it did in the Obama administration when the then president’s amanuensis/lackey Ben Rhodes was so naive or arrogant (or both) as to brag to a New York Times writer how he duped young and uneducated reporters into parroting what the administration wanted them to say about the Iran deal.  The KGB couldn’t have done it better.

In the cases of Paris and Iran, it’s clear the (totalitarian) decision to avoid Congress was deliberate.  But now Trump has put a crimp in the former by pulling out of the Paris climate ( global warming) accord. The international chorus of hissy fits was so instantaneous and predictable — no more eminent scientist than actor Mark Ruffalo has declared “Trump will have the death of whole nations on his hands” — one must ask the obligatory question: Was it ever really about climate or was it, in the immortal words of  H. L. Mencken, “about the money“? …

 
 
 
 
David Harsanyi says the Dems have lost on climate change.
… Cuomo claims he “is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions.” Yet as governor, he’s blocked natural gas pipelines and banned fracking, which has proven to be one of the most effective ways to mitigate carbon emissions. U.S. energy-related carbon emissions have fallen almost 14 percent since they peaked in 2007 according to the OECD – this, without any fabricated carbon market schemes. The driving reason is the shift to natural gas. Why do liberals hate science? Why do they condemn our grandchildren to a fiery end?
 
Fact is, Obama—as was his wont—tried to shift American policy with his pen rather than by building consensus (which was also an assault on proper norms of American governance, but the “Trump is destroying the Constitution!” crowd is conveniently flexible on this issue.) It’s not a feasible or lasting way to govern, unless the system collapses. It is also transparently ideological.

This, I suspect, is one major reason climate change isn’t really a salient politic issue. No amount of hysteria is going to reverse this dynamic. Because, in the end, Malthusianism is no better than denialism – it is denialism, in fact. It is a belief that ignores history, human nature, and most importantly tradeoffs. Lots of people seem to understand this, either in stark political terms or intuitively. Sure, they say the things expected of them, but their actions betray a trust in human adaptability and technology more than in guesstimates. Many of them have lived through the eco-scaremongering of the 70s and 80s, and yet, they now see innovation spreading in a cleaner world where poverty has dramatically fallen and, by almost every quantifiable measure, human existence is improving.

 
 
 
Scott Adams wants a global warming betting exchange.
… There is social pressure to say you side with the majority of climate scientists. To do otherwise would make many people feel like ignoramuses. So they craft their personalities around a belief in climate change doom because they are people who respect science. It fits their identity preference.Until you ask them to invest their money.

Then people bet against it.

Here I’m not talking about every person. I’m talking about a tendency for some members of a group to be frictionless-only members. As soon as you give them friction – such as a financial risk – some (not all) climate alarmists might become climate skeptics. 

That’s just a hypothesis. 

Another hypothesis is that markets are short-sighted. But how much short-term benefit does the entire economy get from leaving the Paris Accords? I haven’t seen the argument for it helping directly in the next quarter or two, except in terms of optimism for the long-term.

And yet another hypothesis is that the people who have extra money to invest have a different view of climate risks than people who don’t have money. And that could be because the investor class is either smarter or dumber on this topic, on average, than non-investors. 

All of this makes me wonder why there isn’t a more robust betting market for climate change predictions. …

 
 
 
Another example of pseudo-science and government gone awry is the campaign against dietary fat. It turned out to be wrong. Worse it led people to adopt diets that have started an epidemic of obesity. A summary comes from the Tonic Blog
Let’s say you want to lose some weight. Which of these foods would you choose: A skim-milk latte, or the same drink with whole milk? A low-cal breakfast bar or steak and eggs? A salad tossed in light dressing or the same salad doused with buttermilk ranch? If you’re like most Americans, you either aren’t sure how to answer, or you’re very sure—but very wrong. And it’s not your fault. It’s the fault, experts say, of decades of flawed or misleading nutrition advice—advice that was never based on solid science. 

The US Department of Agriculture, along with the agency that is now called Health and Human Services, first released a set of national dietary guidelines back in 1980. That 20-page booklet trained its focus primarily on three health villains: fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. 

Recently, research has come out strongly in support of dietary fat and cholesterol as benign, rather than harmful, additions to person’s diet. Saturated fat seems poised for a similar pardon. “The science that these guidelines were based on was wrong,” Robert Lustig, a neuro-endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Tonic. In particular, the idea that cutting fat from a person’s diet would offer some health benefit was never backed by hard evidence, Lustig said. 

