Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Obama's IRS crooks fear retribution for their ill deeds

They should be fearing prosecution

Former IRS executive Lois G. Lerner told a federal court last week that members of her family, including “young children,” face death threats and a real risk of physical harm if her explanation of the tea party targeting scandal becomes public.

Ms. Lerner and Holly Paz, her deputy at the IRS, filed documents in court Thursday saying tapes and transcripts of depositions they gave in a court case this year must remain sealed in perpetuity, or else they could spur an enraged public to retaliate.

“Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” attorneys for the two women argued.

Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz gave taped depositions in a class-action lawsuit brought by tea party groups demanding answers and compensation for having been subjected to illegal targeting for their political beliefs.

The government settled the class-action lawsuit in Ohio and another tea party challenge in the District of Columbia in two agreements last month, admitting to the illegal behavior. The Ohio settlement also called for the government to pay $3.5 million to the tea party groups, according to one of the plaintiffs.

Ms. Lerner came in for particular criticism, with the government admitting she not only didn’t stop the targeting — contradicting the Obama administration’s claims — but also hid it from her superiors in Washington.

During the course of the Ohio case, the tea party groups filed thousands of pages of documents, but testimony from Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz was left out of the public record because of their earlier request for privacy.

Now Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz say that since the case has been settled, there is no reason for their testimony to ever become public.

“The voluminous record of harassment and physical threats to Mss. Lerner and Paz and their families during the pendency of this litigation provides a compelling reason to seal the materials,” the women’s attorneys said.

They particularly blamed Mark Meckler, a tea party leader whose organization helped fund the class-action lawsuit, saying he helped stoke the threats against them by calling IRS agents “criminal thugs.”

“These words matter. They have created a fertile environment where threats and harassment against Mss. Lerner and Paz have flourished,” the lawyers said.

Mr. Meckler laughed when he learned about the filing.

“Four years of harassing innocent American citizens for their political beliefs, and she’s scared of a guy in a cowboy hat talking to a bunch of little old ladies at a tea party event?” he said, recounting the speech where he called IRS agents “thugs.”

He said if the depositions didn’t show any bad action on her part, then Ms. Lerner should have nothing to fear from their release to the public.

“The reality is because she knows she is guilty as the day is long and she doesn’t want people to know what she actually did,” he said.

“It’s hard to have any sympathy for the women. And frankly, I don’t believe she’s genuinely scared,” Mr. Meckler said.

The Trump administration backs making the documents public, according to court documents, which leaves Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz fighting a rearguard action.

So far, they have had Judge Michael R. Barrett on their side. As the case was proceeding, he kept the two IRS employees’ testimony secret at their request, allowing only the lawyers involved to see the information.

Papers filed by the tea party groups’ attorneys repeatedly made reference to their testimony in documents, but it was always redacted.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, a newspaper that covers the Cincinnati office of the IRS that initially handled tea party groups’ applications and that Ms. Lerner initially blamed for the targeting, has been fighting to make her version of events public.

The paper renewed that request last month, the day the government and the tea party groups announced their settlement. The paper has argued that there is no “clear and imminent danger” to Ms. Lerner or Ms. Paz.

Ms. Lerner has refused to talk publicly about her handling of the tea party cases, even being held in contempt of Congress when she botched her assertion of Fifth Amendment rights during testimony.

But the Obama Justice Department refused to prosecute the case, saying it concluded Ms. Lerner’s assertion of Fifth Amendment rights was correct.

Under President Obama, the department, in its own investigation into the IRS handling of tea party cases, also credited Ms. Lerner with being one of the bright spots, saying she attempted to curtail the targeting when she learned of it.

But the government now says that is not true. In its settlement last month, the government says Ms. Lerner not only didn’t stop the targeting, but also hid the behavior from superiors.

Ms. Lerner has yet to comment on that settlement.



In Illinois a chance to crack union dominance

In 2018 Illinois will have the nation’s most important, expensive and strange election.

Its importance derives from this fact: Self-government has failed in the nation’s currently fifth-most populous state (Pennsylvania soon will pass it). Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner will seek re-election with a stark warning: The state is approaching a death spiral — departing people and businesses suppress growth; the legislature responds by raising taxes; the exodus accelerates.

Rauner, whose net worth earned as a private-equity executive is $500 million, give or take, probably will be running against someone six times richer. The race might consume $300 million — “maybe more,” Rauner says — eclipsing California’s $280 million gubernatorial race in 2010, when that state’s population was three times larger than Illinois’.

The strangeness of the contest between Rauner and the likely Democratic nominee (J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune) is that Rauner’s real opponent is a Democrat who has been in the state assembly since Richard Nixon’s first term (1971) and has been speaker all but two years since Ronald Reagan’s first term (1983). Michael Madigan from Chicago is the “blue model” of government incarnate. This model is the iron alliance of the Democratic Party and government workers’ unions. Madigan supports Pritzker, who is committed to the alliance. This is the state of the state under it:

Unfunded state and local government retirement debt is more than $260 billion and rising. Unfunded pension liabilities for the nation’s highest-paid government workers (overtime starts at 37.5 hours) are $130 billion and are projected to increase for at least through the next decade. Nearly 25 percent of the state’s general funds go to retirees (many living in Texas and Florida). Vendors are owed $9.5 billion. Every five minutes the population — down 1.22 million in 16 years — declines as another person, and an average of $30,000 more in taxable income, flees the nation’s highest combined state and local taxes. Those leaving are earning $19,600 more than those moving in. The work force has shrunk by 97,000 this year. There has not been an honestly balanced budget — a constitutional requirement — since 2001. The latest tax increase, forced by the legislature to end a two-year budget impasse, will raise more than $4 billion, but another $1.7 billion deficit has already appeared.

The one Democrat who did not vote for Madigan for speaker this year says he’s since been bullied. Another Democratic legislator — an African-American from Chicago’s South Side, a supporter of school choice — broke ranks to give Rauner a victory on legislation requiring arbitration of an impasse with a 30,000-member union. Madigan enlisted Barack Obama to campaign against the heretic, who was purged. These were warnings to judges, who must face retention elections. They — including the one who refused to trigger arbitration by declaring a negotiation impasse — are, Rauner says, “part of the machine” in this “very collectivist state.”

Thuggishness has been normalized: Because Rauner favors allowing municipalities to pass right-to-work laws that prohibit requiring workers to join a union, Madigan’s automatons passed a law (Rauner’s veto stood) stipulating up to a year in jail for local lawmakers who enact them.

In 2018, Rauner will try to enlist voters in the constructive demolition of the “blue model.” It is based on Madigan’s docile herd of incumbent legislators, who are entrenched by campaign funds from government unions. Through them government, sitting on both sides of the table, negotiates with itself to expand itself. Term limits for legislators, which a large majority of Illinoisans favor, would dismantle the wall.

A 60 percent supermajority of the legislature is required for such a constitutional reform. So, next year voters will be urged to oppose any legislature candidate who will not pledge to vote to put term limits on the ballot. And all candidates will be asked how often they have voted for Madigan for speaker — he has a 26 percent approval rating — and to pledge not to sin again.

“I love a fight,” says an ebullient Rauner, whose rhetoric cannot get much more pugnacious. He calls Madigan “the worst elected official in the country” and Madigan’s machine “evil.” The nation has a huge stake in this brawl because the “blue model” is bankrupting cities and states from Connecticut to California, so its demolition here, where it has done the most damage, would be a wondrous story enhancing the nation’s glory.



Poll: Black and Hispanic Democrats Break from Whites on Transgender Beliefs

While Americans’ transgender beliefs vary widely by party, Black and Hispanic Democrats are far closer to Republicans’ views than are White Democrats, a new Pew Research survey reveals.

In its latest poll, Pew surveyed on transgenderism views of a nationally representative panel of randomly selected 4,573 U.S. adults recruited from landline and cellphone random-digit-dial (RDD) surveys between Aug. 8 and Sept. 28, 2017.

A majority (54%) of all Americans said that whether a person is a man or a woman is determined by “the sex they were assigned at birth,” while 44% said “it can be different.”

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents, 80% said sex is determined by a person’s birth-sex.

Only 34% of all Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents said sex is determined at birth – but a majority (55%) of Black Democrats and 41% of Hispanic Democrats said birth determines sex.

Just 24% of White Democrats believe birth determines sex.

Likewise, while 68% of White Democrats say society “hasn’t gone far enough” in accepting people who are transgender, only 46% of Black Democrats and half (50%) of Hispanic Democrats agree.

Only 12% of Republicans said societal acceptance of transgenders hasn’t gone far enough, compared to 60% of Democrats and 39% of all Americans surveyed. Conversely, 57% of Republicans said society has gone “too far” with transgender acceptance, while only 12% of Democrats agree.

