January 27, 2018 – GROWTH, NOT EQUALITY

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One year into the Trump era, there begins to be ample evidence we’re seeing a sea change in American politics. The equality agenda of his predecessor has given way to a true growth agenda. The election was such a near thing, it brings to mind a quote mis-attributed to Otto von Bismarck; ”There is a special providence for drunkards, fools, and the United of America.” But for a few votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the country could have continued the obama decline or worse.

Our last two posts on Iran and the shutdown have compared and contrasted the Trump administration with its predecessor. And we continue in that vein today with a City Journal essay by Amity Shlaes on the two paths government might pursue; equality or growth. It is long (4,000+ words) and a bit dense but worth our time as Ms. Shlaes provides an overview of the last 100 years of American economic policy.

 

Free marketeers may sometimes win elections, but they are not winning U.S. history. In recent years, the consensus regarding the American past has slipped leftward, and then leftward again. No longer is American history a story of opportunity, or of military or domestic triumph. Ours has become, rather, a story of wrongs, racial and social. Today, any historical figure who failed at any time to support abolition, or, worse, took the Confederate side in the Civil War, must be expunged from history. Wrongs must be righted, and equality of result enforced.

The equality campaign spills over into a less obvious field, one that might otherwise provide a useful check upon the nonempirical claims of the humanities: economics. In a discipline that once showcased the power of markets, an axiom is taking hold: equal incomes lead to general prosperity and point toward utopia. …

… The redistributionist impulse has brought to the fore metrics such as the Gini coefficient, named after the ur-redistributor, Corrado Gini, an Italian social scientist who developed an early statistical measure of income distribution a century ago. A society where a single plutocrat earns all the income ranks a pure “1″ on the Gini scale; one in which all earnings are perfectly equally distributed, the old Scandinavian ideal, scores a “0″ by the Gini test. The Gini Index has been renamed or updated numerous times, but the principle remains the same. Income distribution and redistribution seem so crucial to progressives that French economist Thomas Piketty built an international bestseller around it, the wildly lauded Capital.

Through Gini’s lens, we now rank past eras. Decades in which policy endeavored or managed to even out and equalize earnings—the 1930s under Franklin Roosevelt, the 1960s under Lyndon Johnson—score high. Decades where policymakers focused on growth before equality, such as the 1920s, fare poorly. … … Lately, advocates of economically progressive history have made taking any position other than theirs a dangerous practice. Academic culture longs to topple the idols of markets, just as it longs to topple statutes of Robert E. Lee.

But progressives have their metrics wrong and their story backward. The geeky Gini metric fails to capture the American economic dynamic: in our country, innovative bursts lead to great wealth, which then moves to the rest of the population. Equality campaigns don’t lead automatically to prosperity; instead, prosperity leads to a higher standard of living and, eventually, in democracies, to greater equality. The late Simon Kuznets, who posited that societies that grow economically eventually become more equal, was right: growth cannot be assumed. Prioritizing equality over markets and growth hurts markets and growth and, most important, the low earners for whom social-justice advocates claim to fight. Government debt matters as well. Those who ring the equality theme so loudly deprive their own constituents, whose goals are usually much more concrete: educational opportunity, homes, better electronics, and, most of all, jobs. Translated into policy, the equality impulse takes our future hostage. …

… The modern American economic story starts with the 1920s, a decade worth dwelling on at some length because of the stunning evidence that it offers of growth’s power. …

… Several features of the 1920s events deserve note. The first is the unapologetic tone of the pro-markets campaign. The leaders ignored their own Pikettys, and prevailed: in the 1924 presidential campaign, the Progressive La Follette did take a disruptive 16.6 percent of the vote. But the “icy,” pro-business Coolidge took an absolute majority, beating La Follette and the Democratic candidate combined. Second, the tax-cutters did not back down—though several rounds of legislation were necessary. Third, and most important, the tax cuts worked—the government did draw more revenue than predicted, as business, relieved, revived. The rich earned more than the rest—the Gini coefficient rose—but when it came to tax payments, something interesting happened. The Statistics of Income, the Treasury’s database, showed that the rich now paid a greater share of all taxes. Tax cuts for the rich made the rich pay taxes. …

… The 1930s tell the opposite story. …

… When Franklin Roosevelt ran for president in 1932, the New York governor sent an even clearer signal that in his presidency, equality would come first. “The philosophy of social justice through social action calls definitely, plainly, for the reduction of poverty,” said FDR in a campaign speech in Detroit. “If poverty is to be prevented, we require a broad program of social justice.” Concluded FDR: “Justice is the first law we seek.” Roosevelt cited clergymen in support of the shift, including a statement by the Federal Council of Churches of Christ that got in the requisite dig against wealth: “It is not denied that many persons of wealth are rendering a great service to society. It is only suggested that the wealthy are overpaid in sharp contrast with the underpaid masses of the people.” Roosevelt also quoted a rabbi who made the human-justice priority even more bluntly: “We talk of the stabilization of business. What we need is the stabilization of human justice and happiness.” …

… Only when U.S. leaders turned to three areas that had been essential in the past—income taxes, the capital-gains tax, and patents—did a turnaround become possible. In 1978, Congress, led by Representative William Steiger of Wisconsin, cut the capital-gains rate in half, albeit with resistance from the redistributionist president, Jimmy Carter, who called the cut “a huge tax windfall for millionaires.” In some cases, the capital-gains rate was even lower—”Is a capital gains rate of 17.5 percent unfair?” asked the Washington Post. Yes, thought the paper’s editors. Nonetheless, the country saw the opportunity in lower rates and elected Ronald Reagan. Reagan followed up with a series of tax cuts that brought the top rate on the income tax down to a Coolidge-esque 28 percent. Less known, and also influential, was a law that Senators Birch Bayh and Robert Dole sponsored in 1980 to give scientists and inventors, or their universities, ownership of patents for their inventions. Bayh-Dole, as the patent law is known, caused patent applications to increase and venture capital to explode, powering the Silicon Valley expansion. As economist Larry Lindsey showed, the results of the 1920s repeated themselves. After the Reagan tax cuts, the government saw greater revenues than paper arithmetic had predicted. …