Just this week, some of Lustig’s colleagues at UCSF released an incendiary report revealing that in the 1960s, sugar industry lobbyists funded research that linked heart disease to fat and cholesterol while downplaying evidence that sugar was the real killer.

Nina Teicholz, a science journalist and author of the The Big Fat Surprise, said a lot of the early anti-fat push came from the American Heart Association (AHA), which based its anti-fat stance on the fact that fat is roughly twice as calorie-dense as protein and carbohydrates. 

“They had no clinical data to show that a low-fat diet alone would help with obesity or heart disease,” Teicholz told Tonic. But because fat was high in calories, they adopted this anti-fat position, and the government followed their lead. Surely the 1960s research rigged by the Sugar Association, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, added to our collective fat fears. …

 

 

May 30, 2017 – LEFT POLICIES = RUIN

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Writing in City Journal, John Tierney provides a good example of how the Left ruins the lives of ordinary people. He writes about the refusal of New York City to allow Wal-Marts. 

If budget-cutters in Washington decided to eliminate food-stamp benefits to New Yorkers, the city’s politicians would be denouncing the cruelty of the “Republican war on the poor.” Yet Mayor Bill De Blasio and the city council are already inflicting the same sort of pain on low-income New Yorkers by denying them access to one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs: Walmart.

When he was mayor, Michael Bloomberg supported Walmart’s efforts to open a store in New York, but the company faced unremitting resistance from unions and elected officials, and it gave up the fight once de Blasio moved into GracieMansion. “I have been adamant that I don’t think Walmart—the company, the stores—belong in New York City,” de Blasio said.

Walmart’s benefits are obvious to shoppers and to economists like Jason Furman, who served in the Clinton administration and was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. In a paper, “Walmart: A Progressive Success Story,” Furman cited estimates that Walmart, by driving down prices, saved the typical American family more than $2,300 annually. That was about the same amount that a family on food stamps then received from the federal government.

How could any progressive with a conscience oppose an organization that confers such benefits? How could de Blasio and the city council effectively take money out of the pockets of the poorest families in New York? Because—though they would deny it—they care a lot more about pleasing powerful labor interests, especially the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which helped lead the long fight to keep Walmart out of the five boroughs. …

 

 

 

More on the Left’s war on ordinary people comes from Hot Air’s report on the types of restaurants that are failing in San Francisco as a result of the higher minimum wage.

… The Washington Examiner takes a look at a new study by the HarvardBusinessSchool this week which specifically digs into the restaurant business in San Francisco, where they have been jacking up their minimum wage like a golden escalator. The results pretty much speak for themselves.

San Francisco’s higher minimum wage is causing an increasing number of restaurants to go out of business even before it is fully phased in, a new study by the HarvardBusinessSchool found.

The closings were concentrated among struggling, lower-rated restaurants. The higher minimum also caused fewer new restaurants to open, it found.

“We provide suggestive evidence that higher minimum wage increases overall exit rates among restaurants, where a $1 increase in the minimum wage leads to approximately a 4 to 10 percent increase in the likelihood of exit,” report Dara Lee and Michael Luca, authors of “Survival of the Fittest: The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Firm Exit.” The study used as a case study San Francisco, which has an estimated 6,000 restaurants in the Bay Area and is ratcheting up its minimum wage. Restaurants are one of the largest employers of minimum wage workers. …

 

More on the subject from American Interest.

… More interesting, though, are the study’s findings about which restaurants are forced to leave by the higher wage floors. The authors compared rates of departure of restaurants across different Yelp ratings, and found that the policy hit low and mid-quality restaurants much harder than top-tier restaurants. ”Our point estimates suggest that a $1 increase in the minimum wage leads to an approximate 14 percent increase in the likelihood of exit for the median 3.5-star restaurant but the impact falls to zero for five-star restaurants.” …

… this study puts the appeal of superficially progressive measures like the minimum wage hike among the wealthy into sharp relief: It will help clear out the restaurant scene of establishments they don’t want to go to while taking jobs away from people they don’t know.

 

 

American Interest has more on California’s war on the working poor. this time using traffic fines. For example, $490 for stop light violations

Pressed to come up with the money to stave off its public employee pension time bomb, the state of California is jacking up the cost of traffic tickets. Reuters reports:

California legislators have raised fines for traffic infractions to some of the highest in the United States to generate revenue, and the poor are bearing an unfair burden, losing cars and jobs because they cannot pay them, civil rights activists said on Friday.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area said in a new report that the $490 fine for a red light ticket in California was three times the national average. The cost was even higher if motorists wanted to attend traffic school in lieu of a conviction or were late paying.