In all, 59% of Americans said society’s acceptance of transgenders is either “About Right” (27%) or has “Gone Too Far” (32%). The belief that acceptance “Hasn’t Gone Far Enough” was expressed by 39% of respondents.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Hate I Learned from the New York Times

So aggressive, oppressive and intolerant is the behaviour of many American Leftists today that conservatives are increasingly coming to accept that Leftist "compassion" is just a camouflage suit for sweeping hate.  Slaking their hate is their only real motivation -- JR


I am traveling and yesterday the Sunday edition of the New York  Times was placed outside the hotel door. I don't usually read it much -- but I thought, why not give it a chance? Big mistake. It's filled with hate -- embarrassingly so. What did I learn about hate?

I learned in one article that Christians were complicit in murder since they were not for gun control. In another I learned that some horrid socially conservative parents did not like their son's new wife's low-cut blouses that she wore to all events and these self-righteous jackasses should be looked down upon. And I found out that a friendly man asking what was going on at a women's event in NY was not acknowledged and this sexism was seen as "fighting the patriarchy."

In an article on "The Christian Case for Gun Control,  the author, Richard Parker, says that "failing to prevent murder is nearly as bad as the act of murder itself."  Apparently, the way to do this is to get rid of guns: "Christianity demands action. It insists on the protections of the innocent."  The article mentions that "the Jewish bystander is to rescue a person in peril. Islam requires the protection of innocent lives."  Note that Christians are the problem here, but somehow Islam isn't.    Yeah, right.

Another article shares some women's event on Mercer Street in Soho where women in their 20s and 30s  are lining up but when a man walks by and asks why they are waiting,  no one answers him or notices him. "What business was it of his anyway?"  Behavior that most of the time would be thought of as rude is now seen as some kind of triumph for women.  But the women's attitude and that of the Times is hate, plain and simple.



'Trust But Verify' -- Why Trump Is Right on Russia


In the midst of the quondam Russia Investigation that seems to have been going on since the Peloponnesian War, our president tweeted out the following.

"When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. They're always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!

Shortly thereafter, Andrew McCarthy, a man I respect immensely and who only the day before had posted a brilliant article virtually eviscerating the aforementioned investigation, tweeted thusly:

This is so galactically stupid it’s impossible to quantify. I’m happy to be a hater and fool, and await the 8-dimensional chess explanation for why idiocy is the new brilliant

Though Andy may have employed the word "galactically" to accrue Twitter attention -- something of which we are all frequently guilty -- I think he is in error anyway. Leaving aside the Trumpian bravura and clumsy language, the president's basic approach is correct.

It was also the approach employed by George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Barack Obama before him, all of whom, it is well known, sought outreach to Putin (pathetically in Obama's case) and largely failed. Before the politically charged current investigation, which impelled the Democratic Party and most of the media to have the ideological equivalent of an impromptu sex change operation re: Russia, Trump was apparently going to make an attempt of his own.

Would he have succeeded?  Hard to say, though Donald's mercurial negotiating style is arguably more effective than his predecessors' utterly conventional one. As an example, when the president said the U.S. had been paying too much for NATO and questioned whether the organization had outlived its usefulness, our partners suddenly coughed up.

Notably, another American president made an outreach to Russia, then the Soviet Union, and did succeed.  As we all know, his name was Ronald Reagan and his catch phrase in dealing with the Russians was "trust but verify." It got a lot accomplished,  including, at least in part, the demise of the Soviet Union.

Now it was a different time, obviously, and Reagan was dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev, a different personality from Vladimir Putin, but the strategy remains.  It's not so distant, really, from "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" --  a tactic some attribute to Sun Tzu and Machiavelli and more recently to Michael Corleone.  (The two phrases are, in essence, corollaries.  Keep you enemies close to verify them.)

I would wager that Trump -- who immediately sent in the missiles when Assad acted out -- is more equipped to deal with Putin than any of the previous presidents, other than Reagan.  Obama clearly floundered disastrously, making a hash of Syria (and Libya) and helping to cement the alliance between Russia and Iran.

An opportunity might exist for Trump to weaken that Russia-Iran nexus, which would benefit the world, but the Russia investigation impedes that.  Looked at in macro, that investigation seems less like a serious look at Russian intervention in our elections, which isn't all that great in any case, but rather a blood-letting among American elites, ironically rather like typical internal Politburo behavior.  Who will be left sitting on the dais after the purge?  Who will come out the worse -- Manafort or the Podestas?  Trump or Hillary?

Granted that Russia loves to play us.  They always have, to greater or lesser degrees. Diana West's American Betrayal details a level of Soviet infiltration during the FDR-Alger Hiss era that is staggering. Whether exaggerated or not, it's a reminder of who our enemies are.

But Mueller's Russia investigation seems aimed not so much at unearthing anything about Russia -- the FBI apparently didn't seriously investigate even the most obvious questions like who actually hacked the DNC server -- as it is at facilitating this blood-letting and preserving the FBI as an institution. It is a Deep State enterprise and, as with so many Deep State activities, the lives of regular American citizens are irrelevant.  In this case we could also say world citizens.

It's to the credit of Donald Trump that, though assaulted for non-existent Russian ties from the beginning of his presidency and even before (as is now emerging from the despicable tale of the Fusion GPS dossier), he has continued to examine possible areas of agreement with Russia for the good of our country and everyone else as well. As the man said -- "Trust but verify!"

ADDENDUM: I would never consider myself a "Russia expert" (whatever that means) but I have visited the country four times, twice for extended periods during Soviet times.  I was friends for many years until he died with their most famous thriller writer, himself allegedly a colonel in the KGB.  So I have some sense of how they think and it has always stuck me as completely ludicrous that they would meddle in our election in order to get Trump elected.  They are not idiots and would have seen that as a hopeless task since some 98% of our pundits and virtually all the polls saw Clinton as the winner.  Of course, they  engaged in data/email theft and disinformation activities.  Spying is as Russian as borscht.  But like everyone else, they expected Hillary to win.  You can take whatever implications from that that you wish. And, yes, I still believe Julian Assange about the emails until proven otherwise.



Rolling Stone, Sacred Text of the Left?

On November 9, Rolling Stone magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first issue, published in the hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. True to form, liberal journalists – who claim to care so deeply about the menace of fake reporting – honored founder Jann Wenner and dismissed as insignificant the magazine’s 2015 “A Rape on Campus” scandal about the University of Virginia.

On November 5, CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley gushed over Wenner as “the rock star of publishing,” and then minutes later, upgraded the flattery to “perhaps the most influential rock star on the planet.”

Out of nearly nine minutes, CBS correspondent Anthony Mason spent less than a minute on the fake-rape story. He asked “How much did UVA hurt the magazine?” Wenner said “A little.” Mason pushed back, and Wenner complained it was “one incident” in fifty years. “I think that the people who were in charge of this at the time, you know, let certain standards slide. Were it not for this one woman who fabricated – that was golden, that was a great story.” Had both the interviewer and interviewee yawned at this point, it would have done justice to the mood.

“This one woman” was the center of the story, which became a national outrage about gang-raping fraternity boys. It turns out Rolling Stone didn’t even get to Square One, attempting to check if there was a party at the Phi Alpha Psi frat house on the night in question. There wasn’t. That’s why they had to fork over $1.6 million in damages.

Put yourself in the shoes of those innocent young men, accused of such a heinous crime, found guilty by such a powerful magazine, and soundly condemned by a nation. $1.6 million does not begin to erase the humiliation. 

NBC’s Today interviewed Wenner and didn’t even bring up the subject. Matt Lauer was more interested in asking “what are you most proud of, in terms of a social issue that you got ahead of?” How about rape on campus? At least Lauer asked about the Rolling Stone cover that glamorized Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, then asked “Was that your biggest do-over? Or are there some others?” Wenner volunteered the UVA story, that “we got, you know, really duped.” So it just wasn't their fault. How's that for taking responsibility?

ABC’s Good Morning America aired a story on Rolling Stone and a new Jann Wenner biography on October 20, which never whispered a word about the fake-rape story as it gushed over a nude cover photo of Partridge Family star David Cassidy in 1972.

Despite being exposed as an unreliable source of lies and character assassination, almost every liberal-media notice started with comparing Rolling Stone to the Holy Bible. This suggests that they’re all eager lackeys of the hippie magazine’s public-relations staff. CBS began with “It’s been the cultural Bible of baby boomers for half a century.” NBC also called it “the cultural Bible for baby boomers.” The New York Times used “shiny entertainment-industry bible.”A few weeks ago, the Times headline was “Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale.”

