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1. Trump Trade War And A $247 Trillion Global Debt Are A Dangerous Mix03:00[−]

The untold story of the world economy — so far at least — is the potentially explosive interaction between the spreading trade war and the overhang of global debt, estimated at a staggering $247 trillion. That's "trillion" with a "t." The numbers are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.

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Households, businesses and governments borrow on the assumption that they will service their debts either by paying the principle and interest or by rolling over the debts into new loans. But this works only if incomes grow fast enough to make the debts bearable or to justify new loans. When those ingredients go missing, delinquencies, defaults and (at worse) panics follow.

Here's where the trade war and debt may intersect disastrously. Since 2003, global debt has soared. As a share of the world economy (gross domestic product), the increase went from 248% of GDP to 318%. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, global debt rose by a huge $8 trillion. The figures include all major countries and most types of debt: consumer, business and government.

But to service these debts requires rising incomes, while an expanding trade war threatens to squeeze incomes. The resort to more tariffs and trade restrictions will make it harder for borrowers to pay their debts. At best, this could slow the global economy. At worst, it could trigger another financial crisis.

Note that the danger is worldwide. It's not specific to the United States. In a new report, the Institute of International Finance (IIF), an industry research and advocacy group, says that the debts of some "emerging market" countries (Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina) seem vulnerable to roll-over risk: the inability to replace expiring loans. In 2018 and 2019, about $1 trillion of dollar-denominated emerging-market debt is maturing, says the IIF.

Debt can either stimulate or retard economic growth, depending on the circumstances. Now we're approaching a turning point, according to Hung Tran, the IIF's executive managing director. If debt growth is not sustainable, as Tran believes, new lending will slow or stop. Borrowers will have to devote more of their cash flow to servicing existing debts.

At a briefing, Tran described the change this way:

"(We had) a goldilocks economy, with decent economic growth. Inflation was nowhere to be seen, allowing central banks (the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank) to be more accommodative (i.e., keeping interest rates low). You could always roll over your debt. However, the probability of this continuing is much less now. ... Trade tensions are on the rise, and this has already impacted (business confidence) and the willingness to invest."

Inflation is also creeping up. To stall its rise, the Fed is raising interest rates. Trade protectionism compounds the problem, because many non-U.S. companies borrow in dollars. (Dollars are widely used in trade even if neither the importer nor the exporter is American.) But these loans must be repaid in dollars. If tit-for-tat protectionism dampens trade, getting those dollars will become harder. Loan delinquencies and defaults may rise.

Tran isn't predicting a full-scale panic resembling the 2008-09 financial crisis, and there are some reasons for optimism. Banks are better capitalized now than before the crisis. (Bank capital — shareholders' funds or loans — protect against losses.) People are also more sensitive to the dangers than a decade ago.

Evidence of this comes from a recent "stress test" performed on 35 large bank holding companies by the Fed. A deep recession was simulated; the unemployment rate rose to 10%. Despite large losses, no bank failed. Since 2009, these banks have added $800 billion in common equity capital, says the Fed.

What Tran is suggesting is a global shift away from debt-financed economic growth. The meaning of the $247 trillion debt overhang is that many countries (including China, India and other emerging-market countries) will be dealing with the consequences of high or unsustainable debts — whether borne by consumers, businesses or governments. There will be a collective impact on the global economy.

"If you are in a high-debt situation, you need to bring the debt down, either absolutely or as a share of GDP," he said at the briefing. "(Either) will result in slower economic growth. You don't have the borrowing needed to maintain strong investment and consumption spending."

This may represent a final chapter to the 2008-09 financial crisis. The low interest rates adopted by central banks were justified as necessary to avoid a worldwide depression. Critics worried that cheap credit would rationalize risky lending that couldn't survive higher rates. We may soon discover who's right.


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2. Don't Fix Baseball, Even If It May Be BrokenВс., 15 июля[−]

It is a prudential axiom: If it isn't broken, don't fix it. This reflects the awareness that things can always be made worse, and the law of unintended consequences, which is that they often are larger than and contrary to intended ones. As baseball reaches the all-star break amid lamentations about several semi-broken aspects of it, it is time to amend the axiom: Don't fix it even if it is broken.

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The itch to fix complex systems often underestimates the ability of markets, broadly understood, to respond and adapt to incentives. So, even if you are an unsatisfactory American — i.e., uninterested in baseball — read on, because the debate about some of the game's current defects contains lessons about lesser things than baseball, meaning everything else.

Today's all-or-nothing baseball is too one-dimensional. There are too many strikeouts — for the first time in history, more than hits, a lot more. And the number is increasing for the 13th consecutive season. Also, too many of the hits are homeruns. It was imprecise for Crash Davis (Kevin Costner's character in "Bull Durham") to say that strikeouts are "fascist," but he was right that they are "boring," at least in excessive quantities. So are home runs (and caviar, and everything else except martinis). In about one-third of today's at-bats, the ball is not put in play (home run balls are put in the seats). Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci notes that by the end of June there were "more strikeouts in half a season than there were in the entire 1980 season." And "on average, you have to wait (3 minutes and 45 seconds) between balls put in play — 41 seconds longer between movement than 20 years ago." Steals (hence pitchouts), sacrifice bunts, hit-and-run plays — interesting things for fans — are becoming rarer.

This is not the main reason attendance is down. The weather is: In 35 April games, the temperature was below 40; in the entire 2017 season, only one. But the all-or-nothing style is not helping, and it is encouraged by the exponential increase in the use of defensive shifts — from 2,357 in 2011 to a projected 36,000 this season.

The best-known early use of the shift, in 1946, overloaded the right side against Ted Williams, who regally said they could not put the shift high enough. Actually, he tried to hit through, not over, it, but after the shift began, his average that year went from .354 to .327. Today, the 99.999% of players who are lesser hitters elevate their bats' "launch angles," exacerbating the all-or-nothing style.

Also, shifts cause pitchers to target a particular part of the plate in order to increase the probability that the batter will hit into the shift. This results in more walks, which batters like because high on-base percentages are rewarded: Today, baseball's compensation system is an incentive for walks, and for equanimity about striking out, if home runs are frequent.

What baseball people call "analytics," and less-scientific people call information, has produced all this: Particular hitters have particular tendencies; defenses adjust accordingly. Now, let us, as the lawyers say, stipulate that more information is always better than less. But for the moment, information is making offense anemic. So, there is a proposal afoot — this is fascism — to ban shifts, to say there must be two infielders on either side of second base, or even that as the pitch is delivered all infielders must be on the infield dirt. This would leave some, but much less, ability to manage defenses. It would, however, short-circuit market-like adjustments.

Incessant radical shifting will persist until it is moderated by demand summoning a supply of some Rod Carew-like hitters. A Hall of Famer, Carew was a magician who wielded a bat like a wand, spraying hits hither and yon, like Wee Willie ("Hit 'em where they ain't") Keeler. The market is severely meritocratic, so some hitters who cannot modify their tendencies and learn to discourage shifts by hitting away from them might need to consider different careers.

Baseball — the game on the field, not just the business side — resembles a market system because constantly evolving strategies create demands for different tactics, and thus different skills, which are then supplied by persons and teams that are eager to excel in the new forms of competition. Before restricting managers' and players' interesting choices by limiting shifts (and certainly before softening the ball; or moving the pitcher more than 60 feet, 6 inches from the plate), give the market — freedom for fan-pleasing ingenuity and adaptation — a chance.


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3. Trump To Britain: Decision Time On BrexitПт., 13 июля[−]

Brexit: U.S. trade ties with Britain are being held hostage by the U.K.'s protracted departure from the European Union. Better to make the exit quick and definitive than long and drawn out.

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It's been fun, as usual, to watch President Trump on an international stage as he stirs things up. In an exclusive interview with the British Sun, he criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for a "soft Brexit," with continued close ties to the EU. And he suggested that her conservative foe, Boris Johnson, would make a great prime minister.

But a day later, it had all blown over. Trump and May emerged holding hands for a Friday news conference, where each lavished praise on the other's leadership. The president even called May a "tough negotiator" — which, in the Trumpian world, is the highest form of praise. Trump also reaffirmed the "special relationship" that has bonded the U.S. and Britain since the late 19th century.

Even so, Trump's remarks to The Sun highlighted the fact that Britain is stuck in a bitter fight, mostly among conservatives, for how it should leave the EU. Should Britain merely loosen ties a bit and continue hewing to many of its trade rules ("soft Brexit"), or completely walk away and re-establish its economic sovereignty outside of the 28-nation EU ("hard Brexit").

Great political theater, sure. And most Americans wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to Britain leaving the European Union. But they shouldn't.

Brexit, as Britain's exit from the EU is called, is of the utmost importance. And how it's done really matters. Trump has said he's not in favor of the "soft" option, which would still leave Britain subject to many if not most of the EU's inane trade rules.

Brexit, Hard Or Soft?

As Trump told The Sun, "If they do a deal like that (a soft Brexit), we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal."

With more than $480 billion invested in the U.S., Britain is our No. 1 investor here. And the U.S., with over $600 billion in place in Britain, is the largest investor there. They are our fourth largest export market and our seventh-largest trading partner overall. So, yes, it matters.

Once again, Trump stirred things up, but in doing so revealed a political truth: That Britain's May and her party should have embraced the hard Brexit that Britons voted for two years ago and escaped the EU's toxic economic embrace. All the dire predictions of doom have failed to materialize.

Instead, May could face a vote of no confidence in Parliament and leave a tarnished legacy of diminished trade and influence on both sides of the Atlantic, with the U.S. more distant than ever. Trump's blunt talk was meant as a wake-up call for May. Hopefully, she heard it.

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4. Fight Against $15: Democrats Push To Repeal Minimum Wage Hike In Nation's CapitalПт., 13 июля[−]

Economics: "Fight for $15" is the rallying cry for most Democrats these days. But soon after Washington, D.C., voters approved a hike in tipped wages to $15, Democrats on the city council moved to repeal it. That's what happens when ideology crashes into reality.

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On Tuesday, 7 of the 13 members of Washington's city council sponsored a bill to jettison the wage hike for tipped workers that 56% of D.C. voters had approved by a ballot initiative less than a month before.

Under Initiative 77, the workers would see their minimum wage climb from the current $3.89 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026, erasing the difference between tipped and nontipped workers.

Keep in mind that D.C. is about as heavily Democratic as you can get. It went for Hillary Clinton by a 91%-4% margin.

But the D.C. council members came to understand what economists — and D.C. restaurant workers themselves — already know. Sharp increases in the minimum wage will cost lost hours, lost jobs and lost income. (The unemployment rate is over 9% in D.C.'s poorer wards.)

Not only would the wage hike pretty much eliminate tips — why tip when the waiter is already making as much as everyone else? — it would almost certainly make workers who keep their jobs worse off financially, since they'd have to pay taxes on every dollar of income.

The problem with the D.C. council's move isn't that it's trying to overturn the will of the people, but that it isn't applying its newfound understanding of economics more widely.

This month, the minimum wage for nontipped workers in D.C. jumped from $12.50 to $13.25 an hour. It will reach $15 an hour in just two years, and then go up every year after that at the rate of inflation.

This wage mandate, just like the one the council is trying to repeal, will also end up hurting the very people it's supposed to help.

That's not speculation. It's what happened in Seattle, which four years ago decided to gradually hike the city's minimum to $15. Researchers from the University of Washington found that the average low-wage worker lost $125 a month as the mandate took effect and employers cut back on hours and jobs.

Other parts of the country are catching on as evidence rolls in of the job-killing side effect of these mandated wage hikes. The mayor of heavily Democratic Baltimore vetoed a minimum-wage bill last year. The city council in Flagstaff, Ariz., decided to scrap the planned hike to $12, and cap it at $10.50.

"Fight for $15" makes a good bumper sticker. But as Democrats are finding out first hand, it makes bad public policy.

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5. The Export-Import Bank Doesn't Make America GreatПт., 13 июля[−]

Having launched tariff battles against China and other "unfair traders," the Trump administration is now trying to revive trade subsidies for them. Both moves will damage the U.S. economy, unless Congress intervenes.

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The trade subsidies at issue are financial instruments that the U.S. Export-Import Bank provides to a select group of foreign companies and governments to subsidize their purchases of U.S. exports. China, Mexico and Canada ranked among the biggest beneficiaries in previous years.

During the past three years, however, the bank has lacked a president and a board quorum — and therefore been barred from issuing export loans and credit guarantees in excess of $10 million. That has meant less taxpayer-backed financing for a cadre of multinational corporations and foreign governments that otherwise constitute Ex-Im's biggest beneficiaries.

President Trump evidently is now convinced that the bank should return to full operation. He recently added a former Treasury official to a slate of board nominees that, if confirmed by the Senate, would restore Ex-Im's quorum. The bank would then be able to resume doling out multimillion dollar subsidies to foreign competitors of U.S. businesses.

China routinely ranks among the top beneficiaries of Ex-Im's largesse. For example, government-controlled Air China received more than $1.8 billion in Ex-Im assistance between 2007 and 2013, and some $4.5 billion in export loans and credit insurance from Ex-Im to Chinese firms remains outstanding.

Pemex, Mexico's national petroleum company, received $7.3 billion in Ex-Im assistance in the same period. And there remains $6.5 billion in ongoing assistance among various Mexican companies.

This American generosity is clearly at odds with the president's repeated assertions that China, Mexico and Canada are taking advantage of the United States, and his insistence on renegotiating NAFTA and the recent imposition of tariffs.

To be fair, the president may think that tariffs and export subsidies don't conflict — that one serves to block imports while the other props up (select) domestic exports. The reality, however, is quite different.

Taken together, these policies punish American consumers of foreign goods — many of whom are U.S. manufacturers who may have to lay off workers — while rewarding Chinese consumers and manufacturers. Call it the "Make Other Countries Great Again" policy.

And then there is the issue of Trump's board nominee, Kimberly Reed.

She has lamented the hamstringing of Ex-Im, characterizing it as "unilateral disarmament" in the world of export subsidies. However, the "disarmament" argument presumes that such subsidies are necessary to compete.

In fact, there is no shortage of private export financing.

Indeed, the vast majority of U.S. exports — 98% — do not receive assistance from the bank. Nonetheless, U.S. exports exceeded $2.35 billion in 2017 — the second largest volume in nearly a half century.

Ex-Im is cronyism incarnate. Between 2007 and 2014, more than 65% of the bank's subsidies benefited just 10 U.S. corporations. Yet those companies — Boeing, General Electric, Bechtel among them — hardly lack access to capital. Many of these companies are themselves sources of financing for global products.

The bank's foremost beneficiary has long been Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, with a market cap of nearly $207 billion. Despite the absence of major Ex-Im Bank financing for its foreign customers, Boeing still managed (somehow!) to generate $93.4 billion in revenue last year on a record 763 commercial deliveries. The company's backlog remains robust at $488 billion, including a record 5,864 commercial aircraft.

At the same time, Boeing's own financing arm — the Boeing Capital Corporation — holds a gross customer finance and investment portfolio of more than $3 billion. According to the company's 2017 annual report, "(W)e expect alternative financing will be available at reasonable prices from broad and globally diverse sources."

The benefits provided by the bank impose costs on the rest of America. Foreign recipients of the bank's subsidies gain an artificial competitive advantage over domestic firms that go without the discount financing. Taxpayers, for their part, are on the hook for bank losses not covered by its reserves.

Ex-Im Doesn't 'Level' Playing Field

Ex-Im revivalists warn that foreign export-credit agencies (China's, in particular) will overtake America's bounty of entrepreneurial advantages. They incessantly refer to the need for "a level playing field." But there is no such thing. As the principle of comparative advantage holds, every country possesses advantages that others lack. The notion that the U.S. Ex-Im will balance the playing field of global trade is absurd.

Finance costs are only one among a variety of factors that affect a purchaser's choice of supplier. Availability, reliability and stability all play significant parts in purchase decisions. It's preposterous to worry that U.S. firms are incapable of competing successfully without corporate welfare.

In addition to Ms. Reed's confirmation, the bank still needs two new board members to create a quorum — without which the bank will remain barred from approving any transaction over $10 million. Congress reauthorized the bank's charter through September 30, 2019, and it continues to process financing for smaller deals.

There is no justification for the Senate to return Ex-Im to full operation. Export subsidies yield more harm than benefit to consumers and the companies that employ them.

  • Katzis a senior research fellow in regulatory policy for the Heritage Foundation.
  • De Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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6. Carbon Taxes Are Uneconomic And MisanthropicПт., 13 июля[−]

Recently, Real Clear Energy published a thoughtful analysis of carbon taxes authored by Vince Ginn and Jonathan Williams, allies of mine in the fight to promote individual liberty, constitutionally limited government, and U.S. energy dominance.

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As Ginn and Williams show, the case for taxing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — intentionally and misleadingly called a "carbon tax" — is fundamentally flawed and, accordingly, has been rejected every time Congress has considered one. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, President Obama and Democrats, despite having control of Congress, failed to pass climate change legislation.

Ginn and Williams rightly note a carbon tax would raise energy prices, meaning it would increase the price of almost everything. Indeed, according to a 2014 Heritage Foundation analysis, the creation of a $37-per-ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product, amounting to $21,000 in lost income per family by 2030.

In addition, a carbon tax would result in a loss of more than 1 million jobs, including 500,000 manufacturing jobs, by 2030.

Ginn and Williams also note a carbon tax is regressive, punishing the relatively poor more than middle-income or wealthy families, because the poor spend a higher portion of their incomes on energy and goods for which energy is a key component.

I have published a number of analyses of various carbon tax proposals and share Ginn and Williams' disdain of carbon taxes. Having said that, I think there is one important aspect of carbon taxes Ginn and Williams — as well as myself, previously — paid scant attention to, and truthfully, it is the most critical fact.

The only reason to discourage the use of fossil fuels is to prevent purportedly dangerous climate change, yet the best evidence — as opposed to dubious computer model predictions — suggests humans aren't causing dangerous climate change.

Almost every testable projection made by computer models concerning the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet has been proven wrong: Hurricanes aren't getting worse; sea levels are not rising at an unusual rate; Antarctica is adding ice, not losing it; scientists can show no species have been lost due to climate change; droughts continue to wax and wane as they always have; and crop production continues to set records.

Indeed, throughout human and geological history, weather has consistently been more dangerous during cooler periods than during warmer periods. It's also important to note measured temperatures are much lower than computer model predictions, indicating global temperature is likely not as affected by greenhouse gas emissions than many computer models have assumed.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every human breath contains about 40,000 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide, 100 times higher than current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. If one takes a carbon dioxide measurement in a typical college or high school classroom, he or she will find levels at 700—1,500 ppm, higher than the current 400 ppm background levels.

And the levels are as much as 12 times higher in submarines than background levels — yet no one in classrooms or submarines are dying as a result of these higher carbon dioxide concentrations.

Carbon Tax = Prosperity Tax

Government shouldn't be trying to discouraging the use of fossil fuels to restrain carbon dioxide emissions if they pose no danger to human health at any reasonably expected levels — and they clearly do not pose any danger!

Restricting the use of fossil fuels is an especially bad idea because expanding their use is the quickest, surest way to decrease poverty and increase human flourishing globally. More than one billion people don't have access to regular supplies of electricity today. Millions die prematurely from a lack of access to safe drinking water, modern transportation, and hospitals with continuously working electric lights, medical equipment, and refrigeration.

In the West, we take these necessities for granted, but they were all brought about on a large scale by the use of fossil fuels. Where coal, natural gas, and oil are in regular use, people are wealthy, and where their use is absent, poverty, disease, and hunger are rife. As a result, a carbon dioxide tax is a tax on freedom and prosperity.

There is no good time to enact bad policy and a carbon tax is one of the worst policies I can imagine, especially if you care about human well-being. It's not just uneconomic, as Ginn and Williams show, it is immoral, promoted first by misanthropes and now taken up by special interests who will profit from government largesse, even as human misery grows.

  • Burnett, Ph.D. is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill.

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7. Media, Dems Can't Find Dirt On Kavanaugh — So Instead They Throw MudПт., 13 июля[−]

Supreme Court: Now the long, hard slog of getting a Supreme Court nominee onto the bench begins. As always, Democrats, the FBI and the media have launched into an intense investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's background. And, so far, there's not much grist for the old Washington, D.C. scandal mill. But it's not for a lack of trying.

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We've found out that Kavanaugh, despite his extraordinary legal mind, is kind of a regular guy. He loves baseball. He volunteers to feed the homeless at his church. He uses his credit card too much at times. Everyone who knows him thinks he's a nice guy. Oh yes, he's a great car-pool partner. He likes the occasional beer. And he eats burgers. And, like many married men, he dotes on his two daughters and his wife.

Say, does being a regular, decent guy disqualify you from the Supreme Court?

The Washington Post red-flagged the fact that Kavanaugh racked up nearly $200,000 in credit card debt to buy season tickets to the Washington Nationals baseball team and also for "home improvements."

A big chunk of change, to be sure. But...what? It's a bit hard to argue Kavanaugh wasn't gainfully employed. The Post further makes a big deal that Kavanaugh's most recent financial form shows less than $70,000 in assets. Sound poor? Does that disqualify him from service on the Supreme Court? Do we now have an asset test for all Court nominees?

What's absurd about the "assets" is they don't include his six-figure income and generous pension from being a federal judge. Nor does it include the value of his home. We don't know what those are, but we're pretty sure the net value of both is well north of $1 million.

But, really, is this where we are today? These have nothing to do with the man's qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, unless the Post knows something we don't. It's just a way to muddy the waters, to make a fundamentally decent man seem suspect.

The Post also "reported," if that's the word, that Kavanaugh proclaimed himself Treasurer of the "Keg City Club — 100 Kegs or Bust" in his high school yearbook, and referred to the "Beach Week Ralph Club" and "Rehoboth Police Fan Club."

So, teenage hijinks are now a solid disqualification for service on the federal bench?

Of course, this is all recycled pap from Kavanaugh's approval process to be a federal judge. It's mostly all known. Why repeat it? Anything to sully a man's reputation. After all, recall how both Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were smeared by the left during their confirmation battles. Together, they were two of the most disgusting and unfair spectacles in American political history.

And give the Post credit. They printed a piece by an acquaintance of Kavanaugh, whose daughter attends the same school as Kavanaugh's daughter. The column infuriated liberals across the country. Why? It humanized Kavanaugh.

Here's the money-quote: "I'll leave it to others to gauge Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications for the Supreme Court as a jurist. But as someone who would bring to his work the traits of personal kindness, leadership and willingness to help when called on, he would receive a unanimous verdict in his favor from those who known him."

Far more serious, as the New York Times reports, is that Rod Rosenstein, the heavily conflicted deputy attorney general, has sought the help of 93 federal prosecutorsprosecutors — around the country to probe Kavanaugh's government documents.

This goes beyond due diligence. Even the Times, which can't be accused of pro-Trump partisanship on any level, was compelled to call Rosenstein's request an "unusual insertion of politics into federal law enforcement." That seems to be an understatement.

Equally sad is that liberal groups called on Kavanaugh to say what he knew about the alleged sexual harassment claims made against former Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski. Kavanaugh clerked for him in 1991.

Others resorted to ridicule, as the Washington Times notes: "We'll be DAMNED if we're going to let five MEN — including some frat boy named Brett — strip us of our hard-won bodily autonomy and reproductive rights," tweeted the pro-abortion group NARAL.

Apart from the sexism of that tweet, they have no idea how Kavanaugh would decide a hypothetical challenge to Roe V. Wade.

We understand. Many groups don't like Kavanaugh. Why? He's a Republican nominee. That's enough.

A Constitutionalist, Not An Ideologue

But he's already undergone the rigors of a government investigation into his background when he became a federal judge. Barring evidence of something extreme that would disqualify him, this is all just part of the political charade that goes with anointing a new judge.

As we've noted, when Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor went through their respective nomination processes, we don't recall such close scrutiny by the FBI. Nor do we recall the intense focus on their personal lives.

Barring something extraordinary, Kavanaugh will be approved by the Senate to take a seat on the highest court in the land. His distinguished career suggests he will let the written law, and not his personal opinions, be his guide. Based on his long distinguished career in both the law and in political Washington, he is extremely well qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

And like President Trump's other nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh will bend over backward to be fair to all. He'll base his judgments not on personal opinion, but on a careful reading of the Constitution.

America, and that includes those on the increasingly unhinged left who loathe Kavanaugh, can ask for nothing more.

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8. Hollywood Balks At Brett KavanaughПт., 13 июля[−]

No one is more upset about President Trump's second Supreme Court nomination than the liberal media ... unless it's the entertainment elites in Hollywood and Manhattan. These liberals couldn't see the flagrant hypocrisy surrounding their sentences as they unloaded their fear and loathing on television and Twitter.

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For example, notice the white male late-night comedians mocking Trump for naming a white male to the court. On ABC, Jimmy Kimmel joked Trump "narrowed his candidates down to three — but, in the end, Kavanaugh was the white man for the job." Stephen Colbert pulled a Bingo card from his pocket on CBS. "I have Trump nomination Bingo," he announced. "You see, all the squares say 'White Guy.'"

This is fascinating from the insulated world of late-night comedy shows, where all of the hosts (except for Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee) are white guys. Colbert didn't make this joke when CBS exchanged Colbert for David Letterman, and James Corden for Craig Ferguson.

Merrick Garland is another one of those white guy judges out there. But Obama nominated him, so who cares?

That's not all. Colbert also mocked the name Brett as the name of a Ruby Tuesday waiter. That's rich coming from a guy who pronounces his last name like he's the snobbish maitre'd at Le Cirque. On Twitter, Colbert claimed a senator had called Kavanaugh "the Forrest Gump of Republican politics." It would be amusing to see Colbert take on Kavanaugh in a match of intellects.

In one last stab at a late-night white guy, Conan O'Brien's sidekick Andy Richter was so alarmed he tweeted (in capital letters). "WHY DOES ANYONE TALK ABOUT THIS PRESIDENT AS IF THE FACT THAT HE'S CARRYING OUT A PUTIN-ASSIGNED CHORE LIST ISN'T AS OBVIOUS AS THE BLUE SKY?"

Earth to Andy: in Hollywood, it has long been considered a paranoid "Red Scare" to proclaim the conspiracy theory that someone in power — or in Hollywood — is a Russian agent.

This Tinseltown tweet was also painfully clueless: "I don't know what kind of a judge Brett Kavanaugh is but he and all the other white and in many cases old folks at the event looked so out of date, so out of sync with what the world is becoming. What the world needs to become. A last gasp of a way of life we're past."

This philosopher's name is Ken Olin. If you're young and have never heard of this man, he starred on an all-white ABC drama called "Thirtysomething" back in the 1980s. At 63, Olin is mocking "out of date old folks" (like Kavanaugh) who are 10 years his junior.

Then there are the anti-gun hypocrites, led by actress Julianne Moore, fresh from her role as the drug-lord supervillain in the hyperviolent movie "Kingsman: The Golden Circle." Moore tweeted: "This country cannot afford a justice on the Supreme Court who is likely to support the gun lobby's extreme, absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment."

To be a Constitutional originalist is to dabble in extremism.

For sheer lunacy, "Hellboy" star Ron Perlman compared Kavanaugh's Catholicsm to Sharia: "The move back to Medieval Values, Shariah Law even, where old, bitter men get to tell women what is best for their bodies, lives, and well being is as done a deal as this is Twitter. Unless we say NO! NO!" In these slanderous circles, it's apparently a Catholic conspiracy by the Supreme Court to impose Sharia law?

Finally, there were the loony producers who insist this democratic process is the end of democracy. "Autocracy here we come," tweeted Rob Reiner. "Even CONSIDERING this nomination will cement the first American dictatorship," added Joss Whedon.

Paging George Orwell: The Two Minutes Hate has commenced.

  • Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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9. The Kavanaugh Confirmation KabukiПт., 13 июля[−]

Theater, much like Japan's Kabuki — that's all the Supreme Court confirmation process is. Donald Trump's presentations of his two nominees, Judge Neil Gorsuch last year and Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Monday, were uncharacteristically graceful — a worthy theatrical innovation, in the view of even some Trump critics.

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Now we get to watch clips of Kavanaugh's visits to senators' offices — where he'll most likely never return to after the playacting is over — with cordial words from Republicans certain to vote for him and maybe even from Democrats certain to vote against.

Then there will be hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, presided over by the folksy but canny Chairman Chuck Grassley, with the ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, perhaps restrained by her imposition of what sounded like a constitutionally prohibited religious test for office on another judge on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist.

This process is ostensibly to enable senators to make informed decisions. But Kavanaugh is certain to invoke the 1993 precedent set by his District of Columbia Circuit predecessor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She refused to say how she'd vote in any case.

Sure, everybody knows that judges shouldn't make decisions off the tops of their heads. But everyone also knows that they have to deny ammunition to the other side and avoid doing what Judge Robert Bork unfortunately did in 1987. Supreme Court nominees for years have been very smart people, able to deftly avoid this mistake.

Of course, everyone knows the outcome of this play, just as they do when they go see "Hamlet." Praise from liberal legal scholars Akhil Reed Amar and Benjamin Wittes won't make any difference in the outcome. Kavanaugh will be confirmed, with all Republicans and perhaps a few Democrats voting in favor of his appointment.

Curiously, our constitutional republic managed to get along for 127 years without Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominees, and for the next 61, many justices were confirmed after perfunctory hearings or none at all. And since the hearing on Bork and Clarence Thomas' 1991 hearing, the confirmation process has been just theater.

Any suspense about the outcome has been eliminated by Senate Democrats' decision to end the filibuster for lower-court nominees and their threatening one against Gorsuch, which predictably led Republicans to apply their rule to Supreme Court nominees. Sometimes partisan rage leads politicians to do self-defeating things.

Journalists, too. CNN's legal expert Jeffrey Toobin quickly tweeted that Kavanaugh's confirmation would mean "abortion illegal; doctors prosecuted; gay people barred from restaurants, hotels, stores; African-Americans out of elite schools; gun control banned in 50 states; the end of regulatory state."

That's mostly silly. How many commercial establishments want to bar gay people (assuming they could identify them)? How many elite schools want to reject all black applicants?

As for abortion, Democrats have predicted that every Republican nominee would overturn Roe v. Wade. But Roe isn't even the operative precedent today. Planned Parenthood v. Casey later allowed some restrictions on abortion and recognized that medical progress might require allowing more. Assumptions that the "arc of history" will always move toward abortion are being undermined at every step by polls and practice.

Polls show stable views on abortion, with most Americans favoring additional restrictions and younger voters perhaps even more anti-abortion than their elders. And in practice, abortions are increasingly rare. The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute reports that the peak year for the ratio of abortions per female between the ages of 15 and 44 was 1982 and that the peak year for total abortions was 1990.

Since then, the number has fallen from 1.6 million annually to fewer than 1 million. Forty-four percent of abortion facilities are located in just two states, California and New York, according to one pro-life group, and 48% of abortions are performed in five — those two plus New Jersey, Florida and Illinois. A reversal of Roe and Casey would allow states to criminalize abortion, but states in which about 80% of current abortions are performed certainly wouldn't.

Toobin's tweet got one thing right. A Justice Kavanaugh, with Justice Gorsuch and others, might produce a consequential change in eroding or overturning the high court's 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which requires courts to defer to regulatory agencies' interpretation of statutes. Reversal would require Congress to make hard choices rather than punt to unaccountable and anonymous regulators. That resembles moves by some members of Congress who want to reclaim the right to make trade policy rather than leave it to the president. The result might be fewer and more transparent laws.

But that's a subject for later columns, after the confirmation playacting ends and Kavanaugh takes his seat with his eight new colleagues.

  • Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

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10. Starbucks' Straw Ban Won't Help The Planet, But Will Hurt The DisabledПт., 13 июля[−]

Corporate Correctness: Starbucks won raves from environmentalists for its ban on straws. But while a strawless Starbucks won't do anything to help the environment, it will discriminate against the disabled. Virtue signaling can be a tricky business.

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Under pressure from environmentalists, the coffee giant says that it will replace plastic straws with sippy-cup style lids at all of its stores by 2020. The company isn't the first to do so, although it is the biggest. Hilton and Marriott hotels said they're removing plastic straws at many of their hotels. American Airlines said it will get rid of plastic straws starting this November. Various cities have or plan to impose bans.

Why have straws become the b?te noire of the green lobby and progressive CEOs? Because some straws end up in the ocean.

We'll concede that polluting the oceans with plastic is bad. But environmentalists aggressively pushing this straw ban are using phony statistics while ignoring the real problem.

Almost every story on banning plastic straws cites the same statistic — that Americans use 500 million straws a day — which is based on a 9-year-old's "research" project he did in 2011. (A more reliable estimate is 175 million.)

Whatever the number, straw bans in the U.S. will have virtually no impact on the world's plastic pollution problem. Not only do straws represent a tiny portion of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, but the U.S. itself accounts for less than 1% of the marine plastic in the world's oceans, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Science. Europe's coastal countries, by contrast, account for almost 3%.

Just five countries — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka — are responsible for more than half of the plastic entering the ocean each year.

That's because, unlike those other countries, the U.S. has better waste management systems in place — which keeps most of our trash in landfills or recycling centers, and out of the oceans. The Science study notes that just 2% of the waste in the U.S. is "mismanaged," compared with 76% in China, 90% in North Korea, 88% in Vietnam, and 87% in India.

Another study, published in Environmental Science & Technology late last year, found that the Yangtze River alone dumps 1.5 million metric tons of plastic into the ocean a year — roughly 19% of the world's annual total.

Given these realities, eliminating straws from a few hotels and Starbucks chains won't even amount to, pardon the expression, a drop in the ocean.

What's more, Starbucks will likely end up using more plastic after the ban than before.

According to Reason magazine's Christian Britschgi, the replacement lid Starbucks is likely to use contains up to 15% more plastic by weight than the current lid-and-straw combo. Starbucks, he reports, did not address, nor did it dispute, that its transition to strawless lids would increase its overall plastic consumption.

Discriminating Against The Disabled

But while Starbucks' ban will do nothing for the environment, it will bring harm to the disabled community, who have been speaking out more aggressively against straw bans.

"Plastic straws are an accessible way for people with certain disabilities to consume food and drinks, and it seems the blanket bans are not taking into account that they need straws and also that plastic straw replacements are not accessible to people." Katherine Carroll, policy analyst at the Rochester, New York-based Center for Disability Rights, told Time magazine.

Karin Hitselberger, a disability advocate in Washington, D.C., writes in the Washington Post that she and other "people with a huge range of disabilities depend on plastic straws to access beverages and the very water they need to survive: cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, among many others."

"For so many people with disabilities," she goes on, "something as mundane as a straw represents independence and freedom. And the conversation around their environmental impact, without consideration of who uses straws and why, demonstrates how people with disabilities are often forgotten."

So, congratulations Starbucks and all the rest of the woke companies and cities now engaged in the battle against Big Straw. You might someday spare a sea turtle from getting a straw stuck in its nose.

But you're doing so at the expense of some of the most vulnerable human beings in the country.

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11. Was Mueller's Appointment Unconstitutional?Чт., 12 июля[−]

The president, who might not be fully acquainted with the pertinent Supreme Court case law, says the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel was unconstitutional. The president's opinion, because it is his, is prima facie evidence for the opposite conclusion. It is, however, not sufficient evidence. Consider the debate between two serious people who have immersed themselves in the history of the Appointments Clause, which says:

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"(The president) shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments."

The debate turns on the distinction the Supreme Court has drawn between "inferior" and "principal" officers. If Mueller is among the latter, his appointment was invalid because he was neither nominated by the president — he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — nor confirmed by the Senate. Steven G. Calabresi, professor at Northwestern University Law School and co-founder of the Federalist Society, argues as follows:

By "long-standing practice," Congress and the executive branch give principal-officer status to all "important and powerful" officials, even those who have a boss who can fire them. In 1976, the Supreme Court invalidated the law that created the Federal Election Commission to be composed of two members nominated by the president, two by the speaker of the House and two by the president pro tempore of the Senate. The court held that all six must be nominated by the president as principal officers.

Mueller, says Calabresi, is much more important and powerful than an FEC member. Congress has stipulated that the 93 U.S. attorneys are principal officers, and Mueller has, Calabresi says, "acted and has behaved like," and is "much more powerful than," any U.S. attorney. Compare, for example, Mueller's job relative to that of the U.S. attorney for Wyoming. Mueller has "nationwide jurisdiction" and powers (e.g., to indict foreign citizens and corporations "without clearance from (the Justice Department)") that have had "a major effect on" U.S. foreign policy, powers that "in effect and in practice" are "akin to" those exercised by an assistant attorney general, a principal officer. Mueller has been "without any real supervision" by Rosenstein, "who has treated Mueller as if he was 'independent.'"

Furthermore, Calabresi says Mueller cannot be an inferior officer because "Congress has not, by law vested in the attorney general, the power to appoint special counsels to investigate wrongdoing" by high officials. The Appointments Clause creates a "default rule" that all U.S. officers are principal officers and it takes an "affirmative action" — a statute — to empower the attorney general to appoint a special counsel as an inferior officer, which Congress has not passed. The 1978 law that vested in a special court the power to appoint independent counsels expired in 1999.

Writing in vigorous rebuttal, George Conway, a New York lawyer (whose wife Kellyanne works for the president who hopes Calabresi is correct), argues that Calabresi incorrectly asserts that Mueller must be a principal officer because he does not have a supervising and directing boss. Conway says:

Rosenstein has testified to Congress that he is "exercising my oversight responsibilities" concerning Mueller, with whom he has "ongoing discussion," who "consults with me" about his investigation, and who has "received my permission" regarding the scope of the investigation.

So Mueller, like an inferior officer, has "a boss" by whom he is "directed and supervised," and whose "orders" Mueller is "faithfully following." No presidential power has been diminished because Mueller's mission was defined by a regulation written within the supervising executive branch. And although U.S. attorneys are principal officers, vacancies in the 93 offices can be filled for 120 days by the attorney general without Senate involvement and then "indefinitely" by district courts. Calabresi replies: 100 senators would have conniptions were U.S. attorneys treated as inferior officers not requiring senatorial consent.

Two intelligent lawyers disagree about this momentous matter, concerning which the Supreme Court's nine justices might eventually be dispositive. If Mueller's appointment is challenged, and the case gets to the court, and five justices reason as Calabresi does, Mueller's subpoenas, indictments and other acts will be null and void.


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12. U.S. CO2 Levels Drop Again — So Why Aren't Green Groups Rejoicing?Чт., 12 июля[−]

Global Warming: Once more, science provides bad news for global warming alarmists. U.S. CO2 levels again declined during 2017, despite overall global output again rising. Credit U.S. fracking and the natural gas boom. But don't worry: the hysteria won't end.

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The new report, based on U.S. data, shows clearly the U.S. continuing downward trend.

"The U.S. emitted 15.6 metric tons of CO2 per person in 1950," wrote the Daily Caller. "After rising for decades, it's declined in recent years to 15.8 metric tons per person in 2017, the lowest measured levels in 67 years."

That's right. 67 years. Green groups and leftist climate extremists should be exulting. The U.S. has found a way to produce more GDP — making all of us better off — with less energy.

Meanwhile, Europe has imposed massive economy-deadening regulations on its economies in order to reduce CO2 output. How has that worked?

Last year, European output of CO2 rose 1.5%, while U.S. output fell 0.5%. For the record, the disaster predicted when President Trump left the Paris climate agreement and rejected draconian EPA restrictions on power plants hasn't materialized. On the contrary, the U.S. model has been shown to be superior.

This isn't the first time we've reported the ongoing decline in U.S. CO2. And if current trends hold, it won't be the last. And, to be sure, it is a long-term trend.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest energy report notes that, from 2005 to 2017, U.S. energy related emissions of carbon dioxide plunged by 861 million metric tons, a 14% drop. It's both a result of the decline due to the Great Recession and the fracking revolution.

The EIA forecast expects a slight uptick over the next two years in the U.S. as the economy continues its Trump boom. But it will still be way below where it was 13 years ago.

Question: Over the same period, how did the rest of the world do? Emissions rose by 21% to 6.04 billion metric tons over the 12 years, mostly due to booming economic growth in India and China, where coal-fired energy output continues to expand.

The truth, and it's proven by the hard data, is that CO2 made in the USA will not choke the world to death or cause it to massively overheat. And you can thank capitalism for that.

Because capitalism, unlike socialism and its welfare-state kin, hates waste. So it does all it can to be efficient. That means using as little energy as possible to make things. And this predates any of the current CO2 hysteria.

In the U.S., the data are clear and utterly convincing: In 1949, it took 1,098 metric tons of CO2 emissions to produce $1 million in GDP in the U.S., after adjusting for inflation. Today, it takes just 301 metric tons to produce that same million dollars, after inflation — a 73% gain in carbon-efficiency.

Indeed, we're actually decarbonizing our economy, and rapidly.

As new technologies continue to emerge, including better battery storage for alternative energy sources, safer nuclear power plants, and the fracking revolution that continues to make natural gas the energy of choice for conventional power plants, U.S. CO2 output is likely to continue to decline for every dollar of GDP produced.

Instead of being harshly criticized by green groups and Euro-socialists, as has been the case for three decades now, we should be the model for green growth. When it comes to CO2, the U.S. is the leader. The rest of the world is the laggard. That's a fact.

If any green groups have had the guts to come forward and laud this truly phenomenal development, we haven't heard it. We did a Google search and couldn't find a single instance of an identifiable green group applauding the U.S.' extraordinary performance on CO2. None.

Green Grumblings

Instead, we continue to hear the same dark grumblings and prognostications of doom that never come true. That includes the mainstream media, too.

You might remind your less-than-informed friends the next time they criticize America's greenhouse gas output: Not only is the U.S. the only major country that is cutting output, but it is providing a roadmap for how to do it.

Time for the green hypocrites to stop talking, and start doing. Or to admit that it has nothing to do with climate change at all, and everything to do with an extreme-left political agenda masquerading as earth-friendly environmentalism.

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13. Reciprocity Is The Method To Trump's Madness On NATO, Trade, Etc.Чт., 12 июля[−]

Critics of Donald Trump claim there is no rhyme or reason to his foreign policy. But if there is a consistency, it might be called reciprocity.

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Trump tries to force other countries to treat the U.S. as it treats them. In "don't tread on me" style, he also warns enemies that any aggressive act will be replied to in kind.

The underlying principle of Trump commercial reciprocity it that the United States is no longer powerful or wealthy enough to alone underwrite the security of the West. It can no longer assume sole enforcement of the rules and protocols of the postwar global order.

This year there have been none of the usual Iranian provocations — frequent during the Obama administration — of harassing American ships in the Persian Gulf. Apparently, the Iranians now realize that anything they do to an American ship will be replied to with overwhelming force.

Ditto North Korea. After lots of threats from Kim Jong Un about using his new ballistic missiles against the United States, Trump warned that he would use America's far greater arsenal to eliminate North Korea's arsenal for good.

Trump is said to be undermining NATO by questioning its usefulness some 69 years after its founding. Yet unlike 1948, Germany is no longer down. The United States is always in. And Russia is hardly out, but instead cutting energy deals with the Europeans.

More importantly, most NATO countries have failed to keep their promises to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.

Yet the vast majority of the 29 alliance members are far closer than the U.S. to the dangers of Middle East terrorism and supposed Russian bullying.

Why does Germany by design run up a $65 billion annual trade surplus with the United States? Why does such a wealthy country spend only 1.2% of its GDP on defense? And if Germany has entered into energy agreements with a supposedly dangerous Vladimir Putin, why does it still need to have its security subsidized by the American military?

Trump approaches NAFTA in the same reductionist way. The 24-year-old treaty was supposed to stabilize, if not equalize, all trade, immigration and commerce between the three supposed North American allies.

It never quite happened that way. Unequal tariffs remained. Both Canada and Mexico have substantial trade surpluses with the U.S. In Mexico's case, it enjoys a $71 billion surplus, the largest of U.S. trading partners with the exception of China.

Canada never honored its NATO security commitment. It spends only 1% of its GDP on defense, rightly assuming that the U.S. will continue to underwrite its security.

During the lifetime of NAFTA, Mexico has encouraged millions of its citizens to enter the U.S. illegally. Mexico's selfish immigration policy is designed to avoid internal reform, to earn some $30 billion in annual expatriate remittances, and to influence U.S. politics.