… As if American evidence of the price of envy weren’t enough, Europe presents a corollary story. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, social democracies in Europe, established with the encouragement and support of Washington, boasted Gini coefficients that U.S. redistributionists could only dream about. But their spending nearly brought European nations down. In the 1980s, Europe was equal but broke. Only a feisty, pro-growth rebellion in Britain, and quieter revolutions in Scandinavia and Germany, made stronger growth, and more general prosperity, possible again. …

… A real push is also necessary in the economics trade itself. Members of the guild of Ph.D. economists have little motive to do anything but build on or update Keynesianism, revise Gini, or gild Piketty’s lily. The most important step to put markets where they belong—in first place in the economic discussion—is to establish incentives that would make economists want to report the whole truth about the past. One example is the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Book Prize, a major award for economics authors whose works reflect the free-market views of the great economist Friedrich von Hayek. The greatest hope lies in the fostering of new institutions that will, in turn, nurture economics thinkers who dare to acknowledge the merits of markets. That means think tanks and universities. Already, GeorgeMasonUniversity stands out in this regard. We need more George Masons. A teetering nation cannot right itself until it rights its history.

October 6, 2013 – obama’s SHUTDOWN

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It is worthwhile to have a trip down memory lane and compare the latest shutdown with the one in October 2013 when President Poseur was in office. So, we have here for your amusement, a reprise of Pickings for October 6, 2013. And if you follow this link you can have a look at all of the posts during a two week period in that month.

 

 

Mark Steyn has wonderful words for the people who shut down the World War Two memorial in DC. Steyn is always making up new words and his tour de force today is his word for the barriers set up by the park service all over our country. Mark calls them Barrycades.

… Nevertheless, just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall — that’s to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site — which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.

So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow “Police Line — Do Not Cross” tape strung out like the world’s longest “We Support Our Troops” ribbon. For good measure, they issued a warning that anybody crossing the yellow line would be liable to arrest — or presumably, in extreme circumstances, the same multi-bullet ventilation that that mentally ill woman from Connecticut wound up getting from the coppers. In a heartening sign that the American spirit is not entirely dead, at least among a small percentage of nonagenarians, a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they’d shown up on the beach at Normandy it too had not been officially open.

One would not be altogether surprised to find the feds stringing yellow police tape along the Rio Grande, the 49th Parallel, and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, if only to keep Americans in rather than anybody else out. Still, I would like to have been privy to the high-level discussions at which the government took the decision to install its Barrycades on open parkland. For anyone with a modicum of self-respect, it’s difficult to imagine how even the twerpiest of twerp bureaucrats would consent to stand at a crowd barrier and tell a group of elderly soldiers who’ve flown in from across the country that they’re forbidden to walk across a piece of grass and pay their respects. Yet, if any National Parks Service employee retained enough sense of his own humanity to balk at these instructions or other spiteful, petty closures of semi-wilderness fishing holes and the like, we’ve yet to hear about it.

The World War II Memorial exists thanks to some $200 million in private donations — plus $15 million or so from Washington: In other words, the feds paid for the grass. But the thug usurpers of the bureaucracy want to send a message: In today’s America, everything is the gift of the government, and exists only at the government’s pleasure, whether it’s your health insurance, your religious liberty, or the monument to your fallen comrades. The Barrycades are such a perfect embodiment of what James Piereson calls “punitive liberalism” they should be tied round Obama’s neck forever, in the way that “ketchup is a vegetable” got hung around Reagan-era Republicans. Alas, the court eunuchs of the Obama media cannot rouse themselves even on behalf of the nation’s elderly warriors. …

 

Wesley Pruden found a park service ranger with some sense of decency.

… The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.

“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” …

 

 

Charles Krauthammer explains how he thinks we got to this.

… The most ubiquitous conventional wisdom is that the ultimate cause of these troubles is out-of-control tea party anarchists.

But is this really where the causal chain ends? The tea party was created by Obama’s first-term overreach, most specifically Obama­care. Today’s frantic fight against it is the echoing result of the way it was originally enacted.

From Social Security to civil rights to Medicaid to Medicare, never in the modern history of the country has major social legislation been enacted on a straight party-line vote. Never. In every case, there was significant reaching across the aisle, enhancing the law’s legitimacy and endurance. Yet Obama­care — which revolutionizes one-sixth of the economy, regulates every aspect of medical practice and intimately affects just about every citizen — passed without a single GOP vote.

The Democrats insist they welcomed contributing ideas from Republicans. Rubbish. Republicans proposed that insurance be purchasable across state lines. They got nothing. They sought serious tort reform. They got nothing. Why? Because, admitted Howard Dean, Democrats didn’t want to offend the trial lawyers.

Moreover, the administration was clearly warned. Republican Scott Brown ran in the most inhospitable of states, Massachusetts, on the explicit promise to cast the deciding vote blocking Obamacare. It was January 2010, the height of the debate. He won. Reid ignored this unmistakable message of popular opposition and conjured a parliamentary maneuver — reconciliation — to get around Brown.

Nothing illegal about that. Nothing illegal about ramming it through without a single opposition vote. Just totally contrary to the modern American tradition — and the constitutional decency — of undertaking major social revolutions with only bipartisan majorities. Having stuffed Obamacare down the throats of the GOP and the country, Democrats are now paying the price. …

 

 

John Steele Gordon posts on Alice in Wonderland comments.

Politicians fudge the truth all the time. And sometimes they flat-out lie. Bill Clinton’s infamous, “I did not have sex with that woman,” is the modern exemplar of presidential mendacity. At least it was until yesterday, when Barack Obama gave John Harwood of CNBC an interview. One response to a question makes President Clinton’s finger-wagging whopper sound like the Gettysburg Address:

‘PRESIDENT OBAMA: John, I think it’s fair to say that—during the course of my presidency—I have bent over backwards to work with—the Republican party. And have purposely kept my rhetoric down. I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy. Sometimes people think I’m too calm.” ‘

The mind boggles. This is a president who did not meet with the Republican minority leader in the Senate until a year and a half into his presidency; who excluded Republicans from any part in the shaping of the ObamaCare legislation, and forced it through on a strictly party-line vote; who excluded Republicans from any input on the stimulus bill; who invited Paul Ryan to a conference on health care and then insulted him to his face when Ryan could not reply; who accused Republicans of wanting only to deny health care to 30 million Americans; who called them “bitter clingers,” and told his supporters to get in their faces.