If Rolling Stone represents the “sacred text” of the Sixties-mythologizing Left, then that’s a sad indictment. But it’s obvious that the magazine was part of transforming the “counterculture” into the “culture.” Its revered status as a cultural "agent of change" seems to be a major reason why the media elites grant them a pass on smearing entire universities.

And with that, let's return to those media lectures about the need for honest and competent journalism.



Hillary Clinton Does Complete 180 on Questioning 2016 Election's Legitimacy

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who warned that questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election was "threatening our democracy," has reemerged as sore loser Hillary Clinton now questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

Her comments attacking the legitimacy of the last election came in an interview with Mother Jones published this past Friday:

Exclusive: @hillaryclinton tells me “there are lots of questions” about legitimacy of Trump's election because of Russian interference & GOP voter suppression

"Do you think it was a LEGITIMATE election?" Clinton: "I think there are lots of questions about its legitimacy, and we don't have a method for contesting that in our system. That's why I've long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened."

So as Hillary Clinton has completely reversed course on election legitimacy and is now calling for an independent commission to investigate her "Russia hacked the election" conspiracy theories, she also told Mother Jones that any investigation into her own dealings with Russia would be an abuse of power:

So in review, Hillary Clinton doesn't believe that she should be held to her own standard about questioning the legitimacy of elections -- and she believes that she is literally above the law. If you're Hillary Clinton, laws (and elections, apparently) are for the little people.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, November 20, 2017

Trump right on trade. Reciprocity is the only sustainable path to free trade

Economic theory tells us that America as a whole would benefit by abolishing all restrictions on imports.  Everything tradeable would then be available in America at the word's lowest prices.  To do so, however, would be politically impossible. So the only way forward is bargaining -- offering another nation a reduction in American tariffs if that other nation also cuts their tariffs on imports from America.  That is "reciprocity".  It is politically saleable because it should led to a reduction in some American jobs being balanced by an increase in other American jobs

In order to understand the need for reciprocity, one need not look any further than Professor Boudreaux’s own book, “Globalization,” a $61 requirement for his ECON 309 Students at George Mason University.

Professor Boudreaux writes unequivocally on page 123, “By far the most important modern institution for promoting freer international trade is the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)…” Why?

As Professor Boudreaux explains in his book, GATT was based on reciprocity and he outlines all of its advantages: “Under GATT, countries mutually agree to lower their tariffs and to grant most-favored trading status to each member of the GATT agreement. From each government’s perspective, the immediate gain—the gain that is most politically beneficial—is that each government can assure its citizens that, in exchange for lowering tariffs at home, that government has extracted promises from foreign governments to lower their tariffs… Because each government’s tariff reductions are bound together in a single agreement, no government has to worry that it will lower tariffs without other governments lowering their tariffs simultaneously and in accordance with the terms of the agreement.”

As the book continues, so Boudreaux must agree, lower tariffs have only encouraged more global trade, arguing the result has been freer trade. It was GATT which propelled U.S. tariff rates on imports to fall from an average of 30 percent at the end of World War II to about 5 percent today and drove down tariff rates all around the world between developed nations, too. GATT facilitated the tariff reductions that the affirmative world so desires, proving that the tariff reduction could not be done unilaterally, but only through reciprocal trade agreements.

Professor Boudreaux ends the argument succinctly on page 124, writing “No other such sustained decrease in tariff rates is found in U.S. history,” and “Most informed observers credit GATT for this success.”

Singapore has pursued reciprocal trade agreements

In contrast, I expect a lot will be made tonight over Singapore’s long-held, unilateral near-zero percent tariff.  For a number of reasons, this island nation’s experience negates all three of the affirmative’s burdens — UNILATERAL being more desirable than reciprocal, the real-world SHOULD test, and the reciprocal agreements being UNNECESSARY test.

It is instructive that as Singapore entered GATT with their near-zero tariff rate in 1973, their Finance Minister Hon Sui Sen argued vociferously for developed countries like the U.S. to lower their tariffs, noting that Singapore had already unilaterally lowered theirs.  Hon also urged special and differential treatment for developing economies whereby developed countries lower their tariffs first in order to help the lesser developed economies to grow.

But, since Singapore’s tariffs were already low, Hon demanded no such non-reciprocal protection for Singapore. From Singapore’s perspective, then, it was seeking reciprocal trade tariff reductions from the developed economies.

To disprove the affirmative, one need only find a single reciprocal trade agreement being necessary in a post-unilateral tariff reduction environment. Here, with Singapore, we have several to look at. Thirty years later, Singapore has succeeded in getting reciprocal trade deals permanently eliminating all tariffs with the U.S. and Australia, and others where there is still more work to be done in removing barriers, as with China and India.

Coupled with the sustained dramatic decline in tariffs globally under reciprocity achieved in GATT, it would be foolish to move away from the only proven model for success, which is reciprocity.

At this point, I’d like to augment this SHOULD slash REALITY argument to the export subsidy statement in the affirmative. For the past seventy or so years, conservatives and libertarians have argued for ending agricultural subsidies and have failed. The reason they have failed is as clear as the red political sea throughout the farm belt and rural communities on the electoral map. These farm state Republicans like farm subsidies for political purposes, if for no other ones. Exhibit A of the dangers of opposing these subsidies is Representative Tim Huelskamp, a member of Congress from Kansas. Huelskamp tested whether voting against farm subsidies was politically viable in the heartland last Congress, and now he is known as former Representative Tim Huelskamp.

This proves that voting against farm subsidies is a political non-starter for scores of Republican members of Congress. Heck, we can’t even fully get rid of ethanol subsidies because the road to the presidency runs through Iowa.

More HERE 


Reporting the Rand Paul attack: Was it lawn clippings, or journalistic fertilizer?

If a Democratic senator was attacked by a conservative neighbor with relatively fanatical ideas and online sharing habits about politics, the New York Times reporting would look very different from its Rand Paul assault coverage. Frankly, the incident provides a case study on mainstream press bias.

On Friday, Nov. 3, Sen. Paul had just stepped off his riding mower at his Bowling Green, Ky., residence. Rene Boucher, whose home sits on an adjoining lot, suddenly tackled the senator from his blind side with enough force to break several ribs and cause a pleural effusion, which is a buildup of fluid around the lungs.

Boucher admitted to going onto the senator’s property and tackling him, according to his arrest warrant.

The Washington Post reported on Nov. 5 a former city commissioner’s description of Boucher as a socialist. His Facebook page, now blocked from public view, “included links to articles and memes critical of President Trump and a news article about a Montana Republican congressional candidate who attacked a reporter the day before winning his seat.”

These are details that Times reporters Nicholas Fandos, Noah Weiland, and Jonathan Martin apparently deemed unfit to print in their Nov. 6 article, “Is Landscaping Drama at the Root of Rand Paul’s Assault?" While the article notes that Paul and his neighbor were known to have “divergent political views,” the clear focus is on the narrative that the incident stems from the libertarian senator’s allegedly libertine approach to yard maintenance.

“Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky.,” they write, adding: “The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts, and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations. ... Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.”

But this theory is increasingly looking like so much detritus. Maybe a better description is "fake news." For one thing, the Times article cites only a single named source for the supposition that the men had an ongoing landscaping feud: Jim Skaggs, a neighbor who also developed the subdivision. Skaggs said the men “just couldn’t get along,” that the incident “had very little to do with Democratic or Republican politics” and that they had “different [opinions] about what property rights mean.”

“Asked about long-leveled allegations that Mr. Paul had disregarded neighborhood regulations,” the article reads, “Mr. Skaggs, who is also a former leader of the county Republican Party, said the senator ‘certainly believes in stronger property rights than exist in America.’”

But here's the thing: Skaggs has subsequently told the Louisville Courier Journal that he didn’t witness the assault and has heard of “other theories” for the attack. And no fewer than seven neighbors have told the Washington Examiner that press reports about a landscaping dispute are rubbish. The Paul family keeps a nice yard and are great neighbors, they say.

There was ample reason to be skeptical of Skaggs’s vague and non-specific story from the start. Indeed, the only specific “problem” he’s cited concerns a disagreement from 17 years ago between the senator and the homeowners' association concerning association control over home design plans back when the Pauls built their house.

In any case, imagine that a Democratic senator was assaulted in his yard by a Republican whose social media activities evinced a strong dislike for Hilary Clinton. I suspect the Times reporters would be working harder to check for a political motivation. The reporting surely wouldn’t be so flip.

New York Times reporters’ tweets on the issue are also worth a look. For example, Jason Horowitz, whom Sen. Paul and his wife Kelly invited into their home in connection with a 2013 story Horowitz wrote for Vogue, tweeted a snippet of a transcript of his interview wherein Kelly and her husband discuss how they use fish emulsion (a common fertilizer sold at Home Depot) to grow pumpkins. Apparently this is proof to Horowitz that the criminal assault isn’t political. “I called this one,” he proclaims. “I’m guessing pumpkin vine, squirrels or sequoia as motive”.

