Politics - Investor's Business Daily12:52 Текст источника в новой вкладке

 
 
1. Larry Elder: If Trump Is 'Racist,' He's Terrible At It10:00[−]

Abraham Lincoln, when informed that General Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk, famously asked Grant's accusers what whiskey he was drinking so Lincoln could send a barrel to every general in the army. Keep this in mind when President Donald Trump's critics accuse him of "racism" against blacks.

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Under this "racist" President, black unemployment, since the government began keeping numbers, hit an all-time low in May.

What's Racist About Education Choice?

Polls show that inner-city parents want education choice: specifically, they want the means to opt out of sending their children to an under-performing government school the child has been mandated to attend. Think tanks on the left (like the Brookings Institution) and think tanks on the right (like the Heritage Foundation) pretty much agree on the formula to escape poverty: finish high school; get married before having a child; and do not have that child before you are financially capable of assuming that responsibility.

But what about the quality of that high school education? A 2004 Fordham Institute study found that 44% of Philadelphia public-school teachers with school-age children of their own placed them in private schools. By 2013, the nationwide average for private-school attendance was 11% of white families and 5% of black families. Clearly, Philadelphia teachers, on teachers' salaries, make the sacrifice to send their own kids where they have a better chance of success.

About education choice, Trump's secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, said: "What can be done about (improving primary education) is empowering parents to make the choices for their kids. Any family that has the economic means and the power to make choices is doing so for their children. Families that don't have the power — that can't decide 'I'm gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb, where I think the school is gonna be better for my child' — if they don't have that choice and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don't have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices."

A 2016 poll in "Education Next" found that 64% of blacks supported "a tax credit for individual and corporate donations that pay for scholarships to help low-income parents send their children to private schools." Similarly, A 2015 PDK/Gallup Poll found that 68% of blacks wanted the ability to "choose which public schools in the community the students attend, regardless of where they live."

Cutting Illegal Immigration Isn't Racist

Trump also wants to stop illegal immigration. Why should that matter to urban blacks?

Harvard economist George Borjas, in his 2013 research paper "Immigration and the American Worker," wrote: "Classifying workers by education level and age and comparing differences across groups over time shows that a 10% increase in the size of an education/age group due to the entry of immigrants (both legal and illegal) reduces the wage of native-born men in that group by 3.7% and the wage of all native-born workers by 2.5%."

As to illegal immigration, Borjas says: "Although the net benefits to natives from illegal immigrants are small, there is a sizable redistribution effect. Illegal immigration reduces the wage of native workers by an estimated $99 to $118 billion a year, and generates a gain for businesses and other users of immigrants of $107 to $128 billion."

Trump's An Equal Opportunity Insulter

But what about how the President "insults black people"? After Trump's recent testy exchange with a black reporter, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin said: "There is a racial dimension to this. The fact that the President is always — the idea that this was some random selection of journalists he doesn't like is not the case. It's always black people with this President."

Really?

What race was Robert De Niro when Trump called him "a very low IQ individual"? What race was Rosie O'Donnell when Trump called her "dumb"? What race was MSNBC's Joe Scarborough when Trump called him "crazy"? What race was former Texas Gov. Rick Perry when, during a campaign speech, Trump mocked him for his eyewear? "He put on glasses so people think he's smart. ..." said Trump. "People can see through the glasses." What race was MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski when Trump called her "dumb as a rock"? How many white politicians does Trump slam when he criticizes "stupid" trade deals?

If Trump set out to hurt blacks by pushing economic policies that helped reduce black unemployment to an all-time low; by attempting to stop unskilled illegal alien workers from competing with unskilled blacks for jobs and wages; and by empowering inner-city black parents, rather than the government, to pick the school for their children, then Trump needs to go back to racism school.

  • Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder.

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2. Global Warming: Another Doomsday Climate Model Flunks A Math Test09:36[−]

Global Warming: Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes are bigger than others. That's the case with a recent study based on a climate model that claimed the oceans had retained 60% more warming than previously thought. It made headlines around the world with its alarming conclusion.

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The study itself, by no fewer than ten authors, made sweeping claims. The authors wrote that the study held " implications for policy-relevant measurements of the Earth response to climate change, such as climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases and the thermal component of sea-level rise."

In other words, this study is a game-changer that policy makers ignored at their own — and our — peril.

Media around the world seized upon the report as yet another indicator of climate-change doom and runaway global warming. No surprise, since most of the media faithfully adhere to the Holy Church of Global Warming.

The only problem: The study made a crucial math error, something that happens often in published reports. Its alarming conclusion was all but invalidated, as The Daily Caller's Michael Bastasch reported.

Admitting Mistakes

We're not ripping the scientists for this. They made math mistakes, which were pointed out by skeptical British climate scientist Nicholas Lewis. His review found "serious (but surely inadvertent) errors" in the study.

After their own review, to their credit, the authors concurred.

"When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there," Ralph Keeling, a climatologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and one of the co-authors of the study, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "We're grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly."

He added: "Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that's going on in the ocean. We really muffed the error margins."

Spoken like a true scientist. And no, we're not being snarky. That's how science gets done. When someone finds error in a study or paper, the authors should double-check their work and correct it. That's what happened.

But there are two huge problems with this.

One, the media — including the Washington Post and the BBC — that so enthusiastically covered the initial release of the paper will not give the corrections of their mistaken reports nearly as prominent display as the original. So, for many readers, the mistaken impression of a world undergoing dramatic warming will linger.

Math Is Hard

Two, this study isn't the only one containing a major math error. Indeed, such mistakes it turns out are shockingly common. And in truth, many papers on global warming aren't "science" at all. They're little more than fanciful extrapolations from statistical models.

As we've seen over the years, few if any of the models hold up when it comes to making climate predictions.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has issued a number of alarming reports on global warming over the years, has used literally dozens of different models to confirm their dire forecasts. The models are different in some respects, but all share one big problem in common: They can't even accurately predict what has already happened, much less forecast what will happen in the deep future.

Media Negligence

Scientists know this, but the media mostly ignore it.

"(Climate models) are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data," wrote Nobel Prize-winning physicist Freeman Dyson. "But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behaviour in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere."

A study by Lewis and climate scientist Judith Curry in the American Meteorological Society's journal estimated that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would result in temperatures of anywhere from 30% to 45% below UN estimates. In other words, no global warming crisis exists.

Global Warming: Skepticism Needed

Other peer reviewed articles by climate scientists have likewise knocked down the doomsday scenarios of the UN's IPCC. But the media ignore those studies that convincingly show little or no warming. Or they criticize the authors of the studies as "skeptics."

Aren't all scientists supposed to be skeptics? It's the very basis of science. In their mad dash to prove their global warming bona fides, major media have simply thrown skepticism out the window. What's left is climate religion.

As yet another study shows, we should all be skeptical. The evidence for runaway global warming as a result of humans spewing CO2 into the air is thin at best. Socialist bureaucrats use these models to justify sweeping changes in lifestyle and the global economy. These will not just cost trillions of dollars a year, but will lead to both reduced standards of living and a loss of freedom.

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3. Victor Davis Hanson: We Could Use A Civic Version Of The Hippocratic oath09:00[−]

A mob of protesters associated with the radical left-wing group Antifa swarmed the private residence of Fox News host Tucker Carlson on the night of Nov. 7. They yelled, "Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!" The mob's apparent aim was to catch Carlson's family inside and so terrify them that he might temper his conservative views. Only Carlson's wife was home at the time. She locked herself in a pantry and called the police.

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During the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, demonstrators disrupted the proceedings and stalked senators. Later, a mob broke through police barricades to pound on the doors of the Supreme Court while Kavanaugh was preparing to be sworn in. Their agenda apparently was to create such confusion and disorder that the nomination might be postponed.

Hollywood celebrities habitually boast of wanting to shoot, blow up or decapitate President Donald Trump. Apparently their furor is meant to lower the bar of violence so that Trump fears for his personal safety and therefore might silence or change his views.

No Consequences

Few of these protesters fear any legal consequences when they violate the law. Nor do those who disrupt public officials at restaurants, stalk them on their way to work or post their private information on the internet.

Yet most Americans are tired of hearing the lame excuses that the protesters' supposedly noble ends justify their unethical or illegal means to achieve them.

On the other hand, the public does not wish to curb free speech or our First Amendment rights of expression. Journalists certainly have the right to unprofessionally lecture and sermonize instead of just posing questions to public officials. But they still set a poor example of journalistic behavior and disinterested reporting while confirming the public's low esteem for their entire profession.

Most people do not believe that the overseers of Facebook, Google and Twitter possess either the wisdom or the ethics to censor the sort of social media that most people find objectionable. Yet the pubic tires of the anonymous hitmen on social media who post vicious lies to ruin the reputations of their perceived enemies.

The trick, then, is to distinguish between illegal behavior (which should be prosecuted) and improper behavior (which should be shamed).

Shaming Behavior

Lawbreakers can be arrested and prosecuted to deter illegality. But are there any consequences when journalists and TV hosts compare the president to a mass-murdering Hitler, resort to scatology on the air or traffic in fake news? Their apparent objective is to gin up popular furor and boost their own visibility as well — sacrificing their traditional role of informing the public and allowing people to interpret the news and draw their own political conclusions.

Certainly Donald Trump can hit back at his 24/7 critics without calling his nemesis, porn star Stormy Daniels, "horseface."

So how does a society create a civic culture in which we do not embrace words and deeds that are incendiary or cruel or both, and thereby erode the traditions and manners that prior generations have bequeathed?

Why not try a voluntary code of civic conduct — something akin to the medical profession's ancient Greek Hippocratic oath — that celebrities, politicians, journalists and other public figures might seek to honor?

Civic Hippocratic oath

Our civic version of the Hippocratic oath might include these simple pledges:

I will neither lecture nor harangue when asking questions.

I will not deprive others of their right to free expression.

I will not shout down or silence public speakers.

I will not resort to profanity or scatology in the public square.

I will neither call for nor joke about killing or physically harming public officials.

I will not denigrate the race or sex of anyone or characterize individuals on the basis of their appearance.

I will not compare my political opponents to Adolf Hitler or Nazis.

I promise not to disclose the address of contact information of political opponents.

I will not protest at the private residences of political opponents.

I will not stalk political opponents.

I will not resort to physical force to intimidate my opponents.

I will not denigrate or harass the family members of my opponent.

I will not report or state something that cannot be substantiated.

I will not claim to have consulted "anonymous" or "unnamed" sources when I have talked to no one.

I will not leak or disseminate the private records of those I oppose.

Many of our best-known journalists, politicians and celebrities do not follow those simple rules. If they did, the now-discredited mainstream media, the Washington swamp and the Hollywood elite might regain a little of the credibility and self-respect they have lost.

  • 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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4. George Will: Can Harvard Defend Its Discrimination Against Asians?04:00[−]

In the hierarchy of pleasures, schadenfreude ranks second only to dry martinis at dusk, so conservatives are enjoying Harvard's entanglement with two things it has not sufficiently questioned — regulatory government and progressive sentiment. The trial that recently ended in Boston — the judge's ruling might be months away, and reach the U.S. Supreme Court — concerns whether Harvard's admissions policy regarding Asian-Americans is unjust, and whether the government should respond.

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Practically, the case pertains only to the few highly selective institutions that admit small portions of their applicants. But everyone, and especially conservatives, should think twice — or at least once — before hoping that government will minutely supervise how private institutions shape their student bodies.

The clearest thing about the relevant law is the absence of clear guidance.

Vague Admissions Policy Guidance

Since 1978, the Supreme Court has said that "a diverse student body" is a "constitutionally permissible goal" and a "compelling" educational interest that can be pursued using racial classifications if they are "narrowly tailored" to achieve a "critical mass" of this or that minority without "quotas" and if they do "not unduly harm members of any racial group" and are no more than a "'plus' factor" in a "holistic" assessment of applicants. "Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious", and "outright racial balancing ... is patently unconstitutional." (Emphases added.)

Such open-textured language, deployed in the pursuit of "diversity" (of cultures, perspectives, experiences, etc.), leaves vast scope for practices to engineer various student bodies.

Schools should go beyond "objective" metrics — secondary school transcripts and SAT scores — because they measure only what can be quantified, which is not all that matters about individuals. Then, however, schools adopt "holistic" assessments of individual applicants. It probably is impossible for schools or government to devise rules-based assessments that tightly limit the discretion that admissions offices exercise, given the unavoidable imprecision of the open-textured legal language quoted above. And given the needs of schools' subgroups — the orchestra, the athletic teams, the classics department, etc.

Harvard's practices, say the plaintiffs, who include some aggrieved Asian-Americans, constitute racial discrimination that has the intended effect of suppressing admissions of people like them: Asian-American applicants are rejected in spite of objective academic attainments that would result in admissions for African-Americans, Hispanics or whites. So, when Harvard's president is "unequivocal" that his institution "does not discriminate against anybody" in admissions, this looks like hypocrisy, understood as the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

Colorblind Admissions Policy?

Except that progressives and their institutions long since stopped believing that colorblind policies are virtuous. And regarding admissions, they might have a point.

Stuart Taylor, a legal analyst as temperate as he is accomplished, argues (in The Weekly Standard) that racial preferences can ratify stereotypes when "holistic" evaluations emphasize personality traits that are supposed group attributes. There really are, however, attributes that are disproportionately prevalent among various groups at various times. Families are the primary transmitters of social capital — the habits and mores conducive to flourishing — and family cultures that produce applicants with stellar objective academic attainments should be encouraged. However, relying exclusively on objective academic metrics (Taylor notes that only Caltech does this; its student body is more than 40% Asian) would substantially reduce the number of black and Hispanics admitted. Harvard's own conclusion, in a document presented in the trial, is that admissions based solely on academic metrics would result in a student body that is 43% Asian-American and less than 1% African-American.

Is Meritocracy Enough?

Eight decades ago, Harvard put itself and the nation on the path toward one understanding of meritocracy by emphasizing in admissions the Scholastic Aptitude Test. This was done partly to reduce discrimination against Jewish applicants from family cultures that stressed academic attainments, and partly to dilute favoritism toward the inherited privileges of wealthy families funneling boys through prestigious prep schools.

Harvard's problem today is a version of America's, the tension between two problematic approaches to providing opportunities — "meritocracy" that is clearly but too simply quantified, and a less tidy but more nuanced measurement of the mixture of merits that serves a university's, and society's, several purposes. The optimum result of the court case might already be occurring in voluntary, prudential adjustments of elite university practices to forestall government interventions that would serve shifting agendas of various constituencies. The adjustments would include an admissions policy more welcoming to academic excellence regardless of other attributes of those who manifest it, and more sensitivity regarding the felt injustices that inevitably accompany admission disparities produced by preferences, however benignly intended.

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5. Climate Hoax: Not A Single G-20 Country Is Close To Hitting CO2 Emission Targets01:43[−]

Environmentalism: A new report calls the lie on the grand Paris climate change treaty. None of the promised cuts in CO2 emissions that 200-plus countries made will come close to preventing a climate "catastrophe." And many of the industrialized nations aren't even living up to the promises they did make.

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Two years ago, when the Paris agreement took effect, then-President Obama declared that "history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet."

It was a turning point in the level of empty rhetoric, perhaps. But it won't make a bit of difference to the planet.

This farce was made abundantly clear in an annual report by Climate Transparency, an international group focused on the G-20 nations.

Empty Promises

What did it find? "None of the G-20 (emissions targets) is in line with the Paris Agreement." The report shows an enormous gap between what the countries have pledged to do, and the far lower CO2 emissions levels that the U.N. says are needed to keep the planet from warming by 2 degrees Celsius.

In other words, even if every country lived up to their Paris pledges, it wouldn't come close to preventing "catastrophic warming."

It gets worse. As the report shows, most G-20 countries aren't on track to meet the modest greenhouse gas reductions they pledged to achieve by 2030.

As the Climate Transparency report notes, the EU "is not on track to meet its 2030 target." Nor is Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan or Turkey.

A number of G-20 countries actually saw their emissions increase in 2017, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Turkey.

There's more:

Saudi Arabia's emissions will likely double by 2030, compared with 2014. Turkey continues to increase coal-power capacity even though it "runs strongly counter" to its pledges. Japan also has several coal plants in the pipeline. Brazil's deforestation rate has increased, despite its Paris promises to the contrary. Russia's "target is so weak that it would not require a decrease in (greenhouse gas) emissions from current levels."

And, to top it off, CO2 emission in China, already the world's largest emitter, will likely continue to increase until 2030, the report finds. It notes that coal consumption in China "increased again in 2017."

Faulty Doomsday Scenarios

Longtime IBD readers know that we are highly skeptical of all the climate change doomsday scenarios. They're all based on 100-year forecasts made by computer models that have trouble predicting what's already happened. And then there's the fact that climate scientists keep getting caught fudging numbers and making basic math errors. The latest involves a highly publicized study on ocean warming. These errors, by the way, always seem to go in one direction: toward making global warming look more ominous. ( Related: Is Global Warming a Hoax? Climate Change Facts and Fiction.)

But even if the dire prediction environmentalist make is true, trying to cut CO2 emissions to prevent it is pointless. As we noted in this space recently, the U.N. says global CO2 emissions must be cut in half within 12 years, and reduced to zero in 32 years.

It should be abundantly clear now that not a single G-20 nation is taking the climate change issue seriously — no matter how much they preach about it, and no matter how many empty promises they make.

A Better Way to Deal with Climate Change

That's fine by us, since we think it's a waste of money. President Trump was right to pull the U.S. out of this farce rather than lend it any more undue credibility.

There is a better and far more sensible and frugal approach to deal with "climate change." Forget about wasting money in a futile attempt to quickly decarbonize every economy on the planet. Instead, deal with localized changes if they ever occur. Adaptation to hostile climates is something humanity has shown an amazing ability to achieve, even without modern technology.

The only drawback to this approach is that politicians won't be able to pat themselves on the back for "saving the planet."

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6. Betsy McCaughey: Empower Voters, Not LawyersСр., 14 нояб.[−]

If Americans are losing confidence in elections, don't blame Russian hackers. The damage is self-inflicted.

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A week after polls closed, Americans still don't know who won major races: gubernatorial races in Florida and Georgia, a Florida Senate race and many House contests. Candidates who conceded on election night are backtracking and demanding that "every vote be counted," as late-arriving ballots change the tallies.

Blame the uncertainty on overuse of special accommodations like mail-in ballots and provisional ballots cast by people who lacked ID, didn't appear on the registration rolls or voted outside the county where they live. These accommodations open opportunities for incompetence and trickery by election officials and turn Election Day into a teaser for the real outcome, decided by lawyers and judges.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott appeared to win the hotly contested Senate race on election night. But his lead has shrunk from some 56,000 votes to a mere 12,600, and he's crying foul and filing lawsuits alleging dirty tricks in heavily Democratic Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Georgia's Brian Kemp, the Republican who claimed victory in the gubernatorial race with a 60,000 vote lead on election night, is accusing his opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, of "making up numbers."

This circus can be corrected without compromising access to the polls, the reason mail-in ballots and provisional ballots were devised.

Mail-in votes invite delays and mischief. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that in the 2012 and 2016 Florida general elections, voters casting mail-in ballots were 10 times more likely to have their vote not count than those who voted in person. The biggest reason: failure to sign the ballot envelope or a signature that didn't match voter registration files.

Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, struggling to beat Scott's challenge, announced Monday he's suing to drop the requirement of mail-in ballots having a verifiable signature. "If we are successful, that will add thousands of additional ballots that have so far gone uncounted," he says. Trouble is, they won't all be legal.

In Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was not declared winner of the Senate race until Monday night, six days after polls closed. The delay was caused by 320,000 mail-in ballots being dropped off on Election Day. Each ballot signature had to be verified against voter registration records — a time-consuming process that also gives election workers wide discretion and opportunities for abuse.

Arizona and other states should require mail-in ballots to arrive ahead of Election Day so the results can be counted, kept under wraps and then added to voting machine tallies when the polls close. Bingo, a timely outcome for the electorate.

States should also limit the use of mail-in ballots to military, the disabled, students away at college and others unable to go to the polls.

Oregon, Washington and Colorado have gone in the opposite direction, relying entirely on voting by mail. Don't buy the argument that they're increasing voter participation. The liberal Pew Research Center's research shows mail-in voting depresses turnout, as parties do less to mobilize the electorate and create Election Day excitement.

In Georgia, the problem is thousands of provisional ballots cast by people who couldn't show they're entitled to vote. Federal law requires they be allowed to vote provisionally. But Georgia law says if their identify can't be confirmed within three days, the ballots become invalid. Gubernatorial candidate Abrams and the group Common Cause sued to have these invalid votes counted. On Monday, a federal judge met them halfway by extending the deadline.

Back in Florida, Brenda Snipes, Broward County's elections supervisor, was caught mixing invalid provisional ballots into the pile with valid ones.

What's the lesson from these messes in Florida, Georgia and Arizona? Mail-in voting and provisional balloting should be used only where necessary. Voters should be encouraged to cast their ballots the reliable way — in person at their polling place.

Americans want voting to be easy but also honest. Don't fall for the demand that every vote be counted. The goal should be to count every legal vote.

  • McCaughey is a former Lt. Governor of New York State. Contact her at betsy@betsymccaughey.com.

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7. Brent Bozell: 6 Reasons The CNN-Jim Acosta Lawsuit Against Trump Is LameСр., 14 нояб.[−]

CNN's war on the Trump White House is now entering the legal system. CNN filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia insisting that denying its chief White House shouter Jim Acosta a permanent press pass has caused "irreparable harm," and that Acosta has a constitutional right to shout at the president under the First and Fifth Amendment rights. How lame is this? Let us count the ways:

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1. CNN claims its network is "significantly hampered," causing harm to Americans who "rely on CNN as an essential news source." As a network, CNN is not impaired. It still has more than 10 credentialed White House reporters and producers. The only "harm" might be that Acosta yelling at (and repeatedly interrupting) the president excites CNN's liberal base.

2. CNN claims in court that Acosta is "widely reputed as a diligent and thorough reporter for one of the nation's most respected and widely watched networks." CNN isn't close to the most "widely watched," and it viciously attacks the most "widely watched" network as a pathetic "state-run" channel.

Jim Acosta 'Thorough'?

Besides, Acosta isn't very thorough, as exposed in his attempt to ask Trump adviser Stephen Miller about immigrants. He said, "But this whole notion of ... 'they have to learn English before they get to the United States,' are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?" Miller calmly explained Acosta was wrong and that many countries have proficient English speakers. And the Washington Post "Fact Checker" agreed.

3. Jim Acosta and his network haven't always been this hostile ("diligent and thorough") in covering presidents. On the day of former President Obama's second inauguration, Acosta proclaimed: "I feel like I should pinch myself right now, Wolf. I can't believe I have this vantage point of history in the making." He later added: "It's good to be the president. It's almost like being a rock star on every street corner of Washington on this day."

CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny infamously channeled Barbara Walters and asked Obama in 2009 (when he was with The New York Times), "what has surprised you the most about this office, enchanted you the most about serving in this office, humbled you the most and troubled you the most?"

4. CNN's court filing bizarrely calls this Trump move on Acosta an attempt to "exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President's point of view." Almost every reporter in the White House challenges Trump's point of view, but he's only denying one pass. What makes Acosta so unique? It's the extreme rudeness and the unwillingness to cede the microphone when his turn is over, like he thinks the other reporters are all worthless and weak.

No Right to a Press Pass

5. On Capitol Hill, journalists denied a press pass to Breitbart News. Should Breitbart have hired a lawyer and sued? There was no security reason to deny Breitbart, just the contention that it isn't really a "news" organization. That, quite clearly, is the president's view about CNN, which spends most of its day assembling panels to trash the president as an ignorant, racist, dangerous, law-abusing tool of the Russians.

6. The president has a right to call on reporters and ignore reporters; he has the right to hold a press conference or not hold one. Former President George W. Bush never took questions from CBS News' Dan Rather. President Obama never consented to questions from Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Trump could give Jim Acosta his pass back and then try to ignore his question. But everyone knows that whether Acosta's called on or not, he's going to yell and yell. Neither his bosses nor his colleagues ever think it's time for him to sit down and shut up.

  • 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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8. Ben Shapiro: Nationalism And Patriotism Don't Have To Be OppositesСр., 14 нояб.[−]

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. There, he took the opportunity to slam President Trump's "America First" nationalism.

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"Patriotism," Macron said, "is the exact opposite of nationalism: Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values."

This statement has a sort of European charm. It's also false. And dangerous.

Nationalism, when opposed to patriotism, can indeed be terrible. It can suggest that the interests of one nation override the interests of every other nation, that imperialism and colonialism are worth pursuing out of love of blood and soil. But when combined with patriotism, nationalism can also be a bulwark against tyranny. Nationalism can stand up to international communism. Nationalism can refuse to bow before the dictates of multiculturalism, which suggest that all cultures and practices are of equal value.

Patriotism is a philosophy of national values: It is a statement that your nation has values that are eternal, true and noble. American patriotism prizes God-given individual rights protected by limited government. Were America to lose God-given individual rights protected by limited government, it would no longer be America.

But patriotism doesn't mean that it is the job of America to spread our values everywhere else to the detriment of our own national strength. Our patriotism encompasses American nationalism: We believe that America must come first so that America can be strong enough to promote her values where appropriate.

It is simply a fact that human beings resonate to nationalism. The question is whether that nationalism can be grafted to a worthwhile philosophy. The German troops of World War I marched into battle out of national pride; so, too, did the American doughboys. Americans have fought and died for their flag and their families; so have soldiers of other nations. But America is great because that flag stands for certain values, and American families are built on those values.

The opposite of nationalism, then, isn't patriotism. It's internationalism, or the idea that all human beings share similar values, and that, therefore, borders and national interests are irrelevant. That philosophy is utterly foolish and dangerous. Simply view tapes of thousands of radical Muslims marching in Pakistan to protest the acquittal of a Christian woman from charges of blasphemy and realize that not all people believe the same things.

But that multicultural philosophy has led Europe to open her borders to waves of migrants who may not share European values, and who have led to cultural polarization and, indeed, the rise of right-wing nationalist movements. It's that philosophy that has led Europe to leave behind her uniquely Western heritage in favor of a broader outlook that has undermined her cultural solidarity.

Nationalism, then, isn't the problem. Lack of values is. And mistaking anti-nationalism for a value system in and of itself endangers free citizens who hold worthwhile national values dear.

  • Shapiro is host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.

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9. Will Our Monstrous Debt Swallow America's Prosperity?Ср., 14 нояб.[−]

Debt: We've written about the threat our growing federal debt poses a number of times in past years. But it was usually posed as a hypothetical problem in the distant future. Well, guess what: It's now about to become a real problem. And Americans will discover a tough lesson: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

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As Jeffrey Goldblum said in the horror movie "The Fly," "Be afraid. Be very afraid." Because, as in the horror movie genre, our monster debt could just gobble up our entire federal budget. Or enough of it that it feels like it's the entire budget.

A recent Wall Street Journal report gave the gory details: Just last year, paying the interest on our $20 trillion in debt took just $263 billion, equal to 6.6% of all federal spending or about 1.4% of GDP. That's low, largely because half of our debt was issued while the Fed held interest rates at zero percent. That's no longer the case, however.

With the Fed now in a tightening cycle, every 1% gain in interest rates adds $200 billion to our annual interest on the debt. With a budget deficit of $779 billion this year, and more like it expected, not only will the debt be growing but the interest payments on it will grow, too.

By 2028, the Congressional Budget Offfice projects the interest will rise to $915 billion. That's 13% of the budget and 3.1% of GDP. And it only keeps rising from there.

Trillions And Trillions Of Debt

The federal government claims we just over $15 trillion in debt, or roughly 78% of our GDP. But the reality is, we owe nearly $21 trillion, which is all of our GDP. The government doesn't count what we "owe ourselves," namely debt run up to pay off entitlements. But those are debts just as anything else is.

As we noted in recent years, and others have noted more recently, a debt of 90% or higher of GDP is a dangerous thing. It reduces private investment, since it requires enormous amounts of money each year to pay off. As a result, it causes economic growth to slow dramatically.

The Deadweight Burden Of Debt

Don't believe it? Look at Europe. Look at Japan. All stuck in slow-growth ruts they can't get out of. The result of abnormally high debt.

As Reason's Nick Gillespie points out this week — and we've noted the same study in the past — a 2012 study by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff looked at the experience of 22 advanced economies with high debt-to-GDP ratios since 1800. The study found that " on average, debt levels above 90% are associated with growth that is 1.2% lower than in other periods (2.3% versus 3.5%)."

It might not seem big, but it is. Over just 23 years, less than a generation, it will reduce expected GDP by 23%. That's a quarter of our standard of living.

That's the economic cost of debt.

Debt: It's About Spending Too Much

We are in the middle of a bad debt cycle. We're spending too much, by historical standards, leaving us with big deficits and rising debt. We can avoid the worst effects, but it requires action now.

We hear frequently that we need to tax people and companies more. But, again, our problems are not tax related. We basically collect about 18% of our GDP as taxes no matter what we do.

No, we're spending too much.

The next Congress isn't ideal to address this problem, given the sudden and alarming shift in the Democratic Party toward socialist thinking — it wants a steep rise in the national minimum wage, socialized health care, radical taxes on the middle-class and the wealthy in the name of "equality." But this is the new Congress America elected.

Many of these elected officials heavily criticized the Republicans for the deficits the Democratic Party and Democratic president rang up during the years of the financial crisis and immediately after. Under President Obama, the debt essentially doubled.

Unfortunately, those who voted for the Democrats to take over the House have voted for a massive tax hike. Because the Democrats won't cut spending. And the House is where all spending originates.

But that's the surest way to reduce the budget deficit to manageable levels. Last year, interest costs in the budget surged 19%. Adding more debt will be disastrous. It's time to cut.

Can We Even Pay The Interest?

"It's one thing to run in the red," wrote Bruce Yandle, a distinguished adjunct fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in a recent piece for USA Today. "It's something else entirely to lack the wherewithal to make interest payments, and that's where we may be heading."

Consider this: In September of this year, the average interest rate on U.S. federal debt was 2.86%. Not a lot. If interest rates return merely to the 2008 level of 4.652%, our debt payments would soar from $343 billion to $555 billion a year. That's a more than 60% gain.

Most of the growth in future debt will come from soaring entitlement spending. Both Social Security and Medicare will be deeply in the red over the next 30 years. The CBO estimates a cash deficit of $82 trillion — that's trillion with a "t" — over those three decades.

Irresponsible Choices

Other countries, including even many in Europe, have tackled this problem. To not deal with it in a responsible way that doesn't bring down our economy is worse than irresponsible. It's immoral.

There are lots of ways to do it. Cap spending growth. Kill unnecessary programs. Reform entitlements to make them grow more slowly. Pass laws that encourage Americans to work longer. Or all of the above. But the longer we wait, the harder it gets.

Let's hope that soon we'll have a Congress that will understand that spending our country into bankruptcy is the least patriotic thing they can do. Our children and grand children won't thank them for it.

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10. John Stossel: Single-Payer Health Care Is A Singularly Bad IdeaСр., 14 нояб.[−]

America needs single-payer health care, say progressives. That's a system where government pays doctors and hospitals, and no sick person has to worry about having enough money to pay for care. After all, they say, "Health care is a "right!"

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"Who pays for it?" asks Chris Pope, "And that's really not a rights question."

Pope studies health care systems for the Manhattan Institute. In my newest video, Pope explains that although many Americans think that Canada and most of Europe have single-payer systems, that's not really true.

Not Real Single-Payer

"In Germany, employers provide most of the health care ... just as they do in the United States," he says. France and Switzerland also offer multiple options, public and private, and most people buy private health insurance. Some of the Swiss government subsidies are similar to those of ObamaCare.

But Canada, England, Norway, Cuba and a few other countries do have genuine single-payer. I'm constantly told that it works well — people get good care and never have to worry about a bill. They spend less on health care and live longer.

Pope says that claim is naive.

They do live longer in many of those countries, but it's not because they get superior health care; it's because fewer of them are fat; fewer crash cars; and they shoot each other less often. "Take out (obesity), car accidents and gun violence, the difference in life expectancy disappears entirely," Pope says.

Also, government-run systems save money by freeloading off American innovation. American drug companies, funded by American customers, fund most of the world's research and development of pharmaceuticals. New drugs and devices are expensive, so oftentimes in Britain, says Pope, "whenever a new drug comes on the market that can save lives, the government just doesn't have the funds to pay for it."

Patients, accustomed to accepting whatever government hands out, don't even know about advances available elsewhere.

Rationing Care

Single-payer systems also save money by rationing care. Hence the long waiting times for treatments declared "nonessential" in Canada, Britain and, for that matter, at American veterans hospitals. The VA's problems are similar to what's happened in Britain's National Health Service.