This is a variation of what we call the “blue civil war”—the way the tightening fiscal vise around state and local governments end up pitting Democratic constituencies against one another. In this case, poor and minority Californians, who tend to need to drive further to work, are paying the brunt of the increased traffic fines—which are going to cover the retirement hole for unionized public employees. …

 

 

Zimbabwe shows another way governments ruin lives. AP reports on farmers there cheated by the state.

Farmer Simon Kahari recently sold tobacco worth more than $6,000 at an auction in Zimbabwe, a small fortune reflecting the golden leaf’s resurgence in this southern African country. Yet because of Zimbabwe’s dire economic problems he ended up sleeping in an auction house toilet that night, hungry and wondering if and when he would be able to access his earnings.

“I don’t have any money for food or anything,” Kahari said. “I came here expecting to be paid, so now I will have to borrow.”

Many of Zimbabwe’s tobacco farmers share the same plight during the ongoing selling season of the crop, Zimbabwe’s second biggest earner after gold. While exported tobacco rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars, small-time farmers feel left out of the lucrative cycle.

A cash shortage that underlines the country’s deepening economic woes has left farmers who travel long distances to auctions unpaid, stranded and desperate.

Farmers like Kahari are not paid in cash because of the currency shortage. But they need the money because much of Zimbabwe, especially rural areas where there is little infrastructure, is a cash-based society.

Instead, their earnings are deposited into accounts that they must open at bank branches at the auction houses. Then the farmers must stick around for weeks, hoping for the daily withdrawal limit of $100 but often getting no more than $50.

Meanwhile, tobacco sales have jumped 30 percent from last year, earning $300 million so far, according to the country’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board. …

 

 

Now for the pièce de résistance of today’s post on how the left makes everything worse, we have a story from Reuters on water so filthy and oily in Venezuela’s oil ports that the tankers filling up there have to be cleaned before the rest of the world’s ports will let them enter.

In the scorching heat of the Caribbean Sea, workers in scuba suits scrub crude oil by hand from the hull of the Caspian Galaxy, a tanker so filthy it can’t set sail in international waters.

The vessel is among many that are constantly contaminated at two major export terminals where they load crude from Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA. The water here has an oily sheen from leaks in the rusty pipelines under the surface.

That means the tankers have to be cleaned before traveling to many foreign ports, which won’t admit crude-stained ships for fear of environmental damage to their harbors, port facilities or other vessels.

The laborious hand-cleaning operation is one of many causes of chronic delays for dozens of tankers that deliver Venezuela’s principle export to customers worldwide, according to three executives of the state-run firm, eight employees of maritime firms that contract with PDVSA and Thomson Reuters vessel-tracking data. …

… At oil export terminals around the world – where crude leaks like those in Venezuela are relatively rare – an oil-stained tanker would normally be taken out of the water and cleaned with industrial equipment in a dry dock.

But Venezuela has just one small dry dock and lacks the cash or the time to send its soiled tankers there for proper cleaning, according to the PDVSA executives, ship captains and two workers from tanker cleaning companies.

So workers on a small fishing boat clean the giant tanker with thousands of scrub-brush strokes. The work – which involves scouring ships above and below the water line – can take up to ten days per vessel, a worker involved in the cleaning said.

In a scene witnessed by Reuters in April, workers wearing scuba suits baked on the deck of a small boat as they reached out with brushes to scrub the Caspian Galaxy, a tanker leased for one trip by a PDVSA customer.

The workers labored just offshore from Amuay beach, near a tourist hub and PDVSA’s largest refinery. The crews here have washed so many vessels in recent months that they have dubbed their operation “the boatwash”. …

 

 

May 24, 2017 – VILE AND VIOLENT DEMS

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The coarsening of our political life has become breathtaking. Noah Rothman writes on the potty mouth democrats. Pickerhead might run for office as a Dem. Mrs. Pickerhead pointed out the language requirement is filled.

If you can’t be persuasive, be interesting. If you’re neither persuasive nor interesting, try to be funny. And if all of that fails, just be provocative; at least your audience will remember you. For Democrats, all else has failed. They’ve giving up on being compelling, coherent, or even just entertaining. In a desperate, spastic flail to capture your attention, Democrats have settled on a tactic: shock. …

… A New York Magazine profile of obvious 2020 hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand featured the esteemed gentlewoman from New York unleashing cascade of profanity upon her interlocutor. Her interview included “one ‘f***,’ two ‘f***ings,’ one ‘bulls***,’” and a variety of other lesser but equally crude expletives, according to Politico’s Alex Caton. At a public event, while sitting across from several former speechwriters for Barack Obama, California Senator Kamala Harris (another likely 2020 candidate) castigated Representative Raul Labrador for claiming that Americans do not die for want of health insurance. “What the f*** is that?” she remarked. Her audience roared and ate it up.