Again, you wouldn’t see such fun and frivolity from Times’ reporters if a liberal Congressman was attacked by a Republican. It’s unprofessional. Perhaps a better description is liberal compost.



‘My sons love hunting, I don’t’: Trump reprieves elephants

Some who’ve criticized Trump might have done a double take when they read one of his tweets Friday morning. The message effectively put the brakes on a new administration policy that would allow American hunters to bring pieces of recently slaughtered African elephants back to the United States:

But Trump’s opposition to big-game hunting isn’t new.

Just ask Cher. In 2012, an outraged Queen of Comebacks tweeted a story with a picture of Donald Trump Jr., a belt of ammunition around his hips, posing with slain animals: an elephant, a leopard and a water buffalo, among others.

Cher’s point was clear from the Gothamist headline: “Photos: Donald Trump’s Sons Awesome At Killing Elephants And Other Wildlife.”

But the elder Trump took to Twitter to set the record straight:

"Old story, one of which I publicly disapproved. My sons love hunting, I don’t"

The younger Trump, on the other hand, has consistently defended his hunting from occasionally profane critics, saying he’s not going to let fear of the “PETA crazies” stop him from posting hunting pictures.

So maybe Cher wasn’t totally surprised by the Trump family’s divide on the moral quandary of taking the life of a large and possibly endangered mammal for sport.

The president’s tweet led to the quick — and likely fleeting — redrawing of a few battle lines. It was also part of a quick-moving flurry of activity regarding African elephants this week.

As The Washington Post wrote, on Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to end a 2014 ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Its justification was that killing elephants and bringing pieces of their corpses back to the United States to grace hunters’ dens would help the species. Coincidentally, helping the species is the only way that hunters can legally bring elephant “trophies” back to the United States.

The ruling, and its justification, angered environmentalists and elephant lovers.

In a tweet, Fox News host Laura Ingraham expressed her dismay, writing, “I don’t understand how this move by @realDonaldTrump Admin will not INCREASE the gruesome poaching of elephants. Stay tuned.”

It was unclear if Trump had heard the words of elephant lovers or his fellow Republicans, but he thumbed out the tweet saying the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision was on hold.

His tweet had environmentalists thanking the president.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Is the swamp winning?

The President must appoint more good, loyal people – or swamp creatures will triumph

Scot Faulkner

President Trump made draining Washington’s Swamp the centerpiece of his Presidency. The swamp is winning.  Its RINOgators are on the verge of destroying the Trump Presidency.

Trump’s Executive Branch is now running on empty. His appointment process is the slowest since Jimmy Carter in 1977. He recently defended his depleted ranks of loyalists, “we don’t need all of the people. You know, it’s called cost saving.”

In fact, Trump not bringing in his loyalists means the Executive Branch is being run by Obama holdovers, and senior careerists, who run the government from acting positions. They owe their last eight years of promotions and bonuses to their loyally enforcing and implementing Obama’s policies.

The swamp is exploiting Trump’s misunderstanding of “people equal policy.”

The few political managers Trump has placed are completely isolated and outmaneuvered. Worse, most of Trump’s appointments are people who owe their loyalty to everyone but Trump. The inner circles of the White House, and legions of political operatives in the Departments and Agencies, wish Jeb Bush were President. Their disloyalty to Trump is manifest in leaks and their ineffectual and slow paced efforts to change anything.

Insiders explain that Trump dislikes people with government experience and that he feels Reagan and his appointees could have done more to shrink government. If that is so, why is he fixated on bringing in Bush alumni who grew government?

Trump declared that he would drain Washington’s swamp by not hiring lobbyists. During the transition, countless personnel clearance forms were used supposedly to prevent lobbyists insinuating themselves. This failed. USA Today reports that more than 100 former federal lobbyists are now working inside the Trump Administration.

Trump has been ill-served and misled from the very beginning. During the spring of 2016, key elements of the Reagan coalition, including Reagan Administration alumni and key think tanks, were ready, willing and able to help Trump be successful. They were ignored.

In June 2016, Trump realized he needed to prepare for being President. Instead of turning to those conservatives who were openly and passionately supporting him, Trump turned to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Where Trump conservatives would have opened the door to legions of proven change agents, Christie opened the flood gates to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush operatives. Where Trump loyalists would have worked for free, Christie spent millions on hiring the Boston Consulting Group to run the Transition. The Boston Consulting Group had never run a Presidential Transition, but the Managing Partner in charge of the contract was the daughter of longtime Bush loyalist.

The Trump Transition ended up preparing for the Romney/Bush Administration. Even Steve Bannon was duped into believing only the Washington Establishment was capable of helping Trump prepare for his Presidency. Highly capable conservatives, Reagan alumni and professionals who were for Trump since June 2015, were systematically shut out. Never-Trumpers, even ones who ran anti-Trump floor operations at the Republican National Convention, were welcomed.

The Romney/Bush Transition became the Romney/Bush Administration on January 20, 2017. At the same time, Reince Priebus and his minions from the Republican National Committee (RNC) took over core White House operations. This included the Office of Presidential Personnel that clears and recommends all political appointees.

Priebus rightly deserves credit for quelling Republican rebellion in the final months of the 2016 campaign. For this, Trump should have rewarded Preibus with the non-critical Ambassadorship of his choice. Instead, Priebus became Chief of Staff and proceeded to fill Trump’s inner circle with RNC operatives, few of whom even liked Trump.

The RNC operatives in charge of Presidential Personnel placed their friends on Trump’s political front line. They even conducted purges of the few Trump loyalists who had made it inside.  Ironically, Never-Trumpers got away with accusing Always-Trumpers of being disloyal.

While President Trump was signing Executive Orders and making inspiring speeches, the RINOgators of the Washington, DC swamp were commandeering key positions, making sure Trump’s vision would never become a lasting operational reality. They are doing everything possible to protect their swamp.

The most tragic result of Trump being misled is that he is spending his time on actions that will be swept away with the next Administration.

The Washington swamp is drawing Trump into this trap. Time magazine recently ran an alarmist cover story on Trump’s regulatory reductions. Even Trump’s inner circle believes the hype.

His communications director declared, “No President or Administration has deregulated or withdrawn as many anticipated regulatory actions as this one in this short amount of time.” In reality, saving $560 million is a pittance against the $2+ trillion regulatory burden faced by America business.

At best, stopping new regulations is like trimming kudzu. All these bad policies and regulations have only been driven underground. They remain in desk drawers and computer files ready to be unleashed. Unless the underlying policies, people, and laws are changed, all these sidelined regulations will spring forth the moment Trump leaves office.

The people who would actually pull-up the regulatory kudzu by its roots are not in place. Washington, DC’s “RINOgators” have settled in to protect their status quo and wait out Trump.

Real and lasting change will happen only if Trump appoints sufficient numbers of his actual loyalists as soon as possible. He must act quickly and decisively to remove Bush/Romney traitors and replace them with those fully committed to his revolution.

Perhaps the dual attacks by Bush 41 and 43 will open Trump’s eyes to the treachery around him.

Via email


Leftists Finally Throw Bill Under the Bus

The soullessness of the Democratic Party

The recent effort to upend the Senate candidacy of Alabama Judge Roy Moore is dominating headlines these days. The charges against Moore are troubling, serious and credible, while his denials are less than persuasive. But the speed with which Democrats and Republicans alike have demanded Moore's exit from the race presents a high ethical standard that never seems to apply to Democrats.

Just yesterday, in fact, Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken was accused of committing sexual assault against a woman in 2006, and it looks like other victims might be coming forward. But the outrage toward Franken, a sitting U.S. senator, has been timid compared with the treatment that candidate Moore has had to endure. And buried beneath the Franken headlines was the news that a hung jury had spared another sitting senator, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, from a deserved corruption conviction.

We've been down this road before. Republicans are always quick to destroy their own (deserved or not), while Democrats circle the wagons around the sleaziest politicians and public figures. This hypocrisy has paved the way for sexual predators on the Left to assume vast amounts of power and wealth without ever having to face their accusers, while those on the Right are cut off at the knees.

Case in point: Bill Clinton. For years Americans have waited for the convincing allegations of sexual abuse and even rape by Clinton to get the attention they deserve. Sure, Clinton was impeached (along party lines), paid a fine, and lost his law license, but Democrats never stopped embracing him or his enabling wife. Indeed, once he escaped conviction in the Senate (nearly along party lines), even Republicans seemed to forgive and forget.

Ironically, the person who broke the radio silence on Bill Clinton was none other than Donald Trump.