"In England," says Pope, "rarely a week goes by without a crisis or another in the health care system being part of the news. This year, there was a crisis in emergency room care — people left in hallways for hours and hours."

Critics of U.S. health care say waiting in line is better than getting no care, which is what happens to Americans who cannot afford to pay.

But is that true? Pope points out that America already has "over a trillion dollars a year in public spending, really, to provide health care to people who don't afford it." Also, American emergency rooms treat anyone who comes in.

By contrast, single-payer means taxpayers' funds are spent on everyone — even people who can afford to pay for their own care. That means there's less left for the truly needy. The affluent often escape government's waiting lines and treatment limits by buying private health insurance.

In Britain, millions of people purchase private insurance, says Pope.

At least they still have that option.

Outlawing Private Insurance

In America, Sen. Bernie Sanders says gleefully that he wants to put private insurance companies "out of business."

Hearing that, Pope replied, "makes you wonder whether this is more about spite than it is about improving people's health."

All of this doesn't mean the system in the U.S. should stay as it is.

Government already does too much here. People say America has free-market health care, but we don't, and we haven't since World War II. Government and government-subsidized insurance companies currently spend most of America's health dollars. If politicians here really want to improve things, they should try letting the market function.

Let hospitals compete. Right now, state laws won't even allow new private hospitals unless a regional board — often made up of people affiliated with already-existing hospitals — declares a "need" for a new one and it is registered with the American Hospital Association.

Let insurance companies compete for your business. American tax laws push workers to employer-funded coverage. Equalize the tax law and more individuals would pick the coverage best suited for them.

Pope says, "If we move towards a health care system where individuals were more responsible for shopping around ... people would choose a better system."

  • Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."

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11. New Report Shows How Incredibly Wrong Obama Was About Energy IndependenceСр., 14 нояб.[−]

Energy: Has any politician ever been more wrong than Barack Obama was about U.S. oil production and energy independence? Based on the latest report from the International Energy Agency, the answer is unequivocally no.

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On Tuesday, oil prices fell for the 12th consecutive decline. And amid that decline, the International Energy Agency forecasts that the U.S. will account for 75% of the growth in global oil production through 2025.

That's a stunning finding that shows how dynamic the domestic oil and gas industry has become.

Oil Production Skyrockets

Crude oil production in the U.S. has climbed more than 67% in just the past six years. And the Department of Energy expects it will climb an additional 11% next year.

Earlier this year, U.S. production hit 11 million barrels a day, surpassing Russia as the world's largest oil producer, after having blown past Saudi Arabia in February.

This explosion in domestic oil production is largely due to fracking, which has opened vast expanses of once-inaccessible crude oil.

It was also never supposed to happen.

At least not if you'd been listening to President Barack Obama. For eight years, Obama told the country over and over again that the U.S. would forever be dependent on foreign countries for oil. And that the only hope for energy independence was to heavily subsidize "renewable energy" like wind and solar.

Obama's mantra was that the U.S. had just 2% of the world's oil reserves, but consumed 20% of the world's oil. There was literally no way, he claimed, that the U.S. could drill its way out of oil dependency.

Just 2% of the World's Oil?

When he was first running for president in 2008, for example, Obama gave a speech in which he said: "If we opened up and drilled on every single square inch of our land and our shores, we would still find only 3% of the world's oil reserves — 3% for a country that uses 25% of the world's oil."

He'd repeat that claim dozens of times in the White House, although the numbers would sometimes change a little. Here's a small sampling drawn from the White House archives:

  • "We have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves, but are responsible for more than 20% of world consumption."
  • "Even if we tap every single reserve available to us, we can't escape the fact that we only control 2% of the world's oil, but we consume over a quarter of the world's oil."
  • "We can't place our long-term bets on a finite resource that we only control 2% of — especially a resource that's vulnerable to hurricanes, war and political turmoil."
  • "I give out this statistic all the time, and forgive me for repeating it again: America holds about 2% of the world's proven oil reserves. What that means is, is that even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every single one of the reserves that we possess — offshore and onshore — it still wouldn't be enough to meet our long-term needs."
  • "We consume about 25% of the world's oil. We only have 2% of the reserves. Even if we doubled U.S. oil production, we're still really short."
  • "With only 2% of the world's oil reserves, we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices."
  • "We have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves, but are responsible for more than 20% of world consumption."

Pushing 'Clean' Energy

At the time, people who knew what they were talking about knew this claim was utterly false. IBD reported in 2012 that Obama was only counting a tiny fraction of the oil in the U.S. The actual amount of oil under U.S. land and sea was 60 times what Obama claimed.

Not all of that was recoverable at current prices. But "recoverable" is a highly flexible term. It's based on oil prices and the cost of getting it out of the ground. The fracking revolution dramatically redefined the term recoverable because it made vast oil supplies accessible that once were once economically off-limits.

So why would Obama mislead the country throughout his presidency? Because he was determined to force the country to dump billions of taxpayer subsidies on "renewable" energy, and needed a reason to justify it.

Yet all along, the truth was that the U.S. could be a global energy powerhouse. Now, with President Donald Trump in the White House calling for U.S. energy dominance, everyone knows that to be the case.

Still, someone should ask Obama to apologize for his yearslong energy deception.

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12. Socialized Medicine Requires Six Things — America Has None Of Them.Ср., 14 нояб.[−]

In the age of Trump, where out-of-control emotions, shifting demographic trends, and a technological arms race have made politics completely unpredictable, post-election Democrats have embraced the one issue they think can expand their power: socialized health care. Driving the Democrats' unrepentant socialist tide is the expression "change can't wait."

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According to their friends at The New Republic, this saying "captures the promise and impatience of today's Democratic Party."

When Democrats complain about government inaction, they frequently point to European countries and bemoan why can't we just be more like them?!? Alas the Left enjoys looking at the results of socialized medicine in other developed nations, but they aren't very interested how they do it. The truth is a country can have socialized medicine, but they need the six things.

America currently has none of them.

The Six:

Be tiny. Organization on a smaller scale is always easier than a larger scale. Denmark has 5.7 million people. Norway has 5.3 million. Luxembourg has 600,000. There are more people in California than in Canada. Centralized health care planning must be difficult for our friends with tiny populations — it is impossible for a country of 325 million, especially when the people who think they can run such a nationwide health care platform cannot even run California.

Have tons of natural resources. The oil-rich Gulf Coast countries like the UAE and Qatar offer totally free health care to citizens thanks to their nationalized energy industry. Norway can do the same. Canada is the second-largest country by land mass while only No. 38 by population size — meaning they have more natural resources per person than anyone. The U.S. is No. 3 in land mass, but we are No. 3 in population size. But let us get even more oil and we can talk again.

Be homogenous. This is a controversial one, but any kind of socialized platform requires communal by-in. This requires a sense of community and shared obligation that does not exist in America, certainly not the way it does in Japan. With 126 million people, it's certainly not a tiny country – but it is 98% Japanese. Scandinavian paradises are all super-homogenous too. The Left's constant drumbeat about diversity makes a functioning socialism even more difficult to achieve.

Have super-strict immigration laws. Again, controversial, but no country with a generous social safety net has immigration laws as generous as the United States. (Indeed, no country period is as immigrant-friendly as the United States.) Swedes are so upset about immigrants tapping into their safety net they're electing neo-Nazis. The free health care in Qatar and the UAE are only for citizens. Providing the financial base for socialized medicine requires more people contributing to it than drawing from it, which an influx of unskilled labor immediately ruins.

Willingness to sacrifice. With one exception (see below), Americans are not great at personal sacrifice. We like to have as much as we can, always. New drugs imported to other countries are often delayed by 17 months, whereas we have them available almost immediately in the U.S. We don't want to wait for medicine and we don't want to wait to see a doctor, as is the case in socialized medicine. People who don't pay for health care with money end up paying for it with time.

To have America pay for everything. Europeans and Canadians love to cluck their tongues at us for being "behind" them on socialism. But in the event of war, that's exactly where they'd be: behind us. They can provide a more generous health care plan because they know America will protect them. The American willingness to sacrifice blood and treasure is what has given the world its most peaceful 70 years. (No, NATO nations don't pay their fair share, and, yes, Trump is right to scold them.)

Don't Forget Drugs

This extends to the health care arena as well, America invents more new drugs than the rest of the world combined. We fund the research for the world and others piggy-back on our new medicines — they're "freeloaders on U.S. innovation," according to The Wall Street Journal.

Last week, President Trump sort of got on the socialized medicine bandwagon when he suggested a pricing guide for prescription drugs in line with other developed nations. Probably, he wants to blunt any success the Democrats may have with their health care messaging and most certainly he wants Americans to have better health care.

But anyone who compares the U.S. to other countries is missing the boat — actually, missing six boats — and President Trump would serve our interests better by punishing "freeloaders" abroad rather than trying to mimic them. He's had great success with trade deals. Let's do the same for intellectual property.

  • Whitley is a long-time DC politico who has also lived in Dubai and Berlin. He has an MBA from Hult International Business School.

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13. Government Regulation: How Much Is Enough?Вт., 13 нояб.[−]

The amount of government regulation, by any measure, is huge. In the past two years, despite major efforts on the part of President Trump, the number and cost of regulations remains enormous.

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Economists, corporate executives, academics and small businesses have all questioned the size and complexity of the U.S. regulatory system. Based on recent estimates, the actual cost of regulations to the U.S. economy is huge — roughly $2 trillion a year. That's about 12% of our entire economy spent every year on dealing with regulations.

The cost of U.S. regulation each year is greater than the GDP of all but nine countries.

Is it worth it?

Well, nearly everyone agrees that some regulation is good. But most also say that it should be transparent, and that the benefits of any rule should be greater than its costs.

How Much Does Government Regulation Cost?

That's not often the case. A study two years ago by the Mercatus Institute found that if the regulation burden had only remained the same from 1980 to 2012, U.S. GDP would have been 25% larger, or $4 trillion a year in added output. That's the equivalent of nearly $12,500 in lost output for every living American. A huge loss.

Moreover, the regulation burden often has the perverse effect of falling on small, struggling businesses more than on big businesses.

Take, for example, the Dodd-Frank bill, which was passed and signed into law in 2010. By favoring large banks and "too-big-to-fail" institutions, it slashed the amount of lending to small business from roughly 26% of the banks' total loans outstanding in 2010 to about 17% by 2016.

In short, small businesses were starved of capital.

Government Regulation Economics

Economists say that, given small businesses' role as the traditional engines for U.S. growth and innovation, Dodd-Frank had a devastating impact on the ability of the U.S. economy to expand. It's a major reason why growth never exceeded 3% in any year of President Obama's two terms.

However, it's clear that there has been a major shift in regulatory policy in the U.S.

President Obama favored aggressive use of regulation for economic, political, health and environmental purposes. But he showed little regard for the ultimate costs.

President Trump in 2017 reversed that with Executive Order 13771 ("Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs"), under which Trump vowed to get rid of two regulations to eliminate two regulations for every one that the government issued. It also vowed White House "guidance" in cutting rules, to make sure overzealous bureaucrats didn't do it willy-nilly.

The result so far has been notable. A recent report from the Office of Management and Budget found that Trump had c ut a total of $33 billion in regulatory costs during his two years. President Obama, by comparison, boosted regulatory spending by $245 billion. Trump, for his part, cut 12 rules for every new rule adopted, according to that OMB report. Obama added more than 22,000 new regulations.

Government Regulation Under Trump

Don't expect it to stop, at least for now.

"We've removed more regulations, and we will continue to get rid of regulations," Trump said during a White House conference on regulation in October of 2018. "I think within a period of about another year, we will have just about everything that we've wanted. And one of the reasons the economy is so strong is that we're not hampered by the ridiculous regulations that we were getting rid of and are getting rid of."

One big concern that economists have is that the low-hanging fruit for government regulation has been already picked. Finding bad rules and killing them off will be increasingly difficult.

But there are promising new areas for deregulation that get little attention at all, but hold promise for altering the regulatory landscape in significant ways.

For example, redefining how agencies apply cost-benefit analysis. Companies often complained during the Obama era that eager-to-regulate bureaucrats tortured data to make sure that the benefits of a regulation always exceed the costs.

An oft-cited example of this: the Obama administration's estimate of the "social cost" of carbon emissions from the nation's factories as $36 per ton of CO2. At that high level, almost any government regulation can be justified, including a punitive carbon tax or Obama's draconian Clean Power Plan.

Government Regulation: Costs Vs. Benefits

EPA chief Scott Pruitt has set about revising how his agency estimates the costs and benefits of its rules, with the idea of making them less burdensome, if possible. That's a change in regulation that doesn't involve killing a rule, but in using better ways to apply it.

Such moves, and getting rid of useless rules, has shrunk the regulatory state down to size.

One common way to measure the size of the burden of government regulation is simply to count the pages in the federal register, the government's regulatory bible. In 2016, President Obama's last year in office, the register had 95,894 pages, the most ever. In 2017, after a just-elected Trump took out his regulatory ax, the number fell to 61,950 — the lowest since 1990.

Trump has said that he will continue his deregulation into next year. That's a good thing. We're all for regulations, as long as their benefits outweigh their costs. But when regulations amount to a power grab by government or bureaucratic virtue-signalling, it's time to cut them down. They cost us entirely too much, in both money and lives.

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14. Why We Need A Deal With China, Not A Trade WarВт., 13 нояб.[−]

President Donald Trump is right to address unfair practices by China as it re-emerges as a global economic and political leader. China has forced American technology transfer, stolen business secrets and intellectual property, and used ambiguous laws to hurt American companies.

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While President Xi has reduced corruption and strategically targeted technologies for investment, he has also imprisoned huge numbers of Chinese citizens, eliminated data privacy and expanded social control to accelerate a Chinese advantage in future data-driven industries. China's big-picture economic strategy relies on investment, data and restricting individual liberty.

President Trump has continued the strategy of his predecessors by attacking China's unfair economic practices. While President Trump seems to have ignored China's human rights abuses and expanding territorial claims, Vice President Pence recently spoke at the Hudson Institute directly and critically on these issues.

But President Trump has taken decisive action. In 2017, the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal among a dozen countries designed to compete with China.

Trump's Trade Agenda

Given the president's views about China as our major global economic competitor, this action remains puzzling, and even President Trump suggested in a tweet that he may be open to rejoining the deal. President Trump also met with President Xi and appeared to create a relationship.

But as the more moderate advisors left the White House, President Trump has imposed increasingly harsh tariffs on products imported from China and, as predicted by economists, the tariffs and Chinese retaliation are hurting both the U.S. and China. Based on August's year-over-year trade data, tariffs are costing U.S. businesses $1.4 billion. On January 1, the current tax rises to 25% for some $200 billion worth of Chinese products.

This has hurt Americans. U.S. exporters are losing sales in their biggest export market. Our national advancement in 5G has been hampered. Small businesses are laying off workers. American consumers are seeing price jumps on an increasing number of products from cars to cameras. And the International Monetary Fund dropped its estimate of 2019 U.S. GDP growth by some eight percent due to the U.S.-China trade war.

After President Trump's election, I predicted great U.S. economic growth as I believed cutting rules and taxes would make a difference. I also said the president would measure himself by the stock market so he would not take actions on trade detrimental to the U.S. economy. I was right until I was wrong. After months of strong growth and bullish markets, the stock market is looking more fragile these days. In one week in October, the S&P 500 fell more than 3% due to trade war concerns. While the president is blaming the Federal Reserve for the stock market sell-off, analysts are pointing squarely to escalating trade tensions with China.

Trade War: American Pain

American pain over the trade war is increasing. And so is the Chinese pain. Their growth has slowed. Their currency is under pressure. The Chinese government is investing heavily to prop up the economy. China should be poised to agree on specific actions loosening its unfair advantages on U.S. businesses. But we need to start talking. No negotiations appear to be taking place.

The administration should declassify its specific demands to China. The business community and American consumers can put pressure on China. More, we should let the world and Chinese citizens see how their government refuses to play by obviously fair rules. And we should address issues with China strategically and cooperatively with other Western democracies who face the same challenges. That requires working with — and not needlessly antagonizing — our longtime allies.

We need to do what Americans do. We need to come out ahead based on letting our principles, innovation and transparent democracy serve as our lodestar for leading the world and ensuring our greatness.

  • Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, a U.S. trade group that represents more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. His upcoming book, "Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation," will be released December 31 and is available now for pre-order. His views are his own.

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15. Is Global Warming A Hoax? Discover The Climate Change Facts And FictionВт., 13 нояб.[−]

While many people in the media and scientific community claim the climate change science is settled, do the facts back that up? Derisively called "deniers," climate change skeptics continue to challenge the so-called conventional wisdom, asking "Is global warming a hoax? Is man-made global warming the dire threat environmentalists claim?"

Recent global warming agreements brokered by the U.N. seek steep reductions in world C02 output to slow the presumed warming of the earth's atmosphere, while also seeking alterations in the economy that would move energy sources away from fossil fuels toward renewable natural energy.

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But a growing contingent of scientists and economists call into question the climate change dogma, saying that the temperature data show no clear recent warming and noting that the benefits of global warming, if it existed, might be greater than the costs. This split will define the political debate in the near term.

Former president Barack Obama and most of the Democratic Party signed on eagerly to the U.N. agenda, which entails major reductions in the size of the U.S. economy.

President Donald Trump, by naming a Cabinet filled with energy executives and global warming skeptics, has made his policy far more friendly toward conventional fossil fuels than Obama's was.

Is Global Warming A Hoax? Or Is Climate Change Real?

Get our latest coverage of the great global warming debate.

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16. Dennis Prager: If Gender Isn't Fixed, Why Is Age?Вт., 13 нояб.[−]

Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old motivational speaker in the Netherlands, has petitioned a Dutch court for permission to change his legal age by altering his birth certificate to show he was born 20 years later than he really was — to legally make him 49 rather 69 years old.

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Ratelband told the Washington Post: "We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I'm about 40 or 45."

As The Telegraph reported: "Mr Ratelband was born on 11th March 1949, but says he feels at least 20 years younger and wants to change his birth date to 11th March 1969.

He 'Feels' 45

"Mr Ratelband said: 'I have done a check-up and what does it show? My biological age is 45 years. When I'm 69, I am limited. If I'm 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work. When I'm on Tinder and it says I'm 69, I don't get an answer. When I'm 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.'"

It is the transgender movement that inspired Ratelband. "Transgenders can now have their gender changed on their birth certificate," he argues, "and in the same spirit there should be room for an age change."

Now, what exactly is wrong with Ratelband's argument? If sex doesn't objectively exist, why does age? If feelings determine sex, why don't feelings determine age? If we are to regard sex as "assigned" at birth, why don't we regard age as "assigned" at birth?

Of course, the left would argue that age is fixed while "gender is fluid." But "gender is fluid" is a meaningless statement. All the left has done is substitute the word "gender" for "sex" and then make up a rule: Gender is fluid, meaning sex is fluid.

Few deny there are people with gender dysphoria — people who do not identify with their biological sex. These people deserve our care, sympathy and the respect due every person as the child of God he or she is.

Sympathy and Reality

But sympathy for the minuscule percentage of people who do not identify with their sex doesn't mean sex (or gender) doesn't objectively exist. It just means some people don't identify with their objective sexual identity.

We are living in a time of intellectual and moral chaos. The political movement known as leftism or progressivism (not liberalism) is first and foremost a chaotic force. And nowhere is that chaos more evident than in the left's attempt to end the reality that the human being is created either male or female. That is "binary" nonsense, according to the left.

Thus, a New York Times headline last month read "Anatomy Does Not Determine Gender, Experts Say."

Just 10 years ago, not to mention at any time in recorded history, that headline would have been regarded as so absurd only a satirist or an opponent of science would have written it. The article cited Dr. Joshua D. Safer, an endocrinologist and executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, as saying, "The idea that a person's sex is determined by their anatomy at birth is not true, and we've known that it's not true for decades."

What's To Stop Him?

When medical doctors argue that a person who has two X chromosomes, a vagina, breasts, ovaries, a uterus and a menstrual cycle might be a man, your society is in deep trouble.

So, why is Emile Ratelband wrong?

The judges in the Netherlands will likely rule against him. But if they believe sex has no objective reality, that the sex on one's birth certificate can be changed, on what grounds can they rule that the date of birth cannot be changed?

The answer is there are no such grounds. But only for the time being — because the day The New York Times publishes an article titled "The Idea That a Person's Age Is Determined by Their Date of Birth Is Not True," age, too, will become subjective.

  • 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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17. Stephen Moore: Fannie Mae and 'Freddie Maxine'Вт., 13 нояб.[−]

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California appears a lock to become the next chairman of the House's powerful Financial Services Committee. Waters is pledging to be a diligent watchdog for mom and pop investors, and recently told a crowd that when it comes to the big banks, investment houses and insurance companies, "We are going to do to them what they did to us." I'm not going to cry too many tears for Wall Street since they poured money behind the Democrats in these midterm elections. You get what you pay for.

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But here we go again asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

Back during he the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, which wiped out trillions of dollars of the wealth and retirement savings of middle-class families, we put the two major arsonists in charge of putting out the fire. Former Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts were the co-sponsors of the infamous Dodd-Frank regulations. Readers will recall that good old Barney resisted every attempt to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and said he wanted to "roll the dice" on the housing market. That worked out well.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Money

Meanwhile, Dodd took graft payments in the form of low-interest loans from Countrywide, while greasing the skids for the housing lenders in these years. Instead of going to jail or at least being dishonorably discharged from Congress, he wrote the Dodd-Frank bill to regulate the banks.

Enter Maxine Waters. Back in 2009, I had a run-in with "Mad Maxine," as she is called on Capitol Hill. The two of us appeared together on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," and when she pontificated about the misdeeds of the housing lobby, I confronted her on the money she took from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac PACs for her campaign.

Here is how the conversation went:

MAHER: Don't you think Wall Street needs regulation? That's where the problem is: that there was no regulation.

MOORE: Well, let's talk about regulation. One of the biggest institutions that have failed this year was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is an institution that your friends, the Democrats, in fact, you, Congresswoman Waters, did not want to regulate. You said it wasn't broke five years ago at a congressional hearing, and you took $15,000 of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie.

WATERS: No, I didn't.

MOORE: Yeah, you did. It's in the FEC (Federal Election Commission) records.

WATERS: No, it's not.

MOORE: And so did Barney Frank. And so did Chris Dodd.

WATERS: That is a lie, and I challenge you to find $15,000 that I took from Fannie PAC.

Lying About It

I have to confess that Waters is very persuasive. I feared when the show was over that I had gotten my numbers wrong and that I had falsely charged the congresswoman of corruption. But several fact-checking groups looked it up, and sure enough, I was right. She took $15,000 from the PAC and another $17,000, all told.

I was also right about her statements during a 2004 congressional hearing when she said:

"Through nearly a dozen hearings, we were frankly trying to fix something (Fannie and Freddie) that wasn't broke. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines."

We learned the hard way just four years later; this was all a fraudulent claim to avoid oversight of her campaign contributors. Imagine if a Republican had said these things.

Not Just Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac

She took in more than $100,000 from Wall Street this year as well. None of this is illegal, but it calls into question her shakedown tactics. First, she threatens to put their head in a noose as chairman of the Financial Services Committee — as she is getting them to pony up campaign contributions. Pay to play? You decide.

Waters has had run-ins with the House Ethics Committee because of fundraising tactics and insider wheeling and dealing. Back during the financial crisis, she was suspected of helping arrange meetings with Treasury Department officials and getting bailout money for OneUnited, a troubled bank that her family owned major stock holdings in. She beat the rap of corruption, but it sure smelled bad.

So will Maxine Waters be the crusading financial protector of our 401k plans and save America from the next financial bubble? Well, there will certainly be lots of harassment and shakedowns. But don't count on her steering us clear of Wall Street excesses. If history is any guide, Mad Maxine will be way too busy raising money from the people she is now in charge of regulating.

  • 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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18. California's Gov. Brown Again Blames Fires On Global Warming — He Couldn't Be More WrongВт., 13 нояб.[−]

Global Warming: California once again is burning, with hundreds of thousands of tinder-dry acres going up in flames. Gov. Jerry Brown says it's global warming. President Trump blames forest mismanagement. Who's right?

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On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

Brown's take was, well, different: "Managing all the forests in everywhere we can does not stop climate change," he said. "And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we're now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years."

Neither politician will get any points for political delicacy in their remarks. It seems to be part and parcel of today's politics. But Trump seems to know more about the causes of the California conflagration than Brown.

We've discussed Gov. Sunbeam's recent proclivity for blaming bad events on global warming. He's no longer capable of considering his beliefs rationally. He is, in a word, an extremist.

They Blinded Him With Science

This isn't name-calling. Even though there's hard science and expert opinion that suggests no major role for global warming in these fires, Brown persists in blaming the damage on climate. He's held these beliefs for a long time.

When California suffered an earlier outbreak of forest fires in August, Brown described what was happening thusly:

"We're fighting nature with the amount of material we're putting in the environment, and that material traps heat, and the heat fosters fires, and the fires keep burning," he said.

He then said we need to take extraordinary steps to "shift the weather back to where it historically was," noting that current climate is the hottest it's been "since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago."

Global Warming Not The Cause

But there's virtually no real science in anything he has said on this subject. As we noted back in August, the climate record clearly shows there were periods much hotter than today. Brown's talking point is just nonsense.

More troubling is that he and other of the global warming brigade want to stifle any possibility of dissent over their climate theories by demonizing those who disagree. Calling people "deniers" is a crude, not so subtle way of linking them to the phrase "holocaust deniers." It's a despicable abuse of language.

Does that mean climate change has nothing to do with fires? Not necessarily. If the climate were much hotter, things would be drier and more flammable. But average temperatures haven't changed in 20 years. What has changed is that millions of new people live in California, with more than ever living in remote places and others living in hundreds of thousands of new homes to the far edges of suburbia.

When fires do occur, they can quickly become cataclysmic. But don't take our word for it.

U.S. Geological Survey research scientist Jon Keeley has studied the origin of western fires since 1910. He says that 95% of all fires originate with humans. " This is a people problem," Keeley told The Mercury News. "What's changing is not the fires themselves but the fact that we have more and more people at risk.

More People, More Fire Threat

Keeley notes, for instance, that the number of homes threatened by wildfire in the Western U.S. surged from about 607,000 in 1940 to 6.7 million in 2010. That's a more than 1,000% rise. It's a basic matter of population impinging on wilderness areas.

Moreover, a 2017 study found that, since 1970 the number of fires burning 300 acres or more has actually declined. How can that be? Fires once raged across pristine forests and grasslands. But they had far fewer people or small towns in the way, as Keeley notes.

"The story can't be a simply that warming is increasing the numbers of wildfires in California because the number of fires is declining. And area burned has not been increasing either," University of Washington climatologist University of Washington Cliff Mass wrote last August, in response to that month's fires.

So, if not climate, what is the cause? The mismanagement of both state and federal forest lands. It's the triumph of "green" ideology over common sense.

Beginning in 1994, with the best of intentions, President Clinton put in place a plan to limit logging of old-growth trees to protect the endangered Spotted Owl in Western forests. Those moves pretty much ended what had been a policy of active management of fire threats in our national forests. Logging halted, the burnable fuel on the forest floor built up, and fires, while not more frequent, became more intense and threatening to nearby towns and homes.

"(Before 1994) mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing," Bob Zybach, a reforestation consultant who has a Ph.D. in environmental science told the Daily Caller Foundation in an interview. " You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs."

Mismanagement Is Nothing New

The Western Governors Association even warned about the mismanagement of our forest resources as far back as 2005 in a report:

"Over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires, and the resulting loss of forest carbon is much greater than would occur if the forest had been thinned before fire moved through," the report warned. "In the long term, leaving forests overgrown and prone to unnaturally destructive wildfires means there will be significantly less biomass on the ground, and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

We hate to say it, but Trump seems to know more about the causes of the California conflagration than Brown. What's truly a shame is that Brown is the one in denial. And his policies will lead to bigger fires and more damage to homes than ever before in the future.

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19. It's Time To Rein-In Proxy 'Advisor' ServicesВт., 13 нояб.[−]

On November 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is hosting a formal roundtable inquiry into the influence of proxy advisory services over the way corporations make key governance decisions.

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And it's about time, too, as there have been many troubling developments since a tiny number of Wall Street companies asserted the right to determine how corporations should be run, while distancing from any fiduciary responsibility or liability for their recommendations.

Proxy advisors thrive from the fact that most investors, both large and small, are passive. Most of us don't invest in order to run the company. We just want to ride on the coattails of successful, profit-making enterprises and share in the success through dividends or appreciation in the stock price.

But even large institutional shareholders like the idea of not having to do research themselves, instead relying on the recommendations of supposedly skilled proxy advisory services.

Attention to mutual fund fees and expenses has driven fund managers to drive down costs by minimizing in-house research and relying more upon outside advisors. So there was an opportunity to exploit a knowledge and effort gap, and proxy advisors have filled it.

Even Bad Advice Pays

It's turned out to be a pretty lucrative business. Claiming to have the power to influence millions of shareholder votes has a way of opening doors for consulting relationships with those same corporations. It's cronyism, at the very least. Maybe worse.

"Nice little corporation you have here. It would be a shame if your shareholders suddenly started voting against you. Now, we wouldn't want that, would we?"

So there is an obvious concern about conflict-of-interest, transparency and disclosure. Those are things the SEC typically takes very seriously.

Another concern is the recommendations of these proxy advisors seem to be pointing in particular social or political directions. Companies with business lines often wholly unrelated are being asked to take action on issues like the rights of indigenous peoples, use of pesticides, deforestation, gender justice, clean energy and climate change.

Politicizing Corporate Decisions

Politicization of proxy recommendations seems like an illegitimate use of leverage over corporate governance, but even more importantly, often damages shareholder value, according to a 2009 study by three Stanford University economists.

But a just-released report suggests there is an even bigger, more egregious problem — the recommendations of proxy advisors are simply wrong in many cases.

In a study for the American Council for Capital Formation, Frank Placenti, founding president of the American College of Governance Counsel, finds that proxy recommendations are often just wrong — based on bad assumptions, bad data, or misunderstandings of corporate policies.

Companies respond to erroneous recommendations from proxy advisors through supplementary proxy filings too. Placenti found 139 significant errors in 107 supplemental filings reviewed from 94 companies.

In one egregious case, ISS issued a report critical of the executive compensation plan of Willis Towers Watson, a firm that specializes in, among other things, making recommendations about executive compensation.

ISS's report turned out to be filled with errors and bad recommendations, but the company was forced to correct those errors in a supplementary proxy filing that cost the company unnecessary time, money and aggravation.

Proxy Advisors And 'Robo-Votes'

And when these proxy advisors make their often-erroneous, agenda-driven recommendations, shareholders frequently "robo-vote" according to the proxy advisors' recommendations.

Companies report a spike in proxy vote activity in the first three days after an advisor makes a recommendation. So, despite all these problems with proxy advisory services, they are having a dramatic impact on corporate governance.

It's time for both the SEC and Congress to rein-in proxy advisors. Lawmakers have introduced legislation, but Congress doesn't actually seem much interested in legislating these days. So for now it falls to the SEC to assert its regulatory authority.

Rather than be distracted and harassed by proxy recommendations of dubious quality and hidden agendas, corporate governance should focus on maximizing shareholder value for the benefit of investors, employees anlcustomers.


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20. Dems Priority List Includes Attacks On Free Speech And Gun RightsВт., 13 нояб.[−]

Election 2018: Democrats took control of the House by talking endlessly about health care. But it turns out their actual priorities are things that they didn't talk about much on the campaign trail. Now we know why.

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After having safely won the House majority, Democrats revealed their two top legislative priorities for next year: Limits on free speech and gun control. In other words, assaults on rights protected by the First Amendment and Second Amendment.

The Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, promises that the first bill voted on by the new Congress will focus on campaign finance and ethics reforms.

Rewriting The First Amendment

According to news accounts, H.R. 1 would, among other things, establish automatic voter registration and "reinvigorate" the Voting Rights Act. In other words, make it harder to root out voter fraud. It will also push public financing of congressional campaigns, with a 6-to-1 government match on small dollar donations.

How many voters knew that's what Democrats had planned?

Those are bad enough. But the plan would also call for amending the Constitution to restrict free speech rights under the guise of campaign finance reform.

This is in reaction to the Supreme Court's 2009 Citizen United decision, in which the court ruled that the First Amendment protects political speech, allowing corporations to spend money on political advocacy. The court ruled that "The government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker's corporate identity."

Democrats have attacked the ruling ever since. And they want a constitutional amendment that would overturn the ruling "and other related rulings."

That's so Congress can, in their words, "regulate the raising and spending of political money."

Sen. Ted Cruz had it right when he called this idea an assault on free speech. He said "it gives Congress power to regulate — and ban — speech by everybody."