Yet after more than two decades of NAFTA, Mexico is more unstable than ever. Cartels run entire states. Murders are at a record high. Entire towns in southern Mexico have been denuded of their young males, who crossed the U.S. border illegally.

The U.S. runs a huge trade deficit with China. The red ink is predicated on Chinese dumping, patent and copyright infringement, and outright cheating. Beijing illegally occupies neutral islands in the South China Sea, militarizes them and bullies it neighbors.

All of the above has become the "normal" globalized world.

But in 2016, red-state America rebelled at the asymmetry. The other half of the country demonized the red-staters as protectionists, nativists, isolationists, populists and nationalists.

However, if China, Europe and other U.S. trading partners had simply followed global trading rules, there would have been no Trump pushback — and probably no Trump presidency at all.

Had NATO members and NAFTA partners just kept their commitments, and had Mexico not encouraged millions of its citizens to crash the U.S. border, there would now be little tension between allies.

Instead, what had become abnormal was branded the new normal of the postwar world.

Again, a rich and powerful U.S. was supposed to subsidize world trade, take in more immigrants than all the nations of the world combined, protect the West, and ensure safe global communications, travel and commerce.

After 70 years, the effort had hollowed out the interior of America, creating two separate nations of coastal winners and heartland losers.

Trump's entire foreign policy can be summed up as a demand for symmetry from all partners and allies, and tit-for-tat replies to would-be enemies.

Did Trump have to be so loud and often crude in his effort to bully America back to reciprocity?

Who knows?

But it seems impossible to imagine that globalist John McCain, internationalist Barack Obama or gentlemanly Mitt Romney would ever have called Europe, NATO, Mexico, and Canada to account, or warned Iran or North Korea that tit would be met by tat.

  • Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books.

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14. Income Tax Revenues Are Up 9% This Year — Is Trump Tax Cut Paying For Itself?Ср., 11 июля[−]

Supply-Side Economics: Democrats scoffed at Republicans who said the Trump tax cuts would at least partially pay for themselves through higher economic growth. But it looks like the GOP had it right all along, as revenues climb.

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The latest monthly budget report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finds that revenues from federal income taxes were $76 billion higher in the first half of this year, compared with the first half of 2017. That's a 9% jump, even though the lower income tax withholding schedules went into effect in February.

The CBO says the gain "largely reflects increases in wages and salaries."

For the fiscal year as a whole — which started last October — all federal revenues are up by $31 billion. That's a 1.2% in increase over last year, the CBO says.

The Treasury Department, which issues a separate monthly report, says it expects federal revenues will continue to exceed last year's for the rest of the 2018 fiscal year.

But wait a minute. According to Democrats, the Trump tax cuts were supposed to blow a massive hole in the deficit.

Last November, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised that "this thing will explode the deficit."

She also said that "after the Republicans' tax plan blows a multi-trillion-dollar hole in the deficit, they will sharpen their knives for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and vital job-creating investments for middle class families."

Even now, Pelosi is sticking to her guns. In June, she called it "the deficit-exploding GOP tax scam for the rich."

All along, Republicans countered that the tax cuts would spur additional economic growth, which would generate additional revenues, which would offset at least some of the cost of the tax cuts.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's response to that? "It's just made-up, fake math to hide another deficit-busting tax cut to benefit the wealthiest Republicans."

Look at what's happened since the tax cuts went into effect.

Economists hiked their projections for growth this year once the tax cuts passed. The CBO changed its 2018 forecast from 2% before the tax cuts passed to 3.3% after they took effect. In that same report, the CBO admitted that this added growth would offset a significant chunk of the tax cuts.

Other Democratic big lies about the tax cuts continue to fall.

  • They called the tax cuts a giveaway to the rich. But the rich will end up paying a bigger share of income taxes because of the Trump tax plan.
  • They said workers wouldn't benefit, but millions got bonuses, raises, and improved benefits because of the corporate tax cuts. And real median household income is now at all-time highs.
  • Democrats also said that tax cuts would do nothing about the $2.9 trillion in profits that corporations had parked overseas.

In fact, corporations are bringing hundreds of billions of dollars in profits back as a direct result of changes in the corporate tax laws — 12% of the nearly $3 trillion held overseas came back to the U.S. in just the first three months of 2018. That will mean more economic growth and additional corporate revenues.

It's the Spending, Stupid

As we have said many times in this space, the problem the country faces isn't that taxes are too low, but that spending is too high. The CBO projects that even with the Trump tax cuts in place, taxes as a share of GDP will steadily rise over the next decade, and will be higher than the post-World War II average.

But bringing in more tax revenues doesn't help if spending goes up even faster. And that has, unfortunately, been the case, as the GOP-controlled Congress has gone on a spending spree.

Look at it this way. Tax revenues are up by $31 billion so far this fiscal year compared with last year. But spending is up $115 billion.

In other words, the entire increase in the deficit so far this year has been due to spending hikes, not tax cuts.

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15. Why Aren't Wages Rising Faster?Ср., 11 июля[−]

It's a mystery. The U.S. economy seems strong. Since the nadir of the Great Recession, employers have added about 19 million workers. The unemployment rate is 4%, near the lowest level since 2000. By standard economic theory, the strong demand for labor should be pushing up wages. But that isn't happening. Wage gains of 2.7% roughly match inflation.

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And no one really knows why.

The puzzle is not just American. It also applies to much of Europe and Japan. "Wage growth is still missing in action," declares a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Worse, the "unprecedented wage stagnation is not evenly distributed across workers." While wages of the top 1% are growing, they're stagnating for most others. Inequality and resentment worsen.

Nor does the media agree on what's happening. Many publications have run stories exploring the wage puzzle. But others, notably The Wall Street Journal, have reported that labor markets are stronger than they seem. "Workers Welcome Wage Gains, But Companies Feel Squeeze," said one recent Journal headline. "Hiring Boom Draws Workers Back," said another.

According to government figures, there are now 6.7 million job openings — a record high — and "the rate at which workers are quitting their jobs is higher than it was before the onset of the Great Recession," writes economist Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute in a column for Bloomberg. Still, as yet, wages haven't exploded. One intriguing theory asserts that psychology and norms have changed, writes Strain.

"People who entered the labor market during and after the Great Recession have lived through some rough times and don't have strong memories of better times," he writes. "I'm sure that many workers — both relatively new entrants and those with long experience — have had moments when they felt lucky to have a job at all. Even though the economy has been strengthening for years, are workers reluctant to go into the boss's office and ask for a raise? Likewise, are employers used to resisting increases in their payroll obligations."

Maybe.

Strain admits that this is just a guess, and finding corroborating evidence is hard. He also usefully lists other theories. With thanks and apologies to him, here's a summary of his summary.

(1) There's more "slack" in labor markets than standard employment statistics indicate. People who had given up looking for work are re-entering the job market. More than 5 million people say they'd like a job but aren't counted in the labor market because they're not looking.

(2) Demographics — the aging of American society — distort reported wage changes. As well-paid baby-boom workers retire, they're being replaced by younger and not-so-well paid workers, even though their wages may be rising. But the effect is diluted by the loss of retirees' high wages.

(3) Employers are competing for workers "using levers other than wages" — better fringe benefits, signing bonuses, laxer overall standards in hiring. Although these have economic value, they don't boost wages.

(4) Some employers refrained from cutting wages during the worst of the recession and are now trying to offset these higher costs by delaying new wage increases.

(5) There is no problem — only a misinterpretation of economic data. Strain cites a study by Adam Ozimek of Moody's Analytics that examined the "employment rate" (the share of a population with a job), as opposed to the unemployment rate, and found that wages are "growing at a pace you would expect." Similarly, slow productivity growth implies slow wage growth.

Strain declares himself impressed but not convinced. Stay tuned to see which of these theories — or something different — is best vindicated by events.

  • Samuelson has written about business and economic issues for the Washington Post since 1977.

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16. Subsidies Galore: Corporate Welfare For Politically-Connected Businesses Is BipartisanСр., 11 июля[−]

Congress created the usual special interest frenzy with its latest iteration of the Farm Bill. Agricultural subsidies are one of the most important examples of corporate welfare, money handed out to businesses based on political connections.

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Business plays a vital role in a free market. In real capitalism there are no guaranteed profits. But corporate welfare eliminates this handicap for the well-connected.

Business subsidies that allow politicians to channel economic resources toward their preferred ends distort investment and trade. Moreover, turning government into an engine of illicit profit encourages what economists call rent-seeking. Well-organized special interests usually triumph over the broader public and national interest.

Aid comes in many forms.

Agriculture has spawned a gaggle of sometimes bizarre subsidies. Like a dairy program which created milk surpluses, in turn encouraging state price fixing, generating massive cheese stockpiles, in turn triggering giveaways to the poor. Payments, loans, crop insurance, import quotas, and more underwrite farmers.

Money also goes to agricultural enterprises through the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, which supports "business development." The recently defeated Farm Bill even included $65 million in special health care subsidies for agricultural associations. Ironically, farm households enjoy higher median income and wealth than non-farm households.

The Market Access Program is one of several initiatives to subsidize agricultural exports. Other programs support general trade and investment.

For instance, the Export-Import Bank is known as Boeing's Bank. It provides cheap credit for foreign buyers of American products. Which, ironically, gives foreign firms an advantage over U.S. producers who must pay full fare. Ex-Im's biggest beneficiary in recent years has been China, especially its state-owned firms.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation underwrites U.S. investment in potentially unstable nations. If the project pays off, investors win. If not, the rest of us lose. Why should the public guarantee investor profits?

At the other end of the commercial spectrum is the Small Business Administration. Smaller firms are a vital part of the American economy but they are not an underserved market. There is no dearth of, say, liquor stores. SBA is a response to a political opportunity, not an economic need.

Much corporate welfare is disguised in broader terms. The Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration subsidizes "development" in "distressed communities," meaning the agency underwrites business, with dubious results. There are some 180 federal pork barrel "economic development" programs.

The Rural Utilities Service (formerly the Rural Electrification Administration), continues, never mind that rural America got electricity decades ago. Today RUS has expanded into Broadband internet and even television service.

The Bureau of Land Management (mis)manages federal lands, subsidizing use of rangeland by ranchers, for instance. There are incentives for airline companies to serve small markets. Foreign Military Financing is presented as a national defense measure, but in most cases the chief beneficiaries are arms makers.

Housing subsidies are many, most notably mortgage support and tax preferences, though the latter was trimmed by last year's tax bill. The Trump administration is pushing subsidies for what the president calls "beautiful" coal power plants.

Federal research and development offers bountiful benefits to business. The more basic the R&D, the better the argument that the public interest is being served. The closer to commercialization, the more the expenditures are essentially corporate welfare.

For example, the Obama administration funneled $535 million worth of loan guarantees to Solyndra, which President Barack Obama called an "engine of economic growth." The company filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

Tesla Syndrome

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program provides $25 billion in loans for development of cars powered by alternative fuels. Tesla is a major beneficiary. Some firms enjoy multiple benefits.

Although most public attention falls on direct expenditures, trade "protection" is no less a form of corporate welfare. Both tariffs and quotas allow domestic manufacturers to charge more. Tariffs and other fees alone come to around $40 billion a year.

Tax preferences are another means of corporate welfare. Buried in the tax code, they often are difficult to identify, Measures which affect only one firm or industry, in contrast to those with general economic impact, should be treated as subsidies. The Tax Foundation once figured "special tax provisions" to cost more than $100 billion annually in lost revenue.

States and localities also offer subsidies, many through grants, free property, and tax preferences to attract businesses to a particular area. Estimates of these costs run between around $50 billion and $80 billion.

Few in Washington really want to cut spending. But ending corporate welfare would be a start to restoring fiscal sanity in Washington.

  • Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special sssistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of "The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington." Adapted from a longer article in The American Conservative magazine.

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17. What's Brewing In The Golden State? Protect Coffee From Prop. 65Ср., 11 июля[−]

California's coffee may not necessitate a cancer warning after all.

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The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the office that oversees Proposition 65, recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that could effectively exempt coffee from Prop 65's onerous requirements.

In OEHHA's own words: "Exposures to Proposition 65-listed chemicals in coffee that are produced as part of and inherent in the processes of roasting coffee beans and brewing coffee pose no significant risk of cancer."

OEHHA is correct to side with science. According to the federal government's own dietary guidelines, moderate coffee consumption is not only "(un)associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases (e.g. cancer)," but it can actually be incorporated into healthy living styles to "maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease."

The World Health Organization dropped coffee from its list of possible carcinogens two years ago, noting that moderate coffee consumption can actually lower cancer risk because coffee beans contain healthy antioxidants. As Dana Loomis, an official at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), explained at the time, "There is less reason for concern today than there was before."

IARC's optimism is justified by the latest empirical evidence. Most recently, two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine tracked the coffee intake of more than 600,000 individuals over 16 years. Researchers concluded that coffee drinkers experience lower risk of death from heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke, and — you guessed it — even cancer.

Coffee remains on Prop 65's list of flagged substances because of acrylamide, a flavorless chemical naturally produced when coffee beans are roasted. Although mega-doses of acrylamide have been linked to cancer in rodents, the National Cancer Institute has found "no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer" in human beings.

The fact that coffee remains on the target list — in the face of overwhelming evidence — is a testament to Prop 65's longstanding overreach. The law requires warnings for nearly 900 individual chemicals, many of which arguably have no demonstrable link to cancer. Indeed, the American Cancer Society notes that "not every compound labeled as a possible cancer-causing substance has been proven to the worldwide scientific community to actually cause cancer."

Prop 65 warning signs would impose onerous labeling requirements on small and large businesses that are located in both California and across our country, who supply coffee to California businesses, their customers, and workers. Mandated warning signage also leaves them vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits, which eventually raises costs for the end consumer.

The financial fallout from a Prop 65 violation ranges from $2,500 a day per violation — such as improper warning notices — to product recalls and the payment of plaintiff's attorney fees. Since the law's inception in 1986, roughly 20,000 Prop 65-related lawsuits have been filed against small businesses, which have been forced to pay out more than $500 million in settlements.

This diverts resources to court dates and legal fees, when they should be spent powering Californians with freshly brewed coffee, as well as creating jobs and more inspiring, productive work environments.

Prop 65's Coffee Victims

Prop 65 threatens California's entire convenience services industry, whose vendors bring coffee — as well as tea, water, fresh food, and more — to employers and employees throughout the Golden State. In California, the convenience services industry delivers well over $700 million in total economic impact, employing more than 3,600 service operators, machine manufacturers, and brokers whom would be negatively impacted by an overreach of Prop 65 into coffee regulation.

Why hassle employers with Prop 65 regulations that have no basis in science?

If anything, warning labels on coffee beans desensitize Californians to the real health risks posed by other substances. As the Los Angeles Times editorial board recently concluded: "The measure is so broad, its warnings may actually make it harder for Californians to assess the real dangers they encounter."

OEHHA should move forward with relieving coffee of its Prop 65 burden once and for all. Protect us from actual carcinogens, and leave consumers' coffee alone.

  • Balakgie is president and CEO of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, based in Chicago, Ill. (with an active state council organization, California Automatic Vendors Association).
  • Steuber is the owner of Associated Services, a family-owned coffee supplier based in San Leandro, Calif.

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18. Trump Just Gave NATO A Wake-Up Call — Will Europe Pick Up?Ср., 11 июля[−]

NATO: For Eurocrats, there never seems to be any downside to insulting President Trump, a man the EU's suave socialists love to hate. It has been on display as Trump prepares to meet with his fellow NATO members during his trip to Europe.

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Typical was the snarky, disrespectful reception for Trump prepared by European Council President Donald Tusk, on the eve of the much-awaited NATO meeting: "First of all, dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many."

Tusk went on, talking about how Trump was "criticizing Europe almost daily for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defense capabilities, and for living off the U.S."

He meant it to be snide and sarcastic. But Tusk's criticism is notable because, in fact, Trump's comments happen to too true. It's been an open secret for decades.

The European Union has used hefty U.S. defense spending and its willingness to send American troops into harm's way to protect Europe. It is in effect a kind of social welfare subsidy: We spend money on arms, they build ever-more generous welfare states.

And then, from the safety of their left-leaning think tanks, universities and EU bureaucracies, they complain about American "militarism," "imperialism," and "aggression."

It's getting tiresome, but it bears repeating. NATO's 28 members are required by the treaty that established the mutual defense organization to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.

In 2016, President Obama's final year in office, the U.S. spent 3.6% of its GDP on defense, Greece 2.4%, the U.K. 2.2%, Estonia 2.16% and Poland 2%. Everyone else was below 2%. Everyone.

And note that those that are pulling their weight are among Europe's poorest nations. The others should be ashamed, but shame is in short supply in Europe these days.

It's the equivalent of going to a group dinner and, when presented with the check, having 23 diners come up short on the bill. And then ridiculing those who make up the difference.

This year, after President Trump's repeated criticisms, NATO's "burden-sharing" will be better, but only marginally so. Just eight members will reach that lofty 2% goal. Remember, the U.S. has always exceeded it.

A recent commentary on the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) web site admits as much.

"European and American experts alike, including Trump's staunchest foes, admit that the president has a point and that Europeans should spend more on defense," write Jeremy Shapiro.

A heart-felt mea culpa? Hardly. Shapiro, ECFR's director of research and an adjunct fellow at the Brookings Institution, goes on to accuse Trump of "bullying."

If that's bullying, Europe deserves it. Europe's welfare states have never lived up to their part in the defense bargain. In the 1990s, when President Clinton was in office, European NATO forces were embarrassed at not being able to handle a conflict in the Balkans, right outside the EU's border. American airpower had to be brought in to end the conflict.

Today, the media and internet web sites remember it as a "NATO" triumph. But the fact is, no U.S., no NATO.

If Europe learned anything from that conflict, it's not apparent. A piece in The National Interest last week, citing the German magazine Der Spiegel, carried the headline: " Germany's Air Force Is Dying a Slow Death." It notes that the air force of Germany, continental Europe's wealthiest nation, has 128 Eurofighter Typhoons, a potentially potent force. Unfortunately, "only about ten of the aircraft are ready for operations."

You can bet with Germany's Angela Merkel preoccupied with Brexit, NATO, a wave of immigration, and a growing political challenge from the Trump-like German right, the German Luftwaffe is pretty low on her list of priorities. And they're the wealthy ones. In nation after nation, other wealthy Europeans have made common defense a low priority.

Maybe it's an end-of-civilization death wish: they think invasion and eventual takeover by uninvited invaders would be a good idea.

At any rate, the U.S. has a minimal 30,000 troop presence in Europe today as a token commitment to Europe's defense.

NATO Overmatched By Russia

But, according to globalfirepower.com, Russia, Europe's most likely adversary in a conventional war or conflict, has 766,000 men under arms, with another two million or so in reserve. Europe simply isn't ready to defend itself, and despite U.S. spending on NATO over the years, our presence there isn't big enough to repel a major Russian incursion.

And that doesn't include the various NATO engagements in the Mideast and elsewhere, as part of the ongoing battle against terrorist activities.

The point is, Europe's NATO members must boost their efforts to defend themselves and carry their weight. These nations are still capable of excellence: A look at the final four nations in the World Cup soccer final are all NATO members. It's a matter of priorities.

We know, President Trump's brusque tough-love is about as far away from the genteel, class-conscious European diplomatic sensibility as an American leader can get. But NATO's European members — Turkey, once a valued member, now a pariah, should be kicked out — need to listen to Trump. Europe is endangering itself and its allies by its lackadaisical defense posture. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away.

Time to pay up, and make NATO a true common defense force, or admit NATO is a shell of its former self, and dismantle it.

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19. The Media Vs. Brett KavanaughСр., 11 июля[−]

Supreme Court retirements under President Trump cause an extra measure of heartburn for Democrats. They nominated Hillary Clinton and her seven-mile train of scandalous baggage for president, and that's jake. They elected Bill Clinton as president, who perjured himself and sullied his office. Not a problem.

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The one guarantee with Trump appointing Judge Brett Kavanaugh is that the Democrats, fueled by their mindless street mobs, will try to destroy him. It's how Democrats behave. It is not how the "news" media should behave. Is there anyone who disputes that? But it is how they will comport themselves, because they are one with their Democratic brothers and sisters.

One by one, leftist Democrats have been making preposterous comments since the moment Trump made his announcement. Sen. Kamala Harris, for instance, immediately described Kavanaugh as a deadly threat, saying, "his nomination presents an existential threat to the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans."

The "news" media reaction to Democratic rants? Nothing but airtime.

Leftist websites like the Daily Beast presented Trump's short list of candidates as a plot by "Catholic fundamentalist" puppet masters. Where are the news reports about Kavanaugh being slandered for his Catholic faith? To beat this old saw, what if National Review had attacked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's nomination as a plot led by Zionist puppet masters? You could have heard journalist heads explode.

Instead, reporters like NPR's Nina Totenberg — who not only smeared Associate Justice Clarence Thomas with unsubstantiated sexual harassment bilge but also openly allies herself in public appearances with Justice Ginsburg these days — are warning that Kennedy's retirement will be the "end of the world as we know it," leading to "a hardcore conservative majority of a kind not seen probably in three-quarters of a century."

To conservatives, that sounds great. But this reaction underlines why people don't trust the liberal-media fun house anymore. Under President Obama, the Democrats tried to socialize health care with Obamacare. They pushed same-sex marriage, and the Supreme Court imposed it on 50 states. Obama also imposed radical federal "guidance" on public schools with "inclusive" policies for transgender students.

Our liberal TV anchors and taxpayer-funded Totenbergs never described all this as the "end of the world as we know it." It wasn't the work of a "hardcore leftist" administration. But now the idea of reversing any of this is called a shift "sharply to the right."

Serenading Sotomayor

When Obama nominated then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor and then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the court, no journalists talked about extremes. They gushed like schoolgirls. Try ABC's Claire Shipman (Mrs. Jay Carney) on Sotomayor nine years ago. This sounds like an Obama campaign advertisement: "Even as a little girl, growing up in a drug-ridden South Bronx housing project, stricken with juvenile diabetes, she had that trademark knack: Instead of seeing dead ends, young Sonia saw possibilities. ... She's also an avid Yankees fan, a mean guacamole maker and a fierce biker."

Sotomayor sits at the left-wing extreme of the Supreme Court, but at her confirmation hearings, the networks were in denial. Jan Crawford Greenburg at ABC said, "Sotomayor ... calmly, persistently, repeatedly ... described herself differently, sounding almost conservative."

But any research seems to bring us back to the eternally shameless Totenberg. She said of Sotomayor, "In fact, on a lot of criminal law issues, you could say that she's more conservative than some members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia."

When Kagan was nominated in 2010, Totenberg took to NPR and — we're not making this up — put on the theme song of the "Superman" TV show from the '50s to compare Kagan, the former Harvard Law School dean, to Superman: "Kagan, who can raise money by the millions! Kagan, who can end the faculty wars over hiring! Kagan, who won the hearts of students ... !"

They are about to show the world what first-class hypocrites they really are.

  • Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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20. Millions Dead, Constitution Destroyed, And Other Ridiculous Predictions About Supreme Court Nominee Brett KavanaughСр., 11 июля[−]

Accountability: Even before President Trump announced his pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, predictions of doom and gloom were rampant. They'll only get more dire as Brett Kavanaugh's nomination battle proceeds. Will anyone hold these people accountable for their unfounded, irresponsible, uninformed scaremongering claims?

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As a public service, we've been collecting some of the more fantastical forecasts about the hellscape that Judge Kavanaugh will unleash on the country should he make it to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, political leaders and the media can get away with such outlandish claims because nobody bothers to follow up. They just make a new round of dire predictions.

We think that needs to change. So we encourage readers to print and save this for future reference. See if any of them come to pass with Kavanaugh on the bench. Hold the scaremongers accountable.

Hemorrhaging rights

"If Kavanaugh is confirmed, we could see progress rolled back on many issues including the right of women to make their own medical decisions, voting rights, rights of workers to organize for better wages and working conditions, the principle of equal justice under the law & more." Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., who is another likely contender for the Democratic nomination.

"If confirmed, American citizens will hemorrhage basic rights, and corporations will have an open door for a hostile takeover."Tom Steyer, billionaire Democratic financier.

"If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court it will have a profoundly negative effect on workers' rights, women's rights and voting rights for decades to come."Sen. Bernie Sanders, Socialist-Vt.

"A woman's right to choose is on the line, LGBTQ rights could be rolled back, affordable health care could be brought down, fair housing, consumer protections and environmental protections could all be decimated."JB Pritzker, Democratic candidate for Illinois governor.

"With Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, Roe v. Wade, affordable health care, labor unions, and civil rights will all be on the chopping block."Democratic National Committee.

Widespread destruction

" @realDonaldTrump is using this nomination as a destructive tool on a generation of progress for workers, women, LGBTQ people, communities of color & families, and to radically reverse the course of American justice and democracy."House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Trump unchecked

"With a subservient Republican Congress and a far-right Supreme Court, there is a real risk that the worst impulses of the Trump presidency will go unchecked." Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"Kavanaugh was the right pick if Trump's top priority was protecting himself from criminal investigation."Vox.com's Ezra Klein.

"Even CONSIDERING this nomination will cement the first American dictatorship."— Joss Whedon, movie director.

Sharia law imposed

"OK Ladies and Gentlemen who care for and respect ladies, it is official. The move back to Medieval Values, Shariah Law even, where old, bitter men get to tell women what is best for their bodies, lives, and well being is as done a deal as this is Twitter. Unless we say NO! NO!" Ron Perlman, movie actor who played "Hellboy."

Gun safety destroyed

"Brett Kavanaugh is a true Second Amendment radical. He believes assault weapon bans are unconstitutional, a position way out of the judicial mainstream, far to the right of even late Justice Scalia."Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

"Judge Brett Kavanaugh's extreme outlier approach to the Second Amendment would put in jeopardy the full range of gun safety laws."Moms Demand Action, gun control advocacy group.

"Judge Kavanaugh's dangerous views on the Second Amendment are far outside the mainstream of even conservative thought and stand in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the vast majority of Americans."Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

No more equal opportunity

"With a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we could see reversals of hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing. We could see further exclusion of communities of color from participation in our democracy. We could see racism continue to flourish within the criminal justice system. We could see the elimination of effective tools for proving discrimination."NAACP statement.

Freedom at risk

"Kavanaugh will only further threaten to erode our nation's promise of freedom, justice and equality for all."Muslim Civil Rights Group

Health care chopped

"In selecting Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, @realDonaldTrump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block."Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Millions dead

"The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party."Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

"If Brett Kavanaugh survives the confirmation process, he will rapidly advance a fringe right agenda on the court that will accelerate plutocratic control of our economy and politics, actively undermine the steps our country must take towards greater racial equity, and directly lead to the deaths of countless women with the dismantling of abortion rights."Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America.

"Trump's announcement today is a death sentence for thousands of women in the United States."Statement by The Women's March, which referred in the headline to "Donald Trump's nomination of XX to the Supreme Court."

White supremacists thrive

"Tonight 's announcement threatens to destroy decades of progress made by our nation's most vulnerable communities, and it locks in a white supremacist agenda from Capitol to the White House to the halls of our nation's highest courts."Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director, Action Center on Race and Economy.

Contraceptives denied

"When President Trump Monday nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he probably doomed the right to abortion, same-sex marriage and maybe even contraception."Jay Michaelson, legal affairs columnist at the Daily Beast.

The Constitution destroyed

The winners for most hysterical forecasts, however, are Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for the taxpayer-funded National Public Radio, and presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Before Trump named Kavanaugh, here's what Harris had to say on MSNBC:

"If Trump gets what he wants here what's the court gonna look like the next 30 years? We're looking at a destruction of the Constitution of the United States."

And here's how Totenberg described the impact of Trump's replacing Justice Kennedy on NPR's "All Things Considered":

The end of the world

"Roe v. Wade might be reversed. Lots of federal regulations might be thrown out, might be a different, more less tolerant view of gun regulation and affirmative action. He was the fifth vote to uphold affirmative action in higher education. That could change, too so as R.E.M. once put it, 'the end of the world as we know it.' "

You can bet that none of these horror stories will come true if Kavanaugh makes it to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, it's also a certainty that none of these politicians, opinion makers or celebrities will be held to account for their flagrant efforts to mislead the country and stir up anger and hostility.

(If readers find other examples of horrific predictions, feel free to tweet them to us @IBDEditorials and we'll try to add them to the list.)

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The post Millions Dead, Constitution Destroyed, And Other Ridiculous Predictions About Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh appeared first on Investor's Business Daily.


21. Betsy McCaughey: Silicon Valley's Social Media CensorsВт., 10 июля[−]

Social media giants like Twitter and Facebook that used to brag about promoting free speech now say they're taking on a new role — the speech police.

Twitter is suspending as many as a million accounts a day, with 70 million silenced in May and June, according to data disclosed Friday. The massive purge is to prevent the spread of fake news, Twitter says. The problem is this: Who decides what's fake?

Democrats in Congress are encouraging the crackdown. They point to how Russians set up social media accounts and flooded the internet with phony news and inflammatory rhetoric in the months before the 2016 presidential election, and according to special counsel Robert Mueller, tilted it in favor of Donald Trump. At a Senate hearing, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ordered lawyers for Facebook, Twitter and Google to do something about it "or we will."

Don't be fooled by these calls to "clean up" the internet in order to protect our democracy. Fake news, hateful remarks and Russians impersonating Americans are not as dangerous to our democracy as Silicon Valley's misguided drive toward censorship.

It's probably true that Russians tried to meddle with public opinion to tip the election in Trump's favor. But the Russians' antics, laid out in an indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller, are laughably unthreatening.

The 13 Russians named in the indictment created thousands of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and posted messages like "Choose Peace and Vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it's not a wasted vote." This is the voter manipulation we're supposed to be terrified by?

Mueller's indictment says this tiny crew of Russians "engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump." The correct reaction to these Russian high jinks is "so what?" American democracy has survived political dirty tricks by foreigners for two centuries.

In 1796, agents of the French government tried to tilt the election toward Thomas Jefferson by smearing incumbent Vice President John Adams as a monarchist and organizing local pro-Jefferson societies in many states. In the 1940 presidential election, the British spread propaganda to defeat Wendell Willkie and ensure FDR's re-election, because Willkie opposed the U.S. joining Britain's battle against the Nazis.

Foreign shenanigans are nothing new. You wouldn't be hearing about Russian interference if Hillary Clinton had won.

Far more perilous to our democracy is the misguided expectation that global social media companies should act as the Ministry of Truth, like in George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

Facebook's attempt at policing is producing comical failures. In the run-up to July Fourth, a small Texas newspaper, the Liberty County Vindicator, posted the Declaration of Independence, including its reference to "merciless Indian savages." Facebook uses algorithms to automatically shut down any posting with words that could be hurtful. So Facebook labeled the Declaration hate speech and took it down.

Facebook singles out some postings as misleading. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center explains that it's "about going after conservative talk on the internet and banning it by somehow projecting it as being false." Similarly, Twitter tags tweets from the conservative news aggregator Drudge Report as "sensitive content," complains House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Social Media Vs. Democracy

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey is committed to promoting "healthy conversation." That's like colleges calling for safe spaces. It's harmful to democracy, because discord and political controversy are what make democracy thrive. That's why the founders wrote the First Amendment, to protect unrestrained debate in the public square.

Social media platforms should be the 21st-century version of the public square, where the free exchange of information and political opinions is guaranteed, not censored.

Germany's learning that the hard way. A new German law requires social media companies to delete questionable content within 24 hours — taking on a role similar to what Feinstein suggested.

Already it's backfiring in Germany. "Legitimate expressions of opinion are being deleted," says Bernhard Rohleder, CEO of Bitkom, Germany's federal association for information technology and new media. Germans see their freedom of expression and access to information being curbed by global social media companies.

Don't let it happen here.

  • McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a former lieutenant governor of New York State. Contact her at betsy@betsymccaughey.com.

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22. Big Media Consolidation Presents Big ProblemsВт., 10 июля[−]

AT&T and Time Warner were just given the green light to merge over Americans for Limited Government's vigorous objections, but what does this mean for the everyday American?

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As big media consolidation continues to threaten market competition and free speech, not to mention monopolize the telecommunications industry, it has become overwhelmingly clear that the industry's biggest offender, Comcast-NBCU, needs to be reined in before they continue to wreak havoc on the marketplace.

As massive media conglomerates persevere in their quest to monopolize the industry, it is important to realize what this means for alternative viewpoints in media and the already overwhelming effort to hush voices these media giants consider outside the mainstream. Differing ideas and perspectives are what make up the very fabric of this great nation, and if we're not careful with putting too much power in the hands of too few, this could all disappear.

When Comcast and NBC merged in 2011, restrictions were placed upon them to keep them in check, mainly to ensure they would not treat competitors or consumers unfairly. As a distributor that would now own the rights to NBC programming, Comcast would have both the incentive and ability to withhold "must have" programming from other smaller distributors, or prioritize NBC programming over other local, alternative programming.

Under these conditions, Comcast was required to submit to arbitration should disputes arise over pricing and conditions of programming agreements. With such conditions either having already expired, or set to expire, Comcast is about to be cut loose, and an unleashed Comcast will have a long list of repercussions for consumers and competitors in the marketplace — mainly concerning their ability to discriminate, attempt to diminish American companies' and consumers' right to free speech, or even exert their newfound influence in politics.

Since the Comcast-NBCU merger in 2011, they have proven time and time again that they are not beneath stifling competition or other viewpoints that may not line up with their own. In fact, not only are they not beneath it, there is ample evidence that points to Comcast repeatedly doing so.

Take Bloomberg TV, for example. Comcast's conditions stipulated that they place Bloomberg programming next to MSNBC and CNBC, or other competing news channels such as Fox or CNN, in the channel lineup — yet for three years Bloomberg was blocked from the news channel neighborhood and slotted in an unfavorable spot, which negatively affected their viewership.

As Comcast continually looks to get bigger and bigger, they are using their undue influence in the marketplace as a mechanism to control the entire industry — stepping on anyone who gets in their way. As they keep swallowing up their competition, they continue to have a larger, more intense grasp on the market, which can only lead to a dangerous fallout.

While an individual federal court judge allowed the AT&T Time Warner merger to go through, it is likely that the issues raised about the dangers of vertical integration of media and its harmful effect on freedom of speech and market competition will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court.

Media Don't Play By Rules

It is also important to note that AT&T/Time Warner were not given the go ahead to merge without the implementation of conditions that would ensure they do not force their competitors out of the market, or raise prices.

Because Comcast continues to exert its dominance within the industry, essentially bullying its competitors and in turn, diluting diversity of thought, it is imperative that restrictions be reinstated.

While Americans for Limited Government will continue to fight the danger to freedom that the AT&T/Time Warner style vertical integration represents, it is important that even if we lose, massive media conglomerates be held accountable and follow the rules. Even with these simple stipulations in place, Comcast had a more than difficult time complying.

Freedom of speech should apply to all political viewpoints, not just the loudest voices amplified by left-leaning Comcast and their mainstream media cronies. The bottom line: the last thing this country needs is an unleashed Comcast.


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23. To Avoid Mideast War, U.S. Should Support Iran's DemonstratorsВт., 10 июля[−]

When people have had military careers as long as ours, they develop a keen understanding not just of war but also of the conditions leading up to it. Over the years, we have had front-row seats to hostilities in various regions of the world, and our attention often focused on the initial outbreak of those hostilities.

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Now, viewing current conditions through that lens, we are worried about the possibility of a larger war enveloping the Middle East – one in which the United States and its allies would be necessarily involved.

As those conditions persist, the international community must do one of two things: Either ready itself for war or address the situation that is making it an ever more likely possibility. There is no question that the American public and nearly all U.S. policymakers would prefer the latter option. The trouble is that only a minority of them recognize the warning signs, and even fewer have a clear sense of which actions might slow the region's march toward war.

To their credit, some key figures in the Trump administration have expressed an understanding of one of the most serious contributors to the existing threat. Defense Secretary James Mattis, for instance, has repeatedly affirmed that among all the crises engulfing the Middle East, the common element in almost all of them is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The clerical regime has already had the effect of prolonging and worsening specific conflicts like the wars in Syria and Yemen, and is promoting sectarianism all over the region.

For that reason, the most important thing the international community can do to prevent such a conflict from breaking out is contain Iran's regional activities while addressing their root causes. Unfortunately, policies leading toward that goal will surely face pushback from defenders of the status quo, who generally worry that all efforts to confront or contain regional adversaries constitute a rush to war.

But anyone who is familiar with military history should recognize that the most troublesome wars tend to emerge out of long periods of inaction, during which responsible parties ignored festering hostilities and simply hoped for tensions to deescalate on their own.

That is a course of action we cannot afford, since any forthcoming war would almost certainly engulf the entire region and undermine our interests for years or decades to come. And this is to say nothing of the impact it would have on the peoples of the Middle East, including those who are directly subject to the rule of the war's key instigator, the Iranian regime.

It may be helpful to point out that the Iranian people recognize the danger they are facing and stand ready to assist the effort to diminish their government's ambitions and limit the role of Iranian sectarianism in neighboring countries like Syria.

With this in mind, the governments of the U.S. and Europe should recognize the potential impact of forcing Tehran to confront domestic conditions instead of striving to exploit regional vulnerabilities. This isn't a particularly difficult task, considering that the Islamic Republic is already being rocked by widespread unrest as the people protest several serious issues as well as the very nature of the regime.

In December and January, a nationwide uprising engulfed 140 Iranian localities and took the regime by surprise. That surprise was evident from the fact that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was left with no choice but to break with his traditional strategy of downplaying and denying the political strength of the pro-democratic opposition. He publicly attributed the protests' rapid spread and provocative slogans to the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI).

In the ensuing months, Iranian activists and workers continued staging large demonstrations in clear defiance of the violent repression that put the January uprising on pause.

Supporting Iran's People

Defenders of the status quo may be uncomfortable with the notion of persistent unrest in Iran. But for global stability and for the Iranian people themselves, this is a far preferable alternative to the Islamic Republic keeping its attention focused beyond its border, where it can continue sowing the seeds of region-wide conflict while threatening to set off a war that the U.S. cannot ignore.

On June 30, Iranian expatriates and thousands of political supporters held a major rally in Paris to support the Iranian demonstrators. The annual event typically attracts a crowd of 100,000 to call attention to domestic pressures against Iran's clerical regime and to outline Western policies that might help to enhance that pressure and contribute to the establishment of democratic governance in Iran.

This year, more than 33 current and former U.S. officials attended.

This gathering is a first step toward promoting Iran's domestic resistance movement and signaling commitment to helping it to avert a larger war in the region. This would make permanent the otherwise temporary effects of just containing Iran's regional activities.

This is to say, the root cause of those activities and of the looming Middle East war is the very nature of the mullahs' regime, and in order to eliminate the present risks once and for all,that regime must give way to its overwhelmingly pro-democratic and peace-loving population.

  • Conway, General (Ret.), is former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Wald, General (Ret.), is former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command.

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24. Explaining American Leftists: Part IВт., 10 июля[−]

As I watch a great number of my fellow Americans and virtually all of the mainstream media descend further and further into irrational and immoral hysteria — regularly calling the president of the United States and all of his supporters Nazis, white supremacists and the like; harassing Republicans where they eat, shop and live; ending family ties and lifelong friendships with people who support the president; declaring their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party the "Resistance," as if they were American reincarnations of the French who fought real Nazis in World War II; and so on — I ask myself: What is going on? How does one explain them?

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Here are some answers:

1. Na?vet?

Many Americans are naive, about life, about good and evil, and about America. They don't realize how rare America is and how good they have it. This mass na?vet? was vividly expressed by the reaction of tens of thousands of mostly white middle-class Americans to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, when he was campaigning in Columbia, Missouri. Obama announced, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

I frequently play the recording of Obama's statement on my radio show not only to explain a basic difference between right and left — the left believes America needs to be fundamentally transformed, while the right thinks America needs to be incrementally improved — but also for people to hear the crowd's reaction.

Very few contemporary American recordings are as depressing as the ecstatic and prolonged cheering the crowd gave that terrible promise from Obama. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that had he announced a cure for cancer, the cheering could not have been louder and probably would not have been longer.

Why would middle-class Americans — people who have more affluence, more opportunity, better health, better health care and more liberty than almost anyone alive in the world today, and certainly than anyone who ever lived — thunderously applaud a call to fundamentally transform their decent country?

One answer — one of many, as we will see — is na?vet?.

Earlier this year, I had a debate/dialogue with two left-wing students at the University of California, Berkeley. I thought debating left-wing students, rather than giving a speech, would accomplish two objectives: deter left-wing protesters from disrupting my appearance and enable young people at Berkeley and around the world (via the internet) to hear differences between right and left clearly spelled out. Both aims were achieved.

My final question to them was "Do you believe people are basically good?" Without a moment's pause, both students said yes.

I told them they think that way because they live in such a decent country. It is easy to remain naive in America, where most are insulated from the suffering inflicted on so much of humanity in deeply corrupt, poverty-stricken and war-torn societies. Nevertheless, given the way humans have treated one another throughout history, and only two generations after Auschwitz, only the naive can believe people are basically good. And since no Western religion (i.e., any religion based on the Bible) has ever posited that people are basically good, this na?vet? is abetted by secularism, which allows for the pursuit of knowledge but destroys wisdom.

Only the naive — or willfully ignorant — could equate support for Donald Trump with Nazism. Are most Israeli Jews Nazis? Are a third of America's Jews Nazis? (Many on the left would probably answer yes, which gives you an idea how mean and sick many on the left are.)

2. Boredom

Boredom, at least in our time, is the most overlooked source of evil. In the past, before people went to college and abandoned religion — the two greatest reasons there is so much moral idiocy in our time — people knew how dangerous boredom was. "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" was a commonly used aphorism that wouldn't even make sense to most young people today.

By bored I am not referring to a lack of things to do. There is more opportunity to do and experience things today than ever before. By bored I mean a deep boredom of the soul, what the French call "ennui." This is the boredom that emanates from lack of purpose and a yearning for excitement.

The combination of affluence and secularism produces boredom as surely as the combination of hydrogen and oxygen produces water. Without affluence, people have a built-in purpose: obtaining food and shelter, supporting oneself and one's family, etc. And religion, with or without affluence, likewise has always provided people with meaning. Without religion, therefore, purpose is often lost. Add to that the number of people who are not married and do not have children (also a result of the combination of affluence and secularism) and you remove another universal source of meaning.

A disproportionate percentage of those on the left (not traditional liberals) do not lack for material needs, have no religion and are single and/or childless. Those left-wing screamers you see in restaurants, the left-wing mobs on campus, the left-wing "antifa" thugs and the left-wing Black Lives Matter demonstrators who close down bridges and highways do not generally consist of married people with children who attended church the previous Sunday.

These people find this lack of purpose assuaged by leftism. It provides meaning and excitement, a very heady combination.

These are a few explanations. In Part II I will offer others.

  • Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University.

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25. It's Brett Kavanaugh: Will Left's Rank Politics Of Rage Keep Trump's Brilliant Pick Off Supreme Court?Вт., 10 июля[−]

Judiciary: In federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump has found yet another solid constitutional conservative for an empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Contrary to the shrieking protests heard outside the Supreme Court building on Monday night, the 53-year-old Kavanaugh will be a genuine protector of Americans' rights — just as Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump placed on the court last year, is.

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Kavanaugh, like Gorsuch, is an originalist. That's not something anyone — left, right or center, Democrat, Independent or Republican — should fear. It means that Kavanaugh, just like Gorsuch, late-Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, will look at the Constitution first when making decisions.

That is how our system was designed from the very beginning. It's not a tool for unbounded activism, as many on the left seem to feel.

The Supreme Court is the sole final guardian of the Constitution, the law of our land. The Constitution, and in particular its Bill of Rights, were intended to serve as a basic list of irrevocable rights for U.S. citizens. It's not a tool for unbounded activism, as many on the left seem to feel. Any judge who doesn't take this seriously doesn't belong on the bench.

Kavanaugh does. As he said Monday night, "My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent."

That's about as good a working definition of the originalist creed as exists.

Even so, Kavanaugh is an establishment conservative. He will not push revolutionary shifts in Supreme Court decisions. After all, he's a Yale Law School grad, who has taught at Yale, Harvard and Georgetown. No doubt, he understands the political dimension of the law, having worked in George W. Bush's administration and as a staffer for Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton. He clerked for Justice Kennedy, whose High Court seat he would fill, and has served as a federal judge since 2006.