The only thing President Obama, the most divisive, partisan president in the history of the republic, has ever bent over backwards to do was to get out of a sand trap. He has kept his rhetoric down only to the extent of not advocating violence against Republicans.

I’m not a psychiatrist, so I don’t know whether this is just an utterly cynical remark, made in the knowledge that the lap-dog media will not call him on it, or whether it is an artifact of deep problems in telling reality from fantasy.

History will not treat this man kindly.

 

David French says the closing of the WW Two memorial is a perfect symbol of government malice.

The mainstream media is in the midst of one of its regular exercises in completely missing a wave of groundswell conservative anger — this time over the closing of the World War II Memorial. It’s as if the entire conservative case against the Obama administration’s incompetence, malice, and inefficiency was boiled down into one incident. …

 

Jonah Goldberg says we’re getting a good view of the president’s vindictive streak. We call it government by valerie jarrett.

… What’s unusual is the way Obama sees the government as a tool for his ideological agenda. During the fight over the sequester, Obama ordered the government to make the 2 percent budget cut as painful and scary as possible.

“It’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned Americans.

“The FAA’s all-hands furloughs managed to convert a less than 4 percent FAA budget cut into a 10 percent air-traffic control cut that would delay 40 percent of flights,” the Wall Street Journal noted at the time. 

The Department of Homeland Security announced it might not be able to protect the nation’s borders, and in an effort to prove the point summarily released a couple thousand of immigrant detainees, many of them with criminal records.

Obama, the avowed problem solver, set out to create problems for the American people, just to prove how great government is and how crazy Republicans were for wanting to cut spending — much of the money borrowed from China — a little. But don’t you dare call him an ideologue!

Now, with the government shutdown and the looming fight over the debt ceiling, Obama’s doubling down on this ideologically perverse strategy.

The National Park Service, which has somehow become the unofficial goon squad of American liberalism, reversed course and let American World War II vets visit the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. This is obviously good news. (I was waiting to see if Steven Spielberg would come out with a new Obama-friendly director’s cut of Saving Private Ryan in which the old guy at the end is dragged off in cuffs before he can reach Tom Hanks’s grave.)

Still, it cost the government more money to try to keep WWII vets out of an open-air memorial than it would have to just leave it be. In Virginia, the NPS ordered the Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down, even though it’s privately funded.

Far worse, Obama told CNBC’s John Harwood that Wall Street should be far more panicky about Republican efforts to use the debt ceiling to win concessions from the White House. I don’t blame Obama for being annoyed with Republicans for trying to use the debt ceiling the exact same way he did when he was a senator. But normally a sitting president doesn’t try to talk down the economy just to win a political point. …

 

Bloomberg News reports on the strange juxtapositions of what’s closed and what’s open. For example, grocery stores on Army bases are closed while the golf course used by the president on Andrews Air Force Base is open.

Grocery stores on Army bases in the U.S. are closed. The golf course at Andrews Air Force base is open.

All 128 employees of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. are working, while 3,000 safety inspectors employed by the Federal Aviation Administration are off the job.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing new pharmaceuticals. The National Institutes of Health is turning away new patients for clinical trials.

The seeming randomness of the U.S. government’s first shutdown in 17 years can be explained in part by anomalies in the spending Congress does and doesn’t control. Activities funded by fees from drug, financial-services and other companies are insulated from year-to-year budget dysfunction. The ones that get a budget from Congress get hit. …

 

 

January 18, 2018 – IRAN

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Roger Simon posts on Iran and how Trump’s support for Iranian citizen protests humiliates obama and his support for the government of clerical fascists.

Back in those pre-9/11 days when I identified as a liberal, the one thing I was sure drew all my then cohort together was opposition to fascism, whether secular or religious.

Boy, was I wrong and never was that more clear than in 2009 when the Green Movement demonstrators were marching through the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, demanding freedom from the mullahs. The whole world was watching, as we used to say in the sixties, only their cause was purer than ours was then. The horrifying theocrats who ran the “Islamic Republic” regularly raped women in prison before they killed them, hanged homosexuals in the streets and tortured just about everyone else who didn’t comply with the edicts of their Islamofascist regime.

The students and others marching in the streets to overthrow these tyrants desperately wanted America’s help, specifically the support of our “oh-so-liberal-progressive” president. They shouted, “Obama, Obama, are you with us or are you with them?”

Obama was silent. …

 

 

 John Hinderaker wonders why the Iranian revolt now?

… We remember 2009, when Barack Obama, hell-bent on a fanciful alliance with the mullahs, shamefully betrayed the Iranians who rose up, expecting to be supported by us. The Trump administration’s response is of course a welcome contrast. But one wonders: why are Iranians rebelling now? Certainly they have economic grievances, but are these really new? What has happened, recently, to explain the current uprising?

I wonder whether the Iranian rebellion has been incited, at least in part, by a conviction that there finally is an administration in Washington prepared to support them, at least morally and perhaps materially. Why would Iranians think that? No doubt they have paid close attention to President Trump’s willingness to stand up to their oppressors. And perhaps Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sent a signal that there has been a changing of the guard in Washington.

This is pure speculation, but maybe the fact that we now have a president who is pro-United States and pro-freedom, instead of anti-United States and pro-mullahs/Muslim Brotherhood, etc., has inspired Iranians to march for liberation. It will be interesting to see how events play out in the days to come.

 

 

 Victory Girls Blog with a number of updates on Iranian protests.

… President Trump has been vocal from the beginning of his campaign to now regarding how bad the Iran Deal was for the U.S. and the world.

The recently unveiled National Security Strategy goes even further. Given the timing of the Iranian protests just 10 days after the NSS report was unveiled, I have to wonder if some of the leaders of the protest read it and realized that once again the United States will be a genuine champion for freedom instead of being pro-mullah/pro-oppression/pro-terror.

 

 

 The Tablet knows why American media cannot cover the protests in Iran.