After the notorious "Access Hollywood" tape nearly derailed his bid for the White House, Trump held a press conference in which the women who claimed to be Clinton's victims were given the collective attention they deserved. And then, in a brilliant move, Trump seated the women at the presidential debate right near Clinton himself. Trump did more to hold Bill Clinton accountable for his actions than any Republican had done since the former Arkansas governor moved into the White House in 1993.

When Trump put the spotlight on Clinton, Democrats had a perfect opportunity to make things right and condemn Bill's predatory behavior. After all, they were poised to take down Trump over alleged groping, not rape. But those on the Left couldn't bring themselves to be critical of a man they'd forgiven for actually engaging in behavior that was far worse than what Trump was only caught describing.

Now, nearly 20 years after Juanita Broaddrick went public with her credible accusation of Bill Clinton raping her, and with the Clintons having failed in their party's most urgent mission — defeating Trump — the Left is suddenly emboldened. Indeed, some are even opportunistically admitting that Clinton should have resigned from office 20 years ago.

Too little, too late. The societal damage has long since been done.

Caitlin Flanagan writes in The Atlantic, "It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today's accused men have experienced. Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. The movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation, and it was willing — eager — to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur."

Perhaps the parade of "progressive" sexual predators in the past year made it difficult to continue ignoring Clinton's past — difficult to self-righteously condemn the likes of Weiner and Weinstein and Franken while continuing to dismiss Clinton's decades of depravity.

But don't take this as a sign that progressives are suddenly holding their own accountable. They just couldn't keep their dirty little secret any longer. There have been plenty of moments when Democrats could have taken a stand to end sexual abuse post-Clinton.

Matthew Yglesias contends, "The United States, and perhaps the broader English-speaking world, is currently undergoing a much-needed accountability moment in which each wave of stories emboldens more people to come forward and more institutions to rethink their practices. Looking back, the 1998 revelation that the president of the United States carried on an affair with an intern could have been that moment."

If only leftists like Yglesias had shown the courage of their convictions when it really mattered.

Yes, the feminist movement could have become legitimate instead of selectively allowing the very behavior that it proclaims to detest. It could have been a pivotal moment in which the nation reasserted its values and principles, and took a stand against the moral degradation of the past. It could have been the moment for us to enforce the ethical standards that we have long expected of our public figures, and the moment for the media to put the plain truth ahead of its agenda.

It could have been, but it wasn't. And they're now reaping what they sowed.

One of the more troubling aspects of the 1998 Clinton-Lewinsky affair is that mainstream media outlets had all the information they needed in 1998 but chose largely to ignore the very serious accusations of Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and especially Juanita Broaddrick.

As David Harsanyi writes, "However reluctant editors might have been in moving forward with these stories, the fact is that most of them were ultimately brought to the public's attention by established news organizations, not shady right-wing outlets. Still, Democrats weren't merely skeptical of these women, they often treated them with disdain and smeared them for political expediency."

Yes, they were smeared by just about everyone on the Left including Hillary Clinton. Remember her vicious and dismissive "bimbo eruptions" comment? That a female politician was willing to shame and degrade other women in order to advance her career mirrored the soullessness of the Democrat Party.

Sadly, the cover-ups from the Kennedys to Clinton to Harvey Weinstein allowed scores of women to be abused by powerful men — so long as these monsters were publicly supporting leftist causes.

Since the 1960s, Democrats have pushed a culture of unbridled sexuality on American society while at the same time calling for men to respect women. It's not possible to have both.

Had Bill Clinton and others been held accountable, perhaps we could have saved a lot of women some serious pain and suffering. Perhaps we could have prevented another generation of sexual perverts from preying on innocent victims. And perhaps we could have emerged as a nation dedicated to ethical and moral behavior in personal and public life.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Friday, November 17, 2017

Senate Makes Bold Move, Includes Repeal of Obamacare’s Individual Mandate in Tax Bill

News broke on Tuesday that the Senate will include repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in its final tax bill.

This is something President Donald Trump has called for, and it’s exactly the right move.

It’s critical that Congress take every opportunity to undo Obamacare’s damage. Repealing the individual mandate is a great place to begin the necessary work of undoing Obamacare regulatory burdens and tax increases that have driven up costs and reduced plan value and availability .

The individual mandate is Obamacare’s requirement that every American enroll in health insurance or be fined. The idea was to push lots of healthier people—who didn’t need or want Obamacare’s expansive, overpriced coverage—to buy those plans in order to subsidize the cost of care for others.

But the experience with Obamacare over the last four years shows that the individual mandate does not work.

According to the most recent IRS reports, 6.2 million tax filers chose to pay the tax penalty rather than buy Obamacare insurance, 12.7 million tax filers obtained an exemption from the mandate, and 4.3 million tax filers omitted their health insurance status on their tax return.

In total, 23.2 million tax filers paid the fine, obtained an exception, or simply ignored the individual mandate.

And with good reason—the products they were being forced to buy were from a private market broken by Obamacare’s many regulatory mandates. Plan prices skyrocketed and plan quality and availability dropped.

In the face of this situation, many Americans had to choose: Do I buy an overpriced product that doesn’t meet my needs, or do I pay a tax penalty and look for other alternatives?

With costs for plans continuing to rise, and possibly outpacing the ability of individuals to pay, it’s likely that a growing number of individuals will determine that it’s better to pay the penalty than pay for overpriced coverage.

And pay they will. Until now, the IRS has been lax in its enforcement of the mandate. However, this upcoming tax year the IRS will begin to actively enforce the individual mandate by requiring proof of health insurance coverage.

In previous years, Americans have been able to omit reporting health care coverage and still receive a tax refund. No longer will this be the case.

Moving forward, the IRS will refuse the submission of a tax return unless it includes proof of coverage, a coverage exemption, or payment (read: tax) for lack of coverage.

Repealing the individual mandate would provide relief to millions of Americans who have to either buy a health insurance product they don’t want, or pay tax penalties.

It’s possible that coverage numbers would go down at least somewhat after repealing the individual mandate. But that wouldn’t be because people are being kicked off of coverage. It would be because some Americans will either drop plans that are a bad deal for them, or not buy those plans in the first place.

Rather than forcing people to buy coverage that government bureaucrats think they should have, lawmakers should focus on creating market conditions that allow Americans to buy plans that they actually want.

That requires Congress to roll back the broken Obamacare regulations that are driving up the cost of insurance for millions of Americans—including the benefit mandates, actuarial value standards, and rating restrictions that drive up the cost of premiums.

Moreover, if Congress wants to encourage people to buy coverage rather than force them to do so, it could provide regulatory relief to the states to give them options to reward healthy individuals for buying and keeping continuous coverage.

Congressional leaders need to get back to work to undo Obamacare’s damage, and the Senate is leading the way by placing the individual mandate on the chopping block.



Wave of Judicial Appointments Fulfills Trump Promise to Focus on Courts

Eight federal appellate judges confirmed, and a ninth on the way, mark the success of President Donald Trump's campaign promise to make putting conservatives on the court a top priority of his administration.

Trump's eight appellate court appointments are the most this early in a presidency since Richard Nixon, the New York Times reported.

The appointments are the product of an aggressive strategy led by White House counsel Don McGahn. McGahn and his team have focused on filling appeals court vacancies where Democratic Senators from Trump-voting states could be pressured to back nominees.

Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has also been essential to the fast clip of nominations. In the past year, Grassley has organized three hearings with two appellate nominees, rather than the customary single nominee. Two-nominee hearings happened only three times total in the eight years of the Obama administration.

The nominees have strong academic credentials, the Times noted, as well as a history of clerking for conservative judges like the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

"We will set records in terms of the number of judges," Trump said in a recent White House speech. "There has never been anything like what we’ve been able to do together with judges."

"What makes this a unique opportunity in modern history is the sheer number of vacancies, the number of potential vacancies because of the aging bench, and the existence of a president who really cares about this issue in his gut," said Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the conservative law organization the Federalist Society, and an adviser on Trump's judicial appointments.

Trump entered office with 21 open seats on the federal appellate courts. That high number of vacancies was driven by Senate Republicans' refusal to confirm many appointees of President Barack Obama from 2015 onwards.

An additional six judgeships have opened since inauguration. Additionally, almost half the 150 active appeals court judges can take a semiretirement "senior" status, freeing up their seats for Trump-appointed replacements.

Exit polls suggest that conservatives concerned about the future of federal courts helped deliver Trump his electoral college victory last November. In the wake of Scalia’s death, Trump memorably promised to nominate his replacement from a list put together by the Federalist Society.

The burst of nominations has provoked controversy as Senate Republicans consider dropping several traditional practices.