Gun Control Push

When not calling on limits to First Amendment rights, Democrats also plan to aggressively push new gun control laws that would restrict the public's Second Amendment rights.

Gun control was not a big issue in the midterm campaign, despite promises by gun control advocates to make it a centerpiece of the elections in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. The issue "evaporated during the final weeks of the election in all but very safe liberal districts," noted Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner.

"But now that the Democrats have won the House," Bedard notes, "leaders feel emboldened to raise calls for expanded background checks and an assault weapon ban."

Mixed Election Results

Gun control advocates tout the fact that 15 House Republicans with "A" ratings from the NRA lost their elections. But gun control advocates lost seats in the Senate. That includes Joseph Donnelly, who lost his bid in Indiana. Pro-gun rights Josh Hawley unseated Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

According to the NRA, candidates backed by gun rights group won 106 races, and lost 33 — despite being outspent by gun control supporters. This was not the groundswell of support for gun control laws that advocates promised.

Nevertheless, Democrats plan to pursue the most aggressive gun control laws "in decades," according to one news report.

Pelosi told CNN's Chris Cuomo that passing gun control laws would be "priority" once the new Congress convenes in January.

Symbolic Efforts

To be clear, the chances that these efforts will become law are slim to none. For one thing, the Democrats will have a narrow majority in the House. Many of the newly elected representatives are moderates who might be reluctant to betray their voters on day one.

What's more, the Senate remains in Republican hands — with the possibility that the GOP will have gained three seats in the end. Highly partisan legislation won't have a chance there.

Even if Democrats did manage to get leftist campaign finance and gun control laws through Congress, they'd still face a Trump veto.

So, these efforts will be little more than symbolic gestures.

It shows how far the Democratic Party has drifted to the left that attacks on the First Amendment and Second Amendment will be the party's priority right out of the gate.

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21. The Decline Of Sears: A Tragic Tale, Or Just Progress?Пн., 12 нояб.[−]

After years of plummeting revenue and hundreds of store closures, Sears Holdings Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15. Sears, once a pioneering force in retail, has not turned a profit in seven years.

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Ironically, Sears' rapid rise to the retail apex and sudden slip into insolvency can be attributed to the same economic force: creative destruction. According to economist Joseph Schumpeter, creative destruction is the "process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."

In other words, in the world of business, you either evolve or you go the way of the dinosaurs. Once upon a time, Sears epitomized the former.

In 1892, Richard Warren Sears and Alvah C. Roebuck established Sears, Roebuck, and Company, a mail-order firm that completely transformed commerce. Before Sears, most Americans could only buy (or trade for) a small array of products at their local general stores. Needless to say, Americans lacked convenient access to a wide assortment of goods and services.

General stores of the time only catered to the locals, but Sears and Roebuck had bigger plans. They came up with the genius idea of offering an extensive mail-order catalog, which delivered goods using the then-revolutionary U.S. railroad network.

Sears: America's General Store

This allowed virtually all Americans to order whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. By doing so, Sears effectively became the nation's general store.

In the early years, Sears remained nimble and innovative, retaining its position atop the retail mountain. For instance, when the number of suburbs skyrocketed in the middle of the twentieth century, Sears responded by building retail stores in non-urban areas that featured ample parking, not to mention the latest luxury: air conditioning.

However, over time, Sears became a bloated and less innovative shell of its former self. A series of poor financial decisions and a disastrous merger with Kmart in 2004 effectively put the nail in the Sears coffin.

Sears became complacent and failed to respond to the ever-changing retail market. "Sears has been dying for many years," President Donald Trump noted recently. "It's been obviously improperly run for many years. And it's a shame."

The story behind Sears' rise and fall is just another example of the ever-changing economic environment that has caused a cascade of once-mighty retailers to disappear in the blink of an eye. Remember when Radio Shack, Circuit City, Borders Books and Music, and Toys R' Us were mainstays in shopping malls across the nation?

For one reason or another, these companies lost their competitive edge, not to mention their appeal to customers. Their downfalls simply reflected the survival of the fittest philosophy that is central to creative destruction and capitalism.

Creative Destruction Gets Sears

As these companies have become obsolete due to creative destruction, they have left behind a graveyard of empty buildings and storefronts. As Trump said, "Sears Roebuck, when I was growing up, was the big deal, and it's sad what happened, very, very sad."

However, it's not necessarily true that Sears' downfall is a tragic tale. Capitalism (through creative destruction) always drives innovation, which make our lives better. For example, new enterprises, such as internet bazaars Amazon and eBay, have disrupted the retail market. We are all better off because of it.

Although the internet revolution has left many businesses in its wake, all hope is not lost for the spaces retail giants such as Sears once occupied. Some of the "great sites" previously occupied by big businesses will be "put to good use," Trump said.

AT&T Re-Used

For example, five miles from Sears' 2.4 million square-foot sprawling office complex sits the mammoth 150-acre abandoned AT&T campus. Originally known as Ameritech Center, when it was built in 1991, the AT&T campus has been deserted for years.

However, creative destruction just might work its magic and bring new life into the ghost-town office park. Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker recently purchased the empty campus. He plans to convert it into what he envisions as "a metroburb, a metropolis in suburbia."

It may sound like a crazy idea, but Zucker pulled this off when his company redeveloped the unoccupied Bell Labs headquarters in New Jersey.

The AT&T campus will be getting a much-needed makeover: The vacant buildings will be converted into 1.2 million square-feet of office space, 80,000 square-feet of conference space, and 60,000 square-feet of shops and restaurants, as well as additional construction of 379 rental apartments, 171 townhomes, and a hotel.

In other words, the new campus will have all the amenities a family could want or need.

Reviving Dead Zones

Zucker, like Sears and Roebuck, is an entrepreneur and innovative-minded visionary. More brick-and-mortar companies are biting the dust and more Americans no longer work in mega office complexes. Zucker believes that a healthy market will form for redevelopment of these giant corporate parks.

"We intend to be the category killer," Zucker said. "There is demand in this office submarket for good product. People don't want to go to work in mind-numbing office parks that have no life."

Who knows, maybe after he redevelops the AT&T site, Zucker might turn his attention to the Sears space, if it is still available.

Regardless of what happens to the Sears office complex, one thing is certain: Creative destruction will eventually win out. No doubt, Sears and Roebuck would be proud.


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22. Robert Samuelson: It's Not The Economy, Stupid!Пн., 12 нояб.[−]

One lesson of the midterm elections is that economic growth is losing its power to unite the country and to reduce explosive conflicts over race, religion, ethnicity, immigrant status and sexuality. This is unfamiliar. Economic progress has been a routine part of our election narratives. The presumption is that a strong economy favors the incumbent party and a weak economy does the opposite.

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We believe prosperity encourages loyalty to the larger promise of America. It reflects Americans' self-identity. Getting ahead is something everyone can achieve — at least in theory. By contrast, race, religion, ethnicity and the like speak to a splintered society.

Even a cursory review of presidential campaigns confirms the persistence of economic themes. In 1960, John Kennedy pledged to "get the country moving again." Lyndon Johnson promised a "great society." Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for a sky-high "misery index" (the sum of inflation and the unemployment rate). In 1992, James Carville coined the pithy phrase: It's the economy, stupid.

Not Anymore

To be sure, there have been other issues: Vietnam, Watergate, crime and terrorism. But economic themes have always been at the forefront, or just behind. What is intriguing about the 2016 election and the recent midterms is that this relationship appears to be breaking down.

Despite many problems, the economy in 2016 seemed strong enough to put Hillary Clinton in the White House. When voters went to the polls, the unemployment rate was 4.6%, annual inflation was only 1.7%, and median household income had increased 5% in 2015 from 2014. Nope, not enough.

Similarly — and despite the usual midterm bias against the party of the incumbent president — the economy seemed healthy enough to help the Republicans retain control of the House. Unemployment was lower than in 2016 (3.7%), inflation was only a tad higher (2.3%). Median income has continued to advance. Nope, not enough.

Maybe it's no longer the economy, stupid.

In a new book, "Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America," political scientists John Sides of George Washington University, Michael Tesler of the University of California, Irvine, and Lynn Vavreck of the University of California, Los Angeles, argue that the last presidential campaign was a clash of identities, to borrow a phrase from the late political scientist Samuel Huntington.

People saw their adversaries as threats to their own way of life — and, of course, were often urged to do so. Trump was proud of his ability to incite partisan crowds; Clinton was not totally blameless either, with her condescending reference to "deplorables."

Here's how Sides, Tesler and Vavreck characterize the 2016 campaign:

Trump's Victory

"Trump's victory ... relied on activating people's pre-existing views of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. ... Democrats reacted against Trump's agenda. Thus, the alignment between partisanship and attitudes about issues like race and immigration only increased, and with it the likelihood of even more divisive politics. The resulting partisan polarization is the linchpin of America's identity crisis."

Put slightly differently, we have a vicious circle. The anger on one side of the political spectrum feeds anger on the other. Polarization grows; people become more and more distrustful.

Political scientists Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University have coined the useful term "negative partisanship," by which they seem to mean that many Americans are more fearful of what the other party might do rather than enacting their own agenda. Public-opinion polls of both parties' nominees found that "large majorities of Democrats and Republicans truly despised the opposing nominee," they write.

Negative Partisanship

Fast forward to 2018. The Democrats seem to have done to the Republicans and Trump what the Republicans and Trump did to them in 2016. Despite the relatively robust economy, House Republicans lost badly; at this writing, Democrats have picked up 33 seats.

Americans have a tendency to think that prosperity, administered in sufficient amounts, can cure almost any social and political problem. The experience of recent elections stands as a reminder that this sort of reasoning is often wishful thinking.

Of course, the economy hasn't permanently disappeared from political life. Given another recession (which, at some point, is inevitable) or financial crisis, its role would undoubtedly rebound.

But meanwhile, it takes a back seat to today's hateful partisanship. The purpose of politics — or, at any rate, one purpose — is to conciliate and to cooperate. On that score, we are in a bad place.

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

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23. George Will: Mississippi Rehabilitated Itself — Its Residents Should Be Allowed To Do The SameВс., 11 нояб.[−]

In the previous 50 years, the state of Mississippi has validated Lord Tennyson's belief that "men may rise on stepping-stones of their dead selves to higher things." Now the state has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for 20 more days to provide the court with a defense of the proposition that a state court was sufficiently serious in ruling that Joey Chandler is so depraved that he could never undergo a regeneration comparable to what Mississippi has managed.

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In 2003, Chandler, then 17 and seeking money to support his pregnant girlfriend, tried selling marijuana. When his supply was stolen from his car, he believed the thief was his cousin Emmitt, 19. Chandler fatally shot Emmitt and fled the scene, but later that night he surrendered to authorities. Convicted of murder, Chandler was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Parents who have raised sons understand that civilization's primary task is to civilize adolescent males, a task that is difficult for many reasons, some of which neuroscience explains. The part of the brain that stimulates anger and aggression is larger in males than in females (for evolutionary, meaning adaptive, reasons). And the part that restrains anger is smaller in males. The Supreme Court has noted that adolescent brain anatomy can cause "transient rashness, proclivity for risk, and inability to assess consequences," thereby diminishing "moral culpability" and, more important, enhancing "the prospect that, as the years go by," offenders' "deficiencies will be reformed." Hence "a lifetime in prison is a disproportionate sentence for all but the rarest of children, those whose crimes reflect 'irreparable corruption.'"

Now, there is spirited disagreement among thoughtful people concerning whether such disproportion constitutes a violation of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment proscription of "cruel and unusual punishments." There is disagreement concerning whether the Eighth Amendment as originally understood by those who wrote and ratified it was intended to forbid only certain methods of punishment, or to assign to courts the task of enunciating standards of proportionality in sentencing. There is disagreement about what the modern court has done in incrementally circumscribing states' discretion in punishing juveniles: It has held that the Eighth Amendment forbids capital punishment for children under 18. And that it forbids life imprisonment without parole for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses. And that it forbids — this is the issue in Chandler's case — mandatory life imprisonment without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders unless they have demonstrated "such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible."

Never mind that it is difficult to imagine how a sentencing court could determine that a juvenile has manifested such depravity. Clearly, however, the Mississippi court that heard Chandler's argument for resentencing in light of Supreme Court rulings about sentencing juveniles did not seriously attempt this difficult task.

While incarcerated, Chandler has not been a discipline problem. He has earned a GED and completed college-level coursework in Bible studies. He has earned certificates in construction trade skills and made substantial progress toward a certificate in automotive repair. Nevertheless, the resentencing court's almost flippant reasons for reaffirming Chandler's sentence to die in prison included the following:

"Nothing in the record" suggested that Chandler "suffered from a lack of maturity" when he shot his cousin. (Science demonstrates a physiological basis of varying maturities of male adolescents.) The 17-year-old Chandler was "very mature" because he planned his crime. (His prompt surrender suggests more bewilderment than planning.) He was mature because he came from a nuclear family. (How does a family's attribute prove the existence of a different attribute in a family member?) He was mature because 17-year-olds are allowed to get driver's and pilot's licenses, and abortions, and because he fathered a child, and because in World War II a 17-year-old won a Medal of Honor.

Really. And the court simply ignored the evidence of Chandler's efforts at rehabilitation.

Fifty years ago, many Americans thought Mississippi itself exemplified irretrievable depravity. Today the state has more — not more relative to population, more — African-Americans in elective offices than any other state. Culturally and economically, Mississippi is a vibrant participant in the American mainstream. The state's self-rehabilitation was not impossible.

In 2053, the 50th anniversary of Joey Chandler's crime, he will be 67, if he lives that long. Today, the Supreme Court should hear Chandler's case in order to provide standards requiring sentencing courts to be serious when making an extraordinarily serious judgment about someone's "irretrievable depravity."

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24. The Truth About Poverty In AmericaСб., 10 нояб.[−]

Poverty: Recent reports suggest that America has made no progress at all in its "War on Poverty" since the 1960s. Headlines claim "one in eight" Americans live in poverty. But is that true? It depends on how you define poverty.

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And the answer matters a lot, since it determines so much of U.S. economic policy, from food stamps to minimum wages, and from taxes to welfare work requirements.

It's true: Official poverty data from the U.S. Census show little change since the 1960s. The rate in 1966, for instance, was 14.7%. As recently as 2014 it was even higher: 14.8%. The rate has since declined to a still-high 12.3%.

A damning statistic that shows the failure of America's welfare safety net?

Hardly. A recent report by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) shows why the federal government's poverty rates are deceptive. There are many technical reasons, but they all boil down to this: They measure only poverty as it relates to income, not to consumption.

Poverty: The Welfare Effect

This is important, because much of our welfare efforts go toward bolstering consumption, not incomes. Adjusting official income levels for what people consume, rather than what they earn, yields a very different poverty rate: 2.8%, according to the AEI report. Almost nonexistent.

How can that be? An officially poor family of four has income of about $25,000 or less. That's not much. But that measure fails to take into account taxes. The poor mostly don't pay taxes. In fact, many get money back through the Earned Income Tax Credit and other income-support programs. Food stamps, housing support and other aid likewise enable officially poor households to boost their incomes, in most cases significantly.

The fact is, when the very same households that the federal government considers to be poor are questioned, they report roughly $2.40 in spending for every $1 of income that Census says they have. So that family of four earning $25,000 is likely consuming as much as $60,000 a year in goods and services.

How Much Do Poor Consume?

Heritage Foundation poverty analysts Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield in a 2016 data report noted that "poor" in America doesn't mean what it means elsewhere. Based on a 2009 government survey of spending, the average poor person in the U.S., for instance, lives in a bigger house than the average nonpoor person in France, Germany or England. Moreover, nearly 85% of poor homes in the U.S. have air conditioning, and nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half own computers, and 43% have internet access. More than half own a video game system.

This is not to say that the poor have it easy, or that we should ignore their plight. But we have to understand that claims America has grinding poverty as in the developing world are false. And, as the last two years have shown, the best anti-poverty program of all is a job.

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25. Reflections On The Meaning Of Veterans Day: Our Debt To Those Who Served Can't Be RepaidПт., 09 нояб.[−]

Veterans Day had its origin at the end of World War I in 1918, a conflict so horrendous that it was dubbed, "the Great War," or "the war to end all wars," with the United States playing the decisive role in the Allied powers final victory. It was first known as Armistice Day, celebrated on Nov. 11 because that was the day agreed upon by the Allied nations and Germany to begin a total cessation of hostilities. It went into effect on the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, after some 20 million people from both sides had given their lives in the war effort.

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The Treaty of Versailles was signed some seven months later on June 28, 1919, marking the official end of World War I. However, the armistice date of Nov. 11, 1918, remained in the public mind as the date that marked the end of the Great War.

On Nov. 11, 1920, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. On Nov. 11 the following year an unknown American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

WWII's Human Cost

Thereafter for many years, Armistice Day was recognized widely with some 27 state legislatures making Nov. 11 a legal holiday. Finally on May 13, 1938, the U.S. Congress passed an act to establish Armistice Day as a legal Federal holiday — "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace." Ironically, two months prior, a rearmed Germany under Hitler had already annexed all of Austria and had submitted a war plan to take over Czechoslovakia. So the holiday dedicated to honor World War I veterans became official at the very time World War II was unfolding.

As it turned out, World War II was almost four times more costly for the U.S. with 405,400 lives lost, than World War I, in which 116,516 Americans died.

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day

As a result, the focus on the 1918 Armistice was overshadowed, and eventually, after World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day so as to make Nov. 11 "a day to honor American veterans of all wars."

As the holiday evolved, Veterans Day became one of America's most patriotic holidays, with profuse display of the red, white and blue and Main street parades of veterans in towns across the country. "We the people of the United States" owe our veterans so much, for they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice — to fight to their deaths if need be — in the defense of freedom for other countries as well as our homeland.

Not surprisingly, the number of veterans who turn out to vote has been consistently higher than nonveterans by 16% to 30%. The political importance of veterans has also advanced with the passage of time. In March of 1989, President Reagan elevated the Veterans Administration (VA) to a cabinet level department, with the creation of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Candidate Donald Trump made VA reform a key policy in his platform, and within months of becoming President, he signed into law a new kind of assistance for veterans, authorizing them to receive care outside the VA medical system when needed.

Veterans' Sacrifice Goes On

The United States military never initiated major hostilities, and was often more of a reluctant responder. That was true for both World Wars I and II, and subsequent wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. has always stood for freedom and against aggression and tyranny. Surely many Americans who enlisted to serve in wartime knew neither the forsaken places they were going nor what they would encounter, but they all had a distinct conviction that they were fighting not only to set overseas captives free, but to protect freedom at home.

Of all foreign wars in which Americans were engaged, World War II is by far the largest with over 16 million soldiers serving or deployed overseas. Today only about 2% of those veterans remain alive as the remnants of the "Greatest Generation." When we think about these veterans this Nov. 11, who will all die of old age in a matter of five or six years, Christ's teaching that "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," takes on new meaning.

The world remains as unsettled with bad actors as in previous times. This Veterans Day, let us hope that present and future generations never forget the quote adapted by a modern statesman from Thomas Jefferson's original that "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and a willingness to act in its defense."

  • Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. His father, a World War II vet, is 95 years old. Email him at scottp@discovery.org.

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26. Support For 'Pre-Existing Conditions' Protections Plummets When Costs Are ExplainedПт., 09 нояб.[−]

Health Reform: Democrats campaigned heavily on promises to preserve ObamaCare's protections for people with "pre-existing conditions." And the polls seem to back them up. But do they?

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Across the country, Democrats attacked their Republican opponents on the issue, saying that the GOP wanted to take away this protection. (Which wasn't entirely true, but that's another story.) And they plan to keep the pressure on.

As the Hill reported days after the Democrats won control of the House in the midterm elections, "House Democrats think pre-existing conditions powered them to victory on Tuesday, and they're setting up a quick vote on the issue for next year."

Strong Support?

In making this the core issue, Democrats appear to be on solid ground with the public. Poll after poll shows widespread support for protecting people who have pre-existing medical conditions when they buy insurance coverage.

But there are important caveats that never come up.

As we've noted in this space before, the entire issue has been wildly exaggerated. Even before ObamaCare, the vast majority of Americans were protected from pre-existing condition restrictions, because they got insurance through an employer or the government, which can't impose such restrictions.

All ObamaCare did was extend this protection to the 7% who buy insurance on their own.

Nor does anyone pushing this benefit ever talk about its costs.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., wanted to find out how much support would remain for pre-existing condition protections once people learned about those costs.

In a poll released the just before the midterms, Cato first asked the standard question: Do you support ObamaCare's protections against pre-existing conditions? Sixty-five percent said they did, which is in line with other polls.

What About Costs?

But the poll went on to ask whether the public backed this protection if meant a tax increase? Suddenly, support dropped to just 51%. What if it meant premiums increased? Support plunged to only 49%. And just 47% say they back this protection if it meant less access to top-rated medical facilities. ( You can read the complete Cato survey report here.)

These aren't theoretical side effects, either. Those are all the actual results of ObamaCare's pre-existing condition mandate.

ObamaCare imposed a multitude of new taxes and fees to cover the cost of this protection.

Premiums in the individual market more than doubled. That priced millions of middle-class families who aren't eligible for ObamaCare subsidies out of the insurance market altogether.

And most health plans sold in the ObamaCare exchange imposed strict HMO-style limits on providers that often don't include the best hospitals or doctors.

It's easy to support a government-mandated protection when it appears to be free. But when there's a cost attached, suddenly most of it disappears.

There's one caveat to consider as well. ObamaCare isn't the only way to provide protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It's just one of the costliest and most disruptive ways to do it.

One can only hope that we have an honest discussion about all these caveats when Democrats bring the issue up again next year.

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27. The United States Of Debt: 10 Years After The Financial CrisisПт., 09 нояб.[−]

Ten years ago this fall a dangerously teetering banking sector led Americans to worry that financial crisis would engulf private savings and possibly the entire national economy. In October of 2008 the federal government committed $700 billion to shore up Wall Street, and the Dow still suffered an unprecedented 187-point single-week decline.

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Recession look-backs often focus on the federal government as protagonist, with national unemployment figures acting as plot points. Less analyzed, are the varied and nuanced ways in which the 50 state governments struggled to navigate the choppy waters of the past decade. Many state budgets were severely strained with the collapsing value of toxic financial assets.

Some of the largest programs on your typical state ledger — retirement and health plans for public employees — sink or swim on the fortunes of Wall Street. The fiscal health of these programs can have life altering impacts on the millions of Americans who rely on them: school teachers, police officers, and countless other public servants.

Risky Business

Many statehouses across the country found that their fund managers had moved away from safe fixed income investments to equities and alternative investments. When the markets dropped, these high-risk high-reward speculations ended up throwing numerous pension and retirement funds hundreds of millions of dollar into the red. The varying levels of risk in different state portfolios ended up having a lasting financial impact that many are still struggling with to this day.

An easily understandable way to measure a government's finances is to size up their assets, minus all the bills, and divide the result by the number of constituent taxpayers. I call the resulting sum a Taxpayer Burden (or Taxpayer Surplus, when the figure is positive.) Taxpayer Burdens have skyrocketed across the country over the past decade as risky investments swamped a patchwork of state pension and retirement plans.

Taxpayer Burden On The Rise

Among the hardest hit, New Jersey's individual Taxpayer Burden has increased from $34,600 in 2009 to $61,400 in 2017, the latest year with available data. Connecticut's Taxpayer Burden increased from $41,200 to $53,400, and Illinois' leaped from $29,100 to $50,800. More than just a vexing public policy debate, these burdens are a real millstone around the necks of our children and grandchildren. Some lawmakers are starting to grapple with the unenviable dilemma of cutting promised benefits for public servants, or else raising taxes without any congruent increase in services.

Some state budget makers lucked out over the past decade. The northwestern plains states have experienced a financial windfall with the exploitation of resources beneath the Bakken Shale Formation. The state with the second largest Taxpayer Surplus, North Dakota, collects $1.6 billion a year from oil revenue, and currently enjoys a Taxpayer Surplus of $24,900. (The state with the highest Taxpayer Surplus in the union is Alaska, no stranger to the wealth of an oil economy.)

Retirement Funds Wise Up

Not every state has had the fortune of striking oil, but others did wise up and reform their pension and retirement plan investment strategies. Utah, for one, has long displayed a spirit of fiscal prudence, and does not promise benefits that it cannot afford to pay.

More concerning are the statehouses that seem to have missed the lessons of the last recession, and continue to double-down on high-risk high-reward investments. For example the Kentucky Retirement System has 85% of its investments in equities, real estate and other alternative investments, while the Illinois Teacher Retirement System has 78% invested in those riskier asset classes.

At a national level, the country's economic outlook couldn't look anymore different from the dark days of 2008. The unemployment rate is down from its high point of 9.9% to a much healthier 3.7%. But as we pass the 10-year mark, there are dark storm clouds on the horizon again over the states that have chosen to double-down on their old investment strategies. What do they think is going to happen next time there is a market downturn?

  • Weinberg, a certified public accountant, is the founder and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Truth in Accounting, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that researches government financial data and promotes transparency for a better-informed citizenry.

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28. Mona Charen: Exit Polls Send A Warning to Republicans — And DemocratsПт., 09 нояб.[−]

Exit polls aren't always 100% reliable. For example, in 2016, the exit interviews suggested that Donald Trump would lose Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina by small margins. He won all of them.

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Let's take it as given that 2018's exit polls are likely flawed in the same way. Still, they are among the most interesting polls because they reflect the views of actual voters — not "registered" or "likely," but the real McCoy. Margins of error we shall always have with us, but they shouldn't stifle all punditry.

Some of the data about this year's crop of voters is similar to what we've seen in past contests, but there are some trends that should give both Republicans and Democrats cause for reflection.

What Exit Polls Show

A majority of voters (56%) were over the age of 50. This helped Republicans, as older voters skew more Republican. But it didn't help as much as it could have: Even among older voters, enthusiasm for Republicans was muted. Of those ages 50 and above, only half gave their votes this year to a Republican candidate. Among the younger set, by contrast, lopsided percentages voted for Democrats. The 18- to 24-year-olds gave 68% of their support to Democrats. Among 25- to 29-year-olds, 66% voted Democrat. It was 59% among voters in their 30s and 52% among those in their 40s.

As in the past, white voters have tilted Republican, while minorities strongly favor Democrats. Fifty-four percent of white voters chose Republican this year, while 90% of blacks, 69% of Hispanics, 77% of Asians and 54% of other races voted Democrat. That Republicans have failed to make inroads with minority voters — who, come what may, will constitute a larger and larger share of the electorate in the years to come — will yet cause tears. But even in the shorter run, like 2020, this should make Republicans nervous. Whereas 52% of white women voted Republican in 2016, the party lost ground in 2018. An equal number of white women gave their votes to Democrats (49%) as to Republicans (49%).

Another reliable group for Republicans has been married adults. Fifty-two percent of married voters chose Trump in 2016. Fifty-six percent had been Romney voters in 2012. But in 2018, the percentage of married people who voted Republican dropped to 47%. Now, it's possible that many Republican voters sat out this midterm and we are thus getting a skewed picture of how married voters will behave in 2020. But that's not a good sign for the party's health, either. Republicans are usually better about voting in off years than Democrats.

What about the white non-college men we've heard so much about? Seventy-one percent voted Republican in 2016. In 2018, there was a little slippage. Only 66% voted Republican this time. Results were similar for white non-college women. It may not mean anything, but when races are won by such slender margins, who can say what's significant and what isn't?

Many politicos suggest that elections these days are decided by riling up and turning out the base, not by persuading the middle. Maybe that's right. But if it isn't, Republicans might want to look over their shoulders at what's happening with independents. Fifty-four percent of self-described independents voted Democrat in 2018, compared with only 42% in 2016. Among those calling themselves "moderates," 52% voted for Clinton two years ago, while 62% voted Democrat on Tuesday.

Exit Polls And Democrats

Democrats, too, should comb these exit polls for clues to where they've gone wrong. Fifty percent of voters said Trump's immigration policies are either "about right" (33%) or "not tough enough" (17%). Portraying immigration policy as a contest between the big-hearted and the bigots is not going to serve Democrats well.

A solid 56% of voters oppose the suggestion that Congress should impeach President Trump. While 54% of voters have an unfavorable view of the president, that is nothing like the 90% disapproval among Democrats. Opinions of the Democratic Party aren't so hot, either. Only 48% have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party (versus 44 for the Republican Party), and only 31% have a positive view of Nancy Pelosi.

A number of high-profile, high-octane, lefty candidates were defeated — Beto O'Rourke, Andrew Gillum and (likely) Stacey Abrams. This should cue the Democrats to look to their right for more viable choices. In the Republican Party, alas, it was mostly the moderates who were defeated — another artifact of Trump's rise. The sensible middle still waits for a voice.

  • Charen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her new book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense."

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29. Civility? Left's 'New' In-Your-Face Civility Isn't Civility At AllПт., 09 нояб.[−]

Civility: In the run up to the recent midterms, Democrats and others on the left lamented that civility seemed to have all but disappeared from American political life. They were right. And they were largely to blame for its disappearance.

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Twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in October explained why Democrats and the angry, violent left have a right to be uncivil to those they disagree with. Clinton's remarks came during the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.

Recall that Kavanaugh was falsely vilified last summer by Democrats and the media for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman. They had no evidence at all. Even so, those on the left called Kavanaugh a "rapist", "white nationalist," "fascist," and worse, and threw out all presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

"You cannot be civil with a political party," Clinton said, "that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about." Never mind that disagreement isn't the same as "destroy."

Or that Clinton's remarks came during the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court. Desperate congressional Democrats and the media dredged up false accusations against Kavanaugh for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman, despite having no evidence at all.

The Savaging Of Kavanaugh

Later, other false allegations emerged, only to be repeated uncritically by the media. Those allegations proved wholly false and made up.

That didn't stop the left from calling Kavanaugh a "rapist", "white nationalist," "fascist," and worse. They threw out all presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

So uncivil. But Clinton did say once Democrats regain control of part of Congress, "that's when civility can start again."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the same thing in a pre-midterm interview with CBS' Stephen Colbert, who wondered about " lowering the temperature of political discourse."

"Well, I think when we win, you will see evidence of that," Pelosi said. But, again, only when they win.

Excusing Violence

Hawaiian Sen. Mazie Hirono, when asked about the mobs that had harassed Republicans in restaurants and other public places, said merely, "this is what happens."

Yet, so far the Democrats and the left are failing the Clinton-Pelosi thesis that they'll behave civilly once they win the election. Far from it.

Indeed, we're not sure what they even mean when they say "civil." Take the case of Fox TV host Tucker Carlson. His home was besieged Wednesday by violent thugs from a group called "Smash Racism D.C."

Several news outlets referred to them as an "anti-fascist group." That's an error. They are a fascist group.

Carlson wasn't home when the group attacked, terrifying his wife by pounding on his door and chanting, "Tucker Carlson, we are outside your home." Using a bullhorn, they accused Carlson of "promoting hate" and "an ideology that has led to thousands of people dying." And the terrorist threats were fairly specific, as the group chanted, "Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night."

The only fortunate part of the whole incident was that none of Carlson's four children were home to experience the extremists' hate.

Democrats Mainstream Extremism

You might say, sure, but they're extremists. Not part of the Democratic Party.

But Democrats have condoned and excused the violence. Their supporters have financially supported it. Why? It serves their purpose.

If anyone prominent on the left has outright condemned what happened to Carlson and his family, we've not heard it.

Last year, Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republican congressmen were attacked by a Democratic gunman intent on killing one or more of them. The media and the Democrats mostly pretended it was an aberration.

When Sen. Rand Paul was physically attacked by a Democratic neighbor, sustaining three broken ribs, it was mostly shrugged off.

Imagine if the tables had been turned, and a Republican or conservative had attacked a group of Democratic congressmen with a gun. Or an angry GOP member had broken the ribs of a liberal senator.

Violence Against Republicans

How crazy would the media have been? Democrats might have even called for outlawing the Republican Party. It's gotten that insane.

And this has been going on for some time. Republican politicians like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been accosted while eating dinner. Less known, and with virtually no mainstream coverage, a number of average folks wearing MAGA hats or shirts have been physically assaulted.

What do you expect when one of the Democrats' rising senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey, tells people to "get up in the face of some Congresspeople."

And when former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says, "When they go low, we kick 'em. That's what this new Democrat Party is about."

Or when California Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Maxine Waters have both added their voices to those encouraging violence against Trump and his supporters.

Surely, you say, the anger will recede with the Democrats' retaking of the House of Representatives. But that too is wrong.

Civility, Or Doubling Down On Rage

If anything, after winning they're doubling down on the anti-Republican rage that has seized their party.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, was overheard on the Acela commuter train from New York to Washington pondering how to go about removing Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court, plotting strategy with an unnamed friend on a cell phone.

"The worst-case scenario — or best case, depending on your point of view — you prove he committed perjury, about a terrible subject and the Judicial Conference recommends you impeach him. So the president appoints someone just as bad."