… It nearly goes without saying that only regime-friendly Western journalists are allowed to report from Iran, which is an authoritarian police state that routinely tortures and murders its political foes. The arrest and nearly two-year detention of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian drove this point home to American newsrooms and editors who might not have been paying attention. The fact that Rezaian was not an entirely hostile voice who showed “the human side” of the country only made the regime’s message more terrifying and effective: We can find you guilty of anything at any time, so watch your step.

The Post has understandably been reluctant to send someone back to Iran. But that’s hardly an excuse for virtually ignoring a story that threatens to turn the past eight years of conventional wisdom about Iran on its head. If the people who donned pink pussy hats to resist Donald Trump are one of the year’s big stories, surely people who are shot dead in the streets in Iran for resisting an actual murderous theocracy might also be deserving of a shout-out for their bravery.

Yet the Post’s virtual news blackout on Iran was still more honorable than The New York Times, whose man in Tehran Thomas Erdbrink is a veteran regime mouthpiece whose official government tour guide-style dispatches recall the shameful low-point of Western media truckling to dictators: The systematic white-washing of Joseph Stalin’s monstrous crimes by Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty.

Here’s the opening of Erdbrink’s latest dispatch regarding the protests:

Protests over the Iranian government’s handling of the economy spread to several cities on Friday, including Tehran, in what appeared to be a sign of unrest.

“Appeared”? Protests are by definition signs of unrest.

 

 

January 16, 2018 – DILBERT DAY

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This is Dilbert Day. We collected some of Scott Adams’ latest posts covering the political scene. He starts with a list of people’s predictions that turned out to be wrong. These were thoughts expressed by our betters on the left. Mr. Adams suggests maybe those who held all these beliefs should stop making predictions.

When candidate Trump first set about the job of redefining politics (and reality) back in 2015, people had lots of predictions about how things would turn out. One year isn’t long enough to know everything we need to know about his presidency, but it’s long enough to to check some of our predictions. As a public service, I put together a list of predictions that various people made about Trump that you can use to evaluate your own predictive powers. Count the number of items on the list that you once predicted would be true. I’ll tell you how to evaluate your score at the end.

Did you once believe…

Trump will never win the GOP nomination.

Trump will never win the presidency.

Stocks will drop if Trump is elected.

President Trump will deport ten million illegal immigrants. …

 

 

 

Next he posted on the Demolition President

President Trump has delivered on a number of promises for his base. But there was an impressive amount of breakage along the way. You might say he President Trump did as much demolition as he did construction. The press is doing a good job of telling us what he accomplished in 2017. But they keep leaving out all the stuff he broke that probably needed to be broken. I’ll fix that for you here.

GOP – Trump broke the GOP and reconstructed it along his terms, successfully it seems.

DNC – The DNC has no charismatic leader, no game plan, and little money.

Clinton Dynasty – Done

Bush Dynasty – Done

Mainstream Media – The public learned that news coverage is based on bias as much as fact.

 

 

 

Then a post on how Trump has changed our imagination.

Do you remember when candidate Trump told us (in effect) that he would be the first non-politician to win the presidency? It seemed impossible to even imagine such a thing. Then he did the impossible.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that if the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it would be a huge problem? President Trump did it anyway. So far, it looks like a minor problem at most.

Do you remember when experts said President Trump shouldn’t mess with the Iran nuclear deal because it could cause a huge problem for the United States and its allies? He did it anyway, and it is likely a supporting variable for the Iranian protestors who don’t like how their government is creating problems that don’t need to be problems. …

… In 2015 I told you that candidate Trump would change far more than politics. I said he would change how we understand reality itself. And one of those biggest changes is in the scope of our imaginations. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine Saudi Arabia taking a sudden turn toward modernization. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine an uprising in Iran that could reshape its destiny. I assume it was hard for the Iranian public to imagine it as well. But they sure are imagining it now. …

 

 

 

Trump’s boast about the size and capability of his nuclear button earned his usual opprobrium from the bien pensants. Scott Adams has an answer.

On CNN yesterday, Jake Tapper described President Trump’s recent behavior — including the President’s tweet about having a bigger nuclear “button” than North Korea — as abnormal and unstable. In other words, crazy.

Is it?

One folksy definition of “crazy” is that it involves trying over and over again a solution that has never worked while hoping it works next time. President Trump is doing something closer to the opposite of that. He’s doing something new, both strategically and verbally. To be fair, new things can be crazy too. But usually only if they don’t work. When a new and unexpected thing works out well, we call it genius. And that begs the question: Is President Trump’s approach to North Korea working?

We’re seeing economic sanctions on North Korea that have the support of the UN Security Council. That part is working, and it took diplomatic skill to make it happen. …

 

 

 

All of the above resulted in Trump earning the highest presidential approval in history.

The Small Business Optimism Index hit an all-time high. That’s the new Presidential Approval Poll.

In olden days (pre-2016), candidates for president were not so different from each other. I can remember pundits complaining endlessly about how similar the Democrats and Republicans had become. In that environment, you can easily imagine someone who voted for Candidate A warming up to Candidate B. In those simpler times, a presidential approval poll meant something.

Today, a “presidential approval poll” is little more than taking attendance. If you’re a Democrat, you disapprove of President Trump as a lifestyle choice. If you voted for Trump, you probably still approve of him because you knew exactly what you were getting. And if you are an anti-Trump conservative, you allow cognitive dissonance to rule your brain and you say he’s doing a good job but you disapprove of him anyway. David Brooks accidentally described this phenomenon in this article.

I contend that business optimism — and small business optimism in particular — are the new standard for presidential approval because “economics” captures most of what a president influences.

If a president starts a war, or threatens to start one, the economy flinches.

If a president starts a trade war, or threatens one, the economy flinches.

If a president is tearing apart the fabric of civilization in one way or another, the economy collapses.

If a big terror attack succeeds on the homeland, the economy flinches. …

 

 

January 13, 2018 – HIGHER ED

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Mark Twain; “There is no native American criminal class, except for congress.” 

Too bad Twain didn’t live long enough to see the state of contemporary colleges and universities. The Chronicle of Higher Education gives us a peek behind the curtain. In a Jeremiad, a sociology professor at Notre Dame calls BS on higher ed today.

 

I have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of American higher education that I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.

Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization. What do I mean by BS? …

… BS is the expectation that a good education can be provided by institutions modeled organizationally on factories, state bureaucracies, and shopping malls — that is, by enormous universities processing hordes of students as if they were livestock, numbers waiting in line, and shopping consumers.