That includes the use of so-called "blue slips," issued by Senators from the home state of a judicial nominee to give their assent before he proceeds to hearings. Democratic senators, including Sen. Al Franken (Minn.), have refused to return blue slips for several Trump nominees.

This has resulted in calls by Republicans to end the practice. They have also been critical of the American Bar Association, which customarily rates the qualification of judicial nominees, and which is perceived by many as being biased against conservatives. After the ABA returned "not qualified" rankings for two nominees, reports indicated that the White House is considering discouraging future nominees from releasing certain records to or interviewing with the group.

While these possible changes may be controversial, advisers like Leo remain focused on their central goal—taking advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to put conservatives on the bench.

"[Trump] understood that the American people cared about judges, and he for his own purposes cared very deeply about it and recognized that he could be a president who could help restore the judiciary to its proper role," Leo said.



Louisiana’s Kyle Duncan, Trump’s Superb Choice for the 5th Circuit

Ed Meese

A legal powerhouse from Louisiana with a history of championing religious freedom is among President Donald Trump’s outstanding nominees for federal judgeships.

Kyle Duncan is one of Trump’s excellent picks for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as the president works to reshape the federal courts by announcing slate after slate of his choices to fill more than 160 vacancies across the country. These are men and women who take the Constitution and the rule of law seriously, and Duncan is a superb example.

I got to know Duncan when he was general counsel of Becket Law, a nationally recognized public interest law firm based in Washington, and I am confident he will be a dedicated and thoughtful jurist. He understands the proper, limited role judges should play in our government—that judges are not supposed to be legislators, but impartial arbiters of the law.

Duncan will be committed to interpreting the Constitution and laws according to their text, setting aside his personal views and policy preferences.

At Becket, Duncan fought for religious liberty for all people. As the lead lawyer in Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, he secured a big victory for religious freedom at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hobby Lobby, a retail chain run by David Green and his family, sought to operate in accordance with the family’s Christian faith. But Duncan didn’t represent only Christians. He supervised Becket’s representation of an Orthodox Jewish inmate when a prison violated his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and he helped defend a mosque under the same law when it faced a discriminatory land-use regulation.

Stuart Kyle Duncan, who was born in 1972 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has had a distinguished legal career as an appellate lawyer, arguing more than 30 cases before federal and state appellate courts—including two at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently a partner at Schaerr Duncan LLP in Washington, Duncan has served as counsel for parties and amici in more than 40 cases before the high court. For his exceptional written advocacy there, the National Association of Attorneys General twice presented him with its Best Brief Award.

It’s fitting that the president nominated Duncan to a 5th Circuit seat in Louisiana, where he has deep ties. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University, clerked for a judge on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, and for four years was Louisiana’s first solicitor general.

Even after starting his law practice in Washington, Duncan continued to advance Louisiana’s interests. The state retained him time and time again to help defend its laws on everything from abortion to religious freedom to criminal offenses.

In addition to Louisiana, the 5th Circuit hears cases from Texas and Mississippi, and Duncan has ties to those states as well. He was assistant solicitor general of Texas for three years and taught constitutional law, law and economics, admiralty law, and legal ethics at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Duncan’s record demonstrates that he is an exceptionally qualified nominee who cares a great deal about the Constitution. As Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, put it at National Review, he

is a superstar who can translate sophisticated arguments for the general public. His knack for thoughtful and incisive legal analysis will serve him well on the 5th Circuit, as will his humility and integrity. Kyle is the complete package.

To date, the Senate has confirmed only 13 of Trump’s outstanding judicial nominees, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be commended for getting those judges confirmed despite Senate Democrats’ obstruction, there is still plenty of work to do.

The president could do no better than nominating Kyle Duncan. Now, the Senate must work swiftly to confirm him.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Last Crusade: War with the Phantoms

John C. Wright

We live in an age obsessed with glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions.

Note what these have in common.

The glass ceiling is the alleged invisible barrier which prevents women from being promoted into the positions of top management and bars the from the highest levels of power.

Dog whistles are the alleged inaudible messages sent as code from one racist to another over public airwaves to coordinate and perpetuate their continued oppression of blacks.

Micro-aggressions are the alleged impalpable assaults subtly hidden as thoughtless comments or discourteous gestures.

Micro-aggressions are just like various other forms of assault and battery, such as being lacerated, stabbed, drowned, bloodied, bruised, bludgeoned, or beaten senseless, except that these aggressions are so microscopically slight and insignificant that no one, not even the alleged perpetrator, can detect them. Even the alleged victims will not feel them unless told and trained to do so.

For example, asking someone where he is from is a micro-aggression, as this betrays an unconscious racism, which oppresses the weak. Using the pronoun “he” when grammar calls for it also oppresses the weak. As of the current news cycle, taking tests at a college, doing math, or having a daughter who wears a Disney princess costume of a Polynesian at Halloween, are all forms of oppression.

What these have in common is that all are phantoms.

Now, obviously, no one can take these claims with even the slightest degree of seriousness. Even on their own terms, they make no sense.

If a woman is frustrated with the promotion offered in her current career, let her change jobs, or start her own business. Either you have the skill and drive and talent needed to win for yourself the high position you desire, or you do not. If you do, there is no need to wait for someone else to remove the alleged invisible barrier keeping you from the high position. If you do not, then being given the position as a gift will not give you the skill and drive and talent needed to face real adversity, a union riot or an antitrust lawsuit, fortune might then place between you and your further success.

Likewise, either alleged oppressors have the power to oppress the blacks or not. If they have the power, they would not bother to speak in whispers and codes. If they lack the power, the whispers and codes can be safely ignored, for then no one is being oppressed.

Likewise for micro-aggressions. If someone innocently offers you an undiscernibly small insult, and you are in a position to demand the innocent to apologize, you have power over him, not he over you.  You are the Grand Inquisitor here, and he the heretic in chains.

If he actually had the motive, opportunity, and power to oppress you, there would be visible signs of it: water fountains marked “colored” and “white”, governors standing in schoolhouse doors, police in riot gear with firehoses and attack dogs, death camps surrounded with barbed wire, and the whole visible apparatus of the state.

The alleged oppressors here do not actually have the power to oppress. Or do anything visible or obvious.

Far from being able to call upon armed men in riot gear to enforce Democrat-style Jim Crow laws, in America these days, anyone accused of racism, misogyny, or thoughtlessness to the hypersensitive feelings of any mascot of the Left faces social opprobrium, ostracization, loss of livelihood, and civil or even criminal penalties. In Europe, the penalties are more severe for even small infractions.

So the most that can be said for the Leftist narrative about glass ceilings, dogwhistles, and whispered non-insults is that the perpetrators, if they exist at all, are not more than a scattered, demoralized, and decimated remnant of a once-proud segregationist and slave-owning political party, now fallen, who comfort themselves by nursing a sullen resentment at the loss of their power to oppress blacks and women.

(That would be the party of racists Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Robert C. Byrd, homophobe Fred Phelps, and women-abusers Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, and so on.)

Please note that there are careers in which a whispered campaign of lies can derail or kill a career, and where anonymous accusations bring on a witch-hunt. Obviously any field where there is a clear and obvious way of judging the merit of a man’s performance is not open to whisper campaigns. But in such fields as the theater, or academia, or politics, where one’s position can insulate one from the results of incompetence, such whispers would be all powerful.

Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of the coordinated hatred from a group of unemployed women, mentally ill men, or cowardly unmanly men, is well aware of how glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions work. The girls and crazies and girlish cowards never confront you directly, never criticize your work directly, but they giggle and offer insults in the form of indirect symbols whose symbolic value they themselves never publicly admit. They anonymously feed stories to a compliant press. They cheer wildly for things which seem to have no meaning, since they are all actually cheering for something else. And they fix the votes or fix the game, all the while accusing you of the same.

Please note the three fields where this is rampant: the theater, the academic world, and the halls of power.  Places where no one is judged on his work, only on his connections. Places where incompetents prosper. These are the places were the Left is paramount.

In sum, the secret conspiracy of oppressors we hear the Left endlessly bewailing exists, if at all, only among them, and only to oppress those who do not conform to their narrative.

Like Hollywood starlets forced into prostitution with overweight producers to win a desirable billing, who then complain about a patriarchy and a rape culture, the Leftists who whine about glass ceilings and dog whistles  are speaking of a world which they build for themselves, as a prison for themselves, but which they fear to blame on their gurus (who are also their jailers), and so blame on those who hold the only hope of liberation from their prison.

At this point, the candid reader might be thinking, “if glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions are by definition invisible, inaudible and impalpable, on what grounds does anyone assert that they actually exist?”

Well, the Left answers this question by shrieking like insane baboons if anyone raises it, slandering and libeling anyone who questions this or any other part of their dogma, and attempting to ruin their livelihood and life. This will deter the question from being asked.