Republicans “don’t give a s*** about people,” barked newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez …

… It’s not just the Democratic Party’s political professionals who are rebranding themselves provocateurs to meet the measure of the populist moment. The liberal activist class is gearing up to make their case to the public by harassing lawmakers and scaring voters to death. Politico reported on Tuesday that Democratic protesters are preparing to lay down in the streets, ship the ashes of the dead to GOP lawmakers who voted to repeal ObamaCare, and to stage mock funerals for the unwitting constituents of Republican congressmen and women. “We can’t win based on the merit of our ideas,” confessed the proprietor of a liberal super PAC, “but rather on the way in which we deliver that message.” Some might call that an admission against interest. …

… During the 2016 primaries, Trump-skeptical conservatives fretted over the possibility that, were the populist real-estate mogul from Manhattan to win the GOP nomination, much less the presidency, Americans would become inured to his loutish persona. In the process, Trump would de-stigmatize rudeness and profanity, generate a more ill-mannered civic society, and accelerate the general coarsening of the culture. They were right. They just didn’t know that it would be the Democrats, not the GOP, who would first rush to follow in Donald Trump’s footsteps.

 

 

 

John Hinderaker says the craziest Dems are the California ones.

The Democratic Party is far gone in hate, but who do you suppose are the most lunatic Dems of all? The California Democrats are obvious candidates and, sure enough, their state convention yesterday concluded with a chant: “Fuck Donald Trump!” led by California Democratic Party chairman John Burton.

AP reporter Jonathan Cooper records the moment of infamy:

Outgoing Dem chair John Burton: “all together now: fuck Donald Trump.” While crowd holds up two middle fingers. pic.twitter.com/mDvgkhY7uY

— Jonathan J. Cooper (@jjcooper) May 20, 2017

There is a lot more at Gateway Pundit, and various videos are circulating. What I want to point out is the Associated Press’s restrained response to this outbreak of Democratic Party insanity. The AP headlines: “California Democrats take aim at Trump, GOP Congress.” I guess that’s one way of putting it. …

 

 

 

Even the Sacramento Bee, one of the house organs of the CA Dems, is disgusted. Steve Hayward posts in Powerline.

One of the very best analyses of the group dynamic of the Left came from Tom Bethell and Joe Sobran years ago, when they referred to the Left as “The Hive.” Like bees or ants, the Left simply goes into action in a coordinated and instinctual fashion, without need to meet and plan. Naturally the mainstream media is a chief nest of The Hive, and it buzzes constantly on behalf of liberalism.

Hence California’s Bee newspapers—the Sacramento Bee and the Fresno Bee (both long time McClatchy properties)—are appropriately named nodes of conventional liberalism. You could rightly think of them as the Bee Hive. Normally you’d never pay any attention to their house editorials. But the Fresno Bee editorial page over the weekend took note of the spectacle of the recent California Democratic Party convention and found it was even too much for them:

Which of the “D” words would you use to characterize the actions of California Democrats at their state convention in Sacramento over the weekend? Disgraceful? Deplorable Dysfunctional?

Sadly, there’s no wrong answer here. …

 

 

 

Federalist OpEd on the growing violence of the left.

Something is wrong with the American Left. The recent spate of violent protests on college campuses has been well-documented, but the violence and intolerance championed by left-wing student activists is beginning to creep off campus and into mainstream public life.

The reason for this is straightforward enough: although progressives pride themselves on their putative tolerance and diversity, the imperatives of leftist politics are fundamentally illiberal. Justice imposed through power is the philosophical foundation of the political left, and when earnest progressives become convinced the only avenue to power is violence, their tolerance quickly falls by the wayside. Consider a few recent events, none of which involved college protesters but all of which were marked by threats of violence. 

Ahead of a town hall meeting this week in Virginia’s fifth congressional district, Republican Rep. Tom Garrett received a series of disturbing threats—not just against him but also his wife and family, even his dog. One message said bluntly, “This is how we’re going to kill your wife.”

As a result, the town hall event was heavily guarded, with uniformed and plain-clothes security lining the walls and scattered throughout the 300-seat room.