And, as Kavanaugh himself noted, he was actually hired to teach at Harvard by then-Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan — now on the Supreme Court.

Solid credentials.

But the immediate angry and loud reaction to his nomination by Democrats and others on the left suggests Kavanaugh will have an uphill political battle to get on the court. President Trump wants a vote by October 1.

Two Republican senators — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — say they'll scrutinize Trump's nominee carefully. Both senators are ardent supporters of the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal across the U.S.

On the other side of the aisle, last year Gorsuch received votes from Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. All three are moderates elected from states that voted for Trump.

But none has yet committed to vote for Kavanaugh.

It should be noted that though these five votes are seen as problematic, it's also the case that all of them voted for Gorsuch — whom many agree is more judicially conservative in his leanings than Kavanaugh.

Most Democrats have vowed to oppose Kavanaugh, regardless. As Trump named Kavanaugh as his pick, a parade of far-left Democrats and their followers rallied before the Supreme Court, calling for Kavanaugh's rejection.

No one argues he isn't qualified. They just don't like his decisions. Or really, any conservative's decisions, whatever they are.

Indeed, as the leftist Women's March group showed in their tweeted release, it didn't matter who Trump named. It read thusly: "In response to the president's nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States, The Women's March released the following: "

Yes, that "XX" is an awful judge. Truth is, they didn't need to wait.

Nor did NPR's way-left Supreme Court correspondent, Nina Totenberg, who said, quoting the rock group REM, "this is the end of the world as we know it." Problem is, she said that nearly two weeks before she knew who the nominee was.

We've been here before. Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, both conservative jurists, were vilified, slandered and attacked publicly for the crime of being Republican nominees to the court. Only Thomas made it on, and just barely. In one of the great injustices of the Senate approval process, Democrats and their organized far-left media mob forced Bork, one of the best-qualified nominees in history to the court, to withdraw after a sickening campaign of defamation and character assassination.

In short, the Democratic left politicized the selection of court justices as never before, nearly ruining two decent men. For Democrats and others on the left, it's a legacy of lasting shame.

Obstructing Kavanaugh?

Democrats say there's "too much at stake" with midterm elections coming up to approve of Kavanaugh. But we remind Americans that Republicans during the 2010 midterm elections approved both liberal Sonia Sotomayor (in August, 2009) and Elena Kagan (in August 2010).

Republicans didn't like either, and had profound philosophical differences with both, but didn't obstruct them, either.

Compare that with Democrats today, as they throw the political equivalent of a child's temper tantrum and vow to oppose and obstruct Kavanaugh from taking a seat on the high bench. There will no doubt be verbal anger and perhaps even violence. They will accuse him of supporting back-alley abortions (a lie). They will say his decisions as a judge that limit the federal bureaucracy's regulatory reach are "pro-corporation" and "anti-environment."

None of that is true. He's neither "pro-corporation" nor "anti-environment." He's pro-Constitution.

Yes, as we noted, Kavanaugh is conservative. But he's also principled. He won't toe a party line. These days, that's all the so-called progressives and their allies in the judiciary have: A party line, one that tilts increasingly to the far left.

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26. Trump's Zero-Tariff SolutionВт., 10 июля[−]

President Trump's aluminum and steel tariff policies have now triggered retaliatory tariffs from other nations, including Canada, the EU and China.

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Last week Trump imposed new tariffs on more than $30 billion of Chinese electronic equipment and other consumer goods. Our trading partners are now threatening to hit our domestic industries, including wheat, soybeans, pork, bourbon, blue jeans — and even Maine lobsters. The financial markets are jittery, to say the least.

Even worse, China's tit-for-tat tariffs are now intentionally designed to antagonize Trump voters in Midwestern and Southern states. They are using tariffs as a political weapon. It's funny that the left doesn't seem to protest this blatant and dangerous foreign meddling in U.S. elections. They even seem to applaud this election interference by a hostile foreign power because Trump is the target.

In any case, the goal of these foreign-imposed tariffs aimed at the U.S. is to inflict maximum economic pain on American producers in order to force Trump to retreat.

Retreating isn't an option for Trump — never has been and never will be. So this is a game Beijing can't win. For Trump to score a decisive victory, he will need to reclaim the moral high ground in this fight.

Our trading partners are claiming indignation that Trump has instigated all these trade disputes. Last week the Chinese accused America of "firing the first shot."

That's a laughable claim coming from Beijing. China's tariffs, according to a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, are on average about 10%, while our tariffs are closer to 3.5%. This doesn't include non-tariff trade hurdles that make it extremely difficult for American companies to sell things in China.

We buy three times as much from them as they buy from us. Many U.S. companies complain, with justification, that to do business in China, they have to disclose trade secrets and patents, and in some cases surrender ownership rights of the firm. How is any of this "free trade"?

But even our European allies have created anything but a level playing field. Their tariffs are about 30% higher than ours, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. This does not include the 10% to 20% value-added tax that Europe slaps on American products when they hit their shores. Trump has told our allies that he is not against free trade, but it must be reciprocal, and right now it isn't.

Capturing the High Ground

This is where Trump can and should change the terms of this debate. He should go back to an offer he put on the table at the recent G-7 meetings in Quebec with the Europeans, Japan and Canada: zero tariffs.

Trump challenged the other leaders by proposing: "We should at least consider no tariffs, no barriers — scrapping all of it." It speaks volumes about the trade debate that none of the foreign leaders, except perhaps Germany's Angela Merkel, had any interest.

If the offer were made to China, the mercantilist leaders would be thrown off their high horse never to recover. These nations are more interested in bashing Trump as a trade warrior while retaining their own indefensible protectionist trade barriers.

All the more reason for Trump to seize the high ground in the trade debate by offering it up again and again as America's desired endgame. This is an idea that comes from Trump's National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow, and the good news is that my sources tell me the all-in strategy is being revisited at the White House now.

Zero tariffs would be the ultimate victory for totally free and fair trade. It would advantage the United States most because we already impose the lowest trade barriers. It would also expose many of Trump's severest critics as free-trade frauds.

President Trump: You should do this, because the worst that could happen is our allies take you up on the offer.

  • Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works. He is the co-author of "Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy."

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27. Public Pensions: The Ultimate Ponzi SchemeВт., 10 июля[−]

State and local governments are running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history.

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They've promised full pensions to their workers. But they aren't putting aside enough money — or generating high enough returns — to fulfill those future obligations. Soon, they'll have to cannibalize current workers' pension contributions to pay retirees. Young and middle-aged government employees will likely never receive the retirement benefits they're counting on.

It's too late to prevent this crisis. But there's still time to mitigate the financial fallout — by trimming benefits, raising contributions, and transitioning younger employees to 401(k)s and other defined-contribution plans.

Most importantly, it's time to recognize that government officials are too short-sighted and underqualified to manage public pensions.

For decades, politicians have underfunded public pensions. They've decided to spend tax revenues today, rather than set them aside for future pension liabilities.

For instance, between 1985 and 2012, Illinois diverted $41 billion originally earmarked for pension contributions to other priorities. Simultaneously, the state promised increasingly generous retirement benefits to employees — a pledge it had no way of keeping.

Today, Illinois' five pension systems face an unfunded liability of $137 billion. Closing that shortfall would require roughly $11,000 from every state resident — including children.

Illinois isn't the only offender. According to a recent estimate from the RAND Corporation, state and local government pensions are underfunded by $4 to $6 trillion. A separate analysis by the American Legislative Exchange Council puts that funding shortfall at over $6 trillion.

Governments have masked the severity of the problem by assuming their investments will generate unrealistically high returns.

Consider CalPERS, the pension fund for California public-sector employees. The board predicts the fund will earn annual returns of 7% — even though it has averaged just a 4.4% annualized return over the past decade.

It is extremely unlikely that CalPERS will come close to its 7% target for the foreseeable future. Asset valuations are already near record highs, which means there's little upside left before an inevitable correction.

Even when governments provide adequate funding to pensions, corrupt and incompetent officials often squander it. Consider the current plight of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund.

It lost $1.5 billion from 2013 to 2016 — largely because the chief administrator invested almost half of the fund's capital in risky private equity and real estate investments.

No private pension-fund manager in his right mind would ever take such a high level of risk.

The Dallas fund's administrator and several board members spent over $185,000 on extravagant travel in one year chasing risky real estate projects in Napa Valley and Hawaii — just one example of misbehavior that a watchdog group described as pervasive "absolute corruption." Following the scandal, the formerly healthy pension plan was only 45% funded.

Government officials have dug themselves — and the workers who trusted them — into a hole. And there's no way out. All we can do now is ease the pain.

World Of Pain

First, current retirees must tolerate a reduction in benefits. The average pension for a California public-sector worker who retires after a 30-year career is almost $69,000.

If that worker started his career in his early 20s and retired in his early 50s, he could easily live long enough to earn more from pension checks than he ever made from his salary.

That's not sustainable. It's better to take a haircut now — rather than let pension funds implode and leave retirees with nothing.

Second, taxpayers ought to demand that their state and local governments set aside a greater portion of tax revenue for pension contributions. Too often, governments underfund pensions one year and falsely promise to make up the contributions at a later date.

Third, the public sector must transition younger employees into defined-contribution retirement plans, such as the 401(k)s common in the private sector. These plans allow employees to manage their own retirement funds, instead of depending on a government pension check that may never come.

These reforms will help — but in all likelihood, the federal government will still have to bail out many pension funds. When that happens, taxpayers should kick public officials out of the pension business.

After all, these officials have turned pension funds into giant Ponzi schemes. Why in the world would we give them a second chance?

  • Stein is a principal of Braeside Capital, L.P., a Dallas-based private investment partnership.

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28. New Health Insurance Rule Gives Americans More Choices, Better OptionsВт., 10 июля[−]

Sky-high costs under the current health care system have squeezed small businesses and people who work for themselves. Unlike large employers, which are allowed under federal law to design their own plans, small entities must adhere to stricter coverage mandates and have less ability to customize plans.

An estimated 15 million Americans — and their families — who are self-employed or work for a small business lack health care coverage. It's not because they don't want insurance. Rather, they don't have a coverage option that fits both their needs and their ability to pay.

All that is about to change.

The Labor Department recently rolled out a new rule on association health plans (AHPs) that will allow small businesses and the self-employed to act within the same, flexible health care rules as a large business.

AHPs allow small businesses and the self-employed to band together and obtain a health plan as a group. AHPs had previously been allowed based on shared industry.

But now AHPs can form based on geographic features, like a common state, city, county or metropolitan area, and across state lines as well. Self-employed individuals without employees, including sole proprietors, can now join an AHP.

"Today is a great day for America's franchise job creators and their employees in the fight for high quality, less expensive health coverage," said International Franchise Association President and CEO Robert Cresanti when the new rule was finalized June 19.

He added that it paves the way "for franchise businesses to utilize AHPs and make the delivery of products and services more affordable for small business owners, employees and their customers." He's right.

For some, however, the new flexibility is cause for concern, particularly as it relates to potential inequities in care.

In practice, flexibility expands choices. Forcing people to pay for benefits they don't want, on the other hand, drives up costs. It can even prevent people from buying insurance at all.

Moreover, many of those who join forces to form AHPs will offer generous plans, so they can compete for talent with larger companies offering health benefits.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 4 million Americans, including 400,000 who would otherwise be uninsured, will join an AHP by 2023. Expanding choice this way encourages people to sign up for coverage.

With this rule, new businesses will now have the chance to join an AHP. Chambers of commerce can get a plan for their members, and leagues of Uber drivers can form associations and get insurance.

There will be more coverage options, enhanced ability to self-insure, less regulatory burden and complexity, and reduced administrative costs. And, as we all know, when there are more consumers and more competition, prices will drop.

Small Businesses Get Flexibility

An AHP group can also now negotiate prices with payers and providers. While they can't charge an individual a higher premium based on pre-existing health conditions, they can base premiums on factors such as age, industry and employee classification.

Giving small businesses and self-employed individuals a more even playing field with large businesses also means AHP members will have to play by the same rules. Consumer and anti-discrimination protections will apply.

While this rule may not represent sweeping reform, it is a step in the right direction.

The Trump administration should continue its progress by adding a final rule to allow for renewal of short-term, limited-duration plans. That's prohibited under current rules.

That will bring America closer to the ultimate goal of delivering better health care coverage at lower prices for all.

  • Nascimento is the executive vice president of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.

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29. Dispatches From The 'Tolerant' Left's War On Trump SupportersВт., 10 июля[−]

Angry Opposition: Every day brings new examples of the supposedly open-minded, inclusive, tolerant, peace-loving left threatening or attacking Trump administration officials or Trump supporters. Hatred and intolerance has been standard operating procedure on the extreme left. But thanks to enablers among Democrats and the press, it's quickly becoming dangerously "mainstream."

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Here are some of the ways in just the past few days that the left has expressed its tolerance for those it disagrees with:

  • On Friday, Martin Astrof went to the campaign headquarters of Rep. Lee Zeldin, and then threatened to kill Zeldin and Trump supporters generally, according to news accounts of the incident. As he left, he nearly ran over a campaign staffer with his car.
  • An angry Trump critic allegedly punched a homeowner in Boynton Beach, Fla., for having a Trump flag in his front yard, and then dragged the homeowner 30 feet while driving away.
  • A bookstore owner in Richmond, Va., called the cops after a woman started harassing former Trump advisor Steven Bannon, who was browsing in the store. Former Clinton aide Philippe Reines later tweeted out the bookstore owner's contact information, in a thinly veiled attempt to encourage attacks on the store. Reines defended the tweet, saying, "I'm providing a service."
  • A group of "protesters" following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell out of a restaurant in Kentucky shouted "vote you out" and "we know where you live, bitch."
  • Brandon Straka — a gay former liberal who posted a video complaining that "the Left devolved into intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded, and at times blatantly fascistic behavior and rhetoric" and sparked the #walkaway Twitter trend — says a local camera store refused to serve him. Thereby proving his point.

"I'm shaking right now," Straka tweeted Thursday. "I just went into a camera store to buy a camera and a light and mic, etc., and they recognized me from TV. I was refused service because they said it was for 'alt-right' purposes."

  • Alan Dershowitz, once the darling of the liberal left until he started to question the merits of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, says that a woman at a party on Martha's Vineyard was heard saying, "if Dershowitz were here tonight, I'd stab him through the heart."
  • Horror novelist and reliable Trump-hater Steven King sent a tweet over July 4 encouraging progressives to "go find a Trump-supporting friend — the one you haven't spoken to since November of 2016 — and give him or her a hug. Trumpies, find a 'liberal snowflake' friend and do the same. Just for today, let's all be Americans." The response was an outpouring of outrage at King, with one woman tweeting that it was "The scariest thing you've ever written."

A Fast-Growing List

Breitbart recently started compiling what it characterizes as "acts of media-approved violence and harassment against Trump supporters." The list is now up to 258 — and climbing fast. So far this month, Breitbart counts more than two dozen incidents of threats, intimidation and violence against Trump officials and supporters, or mainstream journalists excusing such actions.

That's likely just scratching the surface, since no doubt many abuses go unreported.

The left defends such actions as justified because of Trump's policies or his actions. The truth is, this is how extremists on the left always respond to politicians and policies they disagree with. They threaten, intimidate and try to shut them down. If you don't think so, try attending a speech by a conservative speaker at any liberal college in the U.S.

Yes, we know, there are haters on the right. And Trump can be crude and abusive. But that's the point. Even a whiff of hatred or intolerance on the right always — and correctly — receives widespread condemnation, including by Republicans.

The same is not true on the left. Not. Even. Close.

Instead, Democrats and their handmaidens in the press are busy normalizing violent, abusive, intolerant behavior … when not encouraging more of it. They seem to have forgotten that we live in a representative democracy, where we settle debates over public policies — peacefully — at the voting booth.

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30. Tax Cut Criticisms Grow More IncoherentПн., 09 июля[−]

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) remains controversial, with public opinion evenly split and many Democrats campaigning on repeal. However, the Democratic critique of the tax cuts has grown increasingly incoherent.

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The party excoriates the "tax cuts for the rich" while trying to tilt them even further to the wealthy. Democrats slam the deficit effect of the tax cuts while working to worsen budget deficits.

In addition, they erroneously describe the law as a "middle-class tax hike" while proposing policies that would truly raise middle-class taxes.

Disingenuous Critique #1: "Tax Cuts for the Rich"

The most aggressive liberal complaint was that the TCJA represented a giveaway to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. In reality, the tax cuts nudged the distribution of federal taxes in a more progressive direction.

The bottom 80% of families had previously paid 33% of all combined federal taxes, yet received 35% of the tax cuts. By contrast, the top one percent had previously paid 27% of all federal taxes, but received just 21% of the tax cuts.

Since upper-income earners received a lower share of the tax cuts, their share of federal taxes paid will slightly rise.

More importantly, several Democratic governors and legislatures are aggressively building loopholes to expand the TCJA's tax cuts for wealthy families.

The TCJA capped the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) at $10,000 per filer. Given that 88% of SALT benefits went to families earning over $100,000 — and half accrued to the richest five percent of taxpayers — this cap represented a straightforward way to ensure that the rich did not disproportionately benefit from the rest of the TCJA.

And yet Democrat-run states such as New York, New Jersey, and California are in the process of rewriting much of their state tax codes to work around this restriction.

Approaches include replacing income taxes with employer payroll taxes that would be eligible for the uncapped SALT deduction (which would also reduce lifetime Social Security benefits), and reclassifying individual state and local taxes paid as charitable contributions eligible for a federal deduction. The latter approach will likely be blocked by the IRS.

Still, the intention is to cut federal taxes by nearly $650 billion over the decade if all states follow suit. The liberal Tax Policy Center calculates that 96% of the initial benefits would go to the top 20% of earners, and 57% of the benefits would go to the richest one percent. The richest one percent of New Yorkers would triple their benefits from the new tax law.

It is brazen, bizarre, and dishonest to slam the TCJA as a "tax cut for the rich" while simultaneously trying to expand its upper-income tax cuts by a staggering $650 billion.

Disingenuous Critique #2: Soaring Deficits

During last year's debate, liberal critics regularly attacked the immorality of passing on $1.5 trillion in new debt to future generations.

However, Democratic lawmakers previously enacted legislation with a combined $5 trillion price tag under President Obama, and today are rallying around Sen. Bernie Sanders' $32 trillion single-payer health care proposal as well as a $12 trillion federal jobs guarantee. These liberal initiatives dwarf the cost of the tax cuts.

Furthermore, Senate Democrats have proposed repealing $1 trillion of the TCJA and putting those savings into new spending (while seemingly retaining a portion of the cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans).

A House bill would repeal the entire law and reprogram the savings into college financial aid. In other words, these Democrats have no problem adding $1.5 trillion in red ink — they just wish the package was more tilted towards spending.

That by itself does not make Democrats weaker than Republicans on deficits — both parties support adding $1.5 trillion in debt — but it does reveal the disingenuousness of their deficit concerns.

It is also noteworthy that, just seven weeks after the TCJA was signed, Democrats teamed up with Republicans on a spending deal that may cost as much as the tax cuts over the next decade.

And as described above, state-level Democrats are playing tax accounting games that could reduce federal taxes by an additional $650 billion over the decade. These are not the actions of a party concerned with deficits.

Disingenuous Critique #3: "Middle Class Tax Hike"

Even before the tax bills were drafted as legislation, Senate Democrat cries of "middle-class tax hikes" earned a brutal "four Pinocchios" condemnation from the Washington Post fact checker.

When the final TCJA was enacted, the liberal Tax Policy Centercalculated that it will benefit 80% of families and raise taxes for just five percent — with the higher taxes disproportionately affecting the wealthiest one percent. The typical median-income family will save approximately $900 per year, while the average family will save $1,610.

Despite this overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described the tax cuts as a "cynical one-two gut punch to the middle class" that would "raise their taxes." House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called them "simply theft — monumental, brazen theft — from the American middle-class and from every person who aspires to reach it."

How could anyone describe the TCJA as a middle-class tax hike? By simply ignoring the first eight years of roughly $900-per-year tax relief and focusing only on the $20 tax hike — that's six cents per day — that the median-income family will theoretically face in 2027 if Congress fails to renew the expiring portions of the law.

Tax Cuts: Make Them Permanent

Of course, if your best argument is that the expiration of the tax cuts would harm families, then the obvious solution is to renew them. Instead, House Democrats are rallying around legislation to repeal all of the tax cuts — including those for the middle class.

Furthermore, popular liberal proposals such as single-payer health care, a federal jobs guarantee, free college, and a carbon tax would certainly require steep middle-class tax increases in order to fund the programs.

Simply put, the Republicans are cutting middle-class taxes while Democrats would force them upwards.

The TCJA is certainly not above criticism. Yet Democrats continue to undercut their complaints by trying to double-down on the aspects they claim to oppose the most.

  • Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a member of E21. His piece can also be found at the E21 site here. Follow him on twitter here.

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31. Two Big Reasons In Favor Of T-Mobile-Sprint MergerПн., 09 июля[−]

The principal objection raised by opponents to the T-Mobile-Sprint merger is that it will reduce competition in the wireless industry. That argument, which sounds intuitively valid at first, rests on two flaws.

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The first flaw is that opposition to the merger as anti-competitive ignores the relative sizes of the existing major four carriers. Verizon and AT&T each have roughly one-third of all wireless users, while T-Mobile and Sprint each have roughly one-sixth.

Particularly in the face of the enormous capital costs of implementing 5G technology nationwide, the two smallest competitors have a structural competitive disadvantage. Combining them would make three roughly equal-size competitors.

That's a formula that virtually guarantees robust competition.

Without the merger, the smaller two will be capital-constrained. They will probably lag in the rollout of 5G, if not at the outset, then later.

They could each wind up with such a technological disadvantage that they begin to lose customers on an irreversible trend that could easily conclude with only two surviving major carriers. That possibility should trouble any free-market advocate.

How ironic it would be if the opponents of the merger claiming it would reduce competition unwittingly set the stage for greater concentration and far less competition in the long run.

Three similar-sized competitors will compete vigorously. But two competitors can settle into a comfortable oligopoly, in which competition is merely symbolic rather than real.

Some opponents of the merger are recycling successful arguments from opposition to the failed AT&T-T-Mobile merger attempt in 2011. Those arguments do not apply to the current case.

That merger would have been anti-competitive. Why? It would have taken one of the scrappiest and most creative competitors, T-Mobile, out of the game altogether. It would have left Sprint alone as the only challenger to the potential Verizon-AT&T oligopoly.

Like T-Mobile, Sprint has been an aggressive and innovative competitor. Putting those two together in the currently proposed merger will unify and strengthen the competitive alternative to a Verizon-AT&T oligopoly, whereas the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger of seven years ago would have weakened it.

The second flaw in the arguments of opponents to the merger is that rolling out 5G technology by the two smaller competitors will likely result in duplicated and redundant 5G capacity in densely-populated cities at the cost of rural and middle America.

There are myriad areas in our country with dead spots and weak coverage areas. If T-Mobile and Sprint remain separate and capital-constrained, then basic business economics will dictate that they concentrate their available capital deployment in major cities.

Merger And 5G

It is in the public interest to expand 5G technology to unserved and under-served areas. That's much more likely if costly and unnecessary duplication in urban areas is minimized.

When the Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission and the Congress review the proposed merger, they should thoughtfully and thoroughly consider the long-term competitive impact, not only the immediate competitive impact.

If they do, they should see that three strong competitors of roughly equal size will better serve the public interest. The proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger is pro-competitive, not anti-competitive.

  • Hanna is president of Let Freedom Ring USA, Inc., a non-profit public policy organization. It promotes constitutional government, free enterprise and traditional values.

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32. What Might A Socialist American Government Do?Вс., 08 июля[−]

Polly: He's a socialist but he doesn't like people.
Brian: Nor do I, much.
Polly: You're a conservative. You don't have to.

— From "Getting On," by Alan Bennett

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This, one of the pleasures of being a conservative, is not for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28. She recently won the Democratic nomination — effectively, election — in a Bronx and Queens congressional district, running as a "democratic socialist." In response to her, progressives and conservatives are experiencing different excitements.

The left relishes the socialist label as a rejection of squishy centrism — a naughty, daring rejection of timidity: Aux barricades, citoyens! The right enjoys a tingle of delicious fear: We told you that the alternative to us is the dark night of socialism.

At the risk of spoiling the fun — the left's anticipation of the sunny uplands of social justice; the right's frisson of foreboding — consider two questions: What is socialism? And what might a socialist American government do?

In its 19th-century infancy, socialist theory was at least admirable in its clarity: It meant state ownership of the means of production (including arable land), distribution and exchange. Until, of course, the state "withers away" (Friedrich Engels' phrase), when a classless, and hence harmonious, society can dispense with government.

After World War II, Britain's Labour Party diluted socialist doctrine to mean state ownership of the economy's "commanding heights" (Lenin's phrase from 1922) — heavy industry (e.g., steel), mining, railroads, telecommunications, etc. Since then, in Britain and elsewhere, further dilution has produced socialism as comprehensive economic regulation by the administrative state (obviating the need for nationalization of economic sectors) and government energetically redistributing wealth. So, if America had a socialist government today, what would it be like?

Socialism favors the thorough permeation of economic life by "social" (aka political) considerations, so it embraces protectionism — government telling consumers what they can buy, in what quantities and at what prices. (A socialist American government might even set quotas and prices for foreign washing machines.)

Socialism favors maximizing government's role supplementing, even largely supplanting, the market — voluntary private transactions — in the allocation of wealth by implementing redistributionist programs. (Today America's sky is dark with dollars flying hither and yon at government's direction: Transfer payments distribute 14% of GDP, two-thirds of the federal budget, up from a little more than one-quarter in 1960. In the half-century 1963-2013, transfer payments were the fastest-growing category of personal income. By 2010, American governments were transferring $2.2 trillion in government money, goods and services.)

Socialism favors vigorous government interventions in the allocation of capital, directing it to uses that far-sighted government knows, and the slow-witted market does not realize, constitute the wave of the future. So, an American socialist government might tell, say, Carrier Corp. and Harley-Davidson that the government knows better than they do where they should invest shareholders' assets.

Socialism requires — actually, socialism is — industrial policy, whereby government picks winners and losers in conformity with the government's vision of how the future ought to be rationally planned. What could go wrong? (Imagine, weirdly, a president practicing compassionate socialism by ordering his energy secretary to prop up yesterday's coal industry against the market menace of fracking — cheap oil and natural gas.)

Socialism, which fancies itself applied social science, requires a bureaucracy of largely autonomous experts unconstrained by a marginalized — ideally, a paralyzed — Congress. So, an American socialist government would rule less by laws than by regulations written in administrative agencies staffed by experts insulated from meddling by elected legislators. (Utah Sen. Mike Lee's office displays two piles of paper. One, a few inches high, contains the laws Congress passed in a recent year. The other, about 8 feet tall, contains regulations churned out that year by the administrative state's agencies.)

Socialism favors vast scope for ad hoc executive actions unbound by constraining laws that stifle executive nimbleness and creativity. (Imagine an aggrieved president telling, say, Harley-Davidson: "I've" — first-person singular pronoun — "done so much for you.")

Today's American socialists say that our government has become the handmaiden of rapacious factions and entrenched elites, and that there should be much more government. They are half-right. To be fair, they also say that after America gets "on the right side of history" (an updated version of after "the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest"), government will be truly disinterested, manipulated by no rent-seeking factions, serving only justice. That is, government will be altogether different than it is, or ever has been. Seriously.


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33. The U.S.' Colorblind Jobs Boom Under Trump ContinuesПт., 06 июля[−]

'Inclusive' Boom: It may be a surprise, but President Trump is nowhere near as unpopular among minority voters as the biased mainstream media suggest. Why is that? In a word, jobs.

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Trump, it turns out, has been the most consequential president in history when it comes to minority employment. In June, for instance, the unemployment rate for Hispanics and Latinos 16 years and older fell to 4.6%, its lowest level ever, from 4.9% in May. The previous all-time low was 4.8%.

African-American unemployment bounced up from its all-time low of 5.9% in May to 6.5% in June. But that 6.5% still represents the second-lowest unemployment reading ever for Black Americans.

As for Asian-Americans, unemployment similarly bounced off its all-time low of 2.1% in May, rising to 3.2%. And that's still 0.6 percentage point lower than when Trump entered office.

Consider all the good news about minority employment when you hear reports of June's "disappointing" jobs data.

The truth is, the ripping jobs growth that began when Trump entered office and picked up steam after his tax cuts has been good for everyone in America — even liberal media pundits.

And it's also been good for Trump. Because quietly, he is winning over those who have benefited most from his policies: Minorities. On average, minority unemployment has dropped 18% since Trump entered office in January of 2017. More than 2 million people have dropped off food stamps and returned to work.

Despite a relentless media barrage aimed at Trump and his immigration policies, a new Harvard/Harris Poll found a 10% rise in approval for Trump among Hispanics.

Minority Confidence Grows

And our own IBD/TIPP Poll data show that, on average, minority Americans' confidence in their own finances has risen from 57.1 to 63.5 since Trump took office. That's important, since people's happiness with their own finances is a good indicator of future voting tendencies. As the Zogby Poll recently noted: "Even though President Trump receives little support from these (minority) groups, things might be going just good enough economically that ... Republicans can retain control of Congress and Trump gets re-elected in 2020."

By the way, we first discussed this phenomenon way back in December of 2017 and again in January of this year. At the time, we noted that a quick Google of the terms "trump racism" returned more than 25 million hits in under a second.

We wondered, if Trump were truly racist, "why would (he) put in place policies that, factually speaking, benefit minorities? It's funny, too, that those that sell this toxic brew of false racism don't mention the truth: That, like the rest of us, minorities thrive as the economy's growth picks up."

We have no reason to change our minds. When it comes to good news about minority employment, the Trump years are the best of times.

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34. A Mountain Of Surplus Cheese, Brought To You By The Federal GovernmentПт., 06 июля[−]

Subsidies: According to the federal government, almost 1.4 billion pounds of surplus cheese now sit in refrigerated warehouses around the country. Yet dairy production is climbing. What gives?

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The amount of surplus cheese is growing fast — up 6% in just the past year.

According to news accounts, the reason is that dairy production is climbing, while dairy consumption is falling. Data from the Department of Agriculture show that between 2008 and 2017, milk production in the U.S. climbed 13%.

Over those same years, however, consumption has sagged — with per capita milk consumption down 14%, USDA data show.

The surplus milk gets stored as cheese. If formed into one giant wheel, the current 1.39-billion-pound cheese surplus would be about as big as the U.S. Capitol Building.

Two years ago, the Obama administration effectively bailed out the industry, when it bought up $20 million worth — 11 million pounds — of cheese, which it then used for food assistance programs. But the stockpile has grown 16% since then.

If all this sounds odd, it is.

In what other industry would you find producers continuing to ramp up production while demand slides, and then stuffing the growing pile of surplus into warehouses, hoping the federal government will buy some of it?

What makes the dairy industry different is decades of government efforts to "support" dairy farmers with various subsidy schemes. The 2014 farm bill did away with old federal price support programs, but replaced them with heavily subsidized insurance that essentially guarantees margins for those who sign up. This year, the dairy industry successfully lobbied Congress to expand this subsidy program.

Distorting the Market

By interfering with pricing signals, the effect of these subsidies has been to encourage production, almost regardless of market demand. It's a problem not just with the dairy industry, but with other agricultural products on the receiving end of government largesse.

Each year, in fact, taxpayers fork over more than $20 billion to subsidize corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, dairy and a few other commodities. Critics of these subsidies say that not only do these programs distort the market, but they tend to benefit big agribusinesses at the expense of family farms.

The 2014 bill was supposed to include provisions to prevent dairy overproduction, but clearly it hasn't worked as intended.

Dairy farmers say they need these programs to survive. We doubt that. Like every other industry, they'd learn to adapt to market changes.

In the meantime, ask yourself this question: Why should taxpayers hand over their hard-earned money to protect other people's jobs in a declining industry?

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35. For Californians, Rejecting Single-Payer Means Transcending Party PoliticsПт., 06 июля[−]

Last month, Republican businessman John Cox comfortably coasted to a second-place finish in California's gubernatorial primary. But his emergence as the runner-up to Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was no sure thing.

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California's unique open primary rules allow the two candidates with the most votes to advance to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. Republicans make up just 25% of the electorate, so it was quite plausible that deep-blue California might choose two Democrats to battle it out in November.

But the Republican Cox finished just seven points behind the Democrat Newsom. That says a lot about one issue in particular — single-payer health care. Newsom has made the policy a centerpiece of his campaign. Cox, on the other hand, is a vocal critic of socialized medicine.

The closer-than-expected race offers evidence that Californians aren't unanimously behind the Democratic Party's plan for a government takeover of the state's health care system. And they shouldn't be. Single-payer is a disastrously expensive policy that has led to treatment delays, shortages, higher taxes, and rationing every place it's been tried.

Newsom has endorsed SB 562, a single-payer bill that passed the State Senate in June of last year. The bill would replace all private health coverage in the Golden State with a single, government-run plan covering all California residents, including those residing in the state illegally. The proposal stalled in the State Assembly when Speaker Anthony Rendon — a Democrat — declared it "woefully incomplete."

The bill did not provide any details on how it would raise the $400 billion needed to fund single-payer. That figure is double the state's current budget.

Half of the $400 billion was to be diverted from federal funding for existing programs like Medicare and Medi-Cal. But that would require federal consent — an unlikely scenario with President Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress. Californians would have to cover the remaining $200 billion through new taxes.

State senators suggested one possible source of funding — a new 15% tax. So much for "free" health care.

The cost of statewide single-payer systems is insurmountable. Even Vermont — home to single-payer's biggest champion, Sen. Bernie Sanders — rejected a statewide single-payer plan back in 2014. The system would have required an 11.5% percent payroll tax on businesses and a 9.5% income tax. Then-Governor Peter Shumlin, who originally supported single-payer, ultimately abandoned the plan after admitting that such taxes would cripple the state's economy.

Money isn't the only reason to reject single-payer. The system is also disastrous for patients. When health services are "free," patients have no reason to limit their consumption. But even an entity the size of the government has limited resources to pay for care. So shortages and long wait times are inevitable.

The single-payer system in my native Canada, for instance, forces patients to wait a median of more than 21 weeks to receive treatment from specialists after they obtain referrals from general practitioners. In some provinces, the wait is much longer. In 2017, the median wait time in New Brunswick was just shy of 42 weeks.

The U.K.'s Bad Example

The situation is just as bleak for patients in the United Kingdom's government-run health care system, the National Health Service. In the last year, more than 2,600 patients waited at least 12 months for elective treatment. Resources are so poorly managed that the agency was forced to cancel tens of thousands of surgeries — including urgent procedures — last winter.

Newsom has decided to ignore these realities on the campaign trail. As he put it, "There's no reason to wait around on universal health care and single-payer in California."

Faced with such willful obliviousness, it's no surprise that so many voters in solidly blue California cast their vote for a foe of government-run health care. As Cox said on the campaign trail, SB 562 would put in place "a socialist-styled health care delivery system that has failed in other countries and states, as governments cannot afford to fund it properly, and health care gets rationed."

When they enter the voting booth this November, Californians will be deciding not only on a gubernatorial candidate but on whether to authorize a government takeover of their health care system that will be hazardous to their health.

  • Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is "The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care" (Encounter). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

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36. Harley-Davidson Deserves President Donald Trump's Wrath — MostlyПт., 06 июля[−]

You have to love President Donald Trump. As a businessman he was ruthless in squeezing every last dollar from every opportunity. To lower costs he produced his goods in at least 12 foreign countries, including China, Indonesia, and Mexico. Anything to make a buck.

So it must be karma. The president launched a trade war, which basically means shooting one's own consumers and producers.

Among those hurt is the iconic U.S. motorcycle producer Harley-Davidson. The Trump tariffs are hurting the firm's bottom line. The latest estimate is that aluminum and steel levies will raise Harley-Davidson's costs by about $20 million this year, while European Union retaliation will cost the company another $45 million. The cost for next year will run $90 to $100 million.

But that isn't all. The president barred American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which lowered tariffs of other nations more than the U.S.

This kept foreign tariffs higher, including on U.S.-made motorcycles. So Harley decided to do what businessman Trump would have done: move productive facilities to Thailand to make more money.

Now Harley plans to move more manufacturing overseas in order to sell motorcycles in Europe. Said Harley-Davidson, shifting production to Europe "is not the company's preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe."

The president is livid. This most American of bikes, he said, should "never be built in another country — never!" He accused Harley of being "the first to wave a White Flag" in his trade war. The president complained that the company was just using the higher costs as an excuse for doing what it wanted to do anyway.

He apparently feels personally betrayed. In February 2017 he hosted company executives and labor leaders at the White House. At the time he declared: "Thank you, Harley-Davidson, for building things in America." He said he expected them to expand and he planned "to help you, too, and we're going to make it really great for business."

So he suggested possible retaliation: "Harley must know that they won't be able to sell back into the U.S. without paying a big tax!" Indeed, he added that if they leave "The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before." A White House aide said his message was that "If you make decisions to go elsewhere, it's going to be a problem for their business."

The Washington Post complained about the president's "authoritarian reaction." Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., declared: "The problem isn't that Harley is unpatriotic — it's that taxes are stupid."

Blogger Rob Port complained: "Expecting companies to deal with a higher cost of doing business out of some sense of patriotism is absurd."

That's all true. Indeed, Harley isn't likely to be alone in moving. Punishing American firms is a dubious way to promote "Made in America."

But Harley-Davidson is a special case. The business doesn't like tariffs today because it is paying them. It had a different opinion thirty-five years ago when the Reagan Administration imposed tariffs on foreign motorcycles, which were paid by American consumers.

In April 1983 Harley neared bankruptcy. Company executives had staged a buyout, so the firm lacked deep pockets and carried significant debt. With high labor costs and poor management, Harley was vulnerable to efficient Japanese manufacturers. So the Reagan administration raised the bike tariff from 4.4% to 49.4%.

Tariffs For Thee, Not For Me

Unsurprisingly, the company was happy to have the government hobble its prime competitors. Ironically, it's not clear that the tariffs, which were lifted four years later, contributed much to the firm's turnaround. More important were internal improvements. By one estimate the increased tariff was responsible for just 6% of higher sales.

But in 2008 and 2009 Harley also took out 33 emergency loans through the Federal Reserve's Commercial Paper Funding Facility, worth $2.3 billion. The company was wobbly and relied on cheap federal credit.

Thus, the issue isn't just Harley responding to a worsening economic environment created by the president. The company ran to Uncle Sam for aid, but now doesn't want to help others. Aid for me but not for thee appears to be Harley's perspective. So I'm OK with the president shaking down Harley-Davidson.

President Trump's trade war will do far more harm than good. However, it has exposed the hypocrisy of American business. If firms want the benefit of trade restrictions, they should be prepared to bear the costs as well.

  • Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of "Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire."

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37. New Jersey Votes To Have Taxpayers Fund The MediaПт., 06 июля[−]

In the liberal mind, the way to prove you value something is by funding it with taxpayer money. So if you love journalism, you take taxpayer money and give it to journalists.

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It is a sacred mantra of the left that corporate funding of media inevitably results in a pro-corporate media bias. Consistency would dictate that government funding of media would lead to a pro-government bias.

Not in New Jersey. The idea of the press as a check and a balance on government has just been placed on the Jersey Turnpike and squashed to pieces.

Garden State legislators have approved a bill to use taxpayer money to support "grants to strengthen local news coverage," starting with a $5 million kitty. The goal when the bill was first introduced was to have $20 million allocated toward the "civic information" fund every year for five years.

"Particularly during these uncertain times, we need a strong and free press, which we know is the best safeguard for truth in our state and the country," State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg declared. We're supposed to believe this won't make anyone with a press pass feel better about Weinberg and her fellow Democrats.

One reason Republicans in Congress never have the nerve to defund (or even cut) public broadcasting is fear of terrible publicity — not just from public radio and TV stations but from journalists in general. It's not state-run TV, just statist-run TV.

Legislators argue that the state's location between large media markets in New York City and Philadelphia lead to poor coverage of "hyperlocal issues" for most of the state. But CNN's Brian Stelter was thrilled about going nationwide with this socialist notion. He tweeted, "What if every state provided some seed $$$ for local journalism — as a way to rebuild some of what's been lost through years of" — private sector — "budget cuts and layoffs?"

The socialist advocacy group Free Press has been pushing for this for years, alongside its efforts to prevent any public broadcasting funding cuts. "Never before has a state taken the lead to address the growing crisis in local news," proclaimed Mike Rispoli, the New Jersey director of the Free Press Action Fund. They talk in panicky tones about the "disappearance" of local news.

The question liberals never ask is this: Are newspapers and TV stations losing their audience because they're too liberal? You can't fix that by doubly reinforcing Democrat-friendly government-funded local news operations. Last year, The New York Times mourned layoffs at The Record of Bergen County because it broke the vastly overhyped Bridgegate scandal against former Gov. Chris Christie. To The Times, that's a triumph of "news." To Republicans, it reeks of a partisan media bias.

It also makes you wonder why any private-sector investor would try to bail out such a failing effort. Media owners like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos or Carlos Slim get hailed as philanthropists for bailing out the liberal media. If you can't make a profit, you can at least improve your own public relations.

Obviously, the collapse of classified-advertising revenue and the rise of online news have caused major problems for newspapers. Let us agree for the sake of argument that a) this affects local news more than national news and b) local news should be covered.

There are a growing number of liberal multibillionaires who could easily throw $5 million at this New Jersey effort instead of the government. Men like George Soros have poured millions of dollars into journalism to promote their political agenda, so why not "hyperlocal" news? Answer: There's not enough glamour or political advantage in it. Besides, why should they? Let the little people do it with their tax dollars.

  • Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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38. San Francisco: Poster-Child For The Failure Of U.S. Cities' Blue ModelПт., 06 июля[−]

Blue-Model Fail: By any standard, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So why has it suddenly become an unappealing place to visit and to live? As with so many U.S. cities, it suffers a host of urban maladies. Blame the far-left Blue Model of urban governance, which now afflicts most major American cities.

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Yes, the city by the bay is extraordinarily beautiful. But that's a result of geography and the city's distant past, not of its current political class, which is about as far-left on the urban political spectrum as any city in America.

Many were surprised that a Chicago-based medical association recently said "no thanks" to future conventions in San Francisco, once a cherished favorite conference or meeting site for groups of all sorts, setting off alarms.

The San Francisco Travel Association, which revealed the cancellation, refused to name the medical association involved. Perhaps it hopes to change the group's decision. But it did say that the loss would be significant, costing the local economy some $40 million from about 15,000 attendees.

And apart from the shock value, this cancellation may be the tip of a very big iceberg. The local NBC News affiliate was brutal in its assessment as to why the cancellation happened: "The amount of trash, feces, and used drug needles scattered throughout the city's streets and sidewalks is making it harder to convince companies to return to San Francisco." Ouch.

No, San Francisco hasn't collapsed. It's still a big city, filled with nice restaurants, extravagant hotels and wealthy residents, many made rich by the Silicon Valley tech boom. It's not poor, or even struggling. But despite the superficial trappings of its tech wealth, it is changing, and not for the better.

That gives it much in common with other major American cities.

Because San Francisco's superficial wealth masks a serious problem: As with so many other major cities, it has hollowed out. Middle-class families have fled, no longer able to afford to live there, or appalled at what the city has become. The cancelled medical convention was symbolic of that disenchantment.

One recent report shows why. It notes that the city had logged more than 16,000 complaints containing the word "feces" in just one week. Many of those reports linked a growing amount of fecal matter on streets and in alley to the near-ubiquitous encampments of homeless people and vagrants, who have flooded into the city due to its tolerant and even friendly policies. It's a serious problem.

San Francisco proudly calls itself a "progressive" city. It follows what writer and scholar Walter Russell Mead calls the progressive "Blue Model" of governance. Yet, the policies it follows — high taxes, inane regulations, petty nanny-state authoritarianism, tolerance for rising lawlessness and disorder on its streets in the name of "compassion" — are the very ones that have driven middle-class and working-class citizens out. Only the rich and the so-called homeless, who have been welcomed into the city and are a growing issue, can afford to live in the city.