BS is universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige, including chasing rankings that they know are deeply flawed, at the expense of genuine educational excellence (to be distinguished from the vacuous “excellence” peddled by recruitment and “advancement” offices in every run-of-the-mill university).

BS is the ideologically infused jargon deployed by various fields to stake out in-group self-importance and insulate them from accountability to those not fluent in such solipsistic language games.

BS is a tenure system that provides guaranteed lifetime employment to faculty who are lousy teachers and inactive scholars, not because they espouse unpopular viewpoints that need the protection of “academic freedom,” but only because years ago they somehow were granted tenure.

BS is the shifting of the “burden” of teaching undergraduate courses from traditional tenure-track faculty to miscellaneous, often-underpaid adjunct faculty and graduate students. …

… Lest readers think this is only sour grapes, let me clarify a few facts. I absolutely love scholarly research. I am a fortunate winner in the research university system. I know it takes money to achieve excellence. I have worked to help raise and sustain my universities’ program rankings and institutional status. I have taught classes of more than 300 students. And I really love college sports, especially football, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. So naming the BS is for me actually painful and morally complicated.

But calling out the BS is not about my personal experience, limits, or feelings. It is not even only about the unconscionable fact that countless millions of students are receiving compromised and sometimes worthless college educations, as sickening as that is. Ultimately, we must grasp the more dreadful reality that all of this BS in the academy is mortally corrosive of our larger culture and politics. … 

 

 

 

January 1, 2018 – DAVE BARRY

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Dave Barry’s end of the year report was in The Miami Herald.

Looking back on 2017 is like waking up after a party where you made some poor decisions, such as drinking tequila squeezed from the underpants of a person you do not really know. (At least you hope it was tequila.)

The next day finds you lying naked in a Dumpster in a different state, smeared from head to toe with a mixture of Sriracha sauce and glitter. At first you remember nothing. But then, as your throbbing brain slowly reboots, memories of the night before, disturbing memories, begin creeping into your consciousness. As the full, hideous picture comes into focus, you curl into a ball, whimpering, asking yourself over and over: Did that really happen?

That’s how we feel about 2017. It was a year so surreal, so densely populated with strange and alarming events, that you have to seriously consider the possibility that somebody — and when we say “somebody,” we mean “Russia” — was putting LSD in our water supply. A bizarre event would occur, and it would be all over the news, but before we could wrap our minds around it, another bizarre event would occur, then another and another, coming at us faster and faster, battering the nation with a Category 5 weirdness hurricane that left us hunkering down, clinging to our sanity, no longer certain what was real. …

 

… Assisting the president as he pursues this agenda is a crack White House team that includes Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Michael Flynn, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, all of whom will, in the coming weeks and months, disappear like teenagers in a “Friday the 13th” movie. … 

 

Meanwhile the big emerging journalism story is the Russians, who, according to many unnamed sources, messed with the election. Nobody seems to know how, specifically, the Russians affected the election, but everybody is pretty sure they did something, especially CNN, … … You can tune into CNN anytime, day or night, and you are virtually guaranteed to hear the word “Russians” within 10 seconds, even if it’s during a Depends commercial….

There actually are a few non-Trump events in February:

▪ NASA, in a major scientific discovery, announces that a star system 39 light-years away contains seven Earth-size planets, at least three of which appear to have Starbucks.

▪ In the Super Bowl, 57-year-old quarterback Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots to a remarkable comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons that definitely involved cheating. We just don’t know how yet. …

In sports, National Football Concussion League team owners approve the move of the Oakland Raiders to Nevada, where the team will be known as the Las Vegas Point Spreads. NFCL Commissioner Roger Goodell, asked if he thought a Las Vegas team could consistently draw adequate crowds, answers: “Two words: topless cheerleaders.” …

In a break with tradition, Trump does not attend the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, despite assurances from the association that it will be “a fun evening” featuring “lighthearted nonpartisan entertainment” including “a traditional dunk tank.” But another Washington tradition is upheld as the president and first lady host the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which the president, using his height and weight advantage, wins easily. CNN broadcasts a Special Report alleging that Easter is also a thing in Russia.

Bill O’Reilly, beset by accusations of sexual harassment, is fired by Fox News and immediately hired as Director of New Project Development by The Weinstein Company. … 

With emotions running high in the wake of Charlottesville, ESPN executives decide to pull announcer Robert Lee off the broadcast of the University of Virginia football game, out of concern that his name might be disturbing to those viewers who are as stupid as ESPN executives. …

In a welcome diversion toward the end of this tumultuous month, Americans are treated to a rare celestial display as the sun is totally eclipsed by a 2,000-mile-wide Amazon logo. Fox News declares it to be “the greatest eclipse of any presidential administration ever,” although CNN reports that, according to its sources, there have been “suspiciously similar” eclipses in Russia. … 

Speaking of excitement, Hillary Clinton, responding to the insatiable public appetite for reliving the 2016 election over and over and over, comes out with her new tell-all book titled “You Idiots,” in which she candidly reveals that she was in fact a superb candidate and charming human who totally would have won the presidency had it not been for — among many other unfair obstacles that were unfairly placed in her path — James Comey, the Russians, the so-called “Electoral College,” Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee, Anthony Weiner, sexism, Barack Obama, the media, her incompetent campaign staff and the frankly unacceptable stupidity of the American public. Next stop: 2020! …

 

… when former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are indicted in connection with special counsel Mueller’s Russia probe, sending CNN into a panel-gasm so intense that the camera lens becomes smeared with political-insider fluids. Trump responds by tweeting that the charges involve events from “years ago,” and there was “NO COLLUSION!” This is proof enough for Fox News, which resumes its regularly scheduled programming on “Fudge Recipes of Country Music Stars.” …

 

AND SO ON …

October 15, 2017 – PUERTO RICO

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Megan McArdle writes on problems in Puerto Rico.

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street,” Donald Trump told Geraldo Rivera. “We’re going to have to wipe that out. That’s going to have to be — you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.” 