This is the man who will be heading the Judiciary Committee under the Democrats. Would you want his brand of justice?

Nadler also vowed to hold Trump "accountable," which is fine, since all presidents should be held accountable. But for what? Phony Russian collusion, which has yet to be proved despite two years of FBI and special counsel investigation?

Maxine's Vendetta

Again, guilty, until proven innocent. Rep. Maxine Waters, who will likely head the Financial Services Committee, has promised to get even with the banks for lending money to poor people that they couldn't pay back — even though the federal government ordered the banks to do so.

The sad truth is, the Democrats have abandoned any and all pretenses of civility. As they veer farther left with each election cycle, they seem to care only about power — not constitutional principle.

The death of civility will have its costs. No doubt, tempers will flare. Laws will be broken, especially by those on the left who increasingly believe ends justify means. There will be more violence.

Look at the history of nations around the world. Once civility and mutual respect are lost, they're hard to regain.

No, Democrats aren't to blame for everything. But the left loudly proclaims it wants more civility. Strange, because their party is the one that most engages in incivility.

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30. Michael Barone: Split Election Results Send Polarized Politics Toward 2020Пт., 09 нояб.[−]

The Republican president, considered a lightweight and an ignoramus by many in Washington, suffered a setback in the midterm elections, losing several seats and effective control in the House, while maintaining and perhaps strengthening his party in the Senate. His leverage on domestic issues is reduced, but he retains the initiative on foreign policy and judgeships.

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That's a fair description of this week's midterm elections — and of those in 1982, the last time voters paired a Republican president with a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. It also resembles results in 1962, when a Democratic president's party gained four Senate seats and lost four in the House.

After Those Midterm Elections

We know what happened after 1982 and 1962. The economy boomed, and Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, won landslide victories two years later. Voters then remembered the Depression and World War II and rewarded incumbents in time of peace and prosperity.

Voters today have no memory of those events, and there hasn't been a presidential landslide since Reagan's in 1984. Donald Trump, ace polarizer, is certainly not going to win one. Nor, Tuesday's results suggest, is he likely to be beaten in one either.

Senate results support that point. At this writing, Republicans gained three seats in heavily Trump states (Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota), held a solid lead in Florida and a shaky one in Arizona, while losing one seat in Nevada. Their majority, rising from 51-49 to 54-46 or 55-45, looks maintainable into the 2020s.

The three defeated Democrats and Florida's Bill Nelson voted against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, while West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the one Democrat voting aye, held on to win by 3%. Senate races seem to have become contests to determine who gets on the Supreme Court.

Similarly, one issue helping the surprise Republican gubernatorial winner in Florida, Ron DeSantis, is that he can appoint a conservative majority on the state Supreme Court. Courts making public policy can expect to be held accountable politically.

Democrats did gain a majority in the House, but the blue wave was a gentle wash, not a tsunami, aided by redistricting. In 1982, about half the Democrats' 26-seat gain came from redistricting; this year, about a half dozen did, from post-2012 court-forced remapping in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida.

Pending final results — astonishingly, counting can take weeks in California — it appears Democrats have gained 30 to 35 seats, for a total of around 230. That's well behind Republicans' 63-seat gain to 242 in the tea party year of 2010.

Midterm Elections: A Whole Foods Wave

This was a Whole Foods wave, with about two-thirds (by my count) of Democratic gains coming in upscale and suburban districts dominated by high-income college graduates. Upscale suburbs in the Northeast, on the West Coast and in many Midwestern metro areas started trending Democratic in the 1990s. In 2016 and again this year, similar parts of metro areas in the South — Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas and even Oklahoma City — started doing so.

Other subgroups of what Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg dubbed "America ascendant" have not moved as sharply to the Democrats. Black turnout seems not to have been robust, even in Florida and Georgia, where black governor nominees Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams were lavished with favorable media coverage. Both lost and ran behind their poll numbers.

Hispanics voted 69% to 29% Democratic, according to the CNN exit poll. But if anything, that's better for Republicans than in pre-Trump years. As for young people, the 2018 exit poll pegs under-30s as 13% of the electorate, about the same as in other years.

Overall turnout was robust, as expected, but among Republicans as well as Democrats, whose party identification edge was an unremarkable 37% to 33%. This confirms polls that show the Kavanaugh controversy raised Republicans' enthusiasm to Democrats' already high levels.

Midterm Elections: Democrats' Disappointment

Democrats have to be disheartened by the defeats of Senate candidates Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Gillum in Florida and Abrams in Georgia. The nation's second-, third- and eighth-most populous states are not yet tilting as Democratic as the states from which their new residents have fled.

"The prayers of both could not be answered," Lincoln said in his second inaugural address. "That of neither has been answered fully." So it is with these midterm elections in which candidates and voters re-litigated the astounding but now familiar presidential election of 2016.

If Donald Trump hasn't shown he can improve on his 46% of the popular vote, the kind of candidates Democratic primary voters prefer haven't shown they can improve on Hillary Clinton's 232 electoral votes. On to 2020!

  • 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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31. L. Brent Bozell: Live New York, It's Saturday Night SicknessПт., 09 нояб.[−]

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" is taking on a very sour look. Alec Baldwin didn't appear with his tired Trump impression on the Saturday before the midterms, perhaps because he reportedly punched a man in the face in New York's Greenwich Village in a parking spot dispute.

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"SNL" tried to joke its way out of that mess at the end of its opening skit with their star Kate McKinnon. "When we come back, an update from disgraced former actor Alec Baldwin — seen here molesting a young Boy Scout," showing a picture of a classic 1994 "Canteen Boy" skit with Adam Sandler.

McKinnon was impersonating Fox News host Laura Ingraham talking on "The Ingraham Angle" about the "caravan" of immigrants marching through Mexico, "live from the Arizona border, where a vicious caravan of dozens, maybe millions, of illegal immigrants is headed straight for you and your grandchildren."

Other Fox News stars kept introducing video of the immigrants, although the footage came from zombie movies and nature movies of crabs. Who is NBC to mock other people for faking the news? That's shameless after they spread the unreliable Brett Kavanaugh rape accusations of disgraced Michael Avenatti's client Julie Swetnick, among others.

Then, during the "Weekend Update" fake-news sketch, Pete Davidson announced, "There are some pretty gross people running for office this year," and proceeded to mock the looks of (mostly) Republican candidates. Like a middle-schooler, he suggested Florida Gov. Rick Scott "looks like someone tried to whittle Bruce Willis out of a penis."

And then it happened.

Davidson, the loud-mouthed spoiled punk, mocked Texas congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw, a veteran who lost his eye in Afghanistan and now wears an eye patch. "You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie," Davidson proclaimed, to uproarious laughter. "I'm sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever." Or whatever? Davidson lost his firefighter father in the 9/11 terrorist attack when he was 7. Dan Crenshaw lost an eye in Afghanistan fighting the same kind of terrorists who killed his father. For the love of God, doesn't he deserve better than this?

Crenshaw was a class act in a Twitter response: "Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended. That being said, I hope @nbcsnl recognizes that vets don't deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes." Dan Crenshaw has since won his congressional race.

We could make a long list of midterm candidates NBC won't mock for their looks, and that would include transgender gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist, D-Vermont. There is no way they would ridicule Rep. Ilhan Omar, D- Minn., for wearing her Muslim headwear. So why can't a veteran be spared jokes about losing an eye fighting for his country?

Then consider this: In 2016, Davidson posted a picture on the internet that he'd gotten a large tattoo on his leg of "his hero" ... Hillary Clinton. He said to her, "Thanks for being such a bada — and one of the strongest people in the universe."

So, to summarize: Dan Crenshaw the Afghan war hero is "pretty gross." And Hillary Clinton, who lied about being under fire in Bosnia, is the real "badass."

Davidson tried to end the skit in self-defense, noting he looked like a Dr. Seuss character in a prison jumpsuit. So those truth-tellers at The New York Times buried the lede as they wrote up the obnoxious show with this headline: "'SNL' Jokes About the Midterms, and Pete Davidson Pokes Fun at Himself."

The advertisers included Amazon, Microsoft and Verizon, and appearing just after Davidson's mess were L.L. Bean, Christian Dior and Paramount (with two movie ads). These merchants should think more than twice about the garbage they're making possible.

  • 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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32. Amazon's 'HQ2' Ruse Exposes The Folly Of State Tax IncentivesПт., 09 нояб.[−]

Crony Capitalism: Looks like Amazon pulled a fast one on states with its promise of a big new HQ2. After getting states to cough up billions of dollars in special tax giveaways, Amazon announced it was changing plans, and splitting the alleged new headquarters in two. When will states learn that trying to seduce big companies this way is a losing strategy?

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Unless the news reports are wildly off base, Amazon plans to open its new "headquarters" in two locations — Long Island City, N.Y., and Crystal City, Va.

Wait. Didn't Amazon ( AMZN) make a huge deal a year ago about how it was going to open a second headquarters that would be "a full equal to our current campus in Seattle"? And that it would create 50,000 good-paying jobs, along with $5 billion worth of investments?

State and local governments sure thought so. They went on an embarrassing campaign to lure Amazon. Most of the offers are still secret, but some details emerged.

Maryland offered $8.5 billion in tax incentives and infrastructure projects to win HQ2. New Jersey was willing to give Amazon $7 billion in tax credits and incentives. Detroit offered $4 billion. Chicago, $2 billion. Washington, D.C., promised to create Amazon University to train future company employees.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the prize for obsequiousness, saying: "I'll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that's what it takes."

If Amazon ever was serious about opening a second headquarters "equal to" the first, it isn't any longer. The new plan looks more like a generic expansion project, and the HQ2 promotion looks more like a ruse.

By dangling the prospect of a big, bold, gleaming new headquarters, Amazon got more than 200 cities to offer up millions of dollars in free information about their workforce, infrastructure plans and the like. They also told Amazon precisely how far they'll go to get a piece of its business.

Amazon's HQ2 Ruse

"Amazon now has insights into what cities would be willing to offer and possibly plans locations have for investments in infrastructure," Jed Kolko, chief economist at job search website Indeed.com, told Bloomberg.

Amazon had every reason to expect that government officials would do just what they did, since this has become a game companies have learned to play well over the years.

Either a major corporation threatens to move unless they get more perks, or it announces plans to open a new facility and waits for the offers to come in. State politicians, meanwhile, are more than happy to dote on these companies, because they can then claim credit for "creating jobs."

Cuomo went so far as to say that "businesses do not come to New York state without government incentives. Businesses literally shop states. ... It literally takes money to make money."

That might be true for a business-unfriendly place like high-tax New York. But these efforts to bribe businesses don't do taxpayers, or state economies, any good.

Sure, New York might gain 25,000 Amazon jobs for its half of HQ2, in exchange for a "great incentive package." But that won't even make a dent in the exodus of other businesses and jobs. From 2010 to 2017, for example, 1 million New Yorkers migrated to other states.

A study by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research found that states offered a total of $45 billion in various types of business incentives, but the incentive deals didn't correlate with "current or past unemployment or income levels, or with future economic growth."

The deals themselves rarely live up to the hype, and typically cost a fortune for each job created.

Lost Jobs, Lost Taxes

Washington state, for example, gave Boeing $8.7 billion in tax breaks after it threatened to build its 777X somewhere else. Boeing did build the jet there. But the state still lost more than 20,000 Boeing jobs.

North Carolina paid a relatively small sum of $240 million in 2004 for Dell Computer to open a manufacturing plant there. Less than five years later, Dell closed the facility.

The tax-incentive game is also hugely unfair to existing businesses. Michigan spends almost as much in tax incentives as it brings in through corporate income taxes. That means that most businesses in the state are, in effect, subsidizing the lucky few.

State governments would do their taxpayers and their economies much better if, instead of offering up special tax breaks for a select few big companies, they cut taxes across the board and created a climate that was welcoming to all businesses, big and small.

If the economic literature is clear on one thing, it's that a more business-friendly state creates a more vibrant economy and a more prosperous people.

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33. Ben Shapiro: The Myth Of Obama, The Myth Of Trump, And The Reality Of ElectionsЧт., 08 нояб.[−]

In the aftermath of this week's midterm elections, in which Democrats gained 34 House seats and lost an additional three Senate seats, an odd emotional disconnect took place.

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Democrats, who had just won control of the House, seemed disappointed in their victory; they had expected a sweeping tsunami to carry them from Arizona across Texas and through Florida. They seemed borderline despondent that their extraordinarily dislike for President Trump hadn't translated into historic gains.

Meanwhile, Republicans, who had just surrendered the speakership to Nancy Pelosi, were somewhat giddy; they immediately paid homage to President Trump for his stunning work in preventing Democrats from marking up big wins in Florida and Ohio.

All of this seems somewhat misguided.

The Obama Myth

The disparate reactions of the two political parties are predicated on a foundational myth about modern American politics: the myth of Barack Obama. According to the Obama Myth, once upon a time, America was divided between red and blue on the basis of right-left politics. Then, along came President Obama, who won two sweeping electoral victories, forging a coalition of intersectional identity groups in emergent demographic groups and utterly reshaping the electoral map in a permanent way.

For Democrats, the Obama Myth leads them to see President Trump's 2016 as an electoral aberration — a momentary spasm of the American public, soon to be corrected. Any indicator that 2016 was more of a trend than an outlier cuts against the Obama Myth.

For Republicans, the Obama Myth leads them to believe in the Trump Myth. The Trump Myth suggests that once upon a time, there was a land dominated by an intersectional coalition set to rule in perpetuity. Then along came Donald Trump, who broke apart the blue wall and set in its place a new movement, populist and deep.

This myth portrays President Trump as an electoral magician, a man defying gravity and leading Republicans into uncharted new lands of victory. Its adherents become willing to attribute every victory to Trump and every loss to lack of Trump — a theory Trump actively promotes by slamming Republican politicians who fail to embrace him sufficiently.

Both Are Myths

But here's the thing: The Obama Myth is a myth, and so is the Trump Myth.

The reality is that the electoral aberration was not Trump but Obama. Trump isn't a magician; he's a regression to the electoral mean. Here are the percentages of the vote won by Republican presidential candidates in 2000, 2004, and 2016 in Ohio: 50.0, 50.8, 51.3. Here are those numbers for Florida: 48.9, 52.1, 48.6. For Wisconsin: 47.6, 49.3, 47.2. For Pennsylvania: 46.4, 48.5, 48.2. For Michigan: 46.1, 47.8, 47.3.

Trump didn't significantly overperform in any of these states. He did what Republicans, absent Obama, did in 2004 and 2000.

What, then, was 2016? 2016 was an odd combination of a regression to the Republican mean and Hillary Clinton's incredible incompetence, as well as low Democratic turnout thanks to their belief that she would surely win. That's why we shouldn't be surprised by last night's results. Republicans performed as they've always performed outside of Obama. Democrats performed as they've always performed outside Obama.

So, what lesson should Republicans learn? That political gravity applies to President Trump — and that they've got to reach out to the suburban voters they lost in the midterms. What lesson should Democrats learn? The Republican Party remains competitive in swing states, and running to the hard progressive left while shouting about Trump won't cut it.

Will either party learn those lessons? Probably not. So buckle up. It's going to be a wild two years.

  • Shapiro is host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.

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34. Larry Elder: Republicans Had A Great Story to Tell — And It Staved Off DisasterЧт., 08 нояб.[−]

As expected, Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives. But the much-anticipated "blue wave" failed to appear.

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History shows that the first midterm election for the party in the White House usually results in a loss, often a big loss, in that party's House members. President Barack Obama, for example, lost 63 seats in the House and 6 seats in the Senate in the 2010 midterms.

In the 21 midterm elections held from 1934 through 2014, the President's party has gained seats in both the Senate and the House only twice: during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's and George W. Bush's first midterm elections.

The 2018 GOP House lost seats, more than the 23 seats Democrats needed to flip, but not nearly the thumping the Democrats hoped for.

Republican Defections Hurt

Forty Republicans — three senators and 37 representatives — chose not to run for re-election in 2018, while another 14 left their offices early or announced their resignations. This hurt. Only 18 Democrats declined to seek re-election, with another four leaving office early or resigning. From 1964 through 2016, 85% to 98% of House incumbents seeking re-election won.

In January 2018, NPR ran a story about the record number of House Republicans who decided not to seek re-election. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., according to NPR's Kelsey Snell, "didn't want to spend the next 10 months talking about or defending President Trump."

Dent said: "You know, this campaign cycle, 2018, will simply be a referendum on the President. We'll be talking about him and his latest tweet or comment or an incendiary remark or whatever. So you're really not speaking about or talking about major issues." In short, Trump would be on the ballot in the midterms, and Dent, likely echoing the fears of fellow Republicans who chose not to run, wanted no part in defending Trump.

Blue Wave Losses

But on Tuesday, Democrats lost several marquee races where high-power surrogates like Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey campaigned.

Democrat Beto O'Rourke lost his Texas senate bid to Ted Cruz. Democrat Stacey Abrams appears to have lost the Georgia governor's race. Democrat Andrew Gillum lost the Florida governor race to Republican Ron DeSantis, for whom Trump energetically campaigned.

For the most part, where Trump campaigned, his candidate won. That Republicans held off the much anticipated giant blue wave and limited the gubernatorial losses to about a half a dozen reflects the degree to which the media, and many Republicans, still underestimate Trump.

Remember when serious pundits urged electors to refuse to certify Trump's election? Several congressional Democrats refused to attend Trump's inauguration, where the new President gave an address that Democrats and many in the media described as "combative" and "divisive" and "partisan." Some critics even predicted that, because of Trump's alleged "mental instability," a cabinet official or another "adult in the administration" would invoke the 25th Amendment. This drumbeat grew so loud that Trump's White House doctor discussed the results of Trump's physical at a press conference, where reporters asked about Trump's mental fitness to serve. Pundits and cable hosts practically ran out of adjectives while calling Trump "racist," "sexist," "anti-Semitic," "homophobic" and "xenophobic."

Trump Bashing

When the deputy attorney general appointed Robert Mueller to investigate the allegation of a Trump-Russia "collusion," Trump-haters began the countdown on when they expected Trump to resign, one step before Mueller outed him as an election cheat. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called for Trump's impeachment almost from the moment he took office.

When Trump visited Speaker Paul Ryan, Democratic House members not only heckled, but some held up signs critical of Trump and his policy of separating families that tried to enter through our southern border. CNN's Don Lemon has called Trump "racist." According to "nonpartisan" Pew Research Center, 90% of broadcast networks' (ABC, CBS and NBC) news coverage of Trump has been negative. With the exception of Fox News, Trump takes a nightly battering on cable news.

But a funny thing happened on the way to this year's midterms.

Good News Flattened Blue Wave

The stock market kept hitting record highs. The majority of Americans, for the first time in years, felt confident about their personal economic condition and future. 2018's first two quarters of GDP growth came in at 2.2% and 4.2%, with the third quarter registering a strong 3.5%. In October, 250,000 jobs were created, exceeding expectations.

Black unemployment reached its the lowest percent since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment by race in the '70s. An NAACP poll released in August put Trump's approval rate at 21% for blacks. The Nov. 5, 2018 Rasmussen daily Presidential Tracking Poll showed Trump with an approval rating 5 points higher than Obama's at the same point in his presidency.

Republicans had a good story to tell, and it staved off disaster. Had fewer GOP House incumbents decided not to run, the results would have been even better for Republicans. Yes, for the next two years, Trump will face investigation after investigation. But for the Republican Party as a whole, Tuesday could have been worse, much worse.

  • Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder.

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35. Victor Davis Hanson: WWI Ended 100 Years Ago, But It Still Has Lessons To TeachЧт., 08 нояб.[−]

The First World War ended 100 years ago this month on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. Nearly 20 million people had perished since the war began on July 28, 1914.

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In early 1918, it looked as if the Central Powers — Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire — would win.

Czarist Russia gave up in December 1917. Tens of thousands of German and Austrian soldiers were freed to redeploy to the Western Front and finish off the exhausted French and British armies.

The late-entering United States did not declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary until April 1917. Six months later, America had still not begun to deploy troops in any great number.

Strange End To World War I

Then, suddenly, everything changed. By summer 1918, hordes of American soldiers began arriving in France in unimaginable numbers of up to 10,000 doughboys a day. Anglo-American convoys began devastating German submarines. The German high command's tactical blunders stalled the German offensives of spring 1918 — the last chance before growing Allied numbers overran German lines.

Nonetheless, World War I strangely ended with an armistice — with German troops still well inside France and Belgium. Revolution was brewing in German cities back home.

The three major Allied victors squabbled over peace terms. America's idealist president, Woodrow Wilson, opposed an Allied invasion of Germany and Austria to occupy both countries and enforce their surrenders.

By the time the formal Versailles Peace Conference began in January 1919, millions of soldiers had gone home. German politicians and veterans were already blaming their capitulation on "stab-in-the-back" traitors and spreading the lie that their armies lost only because they ran out of supplies while on the verge of victory in enemy territory.

Failed Armistice

The Allied victors were in disarray. Wilson was idolized when he arrived in France for peace talks in December 1918 — and was hated for being self-righteous when he left six months later.

The Treaty of Versailles proved a disaster, at once too harsh and too soft. Its terms were far less punitive than those the victorious Allies would later dictate to Germany after World War II. Earlier, Germany itself had demanded tougher concessions from a defeated France in 1871 and Russia in 1918.

In the end, the Allies proved unforgiving to a defeated Germany in the abstract but not tough enough in the concrete.

One ironic result was that the victorious but exhausted Allies announced to the world that they never wished to go to war again. Meanwhile, the defeated and humiliated Germans seemed all too eager to fight again soon to overturn the verdict of 1918.

The consequence was a far bloodier war that followed just two decades later. Eventually, "the war to end all wars" was rebranded "World War I" after World War II engulfed the planet and wiped out some 60 million lives.

What can we learn from the failed armistice of 1918?

More Difficult Than War

Keeping the peace is sometimes even more difficult than winning a war.

For an enemy to accept defeat, it must be forced to understand why it lost, suffer the consequences of its aggressions — and only then be shown magnanimity and given help to rebuild.

Losers of a war cannot pick and choose when to quit fighting in enemy territory.

Had the Allies continued their offensives in the fall of 1918 and invaded Germany, the peace that followed might have more closely resembled the unconditional surrender and agreements that ended WWII, leading to far more than just 20 years of subsequent European calm.

Deterrence prevents war.

Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 because it was convinced that Britain would not send enough troops to aid its overwhelmed ally, France. Germany also assumed that isolationist America would not intervene.

Repeating Mistakes Of World War I

Unfortunately, the Allies of 1939 later repeated the errors of 1914, and the result was WWII.

Germany currently dominates Europe, just as it did in 1871, 1914 and 1939. European peace is maintained only when Germany channels its enormous energy and talents into economic, not military, dominance. Yet even today, on matters such as illegal immigration, overdue loans, Brexit and trade surpluses, Germany tends to agitate its allies.

It is also always unwise to underestimate a peaceful America. The U.S. possesses an uncanny ability to mobilize, arm and deploy. By the time America's brief 19-month foray into war ended in November 1918, it had sent 2 million soldiers to Europe.

Had the armistice of November 1918 and the ensuing peace worked, perhaps we would still refer to a single "Great War" that put an end to world wars.

But because the peace failed, we now use Roman numerals to count world wars. And few believe that when the shooting stops, the war is necessarily over.

  • 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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36. Lame Duck Congress Still Ruled By GOP Until 2019 — Why Not Get Something Done?Чт., 08 нояб.[−]

Lame Duck Congress: With the end of the midterm elections, most people in Washington are looking forward to the next Congress, which begins in January. But the current one, led by Republicans, still has a just under a couple of months to go. Is there anything they can do?

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On the surface, it doesn't seem so. The GOP lost the House, after all.

And yet, maneuvering is already taking place by both the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans following the midterm elections. The election is a reminder that some House Republicans may be out of a job, but Trump isn't.

With Congress divided, Republicans face two years of bitter battles between the Senate, which they control, and the House, which Democrats control. So the GOP can say goodbye to getting any major legislation passed through 2020. That makes the next two months, the so-called lame duck session, even more important than usual.

Can Congress achieve anything? Maybe. For one, a long list of nominees to both the executive and the judicial branch await approval.

Staffing The Judiciary

Right now, there are some 56 nominees for 135 vacant federal judicial slots. And there are also nominees to White House and executive branch posts that need to be approved. Republicans will seek to move fast during the lame duck Congress to get them all approved.

That will no doubt be a priority, since next year the House will become a very hostile place for any Republican nominee facing hearings by Democrats.

One big problem: Congress faces a deadline of Dec. 7 to pass a spending bill to keep the government open. Neither party wants to close the government now, but President Trump has threatened to do just that if he doesn't get money to build a border wall.

That might prompt Republicans to think about a grand deal on immigration. Democrats and Republicans might be willing to make a deal on funding a border wall, a Republican desire, in exchange for an "amnesty-lite" for immigrant Dreamers, a Democrat desire. Now that the election is past and the lame duck Congress is begun, the political logic of such a deal is strong.

Meanwhile, Republicans are interested in fixing some of the flaws in last year's $1.5 trillion tax cut, and possibly making it permanent. With some horsetrading, it's possible they'll cobble something together. The only question would be: What might they give up?

Meanwhile, the long-postponed farm bill, the subject of much wrangling before the election, could also find a place on the lame duck table. The 2014 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30. The Republican-led House passed a version last summer that included crop subsidies and a number of other rural programs.

A Farm Bill Fix?

But that $867 billion bill also included a House provision for tougher work requirements for food stamp recipients, a non-starter for the Democrats.

Now that the election is out of the way, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who is next in line to take over the House Agriculture Committee, said getting a farm bill passed during the lame duck session will be a top priority. "That's going to be the number one goal," he told reporters. "My sense is this is going to get worked out (in the lame-duck session)."

It seems increasingly likely, given that the Senate's version of the farm bill has much milder work requirements. A deal seems very likely.

Indeed, lots of things might happen in the coming weeks to surprise people. The duck might not be so lame after all. But is that a good thing? Not always.

"For years, lawmakers have pushed more dubious spending onto taxpayers and costly regulations onto consumers during lameducks, with little repercussion or reason to do things differently," noted Ross Marchand, director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, in the Washington Examiner.

Lame Duck Congress Lameness

Case in point: 2010, when the lame-duck Democrats hashed out an enormous spending bill that included over 6,000 earmarks costing more than $8 billion.

Of course, we're not counseling them to do foolish things. But they might be able to pluck one or two undone items on their agenda and get them passed by some clever deal-making with the Democrats, some of whom will also be going home.

But this time around, the time is tight for making deals. The House and Senate won't reconvene until Nov. 13. But while there's still nearly two calendar months left in the year, there's only 16 more legislative days. So Congress might end up looking more like "Let's Make A Deal" than a sober-minded, cost-conscious legislative body.

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The post Lame Duck Congress Still Ruled By GOP Until 2019 — Why Not Get Something Done? appeared first on Investor's Business Daily.


37. Climate Change Alarmists Suffer Huge Blow In Deep Blue Washington StateСр., 07 нояб.[−]

Global Warming: Environmentalists were hoping to score a huge victory in Washington state with a statewide tax on CO2 emissions. Alas, even liberals in Washington don't believe climate change is that big a threat.

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Before the election, glowing stories in the press talked about Washington "taking up the fight" on climate change after President Donald Trump dropped out of the Paris climate deal. The state would make history. It would be a "bellwether," and would start a trend across the country.

Carbon Tax

The initiative proposed a $15 tax on each ton of carbon emissions in the state starting in 2020, with the tax rate climbing each year. It would have cost families in the state nearly $1,000 a year by 2035.

Keep in mind that the proposed carbon tax was a tiny baby step toward what environmentalists' claim will be needed to avoid a worldwide climate catastrophe. The United Nations says we'd need a global carbon tax of up to $5,500 to achieve that.

Washington voters rejected even this minimalist step toward fighting what a large majority of them claim to believe is an existential threat to humanity.

Think about it this way. Washington is a deep blue state where Trump got less than 37% of the vote in 2016. Only six states in the nation were more anti-Trump.

Yet 56% of Washington voters rejected the CO2 tax. Only three counties in the state — Jefferson, King (where Seattle is located), and tiny San Juan — voted for the tax.

Deep Green State

This is also a deep green state.

According to a 2016 survey, more than 80% of its residents "are sure climate change is occurring." More than two thirds (69%) say they support the state's taking action to reduce CO2 emissions.

But when it came time for these voters to put their money where their mouths are, they snapped their purses shut.

Washington state was a bellwether, as it turns out. It showed how so many of those who wring their hands about "climate change" don't actually want to do anything about it.

After all, if they really believed what climate alarmists are saying — that catastrophic warming is ahead unless the entire world takes drastic actions to reduce CO2 emissions immediately — they'd do anything to stop it.

Arizona Says No

Meanwhile, in Arizona, voters soundly rejected a high-profile attempt to require state utilities to get 50% of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. (Today, 13% of the state's energy is from renewables, most of it from hydroelectric dams.)

Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer poured millions of dollars into that initiative. Fully 70% of Arizona voters opposed it.

Of course, these defeats won't stop environmentalists from trying.

But if they can't convince a liberal state like Washington that climate change is an urgent threat, what hope do they think they'll have in the rest of the country?

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38. Robert Samuelson: Can Trump And Democrats Overcome Distrust? DoubtfulСр., 07 нояб.[−]

President Trump and Congress face a mountain of unfinished business — and chances are that most of it will stay unfinished.

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Of course, no one knows what will happen, and the president and congressional leaders of both parties have made the usual noises about cooperation. "There are a lot of good things that we can do together," the president said at a press conference today.

You should take these pledges with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Here's a partial list of areas where Congress and the president might act: health care (Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, drug prices); immigration; taxes; huge budget deficits; infrastructure; adequate defense spending; and the minimum wage, to name just a few.

Some compromises can be imagined: Congressional Democrats might support Trump's "wall" on the southern border in return for Republicans backing permanent legal status for so-called DACA immigrants — children who were brought to the United States by parents or others when they were young. (DACA stands for "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." There are about 690,000 active DACA recipients.)

But the president had two years and control of both houses of Congress to arrange such a compromise. With Democrats having won the House, are the chances of achieving it now so much better? It seems doubtful. The level of mistrust is enormous.

Consider some other obstacles to cooperation.

First, there are the normal differences of ideology and political philosophy, which have grown as Congress and public opinion have become more polarized. Next, there's the hostile fallout from aggressive congressional investigations of the Trump administration, as well as the Mueller investigation; these are inevitable and bound to stoke ill-will. Finally, there's a feeling in both parties that inaction is often more politically advantageous than compromise. It's better to have an "issue" than a messy negotiation.

What might make political sense for both congressional Democrats and the president is to advance competing political agendas, not with the intent of changing policies, but with the purpose of building support for the 2020 presidential election.

Trump would concentrate on foreign affairs (where he has more independent power to act) and the economy. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats would emphasize their efforts to fortify the "safety net" and improve the economic lot of the middle class. The House would pass legislation embodying these goals, which would either die in the Senate or be vetoed by the president.

It's a plausible political strategy for both parties with one important caveat: What's good for the politicians may not be good for the country.

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

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39. George Will: Political Antibodies Are Strengthening The Nation's Immune SystemСр., 07 нояб.[−]

America's body politic has recently been scarred by excruciating political shingles, and 2018 campaigning was equivalent to acid reflux. But Tuesday's elections indicated that some political antibodies are strengthening the nation's immune system.

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Tuesday was, on balance, deflating to Democrats, who learned — or perhaps not — that despising this president, although understandable, is insufficient. His comportment caused his congressional party only slightly more than half the carnage that Barack Obama's party suffered in the middle of his first term.

The GOP depressingly ends 2018 more ideologically homogenous than it has been for 11 decades. Hitherto, it has been divided between Theodore Roosevelt progressives and William Howard Taft conservatives; between Robert Taft conservatives and Thomas Dewey moderates; between Nelson Rockefeller liberals and Barry Goldwater libertarians. In today's monochrome GOP — color it orange, for the coiffure of its Dear Leader — postures range all the way from sycophancy to adoration.

Refuted Axioms

Americans are sensibly parsimonious with their trust, preferring divided government to one party's control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. So, when the 116th Congress adjourns in autumn 2020, the nation will have completed 40 years in which one party controlled the presidency and Congress for only 10. Tuesday's results refuted two tiresome and shopworn axioms: Americans "vote their pocketbooks," and "all politics is local." This year, Americans voted their competing national aversions, some against the president's palaver, others against those he baited into carpet-chewing tantrums.

America's political dyspepsia produced 2018's surge in midterm voting, which should, but won't, sober those Pollyannas who insist that high turnouts indicate civic health. (In four German elections 1930-1933, as the Weimar Republic crumbled, German turnout averaged 84%.) Campaign spending — about $5.2 billion in House and Senate campaigns over the 2017-18 cycle; about what Americans spend every two years on Halloween candy — should, but won't, end hysteria about "too much" money spent on political advocacy.