Still, it might be unfair to single San Francisco out. A new study of Census data from 2010-2017 by the online publication 24/7 Wall Street and reported by USA Today finds that many other major American cities are losing population to other areas, even faster than San Francisco. But, unlike San Francisco, none of them have a booming Silicon Valley to bail them out as their middle-class residents seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Looking at the Top 10 biggest net migration losers on the list for the seven years is instructive: It includes Chicago (which lost 296,320 people from 2010-2017), L.A. (-93,959 people lost), Detroit (-54,640), St. Louis (-39,894 people), Cleveland (-33,117), Memphis (-30,000), Milwaukee (-27,959), Flint, Mich. (-22,658), El Paso, Texas (-21,829), and, of course, New York City (-21,503).

Those cities' hard-working middle class residents are leaving, rather than face growing urban decay, welfare-based poverty, loss of major businesses, poor-performing public schools, artificially high local housing prices, crime and a hostile political class that focuses on superficial measures of class-leveling and "equality" rather than creating opportunities for all.

We looked at the list and did a bit of research of our own. What we found was that virtually all of the top 10 cities on the list that had a net loss of population to other cities and states have been governed almost exclusively by liberal or far-left Democratic regimes since at least the 1960s. Their problems aren't accidental. They're systematic.

For years, these Blue Model politicians have taxed, spent and regulated on the people's behalf, with poor or even abysmal results. That's why the massive shift of population is taking place. It also accounts, perhaps, for the surprising rise and success of President Trump.

'Blue' Cities Lose People

As urban researchers Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox noted in 2017, "In 2016 alone, states that supported Donald Trump gained 400,000 domestic migrants from states that supported Hillary Clinton. This came on top of an existing advantage in net domestic red state migration of 1.45 million people from 2010 through 2015."

San Francisco, Kotkin and Cox observe, is a case in point: "In the San Francisco Bay Area, techies are increasingly looking for jobs outside the region, and some companies are offering cash bonuses for those willing to leave. A recent poll indicated that 46% of millennials want to leave the Bay Area. Meanwhile, these 'best and brightest' have been gravitating to lower cost areas such as Austin, Orlando, Houston, Nashville, and Charlotte."

Fed-up big city residents in Blue cities and states, in short, are moving to smaller cities and towns in Red states. It's a political transformation that complicates the Democrats' hopes of recapturing the White House in 2020 and Congress this year.

The failure of America's big cities should be a warning siren to Democratic Party advocates of Blue Model governance. Because of the Blue Model's failure, America is rapidly segregating itself economically. It's unhealthy for America, unhealthy for our big cities, and unhealthy for our democracy. And it shows no signs of ending any time soon.

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39. Amy Coney Barrett's 'Cult'Пт., 06 июля[−]

When Notre Dame law professor and possible Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was nominated for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, her affiliation with a religious group called People of Praise raised red flags. It was some sort of cult, they implied. Sen. Dianne Feinstein famously reproved the nominee by intoning that "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that's of concern."

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It was an echo of the kind of anti-Catholic bigotry that characterized American life for centuries. When the Democrats nominated the first Roman Catholic for president, Al Smith in 1928, opponents warned that all Protestant marriages would be annulled and all Protestant children declared bastards if the Catholic were elected. Republicans circulated pictures of Smith posing before the almost-completed Holland Tunnel with a caption declaring that instead of emptying into New Jersey, it really led 3,500 miles under the Atlantic Ocean to the basement of the Vatican. After his loss to Herbert Hoover, Smith was reputed to have quipped that he had sent a one-word telegram to the Pope: "Unpack."

But Feinstein's comment and others' insinuations that Barrett's religion is somehow creepy or suspicious reveals a broader anti-religious bias.

Barrett and her family are reportedly members of a religious group called People of Praise. The New York Times implied that the group — most, but not all of whose members are Catholic — departed from mainstream Catholic ideas and doctrines. My Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Ed Whelan disposed of those suggestions.

Curious, I looked at their website. I suppose it's possible that the benign image they attempt to convey to the world is mere window dressing. But then again, Pope Francis appointed one of their members as an auxiliary bishop in Portland, Oregon. It seems doubtful, bordering on impossible, that he would have conferred that honor on a cult member.

Founded in 1971 as part of the lay Catholic ministries movement, People of Praise provides spiritual community, support for those in need, prayer and counseling, and guidance for successful marriages, among other things. More than 1,000 couples have completed their Marriage in Christ program that instills habits of prayer and — this is shocking — conversation to improve relationships.

The first thing you see on the People of Praise website is a Louisiana picnic attended by a notably interracial group. One might have thought that such membership groups are far too rare — especially in the current climate. As Dorothy Anderson, an older African-American woman put it: "In almost all of his speeches, Martin Luther King spoke about blacks and whites living together in unity. I didn't think I'd live long enough to see it, but I saw it last Thursday night at the barbecue."

People of Praise is ecumenical, with Lutheran, Methodist, Anglican and other Christian members in addition to the Catholics. It contains both Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor. Like churches, they send missions to needy communities in the United States. More than 100 members have helped to build and renovate homes, run summer camps for thousands of kids and found schools.

As for Barrett herself, it seems that she lives her faith. She and her husband have seven children, including one with special needs and two adopted from Haiti. Her former colleagues on the Notre Dame law school faculty, many of whom have disagreements with Barrett, unanimously endorsed her nomination to the Circuit Court, describing her as "brilliant" and also "generous" and "warm." They wrote: "She possesses in abundance all of the other qualities that shape extraordinary jurists: discipline, intellect, wisdom, impeccable temperament, and above all, fundamental decency and humanity."

If Barrett is a glazed-eyed cultist, she's done an incredible job of hiding it. She fooled her fellow clerks on the Supreme Court when she worked for Justice Antonin Scalia. Dozens of clerks, including some who worked for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, endorsed her previous nomination, calling her a "woman of remarkable intellect and character."

She fooled her students, hundreds of whom signed an endorsement reading, in part, "Our religious, cultural, and political views span a wide spectrum. Despite the many and genuine differences among us, we are united in our conviction that Professor Barrett would make an exceptional federal judge." And she fooled all of the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee along with three Democrats, who voted to approve her nomination.

The words "people of praise" raise hackles among secularists. Considering their charitable work and transracial, trans-class appeal, they deserve at least the benefit of the doubt. And that Barrett is reportedly a member is the best testimonial of all.

  • Charen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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40. Will The Odd Couple — AMLO And Trump — Narrow The U.S.-Mexico Gap?Пт., 06 июля[−]

Will NAFTA survive? Last week, Mexico elected as president longtime NAFTA critic Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (always called "AMLO") by a wide margin. He promptly had a cordial telephone conversation with longtime NAFTA critic President Donald Trump, who remains U.S. president for the next 30 months and, if re-elected, for all of AMLO's six-year term.

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The cordiality may have just been a ritual. Not since the 1920s have the two neighboring countries had presidents as critical of the other's country as they will have on AMLO's inauguration Dec. 1.

For it's unclear whether the ongoing renegotiations of NAFTA with Mexico and Canada will result in abrogation of the treaty or just modifications, perhaps overdue after 25 years. NAFTA is not just an economic agreement, though it was sold as that to bipartisan majorities in Congress in 1993.

For the boundary between the United States and Mexico, negotiated after the U.S. defeated Mexico in 1848, has not just been the world border separating the two most economically unequal nations; it has also been the line separating two profoundly different cultures.

For the United States has an almost entirely European culture, leavened by other influences, while Mexico partakes heavily of its pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture. We have been "distant neighbors," as the journalist Alan Riding titled his 1985 book on Mexico. "I celebrate myself," proclaimed the brash, exuberant 19th-century American poet Walt Whitman. Mexicans, in contrast, inhabit a "labyrinth of solitude," wrote the introverted, fatalistic 20th-century Mexican poet and diplomat Octavio Paz.

The architects of NAFTA had personal exposure to the sharpness of the border and a desire to meld together the two divergent cultures — to make Mexico economically more like America, mostly, but also to make Mexican political and economic culture more like America's.

NAFTA was a project of two Republican presidents who settled and made their fortunes less than 100 miles north of the border — Ronald Reagan in southern California in the 1930s and George H.W. Bush in Midland, Texas, in the 1950s. Its chief Democratic advocate was Lloyd Bentsen, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the Reagan and Bush presidencies and treasury secretary during Bill Clinton's, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley, less than five miles north of Mexico. And the Mexican president who pushed NAFTA through was Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who grew up in Monterrey, three hours to the south.

Their combined efforts have changed Mexico's political culture. From 1929 to 2000, one party won every national election and outgoing presidents hand-picked their successors — and then disappeared from public life and became scapegoats for lingering problems after their single six-year terms ended. It was a sort of Aztec system, with elaborate ceremony, calendrical regularity and an element of human sacrifice.

That ended with the election of opposition-party President Vicente Fox in 2000, a close election AMLO narrowly lost in 2006 and a victory for the older ruling party in 2012. Competitive and rigorously honest elections, rotation in office: Mexico has developed something like a conventional Western political culture. AMLO's victory Sunday following the moderation of his radical rhetoric is more evidence of that.

Another such change is the abrupt end of outmigration. Like Japan and China 100 years before, Mexico was exporting millions of low-wage workers from 1982 to 2007. That largely stopped when the U.S. housing bubble burst, and now Mexico is a transit point for Central Americans migrating illegally — an issue that is perhaps negotiable for AMLO and Trump.

More disturbing is the gang violence raging in Mexico and threatening America. Drug cartels have murdered some 113 election candidates since September and have taken over previously uncorrupt governments in running up toward the U.S. border. Even in northern Mexico, cities like Guanajuato and Queretaro, whose modern infrastructure and clean local government attracted much post-NAFTA foreign investment, have suffered murder waves.

You might argue this is no more dangerous than the organized crime and violence in heavy-immigration zones in the United States a century ago — unnerving for some years but eventually a manageable problem.

And there's endemic corruption in government and law enforcement — mostly invisible for years, the distinguished Mexican historian Enrique Krauze argues in The New York Times, but now out in the open.

In his recently published book, "Vanishing Frontiers," Migration Policy Institute President Andrew Selee argues that NAFTA has reduced the economic and cultural gap between the United States and Mexico. Will it be reduced further or widened by the odd couple of AMLO and Donald Trump?

  • Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

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41. Anti-Trump GOP Establishment Seeks $1 Tril National Gas TaxПт., 06 июля[−]

Just when the Democrat Party has gone socialist, the old line, anti-Trump, GOP Establishment is flipping out too. Two former GOP Secretaries of State, James Baker and George Shultz, have teamed up to support what they are calling a national carbon tax, which would basically be a trillion dollar national gas tax, and a new tax on electricity and all other forms of traditional energy.

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That would amount to a death grip on the American economy.

They have formed a front to advance this mayhem called the Alliance for Market Solutions. They call this new trillion-dollar tax on working people and the middle class "pro-growth," as they explain in a book, "Carbon Tax Policy: A Conservative Dialogue on Pro-Growth Opportunities". But there is nothing pro-growth or conservative about this burdensome, intrusive, Big Government, anti-growth tax.

Before you can have a market solution, you must have a problem to solve. "Carbon pollution" is not a problem, because there is no such thing as carbon pollution. That term refers to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which come from burning the fossil fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal — that powered the Industrial Revolution. That economic revolution produced the sustained, long term, economic growth that created the modern world.

CO2 is a natural substance found in the environment, essential actually to the survival of all life on the planet. CO2 enables plants to grow, feeding animals, which feed other animals, including humans. Without CO2, plants would die, and so would all other life on the planet, scientifically labelled "carbon-based life forms".

This is why CO2 can never be referred to as "pollution." As CO2 emissions have increased the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the planet has flowered with greenery that can be observed from satellites orbiting the planet. This is why very high concentrations of CO2 are pumped into actual greenhouses, to promote rapid growth of plant life.

The double peer-reviewed "Climate Change Reconsidered II," published by the Heartland Institute, explains, "At the current level of 400 parts per million (that is 0.04% of the atmosphere, 4/100s of one percent, a minuscule amount), we still live in a CO2-starved world. Atmospheric levels (of CO2) 15 times greater existed during the pre-Cambrian period (about 550 million years ago) without known adverse effects," such as catastrophic global warming. (emphasis added).

CO2 falling below 250 parts per million is considered the starvation threshold for plant life, which would be the real catastrophe for the human race. See e.g. Princeton Physics Professor Will Happer.

And as the industrial revolution's economic growth has built the modern world, billions have been lifted out of poverty. Global poverty is now slated for extinction. The middle class has been created, now spreading worldwide. Food supplies have burgeoned. Fatal diseases have been slaughtered. Human health and longevity have skyrocketed.

Carbon Tax = Bigger Government

In the movie series "Planet of the Apes," stupid apes originally took over the planet from humans by cutting off the electricity supply, which they were smart enough to know was the foundation of the modern world. Now come the privileged, GOP elites who would do to American and western prosperity what OPEC boycotters did in the 1970s, by raising the price of energy.

Na?ve Washington "savants", as they have called themselves, tell us that with the gusher of revenues from the carbon tax, we can give the money right back to the people with revenue neutral rebates. We can finance income tax cuts, and roll back energy squelching regulations.

But who could be silly enough to think we could run trillions of increased taxes through Washington, without seeing it eaten up with increased, wasteful, counterproductive government spending. It wouldn't even reduce the deficit. And President Trump is already rolling back energy-squelching regulations, on his way to American energy dominance, beyond just independence.

We don't need to fuel the Washington bureaucracy, and further flood the Washington swamp, pouring oil on the bonfire with trillions of increased taxes paid by the middle class, the poor, and working people. That would be the true "Bonfire of the Vanities."

  • Ferrara, senior fellow for legal affairs at the Heartland Institute, and senior policy advisor for the National Tax Limitation Foundation, teaches economics at Kings College in New York City. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan. He also served as associate deputy attorney general of the U.S. under President George H.W. Bush.

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42. NFL's Rooney Rule Runs Amok in the Corporate BoardroomЧт., 05 июля[−]

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts once wrote that the "way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." He wrote those words in a 2007 opinion that turned back Seattle's race-based efforts to implement affirmative action-type policies to its local school district. While that case garnered a race-neutral result, his broader message seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

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In America, race-based policies are expanding not contracting.

Rather than reaching down to lower-level schools, affirmative action policies are now exponentially expanding into corporate America.

In recent weeks, Amazon ( AMZN), Alphabet ( GOOGL), and Facebook ( FB) have announced updated diversity policies for selecting new directors. Rather than simply selecting the best candidate, each company will interview a female and an under-represented minority for each open board spot. These policies resemble the National Football League's so-called Rooney Rule which requires that each team interview a minority candidate for open coaching slots.

Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet were founded by, and still run by, white men. They have created tremendous wealth and many millions of jobs for women and men of all races and ethnicities. But in light of its new procedure, it's fair to ask: would Amazon reject Jeff Bezos from its board because he's a white male? That would be a disaster for Amazon's investors.

It's also fair to ask if the race-hustlers and far-left unions that are pushing these racial and gender diversity initiatives care about corporate profits or return on investment. Liberal policies that their ilk promote, such as high taxation and regulation, diminish corporate profits.

Alphabet announced its new procedure at its annual shareholder meeting a week after Facebook and Amazon did the same. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg proudly publicized its new policy after a question from Jesse Jackson in which he attacked the company because its "top 15 employees are white." Jackson lauded Sandberg's proclamation in which she also revealed that Facebook formulated the new board principles in conjunction with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Likewise, Amazon's announcement came in response to an SEIU shareholder proposal pushing board diversity. Jackson was also in attendance to laud that racial initiative. Amazon has since claimed that it's not a new policy but just an affirmation of its practices already in place.

There is reason to doubt Amazon's veracity.

Companies may ask the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to exclude any shareholder proposal from their proxy statement. One of the easiest ways to do so is to show that the company already has practices in place that align with the proposal's request. If Amazon is telling the truth now, why didn't it make this basic appeal to the SEC?

Amazon certainly avails itself of this option. In 2018, it petitioned the SEC for the right to remove nine proposals from its proxy statement — far more than most corporations do in a given year. Many of these requests involved more complex SEC provisions and legal reasoning than would have been needed to dispatch the SEIU's proposal, that is, if Amazon is telling the truth.

ISS Role

What is true is that once the SEIU's proposal was on Amazon's proxy statement, it received support from Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).

ISS is one of only two major proxy advisory services. Operating with almost zero scrutiny, these firms increasingly exert outsized influence on environmental, governmental, and social issues. That's because, according to research from the American Council for Capital Formation, "when proxy advisors recommend voting in favor of a proposal, large institutional holders support the resolution 80% of the time. And some funds automatically vote with the proxy advisors nearly 100% of the time."

ISS has become little more than a rubber stamp for liberal activist investors. From climate change to gender pay issues, to board racial and gender composition, ISS supports a full slate of far-left shareholder proposals.

It's entirely possible that Amazon caved to the SEIU's proposal under pressure from ISS. If ISS can exert that much power over Bezos and Amazon — the richest person in the world and one of the world's largest publicly-traded companies — what choice do other companies have but to bend to ISS's liberal will?

Remedies Available

The outsized role of proxy advisors has received congressional attention. A bipartisan bill working its way through the House, co-sponsored by Congressmen Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., seeks to curb these firms' unchecked power.

There are also non-governmental remedies.

First, companies need to steel their collective spines and speak up. If ISS supports a shareholder proposal, the vote is essentially rigged. ISS clients often "rubber stamp" votes for its recommendations without any deliberative process. Since shareholder resolutions are non-binding, and these votes are all-but rigged, companies should give them little deference.

Second, fund managers must take a more active role in evaluating ISS recommendations.

Finally, the conservative investment community should work toward creating a proxy advisory service that reflects pro-growth and long-term return on investment metrics.

Otherwise, conservatives may as well cede this entire space to liberal firms and watch corporate America drift further to the left. This year, with ISS backing, it's the Rooney Rule run amok. Next year, it may be something even more insidious.

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43. No, Gasoline Prices Are Not 'Too High'Чт., 05 июля[−]

Energy Markets: Based on all the stories about "surging" gasoline prices, you might think the country was about to relive the energy crisis of the late 1970s. The truth is, the cost of filling up today is nowhere near where it was during most of the past decade.

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Just before the July Fourth holiday, several news outlets noted that pump prices are higher than they've been in four years. Democrats are, not surprisingly, playing this up as an election issue, saying it's the result of President Trump's misguided policies toward Iran and his softening Obama-era fuel economy standards for new cars.

Trump, too, has joined the chorus of complaints, casting blame on OPEC.

On July 4, Trump tweeted that OPEC "is driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $'s. This must be a two-way street."

Fair enough. But the complaints about today's gasoline prices expose more about the short attention spans of Americans and the mainstream press than they do about oil markets.

According to the Energy Information Administration's weekly report, a gallon of gas costs about $2.92 nationwide. And, indeed, the last time prices were that high was in October 2014.

But stories about today's gas prices rarely adjust for inflation. When you do that, you find that at $2.92, a gallon of gas costs the same today as it did back in June 1984.

During President Obama's 8-years in office, gasoline averaged $3.25 a gallon, in today's dollars. For 14 months during those years, it was above $4 a gallon, which is higher than prices ever reached in the wake of the Iranian revolution. (They peaked at $3.94 in March 1980.)

What's more, while Trump is right that OPEC can have an impact on oil prices, the explosion of domestic oil production has dramatically weakened OPEC's hand.

That's a result of the fracking revolution, which unlocked vast stores of previously unrecovered oil deposits. Plus, Trump promised when he came into office that he'd remove impediments to still more production, and has taken several steps to do so.

As a result, oil companies produced 14% more oil this April than they did when Trump took office. In the first half of this year, they will have produced about as much domestic oil as they did in all of 2009.

Want Lower Prices?

For those who really do want to see lower gas prices, the answer isn't to complain about Trump's Iran policy, or call for him to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — as some are already doing.

The answer is to review the pile of environmental regulations and federal mandates that raise costs. That includes the ethanol mandate, regional air quality rules that have Balkanized gasoline markets in the country, and various EPA rules on what can go into gasoline. The Obama administration's "Tier 3" regulations, for example, added as much as 9 cents to a gallon of gas.

Regulations made building new refineries almost impossible, resulting in refining capacity dropping from 18.6 million barrels a day in 1981 to 16.8 million by 2005. Obama added to still more refining costs with new regulations imposed in 2015.

On top of all this, add state and federal per-gallon taxes, and you see that the government is responsible for a significant portion of gasoline's price.

The Trump administration and the Republican Congress could bring gasoline prices down. But only by further enraging their already hysterical political opponents.

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44. The Left Can't Come To Grips With The Loss Of PowerЧт., 05 июля[−]

Key Trump administration officials have been confronted at restaurants. Rep. Maxine Waters urged protesters to hound Trump officials at restaurants, gas stations or department stores.

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Progressive pundits and the liberal media almost daily think up new ways of characterizing President Trump as a Nazi, fascist, tyrant or buffoon. Celebrities openly fantasize about doing harm to Trump.

What is behind the unprecedented furor?

Just as Barack Obama was not a centrist, neither is Trump. Obama promised to fundamentally transform the United States. Trump pledged to do the same and more — but in the exact opposite direction.

The Trump agenda enrages the left in much the same manner that ObamaCare, the Obama tax hikes, Obama's liberal Supreme Court picks and the Iran nuclear deal goaded the right.

Yet the current progressive meltdown is about more than just political differences. The outrage is mostly about power — or rather, the utter and unexpected loss of it.

In 2009, Obama seemed to usher in a progressive revolution for a generation.

Democrats controlled the House. They had a supermajority in the Senate. Obama had a chance to ensure a liberal majority on the Supreme Court for years.

Democrats had gained on Republicans at the state and local levels. The media, universities, professional sports, Hollywood and popular culture were all solidly left-wing.

A Republican had not won 51% of the popular vote in a presidential election since George H.W. Bush's 1988 defeat of Democrat Michael Dukakis. Before 2016, Republicans had lost the popular vote in five of the previous six presidential elections.

And then visions of a generation of progressive grandeur abruptly vanished.

Obama left behind a polarized nation. Democrats lost both the House and the Senate. During Obama's tenure, Democrats lost more than 1,000 seats at the state level.

Presumptive winner Hillary Clinton blew the 2016 presidential election.

Foolishly, Clinton tried to ensure a landslide victory by wasting precious campaign time in unwinnable red states such as Arizona and Georgia. Meanwhile, she too often neglected winnable purple states such as Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which Obama had won in 2008 and 2012. Clinton apparently forgot that the Electoral College, not the popular vote, elects a president.

After his election, President Trump did not implode as predicted. By following the Obama precedent of relying on executive orders, Trump began recalibrating everything from immigration enforcement to energy development.

Abroad, Trump did what no other Republican president would have dared, bombing ISIS into submission, canceling the Iran deal, seeking to denuclearize North Korea, pulling out of the Paris climate accord, and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The U.S. economy took off with new tax cuts and deregulation. Radical improvement in unemployment, economic growth, and oil and natural gas production created new consumer and business confidence.

Despite his frequent crudeness, Trump is inching toward a 50% approval rating in a few polls. That has only made an impotent opposition grow even more furious — both at the other half of the country for supporting Trump, and at a buoyant Trump himself for baiting and ridiculing progressives in the fashion of no prior president.

Worse still, much of the loss of progressive power was at least partly self-inflicted.

Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid foolishly dropped the number of votes needed to overcome a filibuster for executive appointments and most judicial nominations in 2013. That blunder ensured Republicans the chance to remake the Supreme Court when they took over the Senate in 2014.

Obama chose not to try to win over his opposition, but to alienate it by veering hard left in his second term. Hillary Clinton foolishly got herself into a number of personal scandals that embarrassed her party and helped lead to her defeat.

In reaction to the sudden loss of political power, Democrats would have been wise to run to the center, as did Bill Clinton, who all but ended the era of the Reagan Republicans.

They could have dropped their obsession with identity politics and instead attempted to win over blue-collar voters with more inclusive class appeals rather than racial appeals.

Instead, Democrats have endlessly replayed the 2016 election. In Groundhog Day fashion, Hillary Clinton repeatedly offered tired excuses for her loss.

To progressives, Trump became not an opponent to beaten with a better agenda, but an evil to be destroyed. Moderate Democrats were written off as dense; left-wing fringe elements were praised as clever.

Voters in 2016 bristled at redistribution, open borders, bigger government and higher taxes, but progressives are now promising those voters even more of what they didn't want.

Furious over the sudden and unexpected loss of power, enraged progressives have so far done almost everything to lose even more of it.

And that paradox only leads to more furor.

  • Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books.

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45. Trump Blamed for Death of Reporters: Did Media Blame Obama for Cop Killers?Чт., 05 июля[−]

A man with a long-standing beef against the Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper Capital Gazette entered the paper's headquarters with a shotgun and murdered five staffers. It represents the deadliest attack on U.S. reporters in modern history.

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Before learning about the suspect's mental issues and his long-standing feud with the newspaper, some in the media blamed President Donald Trump. After all, critics said, Trump routinely denounces "fake news" as an existential threat to our republic. Connect the dots, they said. Blame Trump! CNN aired a montage of Trump's attacks on the media. Rob Cox, a Reuters editor, tweeted: "This is what happens when @RealDonaldTrump calls journalists the enemy of the people. Blood is on your hands, Mr. President." Another reporter, who later resigned, even falsely tweeted that the shooter was wearing a MAGA cap. How do you get that wrong?

How dare the President call out the anti-Republican media for its decades of biased reporting? Pew Research, in 2013, found that only 7% of reporters called themselves Republican. How dare Trump attack The New York Times, which has not endorsed a Republican presidential candidate since 1956? How dare Trump go after The Washington Post, which has never endorsed a Republican presidential candidate. And how dare Trump refer to CNN — one of whose "news" anchors, Don Lemon, has called Trump "a racist" — as fake news.

Did the media hold President Barack Obama responsible for the murders of 10 cops in Dallas, Baton Rouge and New York City, all at the hands of black men apparently incited by their belief that cops murder blacks without consequence? After all, Obama frequently criticized the police and bemoaned America's racism as "part of our DNA."

President Obama's anti-cop rhetoric started right after he took office. Obama's friend, a black Harvard professor, was arrested in his home. Professor Henry Louis Gates, back from a trip, couldn't open his front door and reportedly asked his driver to help. A neighbor, observing two people trying to force open the front door of Gates' home, called 911. But when the cops arrived and asked Gates to exit the home so he could determine its ownership, Gates mouthed off and was briefly arrested. Obama said, "The Cambridge police acted stupidly." The Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association and the Cambridge Police commissioner insisted the officer followed protocol. Obama's statement infuriated officers all across the country and set up a template for the Obama administration: Cops engage in unlawful anti-black racial profiling.

Obama and his attorney general also offered verbal support to the so-called Black Lives Matter movement that argues, without facts, that blacks are regularly and illegally profiled by an institutionally, systemically and structurally "racist" criminal justice system. It did not help that during the first six years of the Obama administration, the anti-police incendiary Rev. Al Sharpton, according to The Washington Post, visited the White House 72 times. What kind of message did that send to the police?

When a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, shot and killed a black 17-year-old named Trayvon Martin, President Obama promptly sided with the deceased teen, saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." A jury found Zimmerman not guilty, and one juror later said that during the deliberations, race never came up.

Then there's Ferguson. A grim President Obama, at an address before the United Nations, said: "In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions."

But the Ferguson grand jury did not indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, and a Department of Justice report exonerated the cop. Contrary to the lies told by his friend who witnessed the shooting, Michael Brown did not have his hands up when the officer shot and killed him. Brown, did not say, "Hands up. Don't shoot." Yet before the investigation even began, Obama's BFF, Sharpton, took to the streets of Ferguson yelling, "No justice, no peace."

The DOJ's investigation of Ferguson's nearly all-white police department criticized its alleged "institutional racism." But its actual findings do not support that conclusion. Ferguson, the investigation noted, is 67% black, but 85% of its traffic stops involve black drivers. To the DOJ, this 18-point statistical imbalance equals systemic racism. But in New York City, where the department consists mostly officers of color, 55% of traffic stops involve a black driver in a city with a 25% black population. This is a 30-point statistical imbalance. Wouldn't this make the NYPD even more "institutionally racist" than the Ferguson PD?

Trump, say the media, has created an atmosphere that puts reporters in danger. Obama often unfairly criticized the police. But the media did not blame Obama for the murder of officers by angry black men consumed with the wrongheaded belief that blacks are victimized by the "institutional racism" of the criminal justice system.

  • Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.

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46. Does Trump's Summit With Kim Foretell A Catastrophic Meeting With Putin?Чт., 05 июля[−]

"There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."
— Donald Trump, June 13, 2018

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"North Korea is upgrading its nuclear research center at a rapid pace, new satellite imagery analysis suggests."
— The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2018

As the president prepares, if this time he does prepare, for his second summit, note all that went wrong at the first. If he does as badly in his July 16 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland as he did with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the consequences could be catastrophic.

An exceptionally knowledgeable student of North Korea, the American Enterprise Institute's Nicholas Eberstadt, writing in National Review ("Kim Wins in Singapore"), says the one-day meeting was for the United States "a World Series of unforced errors." The result was that North Korea "walked away with a joint communiqu? that read almost as if it had been drafted by the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) ministry of foreign affairs."

Kim, says Eberstadt, is "the boss of a state-run crime cartel that a U.N. Commission of Inquiry wants to charge with crimes against humanity." Au contraire, said America's president, who slathered Kim with praise: Kim, with whom Trump has "a very special bond" is a "talented man" who "loves his country," which reciprocates with "a great fervor." Trump called Kim a "very worthy negotiator," which might actually have made sense if Kim had been forced to negotiate for the concessions that Trump dispensed gratis.

North Korea, Eberstadt says, is committed to what he calls its "racial socialism," which motivates Kim's "central and sacred mission," which is "nonnegotiable" — the unconditional reunification of the Korean Peninsula. This presupposes extermination of the South Korean state, which requires the policy Kim announced last New Year's Day — to "mass-produce nuclear warheads and missiles and speed up their deployment." Eberstadt:

"Such a program would not be necessary for regime legitimation, or for international military extortion, or even to ensure the regime's survival: All of those objectives could surely be satisfied with a limited nuclear force. Why then threaten the U.S. homeland?" America is the guarantor of South Korea's security, and if Washington can be made to blink at a time and place of Pyongyang's choosing, the U.S.-South Korea alliance will end, as will the U.S. security presence there. Hence the delusional nature of Trump's belief: One one-day meeting sufficed to cause the North Korean regime to abandon its raison d'?tre.

In addition to the legitimation supplied to Pyongyang by the pageantry of the summit for which Trump obviously hungered, the official record of the Singapore deliberations reveals no U.S. interest in Pyongyang's atrocious human rights practices ("unparalleled in the modern world," Eberstadt says) that raise doubts about the fervor with which North Koreans appreciate Dear Leader's love for them. In return for Trump's promise to halt military-readiness operations, Kim gave nothing — no inventory of his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, nothing beyond North Korea's decades-old commitment to "denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula, an opaque goal that means only that Pyongyang is not clearly committed to anything — beyond a pre-summit promise to decommission a no-longer-useable nuclear test site. The New Year's Day vow has not been disavowed.

Singapore was, Eberstadt believes, probably the greatest diplomatic coup for North Korea since 1950, and a milestone on "the DPRK's road to establishing itself as a permanent nuclear power." And the sanctions that were the Trump administration's strategy of "maximum pressure" will be difficult to maintain now that a "defanged" — Eberstadt's description — Trump has declared the nuclear threat banished.

The most dangerous moment of the Trump presidency will arrive when he who is constantly gnawed by insecurities and the fear of not seeming what he is not ("strong"), realizes how weak and childish he seems to all who cast a cool eye on Singapore's aftermath. The danger is of him lashing out in wounded vanity. Meanwhile, this innocent abroad is strutting toward a meeting with the cold-eyed Russian who is continuing to dismantle Europe's geographically largest nation, Ukraine. He is likely looking ahead to ratcheting up pressure on one of three small nations, Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia, each a member of the NATO alliance that, for the first time in its 69 years, is dealing with a U.S. president who evinces no admiration for what it has accomplished, or any understanding of its revived importance as the hard man in Moscow, who can sniff softness, relishes what Singapore revealed.


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47. One Nation, Many IndividualsСр., 04 июля[−]

We celebrate the Fourth of July because that's the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, 242 years ago. You might call July 4 America's birthday.

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The Declaration didn't just declare our independence from Britain; it vowed to create a government that respected all people's rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

It said nothing about patriotism. Or making America "great."

America became great because the Declaration (and the Constitution that followed) set down rules that kept government small and out of the way. That let creative individuals flourish.

When the Declaration was signed, the founders didn't know what America would look like. They knew, though, that they were sick of being bossed around by the British king, so they worried about government having too much power.

Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues wrote the Declaration to assert that our "natural rights" could not be taken away by any government, and to set the stage for the creation of a government through which people could rule themselves.

At the time, America was considered a backwater. Just a few years later, America had become the most prosperous, and probably the freest, country in the world.

The Fourth of July is not about barbecues, fireworks or even patriotism. It's about that idea: that people have the right to rule themselves.

Ironically, government has grown so much since the founding that you might not even be able to buy fireworks where you live. In much of America they are now illegal because government officials have declared them to be too dangerous.

Yet the Declaration and Constitution weren't written to make government provide for public safety. The founders assumed that was something adults would do for themselves. The founding documents are about freedom -- about limiting what government can do.

"Trust no man with too much government power," wrote Jefferson. "(B)ind them with the chains of the Constitution."

It's good that the Declaration and Constitution have those "chains." No matter how insistent the state's busybodies get, they may not arbitrarily search our homes or jail us. We have a right to bear arms, to practice whatever religions we choose, to exercise free speech and more.

Growing government has eroded some of our freedoms, but we still have more freedoms than most countries in the world.

Consider the country we declared independence from, Great Britain. Authorities there recently locked up a man merely because he made a Facebook live video outside a courthouse. He wanted to draw attention to child abusers on trial, but Britain's government puts limits on what reporters may cover. England has no First Amendment.

Some people who write critical things on Facebook or Twitter get visits from police.

Great Britain also has no Second Amendment, and has far more restrictions on guns than we have. That hasn't stopped crime. London had more murders than New York City this spring.

Now London's mayor wants "knife control." Really.

One British police department even bragged about its "weapon sweep" that confiscated "scissors and pliers." But don't worry, tweeted the Regents Police Agency, they were "safely disposed and taken off the streets."

I'm glad I live in America, where I can carry pliers around. And speak freely.

Of course, the Constitution has more limits on government power than just the ones stated in the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution divided government in ways meant to limit authoritarian politicians from any party.

President Donald Trump's own Supreme Court nominee rebuked the man who appointed him, ruling that a Trump-advocated law making it easier to deport some immigrants was too vague.

The Court stopped President Obama almost a hundred times.

It's a good thing we have both the Declaration and the Constitution, with their curbs on power-grabs by presidents and legislators -- curbs on judges, too.

Unfortunately, those limits on government haven't exactly kept government small. Thomas Jefferson wanted "a wise and frugal government" that leaves people "free to regulate their own pursuits." Now we've got 180,000 pages of federal rules and $21 trillion in debt.

Still, the Constitution and the Declaration have helped keep us mostly free. That's something to celebrate this Fourth of July.

  • Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed."

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48. What the Courts Are forСр., 04 июля[−]

Democrats are in a state of sheer panic.

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They're panicking because last week, Justice Anthony Kennedy — a reliable vote in favor of certain leftist priorities including abortion and same-sex marriage — announced that he will step down from the Supreme Court, leaving President Trump a second selection.

This apparently will lead to the end of a free America. According to Jeffrey Toobin of CNN, the remade Supreme Court will spell doom: "Abortion illegal; doctors prosecuted; gay people barred from restaurants, hotels, stores; African-Americans out of elite schools; gun control banned in 50 states; the end of regulatory state."

None of this is true, of course. It simply demonstrates the wild overreach to which the left has subjected the judicial branch to date.

The judicial branch was never meant to act as a superlegislature, using the verbiage of the Constitution in order to implement preferred policy prescriptions. In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton expressed the idea well: "The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body." Substituting will for judgment would make the case for utterly dissolving the judicial branch.

Yet according to the Democrats, the Supreme Court should exercise will instead of judgment. The role of the court, according to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is to help expedite change in our society: "Our society would be strait-jacketed were not the courts, with the able assistance of the lawyers, constantly overhauling the law and adapting it to the realities of ever-changing social, industrial and political conditions." Justice Elena Kagan believes the same thing, which is why she constantly describes the Constitution as "abstract," leaving her room to interpret it as poetry rather than statute.

This is why Democrats celebrate obviously superlegal decisions like Roe v. Wade: There is no right to abortion in the Constitution, but they would prefer not to battle that issue out at the electoral level. The Supreme Court allows them to hand down their policy from the mountaintop without having to subject those policies to public scrutiny.

And that means that any reversal of such policy by a Supreme Court that actually reads the Constitution as it was written is a threat to Democratic hegemony.

Were President Trump to appoint an originalist to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade would surely die, but that wouldn't make abortion illegal — the issue would have to be put before the American public.

Affirmative action from state schools would end, but African-Americans wouldn't be barred from attending elite institutions — such a bar would remain illegal.

Gays across the country would not suddenly find themselves barred from public restaurants — it's unlikely the Supreme Court would rule such action legal, and even if it were to do so, virtually no establishments across the country would start asking about sexual orientation at the door.

In the end, the Democrats' obsession with the Supreme Court says more about them than about the role of the court. It says that they don't believe their policies are popular enough to win the country over at the electoral level.

If the judiciary should be returned to its role of ruling by judgment rather than will, the will of the people might be heard once again — and it wouldn't be friendly to Democrats. Democrats know it. Hence the panic.

  • Shapiro is host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.

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49. Illegal Immigrants Use 'Asylum' Requests As Their E-ZPass Into The U.S.Ср., 04 июля[−]

People hoping to settle in the United States wait years for a green card to be legal residents. They play by the rules. These law-abiding newcomers must feel like idiots, watching what's happening on the southern border.

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Hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants are walking right in. They're not waiting in line. They're using "asylum" requests as their E-ZPass. Just 12% of requests from El Salvadorans, 11% from Guatemalans and 7.5% from Hondurans are actually granted, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Never mind, the request gets them in.

It's a shameful distortion of a program intended to provide a haven for true victims of state-sponsored religious, ethnic and political persecution. The U.S. offered asylum to Hungarian anti-communists after their uprising was crushed by the Soviets in 1956; to Cubans fleeing Castro's prisons; to Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon to the Communists in 1975; to Chinese political dissidents escaping the crackdown after Tiananmen Square in 1989; and more recently, to Chinese Christians and Muslims threatened for practicing their religion.

Not to be confused with what's happening on the southern border. Migrants walk up to a border agent with a familiar story. Women typically plead they're victims of an abusive boyfriend or husband, and men claim they're escaping gang violence. They're detained briefly, but many are then released into the United States and given a date for an asylum hearing.

Being granted asylum means hitting the jackpot. Asylees get the Refugee Cash Assistance program, including medical care, a housing allowance and hundreds of dollars a month in cash. All inclusive, as the Sandals getaway ads say. In contrast, immigrants who go the green card route are ineligible for most benefits for years.

Half who use asylum as their excuse for crossing the border never even file a claim or show up at a hearing. They're also winners. After all, they made it inside the U.S., unlike the East Asian waiting 12 years to enter as a legal worker.

Last weekend, open borders advocates held 700 marches across the country, protesting the Trump administration's policies. One target was Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent clarification that domestic abuse is not sufficient grounds for seeking asylum. A few immigration judges have granted asylum on those grounds, but it's not how asylum is defined.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Sessions of "staggering cruelty." But Sessions is right. The asylum law "is not a general hardship statute," he says. If every hardship qualifies for asylum, it will mean everyone can come in.

That's the marchers' objective. And increasingly the goal of the progressive flank of the Democratic Party. Their rhetoric suggests any limit on immigration is a crime against humanity. New Yorkers like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who toppled Congressman Joe Crowley last week, and Cynthia Nixon, running to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are calling for the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

A similar battle is raging inside the European Union, which is overwhelmed by mostly bogus asylum claims from North African migrants. More than 70% of their claims are rejected, according to special envoy of the U.N. High Commission on Refugees, Vincent Cochetel. But the migrants who are turned down for asylum stay anyway, eluding deportation. They're straining public schools and government benefits and provoking a backlash against German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

Last weekend, EU leaders tentatively devised a plan to screen asylum seekers in disembarkation centers along the North African coast, before they make their way across the Mediterranean to Europe. Trump is proposing something similar to vet asylum applicants on the Mexican side of our southern border, before they enter the U.S.

In America and Europe, demagogues tell us to have a heart and let everybody in. But the public understands that immigration affects public schools, wages, taxes, even cultural identity. That's why we have immigration laws.

The aspiring Americans who obey those laws and wait their turn deserve our respect. Allowing other immigrants to jump in front of them using flimsy asylum claims is a slap in the face.

  • McCaughey is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

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50. Is Trump's Protectionism The Death Knell For Global Free Trade?Ср., 04 июля[−]

Trade: First, President Trump hit China, Canada, Mexico and the EU with trade tariffs. Now, the world is hitting back. Will a burgeoning trade war with our closest trading partners be the undoing of global free trade and Trump's own domestic agenda? Don't count on it.

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Here's the action so far: President Trump already slapped 10% to 25% tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. In retaliation, Canada has hit U.S. imports with an estimated $12.6 billion in tariffs in retaliation.

Next, some $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods are set to go into effect later this week, which China vows will not go unanswered.

Meanwhile, Trump is also threatening tariffs on European Union autos, a severe sore spot for the EU. It says it will levy $300 billion in tariffs on U.S. autos and other goods — that's not a misprint — if Trump's tariffs go into place.

And Trump has taken it even a step further. As Axios reports, the White House has even threatened to push legislation to "blow up" the World Trade Organization by getting rid of its two most basic rules: One, the "Most-Favored-Nation" principle, under which all countries in the WTO get the same tariff treatment as others; and, two, "Bound Tariff Rates," under which already-negotiated tariff ceilings can't be removed unilaterally.

This might sound like a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but it isn't. Most of the world's tradable goods come under WTO rules. Eliminating the rules overnight would be destabilizing to the world economy, to say the least. It's one of the big reasons why global financial markets have been on such a roller-coaster ride in recent months.

Major U.S. companies (like Harley-Davidson), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and even some Senate Republicans — usually allied with Trump on most issues — have issued strong denunciations of Trump's tariffs and plans to exit the WTO.

But if Trump worries about the reactions from Congress and overseas, he doesn't let on. He promised explicitly to raise tariffs during his election campaign. And if Trump has shown Americans anything since entering office in January of 2017, it's that he's dead-set on keeping his promises.

"Any country that devalues their currency to take unfair advantage of the United States and all of its companies that can't compete will face tariffs and taxes to stop the cheating," Trump said in 2016.

So, yes, Trump is serious about tariffs. But what's also clear is that any extreme moves on trade can by stymied in Congress.

There's already a move afoot in the Senate, led by Republicans Bob Corker and Pat Toomey and Democrat Michael Bennet to get rid of Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. They'll stand on solid legal ground. Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress, not the White House, power to regulate trade, including tariffs.

Moreover, Congress approved of the creation of the World Trade Organization. So pulling out of the WTO or changing it beyond recognition would require Trump to win a vote in Congress.

It ain't going to happen.

So what's Trump's aim here? Trump isn't just tariff-happy. And he doesn't just hate the WTO to hate the WTO. There's an endgame he has in mind.

So what is it? He wants nothing more than for other countries that have highly favorable trade deals through the WTO and U.S. trade agreements to level the playing field a bit. Ultimately, if the gambit works, free traders should be happy. It will actually make trade freer and fairer, rather than treating obsolete trade agreements as if they were an eternally fixed part of Mosaic law.

Andy Puzder, who served as CEO of CKE Restaurants for 16 years, explained the dynamic in a recent opinion piece.

"With a trade deficit over $500 billion running in their favor, we need to create incentives for our trading partners to renegotiate our current relationships," Puzder wrote. "That's because nations — like people — rarely give up economic benefits they've grown used to having simply because doing so would be fair. They operate in their self-interest."