Earlier this month, Jennifer Carnahan, the new chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, received a torrent of racist hate mail and at least one threat of physical violence that forced her from her home for a weekend. …

… It’s not just angry mobs at town halls. On Wednesday, an editor at the Huffington Post called on his fellow leftists to stalk Republicans: “They should be hounded by protesters everywhere, especially in public—in restaurants, in shopping centers, in their districts and yes, on the public property outside their homes and apartments, in Washington and back in their homes states.”

Last week, senior Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald—who, let’s be honest, seems a little off—said he wants every Republican who voted for the American Health Care Act to have a family member come down with a serious illness, lose their insurance, and die. For good measure, he added that he also wants them “to be tortured.” …

April 30, 2017 – CLIMATE CRAZIES

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David Harsanyi writes on Bill Nye, fake scientist.

Bill Nye has some detestable ideas about humanity. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Many environmental doomsdayers share his totalitarian impulses (Nye has toyed with the idea of criminalizing speech he dislikes) and soft spot for eugenics.

In his Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” the former children’s television host supplies viewers with various trendy notions to adorn his ideological positions with the sheen of science. In the final episode, Nye and his guests contemplate a thorny “scientific” question: How the state can stop people from having “extra children.”

Nye: So, should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?
Travis Rieder: I do think that we should at least consider it.
Nye: Well, ‘at least consider it’ is like ‘Do it.’
Rieder: One of the things that we could do that’s kind of least policy-ish is we could encourage our culture and our norms to change, right?

All of this was pretty familiar to me, and not only because the panel sounded like a ChiCom planning meeting. The Nye segment, it turns out, was just a repetition of a 2016 NPR article on overpopulation featuring Rieder that I’d once written about. …

 

 

 

Bret Stephens has left the WSJ and joined the NY Times. The last time that was done it was David Brooks. And boy did he go native! He used to write good stuff and we used to put it in Pickings. Now, he has become NY Times unreadable. We will hope the same thing does not happen to Stephens whose unrelenting dislike and dismissal of President Trump was said to lead to the change. Apparently the Journal wishes to cover Trump with less disdain than their initial coverage displayed. Bret Stephens’ first column morphed from the certainties of the Hillary campaign to the certainties of the climate scolds.

… “Mook and his ‘Moneyball’ approach to politics rankled the old order of political operatives and consultants because it made some of their work obsolete,” Allen and Parnes write about the campaign’s final days. “The memo that one Hillary adviser had sent months earlier warning that they should add three or four points to Trump’s poll position was a distant memory.”

There’s a lesson here. We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. From Robert McNamara to Lehman Brothers to Stronger Together, cautionary tales abound.

We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous. Ask Clinton.

With me so far? Good. Let’s turn to climate change.

Last October, the PewResearchCenterpublished a survey on the politics of climate change. Among its findings: Just 36 percent of Americans care “a great deal” about the subject. Despite 30 years of efforts by scientists, politicians and activists to raise the alarm, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either indifferent to or only somewhat bothered by the prospect of planetary calamity.

Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument? 

Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t. …

 

 

The first Stephens column has created a sh-tstorm at the Times. NeoNeocon posts.

… Which brings us to an article Bret Stephens wrote in his new venue, the NY Times. It was really a rather modest suggestion that people listen to both sides of the issue—not so much on AGW (which he himself seems to believe is true) as on whether we know enough to accurately predict the future of AGW and/or to fix the problems it may cause.

The Twitter storm this caused has been virulent. But if AGW (and intervention to halt or slow its effects) is your religion, then someone like Stephens becomes the AGW devil. Then this sort of response seems perfectly reasonable (if crass):

“You’re a s–thead. a crybaby lil f–kin weenie. a massive twat too,” tweeted Libby Watson, staff writer at Gizmodo.

“I’m gonna lose my mind,” seethed Eve Peyser, politics writer at Vice.

“The ideas ppl like @BretStephensNYT espouse are violently hateful & should not be given a platform by @NYTimes,” she said.

Not only has Stephens been excoriated, but that last sentiment—that he shouldn’t be at the Times—has drawn enough support to be expressed in a petition, that now has about 27,000 supporters, asking that he be fired. …

… Adriana Heguy, a genomics scientist and professor of pathology at NYU, urged her colleagues to scrap their subscriptions, as well.

“Composing my letter to the editor today and canceling @nytimes,” she tweeted. “‘Balance’ means a VALID alternative opinion, not pseudoscience. I’m so sad.”

 

 

And Ed Driscoll spotted this at ‘fake news’ Rolling Stone.

… Jesse Berney, Rolling Stone: “literally go f*** yourself, new york times. go, eat, dog, d*cks.” (Note: This is from someone at a magazine proven to have published a spectacularly false story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia. — Ed. …