Neither will this redundant evidence of the steeply declining utility of campaign dollars: Beto O'Rourke raised $7 million, then $10 million, then $38 million in 2018's first three quarters, and his Quinnipiac poll numbers were 44% in April, 43 in July, 45% in September, 46% in October. Tuesday he received 48.3%, and his cable-television groupies, impervious to discouragement, instantly segued to speculation about his possible presidential candidacy.

Tuesday's winners included the Affordable Care Act. Referendums in three crimson states — Idaho, Utah, Nebraska — mandated Medicaid expansion (Nebraska's Legislature had rejected it six times), which is ObamaCare's arrhythmic heart. And Republican candidates everywhere genuflected at this altar: Pre-existing conditions shall not preclude access to health insurance. Now, however, many Democrats, artists of self-destruction, might forfeit the health care ground they have gained: The 157 million Americans content with their employer-provided health insurance will rightly hear menace in "Medicare for all."

Pelosi and House Democrats

If Nancy Pelosi, the villain in 61,000 Republican ads, is elected House speaker, she will be the first since Sam Rayburn in 1955 to regain that post after yielding it. If she is not elected by House Democrats, who are indebted to her tactical canniness and prodigious fundraising, they will deserve the Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg Trophy: He was the Austrian prime minister who, when Russia sought reciprocal assistance after helping Austria suppress unrest, replied that Austria would astound the world with its ingratitude.

Having strengthened their grip on the Senate, Republicans, who two years hence will be defending 21 seats (Democrats only 12), increased the chance that if they lose the presidency in 2020 they can impede or modify Democratic initiatives. Meanwhile, the Republican Senate can continue staffing federal courts and being what it has been while Republicans controlled the House: the graveyard of House initiatives. Soon, House Democrats can perhaps pore over the president's tax returns, acquaint his minions with oversight, and even test his sincerity regarding his occasional interest in infrastructure magnificence.

John Marshall, the famously amiable future chief justice, participated in Virginia's heated debate — his adversaries included titans: George Mason and Patrick Henry — about ratification of the proposed Constitution. He later wrote, "The county in which I resided was decidedly anti-federal (against ratification), but I was at that time popular, and parties had not yet become so bitter as to extinguish private affections." Amiability could be infectious in a nation weary of politics as Henry Adams defined it in "The Education of Henry Adams" — "the systematic organization of hatreds." Someday, someone in the upper reaches of politics is going to resort to amiability, as a novelty, and his or her party will prosper.

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40. Will Democrats Overplay Their (Relatively Weak) Hand?Ср., 07 нояб.[−]

Election Results: There's no question that Democrats had a good night on Tuesday. But it was nowhere near what the resistance crowd had hoped. The question now is: Can the party resist its angry base demanding retribution, or try to act like adults and get things done?

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When it comes to wave elections, this one wasn't. Not by a long shot.

In 1994 — two years into Bill Clinton's first term — Republicans gained a stunning 54 seats to take control of the House, and 9 to take control of the Senate.

Then, in 2010 — two years into Barack Obama's first term — Republicans gained an even more stunning 63 seats in the House, and six in the Senate, in another stunning rebuke of a Democratic president.

Election Results: Not A Wave

By contrast, Democrats will, when votes are all counted, likely gain 30-some seats in the House. That's only slightly above the average midterm gains for the party out of power. At the same time, they lost two (and possibly three) Senate seats.

Given that Democrats cast this as a high-stakes election, and given the overwhelmingly negative coverage of President Donald Trump, the final result was not all that impressive.

So how will Democrats proceed, since they ran a largely empty campaign based almost entirely on stopping Trump and spreading fear about health care?

They claim to have a full agenda at the ready, including changes to campaign and ethics laws, redistricting, and voting rights. (Anyone recall those issues being top of mind with voters?)

They also say they want to take on prescription drug costs and more money for infrastructure. Those are two areas where they might find common ground with Trump. He's already taken steps to rein in drug prices, and put forward an ambitious infrastructure proposal.

Nancy Pelosi says she wants to show voters that, as The New York Times put it, "Democrats are a governing party, not the leftist mob that Mr. Trump has described — and to extend an arm of cooperation to the president after an electoral rebuke."

We'll believe that when we see it.

Work With Trump?

Democrats already had the chance to work with Trump. Instead they indulged in a two-year primal scream, fantasizing about Trump being indicted or impeached while encouraging violence against Republicans.

The idea that the party's base will allow Pelosi to suddenly make nice with Trump, or give him anything he can declare a win, seems pretty far-fetched.

As the Times put it, Pelosi faces "the challenge of reining in the most energized liberal lawmakers, for whom anything short of a presidential impeachment would be a compromise too far."

It's more than a mere challenge. The election will put hard-core leftist Democrats — like Elijah Cummings, Maxine Waters, and Adam Schiff — in charge of key House committees, complete with the ability to harass the administration with endless investigations and subpoenas.

Before the midterms, Cummings was "prepping targets — from the security clearances of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former national security advisor Michael Flynn, to digging into how former EPA chief Scott Pruitt was able to keep his job for so long — and the list is getting longer by the week," according to Politico.

Aiming for Impeachment

The left-wing Mother Jones compiled a Democratic hit list that runs the gamut from Trump's so-called Muslim travel ban to Ivanka Trump's business affairs. They will no doubt put constant pressure on Trump to release old tax returns. And despite keeping talk of impeachment under wraps during the campaign, many Democrats will be eager use any excuse to launch the process.

Pelosi also must contend with the ascendant socialist wing of the party, which wants action on things like socialized medicine (aka "Medicare for all"), job-killing minimum wage hikes, free college, etc.

Sure, Democrats realize that the election results did not provide them a mandate to overturn Trump's agenda. And they could act like a grown-up governing party. We hope they do. But we're not willing to put money on it.

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41. L. Brent Bozell: Trump's 'Racist' Ad And News JudgmentСр., 07 нояб.[−]

During the last weekend before the 2018 midterms, the media decided an ad by President Trump was "racist" and therefore refused to air it. CNN, NBC, Facebook and even Fox News took that position.

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The "star" of this commercial is Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican citizen who has repeatedly entered America illegally and who shot two California police deputies dead in 2014. In January, Fox News aired footage of Bracamontes boasting in court: "I don't (expletive) regret that (expletive). The only thing that I (expletive) regret is that I (expletive) killed two. I wish I (expletive) killed more of those (expletives)."

But CNN and MSNBC didn't cover it as news. They covered it when Trump used the footage in his ad. They didn't grieve for the families of the two dead deputies. They didn't worry about the problem of crime by illegal immigrants. They worried about Trump's tactics.

Dems and Illegal Immigrants

Trump's ad played part of the Bracamontes clip, and a narrator said: "It's pure evil. President Trump is right. Build the wall. Deport criminals. Stop illegal immigration now. Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants."

CNN's Poppy Harlow was aghast and asked, "Is this politics at its worst?" MSNBC's Kasie Hunt asked Sen. Michael Bennet for his response. "I say it's appalling. I don't say that as a Democrat or as a senator," Bennet lectured. "I say it as an American and wish that we had a president who actually was trying to bring the country together rather than dividing us."

As if former President Obama and the Democrats gave America a blissful eight years of unifying moments? Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street were about as angry and divisive as they come. But Bennet and Co. didn't have a problem in the world. These militants and anarchists were celebrated by liberals and their media adjuncts as part of a glorious progressive future, no matter how many laws they broke.

But when an illegal immigrant shoots and kills two law enforcement officers and brags about it, bringing it up is somehow divisive. Why couldn't we unite as Americans around the idea that illegal immigrants shouldn't be killing our cops? Why can't the "news" networks define that as news, and not as inflammatory content to be banned? Why doesn't the president of the United States have the right to talk about this, not by others' standards but his own?

Scaring Voters?

Then consider the newspapers. A search for Luis Bracamontes on The New York Times website finds 20 mentions in the last five years — and 18 of them are from Nov. 1 forward, centered on the new Trump ad that he debuted on his Twitter account.

The ad intersperses the Bracamontes clips with footage of the caravan of immigrants marching through Mexico. Trump's ad incorrectly states that Democrats let Bracamontes in and let him stay, when he illegally entered the country under both Democrat and Republican presidents.

But it's not the bad facts that they're finding offensive. They're too emotional to deal in facts. The ad is "racist" because it's seen as an attempt to scare white voters into choosing Republicans.

CNN's Don Lemon picked up where his network left off, saying: "this horrible guy who is a convicted cop killer, you know, mouthing things in court and smiling. It just — every racist immigrant trope that you can think of is in this ad." NBC's Peter Alexander said, "the president is facing sharp condemnation for what critics call fearmongering and racism by promoting this web video trying to terrify Republicans to vote."

Haven't CNN and NBC and the other networks just spent two years making videos to terrify everyone into voting against Donald Trump and his alleged enablers? Haven't they been divisively fearmongering about "democracy dying in darkness" through this entire presidency?

  • 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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42. Betsy McCaughey: Trump Is On Strong Legal Ground To Stop Migrant CaravanСр., 07 нояб.[−]

Former President Barack Obama is ridiculing President Donald Trump and other Republicans for vowing to stop the caravan of 4,000 Central American migrants heading toward our border. Republicans are "trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees," Obama says. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blasts Republicans for stoking "baseless fear" for political purposes.

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Baseless fear? Democrats aren't leveling with you about the welfare, health benefits and education resources these migrants will consume, if they're allowed in. Democrats are also claiming the U.S. has to let the migrants in, because they're seeking asylum. The truth is, the U.S. Constitution and federal law give the president the authority to block their entry.

Trump's critics portray migrants as families fleeing for their lives. Don't believe it. Few are legitimate asylum seekers. Mexico launched a "Make Yourself at Home" program, offering migrants shelter, food, work and schools for their kids. Most turned it down. They're heading to the U.S. for a lifestyle upgrade, knowing that uttering the words "asylum" and "credible fear" to a U.S. border agent is a get-in-free card.

More than half never apply for asylum, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They just melt into the interior of the U.S. Of those who apply, only a minuscule 8.3% qualify. These migrants are making a mockery of asylum.

Trump is halting this hoax. At the White House last Thursday, he previewed an executive order expected this week. Step one: targeting migrants who cross the border illegally.

Every month, thousands wade across the Rio Grande or scale fences, and then plead asylum if they're apprehended by a border agent. They're taken into custody briefly, released and told to appear at an immigration hearing. Surprise: They almost never do. Trump announced an end to this "catch and release" fiasco. Soldiers are laying barbed wire to deter illegal crossings, but those who get through will be detained in tent cities until their claims are heard.

Amazingly, attorneys for six Hondurans in the caravan sued the Trump administration last week for violating their constitutional rights. History shows they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan deported those trying to enter illegally and claim asylum. Reagan called the attempted mass migration "detrimental to the interests of the United States." Attorneys for the sea-faring migrants sued, but the U.S. Supreme Court backed up Reagan, ruling that the executive branch has the "discretion" to grant or not grant asylum (Sale v. Haiti Centers Council, Inc.). Illegal immigrants do not have a constitutional right to come in, period. Even to seek asylum. Whether they're on boats or in caravans.

What about migrants who line up at official border entrances instead of sneaking in? Trump skirted the issue on Thursday, but he has the authority to deny them entry. Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act gives the president broad discretion, even in the case of refugees and asylum seekers. Last year, in Trump v. Hawaii, the Supreme Court confirmed that the president can turn away aliens who are "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Using that test, who can doubt the right thing to do? Already, there are 22 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., according to new research by Yale and MIT statisticians — double what is commonly acknowledged. Federal taxpayers pay billions of dollars a year to fund community health clinics primarily used by illegal immigrants, while local taxpayers foot school bills for their children.

When migrant children lacking English skills and school experience are placed in public schools here, they drain off enormous resources. Too bad for the rest of the kids. Worse, dozens of Central American migrant children have been arrested as "suspected gang members" of the violent MS-13 street gang, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How can anyone dismiss the problems migrants are bringing to our nation? "Detrimental" is an understatement.

  • 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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43. Election Results: Can Dems Reverse Trumponomics After Winning Back The House?Ср., 07 нояб.[−]

Election 2018: As the election results show, the Senate will be Republican. The House will be Democratic. What does that midterm outcome mean for President Trump's economic policies of tax cuts, aggressive trade sanctions, immigration and deregulation? Gridlock.

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The exact numbers of each branch may not be known for days, but as of late election night, it was clear Republicans had enlarged their hold on the Senate, while Democrats had taken back control of the House.

But as it appears late Tuesday, there was no "blue wave" for the Democrats. Just a run-of-the-mill changeover, as is common in midterm elections.

As of now, it's not clear whether California Rep. Nancy Pelosi will maintain her grip on the Democratic Party in the House. Even if she doesn't, however, we can expect a number of things from Congress.

One, Pelosi or whoever leads the Democrats will seek multiple investigations of President Trump, everything from his tax returns to Russian meddling in the 2016 election to his past business dealings.

Election Results: Expect Subpoenas

Everything will be on the table. And they'll have subpoena power.

Two, and perhaps most important, there will be no Trump-friendly economic legislation to emerge from the House. Trumponomics won't come to an end, but it will be hard to enlarge its scope.

Give the Democrats credit: They ran a number of highly appealing moderates, including women as candidates, some with military experience. Smart move, taking away a key Republican strength in the midterm vote.

But as appealingly centrist as those new Democrat faces are, they will not be able to buck the increasingly far-left Democratic leadership. Key House Democratic leaders, ranging from Nancy Pelosi to Maxine Waters to Adam Schiff, are all well to the left of average Americans on economics and immigration, among other issues.

Democrats' Moderate House Newbies

In short, the newly elected House members and the dwindling handful of other moderates remaining in the Democratic Party will not be enough in number or in established power to effect major economic policy changes. Like it or not, the far left leadership rules the roost.

A Pelosi-led party, with leftists in key power posts, will try to stymie Trump's economic initiatives. A Tax Reform 2.0, making this year's tax cuts permanent? Forget about it. Build a wall? Might be tough. A hard line on illegal immigration? The House will do what it can to block any Trump initiatives. A Democratic House might try to roll back Trump's tariffs, too.

They may even try to reverse some of Trump's other unquestionably successful growth-oriented policies. But even some Obama supporters say that would be a mistake.

"The policy bottom line is clear, especially once the U.S. midterm elections are over," wrote Mohamed El-Erian, who served as an adviser to President Obama and was former CEO of PIMCO. " The priority should be reinforcing pro-growth policies, including by moving on infrastructure enhancements and modernization."

What would Democrats be halting? The last two quarters GDP growth has averaged roughly 3.8%. Unemployment is now at a 50-year low of 3.7%, while, as we reported last week, nearly 157 million people now are working. That's an all-time record. And unemployment for minorities and teenagers is at or near all-time low levels.

America's Revived Jobs Machine

Equally important, there are now more than seven million open jobs in the U.S. That's about 1.2 million more than the total number of officially unemployed. Wages at 3.1% year-over-year are growing at their fastest rate since the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Trump has slashed the regulatory burden more than any president since Ronald Reagan, and slashed taxes for the middle class and businesses. These are the main reasons why the economy suddenly reared its head and took off, and is now the most competitive economy in the world.

It's also why share prices went on a tear the day after Donald Trump, and not Hillary Clinton, won the 2016 election.

The House is more likely now to challenge the president's trade maneuvers, including tariffs and sanctions on Iran, Venezuela and China, in addition to non-stop investigations and subpoenas of White House aides. They will try to stymie any new economic initiatives Trump might have.

Voting For Gridlock

So expect Democrats in the House to try to put a hammerlock on the Trump agenda. Unfortunately for them, the Senate will be even more solidly Republican, meaning any Democratic initiatives coming out of the House is likely to die in the Senate.

And there's another thing to remember: Americans have voted for gridlocked government because, in their wisdom, they don't seem to want either party to have an upper hand. Fair enough. But it will be up to the Republican-led Senate to make the case that Trumponomics beats the increasingly far-left economics of the Democrats.

It shouldn't be hard.

Based on the IBD/TIPP Poll's Economic Optimism Index, which hit its highest level since January of 2004 in August and still remains near that almost 14-year high, Americans are happy with where the economy is. Democrats beware: Tinker with successful policies at your own political peril.

Midterm Gridlock

Again, gridlock. But President Trump will still be able to pick judges and in effect begin his 2020 re-election campaign. And, as President Obama did, he'll have his "pen and phone" — executive orders and political power of persuasion — to continue affecting economic policies at the margin.

That, and a Fed showing some restraint on interest rates, might keep the current rapid economic expansion going for a year or two more, if not longer.

Americans want divided government. Maybe markets will embrace that too, since it will bring a kind of stability to Washington's topsy-turvy politics. We'll see. But the Senate remains Republican, as does the White House. It seems like a good bet: Expect few if any major policy turns for now.

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44. John Stossel: Why Bettors Are Better Than Pundits At Predicting ElectionsСр., 07 нояб.[−]

Republicans held the Senate! Democrats took the House but by a narrower margin!

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Did I just embarrass myself?

I write this Election Day morning, before most polling places even opened. I don't know the actual results, of course.

But I'll pretend I do because I trust the betting odds.

As of Tuesday morning, ElectionBettingOdds.com, a site I co-founded, says Republicans have an 84% chance to hold the Senate and Democrats a 71% chance to retake the House.

Why trust a bunch of gamblers? Because they have the best track record!

Polls have flaws. Some people lie to pollsters or just give them what they think is the "proper" answer. Others won't even talk to them.

Pundits are worse. They often let their personal preferences skew their predictions.

Bettors are more accurate because of something called the "wisdom of crowds." It turns out that an average of many people's estimates is usually more accurate than any one person's views.

Researchers noticed that while watching the TV series "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Stumped contestants could poll the audience or call a friend.

The friends, often experts of some kind, got answers right 65% of the time. The studio audience included few experts, but the crowd got the answer right 91% of the time.

The crowd that bets on elections online (political betting is legal in Europe and at a small American futures market called PredictIt.com) works hard to get the answers right.

They look at more than polls. They factor in the latest news, try to sense the mood on the ground and research candidates' campaign tactics.

They try harder than pundits because their own money is on the line. You've met blowhards who confidently predict things until someone says, "Want to bet?" Then they shut up. People who put their money where their mouths are become more careful.

Prediction markets, or futures markets, are not new. Stock markets are prediction markets where people bet on companies' future earnings. A hundred years ago, "More money was traded in election markets than in stock markets," says economist Robin Hanson.

Then, unfortunately, governments in America banned most betting. That deprived Americans of one of the best predictors of future events.

There were a few exceptions. Fifteen years ago, U.S. officials asked Hanson to create a betting market that might predict future problems.

"The Department of Defense heard prediction markets were interesting, doing powerful things," says Hanson. "They said, 'Show us it works for stuff we do... (P)redict events in the Middle East.'"

As usual, some elected officials were horrified by the idea of people betting on things like possible terrorism. Sen. Ron Wyden stood up on the Senate floor to declare such betting "ridiculous and grotesque." The next day, the secretary of Defense declared the project dead.

So the Pentagon is deprived of predictions that might save lives. It's too bad, because bettors are just, well, better.

But not perfect. While the betting odds are almost always the best predictors, in the last presidential election they (along with polls and pundits) were wrong about Donald Trump. Bettors gave him only a 20% chance.

I shouldn't say "wrong." Twenty percent just means Trump had a 1 in 5 chance. That's not nothing.

The betting markets also got Brexit wrong. They gave it a 25% chance.

But in both cases, as election results came in, the betting odds shifted much faster than the TV coverage. It was fun watching anchors try to catch up to what ElectionBettingOdds.com already predicted on my phone.

As I write, the website says this about specific states:

Republicans will narrowly win Arizona (51% chance) and Missouri (57), and easily win North Dakota (80), Tennessee (80) and Texas (79).

By the time you read this, say bettors, Democrats will have flipped Nevada (60% chance) and held West Virginia (75), Montana (65) and New Jersey (81).

Republicans will win the Georgia governor's race (64% chance), but Scott Walker will lose in Wisconsin (59), and Florida now probably has a new far-left governor (64).

Were the bettors right?

I assume some were not. After all, a 60% chance of winning means winning only 6 out of 10 times.

Whatever way it turns out, we'll add the results to the "track record" section at ElectionBettingOdds.com.

We'll also keep tracking the 2020 presidential race.

Odds update every five minutes, but Tuesday morning the odds for 2020 were:

Donald Trump: 36.1%

Kamala Harris: 10.9%

Elizabeth Warren: 5.9%

Tulsi Gabbard: 5.7%

Bernie Sanders: 4.2%

Joe Biden: 4.1%

Unfortunately, I don't see many advocates of restrained government on that list.

  • Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed."

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45. Democrats Wrest Control Of House; Republicans Hang On To SenateСр., 07 нояб.[−]

Democrats clinched the U.S. House majority, halting Republicans' eight-year reign as voters delivered a rebuke to President Donald Trump, projections showed. Republicans have kept control of the Senate.

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Democrats surpassed the net gain of 23 seats they needed to win House control. Now the party plans to launch a string of investigations into Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential election while attempting to strike a deal on increased infrastructure spending.

The victory capitalized on Trump's persistently low approval rating, which never reached 50% in most polls despite a booming economy.

Republicans kept control of the Senate in the 2018 midterm election Tuesday and it appeared the GOP would expand its majority in the upper chamber.

Victories by GOP challenger Mike Braun over Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana and Republican Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee made it much more difficult for Democrats to make inroads. Further, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas kept his seat in a hotly contested win over Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

Stock Market Effects

It wasn't immediately clear what effect the 2018 midterm election would have on the stock market today. The anticipated "blue wave" of Democrats seizing Congress wasn't as strong as had been forecast by some.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures were all slightly higher late Tuesday. But a House victory for Democrats could have a profound effect on the biopharmaceutical industry. Both Trump and Democrats agree drug prices are too high.

In one of the first key House races to be called, Democrat Jennifer Wexton scored a victory for her party by defeating incumbent GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock in a suburban Virginia district. The district was considered a bellwether by both parties.

But there were doubtful moments as Republican incumbent Andy Barr fended off a strong challenged from Democrat Amy McGrath — a Naval Academy graduate and the first female Marine to pilot an F/A-18 Hornet in combat — in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.

There also were flickers of hope for Democrats in the Senate but they proved fleeting. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey beat Republican challenger Bob Hugin to win a third term. The incumbent was reprimanded by a Senate ethics panel after corruption charges were dismissed following a mistrial. It turned what should have been a sure bet for Democrats into a close fight.

Further, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin won in deep-red West Virginia, holding off a challenge from the state's Attorney Generla Patrick Morrisey. But losses elsewhere more than offset Democratic Senate wins.

All About Trump?

Trump's polarizing impact on the country has driven unusually high interest in the election, the first major political test of his presidency. It's one that will provide Democrats with clues to the strategy they'll need to challenge him in 2020.

The flood of political donations from interest groups and individuals will make it the most expensive midterm ever, and early signs suggest voter turnout could be the highest in half a century.

While the occupant of the White House is typically central in these elections, Trump has worked especially hard to make this the 2018 midterm election about him. Voters agree.

Two-thirds of those casting ballots said their vote was about Trump, according to preliminary exit polls posted by CNN. Also, more said they showed up at the polls to express opposition than did those who said they were casting a ballot to support him.

"As president, Donald J. Trump has headlined an unprecedented 50 rallies — 30 in the last two months alone — and he has campaigned for dozens of candidates at all levels of government," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a prepared statement Tuesday evening. "The president has energized a staggering number of Americans at packed arenas and in overflow crowds at rallies across the country."

Preliminary exit poll results reported by ABC News showed that 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for 13% of voters nationally, up from 11% in 2014. About 15% said this was the first time they'd voted in a midterm, according to CNN. About 10% said they were first-time voters in the 2016 election. That could help Democrats because younger voters tend to lean their way.

After a hectic week of campaigning, Trump spent Tuesday at the White House awaiting exit polls and final results. He was active on Twitter throughout much of the day, blasting out endorsements for Republican candidates and weighing in on the balloting.

Congressional Roadblock

With Democrats winning the House, Trump is now left without congressional support to move his agenda forward. The party has pledged to check the president's power. They also want to start a slew of investigations on matters including his tax returns. There's also Russian involvement in the 2016 election and actions by his administration.

In both Senate and House races, Democrats have focused heavily on health care and protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions.

About four in 10 voters choose health care as the most important issue facing the country. Seven in 10 say the nation's health-care system needs major changes, the exit polling shows. About two in 10 each choose the economy and immigration as their top issue. Just one in 10 say it's gun policy.

A total of 58% of voters see the country headed in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, 41% said it is on the right track, says a survey conducted for Associated Press and Fox News. The survey is separate from the traditional exit polls for the television networks.

Trump and Republicans appeared to have the economy on their side heading into the 2018 midterm election. Unemployment in October held at a 48-year low of 3.7%.

Fernando Rivera, a 53-year-old small-business owner in Miami, said he voted for all Republicans. He said he wants Congress to support Trump and his economic policies. He said since Trump has been president, he 's hired two more employees for his six-person company.

"Trump is improving the economy — that's the most important thing for me," Rivera said. "Now we just need to heal the country so they can all work together."

President's Focus

He deployed more than 5,000 troops to the border and suggested he may triple that number. His campaign team created an advertisement focused on the caravan. It was so racially charged that major TV networks pulled it.

The president's strategy of emphasizing divisive issues risks backfiring on Republican candidates. That's true especially in suburban swing districts that probably will determine control of the House. Yet it may be effective in largely rural states where he remains popular. It's also where many of the closest Senate races are playing out.

The campaign will be the most expensive midterm in history. That's according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics to exceed $5 billion.

Other records were also falling. At least 255 women were on the ballot as major party congressional candidates. The total number of women serving simultaneously may exceed 100 for the first time.

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46. Electric Scooters: Why Are So Many 'Progressive' Cities Banning Progress?Ср., 07 нояб.[−]

Regulations: There is perhaps no better example of how government thwarts free-market innovation and hurts consumers than the emergence of electric scooters. Urban commuters love them, but "progressive" local governments are busy banning them.

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The scooter phenomenon has been an economic marvel. It's a brand-new transportation model that was impossible before GPS technology, mobile-phone apps and modern battery technology existed.

And electric scooters are filling a need that nobody knew existed until recently: an easier way to go relatively short distances in urban areas.

Customers can locate a scooter with an app, unlock it with their phone, and leave it when they're done for the next user. Once people got a taste of this, demand skyrocketed.

Billion-Dollar Business

The two biggest scooter companies, Lime and Bird, are already valued at $1.1 billion at $2 billion, respectively, according to IBD's Aparna Narayanan. These companies didn't even exist two years ago.

"By 2020, CB Insights expects the bike-sharing and scooter-sharing market to reach $6 billion." Narayanan notes. (See "Electric Scooter Investment Stampede Tries To Outrun Sidewalk Rage.")

This is a prime example of how the free market works. Without any planning or government involvement, this new service exploded on the scene. As a result, commuters suddenly have a new, efficient, nonpolluting way to get around in cities.

These electric scooters are also a prime example of how governments — at all levels — thwart innovation and hurt consumers.

Rather than embrace scooters, city officials have recoiled. Several, including some of the most liberal cities in the country, have banned them outright.

In California, San Francisco banned the scooters, then let only two scooter companies operate in the city. Ventura, West Hollywood and Davis have also issued bans.

Costly Government Delays

Seattle told scooter companies they couldn't operate in the city until the government set up a permit program, which it wouldn't do until it had a bike-share program in place. But after setting that up, it still hasn't let scooters in.

(Seattle's bike-share program doesn't do its residents much good, either. The permit fees are huge. It limits the number of bike-share companies to four. And allows only 20,000 bikes to operate.)

Washington, D.C, only lets each company operate 400 scooters in the city.

This is the same sort of reactionary approach the government took to innovators like Uber and Airbnb.

Like the electric scooters, these concepts leveraged the power of smartphone apps to create entirely new businesses. But since they threatened the established order — and the fat tax revenues that come with it — city governments tried to thwart the innovations.

Private-Sector Solutions

Yes, there are issues with scooters. Some people are reckless. There have been injuries. It's not often clear where they can or should be used — on the sidewalk? On the street? But every new thing comes with risks. And besides, nobody is trying to ban cars, despite the 30,000-plus deaths they cause each year.

Even without the heavy hand of government, markets will sort most of these issues out. If nothing else, scooter companies have an interest in protecting their brand, which means they will try to find solutions regarding safety and scooters being dumped in the wrong places.

The only thing government will contribute is delay, cumbersome rules, higher costs, and less convenience.

Big-government progressives need to realize that when it comes to progress, government isn't the solution. It's the problem.

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47. 'Big 3' U.S. Cities Facing Fiscal Crisis As Unpayable Retiree Benefit Debts SoarСр., 07 нояб.[−]

Fiscal Crisis: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, America's three largest cities, have much in common. For one, they're all very cosmopolitan. For another, they're governed almost exclusively by Democrats. And finally, all three of the nation's pre-eminent urban areas are teetering on the edge of fiscal disaster.

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In a recent report, "The Financial State Of The 3 Largest U.S. Cities," the government financial watchdog Truth In Accounting (TIA) revealed just how bad these major cities' finances really are.

TIA graded all three cities for their fiscal peformance, using the familiar academic measuring stick of grades A through F. Only one, Los Angeles, didn't get an 'F'. It got a 'D'. But it's safe to say, without dramatic changes, all face fiscal crisis.

As befits its stature as America's largest and most influential city, New York's financial problems are by far the worst of the Big Three.

Due mostly to soaring unfunded retirement liabilities, "New York City's elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the city with a debt burden of $185.5 billion," the analysis said. "That burden equates to $64,100 for every city taxpayer."

New York's Debt Mountain

The city owes — wait for it — $312.2 billion total for related retirement benefits and health care funds. But of that amount, it still must find a way to make up a $156.4 billion shortfall.

No other city comes even close to that. It goes without saying that the current far-left Mayor Bill De Blasio isn't solely responsible for this mess. He's merely the most recent weak link in a long chain of New York's mayoral financial failures. It's a well-established model: Give in to public employee unions, and kick the financial can down the road.

As you might have guessed by now, Truth In Accounting gave New York a grade of 'F'. But that's only because there wasn't a lower grade to give.

For New York, this is nothing new. Back in 1975, a fiscally insolvent New York City had to massively restructure its finances and get bailed out by its creditors and the federal government. Is Big Apple Bailout, Part Deux, on the horizon?

As we noted, it's not just New York that's in trouble among the Big Three. Los Angeles, the nation's No. 2 city in population, struggles with its own financial hole related to retirement benefits — though nowhere near as large as the one that threatens to swallow New York.

L.A.'s Bad Decisions

"Los Angeles' elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the city with a debt burden of $7.7 billion," TIA said. It owes some $60.6 billion in retirement benefits, but hasn't funded $8.4 billion of is public employee pensions and $2.7 billion of its retiree health care benefits.

So every Angeleno owes the equivalent of about $6,200 to pay off all the liabilities. But while the numbers aren't huge, as in New York, L.A. nonetheless comes in for harsh criticism: "Residents and taxpayers have been presented with an unreliable and inaccurate accounting of the city government's finances," the TIA report noted.

As we noted, L.A. gets a D grade, just barely passing. Bravo.

Finally, there's the "City of the Big Shoulders" — and even bigger spending — Chicago. The city has $42 billion in debts, but only $9.5 billion to pay it off. So it's broke. Its per citizen tab for its government's profligacy is high, like New York's: $36,000 per taxpayer.

Bad Grades For Spendthrifts

That's a lot of money to owe. No surprise, Chicago, like New York, gets an 'F'. But there is a glimmer of hope: "In 2017, the Illinois General Assembly approved legislation that gradually and significantly increases the amount of money Chicago taxpayers must contribute to the city's pension plans."

So maybe Chicago, after a few more years of tightening its belt, will join L.A. with a 'D' grade.

The point is, all suffer from the same ills. Progressive governments love to spend big. And they hate to say no to big city unions, which have the power to shut down vital services or even kick politicians out of office. So for years, the pension problems have gotten worse. And spending has only risen.

Fiscal Crisis: The Cause Is Spending

More spending is no longer an option. Cities will soon face existential dilemmas, such as "do we keep picking up the garbage and clean the streets, or do we slash spending on services to pay ever increasing amounts for retiree benefits?"

It's a brutal choice, and even such well-heeled cities as New York, L.A. and Chicago don't have resources to do both. Unless these cities learn to show some fiscal discipline, we may once again, as in the 1970s, see a major U.S. city go belly up. Or a state, like Illinois. Or a commonwealth, like Puerto Rico. It won't be pretty. And it will be painful.