As noted, the WTO has quite effectively lowered average overall tariffs and trade barriers on many goods and services. It's been a huge success in that respect. But deals made through the WTO have also frozen in place existing unfair advantages that the U.S. agreed to give to Europe, Asia, Mexico and others to help develop their economies.

It was a noble act, one for which our major trade partners give the U.S. little or no credit. Last year the U.S. had an overall goods deficit of $810 billion, an enormous amount. That was reduced to an overall deficit of about $568 billion, thanks to exports of services and high-tech. Whether free trade advocates acknowledge it or not, large swathes of the industrial Midwest got decimated by those deficits.

Donald Trump promised them relief and hope. He's now keeping that promise, at least rhetorically. Whether tariffs or anything else can ever "re-industrialize" the Midwest is an open question.

As we've written here many times, we take a back seat to no one on free trade. And we don't like tariffs. Period. They're a tax on consumers and producers. We'd like to see them all go. We believe in truly free trade.

That said, highly regulated trade, with tariffs fixed to our disadvantage in semi-perpetuity, cannot be called free trade. That means we need to change past trade deals. That includes NAFTA and the many WTO trade deals that are no longer fair. Trump's doing that.

In that sense, despite the anti-Trump rhetoric on trade both here and abroad, the president may in fact be doing free trade the biggest favor of all: He's taking it seriously.

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51. Turns Out, Those Forced Union Dues Did Go To Liberal Advocacy GroupsВт., 03 июля[−]

First Amendment: After the Supreme Court ruling that banned forced union dues for public sector workers, liberal activist groups started complaining about how they were going to lose a huge source of funds. Wait. Didn't unions repeatedly claim that those forced dues only went to collective bargaining costs?

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The court case, Janus v. AFSCME, centered on the practice in 22 states, whereby public-sector workers could be forced to pay a portion of the union dues, even if they didn't join the union. The court ruled 5-4 that this was a violation of free speech, because it meant that government was forcing nonunion workers to subsidize political advocacy, candidates and policies they don't support.

Throughout the debate, big public-sector unions insisted that those forced dues were perfectly reasonable. Since nonunion members also benefited from union collective bargaining deals with state and local governments, it made sense for them to cover their share of those collective bargaining costs. The unions called it "fair share" fees.

None of those forced dues, unions emphatically stated, went to political causes, so there was no free-speech violation.

"The simple truth is that no one is forced to join a union and no one is forced to pay any fees that go to politics or political candidates. That is already the law of the land," is how the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees put it.

But this week, the New York Times published a lengthy story explaining how the Janus decision will not only hit public sector unions but "will also hit hard at a vast network of groups dedicated to advancing liberal policies and candidates."

These groups, the Times reports, got tens of millions of dollars from public sector unions — "funding now in jeopardy because of the prospective decline in union revenue."

The giant Service Employees International Union says it cut its budget by 30% on the assumption that the court would rule against the unions in the Janus case. The Times says it "had been talking with leaders of liberal groups for two years about how to offset the loss."

Public-union money accounted for up to 15% of the Economic Policy Institute's budget, the story notes. EPI puts out pro-union studies that the press then reports as credible research. Pro-immigrant group Mi Familia Vota was getting about $1 million a year from public unions. America Votes got $2 million in 2016.

So how is it that — if none of the forced dues went to pay for anything other than collective bargaining — all these liberal activist groups are worried about having their gravy train cut off?

Surely the loss of those "fair share" fees would only come out of the unions' collective bargaining budget, not the massive amounts of money they spend supporting liberal groups and causes. Right?

Money Is Fungible

Unions might say that losing all that "fair share" money means they'll have to shift money from other activities to cover reduced collective bargaining dollars.

But that just underscores the fact that money is fungible. By forcing nonunion members to pay "fair share" fees, unions could free up substantial amounts of funds — that otherwise would have been spent on collective bargaining — to pay for political activism.

What's more, unions had fairly wide discretion over what counted as "collective bargaining," for which they could directly charge nonunion members.

A couple of years ago, the National Legal and Policy Center noted that unions, with the consent of the federal government's National Labor Relations Board, were "defining 'collective bargaining' so broadly as to include just about any activity as applicable."

Either way, there's no question that at least some of the forced dues that public sector workers had to pay ended up funding political groups, activities and policies that nonunion workers didn't agree with.

The fact that liberal groups are screaming about the loss of union money because of the Janus decision is simply more evidence that the court's ruling was exactly right.

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52. Give Us Your Young, Energetic, Talented MassesВт., 03 июля[−]

Republicans are right to call for tough measures to deter illegal immigration — which means building the wall, ending the "catch and release" policy and challenging the harboring strategies of sanctuary cities.

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But where Republicans are wrong is in calling for strict caps and even reductions in legal immigration visas. Rather than be restricted, the so-called H-1B program, which brings skilled workers to our country, should be expanded.

Almost every economic analysis finds that legal immigrants, on balance, are net contributors to the American economy.

Not all immigrants are beneficial, and, sure, there are bad apples in the bunch — just as is true of the population of American citizens as a whole. But the benefits of immigration are surprisingly large, mostly because most immigrants are risk takers who come to the United States between the ages of 16 and 40 — so they tend to be at the start of their working years or at the peak of their earning years.

We also know that the more skilled the immigrants, the larger their contribution to overall productivity and the bigger their lifetime net tax payments — i.e., the more they reduce budget deficits.

The prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that there is a positive economic effect of immigration. Its 2016 study explained that immigrant workers may be "complementary with natives, especially high-skilled natives ... with high-skilled immigrants innovating sufficiently to raise the productivity of all workers."

Because most immigrants arrive when they are young, and because Americans are getting older (baby boomers are at retirement age), immigration could help fill our labor force needs. This is especially important now, because U.S. birth rates just hit a 30-year low. Without immigration, we would have negative population growth, and we'd soon look like aging Japan. Immigration is America's fountain of youth.

So if the GOP wants to be a growth party, it must be a pro-immigration party. Period.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to increase the visas for skilled immigrants. First, to forestall the "graying of America," we should increase the overall number of legal immigrants from about 1 million per year to about 1.5 million per year.

Second, we should shift the composition of immigrants by using a merit-based policy, along the lines of what Trump has endorsed and what has been adopted in Canada, Australia and Germany. Immediate family members, children and spouses would still go to the front of the line.

Others should be selected on the basis of their skills, talents and brains. Some worry that programs such as the H-1B visa program, which allows employers to sponsor and hire immigrants with specific needed skills, cost Americans jobs. But a 2014 study by the Partnership for a New American Economy found that these skilled immigrants have raised wages for American works and increased job growth in science, engineering, and technology fields. "High-skilled immigrants don't displace U.S.-born workers in computer fields," the study found.

These positive effects are more pronounced when the labor market is tight — as it is now. The unemployment rate of those with at least a bachelor's degree in a computer, math or science field is only 2% today. For those who have a degree in architecture or engineering, the jobless rate was a microscopic 1.5% in the first quarter of 2018.

Donald Trump rightly aims to achieve a sustained 3% to 4% annual growth rate for America. This faster growth will require more immigrants, and no nation has a better opportunity than America to import the brains and talents and risk takers from the rest of the world. What are we waiting for?

  • Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works. He is the co-author of "Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy."

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53. If We're Nazis, Expect More ViolenceВт., 03 июля[−]

Because of the ever-descending moral and intellectual state of the mainstream news media, there has been no outcry against the leftists who call President Donald Trump and all Americans who support him Nazis. Indeed, members of the media now regularly do so.

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Without that outcry, this labeling will only increase; and this steadily increasing drumbeat of hysteria is likely to lead to one result: violence against conservatives.

It is not plausible to foresee any other outcome of left-wing normalization of the terms "Nazi" and "white supremacist."

The American left has put itself in a moral quandary: Either it doesn't mean it when it calls the president and his supporters Nazis, in which the case it is merely guilty of cheapening — and, as I explained in my previous column, actually denying — the Holocaust, or it does mean it, in which case morality demands it take violent action against Trump supporters.

For at least a decade, I have been saying that America is fighting a second Civil War. But I have always added that unlike the first Civil War, this one — thank God — is nonviolent.

It's getting harder and harder to assume it will stay that way.

A Senate intern shouts an obscenity at the president of the United States in the halls of Congress and the U.S. senator for whom she works does not fire her.

Left-wing mobs yell and chant "No justice, no sleep" in front of the homes of administration officials.

A Democratic Congresswoman, Maxine Waters, foments such action. "Let's make sure," she tells Democratic mobs, "we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."

The Democratic Party labels political opposition to the president "Resistance," the term used to describe the opposition to the Nazis during World War II.

All these are only the beginning. Few violent movements begin with violence. And when the left sees that these tactics do not undo the last presidential election, some morally consistent leftists could quite possibly take the obvious next step and start targeting Republicans — as the shooter of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and four others did.

As one liberal writer, Peter Beinart of the Atlantic, asked nearly a year ago, "If you believe the president of the United States is leading a racist, fascist movement that threatens the rights, if not the lives, of vulnerable minorities, how far are you willing to go to stop it?"

When conservatives — even one as critical of the president as Ben Shapiro — need the protection of bodyguards and police officers in riot gear when speaking on an American college campus, it is clear where we are headed. You can get an idea by watching what students did to biology professor Dr. Bret Weinstein, perhaps the only decent faculty member at Evergreen State University, because he refused to cooperate when left-wing students demanded that all whites leave the university campus for a day. Some months later, Weinstein was told by the left-wing university administration it "could no longer guarantee his safety." Weinstein then left Evergreen State for good.

In March 2017, Charles Murray's scheduled speech at Middlebury College was pre-empted by a violent left-wing mob, resulting in police escorting him off the campus. In the process, his interviewer, professor Allison Stanger, was injured by enraged leftist thugs, and she later ended up in a neck brace.

The New York Times recently reported that left-wing intellectuals regret the historic liberal defense of free speech. There is no question that if the left were to have its way, many, if not most, conservative opinions would be legally banned and those expressing them arrested.

I pray violence does not erupt in America. But if, God forbid, it does, let's be clear it was the left that started it, just as surely as the South's firing at Fort Sumter started the first Civil War.

  • Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University.

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54. Times Change, But The Ideas In Declaration Of Independence EndureВт., 03 июля[−]

July 4th is a generally more festive American holiday — with cookouts, parades, parties and fireworks — than other patriotic holidays, such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

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Most people forget that when the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed on or about July 4th 1776 it was both a revolutionary and a somber occasion.

It was revolutionary in being the first political doctrine in human history to assert that the rights of the people come from God, and not the state — which made those rights natural, absolute and "unalienable."

But it was a somber occasion because in 1776 the odds of success in separating from England were dismal. There was simply no way the irregular and poorly trained colonial army could prevail against the far greater number of disciplined forces of British army and navy.

Great Britain was the most powerful nation on Earth, while the 13 American colonies were disunited and relatively poor.

While George Washington was an impressive leader, things looked grim for the Continental Army in the months following the Declaration of Independence.

In the first major engagement Washington's army was defeated and forced to retreat by British General William Howe, who captured the prize of New York in September 1776.

The following month in October 1776, the British defeated the Americans at the Battle of White Plains. After that rout, the only point on Manhattan Island still held by the Americans was Fort Washington. But that didn't last.

In the early morning of November 15, 1776, the British were joined by German Hessian soldiers, and the Americans were completely overwhelmed — barricaded inside of Fort Washington — with the British and Hessians firing unceasingly on them.

By the time the Americans surrendered, they had lost 2,900 soldiers, nearly six times the casualties of British and Germans.

General Washington was desperate to turn things around, and he finally led victorious campaigns in the Battle of Trenton and Princeton in December 1776 and January 1777. But these were followed by reversals and defeat, such as at the Battle of Brandywine.

And just weeks later, General Washington was once again outmaneuvered and humiliated by British General Howe, who succeeded in the ultimate symbolic victory of marching his British troops into Philadelphia in September of 1777, literally occupying what was then America's first capital — the city of the signing of the Declaration and the seat of the Continental Congress.

And while the British were settling in, expropriating and inhabiting the homes of wealthy Philadelphians, thirty miles away George Washington was regrouping with his sick, weary and underfed troops in drafty tents during the cold winter of 1778 at Valley Forge.

But as fate would have it, the hardship experienced at Valley Forge was a turning point of the War for Independence, for it was here that Washington, in desperation, sought God's intervention.

The Diary of Nathaniel Snowden recounts the testimony of an eye-witness observer, who by chance encountered George Washington alone on his knees praying loudly in the snowy woods of Valley Forge.

Snowden's account of Washington's prayer at that dark hour of the revolutionary struggle depicts him as beseeching "God's deliverance of aid for the cause of the country, humanity and the world."

Indeed, Washington placed everything on the line for the cause as did the 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence, citing in the last sentence of that document that "with firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Without Washington's leadership, unrelenting perseverance, and reliance on the Almighty, the Declaration would probably have come to naught, with the subsequent revolution almost certainly failing.

The Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on July 4th, is not just what gave political birth to the United States, with its unique emphasis on limited government and the freedom for its citizens.

Founding And The Rule Of Law

It was the ensuing Constitution — drafted after the colonial army secured a final victory over the British at Yorktown — that provided a legal structure to implement the ideas in the Declaration in the form of a rule of law emphasizing accountability to the people.

And that is what enabled the nation to prosper like no other in human history, becoming a "shining city on a hill" — the consequence of which was an amazing ascendance from colonial poverty to global superpower in less than 200 years.

America now faces the greatest scandal of abuse of power in its history. And while times have changed in that regard, principles have not.

May this July 4th be a special time, hopefully a turning point, for Americans to demand the prosecution of corruption in government and also to renew their appreciation of accountable and limited government.

  • Powell is senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org.

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55. Trump Approval Jumps As Attacks From Critics Backfire; Trump Now More Popular Than FBI: IBD/TIPP PollВт., 03 июля[−]

Increasingly bitter and aggressive attacks on President Trump managed to bolster his approval rating, which climbed 5 points to reach the second highest level of his presidency, the latest IBD/TIPP Poll finds.

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The July poll found that 41% approve of the job Trump is doing. That's the first time he's been above 40% since March 2017, and just 1 point below his highest approval rating of 42% during his first month in office. Fifty-four disapprove of his job performance.

Attacks on Trump intensified late last month in the wake of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward those caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — including families.

That policy resulted in the temporary separation of children from their parents seeking asylum. Trump later signed an executive order to keep families together while asylum claims played out.

In the span of a few days, a mob chased Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen out of a D.C. restaurant, the owner of the Red Hen in Virginia kicked Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders out. Actor Peter Fonda encouraged the abduction and molestation of the president's youngest son. Rep. Maxine Waters made remarks that appeared to encourage mob violence.

Some Democrats worried that such antics would only help Trump, which the IBD/TIPP poll appears to confirm.

At the same time, Trump scored a big win internationally with his summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He also won a string of victories at the Supreme Court. Among other things, the court upheld Trump's travel ban on certain Muslim countries.

Trump not only made gains among Republicans — 83% of whom now approve of the job he's doing — but among independents, whose approval climbed 5 points to 34%. His approval jumped 7 points among men and 2 points among women.

Regionally, Trump's biggest gain came from the south (up 8 points) and rural areas (up 7 points). He also made strong gains among the young, high school educated, and lower income groups, as well as among blacks.

The July IBD/TIPP Poll shows a four-point gain in Trump's favorability, which is currently -13 (40% favorable to 53% unfavorable).

The broader IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index for Trump is now 44.3, an almost 8% gain over last month and the highest it's been since his second month in office.

Not All Good News

However, more say they'd prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats rather than Republicans after the midterm elections, 48% to 40%. The Democrats' +8 score on this generic ballot question is up a point from last month.

The Real Clear Politics average of national polls on the generic ballot has Democrats up by 5.9 points. At the start of the year, Democrats were up by 13 points in the RCP average.

And Trump's recent immigration actions are not winning a lot of support.

The poll found that just 33% give him high marks for his handling of the situation involving families who've illegally crossed into the U.S. from Mexico. On a partisan basis, 67% of Republicans approved, 27% of independents, and 4% Democrats.

The poll also found that a plurality (43%) say Trump's immigration policies have had no impact on security along the southern border. Forty say they've improved security; 13% say they've weakened it.

Still, last month's poll found the public backing Trump on sanctuary cities. And the February IBD/TIPP Poll found that 50% approve of "the construction of physical and electronic barriers along the southern U.S. border." It also found that 55% back limits on chain migration.

FBI Gets A Black Eye

While Trump's approval rating improved, the FBI's has taken a beating in the wake of the inspector general's report detailing how FBI agents and officials bungled its investigation into Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information while secretary of State.

The poll found that just 39% have a favorable view of the FBI, with 30% feeling unfavorable and 31% not sure.

More than half of the public (53%) say political bias influenced the FBI's decision not to recommend charges against Clinton. Just 37% say politics didn't play a role.

Not surprisingly, more than three-quarters of Republicans point to political bias for the FBI's exoneration of Clinton. But so do 55% of independents. Even among Democrats, more 1 in 5 (27%) say bias influenced the FBI's decision to drop the case against Clinton.

The public splits on whether there was outright collusion between the FBI and Clinton, given revelations in an inspector general's report that FBI employees got gifts from reporters. While 44% say this is evidence of collusion, 47% say it isn't and 8% aren't sure.

However, the public is also split on the question of Trump's colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Forty-seven say that special counsel Robert Mueller would have produced evidence of collusion by now if there were any. But 49% say the lack of evidence after more than a year of investigation doesn't mean Trump is off the hook.

Other Poll Findings

  • Just 37% think North Korea will end its nuclear weapons program in the near future, despite Trump's recent dealings with its leader Kim Jong Un; 60% think it won't.
  • 46% give Trump high marks for his handling of the economy, up from 44% last month
  • 47% give him high marks for handling of terrorism, up from 44% last month.
  • 56% believe the economy is improving.
  • 15% worry that someone in their household will be laid off. That's down from 21% in January.
  • 45% are satisfied with the direction of the country. In President Obama's last month in office, it was 42%.

Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the July poll from June 21 to June 29. It includes responses from 900 people nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. ( Toplines from the July IBD/TIPP Poll can be found here.)

The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election.

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56. Declaring Our Independence — From DebtВт., 03 июля[−]

On the Fourth of July, our nation comes together to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the first chapter in a two-and-a-half century American journey.

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To others, the holiday also marks the creation of another U.S. institution, the national debt, the significance of which is wrapped in layers of subtle irony for accountants that know their history.

In 1776, representatives from 13 colonies took the bold step of declaring their independence from the world's foremost superpower.

The colonists' principal concerns were financial: Great Britain's aggressive levies on everything from postage stamps to caffeinated tea appeared to be taxation without any correlating government services.

From England's perspective, the taxes helped offset the costs — both human and capital — spent battling the French and Indian War. Both sides would have agreed that the colonists' lack of political representation gave them little input into tax policy.

Eight years of revolutionary warfare followed, which brought additional debts to the colonies and the British Empire.

By the time peace treaties were inked in 1783, the United States had spent an estimated $37 million at the national level and $114 million at the state level, much of it borrowed from nations overseas.

The Congressional Research Service has pegged the inflation adjusted number at $2.4 billion. (For comparison, that would have funded just one week's worth of operations in the Iraq War at 2008 troop levels.)

The Revolutionary War bills were modest by modern standards, but substantial enough to present a heavy burden for a fledgling country with a population of just five million. Debate over the financial situation featured prominently in the Constitutional Convention unfolding in Philadelphia after the war.

The ability to pay off the Revolution's debt ranged widely from state to state. Wealthy slave states like Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina quickly paid off their IOU's, while others struggled to make even installment payments.

Alexander Hamilton boldly suggested that the federal government should adopt all war debt from the states. The notion enraged wealthier state governments, but obviously appealed to the others.

In the era before income taxes, import tariffs represented the chief source of all government income. With the adoption of the Constitution, tariff income shifted from state to federal balance books, and Hamilton argued that the debt should follow the income.

This arrangement would also knit the country together and give state governments a stake in the success of the union.

Hamilton's suggestion was ultimately adopted, and the United States recorded its first national debt. Unlike in the modern day, 18th-century lawmakers saw borrowing money from foreign governments as a benefit, rather than a problem.

Writing to Pennsylvania financier Robert Morris, Hamilton noted that "a national debt if it is not excessive will be to us a national blessing; it will be powerful cement of our union."

In addition to strengthening the connection between state and federal governments, regular debt payments would establish a credit history for the nation. Hamilton promised that foreign investment capital would come flowing as a result.

He also thought the debt "a necessity for keeping up taxation to a degree which without being oppressive, will be a spur to industry."

From a modern vantage point, we can see that Hamilton was correct about the foreign investments that come with an established credit history.

However, while the national debt may have acted as the "powerful cement of our union" in Hamilton's day, it did not keep taxes from becoming oppressive.

And as the National Debt has increased to such astronomical levels in the last century, it effectively has become a cement block around the ankles of American taxpayers.

We've added monumental sums to the national debt after extraordinary events like Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Even larger amounts of debt have been slowly added on year after year, for decades, to finance routine government programs, as well as Social Security and Medicare benefits.

This alarming increase in spending and promising, along with less transparency into how we spend our tax dollars, cooks the national debt like the proverbial frog in a pot of water.

Freedom From Debt

The debt will burden future taxpayers, many of whom are currently not old enough to vote. Our founding fathers fought the revolutionary war because of taxation without representation.

This Fourth of July is a time to reflect on our Declaration of Independence, but also an opportunity to examine the origins of our national debt and how it has changed over the centuries.

Oppressive taxation drove a patriotic class of budding statesmen to set out on their own and reimagine their government's relationship with the people it represents. Alexander Hamilton's saw modest borrowing as a tool to revitalize the economy and demonstrate creditworthiness.

The founders would be horrified at our government's current, reported national debt of more than $20 trillion — not to mention the additional $80 trillion in unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises not included in that figure.

  • Weinberg, a CPA, is founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, a nonprofit organization that researches government financial data and promotes transparency for a better-informed citizenry.

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57. After Election Of Socialist Obrador, Will Mexico Morph Into Venezuela-Style Failed State?Вт., 03 июля[−]

Mexico Votes: Beset by corruption, poverty and endemic violence, Mexican voters sent a message of desperation on Sunday by voting overwhelmingly to make socialist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador their next president. This is bad for the U.S., but even worse for Mexico.

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President Trump did the neighborly thing in congratulating Obrador on his victory and pledged to work with him. But in fact Obrador's win bodes ill for future relations.

His talking points for the policies he'll pursue once in office sound much more like Venezuela's late socialist dictator Hugo Chavez than, say, Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.

For starters, Obrador vows to renationalize the oil industry, halt all cooperation with U.S. immigration laws, give amnesty to the drug cartels, boost farm subsidies and remove "multinational" investment in agriculture, encourage mass migration by Mexicans to the U.S., while using remittances from workers in the U.S. to fuel Mexican growth.

Hey, such ideas worked so well in Venezuela after Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution," why not in Mexico?

If you think the U.S. will merely sit back and watch as this happens, think again. U.S.-Mexico ties under President Trump are already strained, with disputes over trade and immigration roiling the waters. Obrador, the author of a book titled "Oye, Trump" ("Listen, Trump"), will test U.S. patience.

The case of Venezuela is instructive, and ongoing. Its citizens are desperately heading for the border as that nation's socialist economy collapses, beset by food shortages, soaring unemployment, rampant disease, crime and inflation now at a stratospheric 43,000% a year.

Since 1999, the year the socialists took over, Venezuela's economy has gone from being one of the wealthiest in Latin America, with the world's largest oil reserves, to one of the most-impoverished nations in Latin America, one that now imports oil and exports people.

"Socialist economic policies — price controls, factory nationalizations, government takeovers of food distribution and the like — have real human costs," wrote James Kirchick in a Los Angeles Times op-ed last August. "Eighty percent of Venezuelan bakeries don't have flour. Eleven percent of children under 5 are malnourished, infant mortality has increased by 30% and maternal mortality is up 66%."

And since then, things have gotten even worse, if that's imaginable.

Those who remain dumpster-dive, rummage through garbage, and even eat stray pets just to stay alive. Even zoo animals aren't off limits. Food distribution and the water system have been taken over by the army, a new opportunity for massive corruption and extortion. It's a horrible situation.

And yet, just a few years ago, celebrity leftists like Michael Moore and Sean Penn and and their political allies, such as socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, lauded Venezuela's economic model.

The point is, however well-meaning Obrador seems, such a transformation on the U.S. border would be a disaster. It would bring potentially millions more refugees — and possibly even Mexican civil war.

As it is, we share a 2,200-mile border with Mexico, which is our third-largest trading partner. If Mexico's economy goes south, so to speak, things on the border could get ugly fast.

No doubt, U.S. and other foreign investment in Mexico would plunge. The peso would plummet, and Mexico's already-frightening criminal violence would spiral out of control.

Obrador built his public appeal on his reputation for not being corrupt. Equally important, however, voters also saw Obrador as an agent of economic change, someone who cares about average people.

"In the last 20-odd years, this includes the government I served in, the economy has not grown more than 2 1/2% per year," Mexico's former Foreign Minister, Jorge Castaneda, told Fox News. "Mexicans are not finding deep, well-paying jobs, not seeing their living standards improved, not extracting people from poverty, we're not reducing levels of inequality which are among the highest levels in the world."

Quite an indictment coming from a high-level former government official, and sadly entirely true.

It's a big reason why at least 11 million Mexicans are in the U.S. illegally, and why a renewed surge is likely in the future under the socialist policies pushed by Obrador.

Some 12% of Mexican citizens today already make their home in the U.S. as economic refugees from that country's failed policies.

And, with more than 60 million of Mexico's 130 million people now living in poverty, that number will only grow if the economy deteriorates.

Mexicans clearly voted for change. But whether they'll get the change they're expecting is another matter.

Socialist governments have a history, once in power, of destroying economies unmatched by any other political system.

Whether it's the former Soviet Union and the communist nations of Eastern Europe, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua or any number of other nominally "socialist" nations, all fail abysmally.

No exceptions.

Obrador may feel he has an enormous electoral mandate to impose his socialist vision on a fed-up Mexico. Looking at the election results, he does.

With 54% of the vote at last count, he easily trounced his foes.

Ricardo Anaya, who led a right-left political coalition, finished second with 23% of the vote. Voters sent a particularly humiliating message to the once-all-powerful PRI party, whose candidate Juan Antonio Meade had hoped to succeed outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto. It finished a dismal third, with just 15% of the vote.

If current polling trends hold, Obrador's Morena Party also will lead a coalition with two other leftist parties that will control the legislature next year. With a single six-year term, Mexico's president has unusually broad powers, so Obrador's policies are likely to find little initial opposition.

The Corruption Factor

To his credit, Obrador is one of the few in Mexican politics without a major taint of scandal. He has vowed to leave Mexico's lavish Los Pinos compound, the equivalent of the White House, and live modestly in the center of Mexico City.

In a country where politicians view government as an opportunity to get rich quick, Obrador seems to be an exception.

"There's nothing to fear," said AMLO on Monday. "I'm not a dictator."

We hope that's true.

But in Latin American politics, far-left leaders often start out promising clean government end up dirty. It happened in Cuba, it happened in Brazil, it happened in Venezuela, it happened in Ecuador, it happened in Nicaragua.

It's not unreasonable to think it might happen in Mexico, too. Socialist countries get socialist results: Misery. Look at Venezuela. Unless Obrador sees the light and pursues moderate economic policies, don't expect Mexico to be any different.

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58. IBD/TIPP Poll: Presidential Approval, Direction Of CountryПн., 02 июля[−]

Each month, the IBD/TIPP Poll, a collaboration between Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica, produces an exclusive Presidential Leadership Index. In addition to tracking President Trump's job approval rating, the index combines results from several questions in the monthly IBD/TIPP Poll to gauge how well the president is viewed when it comes to leading the country, both domestically and internationally.

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The index includes questions on presidential approval, favorability measures on the president's handling of domestic and foreign policy issues, and whether the president is providing strong or weak leadership.

In addition, IBD/TIPP each month asks questions focused on the public's outlook overall. These questions gauge satisfaction with the direction of the country, respondents' quality of life, and the United States' standing in the world.

IBD/TIPP also produces the Economic Optimism Index at the beginning of each month.

See the schedule of upcoming IBD/TIPP poll releases.

IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index: News & Analysis

Trump Approval Jumps As Attacks From Critics Backfire; Trump Now More Popular Than FBI: IBD/TIPP PollIncreasingly bitter and aggressive attacks on President Trump managed to bolster his approval rating, which climbed 5 points to reach the second highest level of his presidency, the latest IBD/TIPP Poll finds.... Read More

Presidential Leadership Index: Overall

The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index climbed nearly 8% in July to the highest level since President Trump first took office. The highest reading Trump has scored on this index was in his first month in office, when it stood at 49.2. The lowest came in August 2017, when it fell to 35.9.

The Leadership Index comprises three subindexes measuring the president's favorability (up 4.2% in July), job approval (up 9.4%), and whether he is providing strong leadership (up 10.3%).

Presidential Job Approval

The July poll found that 41% of the public approves of the job President Trump is doing, which is up 5 points from the month before. This is the highest approval rating Trump has received since March 2017, and it's just a point below Trump's first month in office. Fifty-four percent say they disapprove of the job he's doing.

Direction Of The Country

The Direction of the Country Index dipped 1.8% in July to 44.5. The index is currently well above its 17-year average of 41.6, and even further ahead of the 37 average during President Obama's eight years in office.

Quality Of Life

The Quality of Life Index also dropped 1.8% in July, the second monthly drop for this index. It had been climbing fairly steadily under Trump. At 60, this index is still close to the all-time high level of 63.1, reached in January 2004. The average under President Obama was 53.7. Unlike other measures, the Quality of Life Index has been relatively steady over the past 17 years.

Standing In The World

The Standing in the World Index was essentially flat in July at 44.9. That just slightly below the 17-year average for this index of 45.5, and above the average 42.6 under Obama. Over the past 17 years, the highest this index ever reached was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when it hit 74.9.

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59. With Its Janus Decision, The Supreme Court Corrected Itself On First Amendment FreedomsВс., 01 июля[−]

The Supreme Court is especially admirable when correcting especially deplorable prior decisions, as with the 1954 school desegregation decision rejecting a 1896 decision's "separate but equal" doctrine. It did so again last Wednesday, overturning a 41-year-old precedent inimical to the First Amendment.

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Shortly before the court made this predictable ruling, a Wall Street Journal headline revealed why it was necessary. The headline said: "Unions Court Own Members Ahead of Ruling." Anticipating defeat, government-employee unions had begun resorting to persuasion — imagine that — in the hope of retaining members and convincing nonmembers to continue making payments to the unions that the court says can no longer be obligatory.

In 1977, the court upheld, 6-3, the constitutionality of compelling government employees who exercise their right not to join a union to pay "fair share" or "agency" fees. These, which the union determines, supposedly cover only the costs of collective bargaining from which nonmembers benefit. But the payments usually are much more than half of, and sometimes equal to, dues that members pay.

The majority opinion in 1977 admitted something that was too obvious to deny and so constitutionality problematic that a future challenge was inevitable. That majority said: "There can be no quarrel with the truism that, because public employee unions attempt to influence government policymaking, their activities ... may be properly termed political." And one justice, concurring with the majority, said "the ultimate objective of a union in the public sector, like that of a political party, is to influence public decision-making." (Emphasis added.)

Actually, everything public-sector unions do is political. Therefore, the 1977 decision made compulsory political contributions constitutional. Which made the court queasy.

By 2014, it was affirming the principle that doomed the 1977 decision and foretold Wednesday's: It is a "bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support." Which is what the court now says regarding compulsory financial support of government-employee unions. Yet Justice Elena Kagan, in her uncharacteristically strident dissent, said:

"There is no sugarcoating today's opinion. The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this nation's law — and in its economic life — for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance. And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy."

How does Kagan err? Let us count the ways.

The 1977 decision was no more entrenched than the 1896 "separate but equal" decision was for 58 years. The First Amendment exists to prevent the people's representatives from making certain kinds of choices ("Congress shall make no law ... "). Wednesday's decision was not about "workplace governance" or "economic and regulatory policy." It was about coerced speech. And about denial of another First Amendment guarantee, freedom of association, which includes the freedom not to associate, through coerced financial support, with uncongenial political organizations. And judges are supposed to be unleashed to wield the First Amendment as a weapon against officials perpetrating such abuses.

Wednesday's 5-4 decision accords with President Franklin Roosevelt's judgment that "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." In private-sector bargaining, unions contest management concerning the distribution of companies' profits. In the public sector, government gets its revenues from a third party — taxpayers. Because a majority of organized labor's members are government employees, the labor movement is mostly not horny-handed sons of toil. It increasingly is government organized as an interest group that pressures government to do what it has a metabolic urge to do anyway: grow.

The deadliest dagger in Wednesday's decision was the stipulation that nonmembers' fees cannot be automatically deducted from their wages — nonmembers must affirmatively consent to deductions. So, public-sector unions must persuade people. No wonder they are panicking.

There is no sugarcoating today's reality. Public-sector unions are conveyor belts that move a portion of government employees' salaries — some of the amount paid in union dues — into political campaigns, almost always Democrats', to elect the people with whom the unions "negotiate" for taxpayers' money. Progressives who are theatrically distraught about there being "too much money in politics" are now theatrically distraught that the court has ended coercing contributions that have flowed to progressive candidates.

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60. 80% Marginal Tax Rates? The Dark Side Of Welfare ProgramsПт., 29 июня[−]

War On Poverty: What would you think of a tax system that imposed effective marginal tax rates of up to 80% on low-income families? That's what exists today thanks to various federal benefit programs that phase out while income rises.

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At a recent panel on poverty, the Congressional Budget Office made a presentation showing how income and benefit programs interact in ways that can heavily discourage work.

The CBO looked at a single parent with one child living in Pennsylvania, and what would happen to her net income — from wages and benefits — as she started to make more money from work. That meant counting not just how much she'd pay in income taxes and payroll taxes on each extra dollar of earnings, but how much she'd lose in food stamps, health subsidies, and other income-based programs.

The result is rather disturbing. If she took a job that paid $10,000 a year, her effective marginal tax rate would be a 50%. That is, for every dollar she made, she'd gain only 50 cents after taxes and benefit cuts.

When her income reached $20,000, the effective marginal rate climbed to a stunning 80%.

The CBO found that more than three-quarters of low- and moderate-income taxpayers face marginal rates of 20% or more, and that, overall the average rate is 31%.

Keep in mind that the top income tax rate — which kicks in at $500,000 for a single person — is just 37%.

Why are these marginal rates for this single mom so high? Because as she makes more money, her benefits phase out. For example, someone in the phaseout range of food stamps faces an effective additional marginal tax of 14%.

Impact On Work

Economists have long understood that high marginal tax rates are a disincentive to work. As the CBO put it, "when marginal tax rates are high, people tend to respond to the smaller financial gain from employment by working fewer hours."

Yet while politicians are hyperfocused on the top marginal rate, they rarely look at the impact of high marginal rates on the working poor.

This is important for two reasons. First, poorly designed benefit programs can trap people in poverty. Second, as the economy reaches full employment, the last thing we want are able bodied people sitting on the sidelines.

What can be done? One solution is to impose work requirements to continue collecting benefits. That, at least, helps overcome the disincentives created by the benefits themselves. At the very least, Congress should reform these benefit programs in ways that mitigate those disincentives.

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61. Housing Crisis May Be Inevitable, Thanks To Government MeddlingПт., 29 июня[−]

Housing: With home prices soaring in most markets, this is the best time to be a homeowner since 2005. But there's a downside: Thanks to continued government meddling, the housing market has rarely been more fragile. Is another housing crunch brewing?

We've talked before about the strength of the U.S. economy, particularly after tax cuts kicked in. And that's still true. Unfortunately, 10 years after the 2008 financial crisis, there's one exception: The housing market, which, despite superficial signs of health, remains dysfunctional.

Homeowners are happy now, but they may soon be reeling. The Fed, worried about ultralow 3.8% unemployment and rising incomes, has signaled it could raise rates as many as seven times between now and the end of 2019. Not only would new buyers no longer qualify to buy homes, but homeowners who bought during the Fed's zero-interest rate days might get a severe shock as payments surge and buyer demand dries up.

Right now, housing suffers from an affordability crisis. Despite median household income rising strongly since President Trump took office, the average price for a new home today is just under $330,000, vs. about $248,000 in 2006, before the last housing crisis. Higher Fed rates followed by a downturn in housing prices would devastate the U.S. economy.

How did we get here? Unfortunately, you can blame government. Neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac, the two mortgage giants that caused the 2007 housing meltdown, were dismantled. Instead, Washington rewarded them with an even larger role than before.

Government-Sponsored Disasters

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while still in conservatorship and with the blessing of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, are once again expanding into new products and programs with abandon — and in the process potentially adversely affecting industries, businesses and careers," wrote Edward J. Pinto, co-director of the American Enterprise Institute's Center on Housing Markets and Finance, and Tom La Malfa, a 40-year mortgage industry veteran, in the American Banker.

Only one difference: Now taxpayers own the two housing-finance delinquents. Thus when the next housing meltdown occurs, taxpayers will own it. And they'll have to decide whether to bail out homeowners and banks, or just blame it all on "deregulation" and greedy Wall Street, as happened last time.

In the meantime, despite high home prices, Fannie and Freddie continue to pump money into heavily subsidized mortgages, artificially boosting home prices. This is not how free markets work.

In the next housing crisis, banks will hold hundreds of billions in bad loans and the economy will again crater. Then what? Rather than waiting for disaster, why not do what we should've done years ago? Either privatize Fannie and Freddie or shut them down, while the economy's strong and we still have time.

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62. Supreme Court Decision Restores Free Speech To Those Who Speak For A LivingПт., 29 июня[−]

This past Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a groundbreaking decision in NIFLA v. Becerra, a case about California's attempt to regulate so-called "crisis-pregnancy centers" — religiously affiliated centers that exist to dissuade women from having abortions. Because the case implicates abortion, much of the coverage of that ruling focused on which side came out ahead on America's most contentious political issue.

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But that blinkered view of the Court's decision is a mistake, because the Court's decision is one of the most important free-speech rulings in a generation, with implications that extend far beyond the abortion debate.

Unlike most cases related to abortion — which concern who may get an abortion and under what circumstances — the NIFLA case concerned government efforts to regulate speech about abortion. The plaintiffs in the case are a group of crisis pregnancy centers. As a matter of moral conviction, these centers do not talk to their clients about abortion.

But in 2015, at the urging of pro-choice groups who believed these centers were affirmatively misleading their clients, California enacted a law that required them to provide to all of their clients certain information, including information about how to obtain a taxpayer-subsidized abortion.

Laws that regulate what people must say when they speak to others might seem like they would obviously implicate the First Amendment. But, remarkably, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the First Amendment did not apply at all.

The reason? The people who worked at the centers, ruled the court, were "professionals" and so they could be ordered to speak, or prohibited from speaking, in whatever way the government saw fit.

The Ninth Circuit was not the first court to come up with this idea. Several federal courts — though never the Supreme Court — had held that "professional speech" could be more easily regulated than ordinary speech. But few of these courts seem to have considered the profound implications of their rulings.

Freed from the constraints of the First Amendment, government officials eagerly seized on the so-called "professional speech doctrine" to squelch all manner of speech.

States cracked down on veterinarians who wanted to email people about their pets, on tour guides who wanted to tell ghost stories, and even on people who just want to publicly criticize government policy on things like traffic-light timing. These are not hypothetical examples: These are real people we have represented.

Take the case of John Rosemond. John is a licensed psychologist practicing in North Carolina, and he is also the author of a long-running syndicated column where he often answers reader questions about parenting advice. Sounds normal enough — except to the Kentucky Board of Psychology, which sent John a cease-and-desist letter claiming that his column (which ran in at least one Kentucky paper) constituted the unlicensed practice of psychology in Kentucky.

When asked to explain why the state had the power to prohibit a newspaper column, Kentucky's lawyers reached for the obvious tool: John was acting as a "professional," and so the usual First Amendment rules simply did not apply to his speech. We represented John as well and won his case — though only after nearly a year of costly litigation.

In short, the "professional speech" doctrine posed a real threat to the free-speech rights of millions of ordinary Americans. But even so, it seemed to be only growing in its influence in American courts.

Free Speech For Professionals, Too

That is why Tuesday's opinion is so important: Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas squarely rejected the idea that states can strip people of their First Amendment rights just by labeling them "professionals."

"States cannot choose the protection that speech receives under the First Amendment," Justice Thomas wrote, as that would give them a powerful tool to impose "invidious discrimination of disfavored subjects."

Just so: Countless Americans earn their living by speaking or giving advice, whether they are doctors or lawyers, life coaches or comedians. None of them should have to give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of doing their job.

Whatever one thinks about crisis pregnancy centers, restrictions on their speech have to be justified under the First Amendment — not just blindly ratified in the name of "professional regulation."

And while Tuesday's decision protects their speech, it also restored free-speech protections to countless Americans who had been without it for far too long. No matter where you stand on abortion, that is something that all of us should be able to celebrate.

  • McNamara and Sherman are senior attorneys with Institute for Justice based in Arlington, Virginia, which pioneered the legal advocacy against the professional speech doctrine.

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63. Tariffs On Chinese Steel Are Blunt Instrument For Reducing Trade GapПт., 29 июня[−]

The words "Made in China" now hang in the balance on whether the Trump administration will declare a trade war on imported steel and aluminum, and use tariffs as a sledgehammer for negotiating a better, long-term trade deal.

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The president has doubled down on his commitment to enforce tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, actions that offer a Pyrrhic victory for America's 140,000 steel workers but at great cost to steel consuming manufacturers in America who employ 6.5 million workers.

As the U.S. remains on the precipice of a trade war with China, we should examine whether it is wise to barter for the economic vitality of one layer of American industry — a struggling steel industry — while imposing increased costs on many other sectors of our economy, including agriculture, automakers, various manufacturing companies and energy producers.

The United States has frequently tried to go the protectionist route of tariffs, and often with terrible results. Whether it was the more recent Bush administration steel tariffs in the early 2000s or the Smoot-Hawley tariff act going all the way back to the 1930s, it's clear that strategic trade, not free trade, has a populist political allure.

It's a line of economic debate and thinking that matches the theme of President Trump's "America First" drumbeat.

This is what drove the Trump Administration to initiate, in 2017, a Section 232 National Security investigation into whether imports of steel and aluminum were adversely affecting U.S. national security. The investigation focused on China's decades-long program of subsidizing its steel and aluminum industries, which has resulted in global oversupply of steel and the consequent suppression of global prices.

The Commerce Department's section 232 findings indicated that imported steel and aluminum "threaten to impair the national security." The president accepted these conclusions and moved to impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports, ensuring that the U.S. industries would be able to sustain sufficient capacity utilization rates to remain competitive. Or so Trump's economic advisors seem to think.

No one has a crystal ball to predict the future, but by referencing the aforementioned Bush steel tariffs, we can see the likely ill effects. In 2002, President George W. Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel products following a period in which 30 American steel manufacturers declared bankruptcy.

According to a Trade Partnership Worldwide analysis, these steel import tariffs resulted in 200,000 Americans losing their jobs across a variety of industries. Workers lost approximately $4 billion in wages and American steel consumers bore a heavy cost. The tariffs were so disastrous that Bush lifted them just a year after they were implemented.

On a more micro-scale, steel tariffs have severe implications for a variety of industries, for example the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas production is steel-intensive, with steel products needed for drilling, pipeline, onshore and offshore production facilities, refineries, LNG terminals, refineries, and petrochemical plants.

Tariffs on steel pipe and other products will increase the cost of production, particularly with respect to deep water projects in the Gulf of Mexico, and quotas will cause delays because U.S. substitutes are not immediately available or have not been qualified.

Niche Markets

Pipeline-grade steel is a specialty product. It must meet high quality specifications not required for other steel products (pipeline steel can't be brittle or it could crack and cause a pipeline incident). American steel manufacturers have largely exited the niche pipeline market because it is relatively small and involves higher costs and lower margins.

Today, U.S. steel producers are capable of meeting just 3% of the total steel required by the energy pipeline industry.

There is little doubt that the steel import tariffs will have an effect on the competitiveness of the U.S. oil and gas industry, among others. In fact, these tariffs run counter to the Administration's policy of U.S. energy dominance.