It will not answer the question, of course, because there is no answer.

Leftism does not require grounds to make assertions. Only in a logical and rigorous form of thought, as legal or scientific reason, is precedent or observation or some other form of support offered to uphold an assertion.

In Leftist thought, statements are not statements of fact; they are statements of power.

There is a famous Chinese story of a time when a vizier, thinking the Emperor weak, and wishing to find out which courtiers would join him in rebellion, brought a deer into the court and called it a horse. The emperor politely corrected him, some courtiers agreed with the emperor. The vizier noted who these were, and later had them assassinated, exiled, or executed.

Hence, if a Chinese vizier points at a deer and calls it a horse, the other courtiers who agree with him agree because they fear or admire his power. Those who disagree expect their disagreement to be taken as an act of defiance. The courtiers who say “deer” are in the vizier’s camp and have expressed their loyalty. Those who say “horse” are his foes. Whether or not a horse is a horse never enters into the matter.

In Leftist thought, statements are neither true nor false. True and false are properties that only have a place in describing statements related to reality. “The sun rises in the East” is a statement, for example, that is true, but, if the sun ever were to rise in the west, would be false. “Bow to the idol!” is not a statement that can be either true or false. It is not a statement at all, but an imperative. It is a demand for loyalty.

But this is not the whole explanation. The Chinese vizier in the old story did not, after all, point to a gelding and call it a stallion, or point to a slow horse and call it fast. He did not demand the courtiers to say something haste or bad judgement might allow them honestly to believe. He demanded the courtiers say an obvious, blatant, unambiguous lie. Men place their flags on a flagpole so that they are above all obstructions and clear to see. The lie must be obvious, insolent in its disregard for truth, so that the falsehood is clear to see.

What kind of loyalty is being demanded?

The Leftwing narrative is not merely a political theory nor merely a worldview. It is an ideology. The difference between an ideology and a worldview is this:

A worldview is written in the indicative mood. it can be summed up in a list of statements which one believes to be true or false. An ideology is written in the imperative mood. It can only be summed as a list of duties and prohibitions.

An ideology is a heresy of Christian thought disguised as a political or economic policy. An ideology, by its nature, is something like a glass ceiling and a dog whistle, because it is a phantom that seems to be talking about one thing, but is actually talking about something else.

I say it is a Christian heresy because Ideology as a parasite on the Church. There are no Buddhist nor Shinto ideologies.

I use the word heresy advisedly. A heresy is the act of taking one branch of an organic whole of thought, ignoring its roots and consequences, inflating or elevating that branch out of its proper context, and then using it as a bludgeon to pummel all other branches of the teaching into silence. For example, the Pelagesian heresy took the doctrine of the free will of man to undermine the doctrine of the fall of man. Likewise Calvinism takes the doctrine of the omniscience of God to undermine the doctrine of the free will of man.

In the modern world, all ideologues, starting with French Revolutionaries and up though the Cultural Marxism of the Social Justice Warriors, take the doctrine of compassion for the poor and needy, and the doctrine that God is no respecter of persons, to undermine the doctrine of the fall of man. Man is saved not through Christ, but through Caesar, that is, through the alleged application of scientific reasoning to political and economic institutions. Man is naturally good and improvable, and will evolve into utopian perfection, once certain artificial sources of institutional evildoing and oppression are swept away, such a private property, inequality of income, or unconscious racism.

Heresies are also simplistic. They are, as said above, a reduction of an organic and balanced system of thought into a few simpleminded slogans.

Likewise, an ideology is a one-size fits all answer for all life’s problems: Black and white with no colors, no balancing act, no counting of costs versus benefits, no understanding of the tragic view of life.

Conservativism, by this definition, is not an ideology, for it regards the state merely as one social institution among many, and not the sole, nor even the primary institution. The state is the institution used to maintain law and order, enforce contracts, encourage virtue, and defend from invasion and trespass against natural rights. The free market is an institution for the exchange of goods and services peacefully; marriage is the institution for raising the young and building communities; the Church is the institution for prayer and sacrifice and learning the meaning of life; the arts are for expressing the glory of nature and nature’s great author; and so on. Each has its proper and organic place in the organism of society, and certain personal matters are beyond the reach of any institution.

But the heresy of ideology says all things are submissive to Caesar. Marriage is subordinate to the state; the market is subordinate to the state; the Church is most certainly subordinate to the state; all things serve the state, and even what thoughts are allowed or are forbidden to be expressed, public or private, conscious or unconscious, are all political matters, hence within Caesar’s purview.

Ironically, because ideologies are simplistic, one-sided, and false, all fail at what the attempt. Marxism says one can produce abundant wealth by eliminating all incentives to create it. Cultural Marxism says women can gain equality by helpless dependence on the state, blacks can gain equality by aggravating all mildest dispute with whites, and homosexuals can gain love and approval for their lifestyle by savagely demonizing the vast majority of straights, and rejecting all attempts at peaceful coexistence with them. The success rate of socialism, with between one hundred million and one hundred fifty million innocent men, women and children murdered, at producing peace and plenty is obvious to all but the willfully blind.

By the nature of ideology, they ideologue is and must be willfully blind. To cast doubt on the list of imperatives that comprise his ideology is one of the imperatives. To entertain any doubt, or to hear any debate, on any topic under the control of the ideologue is thoughtcrime. To doubt that America is racist is itself racism. To doubt any iota of the shrieking nonsense uttered by feminists is itself sexism. And so on.

Because they are blind, the natural limits of reality which cause the failure of their ideological Cloudcuckooland theories are invisible to them. Always and ever will the ideologue run into a boundary or barrier that halts upward progress, which always and ever he will not permit himself to see. To him it will be invisible. A glass ceiling.

Because they have left the realm of reason and reality, the ideologue is never talking about the topic of your debate with him. For example, suppose that after a horrific mass shooting, you want to debate a proper response to see it not to happen again. Naturally, you wonder about the foolish leftwing policy that prevents locking patients with dangerous insanity up in an asylum. But this is never discussed. The ideologue can only discuss, with ever increasing shrillness, frustration, and fury as he beats against an invisible glass ceiling, his hope that by taking guns away from sane and law-biding citizens, somehow, by unicorn-powered fairy glitter magic, the guns will vanish from the hands of the insane and the criminal. When you point out that unicorns do not exist, hence cannot make guns vanish, he responds by saying you are aiding and abetting the murders.

He is frustrated because he is pounding against a glass ceiling. The gun control laws cannot produce the unicorn glitter happy-land result he imagines. Gun control laws produce Chicago murder rates.

You think you are talking about gun control. You are really talking about whether government can solve the problem of evil.

Hence, this is a dog-whistle, that is, a conversation meant for the ears of his compatriots alone, which has a second meaning inaudible to normal people. He cannot and dare not say aloud what he is actually thinking, because, were he to say it, the falsehood and fatuous fatheadedness of the whole sacred list of his ideological imperatives would stand naked to the mocking gaze of reality. Fear prevents him.

His ideological system cannot work and never will, because, fundamentally, it is false-to-facts. To believe a fact because it is factual is something his moral code calls wrong, and a hate crime. See, for example, crimes rates among Blacks. To believe a falsehood because it is false, and the more outrageous the falsehood the better, is something his moral code rewards as a sign of absolute party loyalty. See, for example, evidence for manmade global warming.

And so reality irks him with countless tiny splinters of fact. No program ever seems to go right. The feminist is angered that men do not use their superior power over women to impose equality on women as a gift. The black rioters demand police abandon their neighborhoods to crime, and then they are angered when the crime rate rises.

For them, reality itself is an endless micro-aggression. It is an endless, tiny stream of buried and inaudible slights and slanders against the pretensions of the ideologues.

In reaction, the ideologue utters tiny and invisible insults against everyone around him. His continuous sniping, snarking, snarling and risible pose of moral and mental superiority to all mortal men is his retaliation to the mockery the reality makes of his stillborn and dreams.

So the world of phantoms is the world in which the Leftwinger actually lives. All about him is a hidden and apparently all-powerful foe. The foe taunts and mocks him, and eludes his grasp. He is everywhere and nowhere. Normal conversations between normal men now sound like the murmurings of conspirators. Facts and reality form invisible ceilings to progress. Gnat clouds of endless failures and insults accompany every moment. Everything actually is controlled by glass ceilings, dog whistles, and micro-aggressions.

The problem is that these phantoms are all produced by the ideologue himself. They form the thought prison in which he is trapped. They are the false narrative to which he is addicted, and which is slowly killing him, brain-first.