Bond markets didn’t appreciate the verbal wave. The territory’s bonds, already weak from the pounding of Hurricane Maria, fell another 31 percent. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney hastened to say the president didn’t mean what he said. “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,” he said demurely. Nor should you; as debt expert Cate Long told CNN Money, “Trump does not have the ability to wave a magic wand and wipe out the debt.” 

Yet the fact remains that Puerto Rico is not going to be able to pay all of its debts. Prior to the hurricane, the territory had $73 billion in outstanding debt, and a population of 3.4 million people. That’s approximately $21,500 for every man, woman and child on the island – just about enough to buy each of them a brand new Mini Cooper, provided that they don’t insist on the sport package or the heated seats. 

Puerto Rico couldn’t afford to buy 3.4 million Mini Coopers before; they certainly can’t now that Maria has washed out so many roads. Even before the hurricane, Puerto Rico’s GDP was around $100 billion, meaning that repaying its debt would consume nearly nine months of everything the island earned. And while there will probably be a brief bump in economic activity as disaster relief funds pour in and the destruction is cleared away, over the long term the hurricane represents a huge setback: businesses destroyed, people killed or injured, funds that could be generating economic growth instead diverted to simply replacing what has been lost. 

So whatever President Trump does, or does not do, investors in Puerto Rican bonds are going to have to take a substantial haircut. … 

McArdle has more on the unintended consequences of DC stupidity.

… But you can’t entirely blame the Puerto Rican government for the state of the underlying economy, which is what had plunged the island into a bankruptcy crisis even before the hurricane. For that you have to look to the federal government, which eliminated a tax break that had given companies incentives to locate in Puerto Rico, and then oversaw a financial crisis that sent them into an even deeper spiral. We also made sure that a relatively poor island was forced to adopt the federal minimum wage, which was too high for the local labor market. That has contributed to the 11.5 percent unemployment rate. And Puerto Rico uses the U.S. dollar, leaving it unable to adjust monetary policy to overcome economic stagnation. …

 

 

Instapundit linked to McArdle and provided this thought.

So I’m guessing that if Steve Bannon were still around, he’d be encouraging Trump to do things that would make Puerto Rico so attractive that not only would people want to stay there, but expat Puerto Ricans would want to return, since most of them vote Democrat, and Puerto Rico doesn’t have any electoral votes. Which would be good for Puerto Rico, and also for Trump. In Bannon’s absence, I’m not sure there’s anyone in the White House who thinks that way.

 

 

 

Roger Simon says the island has entered the “great American victim derby.”

Seems like everyone’s a victim in the USA these days, from college “snowflakes” who can’t abide someone with views unlike theirs within miles of their campuses to allegedly assaulted women wearing sexually explicit hats to multi-millionaire football players who are sure there’s something wrong but can’t always remember what it is (other than Donald Trump).  The latest of the many entries in this “Great American Victim Derby” is Puerto Rico — or at least a significant part of the island’s leadership.

Who will win this derby?

It’s anybody’s guess, but the thing about playing the victim game is that even — perhaps especially — when you do win, you’re even more likely to continue to be a victim and play some more.  Victimhood is self-perpetuating — a spiritual, emotional, political, and economic rerun out of the movie “Groundhog Day.” Every year it’s the same thing and nothing changes.  Something bad happens and there you go again, drinking from the trough until you pass out like a fraternity boy being hazed for the thousandth time. 

Why not try something different for a change — like taking responsibility? …

  

 

More from the Economist.

AS THE mayor of Aguadilla, on Puerto Rico’s north-west coast, Carlos Méndez is proud of his town. He likes to take visitors onto the balcony of the town hall and challenge them to spot a scrap of paper in the plaza. There are none; but here, and all around the centre of town, there are no busy people either. The shops and offices are shabby, with little going on in them. The buildings along the beautiful beachfront look run-down. A few men sit in the shade, and have apparently been planted there as long as the tree has.

Puerto Rico has been a United States territory for more than a century, and its people have been citizens since 1917. They do not vote in national elections or pay federal income taxes, but those are not the biggest differences between Puerto Rican residents and their fellow American citizens. The island is distinguished by its poverty and joblessness, which are far worse than in any of the 50 states. The territory’s economy, moreover, has fallen further behind the national one over the past three decades. Bad government—not just locally, but also federally—is largely to blame. Yet most Americans are oblivious to the Caribbean island’s problems.

The place did earn a rare and brief mention in some mainland newspapers earlier this month. Its government had hit a borrowing limit and partly shut down for a couple of weeks, putting 95,000 civil servants out of work. Then leaders in San Juan—the commonwealth’s capital—agreed on a budget deal that let the government borrow more and resume paying people. The drama ended, and life there reverted to its depressing former state. …

 

Not much humor in this so we’ll celebrate Weinstein Week and other things.

 

September 29, 2017 – MORE IGNORANCE

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A couple if our favorites comment on NFL protests and the fake news that spawned them. Roger Simon is first. 

… We now live in such a victim culture that even mega-rich athletes and movie actors claim victimhood. Maybe we should rewrite Sly Stone’s “Everybody Is a Star”  as “Everybody Is a Victim.”

The problem with this of course is that little gets solved by playing the victim. It’s just a dumb show, a bunch of guys refusing to stand for the National Anthem.  Meaningless, except to their egos. This kind of behavior is, in reality, the enemy of action, taking things backwards and giving people an excuse not to do something substantive.  Does anyone seriously expect the current “protest” by the football players to have any result (other than turning fans off football)?  What could it be?  Improvement for poor black communities?

Oh, come on.  If you want to improve poor black communities, round up some money and start a business there.  Be entrepreneurial.  Make something. Build something….

  

 

Heather Mac Donald writes on fake news.

The FBI released its official crime tally for 2016 today, and the data flies in the face of the rhetoric that professional athletes rehearsed in revived Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend.  Nearly 900 additional blacks were killed in 2016 compared with 2015, bringing the black homicide-victim total to 7,881. Those 7,881 “black bodies,” in the parlance of Ta-Nehisi Coates, are 1,305 more than the number of white victims (which in this case includes most Hispanics) for the same period, though blacks are only 13 percent of the nation’s population. The increase in black homicide deaths last year comes on top of a previous 900-victim increase between 2014 and 2015.