Steel tariffs could open Pandora's box. In attempting to revitalize U.S. manufacturing, we shouldn't risk being drawn into a trade war. The Trump administration must examine the effects of trade policies across the full industrial spectrum. Steel tariffs represent a dangerous blunt foreign policy instrument that could easily do more harm than good, threatening both America's energy and economic resurgence.

  • Scimeca, a lawyer, is vice president of CASE, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, based in Arlington, Va.

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64. Liberals Hype Comedian 'Collusion'Пт., 29 июня[−]

The late-night hosts hate President Donald Trump, so the idea that they would make friendly alliances shouldn't be shocking. But as we've come to understand, in today's world anything that reflects negatively on this president becomes "news." So when Stephen Colbert at CBS called up Jimmy Fallon at NBC and Conan O'Brien at TBS for a joint mockery of Trump, the liberal media jazzed up its importance.

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Vanity Fair called it a "Historic Group Chat," as if these were world leaders in arms negotiations. Entertainment Weekly hyped them as superheroes engaging in an "Avengers-esque collaboration." CNN senior media reporter Brian Stelter led his "Reliable Sources" newsletter with the headline "Late night collusion!"

This underlines how liberals elevate late-night comedians and "Saturday Night Live" satirists as the smartest, greatest Americans, an honor they don't deserve.
The "cold open" that Colbert and Fallon presented on their shows was, as usual, a lame series of references to insults President Trump had issued. At a Monday-night rally in South Carolina, he called Colbert a "lowlife" and Fallon a "lost soul." Colbert and Fallon greeted each other with these insults.

Oh, how touchy these comedians are when the tables are turned, where Colbert acting like a "lowlife" registers as a really serious insult. This is the same Colbert who ranted last year that Trump is the "presi-dunce" and "prick-tator" and speaks "like a sign-language gorilla who got hit in the head." Colbert even said the only thing our president's mouth is "good for" is being Russian President Vladimir Putin's penis holster.

All that is acceptable. Calling Colbert a "lowlife" in response is not.

Colbert and Fallon wrapped up by lamely agreeing to do lunch ... at the Red Hen, the Virginia restaurant — #Resistaurant? — that kicked out White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump also mocked Fallon for an interview he gave to the Hollywood Reporter in which he sounded like a distraught teenager when obsessing over being attacked for mussing Trump's hair on his show in 2016. "Choking up," the Reporter writes, Fallon said: "I heard you. You made me feel bad. So now what? Are you happy? I'm depressed. Do you want to push me more? What do you want me to do? You want me to kill myself?"

Comedians are expected to do the left's bidding like pop-culture guerrillas. The agitators apparently driving Fallon to brink of suicide threats never minded when Fallon fawned all over Hillary Clinton.

In 2012, he hosted then-President Obama for a segment of "Slow Jam the News" during which he let Obama push his agenda and then endorsed it, saying: "Awww, yeah. You should listen to the president, or as I like to call him, the preezy of the United Steezy." In 2013, Fallon dressed up as a woman and partnered with then-first lady Michelle Obama for a skit called the "Evolution of Mom Dancing."

All is apparently right with the world when the networks work overtime to confirm the "effortless" coolness of Democratic leaders. But Republicans can never be normalized or humanized by late-night hosts.

When Johnny Carson mocked President Ronald Reagan, it was gentle and had a "just kidding" vibe. All these years later, the left expects late-night comedians to lead a vicious campaign of character assassination to ruin Trump, which is why Fallon's hair mussing gets metaphorically reimagined as treason.

  • Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

Other columns by L. Brent Bozell and Tim Graham.

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65. As Protests Multiply, Is Iran On Verge Of Revolution?Пт., 29 июня[−]

Mideast: While the U.S. remains focused on immigration and a Supreme Court vacancy, Iran is in the middle of a major social convulsion that's verging on a revolution. Last time this happened, President Obama ignored it. This time, the U.S. supports those in the streets.

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In recent days, headlines such as "In Iran, revolution is starting in the bazaar," "Clashes Continue in Iran for Third Day After Grand Bazaar Merchant Protest," and "Tehran's Grand Bazaar Shut Down As Economic Protests Spread," have run in global media, with little apparent notice.

It's a big deal. A very big deal.

The 39-year-old dictatorship of the Mullahs in Tehran may be on the verge of dissolving, as Trump imposes new, stiff sanctions on Iran's economy and Iran's currency, the rial, plunges sharply, prices soar and the economy collapses. Average Iranians are losing faith in the government and taking to the streets.

Tehran's Grand Bazaar, its central meeting place and business center, has been filled with tens of thousands of angry protesters nearly every day. Yet, the media are paying little attention. Neither are average citizens in the West. But it bears close watching.

Some chant anti-government slogans, including "The enemy is here. They (the regime) lie that it is the U.S." Not lost on average Iranians is the fact that, as Najmeh Bozorgmehr writes in the Financial Times, "The bazaar played a crucial role in the 1979 Islamic revolution when traders joined forces with the clergy to overthrow Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi."

Is history repeating itself?

If so, this will remake the entire Mideast. Without the fundamentalists in power, Iran will almost certainly begin modernizing both its economy and its culture. Moreover, the nuclear weapons program that is at the heart of western discontent with Iran could be dismantled.

Last time, the U.S. sat and watched, not giving its ally, the Shah, any support. This time is different.

The U.S. Treasury under President Trump has already begun to revoke licenses, according to the Associated Press, that let U.S.-controlled foreign companies sell commercial jet parts and oilfield gear to Iran. It also bans sale of Iran's famous carpets, pistachios and caviar in the U.S., major exports for the financially troubled nation.

This follows Trump's decision in May to pull out of President Obama's so-called Iran nuclear agreement. That deal didn't halt work on a nuclear weapon; it merely postponed an Iranian nuke by 10 years.

Despite criticism from Britain, China, Russia, Germany, France and the European Union, Trump held fast. Angry rhetoric notwithstanding, foreign banks have fallen into line, fearing sanctions from the U.S. Two-thirds of all global trade is conducted in dollars. As sanctions bite and its oil industry struggles, Iran's mullahs are short on cash.

By these moves, Trump has empowered the people taking to the streets in Tehran and elsewhere. The last time this happened, during Iran's 2009 "Green Revolution," by comparison, President Obama did nothing. Indeed, within years, Obama had signed a Neville-Chamberlain-style appeasement deal Iran's leaders. Disgracefully, it basically gave them a sure path to a nuclear bomb.

It is one of the reasons why Obama and his two Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, will go down in history as the most gullible foreign policy-makers in this nation's history. And that's saying a lot.

We had high hopes in the early 2000s when a journalist with access to the White House intimated to us that "President Bush wouldn't kick this can (Iran) down the road."

He knew the nuclear problem was serious. But he did nothing.

Obama was worse by far, actually empowering the Mullahs, and giving them unparalleled influence across the Mideast. He further empowered them by giving them access to more than $100 billion in frozen assets, plus billions in aid, some of which made its way to terrorists.

Iran N0n-Appeasement

Now Trump's new policy of non-appeasement is taking all that back, yet another reason for being happy that he won and not Tehran-friendly Hillary Clinton. This is a huge issue, since hundreds of thousands of Iranians fled post-Shah Iran for the U.S., and now make America their home.

As Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council wrote this week, the U.S. has the opportunity to use the Persian-language broadcasting power of the U.S. government, through its Broadcasting Board of Governors. Already, it plans a 24-hour Farsi channel and digital outreach.

And both Vice President Pence and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster showed up on Farsi-language media to support Iran's protesters. It's an important move, on par possibly with President Reagan's support of Solidarity protesters in Poland during the early 1980s.

By isolating Tehran's regime, Trump is enabling the Iranian people in their quest for freedom and modernity. We wish them well. Iran is an ancient civilization stretching back thousands of years. It deserves better.

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66. Justice Kennedy's First Priority: The First AmendmentПт., 29 июня[−]

It became official just after lunchtime on Wednesday, just after the Supreme Court announced its final decisions of the term and went into recess. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 104th person to serve on the court, is retiring, effective just after his 82nd birthday next month, after 30 years of service.

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Justice Kennedy's decision, announced in a two-paragraph letter to President Donald Trump, has been predicted — and eagerly anticipated and dreaded — for years now. He has been the swing vote in several noteworthy — for some, notorious — cases going back to the early 1990s, as well as the author of the opinion of the court in many.

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan after two nominees failed to be confirmed, Kennedy has long been feted by many liberals for these stands. Since the early 1990s, he has stood against repealing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Starting with his decision to overturn two sodomy convictions in 2003, he has opposed discrimination against gays and was the author of Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

Kennedy joined mostly Democratic-appointed colleagues in taking what were considered liberal stands on other issues as well, including the death penalty for young offenders, judicial review for Guantanamo detainees and state laws attempting to strengthen or supplement federal enforcement of immigration laws.

On these, conservative legal scholars looked askance. Some ridiculed Kennedy's flowery language in decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges. Some classed him with other Republican-appointed justices who sided regularly with liberals.

But that's an overstatement. Justice Kennedy came out on the same side as Republican-appointed colleagues on the Second Amendment, on partial-birth abortion bans, on the unconstitutionality of bans on political speech, and on subjecting states to special voting-rights scrutiny based on evidence from 1964 and 1972. In every one of the past year's 19 cases decided by 5-4 votes, he came out against the four Democratic-appointed justices.

In my view, it makes sense to see Justice Kennedy not so much as a liberal warrior in our culture wars but as a judge who placed an especially high value on the First Amendment freedom of speech. People should be free to engage in gay sex, and organizations should be free to engage in political speech.

That concern about freedoms of expression characterized his most recent decisions. He applied sharp scrutiny on government efforts to force public employees to pay for political speech they opposed (Janus v. AFSCME) and to force a Christian baker to custom-design a cake for a same-sex couple (Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission).

Even where he saw First Amendment rights as at stake in legislative redistricting cases, he ruled in 2004 and again this year that he professed to see no neutral principle distinguishing plans that were unconstitutionally partisan from those that weren't. Any verbal formula, he apparently believed, would just leave judges free to rule for their partisan friends.

This led legal scholar Rick Hasen to predict — accurately — his decision to retire and then call his decision "final abdications" that indicate "a depressing kind of defeatism." He evidently sees Justice Kennedy as a committed culture warrior for the left.

But language in some of his most controversial opinions shows not a desire for one side's total victory but for both sides' friendly accommodation of the other.

In Obergefell, Justice Kennedy took care to recognize that "religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned."

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Justice Kennedy wrote, "To describe a man's faith as 'one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use' is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical — something insubstantial and even insincere."

This is not so much legal argumentation as it is a plea for combatants in the culture war to show respect — even friendly respect — for one another.

The Senate will probably "confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall," as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly promised, despite hysterical predictions that abortion will be criminalized and same-sex marriage abolished.

But Justice Kennedy's central legacy is his firm defense of the First Amendment. Against California's claim that its law requiring pro-life pregnancy counselors to promote abortions is "forward-looking," Kennedy wrote, "It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it."

First things first.

  • Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Other columns by Michael Barone

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67. California's Costly Global Warming Campaign Turns Out To Be Worse Than UselessЧт., 28 июня[−]

Climate Change: For more than a decade, California has won high praise from environmentalists for its stringent greenhouse gas restrictions. But a new report shows that despite the enormous costs of this effort, the state is doing a worse job at cutting CO2 emissions than the rest of the country, while badly hurting its working families.

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Back in 2007, California became the first state to cap CO2 emissions when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32, which mandated the state cut greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. Schwarzenegger called it "a bold new era of environmental protection."

Not to be outdone, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last year requiring the state to cut emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

So, what happened? From 2007 to 2015, California managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 9%. But the rest of the country cut them by more than 10%, according to a new report from the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University in Orange, California.

On a per capita basis, 41 states outperformed California on CO2 cuts over those same years.

Here's another way to look at it. Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have about the same combined population as California. But these states saw emission reductions five times as great as California. (To be fair, California started from a lower base.)

Even that is exaggerating California's achievement. The study notes that because the state has become so inhospitable to manufacturing and energy production, it now imports more energy than any other state in the nation and relies heavily on imported goods.

In fact, California imports 66% of its crude oil, 91% of its natural gas, and 88% of the ethanol is uses from other states and countries. California alone accounts for almost a quarter of U.S. oil imports from the Persian Gulf and from Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in 2015, it imported about $408 billion in products from other nations, or 16% of the state's GDP.

In other words, California is exporting its energy production and manufacturing base to other, more carbon-intensive states and countries, while patting itself on the back for its own CO2 reductions.

Even if California were able to meet its ambitious CO2 cuts, it would have no impact on global temperatures — assuming the climate scientists are right in their predictions — because the state represents a tiny portion of global CO2 emissions.

And what have Californians received in return for their state's "bold" effort? As the report notes, these environmentalist policies have "significantly distorted the California economy." And not in a good way.

Outside Silicon Valley, this unilateral effort to cut CO2 emissions is hampering the states' economy, eliminating opportunities for working families, and increasing poverty. Housing and energy prices are climbing faster than the national average. Wages for Latinos, African Americans and the less educated have stagnated.

"In summary," the report says, "the imposition by the state's Democratic Party leaders of highly regressive climate schemes have engendered disparate financial hardships on middle and lower income workers and minority communities, while providing direct economic subsidies to wealthier Californians in environmentalist strongholds like Marin County."

"This represents a significant departure from more traditional Democratic Party values."

No kidding.

This is the problem with environmentalist mandates generally. They make rich coastal elites feel better about themselves, do little to improve the environment, and load all the costs and burdens on the backs of those who can least afford it.

Tell us again which political party is the one that cares about working families?

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68. Russia Does Far Worse Than Meddle In Our Elections — It Meddles In Our Science: Part IIЧт., 28 июня[−]

In Part 1, I described the vendetta by the Russian government's propaganda apparatus against technologies like fracking and modern genetic engineering techniques applied to agriculture, and the aid the Russians receive from U.S.-based organic industry lobbyists and activists.


Second Of Two Parts. (Read Part 1.)


We ended Part 1 with the observation that advocacy, which we see in many industries and special-interest groups, is one thing, but character assassination, trolling and intimidation are something else. That crosses the line. We discuss that here.

Overall, the organic industry's propaganda campaign has achieved impressive gains — if you consider ripping off consumers and character assassination to be positive.

Academics Review, a science-oriented nonprofit organization of academic experts, performed a review of hundreds of published academic, industry, and government research reports concerned with consumers' views of organic products.

It also looked at more than 1,500 news reports, marketing materials, advocacy propaganda, speeches, etc., generated between 1988 and 2014 about organic foods.

Their analysis found that "consumers have spent hundreds of billion dollars purchasing premium-priced organic food products based on false or misleading perceptions about comparative product food safety, nutrition and health attributes," and that this is due to "a widespread organic and natural products industry pattern of research-informed and intentionally deceptive marketing and paid advocacy."

Organic Advocacy

That advocacy is particularly vile. The organic industry seeks not a level playing field for their products; instead, they try to level the players on the other side. The activists regularly trot out a litany of false accusations about their enemies.

One of the most unlikely and undeserving targets is Stephan Neidenbach, a Maryland middle-school teacher and science communicator who blogs about science and technology. The trolls and character assassins variously tried to get him fired and conducted a campaign of harassment and intimidation against him. Read his chilling account here.

Academics have been a favorite target. An NGO called U.S. Right to Know, or USRTK, has filed harassing Freedom of Information requests for emails and documents of at least a hundred public university faculty and staff members, hoping to find embarrassing snippets that might imply conflicts of interest.

Their efforts to undermine scientists and public policy scholars whose work threatens the Russians' agenda follow a familiar pattern. In the words of University of Florida plant biologist Kevin Folta, who has been excoriated repeatedly by USRTK for supposedly being a Monsanto sock puppet, the activists "develop a narrative that suggests industry collusion or undue influence, especially with any attempt to connect the faculty member to Monsanto, a company that is the bogeyman favorite of activists."

Every page of every email requested by USRTK must be examined by attorneys to ascertain whether they are releasable. Professor Folta estimates that the USRTK fishing expedition may have cost his university as much as a million dollars of taxpayers' money.

The Monsanto Factor

Another prominent victim was Peter Phillips, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, whose supposed sin was (surprise!) too close a relationship with Monsanto and allowing the company to influence what he said and wrote.

Other eminent academics, such as University of Illinois Professor (Emeritus) Bruce Chassy and University of Oklahoma Law Professor (Emeritus) Drew Kershen and science writer extraordinaire Jon Entine have also been targeted.

I have been on the USRTK hit-list since I was a prominent opponent of an unscientific, unwise and probably unconstitutional 2012 California referendum issue that would have required labeling of genetically engineered food.

USRTK were proponents of the measure. Paid pro-referendum activists lied effusively about me in the campaign, and some of their more flagrant falsehoods were regurgitated by the New York Times' hapless food columnist, Mark Bittman, apparently without any fact-checking.

Fast forward to 2015, when a UN-based agency erroneously categorized the herbicide glyphosate (which Monsanto markets as Roundup) as a "probable carcinogen." Although Monsanto and I had a long history of mutual antagonism (see this and this, for example) a scientist acquaintance there emailed me and asked if that was something I might write about.

Personal Attacks

I responded that I was overwhelmed with various projects but that they should sent me a "high-quality draft," a poor choice of words by which I meant stuff — other government agencies' evaluations, scientific studies, as well as the company's view of the decision. Eventually, they sent me all of that.

When those emails were later released as part of a lawsuit in 2017, a New York Times reporter whom I (along with many in the scientific community) had criticized repeatedly for biased and inaccurate reporting, penned a vindictive hit-piece implying that my op-ed was ghostwritten. The Times article was misleading and incomplete.

In a phone conversation — which, of course, is not reflected in the emails — I had told a Monsanto person exactly what arguments and points I wanted to make, and they sent me a rough draft that consisted almost entirely of what I had outlined. I then modified and published it as an op-ed.

In the end, the ideas, opinions and words were my own. (Moreover, the article was in every respect accurate and, for once, reflected the views of both the scientific community and industry.)

Let me be clear: I have authored three books, scores of journal articles and more than a thousand columns for the popular press (including, by the way, for the New York Times) and nobody has ghostwritten any of them.

'Google Dead'

The University of Florida's Kevin Folta has characterized the activists' goal as leaving "these trusted professors, dietitians and physicians 'Google Dead', a state where their online reputation will always drag the anchor of activist derision."

Professor Folta describes how these campaigns work: "In the case of (University of Saskatchewan Professor) Phillips, US-RTK acquired emails and used Jason Warick from CBC News as a complicit pipeline to media. This way it is not simply (USRTK co-director) Gary Ruskin and his band of industry-financed lackeys slandering scientists on activist websites. Instead, it takes (on) the patina of legitimate research, hard-core gumshoe reporting. It really is a reporter doing the bidding of US-RTK, who is doing the bidding of a handful of organizations, companies, and undisclosed donors paying for the hit."

New Yorker staff writer Adrian Chen describes what happened to him in 2015 while he was doing background research in St. Petersburg about Russia's notorious "troll farm," the Internet Research Agency:

"As I conducted my reporting, I was myself the target of an elaborate smear campaign to label me a neo-Nazi sympathizer and U.S. intelligence agent — an early use of the kind of bizarre tactics that have been documented by numerous investigations in both the Russian and Western media, and by the internal investigations of social-media companies."

Thus, American activists and NGOs, paid by the organic agriculture industry and aided by Russia's propaganda machine, routinely trash, troll and harass scientists, academics, journalists and even middle-school teachers who promote sound science generally and promulgate accurate information about genetic engineering, in particular.

Dezinformatsiya

The character-assassination campaigns present an exquisite irony: USRTK and its ilk accuse their targets of being shills — paid agents of the agribusiness industry who have a conflict of interest — but it is they who are the shills, bought and paid for by the organic and "natural products" industries.

The fake-news-based disinformation campaigns launched by the NGOs and other trolls on subjects from agricultural chemicals and genetic engineering to fracking erode the ability of disinterested observers — the public — to judge what is true and what is not with respect to complex public policy issues.

And it is distressing for those of us being attacked, to say nothing of our friends and families.

As the fellow said in the Mark Twain story, after being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail, "If it weren't for the honor, I'd just as soon have walked."

However, history is on the side of scientists, science communicators and journalists who tell the truth. In the words of philosophy professor Crispin Sartwell in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, "The power of the Russian intelligence services ... is considerable, but it does not include the ability to bend the fabric of reality."

On the other hand, even if we're not found floating face-down in the Volga, it's no fun being among the Google Dead.

  • Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology. His most recent book is "The Frankenfood Myth."

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Part 1: Russia Does Far Worse Than Meddle In Our Elections — It Meddles In Our Science

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69. Criminal Behavior, Not Racism, Explains 'Racial Disparities' in Crime StatsЧт., 28 июня[−]

A new study on racial disparities in police conduct found that differences in offending by suspects — not racism — explains officers' responses.

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In the study "Is There Evidence of Racial Disparity in Police Use of Deadly Force?" professors from Michigan State and Arizona State universities analyzed officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015 and 2016.

The report's abstract says:

"We benchmark two years of fatal shooting data on 16 crime rate estimates. When adjusting for crime, we find no systematic evidence of anti-black disparities in fatal shootings, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens, or fatal shootings involving misidentification of harmless objects. ... Exposure to police given crime rate differences likely accounts for the higher per capita rate of fatal police shootings for blacks, at least when analyzing all shootings. For unarmed shootings or misidentification shootings, data are too uncertain to be conclusive."

Two recent studies found cops more reluctant to use deadly force against blacks, including one by a black Harvard economist. Professor Roland G. Fryer Jr. concluded: "On the most extreme use of force — officer-involved shootings — we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account."

But aren't blacks routinely "racially profiled" by cops? Not according to the Police-Public Contact Survey. Produced every three years by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the survey asks more than 60,000 people about their interactions with the police. It asks respondents' to provide age, race and gender. It asks them whether they had any contact with the police in the last year; what was the experience like; how were your treated; was there a use of force and so on.

Turns out, according to a September 2017 National Review article, black men and white men are about equally likely to have a contact with a cop in a given year. As to multiple contacts, defined as three or more with the police in a given year, 1.5% of blacks vs. 1.2% of whites fall in that category. Not much difference.

There's also the National Crime Victimization Survey, which questions victims of crimes, whether or not the criminal was captured, as to the race and ethnicity of the suspect. It turns out that the race of the arrested matches the percentage given by victims. So unless victims are lying about the race of their assailant, unconcerned about whether he gets caught, blacks are not being "overarrested."

A reasonable discussion about blacks and police practices cannot take place without acknowledging the disproportion amount of crime committed by blacks. According to the Department of Justice's "Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2009," in the country's 75 largest counties, blacks committed 62% of robberies, 45% of assaults and accounted for 57% of murder defendants.

The No. 1 cause of preventable death for young white men is accidents, such as car accidents. The No. 1 cause of preventable death for young black men is homicide, usually committed by another young black man, not a cop. In 2016, according to the latest data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, 7,881 blacks were killed.

The courageous Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, who writes extensively about police practice, asked:

"Who is killing these black victims? Not whites, and not the police, but other blacks. In 2016, the police fatally shot 233 blacks, the vast majority armed and dangerous. ... Contrary to the Black Lives Matter narrative, the police have much more to fear from black males than black males have to fear from the police. In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer."

In 2012 in the city of Rialto, California, population approximately 100,000, cops were randomly assigned body cameras based on their shifts. Over the next year, use-of-force incidents on the shifts that had cameras were half the rate of those without cameras. But something rather extraordinary also happened. Complaints against all Rialto police officers with were down almost 90% from the prior year.

It turns out when civilians knew they were being recorded, they — not the cops — behaved better and stop making false accusations. The use of force by cops also declined, but, again, not because the police changed their conduct. No, the cops continued performing as they'd been trained. Civilians, aware that they were being taped, were less confrontational and were more likely to cooperate and follow instructions. As a result, cops needed to use force less frequently.

Still, when actor Jesse Williams gave a four-minute rant at the 2016 BETAwards about what he considered racist police practices, he claimed, "What we've been doing is looking at the data, and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day."

  • Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.

Other columns by Larry Elder

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70. Progressives Are All Talk On Helping ImmigrantsЧт., 28 июня[−]

There are lots of short-term solutions to address the wave of immigrants who have swarmed the border in an effort to enter the U.S. illegally.

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Why not use the thousands of currently half-empty residence halls at American colleges and universities to help house families from Central America and Mexico who await adjudication of their asylum claims? The federal government could contract out to universities such as UCLA, Stanford, Cal-Berkeley and large public universities in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico to offer migrants temporary summertime shelter and sustenance. Law schools could offer pro bono legal counseling, and medical schools could offer health services.

Such multifaceted help from institutes of higher education would be particularly apt — and far better than using military bases. The vast housing, recreational and meal-service infrastructures of colleges are often underutilized in summer. Campuses are also bastions of liberal activism, proud both of their diversity and their expertise in dealing with sensitive matters of acculturation.

What better first glimpse of America could be offered to immigrants than the energy, pastoral beauty and hospitality of a quiet college quad or well-maintained residence hall?

It also makes no sense for college students to venture far and wide for internships when they could be enlisted on campus over the summer to tutor children from Central America and to monitor their safety and treatment.

If progressives believe that sovereignty and border enforcement are passe notions, then they should at least match their rhetoric with concrete solutions. In California, there are ongoing existential crises with homelessness, unaffordable housing and dismal public schools that rate near bottom of national surveys.

How could California square its present circle of being both the most impoverished and affluent of states — the most callous in fact, the most caring in theory?

Why not cease the current stampede to private academies that has left the public schools of the greater coastal corridor non-diverse and near-apartheid?

The huge Los Angeles Unified School District is now over 70% Latino, as whites and Asians have fled the arrival of immigrant children. It's much the same in Silicon Valley, where private prep schools are expanding enrollments to meet the demand from the affluent members of the tech industry.

Yet scholarly studies show that immigration works best when new arrivals are fully ingratiated into diverse schools, neighborhoods and social activities.

The huge, multibillion-dollar market capitalizations of West Coast giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo have so far not led to more affordable housing, more diverse top-flight public K-12 schools, or a growing middle class energized by new arrivals from Mexico and Central America.

Instead, despite the rhetoric of inclusion, and televised and tweeted fury at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the progressive left coast is among the most exclusionary of all American communities.

Zoning and environmental laws drive immigrants into enclaves and ghettoes. Gentrification ends up in the eviction of the first-generation immigrant poor from already overpriced rental units.

It is almost as if the louder one rails about unfair border enforcement, the more likely one is to avoid encounters with illegal immigrants. Outrage has become a safe way for elites to signal their virtue, acting out in theory what they are uncomfortable doing in fact.

One of the strangest scenes in impoverished rural Fresno County, where I live, is the epidemic of substandard housing. Almost every small old farmhouse now has trailers and shacks tacked on to them — all substandard and not meeting codes — to accommodate recent waves of new immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Yet the media often showcase the huge gated homes and enclaves of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the journalistic elite. Surely some of all that unused square footage and those guest houses could be used to offer at least temporary hospitality to those in need.

Actor Peter Fonda could do far better to help immigrants than by tweeting threats to 12-year-old Barron Trump from his most non-diverse ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana. Instead, Fonda might advocate that Hollywood actors live among newly arrived immigrants, associate with them as equals rather than as the help, and promote public schools by ensuring that their own children and grandchildren attend them.

Better yet, why doesn't Fonda invite a few of the immigrant families awaiting word on their legal status to the open spaces of his Montana ranch? Media accounts of his expansive and tasteful digs show an infrastructure that easily could accommodate a few needy immigrant families.

It is easy to invoke the Nazis and the Holocaust to express anger at the temporary detention of children and their families who have entered the U.S. illegally. It would be far more meaningful if marquee journalists, actors, academics and activists knew immigrants not just as a distant abstract cause, or as nannies and landscapers, but as their neighbors, their children's school friends — and as their social equals.

  • Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books.

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71. The Fourth Amendment Enters The 21st CenturyЧт., 28 июня[−]

Timothy Carpenter's interest in smartphones has had two unintended consequences. It has drawn the Supreme Court deeper into ongoing debates about applying the Constitution's Fourth Amendment to uses of digital technologies that have swiftly — the first iPhone was sold in 2007; today there are 396 million American cellphone service accounts — become integral to daily life.

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And the disagreement between Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the court's decision disapproving how law enforcement convicted Carpenter, and Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's implacable "originalist," has illuminated an argument about how properly to construe the Constitution.

Carpenter's gang stole smartphones from stores in and around Detroit. While doing this, his cellphone, like all such, was in constant — several times a minute — contact with cell towers. Each tower makes time-stamped records of when and where (within half a mile to two mile radius) a particular cellphone enters and leaves its area of coverage. The towers gather this data any time the phone is on, even if it is not in use. The police, who had a confession from a participant in the robberies, got various wireless carriers to produce 127 days' worth of data from 12,898 location points documenting Carpenter's movements, which closely coincided with the locations of robberies.

Federal law says the government can obtain such records without a warrant by merely supplying "specific and articulable facts" supporting a reasonable belief that the records are relevant to a criminal investigation — a less exacting requirement than demonstrating "probable cause" for a warrant. At trial, before he was convicted and sentenced to 116 years in prison, Carpenter unsuccessfully sought to exclude the cell tower data on the ground that obtaining it should have required a warrant. The divided (5-4) Supreme Court agreed with Carpenter's invocation of the Fourth Amendment, which says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause ... particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The average smartphone user does not intend to disclose, or leave to third parties the power to disclose, what Roberts correctly calls "an all-encompassing record" of the user's whereabouts, "an intimate window into a person's" movements, and through them into "familial, political, professional, religious and sexual associations." Hence the court has hitherto held that, given smartphones' "immense storage capacity," police "must generally obtain a warrant before searching the contents of a phone."

Roberts notes that Americans "compulsively carry" their phones: Three-quarters of users say they usually are within five feet of their phones; 12 percent admit to using their phones while showering. Roberts says of the carriers siphoning up this data: "Unlike the nosy neighbor who keeps an eye on comings and goings, they are ever alert, and their memory is nearly infallible." Perhaps .01 percent of users understand that their cellphones constantly dispense data about their movements, so this dispensing is not meaningfully "voluntary."

Attempting to assuage the doubting Thomas, Roberts insists that protecting "privacy" from new digital technologies accords with "Founding-era understandings" because the Founders' "central aim" was to impede "surveillance" that is "too permeating." Thomas, unassuaged, strictly adheres to the Constitution's text, which, he stresses, nowhere mentions "privacy." The Fourth Amendment, he insists (with his italics), secures individuals against unreasonable searches of "their persons, houses, papers, and effects." By gathering several carriers' cell site records of Carpenter's movements, the government did not search his property: "He did not create the records, he does not maintain them, he cannot control them, and he cannot destroy them."

There is a circularity to the court's test of whether, regarding this or that, the public has a "reasonable expectation of privacy": The court's decisions powerfully shape the expectations that purport to control the decisions. And Thomas is right about the original public understanding of the Framers' words in the amendment. Roberts, however, is true to the Framers' intent, which was to forever secure individuals from what the Framers called "unreasonable searches." Today, fidelity to that original purpose requires protecting what we call, and what they would recognize as synonymous, privacy that is inseparable from liberty.

The language is different; the intent is not. By focusing on the original public meaning of words rather than on original and unchanging purposes in changing contexts, Thomas intends to constrain courts. This, however, leaves other parts of the state — in this case, law enforcement — less constrained.

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72. After Its Hard Left Turn, Will Democratic Party Officially Admit It's Socialist?Чт., 28 июня[−]

Progressives: The shocking primary victory of 28-year-old socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Congress' No. 4, Democrat Joe Crowley, underscores what we have long noted: The Democratic Party is no longer a party of moderation, but a party of the extreme left. And it's moving ever faster and farther leftward with each election cycle.

The 57%-42% drubbing of Crowley looks like the death knell not just for his political career, but for that of his mentor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Crowley, after all, was the hand-picked successor to Pelosi. He had outraised his far younger opponent by 10-to-1.

Ocasio-Cortez isn't a make-believe socialist; she belongs to the Democratic Socialists of America. And she had the backing of Bernie Sanders' "Our Revolution" political group.

"Our Revolution"? Do they want a civil war? It's a real concern. A new Rasmussen poll shows 31% of Americans think a civil war is likely soon, while 59% fear violence from Trump haters. That's scary.

And, by the way, Ocasio-Cortez is no fluke. She's part of a trend. Just look at who the leading lights of the Democrats are today. In addition to such progressive stalwarts as Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, their most vocal and visible leaders include far-left Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.

The House has so many far-left Democrats we couldn't list them all in an editorial. But they are numerous, and angry, pushing their side ever closer to violent confrontation.

Take Rep. Maxine Waters, an influential Democrat who had this to say about civility toward the political opposition: "If you see anybody from that (Trump) Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."

As the violent rhetoric ramps up, Trump officials (Sarah Huckabee, Elaine Chao, Jeff Sessions, among others) have been harassed in public places and at their homes, threatened with violence and even thrown out of restaurants because they work for this White House. It shows what the left really thinks of democracy.

Is this a preview of what America will be like under a Democratic administration?

Is this the future of the Democratic Party? Sure looks that way.

The party's base is itself increasingly far left. As a study last year by the American Culture and Faith Institute of adults 18 and older showed, 37% of adults said they "prefer socialism to capitalism." Most of those were self-described liberals.

"That is a large minority," wrote researcher and Executive Director George Barna. "And it includes a majority of the liberals — who will be pushing for a completely different economic model to dominate our nation. That is the stuff of civil wars. It ought to set off alarm bells among more traditionally-oriented leaders across the nation."

They already are pushing for a "different model."

In addition to embracing violence and the denial of such basic constitutional rights as free speech, freedom of religion and the right to protect oneself, much of the Democratic Party now embraces a spate of far-left ideas. These include such winners as open borders, Medicare for all (single-payer health care), unrestricted abortion, special "gender" rights, free tuition, government controlled housing, deep and dangerous defense cuts, a job-killing $15-an-hour minimum wage, a "guaranteed income" for all, and ever-higher welfare spending.

Meanwhile, the party's socialist-progressive wing, which now dominates, love-hugs all these ideas. And it's actively anti-capitalist.

Left Behind

Parts of this agenda of unbridled socialism show up in Democrats' official new policy blueprint called "A Better Deal." A better name would be "A Rawer Deal," because these ideas have been tried before and failed. As we've noted here repeatedly, there are no successful socialist countries. None. It's an unworkable, inhuman system that replaces individual rights and freedom with authoritarian control imposed from above, all in the name of "the people."

Americans have had their economic knowledge systematically dumbed-down by the media and the schools, from elementary school through university. Ask younger people whether they like socialism, and a majority now say yes. They've been trained to hate capitalism, and never lived under socialism. So they don't know it's the death of all they hold dear and the end to their individual dreams.

In addition, socialism is antithetical to democracy. A study in 2015 by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and University of Chicago economist James A. Robinson suggests that democratic systems are the only way to thrive as an economy. "Our central estimates suggest that a country that switches from autocracy to democracy achieves about 20% higher GDP per capita over roughly 30 years."

It's shocking because there are so many examples of socialism's failures today — from Zimbabwe and North Korea to Cuba and Venezuela. No socialist nation thrives. Ever. Why would a major American political party embrace such failure and misery?

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The post After Its Hard Left Turn, Will Democratic Party Officially Admit It's Socialist? appeared first on Investor's Business Daily.


73. Government Workers 'Free at Last'Чт., 28 июня[−]

Rank and file government workers won big over union bosses Wednesday, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Mark Janus, an Illinois state worker who refused to join the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The court struck down an Illinois law that allowed the union to deduct fees from Janus's paycheck despite his refusal to join.

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The Janus ruling smashes laws in 22 states — including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and California — that compel nonmembers to support unions. Until now, if you wanted a government job in these states, you had to pay up. But now firefighters, teachers and other public employees won't have to fork over a penny to a union if they choose not to join. For the average worker who opts out, it will mean hundreds of dollars more in take-home pay a year.

More in workers' pockets, less in union coffers. Nationwide, unions are expected to forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars when nonmembers stop paying and some members quit to save money, too.

When unions lose, so do politicians — primarily Democrats — who feed at their table. The Democratic Party counts on unions to tilt elections with hefty donations and manpower to get out the vote. Unions are the Democratic Party's ATM. The Janus ruling, by reducing that money source, levels the political playing field.

One Republican is already a winner — President Donald Trump — for delivering on his promise of a conservative court. In a 2016 Supreme Court case over union fees, the Justices split 4-4, leaving mandatory fees in place. This time Trump's Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, cast the tie-breaking vote.

Before the ruling, nonmembers could in theory request a refund of any fees unions admitted spending on politics. But unions insisted little of it was spent that way. Janus argued that everything a government union like AFSCME does is political. Janus blamed AFSCME for the costly labor contracts and huge public budgets that Illinois taxpayers had to pay for. The Justices decided that compelling Janus to support the union violates his constitutional rights under the First Amendment.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, discarded a 1977 precedent and went straight to the founders. Quoting Jefferson, Alito said "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Unions are apoplectic. The National Education Association plans to slash its budget, fearing that 300,000 members will quit.

Union bosses and their political allies aren't taking the ruling lying down. Governor Andrew Cuomo's been touting his "anti-Janus" legislation, designed to make it nearly impossible for workers to opt out of unions.

New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy also signed an end-run around Janus. It shrinks the opt-out window to a mere 10 days each year.

New Jersey's anti-Janus law also requires new hires to sit through a mandatory 30-minute lecture on the benefits of union membership. Employers are barred from presenting the other side. In America? Is this crazy or what?

These laws, which show disdain for working people, are dead in the water. The justices anticipated such shenanigans. The ruling specified that union fees cannot be extracted from a nonmember unless "the employee affirmatively consents to pay." Unions will have to convince nonmembers to opt in. Forget about opt out.

Politicians who pushed anti-Janus provisions are the same ones who support lavish union contracts and work rules that explode the cost of public services.

In Connecticut, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz, sets the rules for union negotiations. Unbelievably, he's a member of AFSCME himself. Thanks to this cronyism, Connecticut has the second-highest state and local tax burden in the nation after — you guessed it — New York.

The shameful politicians who plotted to weasel around the Janus ruling were blocked Wednesday. Janus will have impact. Workers can choose to support a union or spend their pay in other ways. With union political clout diminished, John Q. Taxpayer's views will count for more. It's a promising first step toward lowering the cost of government.

  • McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a former lieutenant governor of New York State.

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74. After A String Of Huge Supreme Court Wins, Will Never-Trumpers Admit They Were Wrong?Ср., 27 июня[−]

Governance: Conservatives are celebrating a number of important victories at the Supreme Court, as well as the chance to replace moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy. But none of these wins would have been possible if the Never-Trump crowd had its way. How about a mea culpa?

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Over the past few days, the Court ruled against forced union dues that fatten public sector unions and provide a gravy train of campaign cash to Democrats. It ruled that President Trump's restrictions on travel from terror-prone countries was constitutional. The court upheld Ohio's right to clean up its voter registration rolls. It said that states can't force pro-life organizations to advertise abortion services.

All were landmark decisions that upheld core conservative principles. And each came down to a 5-4 vote, with Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch casting the deciding vote.

In fact, of the 13 cases decided by a 5-4 margin this term, Gorsuch himself wrote five of the opinions.

Liberals currently freaking out about these cases understand the importance of Gorsuch's appointment, as well as Trump's role in getting him there.

Recall that when Justice Scalia died suddenly in 2016, President Obama named liberal Judge Merrick Garland as his replacement. Senate Republicans blocked Garland from getting a hearing, arguing that voters should have the chance to weigh in when they voted in the presidential elections.

So, everyone knew the stakes in the November election. A vote for Hillary Clinton meant a liberal majority on the court. A vote for Trump at least provided the hope that conservatives would retain their tentative majority.

High-Stakes Election

Yet despite the importance of replacing Scalia with another conservative, the Never-Trump crowd refused to support his presidential campaign. The list, by the way, is surprisingly long ( Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to it) and includes hundreds of governors, senators, congressmen, state and local officials, and conservative pundits. Many of them outright backed Hillary Clinton.

What's more, just after the court ended its session, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his plans to retire. That means Trump can replace moderate Kennedy with a more reliably conservative justice. Before his first term is up, Trump may also be able to replace the ailing liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In other words, Trump has the chance to decisively shift the balance of the court — something most Never-Trump Republicans have been dreaming about for decades.

We admit that we, too, had our doubts about Trump during the primaries. Our concern was that, given his past positions and writings, Trump was one of the least reliably conservative candidates among the huge field of contenders.

Once he won the nomination, however, it became clear that, for all his faults, he'd be far preferable to Hillary Clinton.

Other Conservative Victories

Then, to our surprise — and many on the right — Trump went on to achieve more for conservatives in just over a year than President Reagan did in his first term, or George W. Bush in eight years.

Trump secured huge pro-growth tax cuts, embarked on an aggressive regulatory rollback, neutered the out-of-control EPA, achieved a swift victory over ISIS, named a huge number of conservative judges, tried to gain some measure of control over the country's borders, chipped away at ObamaCare, and partially rolled back the disastrous Dodd-Frank act.

He's been unwavering in his willingness to stand up to partisan hacks in the media — another huge win for conservatives. And, free trade aside, Trump continues to aggressively push a free-market conservative agenda against increasingly fierce and violent liberal attacks.

Despite all this, legions of Never-Trumpers still wish he weren't in office. George Will even penned a column last week urging Republicans to hand control of Congress over to Democrats, to "protect" the country until Trump is out of office.

This is madness. You don't have to like Trump — or agree with everything he does — to be glad that he's calling the shots in the White House today, and not Hillary Clinton.

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75. Anthony Kennedy, Swing Vote On U.S. Supreme Court, Will RetireСр., 27 июня[−]

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he will retire, letting President Donald Trump nominate a successor who could create the most conservative court in generations and put the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling at risk.

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The court said Wednesday he will retire effective July 31.

Kennedy, an 81-year-old Ronald Reagan appointee, has been the court's pivotal vote for the last decade, joining liberal justices to legalize same-sex marriage and voting with conservatives to throw out campaign-finance restrictions.

"Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises," Kennedy said in a letter to Trump. The court said Kennedy told his colleagues of his decision Wednesday.

By naming his successor, Trump could leave an enduring mark on the court, giving it a solid five-justice conservative majority. The court could shift to the right on the death penalty, racial discrimination and gay rights, all areas where Kennedy at least sometimes joined the court's liberal wing. Chief Justice John Roberts may now become the swing vote.

Potential nominees include Washington-based federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy law clerk with close ties to the retiring justice. Trump could also consider three federal judges he interviewed before selecting Neil Gorsuch to fill an earlier vacancy: William Pryor of Alabama, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania and Amul Thapar of Kentucky.

Other possibilities include federal appellate judges Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, who was considered for the Gorsuch seat but didn't get an interview, and Amy Coney Barrett of South Bend, Indiana.

Trump's List To Succeed Anthony Kennedy

All are on a list of 25 prospective justices the White House has developed with input from the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, so they could approve Trump's nominee without any Democratic support. In confirming Gorsuch, Republicans eliminated the 60-vote requirement to advance a Supreme Court nomination.

Even so, Kennedy's position in the court's center guarantees a fierce confirmation fight. Trump vowed during the campaign to appoint justices who would vote to overturn Roe, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and his appointment to replace Kennedy could make that a reality.

In addition to Gorsuch, the court has three members — Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas — who have consistently voted to uphold abortion restrictions. All are Republican appointees.

Kennedy voted this week with a 5-4 conservative majority to uphold Trump's travel ban as a legitimate move to protect national security, rejecting arguments that the president targeted Muslims.

Kennedy joined the court in 1988 and replaced the previous swing vote, Justice Lewis Powell. The California native got the nod after Reagan's first two choices, Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg, failed to win confirmation. Bork lost a Senate vote after a divisive fight, and Ginsburg withdrew after the revelation he had smoked marijuana as a law professor.

Kennedy's centrist position meant he wrote some of the court's most important opinions. He disappointed conservatives in 1992, when he co-wrote an opinion reaffirming the constitutional right to abortion. Although he later backed some restrictions — voting to uphold a federal ban on some late-term abortions — he cast the decisive vote to strike down Texas regulations on clinics and doctors in 2016.