Granted, he placed the fetters on his own limbs with his own hands, and, like Oedipus, with his own thumbs drove out the eyes of common sense. He castrated his own conscience, he lobotomized his own reason, drove a stake through the heart of compassion and humanity in his own breast. We must pity the poor, suicidal fool even as we condemn his suicide. The pain he suffers is real, even if the phantoms he imagines to be causing it are no more than shadows in a looking glass.

The war with these phantoms is real, even if the phantoms are not real. It falls to us to undo all the damage his madness causes. Ask not whether it is fair that this task is ours. The hard fact is that if we do not bind up the wounds to civilization he makes, they will not be healed.

He blames us for his problems. We cannot salve his brow or solve his woe. His problem is spiritual. His savior is not Caesar.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Plain truth can be hate-speech on Quora

I responded to the following question on

"Why has the free movement of people between Canada, Australia, New Zealand & the UK not been implemented? There are similar population sizes, common language, & social, political, economic, & educational systems are all based on the British model"

I replied:

"Australia and NZ don’t want the blacks — too crime-prone"

Quora deleted my reply on the grounds that it violated their Be  Nice, Be Respectful policy

I wrote in response to them:

"Since when is the truth simply expressed disrespectful? The alternative is BS"

On behalf of Quora, Amelia then replied:

"Thanks for your email. We'll be more than happy to clarify our moderation decision here.

Your content was in violation of our Be Nice, Be Respectful policy. This core Quora principle requires that people treat other people on the site with civility, respect, and consideration.

More specifically, your content contained what we consider to be hate speech:

Users are not allowed to post content or adopt a tone that would be interpreted by a reasonable observer as a form of hate speech, particularly toward a race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political group, sexual orientation or another similar characteristic. Questions and question details about generalizations in these topics should be phrased as neutrally and respectfully as possible.

Our decision is final, and your content will not be reinstated"

My closing comment:  "I imagine Amelia is just an apparatchik at Quora so shares the current politically correct hysteria about any mention of blacks that fails to praise them -- but her action deprives their questioner of the answer to his question.

Is that what Quora is about?  Is it a cover-up service or an information service?  No American is in any doubt about the black crime-rate so why can it not be mentioned in an objective information context?  I have had many articles published in the academic journals of the social sciences on questions about race and racism but such discussions must be kept from the general public, apparently. So I suppose that this episode is just another example of Leftists having big problems with the truth -- JR. 


‘I hate everything.’ says Jerry Brown

The Left gives itself away now and then

Nine days into his European trip, Jerry Brown might have been enjoying himself.

The Democratic governor had just wrapped interviews with Japanese and German reporters late Saturday, after holding a climate coalition signing ceremony with Terry McAuliffe, or His Excellency, the honorific used for the governor of Virginia. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer were also at the photo op.

That’s when Brown was asked whether he enjoyed it at the UN climate conference.

“No, I hate everything,” he said, allowing the slightest smile. “Why do you ask that silly question?”

I mean it earnestly, the reporter responded.

Brown asked whether, at age 79, he would be running around Europe if he didn’t enjoy it?

Maybe, his interrogator replied.

“Why, because I’m a masochist?” Brown asked.

Brown said he doesn’t think of it as “joy,” but did for some reason say he was glad the conversation had meandered to the subject. An accurate reflection of his existential position is one that is constantly changing, Brown eventually confessed.

“There are certain things you have to do that aren’t as pleasant as other things you have to do, but if it’s something you want to get accomplished, you will do it, and there will be different levels of joy, from zero to 100 percent,” he said



Covered California Still Spreading Misery

During the heyday of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Emily Bazar of the Center for Health Reporting kept track of how Covered California, the ACA’s wholly owned subsidiary, actually performed. As she noted, Covered California wasted millions on promotion, handed out lucrative deals to cronies, and its $454 million computer system was dysfunctional. Last year Bazar showed how, despite skyrocketing premiums, Covered California dropped 2,000 pregnant women from coverage, causing them to lose their doctors and miss key prenatal appointments.

Earlier this year, Bazar reported that the state’s vaunted health exchange sent incorrect tax information to the health plans, which led to “higher premiums than consumers initially anticipated,” and people also “owed more out of pocket than they originally thought.” Bazar had already charted how Obamacare hiked premiums 13.2 percent, and canceled policies when people reported changes in income. As a result, many Californians did not get the tax credits they they sought. Covered California may have helped “multitudes” apply for health insurance, Bazar wrote, but “it also is responsible for countless glitches and widespread consumer misery.” So how is it performing now?

Emily Bazar, now with Kaiser Health News, warns that Anthem Blue Cross is pulling out of a large swath of California’s individual market, “forcing hundreds of thousands of consumers to find new plans.” Rate hikes average 12.3 percent and “silver-level” plans “will bear an additional 12.4 percent average surcharge.” Doctor’s networks are smaller and smaller all the time, and “if you are in the middle of treatment for a complex medical condition and lose your insurer, you may have options.” But then, you might not have options. So for all its lofty promises, Covered California still works best as a misery index.

The ACA was essentially a statist coup camouflaged in a white coat. In this plan, you get only the health care the government wants you to have. The same is true for the so-called “single player” scheme, better known as government monopoly health care.



Hollowed-out blue chips are the next subprime

Subprime mortgages caused much of the 2008 financial crisis by defaulting in much greater concentrations than the experts expected. The next financial crisis is likely to be caused by a similar disaster that surprises the experts. I have an excellent candidate: Fortune 500 companies that have been repurchasing their shares like maniacs for a decade, and in many cases have left themselves with negative net worth. In a major recession, when their business drops off and their cash flow turns negative, they will only need a breath of adverse wind to default. Like the subprime mortgages, once a few major companies default, the rest, with fragile credit structures, will fall like dominoes.

There are two mechanisms by which the balance sheets of major companies have been hollowed out: overpriced acquisitions and share repurchases. Both are products of a decade of interest rates held far below their natural level, which have abominably skewed the economy’s allocation of resources.

In the case of overpriced acquisitions, even companies that make a low return appear attractive purchases if you can borrow at a negative real cost to finance their acquisition. Share repurchases meanwhile are more attractive than dividends because they goose the value of management’s stock options. If long term money can be borrowed at 3% on a tax-deductible basis, then it makes sense to go on buying the company’s shares up to 33 times earnings, even if there is no earnings growth to be had.

The effect on balance sheets of the two bad practices is significantly different. In the case of acquisitions, the accountants make the acquirer record a “goodwill” item reflecting the difference between the price paid for the company acquired and the value of its- assets. In the 1970s and 1980s, that goodwill item could be taken as reflecting real value. Much of the assets’ value in the books reflected construction and acquisition costs from decades earlier, so in a time of high inflation, when stock prices were not extended, acquirers generally did not pay much more than the true value of assets.

Now the “goodwill” item reflects genuine water, in the nineteenth century sense of that term. Nineteenth century investors, mostly in railroads, were very concerned at promoters “watering” the stock – issuing shares at a price far above net asset value – because they knew that railways could be replicated at the same cost, or even somewhat less (since some survey and other costs might be common). If your competitor had issued less stock than you to construct the same route, he would have lower costs, because he would have to pay fewer dividends and/or less debt interest.

In industrial companies, the “watering” principle does not apply so rigidly; industrial companies often have patented technologies, marketing networks or business relationships that cannot easily be replicated. Nevertheless, if you buy $1 of assets for $2, and finance the $2 by debt, you are still in trouble in a recession. Gold miners have seen this problem recently; a few of them have been bankrupted not by operating losses but by goodwill write-offs that destroyed their balance sheets.

Goodwill at least arguably has some value. However, what remains when you have borrowed money to repurchase stock has no value at all. In that situation, your stockholders’ equity has been eaten away and you have literally nothing to show for it. In good years, earnings per share are increased, because there are fewer shares outstanding. In bad years, if you lack capital you will find it very difficult to finance yourself. If cash flow and earnings falter, potential creditors will take a suddenly skeptical look at the infinitely leveraged balance sheet and shy away.

The Fortune 500’s problem is that the period of funny money and slow growth has lasted so long. For a year or two, if profits look good, you can buy back stock worth 150% of earnings and make some overpriced acquisitions, and the hit to the balance sheet will only be moderate. But if you keep on doing it for close to a decade, you will run out of equity.

The Fortune 500 companies that are in this difficulty (and not all of them are) can be divided into two groups. The acquirers have eaten away their stockholders’ equity through overpriced acquisitions; they still have a positive book net worth, but a negative tangible net worth. Their fate during a deep downturn will be determined by how much of that goodwill must be written off through “impairment of value” and whether net worth remains positive after doing so.

The second group, who have destroyed their shareholders’ equity by repurchasing shares, often worth several times their earnings, will have only moderate amounts of goodwill, and negative net worth even including intangible assets. If their business turns down substantially, they are in trouble from Day 1.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)