Who is killing these black victims? Not whites, and not the police, but other blacks. …

… Violent crime has now risen by a significant amount for two consecutive years. The total number of violent crimes rose 4.1 percent in 2016, and estimated homicides rose 8.6 percent. In 2015, violent crime rose by nearly 4 percent and estimated homicides by nearly 11 percent. The last time violence rose two years in a row was 2005–06.  The reason for the current increase is what I have called the Ferguson Effect. Cops are backing off of proactive policing in high-crime minority neighborhoods, and criminals are becoming emboldened. Having been told incessantly by politicians, the media, and Black Lives Matter activists that they are bigoted for getting out of their cars and questioning someone loitering on a known drug corner at 2 AM, many officers are instead just driving by. Such stops are discretionary; cops don’t have to make them. And when political elites demonize the police for just such proactive policing, we shouldn’t be surprised when cops get the message and do less of it. …

… Four studies came out in 2016 alone rebutting the charge that police shootings are racially biased. If there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. That truth has not stopped the ongoing demonization of the police—including, now, by many of the country’s ignorant professional athletes. The toll will be felt, as always, in the inner city, by the thousands of law-abiding people there who desperately want more police protection.

 

 

August 23, 2017 – ERASING MEMORY

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On erasing memory by Victor Davis Hanson.

… In our race to rectify the past in the present, could Ken Burns in 2017 still make his stellar Civil War documentary, with a folksy and drawly Shelby Foote animating the tragedies of the Confederacy’s gifted soldiers sacrificing their all for a bad cause? Should progressives ask Burns to reissue an updated Civil War version in which Foote and southern “contextualizers” are left on the cutting room floor?

How about progressive icon Joan Baez? Should the Sixties folksinger seek forgiveness from us for reviving her career in the early 1970s with the big money-making hit “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”— her version of The Band’s sympathetic ode to the tragedy of a defeated Confederacy, written over a century after the Civil War. (“Back with my wife in Tennessee / When one day she called to me / Said, “Virgil, quick, come see / There goes the Robert E. Lee!”) If a monument is to be wiped away, then surely a popular song must go, too.

Are there gradations of moral ambiguity? Or do Middlebury and Berkeley students or antifa rioters in their infinite wisdom have a monopoly on calibrating virtue and defining it as 100 percent bad or good? …

… When Minnesota Black Lives Matter marchers chanted of police, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” was that a call for violence that was not long after realized by a spate of racist murders of policemen in Dallas? Are such advocates of torching police officers morally equipped to adjudicate which Confederate statue must come down?

And did President Obama swiftly condemn the forces that led the shooter to select his victims for execution? After Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 fellow soldiers in cold blood, screaming out “Allah Akbar” as he shot, did “both sides” Obama really have to warn America that “we don’t know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts”? And did it take him six years before he discovered the catalysts when finally calling the murders a terrorist attack? Did Obama have to dismiss the Islamist anti-Semitic terrorist slaughter of targeted Jews in a kosher market in Paris with the callous and flippant quip that the murderers had killed “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris”? Were there demonstrations over that moral equivalence?

And was it inevitable that the anti-Semite, homophobe, and provocateur with past blood on his hands for inciting riot and arson, the Reverend Al Sharpton, would advocate yanking public sponsorship of the Jefferson memorial? He who is with sin now casts the first stone? …

… A final paradox about killing the dead: Two millennia after Roman autocrats’ destruction of statues, and armed with the creepy 20th-century model of Fascists and Communists destroying the past, we, of a supposedly enlightened democracy, cannot even rewrite history by democratic means — local, state, and federal commission recommendations, referenda, or majority votes of elected representatives. More often, as moral cowards, we either rely on the mob or some sort of executive order enforced only in the dead of night.

 

 

 

 

In the race to purge our past of unpleasant history, Al Sharpton passes the baton to John Kass who has an idea.

… But there’s one thing wrong with Sharpton. It’s not that he goes too far. It’s that he doesn’t go far enough.

Because if he and others of the Cultural Revolution were being intellectually honest, they’d demand that along with racist statues, something else would be toppled.

And this, too, represents much of America’s racist history:

The Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party historically is the party of slavery. The Democratic Party is the party of Jim Crow laws. The Democratic Party fought civil rights for a century.

And so by rights — or at least by the standards established by the Cultural Revolutionaries of today’s American left — we should ban the Democratic Party. …

… So, the offensive statues will go, and then perhaps offensive iconography, offensive images, offensive books.

One book comes to mind. Let me quote a passage from it.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

George Orwell. “1984.”

 

 

 

What print outlet would applaud Antifa’s violence? Why the execrable NY Times of course. John Hinderaker posts.

New York Times reporters Thomas Fuller, Alan Feuer and Serge Kovaleski are responsible for this admiring profile of the far-left Brownshirts called antifa: “‘Antifa’ members are ready to literally fight right-wingers.”

“Members of antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks* or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to U.S. democracy.” … *(Sticks? These are baseball bats. Not sticks. – PCKRHD)

 

 

August 21, 2017 – HYSTERIA FREE

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Here’s a few items not as crazy as what the telly and print media bring us.

 

Craig Pirrong, The Streetwise Professor, puts context to Charlottesville.

… It should not be surprising how the left conducts its march through institutions. It is really rather brilliant in conception and execution, although malign in effect and intent. There is a long term objective–in this case, the transformation of the US. But there is a coherent operational plan that concentrates force on a specific objective, and once that objective is taken, moves on to the next one.

Right now the ostensible target is the legacy of the Confederacy, but once the battle of the Confederate monuments is won, they will move on to the next target, which will inevitably include sooner or later every person in the American political pantheon, and every political, social, and economic institution that reflects the American past and tradition. …

… Trump’s calling out of Antifa as well as Nazis has led supposedly conservative establishment figures like Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Charles Krauthammer to differentiate the indistinguishable, and to defend Antifa because of their opposition to Nazis and racists.

What Romney et al don’t get is who the hard-core left identifies as racists: it’s pretty much everybody who doesn’t agree with them in totality. It includes most whites (which is ironic, given the pastiness of most of the cheekbones and foreheads visible between black hats and masks). I guarantee it includes Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Charles Krauthammer. By vouching for them now, and validating their claim of authority in establishing who is and who is not a racist, Romney et al are putting a target on a lot of people who are by no stretch of the imagination white supremacists or Nazis.