Anthony Kennedy On Gay Rights

Kennedy became a champion of gay rights and wrote the 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, using the type of sweeping language that characterized his opinions.

"No longer may this liberty be denied," Kennedy wrote. "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family."

Kennedy also wrote the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which opened the way for a torrent of new campaign spending. He equated campaign-finance laws with censorship, writing that "the First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

He was the quintessential swing vote on racial issues. He joined the conservative wing to strike down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 but voted with the court's liberals in 2016 to back university affirmative action programs.

Kennedy voted to overturn then-President Barack Obama's health-care law. He was one of five justices in the majority of the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling, which sealed George W. Bush's election as president over Democrat Al Gore.

His departure puts the Supreme Court at a tipping point. Another Gorsuch-type nominee could create the most conservative court since the justices blocked a number of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs in the 1930s.

It could also create a lasting majority. Thomas, at 70, is the oldest of the court's remaining Republican appointees.

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76. The Return Of Smoot-Hawley?Ср., 27 июня[−]

The ghost of Smoot-Hawley seems to haunt President Trump. You will recall that Smoot-Hawley was the sweeping tariff legislation that Congress passed and President Hoover signed in mid-1930. Most economists have exonerated the legislation as a major cause of the Great Depression, but it certainly didn't help. It contributed to the deep economic downturn and fed the public's fatalistic mood. Trump is falling into a similar trap.

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Smoot-Hawley's significance was as much psychological as economic. "Because the Depression followed so closely on the heels of the tariff increase, many people at the time believed that (Smoot-Hawley) was responsible for the economic disaster," writes Dartmouth economist Douglas Irwin in his recent history of U.S. trade, "Clashing Over Commerce."

One crucial lesson of Smoot-Hawley is to leave trade policy alone — that is, don't resort to protectionism — in any economic crisis that doesn't automatically involve trade. Protectionism may make things worse and, possibly, much worse.

The Trump administration hasn't absorbed this history. Its obsession with "trade wars" risks souring the public mood and weakening the world economy. The stock market — to take a clear example — has reacted badly to adverse trade news. But there is an even larger connection through global debt markets.

Consider.

Contrary (perhaps) to popular wisdom, global debt — the borrowings of consumers, businesses and governments of all major countries — has grown substantially in the past decade, from $97 trillion in 2007 to $169 trillion in 2017, reports a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. This debt consists of $43 trillion of household debt (including home mortgages), $66 trillion in loans to non-finance businesses (mostly bonds and bank loans), and governments' debt of $60 trillion.

Many of these debts are denominated in a country's own currency; that's largely true of China. But many debts of other countries (say, Brazil) are made in dollars. Interest and principal must be repaid in dollars.

Here's the connection with protectionism. Anything that limits debtors' ability to earn the dollars they need to cover their debt payments makes defaults more likely. Protectionism does just that; it discourages trade (that's the point) by raising tariffs and the price of traded goods. Exports and imports suffer. Too many defaults — especially unexpected defaults — could trigger a panic.

According to many analysts, the greatest dangers lie with bonds issued by non-financial corporations. There were $11.7 trillion of these bonds outstanding at the end of 2017, up from $4.3 trillion in 2007, McKinsey estimates.

Many borrowers are so strong financially — they have ample cash reserves to repay — that the risks are concentrated among weaker companies, especially firms in "emerging market" countries (India, Brazil and the like). McKinsey estimates that as much as a quarter of bonds issued by Brazilian companies could default, as might a fifth of bonds issued by Indian firms. By contrast, only 6% of bonds issued by American firms were rated at risk of default.

What's worrisome is that many of these bonds will mature in the next five years — at least $1.5 trillion annually. They need to be repaid or refinanced. Higher interest rates and protectionism make this harder. The good news is that McKinsey doubts there will be a major financial crackup. "While individual investors in bonds may face losses, defaults in the corporate-bond market are unlikely to have significant ripple effects across the (economy)," writes McKinsey's Susan Lund in a post on Project Syndicate.

Let's hope this optimism triumphs. The bad news is that no one really knows. What's eerie is that Trump's embrace of protectionism is now assuming the same role as Smoot-Hawley in the 1930s. By slowing economic growth, it darkens the outlook and reduces the ability of debtors to repay their lenders. So much for the lessons of history.

  • Samuelson has written about business and economic issues for the Washington Post since 1977.

Other columns by Robert Samuelson

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77. The Rise of the MobСр., 27 июня[−]

This week, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., issued a clarion call to Democrats outraged at the policies of the Trump administration: It's time for mob action.

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In the wake of mobs targeting Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Waters explained: "God is on our side! On the side of the children ... Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."

Waters has always been a fan of mob action. She infamously touted the violent and brutal 1992 Los Angeles riots, which did approximately $1 billion in property damage and ended with 63 people dead. Waters called the events a "rebellion," labeling them a "spontaneous reaction to a lot of injustice and a lot of alienation and frustration." And yet Waters has been affectionately nicknamed "Auntie Maxine" thanks to her rabid attacks against the Trump administration.

Democratic leaders ranging from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., denounced Waters' words. They've done the same with regard to violent protests on college campuses. That is meritorious and deserves praise.

But there is little question that major political figures on both sides of the aisle have played footsie with mob action to little or no blowback.

It's not just Waters. President Obama made excuses for riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, during his presidency; Rev. Al Sharpton, who has actually been involved in precipitating mob violence, still gets to play peacemaker on national television; during President Trump's 2016 campaign, he repeatedly referenced the possibility of violence against protesters.

No civil society can humor such overtures to mob action and remain civil for long. The First Amendment protects Maxine Waters, of course, and it should. But Americans should be appalled by her words, rather than slightly titillated by them. And yet it seems that extreme rhetoric now earns a sort of badge of "coolness" that can't be matched by those calling for cooler heads.

To call for civility now seems unwoke. No wonder Symone Sanders of CNN stated, "the folks calling for civility might need to check their privilege." To be angry is to be justified; not being angry enough is the greatest sin.

And that is dangerous. It's not that Americans will suddenly begin attacking one another in the streets. It's that large populations can be moved by small, extreme minorities.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in his new book, "Skin in the Game," about the phenomenon of "renormalization," whereby larger, more moderate groups appease small minorities simply to avoid certain costs. That can happen when reasonable people stop standing up to advocates for mobocracy, afraid that doing so will alienate their most vocal supporters.

Waters has always been a fringe figure. Perhaps she'll remain so. But there are no guarantees. And we shouldn't be sanguine about the prospects of quashing radical tribalism. It's not quite as easy as putting out a few tepid statements.

  • Shapiro is host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.

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78. Afghanistan: Less Important Than Porn StarsСр., 27 июня[−]

The "news" you see at night on broadcast television is defined by what "outrage" has been perpetrated by President Donald Trump.

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Last week, ABC, CBS and NBC devoted an enormous chunk of their airtime to parents who immigrated to the country illegally being separated from their children by federal agents — 128 minutes, almost half of their total nightly airtime not including commercials, according to the Media Research Center.

By contrast, other parts of the nation's business are nearly invisible. Take, for one example, America's war in Afghanistan, which is obviously not a new topic, since it started in 2001 and is now the longest war in American history. If it doesn't feel like that, it's because it's out of sight, out of mind.

Last week, U.S. Central Command said it conducted 591 airstrikes in Afghanistan in May, the most of any month this year. And more bombs were dropped in April and May than over all of 2015.

But from January through June 22, the networks only mustered 32 minutes between them, barely 10 minutes each. ABC led the pack with a measly 12 minutes and 49 seconds, and CBS (11 1/2 minutes) and NBC (seven minutes and 11 seconds) were even worse.

One reason should be obvious: The number of dead Americans is very low. Only two American soldiers have died in combat in Afghanistan in 2018. Those men, Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin and Spc. Gabriel Conde, each drew about 20 seconds of airtime on each network when they were killed.

A second reason is less obvious: The networks don't have many reporters overseas anymore, and certainly not reporters covering "forgotten wars" with few casualties. The networks are, by nature, more likely to cover American military action when it goes wrong, as in when civilians die in the bombings.

But neither reason is an excuse. This is not how war is meant to be covered — when it's your country at war.

The networks haven't been any more interested in the war on terrorism in general. Trump can largely vanquish the Islamic State group as a territorial power and you can hear the crickets.

Try this: On May 9, The New York Times, to its credit, reported that "a complex cross-border sting carried out by Iraqi and American intelligence" concluded with the capture of five senior Islamic State group officials. On CBS that night, this triumph drew 35 seconds. ABC and NBC did nothing. But all three offered full stories on the black Yale University student who was upset because someone called the police when she was found napping in a dormitory common room.

So let's go back to the big picture of 2018. What did the networks obsess over instead of spending more than 32 minutes on Afghanistan? In the same time period, ABC, CBS and NBC offered 442 evening-news minutes on the still-unproven allegations of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russian government in 2016. (That's in addition to the 1,234 minutes on this subject in 2017, adding up to a whopping 1,676 minutes total.)

The hush-money scandal with porn star Stormy Daniels has received 107 minutes of evening-news attention. That's not counting another 81 minutes devoted to the exploits of Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen (who wrote the check to Daniels) and whether the FBI raid on his office will uncover nefarious Trump-enabling secrets.

The American Army at war in Afghanistan is 30% as important as a two-bit prostitute.

Whatever might cause the end of the Trump presidency is "news." Whatever might cause the re-election of Donald Trump is treated like it belongs in a deep, dark cave like containers of radioactive waste.

Whatever is news is not news if it doesn't fit that narrative.

  • Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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79. Shut Up, They ExplainedСр., 27 июня[−]

I'm not surprised that mobs shriek at Trump administration officials in restaurants and that Maxine Waters wants more of that. I've watched this happen at American colleges.

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One example:

Heather Mac Donald is a Manhattan Institute scholar who wrote the book "The War on Cops." She argues that Americans are less safe today because police, for fear of being called racist, back off. I sometimes disagree with Mac Donald, but she is a thoughtful researcher whose ideas deserve to be heard.

At UCLA, when she was allowed to give her "Blue Lives Matter" speech, many in the audience applauded.

But then "they stormed the stage," she explains in my video interview with her.

The protesters, both white and black, shouting "Black lives — they matter!" drowned out any possible questions.

Watching video of the event, I was surprised to see what looked like a party atmosphere. Protesters smiled as they got out cameras and recorded each other.

"It's almost an expectation that if you're a minority student on campus, you're there to protest," Mac Donald told me.

Eventually, the UCLA protesters took over the stage. No further discussion was possible.

From UCLA, Mac Donald went to Claremont University, where she was met with posters that said her speech should be "shut down" because she is an "anti-black fascist." I asked Mac Donald about that.

"This is preposterous. I have spent enormous amounts of time in high-crime, minority neighborhoods talking to good people there who are desperate for more police, who have a right to expect the same freedom from fear that people in safer neighborhoods take for granted," she replied. "My agenda is to try to give voice to these people. To say that I'm anti-black is ridiculous."

Nevertheless, Claremont activists blocked the entrance to the lecture hall where Mac Donald was scheduled to speak so that no one could enter.

Mac Donald gave her speech to the empty room, and that was recorded for the internet, but no students could ask questions because they couldn't get in.

Even a school newspaper reporter who tried to get opinions from protesters was shouted down.

"I'm with the Claremont Independent, and I'm wondering if you might be willing to tell me anything at all," he pleaded with the mob, but they were more interested in stopping speech than in arguing any points.

"The protesters are the ones engaging in what is clearly historically fascist behavior," said Mac Donald later. "In the case of the Berkeley riots, vandalizing, breaking glass, setting fires, beating people up. But they go under the moniker 'anti-fascist' ... They called me a fascist. But I have not tried to silence anybody."

Years ago, California Governor Ronald Reagan called Claremont "a place that fosters discussion and debate ... where a student could learn to deal with controversy."

No more, wrote Mac Donald in a City Journal article titled "From Culture to Cupcakes."

"College once promoted an understanding of Western culture," she says. "Today ... there is an enormous bureaucratic infrastructure dedicated to teaching students that they're victims."

She calls that the diversity bureaucracy.

"UCLA has a Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (who) makes $445,000 a year. The Berkeley Division of Equity and Diversity Inclusion has a $20 million budget."

She warns, "There's a co-dependency between the exploding diversity bureaucracy and these narcissistic, delusional students who act out little psychodramas of oppression before an appreciative audience of diversity bureaucrats."

Really? I pushed back. "Psychodramas of oppression?"

"Do we believe in objective reality?" she replied. "These students ... are among the most privileged human beings in human history. To be at an American college with educational resources available to them that the Renaissance humanists would have killed for. (Yet they) think of themselves as victims. That, to me, is a very sad state of delusion."

These "victims" now feel entitled to censor other people's speech, but differences won't be resolved without debate. Politicians don't help when they encourage their supporters to get rough, as Trump did on the campaign trail and as Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., now has.

At least the college kids may outgrow this behavior. We're stuck with the politicians.

  • Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."

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80. Donny Deutsch, Michael Hayden and the Moral Collapse of American Jewish InstitutionsСр., 27 июня[−]

Last week, on the MSNBC TV show "Morning Joe," MSNBC contributor Donny Deutsch said that every American who votes for President Donald Trump is a Nazi. His exact words: "If you vote for Trump, then you, the voter — you, not Donald Trump — are standing at the border like Nazis going, 'You here. You here.'"

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Now, as virtually every Jew of Deutsch's generation knows, a Nazi saying, "You here. You here," refers to guards at Nazi extermination camps sending Jews to gas chambers or to work the barracks.

Also last week, Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA (a fact that, among other things, gives credence to the increasingly widespread realization that our intelligence elites have been morally and intellectually compromised) tweeted a photo of the tracks leading into Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most infamous Nazi extermination and concentration camps, with the caption "Other governments have separated mothers and children."

Deutsch, Hayden and the myriad other fools who compare Trump to Hitler and the Nazis have utterly trivialized the Holocaust. As everyone who isn't on the left knows, there is nothing morally analogous between the way the last three presidential administrations dealt with some children of immigrants who are in the country illegally and what the Nazis did to Jewish children.

American children are routinely separated from their parent when that parent is arrested, and if the arrestee is a single parent, the child is taken into government custody until other arrangements can be made. With regard to immigrants who are in the country illegally, the only way to avoid separation is to place the children in detention along with their arrested parent(s). But this was expressly forbidden by the most left-wing court in America — the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — if detention lasts longer than 20 days, as it nearly always does when either a not-guilty plea or an asylum claim is made.

Moreover, as awful as separation from a parent is, these children were not treated like animals in cages but transferred to the care of relatives or foster homes, or housed with other detained children where they were provided with room, board, education, sports facilities, etc.

By contrast, Jewish children separated from their parents by Nazi guards were sent to gas chambers to die a gruesome, painful death by their lungs being filled with poisonous gas. And their parents almost always eventually suffered the same fate unless they were worked, starved or tortured to death.

Comparing the two is not only a trivialization of the Holocaust; it is actually a form of Holocaust denial.

If Jewish children were treated by the Nazis the same way Central American children have been by America, then everything we know about the Holocaust is false. Jewish children weren't subjected to torturous medical experimentation, and they weren't gassed and cremated. They were simply separated from their Jewish parents for a finite period of time, sent to stay with Jewish relatives or provided for by foster families while their parents were detained pending due-process legal proceedings. According to Donny Deutsch, Michael Hayden and all the leftists comparing America and Trump to the Nazis, Jewish children weren't gassed; they played soccer while waiting to be reunited with their parents.

What is even more depressing than Deutsch and Hayden is the reaction — or silence — of most American Jewish organizations.

The Anti-Defamation League, which once defended Jewish interests, is becoming just another leftist interest group. I looked for some condemnation of Deutsch or Hayden and found none. Instead, in the words of the Israeli (left-wing) newspaper Haaretz, the ADL "made a direct comparison to the Holocaust." It tweeted: "Children separated from their parents during the Holocaust speak out about the trauma it has caused. How can anyone defend such inhumane policies?"

The only criticism the ADL could muster was this: "People need to be extremely careful in drawing comparisons to the Holocaust and the Nazi regime in whatever context it is used." But it offered no condemnation of those who actually made this odious comparison.

Leftism has poisoned much of American Jewish life. That is the primary reason, as reported in the just-released American Jewish Committee poll, American and Israeli Jews are so divided on so many issues.

There were rabbis who announced they fasted when Trump was elected. Non-Orthodox synagogues around America sat shiva (the religious mourning period for a deceased immediate family member) when Trump won. And the Hebrew Union College, the Reform Jewish movement's rabbinical seminary, had an Israel-hating writer as this year's graduation speaker.

If you support Trump or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or hold almost any traditional Jewish worldview — like God creating the human being as male and female — you must either hide your opinion or risk being ostracized at almost any non-Orthodox synagogue.

To their credit, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Zionist Organization of America and a few other organizations did condemn those who equate America under Trump with Nazi Germany. But most Jewish organizations kept quiet, offered tepid caution or actually echoed the sentiment.

In other words, at this time many American Jewish organizations are bad for the Jews, bad for Judaism and trivialize the Holocaust in order to score political points.

If it's any comfort (and it isn't), things are no better in mainstream Protestantism or at the Vatican.

But here is real comfort: If the left keeps on smearing nearly half its fellow Americans as Nazis, it will assure more Republican victories this coming November.

  • Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University.

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81. Thanks To Tax Cuts, Companies' Overseas Profits Now Flooding Back To U.S.Ср., 27 июня[−]

Tax Cuts: They said it wouldn't happen, but it did: The money companies stashed overseas to protect them from high U.S. corporate tax rates is flooding back in, boosting growth, jobs and confidence in the economy. Thank the Trump tax cuts.

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All told, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported, some $305.6 billion returned to the U.S. from overseas accounts. That's a $1.2 trillion annual rate, and far more than the $35 billion one year before.

The BEA's analysts explain why this happened: "The large magnitudes (of inward capital flows) ... reflect the repatriation of accumulated earnings by foreign affiliates of U.S. multinational enterprises and their parent companies in the United States in response to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act."

In short, the Trump tax cuts did it.

American companies were commonly estimated to have about $2.6 trillion parked in overseas accounts as of 2017. So in the first three months of 2018 alone, some 12% of that overseas stash came back to the U.S. It's now available here for companies to invest, pay out in dividends and bonuses, hire new workers, purchase new plants and equipment, or just buy back stock.

It's a shot in the arm for the U.S. economy.

Of course, you say. It's entirely logical to suppose that by slashing the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% — a 40% reduction — and by giving one-time breaks to those companies that had piles of cash sitting overseas, money would flow back into the U.S. After all, Trump's 21% tax rate is now lower than the current OECD average corporate tax rate of 25%.

But last year, when the tax cuts were still a topic of conversation, some in the media seemed to have trouble with this idea.

"GOP tax bill and overseas profits: Beware the hype," ran a headline on the PolitiFact website.

"Why the GOP tax plan to repatriate offshore profits may flop," said a CBS News topper.

"AP FACT CHECK: Trump and the mirage of overseas profits," yelled the AP's not-so-subtle headline.

These and other critiques were of the same ilk, using a 2011 Congressional Research Service study to show why the Trump tax cuts wouldn't work. That study looked at what happened in 2004, when President Bush and congressional Republicans temporarily cut taxes on repatriated profits to 5.25% from 35%.

At the time, the idea was to return financial capital to the U.S. And it worked. Some 843 companies brought back $312 billion.

But, the AP found the cloud's dark lining, noting "those companies tended to use the money to buy back shares of their own stock, not to hire or expand operations." The CRS report itself found that the tax break "did not increase domestic investment or employment."

These assertions need a little context, however.

First, the 2004 profit-repatriation tax break was a one-time event. The Trump tax cuts, in addition to giving companies a break for repatriating overseas profits, cut corporate taxes overall. So the impact will be longer-lasting — permanent, if the Congress makes it so, as it should.

Also, recall that 2004 was a mere three years after the end of the worst stock-market plunge since the Great Depression. Companies' shares were recovering, but many were still beaten down. So buying their own shares, which bolsters a company's financial solvency, looked like a smart move at the time.

And also remember: Interest rates, as measured by the Fed funds rate, were rising sharply back then. From a low of 0.94% at the start of 2004, rates surged to just below 2% at the start of 2005 and over 4% by the start of 2006. That's a fourfold move in two years. Even so, the U.S. unemployment rate during that period fell from 5.4% in 2004 to 4.9% in 2005 and 4.4% by 2006.

Today, no doubt, these same critics would say the same thing. Despite rising interest rates, job growth is more than healthy and key measures of unemployment are close to 30-year lows. Incomes are rising, even as 6 million high-skilled jobs can't be filled. Jobless claims are at all-time lows. It's the healthiest job market in decades.

Yet the befuddled media keep calling these bullish economic data "unexpected."

Well, these weren't "unexpected" by those who said that tax cuts would work like a charm to boost growth. In the second quarter of this year, GDP growth is almost certain to exceed 3%, again. The Blue Chip consensus of economists expect 3.5% growth, while the Atlanta Fed's "GDPNow" estimate is at 4.7% currently.

This happened only because President Trump slashed taxes, cut regulations and in general pursued powerful supply-side stimulus that lifted the economy's ability to produce goods and services.

For the record, GDP growth never topped 3% in any year of Obama's administration. We were told repeatedly by left-leaning economists and pundits that the days of 3% growth were over. We would have to trim our sails and rein in our expectations for the future.

Donald Trump wasn't listening. He still isn't. The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reports Trump recently talked about 5% growth, saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Sure, bad things can happen between now and the end of the year. There are shaky economies overseas, including both China and Europe, made all the more sensitive by President Trump's talk of trade tariffs.

After two years of spectacular gains, stock market investors might head to the sidelines for a while. And if the Fed panics and starts raising rates in an anti-inflation frenzy, something it has done repeatedly in the past, it might once again bring down the economy.

Even so, thanks to the tax cuts, literally hundreds of companies have handed out bonuses, raised base pay, and created new benefits for workers. The money that is flowing back into the U.S. is part of that success, creating jobs and income for American workers. Those who say otherwise are, once again, wrong.

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82. Russia Does Far Worse Than Meddle In Our Elections — It Meddles In Our ScienceСр., 27 июня[−]

It's no secret that although the internet has vastly improved our lives in many respects, it has downsides — less interpersonal interaction, more anonymous snarkiness, online harassment and even cyberstalking. But arguably worst of all is the amount of purposeful disinformation — fake news — that is promulgated by special interests.


First Of Two Parts. (Read Part 2)


Retired U.S. Army officer, author and former Fox News commentator Ralph Peters calls it " postmodern propaganda":

No plague in history spread with the speed of internet disinformation. We live in an age of hyper-charged propaganda, an onslaught of lies more pervasive than any that came before. Over millennia, propaganda changed minds. Today, it changes governments and subverts institutions.

It's difficult to stop or correct the promulgation of misinformation, especially when it's a smear that's part of a well-financed, highly-organized campaign. Paid agents cleverly and relentlessly attack not so much the ideas but the people promoting them.

The successful smear is often based on some shred of truth, but these media- and Internet-driven "hit pieces" are designed to obscure the truth. The intricacies of this subject are nicely explicated by journalist Sharyl Attkisson in her book, "The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote."

Smears of American products and individuals via fake news are the stock in trade of propaganda organizations, usually domestic but increasingly foreign as well. Russia leads the pack.

Russia's Propaganda/Disinformation Campaigns

TV "news channel" RT (formerly Russia Today, which has its roots in Pravda), the Kremlin's English-language propaganda arm, is the mouthpiece for Russia President Vladimir Putin's agenda.

A report from the Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) implicated RT in Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election. It found that the network uses the internet and social media to conduct "strategic messaging for the Russian government" and that its programming aims "at undermining viewers' trust of U.S. democratic procedures."

Fake news about politics, and also about science and technology, is RT's trademark, as illustrated by its blatant disinformation attacks on the reporting of news by respected media outlets like the BBC. And according to the DNI's' report, RT became a platform to push anti-fracking disinformation in order to damage the U.S. shale industry.

Opposition to Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering in agriculture is a sector that holds intense interest for the Russians. Hearkening back to the Lysenkoism catastrophe for agriculture in the Soviet Union, their expertise and current R&D in that area are virtually nil, and there is a ban on genetically engineered organisms from abroad entering the country, so they've adopted a strategy of trying to stymie its development elsewhere.

As Dr. Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health pointed out: "RT has never been fond of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which are largely the result of American innovation. In a 2015 article, RT reported on Russia's decision to ban GMO food production in Russia. Tellingly, one of the protesters shown in the report is holding a sign that reads, 'Goodbye America!' The anti-GMO stance is not based on science or health concerns; instead, it's based entirely on hurting U.S. agricultural companies."

A Russia-centered group concocted the bizarre FactorGMO scam, which billed itself at its 2014 launch as "the world's largest international study on GMO safety," as though that issue was still in doubt. The $25 million project has vanished into thin air. And RT has just released (May 23) a "documentary" film, "The Peril on Your Plate," a propagandistic screed that presents yet again all the anti-genetic engineering memes and fake news.

Stirring Up Trouble

None of this is surprising. As one of my colleagues, a prominent Russia expert, observed, "Whatever stirs up trouble in the U.S., Russia is ready to help make it worse."

That brings us to the complementary, well-financed U.S.-based anti-genetic engineering movement, which provides numerous examples of collaboration with Russia on promulgation of fake-news stories and joint campaigns, as described here and here. The internet provides a loud and readily available echo chamber for propaganda and trolling.

This syllogism explains the motivation of all the bad actors, here and abroad, for wanting to discredit genetic engineering:

  • The United States is by far the world's leader in both the development and cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) plants
  • Genetic engineering in agriculture is the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in history
  • Organic agriculture strictly bans GE plants produced with the most precise and predictable molecular techniques
  • Recent advances in GE plants — higher yields, pest- and disease resistance, drought- and flood-tolerance, improvements in sustainability, traits with appeal to consumers, etc. — are making conventional (i.e., nonorganic) agriculture ever-more efficient and superior to organic's pathetic performance
  • Virtually no development or cultivation of genetically engineered plants takes place in Russia. So Russia seeks to prevent genetic engineering from expanding and succeeding elsewhere

Collusion Between U.S. NGOs and Russia?

USRTK, the most aggressive of the anti-genetic engineering NGOs, admits to having received $529,500 since 2014 from the Organic Consumers Association, an advocacy group whose agenda includes a " global moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops," and which routinely promulgates fake news about the supposed hazards of genetic engineering.

And according to Dr. Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health, " Ronnie Cummins, the International Director of OCA, is known to propagandize for RT." (Cummins is a talking head for RT here and has attacked on those in the scientific community who defend advances in science and technology, including genetic engineering.)

Another six-figure supporter of USRTK is Dr. Bronner's Family Foundation; Dr. Bronner's is a large purveyor of various "natural" and organic products, including the "iconic soap of the countercultural 60s."

USRTK and RT have the same objective, Dr. Berezow suggests: "USRTK and RT both share a common agenda: To undermine American science and technology for financial gain. Gary [Ruskin, the co-founder and co-director of USRTK] gets more money from organic activists, and Russia worries less about competing against America's multinational agriculture companies. Everybody wins ... except, well, Americans."

There's more direct evidence of a Russian connection to anti-genetic engineering trolling in the United States. This story, which claims that Melania Trump has banned genetically engineered foods from the White House and favors organic products, ran on May 30, 2017, on Your News Wire, which is widely considered to be a fake news source linked to Russia.

The author of the article, "Baxter Dmitry," has penned articles that allege that, among other things, "Sweden Bans Mandatory Vaccinations Over 'Serious Health Concerns'," (untrue) and the arrest for "treason" of a "former Hillary Clinton employee" (untrue).

Studies In Bias

Much of the genetic engineering article, including some of the quotes attributed to the First Lady, are cribbed verbatim from a 2010 article in Yes! Magazine that had nothing whatever to do with her.

If the involvement of Russia and its notorious troll factories seems a stretch, consider the recent study by two Iowa State University researchers who looked at the source of articles containing the word "GMO" (genetically modified organism) and how genetic engineering was portrayed. They found that the Russia's English-language propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik produced more articles containing "GMO" than five other major news organizations — Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, Breitbart News and MSNBC — combined.

The two Russian outlets accounted for more than half of all the GMO-related articles among the seven sites (RT, 34%; Sputnik, 19%). "RT and Sputnik overwhelmingly portrayed genetic modification in a negative light," the researchers wrote. "Among U.S. news organizations, the left-leaning Huffington Post produced the most 'anti' articles, followed by CNN. Fox News produced the most neutral or mixed coverage of GMOs."

Also, they found that RT published "(N)early all articles in which the term GMO appeared as 'click bait'."

Pro-Russia activists responded with a bizarre interpretation: They implied that the Iowa State researchers were biased, and that the timing of the study's release was somehow related to the Russian government's review of the proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger.

Advocacy, which we see in many industries and special-interest groups, is one thing. But character assassination, trolling and intimidation are something else. They cross the line. Part 2 will discuss that.

  • Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology. His most recent book is "The Frankenfood Myth."

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83. The Left Tries To Blame Trump For Their Own Hate MongeringСр., 27 июня[−]

Civil Society: When not worrying that its increasingly hostile anti-Trump antics might backfire on Democrats, the left is busy blaming President Trump's own incivility for the ferocity of their attacks. But this is exactly how the left treats all conservatives, rough-hewn or not.

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After a week in which a celebrity called for the abduction of the president's young son, a restaurant kicked out Trump's spokesman, and a mob harassed the Homeland Security secretary, Democrats are starting to wonder if their "resistance" is getting out of hand — while refusing to take any blame for it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi managed to perfectly encapsulate this when she said "Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable."

The blame-Trump-first meme has been catching on fast.

Writing in the Washington Post, Paul Waldman complains about having "to hear, in the era of Trump, that liberals are the ones being 'uncivil'…. You've got to be kidding me."

CNN's Byron Wolf says today's lack of civility "should surprise exactly no one in a time when the president uses the imagery of invaders and infestation to describe immigrants."

Writing in USA Today, Jason Sattler argues that we should "stop defending decorum and do something about Donald Trump," who, Sattler says, is "running a propaganda campaign against immigrants that incites comparisons to Hitler's early attacks on Jews."

But the suggestion that things would be better and tempers cooler if Trump weren't so abrasive is utterly and completely false.

Consider the "civility" shown by Democrats toward the eminently civil "compassionate conservative" President Bush.

Protesters regularly carried signs saying things like "Save Mother Earth, Kill Bush," "Hang Bush for War Crimes," "Bush=Satan," "Bush is the only Dope worth Shooting." They burned Bush and other administration officials in effigy countless times.

Jonathan Chait wrote a 3,600-word word piece for the New Republic in 2003 on "the case for Bush hatred." In it, he admitted that "I have friends who … describe his existence as a constant oppressive force in their daily psyche."

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams gave a speech at a women's peace conference in Dallas in 2007 declaring that "right now, I could kill George Bush." The audience laughed, and she won praise for her "bravery."

Pollster Geoff Garin told The New York Times that Bush hatred was "as strong as anything I've experienced in 25 years now of polling."

The winning film at a 2006 Toronto film festival was a movie — Death of a President — that realistically depicted Bush's assassination.

The left regularly compared Bush to Hitler, just as they are now with Trump.

Playwright Harold Pinter said that "the Bush administration is the most dangerous force that has ever existed. It is more dangerous than Nazi Germany."

Harry Belafonte called Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world."

Bush Derangement Syndrome

Writing in Time magazine in 2003 — just two years after Bush took office — Charles Krauthammer (a trained psychiatrist) noted that "Democrats are seized with a loathing for President Bush — a contempt and disdain giving way to a hatred that is near pathological." He coined a phrase to describe it: "Bush derangement syndrome."

What was the left's excuse back then for its gleeful indulgence in hatred and incivility toward friendly George Bush? Simple: They didn't like his policies.

That's always been the left's response to politicians they don't agree with: Harass, attack, belittle, demean, threaten, scream … and repeat. Unlike Republicans, however, the left never gets called on its hate-mongering.

Sure, Trump's barbed rhetoric and insults fan the flames of today's incivility. And like most people, we'd prefer that he adopt a more presidential tone.

But even if Trump had the temperament of Mister Rogers, Trump derangement syndrome would be just as virulent and widespread as it is today.

Not because of anything Trump has said or tweeted. But because he's successfully enacting a conservative agenda that the left doesn't like, and will do anything to stop. Anything, that is, except engage in a calm, reasonable debate.

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84. FBI Still Stonewalls Congress On Russia Investigation — More Deep State Obstruction?Пн., 25 июня[−]

Russia Investigation: After Congress threatened impeachment, the Department of Justice and FBI reluctantly handed over classified documents related to the Russia investigation. But they still haven't fully complied with Congress' request. Is this just more deep-state obstruction?

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Of course, that's a loaded question. Sure, the bureaucrats at DOJ and the FBI have a responsibility to keep the nation's secrets and to maintain the integrity of their own investigations. But they don't have a right to hold back information legitimately requested by Congress for its investigation into the highly questionable behavior of both the DOJ and FBI during the Russia-Trump investigation.

"A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Saturday that the department (of Justice) has partially complied with subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees after officials turned over more than a thousand new documents this week," the Associated Press reported.

It's that phrase "partially complied" that sticks in our throat. Imagine "partially complying" with a judge's order to tell the whole and complete truth in a court case. Or "partially complying" with your requirement to file you taxes. Or "partially complying" with a police officer's lawful order to stop.

"Partial" compliance isn't enough. Congress has repeatedly requested documents for its investigation, but has been denied. And we need to be absolutely clear here: Congress has oversight authority over both the Justice Department and FBI. So saying "No" to Congress' request, unless it's grounded in serious national security concerns, is not acceptable. Period.

Try impeding an investigation by DOJ or the FBI and you'll immediately be charged with obstruction or worse, with the possibility of going to prison for many years. Why should DOJ and the FBI be exempt from the law?

Some in Congress aren't happy about all this. Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina is one of them.

"New reports of DOJ-FBI compliance with document requests are NOT accurate," he tweeted. "While they have turned over additional documents, the new documents represent a small percentage of what they owe."

"The notion that DOJ/FBI have been forthcoming with Congress is false," he wrote.

The problem is, Congress needs to get to the bottom of what looks to be a massive conspiracy within the FBI and DOJ to boost Hillary Clinton's election chances, while impeding Trump's. If true, and certainly evidence amassed so far indicates it is, it would be the biggest government scandal in at least 100 years. Bigger, yes, than Watergate.

That's why Congress has sought so much documentation from FBI Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein. They demand more than 1.4 million documents, a large amount to be sure, but have only received roughly 800,000 pages. Last week's delivery amounted to just 1,400 pages or so. So you can see why some investigation-minded representatives, such as Meadows, aren't satisfied.

The Justice Department and FBI had a Friday deadline to hand over the documents. They only partially complied. Yet the vow by Rep. Devin Nunes "there's going to be hell to pay" if they didn't comply seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Russia Investigation: Unanswered Questions

The questions about the Russia investigation launched by the FBI and later picked up by Special Counsel Robert Mueller are many.

Congress, for instance, wants access to transcripts of conversations between "confidential human sources" — spies — and Trump campaign officials.

Congressional Republicans also seek to understand how former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the now-infamous Trump dossier, came to be paid by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the FBI. Collusion, anyone?

And they also want to look into how the FBI and DOJ used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to spy on the Trump campaign.

These are all legitimate issues. Stonewalling is an old strategy. Maybe the deep state is hoping for a Blue Wave in November to get Congress off its back.

Regardless, whether the U.S. remains a healthy, law-abiding republic or sinks to the level of other nations now ruled by corrupt elite bureaucracies is what's at stake here. Who decides what gets handed over — a group of unelected bureaucrats, or the representatives of the American people?

Americans deserve answers. They should demand them.

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85. Stephen Moore: The State of the American Worker — Never BetterПн., 25 июня[−]

Last week, I testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on the state of the American labor market. I summarized my message in one sentence: For American workers, the job market has never — or at least seldom — been better. If you don't have a job, go out and get one, because jobs are out there for the taking.

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Everyone knows the joyous statistics, of the lowest unemployment rate in two decades, the lowest black and Hispanic unemployment rates in three decades (at least), a record number of Americans today who are working, and 5 million bonuses paid out to middle-income Americans this year.

President Donald Trump boasts about the job market almost daily, and deservedly so. Several of the Democrats on the committee kept disparaging the Trump tax reform as the "tax scam" for the rich. That was a good sound bite a year ago, but do they still want to stick with that message today when about two-thirds of Americans rate the economy as "good" or "great"? This is called leading with your chin.

The good news goes beyond the headline numbers. Almost 800,000 construction, manufacturing and mining jobs have been created since Trump's election. These are the blue-collar and middle-class jobs that had been flat or disappearing for years.

Last week, the National Association of Manufacturers found that 95% are optimistic about the future. More than 4 in 5 in the survey said they plan new investment because of the tax cuts. Wow!

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data show 6 million unfilled jobs and a shortage of workers to fill them. This is the very definition of a tight labor market and will most likely lead to higher wages and bonuses to workers. It is already having this effect. In some parts of the country, employers are paying signing bonuses of up to $25,000 for welders, pipe fitters, engineers and truck drivers.

"We've probably never had a situation like we have today, where the demand (for workers) is strong and capacity is constrained," says Bob Costello, chief economist of the American Trucking Associations.

Finally, the real unemployment rate, the so-called U-6 rate, which includes discouraged workers who have dropped out of the workforce and those who can only find part-time work, has fallen to 8% this year, down from a high of 16% in Barack Obama's first term.

Now we need to get more Americans working. The labor force participation rate for those 16 or older dropped from 65.8% at the start of the Obama presidency to just 62.9% at the end of the Obama presidency and is now just creeping up. The biggest challenge is getting young people into the workforce. Older people are working more, and young people are working less. What is wrong with this picture?

Can Jobs Picture Get Even Better?

How do we make an overall great labor market picture even brighter? Here are five reforms that would help workers and grow the economy faster:

1) Reinstate the work-for-welfare requirements of 1996, which helped pull Americans out of welfare dependency and into the workforce. These helped reduce welfare caseloads in the late 1990s by half, and those who moved into work generally moved up the economic ladder.

2) Create a teen federal minimum wage at $5 to $7 an hour to encourage young workers to get job experience.

3) Encourage apprenticeship programs that would give young Americans a "college degree equivalent" for successfully learning a useful trade. President Trump has proposed such changes.

4) Make the Trump tax cuts permanent, especially the immediate expensing provisions that encourage business capital spending.

5) Allow employers to opt out of Obamacare mandates and requirements if they provide lower-cost health insurance coverage to their workers. Obamacare has led to about a $3,000 rise in health insurance premiums, with more hikes expected in 2019 and 2020. These higher insurance costs to employers are crowding out pay raises for workers and thus reducing work incentives.

The great American work ethic has not been lost, but it has been eroded by years of dumb government policies that Trump and Congress could and should correct.

  • Moore is a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy."

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86. Government Needs To Embrace Blockchain And AIПн., 25 июня[−]

America's nuclear weapons system ran on floppy disks until 2017. To this day, the Treasury Department stores taxpayer data on an old IBM mainframe that has less processing power than a smartphone. And Veterans Affairs still tracks benefit claims using a 50-year-old programming language.

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These are just a few examples of the government's woefully outdated equipment and software. This technology frequently malfunctions, putting lives at risk — and costing taxpayers billions every year. A 2016 GAO report found that about three-quarters of the government's $80 billion information technology budget went toward keeping ancient technology working.

It's time for the government to embrace 21st-century technologies.

Several proven technologies could immediately improve government operations.

Take blockchain, the technology underlying Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is a system for recording transactions. Think of it as a giant spreadsheet shared across many computers. Every entry has a record of who made it and when, rendering hacking nearly impossible. Blockchain records all transactions instantly; no paper or physical signatures required. That makes transactions faster, simpler and more accurate.

Many countries have already embraced blockchain systems. Sweden, Honduras and Georgia use it to track real estate transactions. Sierra Leone switched its election system to blockchain to prevent fraud. The United Arab Emirates just announced a major plan to complete half of government transactions on a blockchain platform by 2021. The plan will save $3 billion on routine transactions and 77 million work hours each year.

The public sector could also provide better service to citizens by embracing artificial intelligence.

Many citizens call Medicaid, the DMV, Social Security and other agencies to ask simple questions. Do I qualify for a certain benefit? Has the application deadline passed? What's my password?

Callers often must wade through long waits and endless menu options to get an answer from a human representative. A smart machine could handle those queries much faster and at a lower cost.

Some local governments have already started using AI for exactly this purpose. Los Angeles is experimenting with a smart chatbot to answer basic business tax and regulation questions. And Mississippi allows residents to use Amazon Alexa to get information on taxes and car registration.

Importantly, incorporating AI into customer service calls would free staffers to deal with requests that actually require human problem-solving and empathy — helping someone, say, secure unemployment benefits or find the right school for her child.

Snail's Pace

Unfortunately, the government is moving at a snail's pace to incorporate such technology. Federal employees have little incentive to innovate. And bureaucratic red tape makes innovation all but impossible.

The government would benefit from a major culture shift. Top officials ought to recognize the potential of new technology and commit to changing business-as-usual. And employees should be rewarded for efforts to boost innovation, transparency, and accuracy of operations.

Such reforms would also help the government recruit young tech workers who have fresh ideas for improving services. The federal workforce is shockingly old: There are more than four times as many IT specialists over the age of 60 as specialists under 30.

The government's reluctance to embrace modern technologies results in inefficient services and wastes billions of dollars. An upgrade to the 21st century couldn't come a moment too soon.

  • Stroupe is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Sequoia Holdings, an employee-owned provider of software development and engineering services.

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87. Trump's Trade War With China — Everyone LosesПн., 25 июня[−]

If we are to have a "trade war" with China, it would be best to win it. We should be better off after the fighting. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening seem slim to none, because President Trump's plan of attack suggests that everyone — us and them — will lose.

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Interestingly, there's broad agreement over some of our war goals. Here's economist Peter Navarro, director of the White House Trade Council, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

"The Chinese government ... [has] audacious plans to dominate emerging technology industries. Many of these targeted sectors, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, have clear implications for defense. China seeks to achieve its goal of economic and military domination in part by acquiring the best American technology and intellectual property."

Hardly anyone doubts that China is on the hunt for advanced technologies by "legal means if possible, and illegal means, if necessary," as Michael Wessel of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressional watchdog agency, recently said.

In his Wall Street Journal piece, Navarro argued that "Trump's new tariffs will provide a critical shield against this aggression."

He's wrong. Indeed, focusing on reducing the U.S. trade deficit — more than $500 billion in 2017 — will make it much harder to impede China's ability to acquire advanced technologies on favorable terms.

As Brookings Institution economist David Dollar points out, the United States cannot accomplish this policing alone. Frustrated by U.S. technological restrictions, China could turn to other advanced countries — Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea, France — for similar technologies. We do not hold a monopoly on advanced technologies. To be effective, we need a global coalition that will cooperate in curbing abuses. (Most routine technologies, it's worth noting, should be available on normal commercial terms.)

The trouble is that Trump's bombastic assaults against our traditional trading partners — and military allies — virtually guarantee that the essential cooperation will be difficult, if not impossible, to attain. "Trump's focus on the trade deficit is causing specific harms to American national security, including the distortion of U.S. [foreign] alliance relationships and loss of leverage against China," writes Derek Scissors of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Consider how. Trump has suggested imposing a 25% tariff on imported cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles and parts. This might reduce the trade deficit (in 2017, these U.S. imports totaled $324 billion from all countries, reports Scissors) but only because higher-priced vehicles would reduce consumer demand and vehicle production. Other countries would retaliate, says a study from the Peterson Institute. The estimated U.S. job loss would total 624,000 over one to three years.

The resulting antagonisms among our allies — already evident in their reaction to Trump's first steps to curb trade deficits — would intensify. The same countries that have advanced technologies (Japan, Germany, Canada and South Korea) are also auto exporters. "This is doing long-term damage. Trump is upending U.S. trade policy since World War II — one of the most successful policies in history," says economist Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics.

Misplaced Obsession

The reality is that Trump's obsession with the trade deficit is misplaced. Since 1976, the United States has continuously run trade deficits on goods and services. If the United States were a normal country and the dollar a normal currency, a correction would have occurred long ago. The dollar would have dropped on foreign exchange markets, making U.S. exports cheaper and U.S. imports more expensive. Our trade would have swung toward balance or surplus.