And remember: these are big cities, with mostly thriving economies. But dozens of large-to-medium-sized cities across the country face similar problems. The point is, it's not just the federal government that has a spending problem and serious retirement-related debt problems. Chances are, your city or state isn't far behind.

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48. Dennis Prager: Left-Wing Jews — A Jewish And American TragedyВт., 06 нояб.[−]

It is probably impossible to overstate the damage left-wing — not liberal but left-wing — Jews are doing to Judaism, Jews and America. Of course, the same can be said of the damage left-wing Catholics are doing to Catholicism and America, other left-wing Christians are doing to Christianity and America, and, most obviously, the damage the secular left-wing is doing. But since anti-Semitism is in the news, and given the prominence of many left-wing Jews, I will focus on them.

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The damage done to Jews by left-wing Jews is not new. It began at the beginning of the left with Karl Marx, the grandson of two Orthodox rabbis (his parents had undergone pro forma conversion to Christianity). He wrote one of the most anti-Semitic tracts of the 19th century, "On the Jewish Question," published in 1844. In it he wrote, among other things:

"What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering ..."

"What is his worldly God? Money ..."

"Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist ..."

"In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism."

In the early 20th century, another left-wing Jew, Leon Trotsky, who, along with Lenin, led the Bolshevik Party in Russia, was a catastrophe for Jews and for humanity. In 1920, when Trotsky was head of the Red Army, Moscow's chief rabbi, Rabbi Jacob Mazeh, asked him to use the army to protect the Jews from pogromist attacks in which tens thousands of Jews were murdered. Trotsky is reported to have responded: "Why do you come to me? I am not a Jew," to which Rabbi Mazeh answered: "That's the tragedy. It's the Trotskys who make revolutions, and it's the Bronsteins who pay the price."

That is the story of the many Jewish leftists to this day: Jewish leftists make revolutions, and all the Jews (among millions of others) pay the price.

Thus, many of the leaders of the movement to economically strangle Israel — the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement — are left-wing Jews.

A few years ago, I was invited to the world's most famous debating forum, the Oxford Union, to debate the farcical question of whether Israel or Hamas is a greater obstacle to peace in the Middle East. One of my two adversaries was a Jewish former professor at Oxford. He argued that Israel was a greater threat to peace than Hamas.

Another prominent left-wing Jew, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, has devoted his life to writing and speaking against two countries: the United States and Israel.

The security of the world's only Jewish state is by far the greatest security issue for world Jewry. Yet many left-wing Jews attack Israel, support many of those who wish to destroy Israel or, at the very least, do nothing to strengthen Israel's security.

In America today, leftism has poisoned so many non-Orthodox synagogues, they differ only from the American Civil Liberties Union or the Democratic Party in their use of Hebrew liturgy.

Many non-Orthodox synagogues sat shiva — Judaism's seven days of mourning after the death of an immediate relative — when Donald Trump was elected president. This perversion of Judaism is an example of what leftism does to every religion it infiltrates. I suspect none of those synagogues sat shiva after the murder of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh. Why? Did the election of Donald Trump bother them more? Left-wing Jews are ethnically Jewish, but their values derive from leftism (just as the current pope is Catholic in his identity but his values derive from leftism).

The current charge that the Pittsburgh massacre was caused by President Trump is one of the greatest libels in American history. Virtually every left-wing columnist and commentator has spread this lie, most of them written by left-wing Jews such as the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. One of their lies is that attacks on George Soros are anti-Semitic.

I think George Soros is a malevolent force. Am I an anti-Semite? (To answer that, let's compare what I have done for Jews and Judaism with what any of these left-wing Jews have done.) But left-wing Jews have always done this. They attributed the execution of the Rosenbergs — who, immoral leftists that they were, passed on the secrets to the atom bomb to Stalin — to anti-Semitism. The judge in the Rosenberg case was a Jew. But to left-wing Jews, that didn't matter. Ever since Stalin labeled Trotsky a "fascist," leftists have always depicted their opponents as "Nazis," "racists," "anti-Semites," "fascists," "haters" and "bigots." That is their modus operandi.

Many of these left-wing Jews base this libel about President Trump's "role" in the context of an equally libelous claim that there has been a great rise in American anti-Semitism in the Trump era — resulting in the Pittsburgh massacre — based on an Anti-Defamation League study. The study's mendacity is fully exposed by David E. Bernstein, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School and a Trump opponent, in two devastating reviews (one on Reason.com and one in Tablet Magazine). Read them and you will understand one of the most important things you need to know about the left: Truth is not a left-wing value. The ADL, which at one time was preoccupied with fighting anti-Semitism, is now preoccupied with fighting Donald Trump and fighting on behalf of the American left.

In 1970, a Harris study showed that 23% of Jewish college students termed themselves "far left" versus 4% of Protestants and 2% of Catholics.

Many of those college students are now many of the non-Orthodox rabbis and lay leaders in American Jewish life. Given the rule that whatever the left touches it ultimately ruins (the universities, for example), the Bronsteins will continue to pay the price for the Trotskys' revolutions.

  • 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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49. Stephen Moore: Five Midterm Races That Matter MostВт., 06 нояб.[−]

I've been arguing for months that the ideal outcome in the midterm elections to set up Donald Trump for a landslide re-election in 2020 is for Republicans to hold the Senate and narrowly lose the House.

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Trump is best when he has a foil to run against — and who better (other than Hillary Clinton) than one of the least-popular politicians in America, Nancy Pelosi. She won't be able to contain herself or her deranged far-left followers from pushing a litany of half-baked ideas. American voters need to see first-hand how radical the Democratic Party has become.

Divided Power

Also, one virtue of Republicans being thrown back into the minority in the House is that it will be a punishment for their spendthrift ways. If the GOP loses the House, the Republican caucus will start to act and vote in a much more fiscally conservative direction. Also, the stock market typically does better with divided power in Washington.

What's more important is that some races carry a lot more weight than others in terms of their political and economic ramifications. These five you should keep a close eye on:

1) Florida governor. No state in the nation has done better economically over the last eight years than Florida. Rick Scott has been — arguably — the best governor in America. But now he's out of the state house and Democrats have nominated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is black and leans far to the left.

He is facing off against Ron DeSantis, the conservative congressman and former Marine. This is a clear clash of ideologies in a state that Republicans must keep red. Florida is now the third-largest state, and Republicans can't win nationally without keeping a hold of the Sunshine State. If Gillum wins, taxes in Florida are going way up, and Dems will have control of redistricting after the 2020 census. The race is a toss-up.

2) Florida Senate. Rick Scott has won two razor tight races for governor and now is seeking the Senate against do-nothing incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Scott's stellar performance as governor should have earned him the goodwill of voters, but the angry left is alive and activated in gatorland. Scott is tied to Trump, so this race is a bit of a referendum on Trump's approval in the state. I predict both of these close Florida races will swing in the same direction. It's all about turnout.

Economic Free Fall

3) Connecticut governor. Connecticut is in an economic free fall, even with the national Trump bounce. The state is bleeding money and people as taxes have been raised three times in the last five years. Dan Malloy, the Democratic governor for the last eight years, presided over the tax increases and the fiscal carnage, and his departure is celebrated by most working residents.

Now the Democrats have managed to nominate Ned Lamont, who, if possible, is even more hostile to enterprise than Malloy. Meanwhile, Bob Stefanowski is a pro-growth supply-sider who wants to radically change the direction of the state by slashing the income tax and the estate tax that chases rich people out of the state, and getting government off the back of employers. He relies on Arthur Laffer, the architect of the Reagan tax cuts as his economic adviser, and former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman promises to help Stefanowski in the transition if he wins.

It's a long shot in this deep-blue state, but he's only 4 points down. If Stefanowski pulls off the upset, Connecticut could be back open for business, and it will be a long-overdue acknowledgement that Connecticut voters understand how much trouble the state is in. This would be a political earthquake in the slowly dying Northeastern region.

Republicans In Jersey

4) New Jersey Senate. This one defines whether Democrats are so hungry for power and patronage that they will actually re-elect one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington — which is saying a lot. Bob Menendez barely survived a conviction for graft when a jury failed to find him guilty. The Senate Ethics Committee reprimanded Martinez for "knowingly and repeatedly" accepting lavish gifts from donors.

This hasn't stopped the Democratic Party or its firehouse of money that is slamming into the state. The Republican Bob Hugin, a businessman, is hammering Menendez on his ethical problems — but in the solidly blue Garden State, that may not matter. The New York Times quotes Cory Booker, the other New Jersey senator, as saying Menendez is "the future of this state." Of course, that's the problem with the modern-day Democratic Party.

5) Michigan Senate. Incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, seeking her third term, is drowning in money and is beloved by the union bosses and the Washington, D.C., lobbyists. She is the candidate of the Swamp. But her opponent, John James, has suddenly become a national conservative darling. He's a former West Point grad and Iraq War vet, with a business background. He's a savvy conservative — and he's black.

It's striking that the Oprah crowd is all in on black upstart and liberal candidates in Georgia and Florida, but won't give James the time of day. James is still a big underdog, but Stabenow's lead has shrunk in recent weeks, and if James pulls off the upset or even comes close, he could be on the national stage soon. Could he be the GOP's Barack Obama?

  • 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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The post Stephen Moore: Five Midterm Races That Matter Most appeared first on Investor's Business Daily.


50. Independents: Has Unofficial 'Third Party' Become America's Political Kingmaker?Вт., 06 нояб.[−]

Independents: Who will win the 2018 midterm elections? Or the one in 2020? The fact is, we increasingly don't know the answer, despite ever-cleverer polling techniques. The reason: More and more people are choosing "Independent" instead of the traditional two parties. Today, "Independents," like it or not, constitute a de facto third party.

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This month's IBD/TIPP Poll is a case in point. Of the 900 voters we interviewed, 296 were Democrats, 274 were Republicans and 305 were Independents. Another 25 declined to say. So, by percentage, that's 32.9% Democrat, 30.4% Republican and 33.9% Independent.

This has a number of meanings from a purely polling perspective. For one thing, the political parties have become somewhat more ideological, in particular the Democratic Party. The reason for this is that many of the less ideologically pure members of both major parties — people who used to be called "centrists" or "moderates" — have abandoned the two-party system. "Independent," with all that symbolizes, feels more like home to them.

But what does it mean to be an Independent? Basically, it means to occupy a comfortable middle position between the two big parties.

Take our Economic Optimism Index as an example. Despite the ongoing and indisputable economic boom under President Trump, just 36.1% of Democrats describe themselves as optimistic. Republicans occupy the other side of the spectrum: 81.2%. Independents are right near the middle at 53.6%.

Independents In The Middle

These patterns show across our data. They even show up in questions we routinely ask each month, such as "In the next 6 months, do you think that your personal financial situation will be better, worse, or about the same as now?"

Among our respondents, just 13% of Democrats said "better," while 55% of Republicans answered that. About 41% of Independents said their own situation would be better. Again, Independents are somewhere in the middle.

Indeed, while they generally aren't enthusiastic Trump supporters, Independents aren't avid haters, either.

Most telling of all was their response to some of our questions that get at voting preferences.

For instance, we asked voters whether they would prefer a Congress controlled by Republicans or controlled by Democrats? Among all voters, 41% said Republicans, while 50% said Democrats.

For Independents, 34% said they would prefer the Republicans, while 48% said the would prefer Democrats.

We also asked the following: "If a candidate for Congress supports President Trump, does that make you more likely to vote for that candidate, (or) less likely to vote for that candidate...?"

Again, just 16% of Independents said they would be more likely to vote for a supporter of Trump, while 47% said they would be less likely.

Bad News For GOP?

If Independents aren't engaging in massive deception of pollsters, it could be bad news for the GOP. That is, if Independent voters show up at the polls. And, as we suggested, that Independents aren't shading their responses to a poll.

The point is, Independents are a mysterious bloc of voters, a kind of party without a party and with no rules, platforms or policies. Just a long list of grievances against the two official major parties. As such, the growing body of Independent voters may soon be a deciding force in American elections. Will they someday forge a third party to challenge the Democrats and GOP? Or will they find greater advantage in playing the role of spoiler and kingmaker?

Independents: Don't Ignore Them

What's funny is that both Democrats and Republicans spend so much time "shoring up their base" that they sometimes seem to forget about Independents. Strange, since they are likely to decide this year's election and many more in the future, by dint of their large numbers and outsider status. It will likely decide whether Republicans keep or lose the House this election.

"It's clear that, in most places, Republicans have solved our September enthusiasm problem. What's not clear is whether we've solved our problem with Independent voters. And that will be the difference between winning and losing in close races," tweeted GOP pollster Glen Bolger, last week.

That sounds about right. Both parties from now on will have to take this growing "party" of unaffiliated Americans into account when crafting their policies. Given the drift to the far left by the Democratic Party, Republicans would seem to have an edge in doing this. It may be a bit late for this election cycle, but they need to win future ones.

Time to start thinking about those who make up more than a third of the electorate. Or be prepared to start losing elections.

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51. Shattering The Myth Of Democratic UnityВт., 06 нояб.[−]

Democrats may soon discover what Republicans have learned: Opposition creates only unity's illusion. Although neither party desires being out of the White House, opposition has its advantages — as Republicans realized with growing Congressional numbers. Yet as opposition increases, cohesion does not necessarily. Today's Democrats are even more susceptible to this political paradox than Republicans.

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Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but opposition can make the body grow larger. At least it can if the body is a political party. Few things do that body better than a good dose of vitriol — a vitamin of amazing political potency.

Republicans discovered opposition's power during Obama's presidency. Obama's victory in 2008's election left Republicans with just 178 House seats and just 41 Senate seats (reduced shortly to 40 by party defection). Over the next six years, Republicans gained a net 68 House and 13 Senate seats — reaching a combined Congressional total unseen since Hoover — taking the House (2010), Senate (2014), and White House (2016).

However, as numbers rose, Republicans' unity did not. Confronting the Obama administration, lack of cohesion was not readily apparent or particularly important. Now having fully controlled the legislative process for two years, Republicans' lack of unity has been all too apparent and important.

What Republicans now experience, Democrats may soon — should their November numbers swell as predicted — but even more, because their disunity is even greater.

Sanders: An Avatar Of Disunity?

Their 2016 presidential nomination contest demonstrated Democratic disunity's depths. Even on the surface, the Democrats' nomination fight was contentious. Sanders, much to the Clinton campaign and Democratic establishment's chagrin, hung tough to the very end.

Yet, that split's breadth can still be missed. Clinton won 34 of Democrats' 57 contests and had 2,842 delegates to Sanders' 1,865. However overall, Clinton won just 55% of the primary votes, versus Sanders' 43%.

Eliminating non-U.S. contests, Clinton's contest total drops to just 29-22. Further, 18 of the U.S. contests Hillary won in primaries, she did not win in the general election. Of the 21 states-plus-DC that Democrats won in November, Sanders won ten.

As for delegates, Clinton owed the nomination to unelected Democrat "super delegates," who overwhelmingly chose her (570 ? to Sanders' 43 ?). Without this unelected Democratic official landslide, Clinton does not win the nomination — even if they had been apportioned based on primary votes won.

Democrats At Odds

Democrats came that close to a "hung convention," despite secret efforts to hide their split behind Clinton's nomination. Leaked emails indicted the DNC's neutrality throughout the contest. The favoritism ranged from from manipulated primary schedules, to the number of debates, to leaked debate questions.

Beneath this hidden split lie several important points.

First, Democrats' closer-than-realized contest was waged between "left-of-center" and "further left." The contest moved further left as it progressed.

Second, only about 2% of Democrat primary votes (those not going to Clinton or Sanders) fell outside this divisive range — the contest almost immediately became a two-person one embodying it. Assuming neither Clinton nor Sanders run again, Democrats have an inexperienced bench — and limited basis for bridging their division. In 2008, although Mitt Romney finished second to Senator McCain, he still won almost a quarter of the primary votes. That formed his 2012 base of support.

Democrats are more divided now and further out on the ideological spectrum than Republicans were at this point in Obama's first term. Republicans would accumulate impressive congressional numbers but not unity, as they struggled to work together — not just substantively, but even procedurally at times.

Regardless of Democrats' fortunes in upcoming elections, increased opposition numbers alone will not paper over their wide divergence. Opposition's flaw is that alone it does not drive people to anything, only away from something.

The Meaning Of Opposition

Opposition simply defines people by where they are not, not by where they are. It is easy to miss the distinction between these two very different positions. It is not an oversight limited by party, by time, or even by country, and has happened repeatedly.

It is axiomatic in Washington that being the opposition is liberating. A party is freed from the responsibility of governing, and elements — resources and agenda control, among others — that can exacerbate internal feuds. Simultaneously in America's two-party political world, they become the default landing place for all alienated from the governing party.

Yet just because the party out of power becomes a place around which opposition coalesces, that dynamic does not necessarily make it cohesive. Back in power, the centripetal forces pushing elements inward become centrifugal, pushing them outward. Republicans have been in the throes of that reversal.

Should they return, Democrats will be likewise; however, theirs will be even more virulent, because they are already more divided and removed on the ideological spectrum than Republicans were or are.

  • Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.

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52. Yes, We Are Better Off After 2 Years Of Trump, Even If Dems Won't Admit It: IBD/TIPP PollПн., 05 нояб.[−]

Midterm Elections: If you follow the mainstream news, you'd never know it, but the country is much better off today than it was two years ago, when voters elected Donald Trump as president. The proof is in the poll numbers.

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Despite the fact that the mainstream media has largely ignored the booming economy, the public hasn't. They are witnessing first hand how their lives have improved in the two years since voters handed Trump the presidency.

The latest IBD/TIPP Poll results show that people are more optimistic about the economy, less financially stressed, less worried about jobs, more satisfied with the direction of the country, and happier with the federal government's economic policies than they were in November 2016. The public also gives Trump higher marks on his handling of the economy than they did President Obama.

IBD/TIPP Poll Results

The nearby chart shows the change in attitudes about all this. It's striking not only because the improvement is across the board, but because it happened in a relatively short time, after years of stagnation.

The average for the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index under Obama, for example, was 47 (anything under 50 is pessimistic). Even if you just look at his second term — long after the recession was over — the index averaged 47.

Under Trump, it's never been under 50, and has so far averaged 54.1.

None of this was supposed to happen with Trump in the White House, mind you. At least not according his critics. His economic policies were supposed to crater the economy, we were told.

Yet here we are. Clearly better off than we were two years ago.

Dems Won't Admit it

The change in the public's mood would be even more profound if it weren't for the fact that Democrats are so virulently anti-Trump that they refuse to see what's right in front of them.

Take the question of whether the economy is improving or not. Two years ago, 81% of Democrats claimed that it was, despite all the evidence to the contrary. (GDP growth was decelerating, the stock market, wages, jobs were all flat etc.)

In the latest IBD/TIPP poll, however, just 27% of Democrats believe the economy is improving. But 92% of Republicans and 52% of independents now say it's getting better. What can possibly explain the huge gap except abject hatred of Trump?

IBD/TIPP also tracks "job sensitive" homes. In November 2016, 24% of Democrats said that either someone in their household was looking for work or worried about being laid off. Today, with unemployment at decades' long lows, that number has climbed to 31% among Democrats, while it's fallen overall.

It was 35% for Republicans and independents two years ago, but has dropped to 16% and 26%, respectively, now.

IBD/TIPP Poll Approval Rating Gap

Of course, there is one measure that hasn't improved, and that's the president's approval rating.

Two years ago, Obama scored a 53% approval rating. Trump's today is 40%.

Credit for that disparity goes largely to the mainstream media. When not ignoring the economic boom underway and the benefits it's delivering to working class and minorities, they deny Trump any credit for it.

At the same time, the press has flooded the zone for two years with hysterical anti-Trump coverage.

Trump stole the election with the help of the Russians, they said. They called him a dangerous dictator wannabe. Described him as a racist, sexist, fascist and any other "ist" you want to add to the list. He's out of control. Inept. Reckless. His presidency doomed.

True, Trump invites criticism with his tweets and his harsh rhetoric. But the truth is that, with the help of a Republican Congress, he's been delivering on his promise of a stronger and more vibrant economy. That's something Obama never did.

There can be little doubt that if the press treated Trump with even a modicum of fairness, there'd be a national celebration going on about the economy. And no talk of any Blue Wave.

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53. Midterm Election Voters Were Ready For Presidential Smackdown —  Until Democrats Scared ThemПн., 05 нояб.[−]

As the final weekend before the midterms comes to a close, the same experts who predicted that Donald Trump would today be presiding over Trump TV with his lieutenants Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon instead have given us their all but certain verdict: The House flips to the Democrats and the Senate stays in the GOP column.

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Here's why I'm not so sure they're right and that the House may stay Red by three seats: The American voter, much derided and more often than not, misunderstood, is contrary to popular opinion, incredibly sophisticated and uses his/her vote with laser-like precision in every election, but especially in midterms in a manner that keeps the big picture outcome in mind, far less focused on any particular race they may be voting on locally.

Midterm Election: Kavanaugh Factor

All politics may be local as Tip O'Neill once said. But that doesn't mean that all voters vote locally and that idea that voters vote nationally, locally, is in sharp focus this time.

Pundits who say that the Democrats made a strategic mistake with the Kavanaugh hearings may be right, but the far more serious and consequential mistake was in allowing members of Congress like Maxine Waters to talk up the prospects of impeaching President Trump if the Democrats won control of one or either chamber.

In modern American history, it's easy to see how voters have used midterm elections, ostensibly microaffairs, to nonetheless send macromessages to the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And the overriding message is almost always the same: "We like you, but not that much and just to make sure you don't get a big head we're taking some of the power we gave you two years ago, away."

Even Reagan Took A Hit

In 1982, two short years after giving a washed up actor and alleged warmonger a sweeping mandate, midterm voters gave Ronald Reagan a profound lashing at the polls with a message to "stay the course but trim the sails."

Two years later they then gave him a 525-3 electoral college trouncing of the hapless Walter Mondale, only to remind him once again two years later who was boss by taking the Senate away from him. That ensured that his ability to appoint a Justice like Robert Bork would be, well, borked.

More recently, similar dynamics were at play in 1994 and 2010 when voters delivered massive and punishing blows to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, taking away 54 and 63 seats respectively from two popular presidents who had just been re-elected two years earlier.

All of which points to the fact that, in any normal scenario, 2018 would be a year in which the American electorate would deliver a similar slapping of the hand of President Trump. In fact, it could be argued, his unorthodox and sometimes unrestrained behavior on social media and elsewhere may call for an even stronger pushback by voters who are always ready to deliver gut checks to presidents they've just elected.

And it's clear that voters were preparing to do just that until the very real scenario of at least two years of impeachment hearings and endless Congressional investigations backed by subpoena powers began to become a serious possibility.

Gavel-Wielding Trump Haters

So faced with the Hobson's choice of giving President Trump a stamp of approval for his behavior on social media and elsewhere versus enduring years of congressional investigations and gavels in the hands of Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings, Nancy Pelosi and Jerrold Nadler, voters May very well hand President Trump the slimmest possible majority in the House that they hope will send him a message: That they're only sparing them the brushback pitches they gave to Reagan, Clinton and Obama because the alternative of gavel-wielding Trump haters intent on bringing him down is worse for them and the country.

And when the dust settles from the midterm election on November 7th and if the GOP has a 219-216 majority in the House, those alleged hicks and hayseeds in fly-over country will once again have proven how incredibly sophisticated and savvy they truly are, as they carefully calibrate their votes in local races across the country to send national messages in a manner that checks politicians on both the Left and the Right and reminds them that they, and not their representatives in Washington, run the show.

  • Joseph is film producer and commentator. His next film is "No Safe Spaces," starring Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager.

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54. The Fight For $15 Sets Its Sights On A $20 Minimum WageПн., 05 нояб.[−]

Has the Fight for $15 set its minimum wage aim even higher?

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In Oakland, voters will consider Measure Z, which would set a minimum wage as high as $20 an hour — that's $40,000 a year, full-time — for the city's hotel employees. In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors recently reached a deal to fund a minimum wage of up to $18.75 for an in-home support worker in the city. (Employees of nonprofit city contractors will also see their pay floor rise about $15.)

This trend isn't limited to the West Coast. Last month, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a $19 minimum wage for 40,000 airport workers at Newark, Kennedy, and LaGuardia airports. The lobbying campaign was the handiwork of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), whose members praised the policy using quotes that were nearly identical to those they used to support $15: "Making $19 an hour means I won't have to constantly look for that second job just so I can make ends meet."

Labor unions have a history of beta-testing new wage floors in targeted industries or locales before advocating for broader requirements. In Los Angeles, for instance, a hotel-specific $15 minimum wage was the precursor to a citywide wage requirement that was enacted the following year. Those citywide ordinances in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere then set the stage for a new statewide pay floor.

The current pay demands in the $18-$20 an hour range will likely inform the political feasibility of new minimum wage demands in the years ahead. But political feasibility doesn't correspondent with economic feasibility. Predictably, minimum wages set at a historically unprecedented level have caused significant consequences for employers and employees who are unable to offset the higher costs through higher prices.

The Bay Area has faced an unusually high rate of closures in the hospitality industry. The owners of a now-closed coffee shop in Berkeley, Calif., described their frustration: "We have tried a number of strategies to increase our revenue and profit in anticipation of (a higher minimum wage), but have been largely unsuccessful. …We introduced new offerings and as a last resort, raised prices. The result of the price increases has been lower volume and relatively flat sales revenue." (Dozens of additional stories are available at The Faces Of $15 website.)

They're not alone in facing this predicament: A study released last year from economists at Harvard University and Mathematica Policy Research identified a spike in restaurant closures following each $1 increase in the Bay Area's minimum wage. My organization's analysis of federal data found that cities such as San Francisco — where labor costs are high and tips aren't counted toward an employee's wage — have 20% fewer tipped servers per full-service restaurant. (This trend was memorably captured in a New York Times article this summer about the "fine casual" trend where customers serve themselves at nice restaurants.)

A shifting of the minimum-wage goal posts was inevitable. Once California decided to embrace a $15 minimum wage statewide, there was little chance that the Bay Area's liberal locales would leave their own wage floor at the same level as Redding or Bakersfield. But what happens if the already-harmful Fight for $15 becomes the Fight for $20 or $25? A local, state or federal government can still decree that every job must pay a "living wage." But the employees whose skills don't justify it may find themselves without any wages at all.

  • Saltsman is research director at the Employment Policies Institute, which receives support from restaurants, foundations and individuals.

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55. Robert Samuelson: The Fixation On Trump Makes This Election A Wasted OpportunityПн., 05 нояб.[−]

We'll know soon who won the fiercely contested midterm elections, but we already know who lost: We all did. This election has been a referendum on President Trump, which suits both Republicans and Democrats just fine. Democrats are betting that the public has increasingly tired of Trump's lies and his vile style. Trump and his supporters believe that Democrats are again underestimating his popular appeal.

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What's been missing is any realistic engagement with the difficult issues facing the country. In democracies, elections serve not only to select the country's leadership.

They also aim to gauge public opinion on the hard issues and to see whether some sort of consensus is possible. The present campaign has featured very little of this constructive politics.

Three Difficult Issues

What are some of the difficult issues? There's no secret.

Start with budget deficits. In fiscal 2018, the gap between federal spending and revenues was $782 billion, nearly 4% of gross domestic product (GDP). That's up $116 billion from 2017. Based on current spending and taxes, the Congressional Budget Office expects large deficits forever.

With a 3.7% unemployment rate, no one can attribute these deficits to a weak economy. Put simply, Americans want more government benefits and services than they're willing to pay for in taxes.

Next, there's immigration. The "wall" is a symbol for both sides. Opposition allows Trump to accuse Democrats of favoring "open borders," raising the specter of a country overrun by foreigners. For pro-immigration groups, the wall symbolizes the simplicity and cruelty of Trump's policies, highlighted by the separation of children from parents.

Finally, global warming. For many Americans, this is the great moral issue of our time. But their fervor is not a policy, and the target of preventing global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), measured from the pre-industrial era, is enormously difficult — probably impossible.

What these three difficult issues have in common is this: They're all politically explosive.

Take the budget. To eliminate the existing deficit would require tax receipts to increase by nearly 25%. Or we could reduce spending by a similar amount — that's nearly $800 billion. The cut would exceed all military spending. Of course, we could also do nothing and gamble that permanently large deficits won't someday cause a huge financial crisis.

Missing Debate

All the choices are bad. We should be debating the role of government and how it can be financed. Instead, our political leaders are making proposals that would worsen deficits. Trump backs more tax cuts; Democrats advance expensive new health benefits and guaranteed jobs for all.

Or consider immigration. As a society, the United States has a decent record in assimilating millions of newcomers. But — as today's turmoil demonstrates — too much immigration can fracture society and radicalize politics. The magnitude of immigration is undeniable. One in four people living in the United States is either an immigrant (41 million, 13% of the population) or the U.S.-born child of immigrants (37 million, 12%), reports a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Against that backdrop, reasonable compromises should be possible. We ought to be debating the terms: a path to citizenship for most of today's illegal immigrants; some sort of wall; strict penalties on employers for hiring illegals; a switch from family connections to skill-based immigration.

Touch Choices

Similarly, any realistic effort to deal with global warming would be difficult and, quite probably, unpopular. Stabilizing the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would require replacing virtually all fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas), which now supply roughly four-fifths of the world's energy. Prices would rise; and government regulations would become more intrusive.

Candor would have compelled our political leaders to warn us that sensible policies — on the budget, on immigration and even climate change — require patience and sacrifice. We no longer have the luxury of simply ignoring what we don't like or what we find inconvenient or expensive.

This is, of course, among the hardest challenges facing democracies: to accept short-term costs for long-term gains. Under the best of circumstances, it would be difficult to achieve. Politicians want to win. By and large, they tell voters what voters want to hear, even if it is exaggerated, selective or dishonest.

But the fixation on Trump and his antics turned a longshot into an impossibility. It destroyed the prospects of anything resembling rational debate. Indeed, public opinion may be worse informed at the end of this campaign than at the beginning. In this sense, the campaign may have been wasted.

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

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56. Dems Open Up A Big Lead On Eve Of Midterms, But Trump Gets High Marks On The Economy: IBD/TIPP PollПн., 05 нояб.[−]

With voter interest in the midterm elections at historic heights, Democrats opened up a 9-point lead over Republicans on the question of who should control Congress after the midterm elections, while President Donald Trump's approval rating remained unchanged at 40%, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll.

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The two top issues for voters in the midterm elections are the economy and health care, which benefit each party. The poll also found that Trump still hasn't closed the deal with the public on his trade policies.

There's no question that the interest in the midterm elections is incredibly high for both Democrats and Republicans. The IBD/TIPP poll, conducted from October 25 through November 3, finds that 74% of respondents say they're more interested in the current election than previous ones.

The poll found that 50% of likely voters say they'd prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats, with 41% saying they want Republicans to keep control, for a net Democratic lead in this "generic ballot" question of 9 points, which is up from 2 points last month (Dems 45%, GOP 43%).

Economy Helps The GOP

However, on the plus side for Republicans, Trump's net approval rating remained steady at 40%, while the share who disapprove of his job performance dropped a point to 53%. His net favorability rating gained slightly as well, to -14 (40% favorable to 54% unfavorable) from last month's -16.

Trump also gained 1.9% on the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index, which includes several questions on leadership and favorability and provides a broader measure of the public's assessment of his presidency.

Another benefit for Republicans: The economy ranks at the top of the list of voter priorities, with 77% of likely voters saying it was of high importance when making their decision on which candidate they'll support. The economy is also one of the top priorities for independent voters, the IBD/TIPP poll found.

Trump and congressional Republicans have clear bragging rights over the current economic boom and the spate of good economic news, including strong GDP growth, faster-than-expected job creation and rising wages.

Trump gets high marks on his handling of the economy, with 47% giving him an "excellent" or "good" rating (up from 46% last month), and just 35% giving him poor marks. More than half the public (56%) say the economy is improving.

In contrast, Democrats have offered no concrete proposals on the economy, and have promised to roll back his pro-growth tax cuts and deregulatory efforts.

"Trump gets top marks for his handling of the economy and creating jobs," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which directs the IBD/TIPP Poll. "The economy has been a decisive issue, and Americans have always voted with their pocket books."

"Importantly, Trump's strength on this issue might not be fully captured by pre-election polling before the midterms, and has the potential to produce a few positive surprises for the GOP on Tuesday," Mayur said.

Trade and Immigration

On the other hand, Trump still hasn't closed the deal with the public on immigration or his trade policies.

On immigration, the majority of the public still opposes building a wall along the southern border (53% are against, 43% support). That's despite the intense focus by Trump in recent weeks on the thousands-strong caravan moving toward the U.S./Mexican border. Not surprisingly, 87% of Democrats oppose the wall, while 85% of Republicans back it. But 57% of independents oppose building the wall, and just 38% support it.