But of course the left has always benefitted from useful idiots. Romney et al are playing that role to perfection. …

… White supremacism and even Nazism are not new to American life, of course. In a way, what is amazing now is how marginalized these things are today. In the 1920s, the KKK was a major political force throughout the US–not just the South. (Indiana was a Klan hotbed.) In February, 1939–almost 6 years after Roosevelt’s inauguration and 6 months before German tanks rolled into Poland–the American Bund (basically the American Nazi Party) held a rally in MadisonSquareGarden attended by an estimated 22,000. Yet Eleanor Roosevelt, an extremely liberal political figure whose husband was savaged by the Bund, defended its right to exist, organize, and speak: she also defended America Firsters, Father Coughlin, and others with whom she disagreed violently on basically every political and social issue.

But if she did that today, she would be savaged. Because the left has gone from being believers in and defenders of civil liberties and individual freedom to their avowed enemies. …

 

 

Harry Stein from City Journal asks “Who’s Next; George Washington?”

… in his exchange with the churlish and ignorant press corps in the aftermath of Charlottesville, Donald Trump got it right when he said: “This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” He may not have been the ideal messenger—with his combative style, manic egotism, and casual relationship with facts, he never is—but he laid out a case that for months has cried out to be made, and he did it so clearly that the refusal of the media and the elites of both parties, not just to credit it, but even to acknowledge it, speaks volumes. Though Trump has never quite defined what his notion of making America great again actually means, preserving that which needs no fixing—including the history that is our common legacy—is a key part of it.

Trump also correctly pointed to the role played in the Charlottesville tragedy by the totalitarian Left, the vanguard of the would-be American Cultural Revolution. As a pair of astute commenters on the website Just One Minute observed (for brevity’s sake, I’ve combined their exchange): “These antifa thugs are descendants of the Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army and other Left Wing terrorists. And we’ve reached the point where these communist anarchists are eagerly enabled by a media that become enraged if anyone even suggests they might have played a part in the violence with their piss balloons, mace, 2 x 4s and baseball bats.” (To her credit, at least one New York Times reporter, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, acknowledged antifa’s role in the mayhem on Twitter, noting that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”)

Objecting to the tearing down of these monuments does not make one a Nazi, or a racist, or even passingly unreasonable, much as Trump’s adversaries wish it were so. “Who’s next?” is the right question. ..

 

 

 

Scott Adams with calming words for grown-ups on mass hysteria bubbles.

History is full of examples of Mass Hysterias. They happen fairly often. The cool thing about mass hysterias is that you don’t know when you are in one. But sometimes the people who are not experiencing the mass hysteria can recognize when others are experiencing one, if they know what to look for.

I’ll teach you what to look for.

A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it. The Salem Witch Trials are the best-known example of mass hysteria. The McMartinPre-School case and the Tulip Bulb hysteria are others. The dotcom bubble probably qualifies. We might soon learn that the Russian Collusion story was mass hysteria in hindsight. The curious lack of solid evidence for Russian collusion is a red flag. But we’ll see how that plays out.

The most visible Mass Hysteria of the moment involves the idea that the United States intentionally elected a racist President. If that statement just triggered you, it might mean you are in the Mass Hysteria bubble. …

 

… The tricky part here is that any interpretation of what happened could be confirmation bias. But ask yourself which one of these versions sounds less crazy:

1. A sitting president, who is a branding expert, thought it would be a good idea to go easy on murderous Nazis as a way to improve his popularity.

or…

2. The country elected a racist leader who is winking to the KKK and White Supremacists that they have a free pass to start a race war now.

or…

3. A mentally unstable racist clown with conman skills (mostly just lying) eviscerated the Republican primary field and won the presidency. He keeps doing crazy, impulsive racist stuff. But for some reason, the economy is going well, jobs are looking good, North Korea blinked, ISIS is on the ropes, and the Supreme Court got a qualified judge. It was mostly luck.

or…

4. The guy who didn’t offer to be your moral leader didn’t offer any moral leadership, just law and order, applied equally. His critics cleverly and predictably framed it as being soft on Nazis.

One of those narratives is less crazy-sounding than the others. That doesn’t mean the less-crazy one has to be true. But normal stuff happens far more often than crazy stuff. And critics will frame normal stuff as crazy whenever they get a chance. …

 

 

 

And Rabbi Dov Fischer says “And Yet President Trump, in His Classically Inartful Way, Was Absolutely Right.”

I just did something fascinating. I just watched the President’s entire 14-minute impromptu news conference at Trump Tower on Monday that sparked all the latest barrage of anti-Trump screeds from the left media that will criticize him every day, no matter what he does, augmented by the “Never Trump” Republicans and neo-conservatives who will not rest until they can re-conquer the political party they lost because of three terms of two failed Bush presidencies, followed by the two failed Presidential candidacies of Sen. John McCain and of Gov. Mitt Romney.

Not the reportage about the conference, but the entire 14 minutes unedited, uninterrupted. I found myself agreeing with his every word. I did not find his tone or demeanor “unpresidential” in the least. He sharply and explicitly condemned the Nazis and White Supremacists unequivocally. He also condemned the extreme leftists who premeditatedly came armed with weapons to smash up a demonstration that, rightly or wrongly, had been granted a legal permit. (I personally wish that ACLU liberals were not so proactive in advancing the right of Nazis to get permits to rally at public venues, but the demonstration had a permit. Meanwhile, the Antifa Alt-Left thugs came with flame-throwers, bats, and shields, and they came to fight.) All the while, the police did nothing for much too long. Chaos and violence ensued.

The media get exercised when President Trump does not parrot their scripts, but they never minded that Barack Obama would not call out leftist rioters and violent leftist organizations by name. As inner cities would burn, with innocents watching their life savings go aflame as mobs would burn down their inner-city stores in cities from Baltimore to Ferguson, the Obama Administration avoided planting blame or naming hate groups. When a Jihadist murdered Americans serving our nation faithfully at FortHood, Obama attributed the murders to “workplace violence.” Obama never could articulate the term “Radical Islamist terrorist,” …

 

 

In Humor, Forrest Gump says, “And just like that, they stopped talking about Russia.”