But the United States is not any-old-country and the dollar is not any-old-currency. It continues as the most important global money, used to settle trade transactions and make cross-border investments. This extra demand for dollars props up its exchange rate. This makes U.S. exports costlier and imports cheaper. Deficits ensue.

Just what technology controls the United States should adopt to screen transactions with China isn't clear or easy. The ultimate outcome is likely to be some combination of added powers for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which oversees foreign investment here, and export controls, which regulate sales of technology abroad, says Martin Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute.

But whatever Congress and Trump do won't be effective unless it's matched by other major trading countries. Trump either doesn't realize this or doesn't care. He's infuriating the very countries whose support he desperately needs. His policies are more than misguided; they're backward.

  • Samuelson has written about business and economic issues for the Washington Post since 1977.

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88. U.N. Report Faults Trump For Obama Poverty, Media Fall For ItПт., 22 июня[−]

United Nations: Amid all the immigration hoo-ha, maybe you missed the uncritical mainstream media reports of a United Nations study faulting President Trump for poverty in America. Turns out, it's just more fake news.

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An uncritical Reuters headline says it all: "America's poor becoming more destitute under Trump: U.N. expert". The Hill's equally blase headline: "UN poverty official: Trump exacerbating inequality."

The report — really a first-person narrative — released earlier this month, ripped President Trump for his "contempt" and "hatred of the poor."

The report cited 18.5 million Americans who live in extreme poverty, and massive U.S. defense spending at the expense of social programs.

Only one problem: As Chuck DeVore, vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, points out, the data on which the study was based came from 2016.

That's right, President Obama's last year. So does that make it "fake news"?

Worse, the U.N. report uses misleading and "wildly inaccurate" Census data to bolster its claims of 18.5 million living in the U.S. under extreme poverty. The real level, as a separate study reveals, is "less than half that."

The report is a distortion, little esle. The fact is, unemployment at 3.8% is a 29-year low. Food stamp recipients in 2017 numbered 42.1 million, 2 million below Obama's last year and the lowest since 2010.

To say that the U.N. report is false and anti-U.S., both in its content and its intent, would be an understatement.

Thankfully, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is having none of it. Responding to a letter from socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders suggesting the poverty report showed the failure of Trump's policies, Haley hit back hard.

"It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America," Haley wrote to Sanders. "The Special Rapporteur wasted the UN's time and resources, deflecting attention from the world's worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world."

U.N. Day Of Reckoning?

The truth is, U.S. gives about $10 billion a year to the U.N., which often uses the money for explicitly anti-U.S. activities — such as funding the tendentious poverty study mentioned above, aiding terrorists in the Mideast, spending millions on useless "development" projects, and wasting hundreds of millions on do-nothing bureaucrats' salaries.

Knowing this, it's no surprise that Haley this week pulled the U.S. out of the utterly corrupt U.N. "Human Rights" Council. Its members include some of the greatest violators of human rights in the world.

Or that President Trump wants to cut U.S. contributions to the U.N. The U.N.'s day of reckoning has been a long time coming. Past administrations just kicked the can down the road. This one won't.

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89. Towns Must Stop Treating Residents Like ATMsПт., 22 июня[−]

In their quest for cash, municipalities across the nation are trampling individual rights and human dignity by imposing arbitrary and abusive fines on residents. In some cities, if you walk on the left side of the sidewalk rather than the right, you could be fined. BBQ in the front lawn? Face a fine. Have mismatched window treatments? Face a fine.

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But this past month, a federal judge approved a major settlement that should create a model for reining in abusive practices at municipal courts.

Pagedale, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, used ticketing as a source of revenue. With just 3,000 residents in one square mile, Pagedale wrote more than 32,000 tickets in less than seven years. That flood of citations turned the municipal court into a cash register. It churned through a staggering 241 cases per session in 2013, as fines and fees accounted for nearly a quarter of Pagedale's budget in some years, becoming its second-largest source of revenue.

After Missouri capped the amount of revenue that cities could collect from traffic fines, non-traffic code violations in Pagedale almost quintupled. Nearly 40% of adults received housing code violations like those listed above.

Determined to vindicate their constitutional rights, three residents joined with the Institute for Justice and brought a class-action lawsuit against Pagedale in 2015.

Their lawsuit has now borne fruit: Pagedale recently agreed to repeal its nuisance and housing code ordinances, and dismiss all charges of failure to appear in court. The municipal court will advise those facing incarceration of the right to counsel at no cost if they cannot afford one, provide information on paying fines and fees in installments, and hold hearings on ability to pay before punishing someone for failing to make payment.

What happened in Pagedale was certainly alarming but unfortunately not unique. Research by the Conference on State Court Administrators found that more than $50 billion in criminal justice debt is owed by roughly 10 million Americans.

To end the practice of municipal courts gouging those who come before them we must address three aspects of the current system.

Eliminate the Profit Motive

First, states need to eliminate the profit incentives created when citation fines are deposited into city treasuries, and fees retained by the courts that levy them.

A new lawsuit brought by the Institute for Justice details how Doraville, Ga., relies on prosecuting and convicting people for code and minor traffic violations as a rich source of revenue. So rich, in fact, that in recent years Doraville has mined between 19% and 30% of its budget in fines, fees and forfeitures.

With that much at stake, municipal officials are under pressure to funnel the maximum number of people through the system and force them to pay as much as possible as soon as possible. By one account, Doraville spends almost half of its budget on policing, with officers writing an average of 40 tickets per day.

Instead, state law should require fines and fees to be sent to neutral recipients, like county or state education, or health care providers. The urge of municipal officials to maximize collection disappears without the lure of that revenue for their city-employer and their own salaries.

Avoid Municipal Courts

Second, county or state courts should adjudicate traffic and ordinance violations, as Kentucky among other jurisdictions do. Municipal courts have too powerful a motive to convict or obtain the guilty pleas that turn citations into revenue. All too often, court personnel are beholden to their city-employer. In the process, revenue expectations replace the dispensing of blind justice.

County and state judges are less susceptible to a city's financial aspirations and better able to properly apply the law neutrally — free of financial self-interest.

End The Coercion

Finally, states should prevent municipal judges from using or threatening harsh punishments to coerce full and immediate payment of steep fines and fees. This means enforcing the constitutional ban on incarcerating people who cannot pay, barring their detention for failure to abide by a court order to pay, and offering less-onerous payment plans.

Further, municipal courts must fully inform every one of their rights and the charges against them.

As the Pagedale and Doraville cases show, municipalities prey on those least able to defend themselves in an unfair system. States need to update their laws to restrain egregious municipal practices and ensure that ordinary people aren't at the mercy of courts bent on filling their city's coffers.

  • Pochkhanawala is the research attorney at the Institute for Justice.

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90. Climate Policy Should Be Set By Legislatures, Not CourtsПт., 22 июня[−]

Climate change advocates are undoubtedly frustrated that they cannot succeed in getting legislation or regulation that is broad enough to satisfy their policy preferences. So, with the support of some lawyers who see the possibility of a big payday in judgments or settlements, climate change advocacy is increasingly moving to the courts.

In 2017, several California municipalities were induced by trial attorneys into filing lawsuits against a number of energy companies. These lawsuits are based on novel tort litigation theories that purport to establish liability for climate change harms.

The lawsuits allege responsibility based on decades of past behaviors and try to extend common law public nuisance and similar claims in tenuous new ways to paint past lawful activities as legal wrongs.

The reform that these policy advocates seek should not be accomplished outside the democratic processes and deliberation of legislative bodies. Despite all the ills of the world, we must maintain the limits of the law, and we should appreciate what courts can and cannot do effectively.

Public nuisance claims are very rarely brought and even more seldom won. It is hard to prove that someone has engaged in unreasonable or unlawful conduct that interferes with a right common to the general public, especially as each of those elements has been interpreted. Conduct which is lawful is seldom unreasonable and by definition not unlawful.

Furthermore, the hurdles for establishing the elements of a traditional public nuisance claim are purposefully high because it is usually seen as an extreme remedy. But, here, the municipal plaintiffs seek to break down these time-tested limits that have kept public nuisance claims narrowly tailored.

At the very least, public nuisance lawsuits are certainly not intended to allow a remedy for now-presently observable undesirable conditions by retroactively identifying the standards that should have been imposed, had we only known. To the contrary, public nuisance is a tort designed to contemporaneously address existing, known and knowable harms traceable to clearly identifiable sources.

Tort law should not be a vehicle for changing the definition of what is or is not unlawful, especially not with retroactive effect. That is simply not how a system committed to the Rule of Law operates.

And, one's inability to convince the legislature or the regulators to change the meaning does not greenlight judicial policymaking.

Consider our history with air pollution in the late 1960s and 1970s. Once we all realized that the air was getting too polluted across the United States and particularly bad in places like California, we engaged in a legislative debate about how we might change standards and impose future regulations to prevent harm and restore air quality.

When we decided we wanted higher standards, we then used normal legislative processes to create them and normal regulatory processes to impose them. We did not resort to legitimizing regulation by litigation to get more than what was possible through legislative means.

The Clean Air Act and other pieces of legislation and the regulations that followed were the result of intense policy discussions, legislative debates, and, yes, compromise between competing economic and environmental values.

As a society, we did not decide that any deficiencies we saw in prospective remedies made it wise or even legitimate to open the courthouse doors to lawsuits against everyone who might have been a lawful past contributor to the air quality conditions we now disliked.

And, that is precisely what we should do with climate change issues. We should debate new standards and should implement new policies by legislation, if needed.

But we should not deputize courts to create new law and fashion new standards of tort liability as a way to circumvent the legislative process or as an escape when we are unsatisfied with the speed or depth of the legislative response.

I have no interest in debating climate science. Nor should the courts. It is not what either of us do well.

The expertise of judges is suited to police the Rule of Law and to decide actual cases based on concrete facts and identifiable, existing legal standards. And the duty of judges is to avoid the temptation to create new torts or assist the mutation of existing ones beyond recognition rather than leave that creative enterprise to the legislative branch.

  • Kochan is a Professor of Law teaching property, natural resources, and administrative Law and the Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development at Chapman University Fowler School of Law in Orange, Calif.

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91. Trump's Sweeping Reorg Makes Perfect Sense, Which Is Why It Will Never Get DoneПт., 22 июня[−]

Management: While the mainstream media fixated on First Lady Melania Trump's fashion choice, the Trump administration unveiled the most sweeping government reorganization plan in history. It deserves far more attention than it will get.

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Among other things, the ambitious plan, put together by budget director Mick Mulvaney, would merge the departments of Education and Labor to one cabinet-level agency called the Department of Education and the Workforce. It would also consolidate multiple programs scattered across the government and put them where they make the most sense.

In other words, it would do what private businesses do constantly. They rethink and reorganize operations to maximize efficiency, eliminate redundancies, improve decision making, and cut costs.

But the last federal "reorg" was 16 years ago. President Bush (who like Trump had a business background) created the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of 9/11. The goal was to improve national security by bringing together functions scattered across 22 departments and agencies, including Customs, Immigration, the Border Patrol, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service.

The problem is that every year government grows in ways that almost never make sense. There's a push to "fix" something. Congress responds by creating a new program, with little regard to what already exists. The result is massive duplication and waste that rarely get fixed.

Why, for example, does the Department of Agriculture run a massive welfare program — food stamps — instead of Health and Human Services, which manages every other poverty program? Because it was the brainchild of Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace in the 1930s, before there even was an HHS (it didn't exist until 1953). That's where it's remained for 80 years.

There's a federal housing loan program run out of the Department of Agriculture, even though the Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees most such programs. Three separate agencies manage environmental cleanup programs. The government has 13 separate statistical operations across three federal departments. There are 163 overlapping STEM education programs in 13 agencies, which spend almost $3 billion a year.

Even the job of maintaining veteran cemeteries is handled by Defense, Interior and (go figure) Agriculture.

Trump's plan also includes welcome proposals to privatize the Postal Service and spin off the antiquated and hopelessly mismanaged air traffic control service.

Downsizing Needed, Too

Several European countries have already privatized their postal services. And Canada successfully spun off its air traffic control years ago, creating a thriving, efficient, modern system as a result.

As good as this plan is, however, it doesn't go far enough. What's needed even more than a reorg is a dramatic downsizing of the federal government. But first things first.

The problem is that Trump's plan isn't likely to go anywhere, since it will face fierce opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. They are more interested in protecting their committee assignments than making sure government runs efficiently.

Every lawmaker and bureaucrat should have this message emblazoned on each of their desks: "Each dollar wasted by the federal government is a slap in the face of the hardworking Americans who pay the bills."

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92. States Must Save Themselves from Medicaid ExpansionПт., 22 июня[−]

This month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that will expand Medicaid coverage to roughly 400,000 low-income, able-bodied adults in the state. The governor praised the expansion as "the right thing for our people."

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His heart may be in the right place. But Medicaid has a well-documented history of doing little to improve the health of its beneficiaries — even as it accounts for an ever-greater share of state budgets.

Originally created in 1965 as a healthcare entitlement for low-income and elderly Americans, Medicaid has since become the nation's largest health insurer. Medicaid and a related initiative, the Children's Health Insurance Program, cover 74 million Americans. That figure has increased by roughly 16 million since 2014, when ObamaCare made able-bodied childless adults eligible for Medicaid.

The law originally required states to expand Medicaid to all legal residents earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The federal government volunteered to pick up the tab for the first three years. After that, the federal share gradually declined, to 90 percent by 2020.

That's still a far higher federal match than the program as a whole; the federal government covers 50% to 80% of the overall program's cost, depending on how poor a state is.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed ObamaCare's mandated expansion of the program unconstitutional. The Court ruled that states had to decide.

Virginia is the 33rd state to opt for Medicaid expansion. Overall, expansion will cost about $2.8 billion. The federal government will cover most of that total, of course. Virginia plans to pay for its share by taxing hospitals more than $300 million.

Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska — all red states — are considering following Virginia's lead. Voters in each state will consider ballot measures this November that would expand Medicaid within their borders.

Maine voters approved a similar initiative at the ballot box last November. It was the first time that Medicaid was expanded in a state by public referendum. Maine Governor Paul LePage has declined to implement the expansion, however, until the state legislature comes up with a way to pay for it. Earlier this month, a state judge ordered him to get moving.

Across the country, Medicaid's costs are siphoning resources away from other important priorities. In 2000, spending on the program accounted for just over 19% of state budgets, on average. By 2016, that figure had jumped to 29%.

Meanwhile, the share of state spending allocated to K-12 education, corrections, and transportation has plummeted.

No Better Off

What do states get in return for Medicaid's crippling costs? Not much.

Consider Oregon's limited expansion of Medicaid in 2008. The state didn't have enough money to offer benefits to all low-income residents. So it chose beneficiaries at random. Researchers compared health outcomes for 6,400 Oregonians who obtained Medicaid coverage against 5,800 residents who remained uninsured.

The new beneficiaries showed "no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first 2 years," according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In some cases, beneficiaries are worse off than their uninsured counterparts. Medicaid enrollees who underwent lung transplants had lower three-year survival rates than uninsured patients, according to a study by John Hopkins researchers.

Another 2010 study published in the Annals of Surgery found similar results. After analyzing nearly 900,000 major surgical operations, researchers found that uninsured patients were 25% less likely to die in the hospital than patients on Medicaid.

Fueling Opioid Abuse

States that expand Medicaid may even exacerbate the opioid epidemic. The entitlement program makes powerful painkillers more readily available. A recent report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee found that drug overdose deaths are rising nearly twice as quickly in states that have expanded Medicaid compared to states that haven't.

Intuitively, expanding health insurance coverage to more people would seem to be an unmitigated good — the "right thing" to do, as Virginia Gov. Northam put it. But a wealth of research indicates that expanding Medicaid yields a host of unintended negative consequences — and does so at great cost to taxpayers.

Sadly, Virginia's leaders seem to be ignoring this evidence. Good intentions do not necessarily make for wise public policy. Voters in other states should take note — and reject the expansion of their own Medicaid programs, before it's too late.

  • Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care (Encounter). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

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93. This Is Seth Meyers On DrugsПт., 22 июня[−]

CNN host Van Jones, a former Obama White House aide, interviewed NBC late-night host Seth Meyers with the usual reverence that liberals offer to comedians of the Resistance. "You're an icon. You're a legend," Jones gushed. "You're doing a phenomenal service to the country."

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But the best comedy in this interview came when Jones asked about the jesters lining up against President Trump.

"You are really tough on him. A lot of the late-night folks are really tough on him," Jones acknowledged. "Do you feel that the red-state folks have a legitimate complaint when they say all these late-night guys are just a, you know, attack squad against the president and there's no diversity there when it comes to ideological diversity or fairness?"

Next he'll wonder if CNN has an issue with Trump, too.

Meyers started with a who-needs-ratings answer: "Look. I can understand that they don't like it. And I certainly respect their opinion to choose not to watch." In other words, this show isn't really performed for anyone other than disgruntled liberals who think they're living in hell.

Then came the line that makes you reach for a drug test: "With that said, most comedians are pretty consistent in calling out hypocrisy and lying. I don't think, you know, we don't every day just say, 'Hey, we got to attack Donald Trump. What is there?' It's the opposite. The thing comes first, and then we realize in order to talk about it is to, in some degree, to attack Donald Trump."

"Most comedians are pretty consistent" on hypocrisy and lying? Does anyone remember the comedians hammering Hillary Clinton when she lied or demonstrated hypocrisy? What we remember is comedians rolling out the red carpet to honor her. Women at Comedy Central nearly fainted in her presence as she winked at them.

Then there is Meyers, who helpfully loaned his star power to the opening of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in 2014. He announced: "President Clinton is here! And so is Bill!" The Washington Post later reported, "Bill grinned and applauded from the audience."

Meyers the Merciless really let them have it for their hypocrisy and lying.

In the February 2013 issue of GQ magazine, Meyers nominated Hillary Clinton for the GQ "100 Hottest Women of the 21st Century." He told the magazine: "I think somebody who is getting sexier every year is Hillary Clinton. Every year she seems better at whatever she's doing."

In April 2015, Meyers took on Peter Schweizer's book "Clinton Cash" on his show, saying, "It's certainly fair to raise questions about the donations to the Clinton Foundation, but it's also fair to be suspicious of the cottage industry of anti-Clinton books that come out every year." As if he's not part of a "cottage industry" of anti-Trump comedians?

He didn't mention his own Clinton Foundation gig from the year before. He then suggested the anti-Clinton books wouldn't be damaging. "She's been attacked for 25 years. It's possible she's built up an immunity to everything," he said. The liberal audience laughed. "At this point, she could walk into Disneyland, lick the handrails at Space Mountain and walk out with a clean bill of health."

When Jones asked how he can still "find the funny," Meyers was more honest about his personal Resistance: "if you can point out how insane it all is, I think that helps keep you sane and keeps bringing you back. ... If you take a few days off criticizing what the president does, I feel like maybe that means he wins, and I don't want somebody to be so abnormal and have them win by us ignoring it."

Trump. Must. Lose. That is the late-night "comedy" rule. That's the only consistency.

  • Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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94. The Supreme Court's 'Bartleby' DecisionПт., 22 июня[−]

"I would prefer not to." That was the invariable reply of the title character of Herman Melville's 1853 story "Bartleby, the Scrivener," when asked by his employer to perform a task.

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It's also a phrase you might use to describe the opinion of the Supreme Court in its latest redistricting — or gerrymandering — case, Gill v. Whitford. This was expected to be a closely divided case and one that many observers hoped would establish a clear legal standard to overturn partisan gerrymanders.

But all nine justices concurred in the central point of Chief Justice Roberts' opinion, that the plaintiffs lacked standing — harm that affects them "in a personal and individual way" — needed to bring the case. Evidently, they "would prefer not to" resolve the issue of when partisan district drawing violates voters' constitutional rights.

It's an issue the court first grappled with in 1973, less than a decade after its 1964 decisions requiring equal-population congressional and legislative districts. Back then, the court conceded that redistricting "inevitably has and is intended to have substantive political consequences." And when examining an obviously partisan Republican districting plan in Pennsylvania in 2004, eight justices were deadlocked 4-4, while Justice Anthony Kennedy found no constitutional violation but no remedy.

"There are yet no agreed upon substantive principles of fairness in districting," he wrote. His concurrence in Gill v. Whitford suggests he hasn't found one in the intervening 14 years.

The plaintiffs, Wisconsin Democrats, who thought they'd found one, must be disappointed. Their theory is that a districting plan should give each party the proportion of legislative seats identical to its proportion of the total votes for legislature statewide. They objected that Republican districters prevent this by "packing" (putting too many Democrats in some districts) and "cracking" (putting just enough Republicans in some districts to win). They complained that leaves many Democrats' votes "wasted."

There are some obvious problems here. Some candidates, even in this straight-ticket era, run well ahead of their parties. And over the 10-year period between censuses, some voters switch parties, such as in 2006 and 2008 and perhaps this year. Plus, how does a court judge that too many votes are wasted and decide how much reverse cracking and packing is necessary to compensate?

More fundamentally, requiring courts to attempt to equalize each party's number of "wasted" votes amounts to saying that the Constitution requires proportionate representation of the sort specifically imposed in many countries. But the Constitution explicitly leaves Congress free to decide that, and since 1842, Congress has chosen instead to require single-member districts with equal population.

Justice Elena Kagan, in a concurring opinion endorsed by the three other Democratic-appointed justices, takes the view that the Wisconsin plaintiffs could prevail in the lower court to which the chief justice remanded the case if they present their case more strategically. She argues that the chief justice ignores precedents that suggest harm to a political party and not just individual plaintiffs violates a First Amendment right of freedom of association, recognized by Justice Kennedy in 2004.

But like many Democratic politicians and commentators, Justice Kagan overstates the evils of partisan district drawing. "More effectively every day, that practice enables politicians to entrench themselves in power against the people's will," she writes.

This ignores the redistricting legerdemain of Democratic Rep. Phillip Burton, whose hand-drawn redistricting plans gained more than a dozen House seats in California and other states in the 1970 and 1980 election cycles. Liberals didn't think gerrymandering imperiled democracy back then.

The Democrats' current problem is not just that Republicans controlled districting in more states than Democrats after the 2000 and 2010 Census; it's also, as the court and the Wisconsin plaintiffs recognized, that Democratic voters are demographically clustered in central cities, sympathetic suburbs and university towns, while Republican voters are more evenly spread around.

A party whose voters are demographically clustered is at a disadvantage in any legislature with equal-population single-member districts. One solution for Democrats is to try to appeal beyond their current redoubts, as President Bill Clinton did in the 1990s. That might even neutralize Republicans' redistricting advantage after the 2020 census.

Gill v. Whitford suggests the courts won't bail the Democrats out if they don't. Justice Kagan and her colleagues may be eager to help, but they don't have a fifth vote in sight. And Chief Justice Roberts and four of his colleagues seem to be saying, "I would prefer not to" — and that the equal-population requirement effectively limits political gains from partisan redistricting.

  • Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

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95. A Sea Change Is Underway In U.S. Military ProcurementПт., 22 июня[−]

A quiet sea change is underway in U.S. defense procurement, one that has vast implications for innovative tech firms around the country.

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For the first time in a long time, the Pentagon is seeking to aggressively tap the expertise of companies well outside the circle of contractors that have provided the technological advantage to America's military.

This effort is driven by the understanding that in an era of rapid technological change, some of the greatest advances that would benefit the armed forces are occurring in the commercial sector. The stepped-up interest is a potential benefit to the bottom line for thousands of U.S. companies that might not have otherwise considered the Defense Department a viable market.

The allure of nondefense companies is not new. Defense and Congress every few years call for greater use of commercial capabilities. But the extent of the renewed vigor is sky-high, coming from both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. — from a White House intent on cutting regulations and a Congress intent on reforming Pentagon procurement.

It is underpinned by a congressionally mandated panel of contracting experts that examined how to make the military's vast and glacial procurement system more effective and efficient. The experts reported back last year, telling lawmakers that the traditional coterie of defense companies is no longer sufficient to keep the U.S. in the technological lead when facing potential enemies.

"The defense industrial base has changed, and to maintain technological advantage, DoD increasingly must leverage the commercial marketplace. To be successful in this broader marketplace requires a fundamental change in the DoD-commercial relationship. DoD must become an attractive customer with which commercial firms want to do business," they wrote.

The press for widening the circle of defense companies comes at a critical period for the U.S. military — as it is facing dramatically rising threats from Russia and China, two nations with a voracious appetite for new technology and that cast a wide net for any advantage.

"The competitive military advantage we enjoy today is the result of capabilities developed by our services in an era of unchallenged technological dominance. That era has now passed," Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told a congressional panel in May.

To reach companies that don't typically do business with the Department of Defense, the Pentagon is turning to a funding mechanism known as "Other Transaction Authority," or OTA.

OTA is designed to jump-start the slow technology-buying process and rapidly develop prototypes for assessment by the military services. The speed is generated by slashing the Pentagon's legendary red tape, and efficiency is gained by testing technology before buying it. OTA projects provide greater flexibility than typical government procurements, and they are very welcoming of companies that have no history working with the Department of Defense. A research and prototyping project can be shepherded through the acquisition process and funded in about two months, where it could take well over a year if managed through the usual wickets.

Use of OTA in the Department of Defense has increased fivefold since 2012, says Stan Soloway, a former deputy undersecretary for defense, from $400 million to approximately $2 billion last year. The current year is expected to continue that upward trend.

While still a drop in the bucket compared with the annual Pentagon budget of approximately $700 billion, the increasing reliance on OTA highlights its value for a military eager to mine the full spectrum of the commercial sector.

So how to best employ the OTA mechanism? An important aspect is having the armed forces look well beyond Silicon Valley to other technology centers in the U.S.

That's a key reason why the U.S. Army, for example, in search of simulation, gaming and augmented-reality/virtual-reality systems to improve its training of soldiers, recently held an industry day in Austin, Texas. The event attracted nontraditional defense companies, large and small. They ranged from sizable companies such as Dell and Accenture, to small Austin-area startups such as Offworld Industries and iTexico.

A second aspect is creating the right environment to bridge the cultural gap between the public and private sectors. The Defense Department can bring new meaning to the word "byzantine." So companies with innovative technology that have never before worked with the armed services require mentorship to ensure the partnership is fruitful. The goal should be to make the partnership easy for the innovator and the contracting office, while boosting the capabilities of U.S. forces as rapidly as practical.

Potential adversaries have greater access to emerging commercial technologies than ever before, posing a serious threat to national security. OTA will allow the U.S. to tap the technological prowess of U.S. commercial firms, while making Pentagon procurement reform a reality.


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96. Charles Krauthammer, A Diagnostician Of Our Public DiscontentsПт., 22 июня[−]

When he was asked how to become a columnist, Charles Krauthammer would say, with characteristic drollery, "First, you go to medical school." He did, with psychiatry as his specialty because, he said with characteristic felicity, it combined the practicality of medicine and the elegance of philosophy. But he also came to the columnist craft by accident. Because of one.

It has been said that if we had to think about tying our shoes or combing our hair we would never get out of the house in the morning. Life is mostly habitual — do you actually remember any details of driving home last evening? The more of life's functions that are routinely performed without thinking, the more thinking we can do. That, however, is not how life was for Charles after his accident.

In 1972, when he was a 22-year-old student at Harvard Medical School, he was swimming in a pool. Someone pushed the diving board out, extending over a shallower part of the pool. Charles, not realizing this, dove and broke his neck. At the bottom of the pool, "I knew exactly what happened. I knew why I wasn't able to move, and I knew what that meant." It meant that life was going to be different than he and Robyn had anticipated when they met at Oxford.

He left two books at the pool. One was a text on the spinal cord. The other was Andre Malraux's novel "Man's Fate."


You can read past Charles Krauthammer published by IBD here.


Paralyzed from the neck down, he completed medical school, did an internship and, one thing leading to another, as life has a way of doing, became not a jewel in the crown of the medical profession, which he would have been, but one of America's foremost public intellectuals. Nothing against doctors, but the nation needed Charles more as a diagnostician of our public discontents.

During the 1980 presidential campaign, Charles wrote speeches for the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, who did not realize — neither did Charles — that the campaign harbored a thinker who soon would be a leading light of contemporary conservatism. Dictating columns when not driving himself around Washington in a specially designed van that he operated while seated in his motorized wheelchair, crisscrossing the country to deliver speeches to enthralled audiences, Charles drew on reserves of energy and willpower to overcome a multitude of daily challenges, any one of which would cause most people to curl up in a fetal position. Fortunately, with more brain cells to spare than the rest us have to use, he could think about doing what was no longer habitual, and about national matters, too.

Charles died at 68, as did, 19 years ago, Meg Greenfield, the editor of The Washington Post's editorial page. For many years, Meg, Charles and this columnist met for Saturday lunches with a guest — usually someone then newsworthy; now completely forgotten — at a Washington greasy spoon whose name, the Chevy Chase Lounge, was grander than the place. Like Meg, Charles was one of those vanishingly rare Washingtonians who could be both likable and logical. This is not easy in a town where the local industry, politics — unlike, say, engineering; get things wrong and the bridges buckle — thrives on unrefuted errors.

Medicine made Charles intimate with finitude — the skull beneath the skin of life; the fact that expiration is written into the lease we have on our bodies. And his accident gave him a capacity for sympathy, as Rick Ankiel knows.

Ankiel was a can't-miss, Cooperstown-bound pitching phenomenon for the St. Louis Cardinals — until, suddenly and inexplicably, he could not find the plate. Starting the opening game of a playoff series at age 21, the prodigy threw five wild pitches and his career rapidly spiraled far down to ... resurrection as a 28-year-old major league outfielder, for a short but satisfying stint in defiance of F. Scott Fitzgerald's dictum that there are no second acts in a life. As Charles wrote, Ankiel's saga illustrated "the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter. Every life has such a moment. What distinguishes us is whether — and how — we ever come back."

The health problems that would end Charles' life removed him from the national conversation nine months ago, so his legion of admirers already know that he validated this axiom: Some people are such a large presence while living that they still occupy space even when they are gone.


Other columns by George Will

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97. Supreme Court Opens The Door To Internet Taxes — What Comes Next Could Be A Lot WorseЧт., 21 июня[−]

Taxes: Whatever you think about the issue of taxing internet sales, the simple fact is that the Supreme Court has just guaranteed that people across the country will now be paying more in state taxes. It's hard for us to see how this is good news.

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In its 5-4 decision on South Dakota v. Wayfair, the court overturned two previous rulings that prevented states from taxing sales of out-of-state companies. That meant a catalog company based in Maine didn't have to navigate 45 state sales-tax laws to figure out how much each customer owed, and then remit that money to the right states.

Brick-and-mortar stores have been trying to lift this ban for decades, because, they say, it unfairly tilts the playing field in favor of catalog and online retailers. According to the Government Accountability Office, this break cost states up to $13.4 billion in lost revenue last year alone. And, retailers say it cost jobs and hurt local economies.

Not surprisingly, Amazon.com ( AMZN), Shopify ( SHOP), Etsy ( ETSY), Wayfair ( W) and other e-commerce stocks dropped on Thursday.

The Supreme Court ruling was notable not just because it did something it rarely does — namely, overturn previous decisions. (The most recent, Quill v North Dakota, was in 1992.) The court also split in a highly unusual way.

On the majority side were rock-ribbed conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who sided with Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion. But so did stalwart liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kennedy argued that the explosive growth of online retail rendered the court's previous rulings outdated.

Three of the other liberals on the court, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, sided with Chief Justice Roberts' dissent. Roberts argued that it should be up to Congress to make a change like this.

Whatever the merits of the decision, the Court's ruling means not only higher taxes for consumers, but higher prices.

Keep in mind that despite online retail's explosive growth, the internet still accounts for less than 10% of all retail sales in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. Plus, at least some of that growth represents entirely new sales that never would have occurred in an offline world.

At the same time, the ruling means that online retailers — large and small — will soon have to comply with nearly 10,000 different tax jurisdictions across the country in the 45 states that impose sales taxes. That means different rates, varying definitions of products, and a variety of exemptions. The resulting complexity is mind-boggling.

In New York, for example, clothing and footwear costing less than $110 is exempt from state sales tax, but not in some local jurisdictions. New York taxes shower caps and walking boots, but not swimming caps or hiking boots, says Avalara ( AVLR), which makes automated tax software.

Some states treat diapers as a health care item exempt from taxation, and others treat them as clothing. A few years ago, Wisconsin issued a 1,437-word bulletin explaining how the state taxed different forms of ice cream cakes. Then there are the various state tax "holidays" meant to goose sales.

It is true that some states have tried to simplify their sales taxes to reduce compliance costs. And there are consulting firms that can help companies navigate this minefield.

But there can be no doubt that this ruling means a higher cost of doing business. In fact, Avalara stock shot up 13.5% after the court's ruling. Tax complexity is always good news for tax consultants.

In addition, smaller online firms will now be at a disadvantage, not only with local brick-and-mortar businesses that only have to comply with one state's sales-tax laws, but against online giants that can easily absorb the extra compliance costs.

More Taxes To Come?

Worse still, the court may have opened the door to letting states impose other taxes on out-of-state firms.

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform argues that states could use this ruling to impose corporate taxes and even income taxes across state lines.

"If physical nexus is no longer required for sales taxes ,then it is no longer required for personal or corporate income taxes," he said. "Now, California (or any state or city that loses population through exit) can tax people and businesses who do their best to avoid that state or city."

If you think that's a fanciful prediction, you haven't been paying attention. State governments will take every opportunity they can to raise taxes — especially if their own residents aren't the ones paying them.

In the end, it makes Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts' dissent look all the wiser.

As he noted, the online retail industry has thrived up until now based on the existing rules regarding sales taxes.

"Any alteration to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy," he wrote, "should be undertaken by Congress."

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98. AI And Blockchain Can Get Rid Of Marketing's 'Creep Factor'Чт., 21 июня[−]

"Monica Kusaka in the redbrick brownstone on N. Damen Ave. across from the park, this lamp is for you. It combines your two favorite things: warm lighting and llamas."

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This was a real advertisement from retail brand Cost Plus World Market. Such overly personalized ads alienate many shoppers. Three in four consumers say highly personalized ads, as well as marketers' requests for personal information, are "creepy."

Despite the risk of spooking customers, most marketing departments still closely monitor customers' purchase and browsing histories. For more than a decade, this has been the only way to construct accurate customer profiles and send them relevant ads.

Fortunately, there's now a better way. Thanks to artificial intelligence, marketers can create targeted ads based on just a few anonymous data points. This "probabilistic" marketing model generates strong sales without creeping out customers or exposing firms to legal and reputational risk in the event of data breaches.

For years, marketing departments have been caught in a Catch-22.

If they didn't collect enough data to personalize customers' shopping experiences, they'd forego billions in revenue. In 2016, businesses collectively missed out on $756 billion in sales by failing to personalize, according to Accenture.

But if they did collect customer data, firms risked losing customers' trust. Consider what happened to Facebook ( FB) when 87 million users learned that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, secretly scraped their data from the social media site.

After the story broke, the company lost $50 billion in market value in just a few days. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was dragged to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress.

Brands can escape this no-win situation by changing how they target customers.

Right now, most companies use "deterministic" data modeling. When a customer logs into a site with his username and password, a brand can follow his actions and suggest future purchases.

With probabilistic data modeling, brands don't digitally stalk the customer. Instead, they create an anonymous profile of a person with a few known preferences.

For example, they may know that a certain customer is a 26-year-old male who enjoys science fiction. Based on that information, the brand can use artificial intelligence to infer what that anonymous customer will probably also like.

AI can be used to analyze millions of podcasts, books, hotels, designers, artists, and cafes and generate billions of cultural correlations. For instance, Spotify could use AI to learn that anyone who listens to a particular artist is also likely to shop at H&M.

Spotify could then sell H&M the right to run ads whenever people play songs by that artist.

Probabilistic data keeps consumers' identities secure and also allows brands to gain insights from a much wider array of consumer-related topics and interests.

Chipotle could find out which podcasts its users probably enjoy. American Express could predict where a subset of customers will travel this summer on vacation. Nike could predict which Hulu shows its customers probably watch.

Probabilistic cultural correlations are highly reliable.

Consider Amazon's "you may also like" recommendation engine. By leveraging probabilistic, anonymous data, Amazon can expose consumers who have clicked on certain products to similar products that might interest them. The engine drives over 30% of the tech giant's sales.

Or consider my company Qloo. Given specific preferences in one cultural domain, say food or music, Qloo's cultural AI can accurately infer relevance for a given entity in a different domain 55% of the time, on average. With two known preferences, that number jumps to 75%, and with three, more than 90%

Soon, using anonymized probabilistic data may become a financial imperative.

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulations, which went into effect last month, aim to "give citizens back control of their personal data" by implementing a higher standard for data protection and privacy.

In theory, the rules only apply within the EU. But in practice, all multinational companies with a significant European presence must adhere to them, since it'd be difficult to separate the data of EU users from non-EU residents. The EU plans to fine companies up to 4% of their global annual revenue if they refuse to comply.

Luckily, aside from probabilistic data, companies have another modern data privacy tool at their disposal — blockchain.

Blockchain decentralizes databases ranging from title insurance to social identities, so that no single corporate entity owns the data.

Essentially, it gives consumers private keys to their own data in a public domain. It won't be long before consumers will have complete control over which companies see data on their tastes and preferences and when, perhaps even rendering GDPR regulations moot.

Consumers don't like it when brands stalk them and pinpoint who they are, even if it eventually leads to a cool llama lamp. Eventually, blockchain will give consumers full sovereignty over their data. Until and even after then, companies can use AI to better divine consumers' preferences without ever collecting terabytes of data on precise identities.

  • Elias is the co-founder and CEO of Qloo.

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99. Peter Fonda Take Note: We Are On The Verge Of Someone Close To Trump Getting KilledЧт., 21 июня[−]

Does someone from the Trump family, the Trump Cabinet, or even the Trump administration have to be assaulted or worse, killed, before we accept the fact that a growing number from the far-left have put a rhetorical bounty on their heads.

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If has-been actor Peter Fonda suggesting Barron Trump be "ripped from his mother's arms and put in a cage with pedophiles" does not horrify you with the obscene brutality of its message, nothing ever will.

From this cauldron of bubbling and putrid hate filled from the twisted minds of enraged liberal politicians, "journalists," entertainers, and academics, spews forth the dangerously deranged like Fonda who have proven there is no line they will not cross to inflict "punishment" and harm upon anyone connected with President Trump.

Beyond the terrifyingly rhetorical, is the real.

Anarchists from the Democratic Socialists of America just confronted Kirstjen Nielsen — only the head of the Department of Homeland Security entrusted with the massive job of protecting us all — in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., and forced her to flee.

They assailed her with her full security detail around her.

Let that sink in for a second.

These anarchists not only surrounded the Secretary of Homeland Security at her table, but simultaneously put the word out for more support.

The election of Donald Trump has so poisoned and completely unhinged the minds of many on the left, that rational and respectful debate is no longer possible.

They view the norms of society and civility as a weakness to exploit.

At least until the liberals who control Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube delete them to shield and excuse the lawlessness of those they ideologically support, there is example after example of these far-left zealots wishing and inciting violence against conservatives, Republicans, Christians, and invited speakers on campus as rage fills their eyes and spittle literally flies from their mouths.

Don't take my word for it. Search for it while you can.

Beyond cowardly threatening a little boy in the White House (he later deleted the tweet and apologized for it), Peter Fonda is now encouraging the deranged to find out which schools the children of U.S. Immigration Agents attend so they can be terrified.

Fonda seems strangely fixated on children.

Aside from celebrities desperate for attention, the anarchist group Antifa is putting out the names, photos and addresses of ICE Agents to deliberately put their lives at risk.

These vile attacks and threats are hardly new.

Ivanka Trump and her children were not only confronted on an aircraft but then followed and harassed through the airport terminal.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been continually harassed, screamed at and even threatened in public and on aircraft.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been chased, screamed at in a restaurant and forced to turn back from events by enraged protesters.

It is only a matter of time, before these anarchists cross the final line.

Should that tragic day arrive, the blame will lie in large part with the liberal mainstream media, the entertainment community, irresponsible celebrities, academics, and the democratic leadership.

They not only unleashed these sick minds upon society with their own twisted anti-Trump diatribes, but condone their actions with their collective silence.

We are on the verge of someone in the Trump circle being murdered.

  • MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and an author.

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100. Clinton Email IG Report: Scandals Sanitized With Linguistic TrickeryЧт., 21 июня[−]

Throughout Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's massive report on the Hillary Clinton email investigation are lots of strange things. One of the weirdest is the extent to which the FBI went to make up words and phrases to disguise reality.

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An early draft of the 2016 FBI report on the email scandal was reportedly subjected to linguistic surgery to exonerate the former secretary of state, who at the time was the Democratic nominee for president. Clinton was originally found to be "grossly negligent" in using an illegal email server. That legalistic phrase is used by prosecutors to indict for violation of laws governing the wrongful transmission of confidential government documents.

Yet the very thought of a likely President Clinton in court so worried the chief investigator, FBI Director James Comey, that he watered down "grossly negligent" to the mere "extremely careless."

FBI investigators also had concluded that it was "reasonably likely" foreign nations had read Clinton's unsecured emails. Comey intervened to mask such a likelihood by substituting the more neutral word "possible."

Former President Barack Obama was found to have improperly communicated with Clinton over her illegal server while she was in a foreign country. Obama had denied that fact by falsely claiming that he never knew of her server until much later, after it was publicized.

The FBI hierarchy under Comey tried to hide the embarrassing details of Obama's conduct. As a result, the FBI deleted Obama's name from its report. In its place, the FBI inserted the laughable "another senior government official" — as if the president of the United States was just another Washington grandee who had improperly communicated on an illicit email server.

According to Comey's congressional testimony, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch ordered him not to use the supposedly incriminating noun "investigation" in connection with his investigation of the Clinton emails. Instead, she instructed Comey to use the benign-sounding "matter."

One of the oddest mysteries of the IG report is the FBI's delay in addressing the fact that disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner had a number of Clinton's private emails on his unsecured laptop. They were all forwarded to him by his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Clinton. Their Washington-insider marriage had been widely publicized. Yet Comey, the nation's premier public investigator, claimed he had no idea that Weiner and Abedin were married. Comey would have the inspector general believe that Abedin had forwarded numerous emails from Clinton, some of them classified, to a mere acquaintance.

Stranger still, Comey asserted his ignorance of the Weiner-Abedin marriage in an Orwellian manner: "I don't know that I knew that (Weiner) was married to Huma Abedin at the time." Translated, that means Comey claimed that he was not sure at one point that he was sure at another point that Weiner was married to Abedin, at least at the time when the emails came to his attention. Therefore, he did not act as he should have.

What were the common themes in the FBI's linguistic distortions?

Two realities: One, the FBI made sure that Obama, the boss of most of the wayward FBI and DOJ officials, was not to be entangled in any scandal.

Two, seemingly everyone at the Department of Justice and FBI assumed Hillary Clinton was going to be president. They were sure Donald Trump was headed for a humiliating and well-deserved defeat. Therefore, in the heat of the 2016 campaign, the FBI and DOJ did what they could to ingratiate themselves with those they expected to be in power during a likely eight-year Clinton presidency.

The inspector general's report on the Clinton email covers just one scandal. Presumably, the IG and other investigators will issue reports on a number of other ongoing scandals that involved the 2016 campaign.

How did government officials, by hiding information about the so-called Steele dossier, mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get warrants to spy on U.S. citizens associated with the Trump campaign?

How was it decided that the Clinton campaign would pay Christopher Steele for gathering dirt on the Trump campaign, and how did the information from the dossier get to intelligence agencies?

How was an FBI informant inserted into the Trump campaign?

How were names of U.S. citizens unmasked by Obama administration officials and leaked to the press?

If the IG report on the Clinton email scandal is any guide to these upcoming investigations, expect widespread abuse of the English language to warp reality.

The media is using the antiseptic "informant" in place of the cruder but more accurate "spy" or "mole."

The off-putting but accurate "wiretapping" has become the more professional "surveillance."

The sanitized "improper" always sounds cleaner than the more accurate "illegal."

In sum, "2016" could make a logical sequel to "1984."

  • Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books.

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