Nor has Trump convinced the public that his trade policy is helping the economy.

Fewer than one quarter of those polled (23%) say that tariffs are helping the economy, while 44% say they're hurting it. Even among Republicans, fewer than half (42%) say Trump's tariffs are helping. Among independents, the split is 20% helping and 45% hurting.

And a substantial majority (72%) say they're worried that tariffs will raise prices, including 70% of independents and 55% of Republicans.

However, 72% of the public say China is engaged in unfair trade practices that hurt U.S. workers.

Midterm Elections and Health Care

Another sign of trouble for Republicans is the fact health care ties the economy as a top concern of voters, with 77% listing it as very important to their voting decisions.

Democrats have made attacks on Republicans over health care the focus of their midterm campaigns. They claim — inaccurately — that Republicans will take away protections against pre-existing conditions for health insurance. And Republicans, after having failed to repeal and replace ObamaCare, have been largely playing defense on the issue.

The other issues, in order of important to voters: national security (which 72% say it is of high importance), the Supreme Court (70%), Immigration issues (66%), trade and tariffs (59%), and climate change (50%).

But there were wide differences on these rankings based on party affiliation.

National security comes at the top of the Republicans' list of concerns (89% said it was of high importance), the economy came in a close second at 87%.

For Democrats, health care tops the list (85% say it's of high importance), followed by climate change (79%).

Among independents, health care ranks No. 1 (78% say it's of high importance). Economy/jobs comes in a close second at 73%.

"The deciding issues for the midterm election depends on which party you belong to. Democrats say health care and climate change are their top two issues; Republicans cite national security, and economy and jobs are most important to them. Health care, economy and jobs are the top issues for independents," said Mayur.


Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the latest poll from October 25 through November 3. It includes responses from 900 adults nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. The "generic ballot" question and ranking of issues by importance were asked of a subset of 798 adults deemed to be likely voters. ( Toplines from the 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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Midterm Elections Question: Are You Better Off Than You Were Two Years Ago?

IBD/TIPP: America's Most Accurate Pollster

Presidential Approval, Direction Of Country

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57. Trump Job Approval, Direction Of Country: IBD/TIPP PollПн., 05 нояб.[−]

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 job 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

Yes, We Are Better Off After 2 Years Of Trump, Even If Dems Won't Admit It: IBD/TIPP PollMidterm Elections: If you follow the mainstream news, you'd never know it, but the country is much better off today than it was two years ago, when voters elected Donald Trump as... Read More

Presidential Leadership Index: Overall

The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index rose 1.9% to 43.9 in November, the second monthly gain in a row for Trump. The highest reading Trump has scored on this index was in his first full 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 2.7% in November), job approval (up 0.2%), and whether he is providing strong leadership (up 2.4%).

Presidential Job Approval

The November poll found that President Trump's job approval held steady, with 40% approving of the job he's doing. Fifty three percent say they disapprove of the job he's doing, down a point from October, when 54% disapproved.

Direction Of The Country

The Direction of the Country Index was essentially unchanged in November, climbing 0.7% to 45.4, from October's 45.1. The index is currently above its 17-year average of 41.7, and even further ahead of the 37 average during President Obama's eight years in office.

Quality Of Life

The Quality of Life Index continued to sea-saw in November. It dropped 7.9%, largely wiping out the gains from October. Even with the November drop, it is well above the average for this index under President Obama, which 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 dipped 1.5% in November to 46.7. It remains above 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 immediately after 9/11, when it hit 74.9.

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58. George Will: The Madness Of College Basketball Goes Well Beyond MarchВс., 04 нояб.[−]

Until last week it seemed that the Division 1 college basketball industry could produce nothing more risible than its pieties about cherishing the amateurism of the "student-athletes" who generate, but get mere crumbs of, the industry's billions. Last week, however, a New York jury, which perhaps had a sense of humor, embraced this novel argument by the federal government: Basketball factories such as Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina State are actually victims of the operatives — representatives of shoe companies, and actual or aspiring agents — who use unsavory methods to direct "blue chip" recruits to the schools' lucrative basketball programs.

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The three men convicted of fraud and conspiracy in the first of at least three similar trials face imprisonment because of this supposed crime: The three schools mentioned above gave athletic scholarships to five elite recruits whose families had received — presumably, but perhaps not really, unbeknownst to the schools — through the three men (one of them a former consultant for Adidas shoe company) payments, one of $90,000, to purchase their help in directing their sons to those schools, which receive much larger payments to advertise, by wearing, Adidas gear. (Nike and Under Armour also compete in the auction for schools' allegiances.)

Might the federal government's finite law enforcement resources serve more deserving victims? And why is it a federal crime to evade the NCAA's lackadaisical enforcement of its nonsensical rules by paying families?

About schools maintaining (to borrow a phrase from politics) "plausible deniability" about the meat market in tall teenagers, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins notes: "Defense attorneys presented text messages between [former Adidas consultant T.J.] Gassnola and Kansas coach Bill Self that showed the coach was well aware of Adidas' efforts to steer recruits to him, if Geor the method. Gassnola assured Self that Adidas was 'here to help' in getting players for the school, which was finalizing a 12-year, $191 million sponsorship deal with the sneaker company." Not bad compensation for Kansas-the-victim.

An NBA program announced last month might somewhat diminish college basketball's stench, which the NBA made worse with its 2005 rule that teams could not sign players younger than 19. This created the "one and done" charade of players sort of attending, say, Kentucky for one season, then turning pro. Elite 18-year-olds will now be able to receive $125,000 for a season in the NBA's developmental G League, draining some talent from the pipeline sustaining the cartel of college basketball powerhouses.

Perhaps schools should give candor a try, paying their basketball and football players as value-adding employees who create almost all of the $8 billion that college sports generate. Undergraduate music majors are not forbidden to earn money with their talents while in school. Kentucky head coach John Calipari's salary is $8 million, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski's is $9 million, and 44 other head coaches earn more than $2 million, so perhaps something could trickle down to the "student-athletes" who now receive only tuition, room, board and small cost-of-living stipends. Taylor Branch, writing in The Atlantic in 2011, noted that the NCAA minted the phrase "student-athlete" to deflect the threat of injured athletes making workers' compensation claims.

In a California trial (a ruling is pending), some former athletes challenged the NCAA's strict price controls on labor as antitrust violations that prevent competitive bidding. Amazingly, the NCAA manages to say with a straight face: "Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority." To which journalist Patrick Hruby, writing in The Washington Post, responds: "A 2015 survey found that athletes in the Pac-12 conference spent an average of 50 hours per week on their sports and were often 'too exhausted to study effectively.'" And: "A University of Georgia assistant men's basketball coach taught a course, mostly for his players, with a final exam that began by asking: 'How many goals are there on a basketball court?'"

The lesson of this tawdry story is that if you graft a multibillion dollar entertainment industry onto academic institutions, the discordance will leave the latter soiled and the former indulging in shady practices that serve the pretense that the industry is somehow something other than it is. The sentencing of the three men convicted last week is set for March 5, two weeks before the NCAA basketball tournament, which CBS and Time Warner pay nearly $1 billion a year to televise. It is called March Madness. Actually, the madness is a 12-month-a-year, every-year business.

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59. The Deplorables' 'Yuuge' Jobs WinПт., 02 нояб.[−]

Deplorables Boom: The much-stronger-than-expected jobs report showed once again why presidential promises matter. Under current policies, the so-called deplorables are having their day when it comes to jobs and wages. Wasn't that what Donald Trump promised in 2016?

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Yes, October's jobs numbers were real humdingers. Not only did companies hire 250,000 workers, but unemployment remained at 3.7%, a 50-year low, for the second month running. Some 711,000 people rejoined the workforce during the month. The total number of Americans employed, now at 156.562 million, also set another record. And no major industry cut jobs last month. None.

Today, as we noted recently, there are some 7.1 million job openings, but just over 6 million unemployed. There are in fact more jobs now than there are job-seeking workers to fill them. That's something that's never happened before.

Deplorables Have Their Day

All great news. But what about those that Trump promised in 2016 to "make America great again"? Those in the middle of the country, minorities, factory workers, average people? They're doing perhaps best of all.

Let's look at the numbers. Since Trump gained office, 4.4 million new jobs have been created. A big slice of that came from manufacturing. We were assured by any number of experts in recent years that manufacturing was "dead." But in October some 32,000 new manufacturing jobs were created, for a total of 446,000 since Trump took office.

Boom Times For Factories

If you're a factory worker, these are the best times in years. Indeed, since Trump entered office, 19,000 new factory jobs have been added every month. In the previous four years, the average was 8,000 a month.

Those who earn a weekly paycheck have discovered something unusual. Their pay is actually rising. Weekly earnings during October grew 3.4% from a year earlier, while average hourly earnings increased 3.1%, the fastest since 2009. If you were a production or nonsupervisory worker, your earnings rose even faster, by 3.2%

Teen unemployment has been a chronic problem. But it now stands at just 11.9%. That's the lowest since December of 1969, the year Woodstock took place.

Minority Workers: Record Jobs

OK, but what about minority workers? In October, the unemployment rate for Hispanic-Americans stood at just 4.4%. Go ahead and look back at the records. It's never been that low before.

African-American unemployment, meanwhile, stood at 6.2% for the month — only a few tenths of a percentage point above the all-time low of 5.9% set last May.

Asian-American joblessness remained at an ultralow 3.2%, also near its record low.

Yes, these are great times for all those forgotten Americans that Hillary Clinton once dubbed "deplorables." Indeed, the economic surge since Trump took office could justifiably be called the Deplorables Boom.

How can we keep this Deplorables Boom going? Simple. Make the tax cuts permanent. Keep deregulating the economy. And encourage the Fed not to hit the brakes on interest rates and send the economy into a fatal skid. So easy even Washington can do it.

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60. Why Do Democrats Pretend Voter Fraud Doesn't Exist?Пт., 02 нояб.[−]

Midterm Elections: As people go to vote on Tuesday, they will be counting on the system working properly. Which means only those eligible to vote will do so. Unfortunately, as recent cases show, that's not always the case.

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In August, the Justice Department announced the prosecution of 19 foreign nationals for illegally voting in North Carolina. Some of them voted in multiple elections.

97 Cases In Texas This Year

Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton decided to crack down on voter fraud before the midterm elections. So far, he's prosecuted 33 people for 97 counts of voter fraud this year alone. Among the discoveries was a voter fraud ring that had received financial support from the former head of the Texas Democratic Party.

Pennsylvania let thousands of noncitizens register to vote, many of whom have since voted, according to reporter John Fund, who has been following this issue for years.

The Heritage Foundation has a database that now includes 1,165 cases of election fraud across 47 states. More than 1,000 of them resulted in criminal convictions.

Yet there are those — mostly Democrats and mainstream journalists — who continue to insist that voter fraud is a myth. The New York Times' Glenn Thrush once declared, for example, that "there is essentially no voter fraud in this country."

When shown concrete examples, the response is usually "well, it's not widespread."

But that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of elections. You don't need "widespread" voter fraud to change election outcomes, just small-scale efforts targeted on tight or consequential elections.

Solutions Are Simple

The fact is that committing voter fraud isn't all that difficult, but minimizing it is easy. Cleaning up registration rolls, enacting voter ID requirements, using paper ballots, and implementing better controls on early and absentee voting would make non-citizen voting and other forms of fraud virtually impossible.

Critics of such efforts say that they will only serve to suppress the vote of minorities and the poor — that is, voters who tend to vote Democratic. They want to make it easier and easier to register and vote.

But there's no evidence that voter ID laws suppress turnout. In fact, of 11 states that adopted strict voter ID laws, nine either saw increased turnout in 2016, or had turnout rates higher than the national average, the Heritage Foundation notes.

Nor does cleaning up registration rolls, aggressively pursuing voter fraud cases, using paper ballots, or other measures to ensure the integrity of the ballot suppress legitimate voters.

Those who say voter fraud is no big deal should realize something. Every single vote cast fraudulently cancels out one legitimate vote. They need to ask themselves how they'd feel if it was their vote being canceled.

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61. Bondage: The Red/Blue Divide In State BorrowingПт., 02 нояб.[−]

From the differing entertainment tastes of red- and blue-state residents to the distinctive ways that Republican and Democratic local governments manage fiscal affairs, America's political divisions are evident in many areas.

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A new study ranking states by how much debt they carry illustrates another contrast. Those states where Democrats are firmly in control have far more debt, even when adjusted for population size, than Republican-controlled states. So-called red states are also better prepared to deal with their debt when the next fiscal storm arises because they've accumulated more of a financial cushion than Democratic states.

The study, by the American Legislative Exchange Council, found that states have incurred some $1.1 trillion in debt through "a diverse array of bond obligations." Seven big states — California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington — account for half the total.

That's not surprising, given the size of these states, but comparing all states by debt per resident is revealing. Eight of the 10 states that have amassed the most debt per resident — including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New Jersey — are categorized by Gallup as solidly Democratic by political affiliation. The only firmly red state on the list of those with the most debt is South Carolina, ranked tenth in debt per resident, at $5,234. Alaska, a state that Gallup classifies as "leaning" Republican, tops the list, at $10,576.

States on the bottom of the list — that is, with the smallest debt per resident — are solidly Republican. With just $112 in debt per resident, Wyoming borrows the least. Six other Republican states also rank low on this measure, including Florida, Tennessee and Nebraska.

10 Least-Indebted States: All Republican

Gallup judges three other low-debt states — Arizona, Colorado, and Missouri — as neither red nor blue, regarding them as neutral or "competitive." Among the 10 states with the least amount of debt per resident, none is Democratic.

Debt becomes a bigger worry when states don't have adequate reserves to cushion themselves against financial downturns. Having lots of debt and little cash in the bank is the worst of both worlds. Here, too, the states show significant differences, according to research by Pew.

While Alaska has the most debt, it also has the most cash stashed away, and could operate for more than a year solely on its reserves. Seven Republican-leaning states rank among the top 10 in terms of how long they could keep their governments running with the cash they've stockpiled — including Wyoming, Nebraska and Texas. By contrast, the three states with the smallest cash-reserve cushions are politically neutral Pennsylvania and Democratic-controlled New Jersey and Connecticut. Republican states with small cash reserves include Kansas and Kentucky.

Debt in itself is not a problem. Prudently managed, it can be a useful tool for government, especially when borrowed money builds roads or schools that taxpayers will use for generations. Theoretically, if states are spending their borrowed money wisely, it should show in the quality of services.

In many states, though, that's not the case. Consider infrastructure, an area where governments have long used debt to finance projects. The financial-news company 24/7 Wall St. aggregated reports on the conditions of roads and bridges in all 50 states as judged by transportation experts, and then ranked states from best to worst.

State Debt And Infrastructure

Some of the states with the worst-ranked infrastructure have also done the most borrowing, including Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and California. And a number of low-debt states — including Florida, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota — boast high-performing infrastructure.

These rankings might seem mystifying until one looks at how some states spend money, including borrowed money. Take New Jersey. After the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that the state must finance the rebuilding of decaying urban public schools, Trenton borrowed $8.6 billion for that purpose, including, at the urging of legislators, several billion for schools in well-off suburban districts.

The state then handed over much of that money to an agency, the School Construction Corp., which awarded no-bid contracts to firms that contributed to then-governor Jim McGreevey's political war chest, required expensive union labor on projects, and ignored standard safeguards designed to restrain costs. Building schools at nearly twice the typical cost, the authority ran out of money before completing half its work, forcing New Jersey to borrow another $3.9 billion to complete the court-ordered task. State residents will be paying it off for decades.

The New Jersey case shows how borrowing can be abused, providing a pot of money for governments to run up bills without ensuring that the funds are effectively spent. Taxpayers are the losers.

  • Malanga is the George M. Yeager Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and senior editor of City Journal, whose autumn issue this essay was adapted from.

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62. Democrats Bet Their Midterm Fortunes On Failed Health Care PolicyПт., 02 нояб.[−]

Health care has been the most-mentioned issue in Democratic advertisements in the run-up to this month's midterm elections. Many Democrats are making Medicare for All the centerpiece of their pitch to voters.

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Clearly, Democrats didn't learn their lesson in 2010, when their previous effort at government micromanagement of the health care sector — ObamaCare — cost them their House majority.

By supporting single-payer, Democrats are doubling down. Apparently, the problem with ObamaCare wasn't that it rendered health insurance unaffordable for millions. It's that it didn't inject enough government into the health care marketplace. Only a full-scale federal takeover of one-fifth of the economy will do.

That would be calamitous for patients and taxpayers.

It wasn't long ago that Democrats saw health care as a political liability. In 2010, a mere 6% of the party's midterm advertisements brought up ObamaCare. Some of those spots were openly critical of the policy. Yet going into this year's vote, nearly half of the party's ads mention health care.

ObamaCare's Many Failures

What has changed? For starters, the public has tired of the spiraling premiums and dwindling choices available under ObamaCare. Many are now open to more radical brands of health care reform, including single-payer. Seventy percent of Americans say they support Medicare for All, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll from this summer — up from less than half before ObamaCare passed.

Democrats are attempting to cater to this polling with calls for Medicare for All. A strong majority of House Democrats now support the policy, as do many presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Voters might be enticed by the promise of "free" health care. But their enthusiasm will fade once they see the true cost of a single-payer system. A Medicare-for-All reform would cost the federal government $32.6 trillion over the program's first decade, according to the Mercatus Center. The left-leaning Urban Institute's estimate is similar — about $32 trillion.

Even doubling federal corporate and income tax receipts would be insufficient to cover the cost of Medicare for All. And that's charitably assuming providers acquiesce to the payment cuts the bill envisions — 40%, relative to private insurance rates.

Medicare For All, Good Care For None

So much for "free" health care.

Eventually, the government will have to take drastic measures to rein in the cost of a new multitrillion-dollar Medicare for All entitlement. Other countries that have faced the same pressures under their government-run systems have turned to rationing.

Look at Canada's single-payer system, where the median wait for treatment from a specialist is more than 21 weeks after referral by a general practitioner. In some specialties, delays are longer still. The median wait time for orthopedic surgery was more than 10 months in 2017, according to the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank.

They pay an awful lot in taxes for those waits. The average family of four spends about $13,000 in taxes just for health care.

Many Canadians opt to leave the country rather than waiting in line. In 2016, more than 63,000 Canadians sought treatment abroad.

Britain's Health Care Blues

In the United Kingdom's government-run health system, the National Health Service, rationing is an unfortunate fact of life, too. According to research from the Royal College of Anesthetists and University College London, the NHS cancels one in seven major surgeries on the day of the operation. Those cancellations stem in part from the shortage of hospital beds and professional health care personnel the country faces.

Another analysis found that the NHS usually provides just one-third of the recommended therapy for stroke victims. That puts patients at serious risk of disability.

It's no wonder that the British royal family has refused to use the NHS when its members' health has been on the line. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and her sister Pippa Middleton have all had their children at the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London. Prince Philip similarly opted to have his hip surgery done at a private hospital.

It's unclear whether Democrats' embrace of single-payer will help them at the ballot box. But it's quite clear that their planned government takeover of the U.S. health care system would cost taxpayers a fortune and deny patients high-quality care.

  • 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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63. Credit Supply-Side Trumponomics For Revived Wage, Productivity GrowthПт., 02 нояб.[−]

Wage Growth: For years we've heard non-existent wage growth would be the new normal. It became a prominent feature of the economic landscape during the Obama years. Workers were becoming superfluous, we were told. Now unemployment is near 50-year lows and wages are rising quickly. It isn't a fluke or an accident. It's a result of policies that worked as intended.

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This week, we found out that in September total compensation for private-sector workers rose 2.9% from a year earlier, before accounting for inflation. That's the fastest pace since late 2009.

If you count just wages and salaries, and exclude benefits, workers' pay is up 3.1% from a year earlier, the fastest since 2008. Since consumer prices rose 2.3% year over year, that means many workers are getting ahead of the cost of living for the first time in years.

Meanwhile, Sentier Research reported that median annual household income grew 3.7% in September from a year earlier, to a new record high of $63,007.

Many in the media and on Wall Street attribute this to the "tight labor market" or some such platitude. While that's in part true, it goes beyond that.

Wages And Productivity

Because, at the same time the wage data came out, another equally telling report emerged: Productivity. It showed that productivity grew 2.2% in the third quarter, after jumping 3% in the second quarter. That was the fastest burst of productivity growth in four years.

By comparison, since World War II, productivity has grown by an average of about 2% a year. It was why the American economy performed so well during that time. But since the end of the Internet boom in 2000, productivity has slowed to about 1% or so.

It's no accident productivity has "unexpectedly" turned around. And if you were looking for proof that Trumponomics is working, the recent productivity data provided it.

Productivity typically begins rising when businesses invest in new equipment and training for their workers, in pursuit of new products, new markets, new innovations. Productivity, as the cliche goes, is the secret sauce of all successful economies.

And productivity is the real reason why workers are getting wage hikes. Trained workers are worth more in our new, fast-growth economy.

But beyond even that, as economists will tell you, the rate of growth of productivity, the rate of growth of business investment and the rate of growth of your labor force essentially define the speed limit of your economy. All three are rising right now.

Wages Under Obama

During the Obama years, labor force growth slowed to well below 1% a year, while productivity grew at just 1%. Wage growth was exceedingly slow. These alone explain why the economy never managed 3% growth in any year during Obama's time in office.

"Under President Obama, the growth in the labor force ... slowed dramatically to less than half the rate of the previous four presidencies," as Real Clear Markets described the Obama record in early 2017, as his second term ended. "The labor-force participation rate has dropped to its lowest level in decades, 62.8% compared to a peak of 67.1% in the late 1990s."

Why did this happen? High taxes, excessive regulation, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, wasteful "stimulus," and a host of other misbegotten policies that sped up departures from the labor force and curbed business investment.

The declining labor participation rate, in particular, hurt. Labor force growth during the Obama era was a meager 0.4% a year. At the same time, productivity grew less than 1% a year. Meanwhile, as the New York Times recently admitted, an "invisible" recession in business investment hit the economy in 2014 and lasted until 2016.

So what's different now?

Trumponomics And Growth

We hate to sound like one-note Johnnies, but the tax cuts and deregulation of the Trump years loosened the log jam in labor force growth, bringing workers back from the sidelines and creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs. The high productivity, high output, high innovation economy has made American workers relevant again.

That's why wages are rising again. Merely saying wages are rising due to "tight labor markets" doesn't tell you what's really happening.

How much do Trump's policies matter in all this? As he entered office in January of 2017, the Congressional Budget Office forecast 2018 growth would be just 2%. After Trump's regulatory rollback began, the CBO upped its estimate to 2.2%. Then came the tax cuts, and CBO boosted its estimate to 3%.

So far, the economy's growing even faster than that. It's an old lesson: Policies matter. And good policies — supply-side policies that boost jobs, wages and output — matter most of all.

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64. L. Brent Bozell: Europe Is Suppressing Free Speech For This?Пт., 02 нояб.[−]

In the age of Trump, the American media insist that freedom of speech is in danger because they somehow consider mocking journalists a suppression of free speech. Now imagine if America had a law where you couldn't mock Christian doctrines without facing a fine. The press would again denounce the curtailment of free speech, but now you'd also hear the cries of "theocracy!"

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And yet the First Amendment worshippers were missing on Oct. 25 when the European Court of Human Rights upheld an Austrian court verdict that a woman should be punished for casting aspersions on the Islamic biography of Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, who married a child bride named Aisha. The ECHR cited the woman as having said that Muhammad "liked to do it with children." The court also quoted her as saying: "A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? ... What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?"

She was fined about $550.

Muslim 'Feelings' Top Freedom of Expression

A panel of seven judges from Germany, France, Ireland, Latvia, Azerbaijan and Georgia ruled unanimously that "the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant's statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected." (Emphasis added.)

The Associated Press gave this outrage one perfunctory dispatch of 136 words.

None of the networks carried this news, except one. Tucker Carlson discussed it on Fox News. That's zero on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, and PBS. The newspapers were largely AWOL: zero in The New York Times; zero in the Los Angeles Times; zero in USA Today.

One strange blog on The Washington Post website argued, "American pundits think Europe has just introduced a blasphemy law through the back door. They're wrong." That's an obvious reply to Carlson's guest, Brendan O'Neill, who said, "What we are witnessing in Europe is the return of blasphemy law by the back door."

Georgetown professor Erik Voeten claimed in the Post blog that this wasn't taking a censorious position, it was simply this European court deferring to the local Austrian authorities ... who took a censorious position. "The ruling provides further evidence that the court thinks that it can no longer manage these highly sensitive issues at the European level."

So why have a European court for 47 countries? Basic logic dies in darkness.

Freedom of Expression Tops Christian Feelings

It should be said that this same court has also handed defeats to Muslim causes. In 2014, and again in 2017, they upheld national bans on the burqa (covering women's faces) in France and in Belgium. This, however, was clearly based in part on security concerns, not religious apparel.

To wit, in January, this same court ruled against Lithuanian courts for fining the clothier Sekmadienis in 2012 for advertisements that tweaked the country's Catholic majority with implied hipster images of Jesus and his mother Mary. The Jesus figure was shirtless and tattooed. The Mary figure was in a white dress. Captions included "Jesus, what trousers!" and "Jesus, Mary! What a style!"

In that case, the court lectured that freedom of expression "extends to ideas which offend, shock or disturb," and so "those who choose to exercise the freedom to manifest their religion cannot reasonably expect to be exempt from all criticism." (Emphasis added.)

The panel added, "In the court's view, it cannot be assumed that everyone who has indicated that he or she belongs to the Christian faith would necessarily consider the advertisements offensive."

That's more in line with what Americans expect. We all expect mockery of Christianity. That's become ho-hum. But why shouldn't democracies in Europe apply the same wide berth of expression to critics of Islam? And why do secular journalists find this topic so eternally boring? It's worse than boredom, isn't it?

It's fear.

  • 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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65. Midterm Elections: Voters Head To The Polls To Relitigate 2016Пт., 02 нояб.[−]

On Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans will compete for the 42nd time in a nonpresidential-year contest — a rivalry that goes back to 1854. That's the oldest such partisan competition in the world.

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And despite the complaints of today's Democrats that the Constitution is biased against them, Democrats have won Senate majorities 16 times — versus 10 times for Republicans — since senators started being elected by popular vote in 1914.

Similarly, in the 164 years of midterm Republican-Democratic House contests, Democrats have won control of the House 24 times, compared with 17 for Republicans. In other words, over the long run of history, both parties have adapted to changes in opinion and issue focus in multiple realignments.

Midterm Elections: What's Changed?

But over that time, each has retained its basic character. The Republican Party has been centered around a core of people thought to be typical Americans but who are never a majority — e.g., Northern Protestants in the 19th century, married white Christians now.

The Democratic Party has been a coalition of disparate groups not thought to be typically American but who together have often formed an American majority — e.g., white Southerners and Irish immigrants in the 19th century, blacks and gentry liberals today.

Donald Trump's candidacy in 2016 jumbled the partisan lies a bit. His stands on immigration and trade differed from both parties' nominees over the past 60 years, and his brash demeanor and disdain of polite norms cost him the support of some upscale Republican voters and won over similar numbers of downscale Democrats. But the number of switchers was not large by historical standards.

Opinion today seems to stand much where it did two years ago. Trump got 46% of the popular vote then; his job approval today is 44%. Good economic numbers have made little difference to an electorate with no memory of the Great Depression but with seething grievances stoked by culture war politics.

Republicans seem poised to gain seats in the Senate, and Democrats are likely to win enough House seats to gain a majority there. But that's more a matter of the political line-up than of changed opinion.

Newton's third law of motion says that for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The enthusiasm of downscale voters that switched 100 mostly Midwestern electoral votes to Trump in 2016 has been mirrored by the enthusiasm that impelled dozens of Trump detractors to run for Congress and thousands of contributors, big and small, to send them record amounts of money.

Midterm Elections: Big Money Dems

The result is that Democrats, after long decrying money in politics, have become the party of big money. (Note how they'd like to repeal the Republican-imposed limits on deductibility of state and local taxes, which benefits only those with incomes over $350,000.) They're outspending Republicans in almost every seriously contested race. Shrewd spending (and record Republican retirements) has made them competitive in districts that have long been safely Republican.

Today, The Cook Political Report lists 100 Republican-held House seats as competitive. That's almost half the 241 seats Republicans won in 2016. With Republican enthusiasm increasing to Democratic levels since the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, it seems both sides will have robust turnout. Democrats probably won't reach the usual wave-year mark of winning half the seats they've targeted, but they only need a net gain of 23 for a majority.

Still, prognosticators Charlie Cook, Nate Silver and Larry Sabato and the betting markets believe there's an outside chance they won't win a majority. That's evidence of the continuing strength of the partisan lines that have mostly prevailed since 1994 and were altered only marginally in 2016.

The likely Republican Senate gains are more a function of which states' senators are up for re-election than any change in opinion. Democrats are defending 26 seats, including 10 in Trump states; Republicans are defending only nine — and just one in a Hillary Clinton state.

Democrats are running two attractive senatorial candidates in Trump states — former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a genuine moderate, and Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas, the liberal skateboarder whose rapturous journalistic profiles somehow fail to mention that his father-in-law is a billionaire real estate developer. But both seem unable to overcome the partisan tide.

Republicans are in good position to pick up Senate seats in South Dakota, Missouri and Indiana, and they also may do so in Montana and Florida. They have two vulnerable seats; they're leading narrowly in Nevada polls and trailing narrowly in Arizona.

There will be a tendency to project Tuesday's results into the future. But these midterm elections look more like an attempt, by both parties, to relitigate 2016.

  • 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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66. Question For Midterm Voters: Are You Better Off Than You Were Two Years Ago?Пт., 02 нояб.[−]

Midterm Elections: President Reagan won a landslide election in 1980 when he asked voters a simple question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Voters knew they weren't. Midterm voters should be asking themselves that same question now, before casting their ballots next Tuesday. Only this time, the answer is yes.

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The latest evidence: The Labor Department reported this week that private sector wages and salaries rose 3.1% in the third quarter of this year, compared with last year. Total compensation, which includes things like health benefits, climbed 2.9%. Both growth rates are significantly faster than two years ago.

This was just the latest spate of good economic news. But there is plenty more. In fact, by almost any measure, the country is much better off than it was in November 2016.

Here's a rundown:

GDP Growth

In the first three quarters of 2016, quarterly GDP growth was an anemic 1.5%, 2.3% and 1.9%. This year, quarterly GDP growth has been a far more robust 2.2%, 4.2% and 3.5%.

Jobs and Unemployment

There are 4.3 million more private sector jobs than there were two years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are 1.8 million fewer unemployed. The unemployment rate is now 3.7%, down from 4.9% — where it had been stuck throughout 2016.

Among blacks, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 6%, and among Hispanics it's now 4.5%. It was 5.7% two years ago.

The average time people are unemployed is now 24 weeks, down from 27 weeks just before the 2016 elections.

Household Incomes

Take-home pay for most people is higher today than it was two years ago, for the simple reason that Republicans cut income taxes. Those savings started showing up when the new withholding schedules went into effect in February.

And, after stagnating for all 2016, median household incomes started to steadily rise. As a result, median household income today is 4% higher than it was in November 2016 — after adjusting for inflation — according to Sentier Research.

At $63,007, median household income is at all-time highs.

Investors

Even with the recent volatility in the stock market, the Dow is up by almost 42% since early November 2016.

The broader S&P 500 index is up 31%. And the Nasdaq Composite index is up 47%.

Optimism

People are also far more optimistic today than they were two years ago. The Consumer Confidence Index was at 98.6 just before the 2016 elections.

Today, it stands at 137.9. To put that in perspective, this index was at 100 in 1985 — the year after Reagan won his landslide re-election.

The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index was at 51.4 in November 2016. The latest reading for this index is 57.8.

Two years ago, the IBD/TIPP Financial Stress Index stood at 56.3 — anything over 50 signals stress. The latest reading for this index: 48.4.

In other words, the public is 12% more optimistic about the economy and 14% less stressed about their personal finances than they were two years ago.

Business optimism is also far higher today than it was two years ago.

Health Care

Despite Democrats' attacks on Republicans over health care, the fact is that those enrolling in ObamaCare right now are better off than they were in November 2016.

Two years ago, enrollees faced average premium increases of 25% and declining choices. This year, the average premium is down by 1.5% — the first time that's ever happened under ObamaCare.

What's more, individuals in some states have a new low-cost option that they didn't have two years ago — short-term insurance plans that last a year. These plans don't have to comply with ObamaCare's myriad benefit mandates and rating regulations. As a result, they're far cheaper.

This strong, across-the-board economic progress was not accidental — nor was it inevitable, as Obama would have voters believe.

As we've noted in this space many times, after eight years of underwhelming growth, the economy was stagnating when Trump took office. Wages, unemployment, stocks, household incomes all flatlined that year. And GDP growth was decelerating.

Why Are You Better Off?

The turnaround under Trump was not only unexpected, but deemed impossible by Democrats, who were trying to convince the public that 2% growth was the best this country could do.

Yet despite the improvements, there's no guarantee this growth will continue, especially if Democrats win control of Congress and are able to thwart Trump's pro-growth economic policies going forward.

There are already some signs of weakness, such as the data from outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas showing a spike in the number of job cuts announced last month.

Democrats want the midterm elections to be a referendum on President Trump.

We hope it is.

Because if voters are honest with themselves, they'll realize that Trump and the GOP are delivering for the country, just as they promised.

Editor's note: The editorial was updated to correct the year President Reagan asked "are you better off." It was when he ran for president in 1980, not for reelection in 1984.

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67. What Is Medicare? And Can It Be Saved?Чт., 01 нояб.[−]

What is Medicare? It is the second largest health plan in the country. Yet many Americans don't know much about this government-run insurance program.

In fact, nearly one in five thinks that Medicare provides insurance coverage for low-income people. That's Medicaid. Fewer understand what Medicare covers. More than a third of those over age 40 think Medicare will cover Long-Term Care. That's Medicaid, too. And it's only for those who've depleted their assets already.

So, what is Medicare, what does it cover, who pays for it, and is it going bankrupt?

What Does Medicare Cover?

Defining what Medicare covers is tremendously complicated. The program started in 1965 as a way to provide seniors with what used to be called "major medical" coverage.

That's Part A, and it covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Anyone who worked and paid payroll taxes doesn't have to pay for Part A coverage. However, there's a a $1,340 deductible, and seniors have to pay a fraction of the cost for long-term hospital stays.

Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Seniors have to pay a premium for Part B coverage, but the amount is based on income.

Seniors can also enroll in Part C — or Medicare Advantage. This is basically a private insurance alternative to traditional Medicare that usually offers additional benefits, such as vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage. Seniors still pay their Part B premium, but their private plan provides the benefits. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage has been skyrocketing as baby boomers retire. President George W. Bush added still another program, called Medicare Part D, that offers coverage for prescription drugs. This is a voluntary program whereby private insurers compete for seniors' business by offering low premiums and wide access to drugs. The premiums average about $40 a month.

For a more thorough explanation of the various plans under Medicare, the best place to go is Medicare.gov. It's the federal government website that details all the options, what's covered, what it costs, and how enrollment works.

Who Pays For Medicare?

As with the benefits, Medicare's financing is complicated, with various funding sources depending on the program. Part A's costs are covered by the 1.45% in Medicare payroll taxes workers pay on every dollar they earn. (Employers kick in another 1.45%.)

Part B is partially paid for by premiums (which cover roughly 25% of the costs). The rest comes out of general revenues. Likewise with Part D.

For Part C, the federal government pays private insurers more or less what it would have cost traditional Medicare to cover those seniors who sign up.

Last year, Medicare spent $296 billion for Part A, $309 billion for Part B, and $95 billion for Part D. Seniors kicked in $88 billion in premiums.

Is Medicare Going Bankrupt?

Over the years, there has been plenty of talk about Medicare going "bankrupt." What this refers to is the one part of Medicare — Part A — that's covered by payroll taxes.

Congress decided to fund Part A the same way it funds Social Security. Workers pay into the program throughout their working years, then get the benefit when they retire.

But as with Social Security, the cost of Medicare Part A is outstripping the payroll taxes needed to fund it. The money all goes into a "Trust Fund," which covers the costs of the hospital insurance. Anything left in the Trust Fund earns interest, in the form of government bonds.

However, by 2026, the Part A Trust Fund will be exhausted. At that point, payroll taxes will only cover a portion of seniors' hospital costs. Unless Congress reforms the program, that means the government will have to cut payments, reduce coverage, or raise the payroll tax.

What Is Medicare Cost Explosion About?

Medicare has suffered huge cost increases ever since the program started, driven in part by rising health costs, and by Congress' continuing to expand benefits.

When the program started in 1965, for example, Congress predicted that the hospital insurance part of it would cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual cost was over $60 billion.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare's costs will more than double in a decade, going from $583 billion this year to $1.3 trillion by 2028.

As a result, Congress has tried on multiple occasions to "reform" the program to rein in costs. The latest cost controls came as part of ObamaCare. ( You can read more about these changes here.)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has warned that those cuts could cause more doctors to refuse to see Medicare patients. Medicare already underpays doctors, compared with what the private sector pays, and as a result 22% of physicians say they either limit the number of Medicare patients they'll take, or refuse them altogether. CMS also warned that the payment cuts in ObamaCare, if kept in place, would cause 40% of hospitals to become unprofitable.

An alternative reform offered by Republicans would give seniors a fixed amount of money, and have them shop for coverage offered by competing private health insurers, with seniors covering the difference in monthly premiums. It's called "premium support."Backers of this reform idea note that Part D operates in much the same way, and its costs have come in far lower than predicted.

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68. Betsy McCaughey: Will This Deep Blue State Go for Trumponomics?Чт., 01 нояб.[−]

In a contest too close to call, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski is running to slash Connecticut taxes and bring Trumponomics to the state. The nation is watching to see whether a fiscal reformer can sell President Donald Trump's tax-cutting approach to voters who disdain Trump.

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Critics call Stefanowski's proposal to phase out the state income tax "harebrained" and "laughable." They're wrong. Taxes are no laughing matter. Connecticut residents are crushed by the second-heaviest state and local tax burden in the nation. The state once had the nation's fastest growing economy, until it imposed an income tax in 1991 and subsequently hiked it four times. Now Connecticut ranks dead last in income growth.

Businesses like Aetna, Alexion Pharmaceuticals and General Electric have moved out and the value of homes — a family's major investment — have plummeted. Home values have fallen 24% in Fairfield County since 2007.

Pro-Growth Tax Relief

Stefanowski wants to do for Connecticut what Trump is doing nationwide — using tax relief to create growth. Reducing state income taxes will boost economic activity and likely generate more tax revenue, not less. That's already happening on a federal level, where Uncle Sam is pulling in more revenue since Trump's tax cuts went into effect.

Stefanowski's opponent, Democrat Ned Lamont, wants to change the topic to gun control, health insurance and Trump's personal style. But Stefanowski insists the race is a referendum on one issue — taxes.

If Stefanowski wins, it will be a revolution. Connecticut has supported Democratic presidential candidates for a quarter century, and gave Hillary Clinton a comfortable margin in 2016. But the state's dire situation is making voters rethink their political allegiances, at least locally.


Two years ago, voters began electing more Republicans to the state legislature, giving them half the seats in the upper house and paring the Democratic majority in the lower house. Polls show there's an even chance that on Election Day tax-weary voters will turn the entire state government — both houses of the legislature and the governor's seat — Republican. It's their only hope to restore the value of their homes and bring back lost jobs.

On the other hand, a victory for Lamont would mean four more years of decline, as more businesses pull out of the state. At an Oct. 10 policy dinner at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, a director of United Technologies, Harold McGraw, said the company is discussing leaving the state if Lamont is elected. That would put 18,000 jobs at risk. McGraw later downplayed the comment, but didn't deny it. He said an official pronouncement "should definitely come from the company," not him.

Tax Relief, Or Tax Hikes

Truth is, a Lamont victory will likely mean tax hikes, not tax relief. He says tax cuts aren't possible, because they'd force unacceptable cuts in public spending.

Lamont should look at Florida, where many Connecticut residents flee when they're fed up with high taxes. Florida spends far less per capita than Connecticut — only half as much in fiscal 2017 — yet Florida is hardly lacking amenities. Florida's roads are ranked in better condition than Connecticut's. Admittedly, Connecticut has excellent K-12 public schools, but Florida's public university system gets far better grades than Connecticut's.

So will Stefanowski launch a Connecticut tax rebellion that can be duplicated in other blue states? It's certainly time. Under the new federal tax rules, residents of tax-hell states like Connecticut and New York can no longer deduct most of their state and local levies, making the pain worse.

The election hinges on whether voters focus on their economic self-interest, or fall for Lamont's efforts to tar Stefanowski as a Trump double.

Stefanowski himself draws a clear line: "On the social side, I've got three daughters, I don't like the rhetoric, I don't like the tone ... but I'm not going to sit here and tell you his economic policy hasn't worked because it has, and we could use some of that in Connecticut."

  • 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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69. Birthright Citizenship: It's About The Law, Not Mob RuleЧт., 01 нояб.[−]

Birthright Citizenship: President Trump's comment that he might end birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens certainly deserves both political and legal debate over its merits. What it doesn't deserve is another shrill, nonstop "Trump is Hitler" attack by far-left Democrats and the media.

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"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States...with all of those benefits," Trump said, in his usual blunt way. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end."

This, as with virtually all Trump comments, has been met with slack-jawed incredulity by some, apoplectic rage by others, as if nothing the president ever says could possibly be true or valid. And to prove it, for merely trying to protect U.S. citizenship rights, they're again calling Trump a "fascist," likening him to Hitler and talking about impeachment.

This script is getting old.

It's true that 30 countries in our hemisphere offer something like birthright citizenship. But almost no European countries do. Are they fascist, too?

Birthright Citizenship: The Lure Of U.S.

The U.S., as the wealthiest country in the world, is a magnet for those bold enough to get here — even if it means breaking the law. It's tough to blame them. They do it so their kids can have perhaps the greatest gift a person can have, other than good health: American citizenship.

It comes with all sorts of protections and benefits, from generous welfare and use of our extensive infrastructure, to the world's finest health care facilities and well-funded schools. And it also means rule of law, due process and the protection of the world's greatest legal document: The U.S. Constitution.

Coming to America is so appealing, indeed, that we have a problem. And no, it's not just Central Americans or Mexicans. In California, for instance, a big industry has sprung up for well-heeled Asians, mostly Chinese, who come for "birth tourism." Here's how it works. They come pregnant, stay for a month or two, give birth at a local hospital, and depart with a newly minted U.S. citizen in their family.

You can't blame any of the people for doing this, because we do nothing to stop it.

As one irate, far-right politician put it, "If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn't enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant? No sane country would do that, right? Guess again."

OK, it wasn't a far-right politician. It was far-left former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking in 1993.

Birthright Citizenship: Breaking Law

The point is, of course, that the idea that you can break the law and get a huge reward without any chance of punishment is plainly stupid. Those who oppose changing the status-quo suggest that Trump, who says he wants to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship, would be acting unconstitutionally.

After all, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution clearly establishes birthright citizenship as the law of the land. Right?

Not so fast.

The 14th Amendment came about as a result of the Civil War. America's slaves needed to have not just their freedom, but citizenship, too. So the 14th Amendment conferred citizenship on former slaves and their children. It also gave citizenship to the first inhabitants of our continent. In one magnificent swoop, "natives" and former slaves both became Americans.

Question Of Jurisdiction

The intent has never been to make citizens of anyone who manages to get here, legally or not. The law even said so, saying that those who received citizenship had to be "completely subject to their political jurisdiction, and owing them direct and immediate allegiance."

Someone who comes here illegally cannot claim either of those things, for they are neither "subject" to any political jurisdictions here nor do they "owe" allegiance to them.

As Daniel Horowitz recently noted, the only legal justification for granting citizenship to illegals comes in a footnote to the Supreme Court's Plylor V. Doe decision. In it, ultra-liberal Justice William Brennan claimed that illegal aliens had a right to claim jurisdiction under U.S. law. But it's never really been decided as a separate issue by the Supreme Court.

So on strictly constructed constitutional grounds, Trump is right. Whether you hate him or not.

Of course, the counter-argument to that is: We have allowed this system to go on for so long without direct challenge it now has the force of law. That is a legitimate legal argument. It deserves serious consideration, either by Congress or the courts.

Birthright Citizenship Executive Order?

And that's our point. As bad as we think birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants is, any decision should be a matter of law and democratic process, not of screaming and name-calling. We have a Congress. We have a court system. The president has, in effect, challenged them to do their job. So they should do it.

If they don't, then Donald Trump, as the nation's chief executive, is well within his rights to issue an executive order if he thinks birthright citizenship represents a violation of the Constitution and threatens harm to the nation. It's his duty.

He has precedent. Axios.com quoted Trump telling reporters Wednesday that, if President Obama can "do DACA, we can do this by executive order."

And those who strongly oppose him should challenge him in court, all the way to the Supreme Court. That's their duty.

That's how our republic is supposed to work — not through media distortions, political slander and mob rage.

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70. Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre: Obama Slams 'Hateful Rhetoric' — Did He Mean Trump's, or His Own?Чт., 01 нояб.[−]

Former President Barack Obama received praise for his response to the recent murder of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Obama tweeted: "We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh. All of us have to fight the rise of anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently." Many described Obama's words as a powerful call for "unity."

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Meanwhile, leaders of Bend the Arc, a Pittsburgh Jewish advocacy group, said President Donald Trump is not welcome in their city until Trump "denounces white nationalism" — the white supremacist movement that many believe Trump is guilty of either supporting or at least providing aid and comfort.

Obama's Hateful Rhetoric

Speaking of "hateful rhetoric," critics of President Trump have apparently forgotten about Obama's 20-year relationship with his anti-Semitic pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. After 9/11, Wright called the attacks retribution, in part, for America's support of Israel. In a 2009 interview, Wright said: "Them Jews ain't going to let (Obama) talk to me. ... They will not let him to talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. ... Ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza. Ethnic cleansing (by) the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity, and they don't want Barack talking like that because that's anti-Israel."

Wright and Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan have long been friends. In 2007, the publication founded by Wright's church, Trumpet Newsmagazine, awarded its annual "Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award" to Farrakhan, a man who, it said, "truly epitomized greatness." Farrakhan, in a February 2018 sermon, proclaimed the era of Jewish influence was near its end. Farrakhan said: "White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God's grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I'm here to say your time is up, your world is through." In 2005, Farrakhan posed with a smiling freshman senator named Barack Obama. Fortunately for Obama, the photograph was not released until after Obama completed his two terms in the White House. Long-time Democrat Alan Dershowitz says that had he known about that photograph, he would not have campaigned for Obama.

Obama often denounced cops. Shortly after his election, black Harvard professor Louis Gates — a friend of Obama's — couldn't open his front door upon returning home from a trip. Gates asked his driver for assistance. A neighbor, observing two people trying to force open Gates' front door, called 911. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, cops responded, and politely requested that Gates, now inside the house, step outside and prove he lived there. Rather than cooperate, Gates made flippant comments to the cops, escalating the matter. Obama later said, "The Cambridge police acted stupidly." No, they hadn't.

In Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was killed by a police officer. A friend and witness claimed that Brown held his hands up and pleaded with the cop, "Don't shoot." A grand jury later found the assertion a lie and completely exonerated the officer. But before the investigation was complete, Obama invoked Ferguson during a United Nations address as an example of the systemic racism blacks allegedly face in our criminal justice system.

Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder falsely claimed that due to "pernicious" racism, the "criminal justice system ... treats groups of people differently and punishes them unequally." But the U.S. Sentencing Commission concluded that the longer sentences result from "legitimate factors." The typical black defendant has a longer criminal record than does a white defendant, and during sentencing, judges often consider defendants' criminal records.

Did It Lead To Police Deaths?

President Obama, commenting on the 2016 police shootings of unarmed blacks, said: "These are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system." But recent studies, including one done by a black Harvard economist, show the opposite. Cops, the studies found, are more hesitant to use deadly force on a black suspect than a white one.

In 2014, two NYPD officers were killed — literally executed — while sitting in their squad cars. In 2016, five Dallas cops and three Baton Rouge, Louisiana, cops were also killed. All three suspects in these cop killings were black men, motivated, according to their own social media postings, by Black Lives Matter's claim of anti-black systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

After the Dallas shootings, William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said, "I think (the Obama administration's) continued appeasement at the federal level with the Department of Justice; their appeasement of violent criminals; their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter actively calling for the death of police officers ... while blaming police for the problems in this country has led directly to the climate that has made Dallas possible."

Trump's critics argue that his alleged "hateful rhetoric" inspired the pipe bomb suspect and the suspected Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. As for the cops murdered in New York, Baton Rouge and Dallas, does the same logic apply to Obama and his anti-cop rhetoric?

  • Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder.

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71. Victor Davis Hanson: When Laws Aren't Enforced, Anarchy FollowsЧт., 01 нояб.[−]

What makes citizens obey the law is not always their sterling character. Instead, fear of punishment — the shame of arrest, fines or imprisonment — more often makes us comply with laws. Law enforcement is not just a way to deal with individual violators but also a way to remind society at large that there can be no civilization without legality.

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Or, as 17th-century British statesman George Savile famously put it: "Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen."

In the modern world, we call such prompt, uniform and guaranteed law enforcement "deterrence," from the Latin verb meaning "to frighten away." One protester who disrupts a speech is not the problem. But if unpunished, he green-lights hundreds more like him.

Worse still, when one law is left unenforced, then all sorts of other laws are weakened.

Ignoring Immigration Laws

The result of hundreds of "sanctuary cities" is not just to forbid full immigration enforcement in particular jurisdictions. They also signal that U.S. immigration laws, and by extension other laws, can be ignored.

The presence of an estimated 12 million or more foreign nationals unlawfully living in the U.S. without legal consequence sends a similar message. The logical result is the current caravan of thousands of Central Americans now inching its way northward to enter the U.S. illegally.

If the border was secure, immigration laws enforced and illegal residence phased out, deterrence would be re-established and there would likely be no caravan.

Ignoring Free Speech Rights

Campus protests often turn violent. Agitators shout down and sometimes try to physically intimidate speakers with whom they disagree.

Most of the disruptors are upper-middle-class students. Many have invested up to $200,000 in their higher education, often to ensure well-paying careers upon graduation.

Protesters assume that ignoring laws about peaceful assembly poses no consequences. Usually student disruptors are right. College administrators will typically shrug at even violent protests rather than call police to make arrests.

Yet if a few bold disruptors were actually charged with misdemeanors or felonies and had arrests tarnishing their otherwise sterling resumes, there would likely be far fewer illegal and violent protests.

In the last two years, a number of celebrities have openly fantasized about doing physical harm to the president of the United States. Madonna, Kathy Griffin, Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, Snoop Dogg and other stars have expressed their wishes that Donald Trump might be beaten up, blown up, cut up or shot up.

Their shared premise is that they are too famous, influential or wealthy to expect consequences that ordinary citizens might face for making threats to the safety of the president of the United States. If the next time a Hollywood icon tweeted or voiced a threat to the president he or she was subsequently put on a no-fly list, the current assassination chic would quickly stop.

Assaulting Republicans

Every person assumes the freedom to eat safely in a restaurant, to walk to work without disturbance and to relax without fear of violence. Now, that is now always the case, at least not if one is deemed politically influential and conservative.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell, and Rep. Devin Nunes must worry that when they venture out in public, protesters will scream in their face, attempt to bar their passage or disrupt their meal — and do so without legal ramifications.

There are many causes of the current legal laxity.

Trump is a polarizing president, and his critics have decided that extraordinary and sometimes extralegal measures are morally justified to stop him. Supposedly high-minded ends are seen as justifying unlawful means. Helping undocumented immigrants evade the law, stopping the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh or otherwise thwarting Trump all warrant special immunity.

The problem with ignoring laws is that it is contagious — and can boomerang.

Sanctuary cities could in theory birth conservative sanctuary zones. Would today's protesters wish for other jurisdictions to nullify federal laws and court rulings concerning abortion, gun registration and gay marriage?

Above The Law?

If thousands of Hondurans in a caravan are deemed above the immigration laws, then why not exempt future mass arrivals of Chinese or South African immigrants?

If Cruz and other Republican politicos can't eat in peace, will Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi soon face the same disruptions — the illegality justified by higher moral concerns?

If students can block a right-wing speaker or storm a diner, will they also object when anti-abortion protesters bar the passage of a pro-choice campus guest?

German philosopher Immanuel Kant noted that "anarchy is law and freedom without force."

Translated to our current context, Kant might say that all our high-minded talk about the Bill of Rights means absolutely nothing without the cop on the beat and the local district attorney.

  • 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. You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com.

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72. A Tale Of Two Acts Of Political Violence — And Proof Of Media BiasЧт., 01 нояб.[−]

Media Bias: There have been two major acts of political violence over the past year and half. One by an ardent supporter of President Trump. The other by an ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders. How the press covered these two stories tells you all you need to know about media bias.

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In June 2017, James Hodgkinson fired more than 60 rifle shots at a group of Republican lawmakers and staffers who were practicing for an annual charity baseball game. Hodgkinson hit four people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

While the other injuries weren't life threatening, Scalise nearly died. He spent more than a month in the hospital, underwent several surgeries, and required intensive rehabilitation.

Political Violence On The Left

Hodgkinson, it turns out, had been a volunteer for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and had a deep hatred for Republicans. In one social media post, he said "Terminate the Republican Party."

Had Hodgkinson been a better shot, he would have assassinated several of them.

Yet the coverage of the shooting barely mentioned Hodgkinson's political leanings or his connection to the firebrand Sanders.

An analysis of news stories by Real Clear Politics' Kalev Leetaru showed that a mere 30% of the stories even mentioned Sanders' name in their coverage. And that share immediately started to drop as the days went on. ( You can read his excellent analysis here.)

None tried to pin blame for the shooting on Sanders' rhetoric, although a case could be made for one. Weeks before the shooting, Sanders declared that a Republican health reform plan would kill thousands of people. Hodgkinson reportedly shouted "This is for health care!" when firing his rifle.

Nor did the mainstream press do any hand wringing about the violent rhetoric pouring forth from liberals against Trump and other Republicans — before and immediately after the shooting.

Even while Scalise was in critical care, Sanders again accused Republicans of attempting mass murder, tweeting that the Senate health bill "could kill up to 27,000 in 2026 so they can give tax cuts to the wealthy." Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the bill "blood money."

Indeed, the press' awareness of Scalise's shooting, and the motives behind it, are so dim that a prominent CNN host actually said with a straight face this week that "I don't see Democrats killing people" over politics.

Political Violence On The Right

Now contrast the Scalise shooting with the pipe bomber. Not one person was injured by the devices, several of which at least weren't capable of exploding. It's still not clear what Cesar Sayoc's motive was — whether he intended injury or simply wanted to scare people. (After being arrested, Sayoc said he didn't intend to hurt anyone.)

Yet, even before anyone knew who was sending the devices — and before most of the mailings had turned up — the press immediately started to connect the bomber with Trump.

As Leetaru at Real Clear Politics notes, "before any information was known about the bomber's identity, nearly 70% of the coverage of the bombs mentioned Trump. By Sunday, nearly 80% of the coverage associated the bomber with Trump."

Even now, the press continues to claim that Trump's rhetoric is at fault not only for the mail bomber, but for the murder of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a shooter who hated Trump.

And when Trump complained about the disparity in how the mainstream press covered the two, they dismissed it out of hand …. without checking the record.

Biased Coverage Of Political Violence

So, to sum up:

When a Sanders' supporter acts with clear intent to murder Republicans and nearly succeeds, the press ignores any connection to liberal politicians, or the left's violent rhetoric.

When a Trump supporter, whose intentions are still not clear, targets Democrats with faulty pipe bombs that injure no one, the press spends weeks blaming Trump and Republicans for the tone of their rhetoric.

It's not often that you have an opportunity to test media bias. But these two terrible acts of political violence provide one. And the mainstream press flunked the test. Badly.

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73. Investors: Here's Your Chance To Influence SEC On Politicized Proxy ProcessСр., 31 окт.[−]

The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) roundtable discussion in November on growing concerns around the politicization of the shareholder voting process provides a crucial opportunity for investors to have their voices heard.

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At the center of the upcoming roundtable are concerns around proxy advisory firms, companies that provide analysis and recommendations to issuers and companies about how to vote on annual and special proxies. These firms play an influential — and growing — role in the shareholder voting process, with their recommendations carrying heavy weight on how investors vote their shares.

According to research conducted by the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), a negative recommendation from Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. (ISS) — the largest proxy advisors in the space — can lead to a 25-percentage-point decrease in voting support.

The impact on companies and individual investors can be immense.

For one, these proposals require time and energy for review and response, especially when companies and shareholders face similar proposals year after year. A recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC) looked at shareholder proposals that have been submitted time and again with little support, creating duplicative costs and time burdens on companies and investors.

According to the analysis, which looked at 2,449 shareholder proposals submitted from 2001 to 2018 relating to political and social matters, 723 can be defined as "zombie proposals," submitted three or more times without garnering majority support.

Proxy 'Zombies'

These same proposals are resubmitted every year, many driven by activist investors pushing a political agenda, as opposed to meaningful governance reform. In turn, companies must divert time and resources to respond to these duplicative proposals time and again, hurting investors and companies simultaneously.

This issue begs an important question: Is the shareholder process working as it should or is it being taken advantage of to support political agendas that have little to do with corporate value?

Equally concerning is how little input companies have in the recommendations put forward by these firms. According to a recent CCMC survey, "only 39% of the companies believed that the proxy advisory firms carefully researched and took into account all relevant aspects of the particular issue." This is increasingly concerning given the lack of transparency and apparent conflicts of interest in place at firms such as ISS that provide consulting services to the very same companies it is rating.

How can investors trust that recommendations are based purely in fact and not a desire to win business for the other part of the company?

As ACCF has stated in comments to the SEC, there is little systematic oversight of the proxy firms' research processes, interactions with companies, and communications with investors. This dynamic translates to greater power to proxy advisors, and a reduced ability for companies to advocate for their own business in the face of an adverse — or factually flawed — recommendation. What's more, much of the data these advisors use to develop recommendations is unaudited and incomplete — leaving one to question the trustworthiness of their recommendations.

Small Company Burden

These concerns are magnified at smaller companies, where fewer staff and resources are left to handle the ever changing and increasing requirements of these individual advisory firms, with little time provided to set the record straight. In turn, shareholders' votes are too often made based on assumption over fact.

The good news is there is a growing sense of urgency to address these issues. The SEC has signaled its own concern about these trends and is taking comments in advance of next month's roundtable. Congressional efforts are also moving forward in the form of H.R. 4015, the Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2017, a bill that passed the House last December and is currently being considered in the Senate.

This support from elected officials, regulators, and the public is key to bringing much needed oversight of proxy advisory firms for the protection of investors and the companies they rely on for financial returns.

It is time for transparency and oversight, and the SEC's roundtable process is a critical step towards bringing about the change. I urge all investors to take advantage of this opportunity. Now is the time to speak up.

  • Doyle is General Counsel and Vice President of Policy at the American Council for Capital Formation.

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74. Why We Need To Keep Coal In The Power MixСр., 31 окт.[−]

Most American's take electricity for granted, assuming when they flip a switch or plug in an appliance power will be available. But behind the power outlets is a huge and complex infrastructure that includes generation, transmission and distribution. In addition, each regional power grid has a "system operator" who makes sure that supply and demand for electricity are always in balance.

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To ensure reliability and resilience, every grid in the country draws on a variety of power generation sources — base-load plants fueled by coal, natural gas, or nuclear energy as well as renewables like hydropower, wind and solar. In some parts of the country, however, the generation mix is becoming less diverse, mainly because coal-fired facilities are being retired well before the end of their useful lives.

The number of operating coal plants has dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2010, the United States had 580 coal-fired power plants providing 45% of the nation's electricity. By March 2018, the number of plants had fallen below 350 and coal's market share had dropped to 30%, mostly because of competition from cheap natural gas, state efforts to boost renewables, and sizeable subsidies to wind and solar power.

Coal Plants: Shrinking Share

What is more, electric utilities have announced that at least 40 additional coal plants will close or reduce capacity by 2025, and no utility in the country plans to build a new coal plant. Nonetheless, coal remains the second most important source of power after natural gas.

Several recent studies have concluded that the loss of diversity in U.S. power generation, mainly due to the shutdown of coal plants, may lead to higher electricity costs for businesses and consumers while impairing the resilience of the power grid since coal is a "base-load" power source. To avert such an outcome, President Donald Trump has proposed several initiatives to keep coal plants alive.

Scrapping President Obama's "clean power plan" may extend the life of some coal plants. The administration has also explored a program to subsidize certain coal and nuclear power plants on national security grounds; but this plan was recently shelved due to opposition from the president's own advisers on the National Security Council and National Economic Council.

Eliminating policies that cause market distortions, in particular subsidies to wind and solar projects, could also help keep more coal in the power mix. But because renewables have widespread political support, that is not likely to happen.

What is needed to keep coal (and nuclear) in the power mix is a pricing system that puts a premium on fuel security and grid reliability. Plants that are "always on," unlike wind and solar which are intermittent, should be acknowledged and rewarded.

The Virtue Of Reliability

As stated by Commissioner Neil Chatterjee of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, "Coal and nuclear need to be properly compensated to recognize the value they provide to the system…and should be recognized as an essential part of the fuel mix."

This is a particular challenge for states that have deregulated their power markets where some coal plants have closed prematurely because they cannot compete with cheap natural gas or subsidized renewables.

Perhaps the best solution for keeping coal in the generation mix would be to let companies levy a "capacity charge" or some other mechanism to help them cover their fixed costs, mainly embedded capital. Otherwise, as more and more coal plants are shuttered, the demand for power may overwhelm generating capacity, resulting in brownouts and blackouts in many parts of the country.

  • Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an adjunct professor of business economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

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75. L. Brent Bozell: Journalists Preach, But Don't Practice, Civil DiscourseСр., 31 окт.[−]

The frightening exposure of pipe bombs being mailed to prominent Democrats and media outlets, followed by a horrific shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, led to news networks lecturing, hour after hour, on the tone of our civic discourse.

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Physicians, heal thyselves.

These are not dispassionate observers of the national scene. These are leftist partisans and they are cynically using national tragedies to equate conservative speech — conservative thought — to violence.

In 1998, Eric Rudolph bombed an abortion clinic in Birmingham, killing a policeman. The media demanded that the pro-life movement condemn this violence. Pro-life leaders lined up before the cameras for humiliating we're-not-as-bad-as-this interviews.

Pipe Bombs And Media Double Standards

In 1996, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was indicted for murdering three men with mail bombs. Authorities found Al Gore's book "Earth in the Balance" in Kaczynski's shack. No one in the media demanded Gore denounce this evil.

In 2009, Scott Roeder murdered late-term abortionist George Tiller in Kansas. Again pro-lifers were publicly shamed by the press.

In 2013, monstrous abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of killing three babies born alive, along with one mother. No reporter suggested the pro-abortion lobby bore any responsibility. No one condemned the agenda of NARAL, et cetera. Virtually no one bothered even covering the trial.

In June of 2017, a leftist kook shot at congressional Republicans holding a baseball practice, nearly killing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Did the national media ask Bernie Sanders and Rachel Maddow (the shooter's favorites) if they would disassociate themselves from the violence? Did they lecture liberals to cool their tweets?

Instead, "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley rudely told Scalise & Co. their wounds were self-inflicted: "It's time to ask whether the attack on the United States Congress yesterday was foreseeable, predictable, and to some degree, self-inflicted."

NBC's Kristen Welker blamed both sides: "After one of the most violent presidential campaigns in recent history, questions tonight about whether the entire country bears some responsibility for an atmosphere that's become increasingly heated."

No one singled out the Democrats and their radicalized, even militant, rhetoric.

Smearing Conservatives

But now network anchors sit by stone-faced as Trump and conservatives are insulted in the worst way. MSNBC's Steve Schmidt smears talk radio hosts and bloggers criticizing the media as having "blood on their hands." MSNBC's Eddie Glaude claims that Trump's rhetoric on a caravan of migrants marching through Mexico "sets the stage for unimaginable cruelty" — that is, a synagogue shooting. But the shooter hated Trump.

CNN anchors and analysts alike have compared Trump to ISIS. After authorities caught pipe bombs suspect Cesar Sayoc with a van covered in pro-Trump messaging, CNN anchor Jim Sciutto energetically found "parallels to lone wolf terrorist actors. ISIS folks, et cetera. You know, self-radicalized." Not to be outdone, CNN panelist Julia Ioffe claimed "this president has radicalized so many more people than ISIS ever did."

So what happens if someone shoots at the president after all this abuse on "news" shows?

Big League Politics reported this week that there were no less than 179 active death threats on Twitter aimed at President Trump.

It's time for journalists to interview themselves.

  • 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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76. John Stosell: NY Libertarian Larry Sharpe Has A Bridge To Sell YouСр., 31 окт.[−]

"Libertarians believe that you should be as conservative or as liberal as you want to be as long as you don't want to force yourself on others," says Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York.

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Sharpe is an unusual Libertarian candidate because he's doing well in some polls.

One found Sharpe getting 13%, and after people heard his campaign pitch, 25%. That would put him in second place, ahead of the Republican.

So of course the establishment shuts him out — he and other third-party candidates weren't allowed in the one gubernatorial debate.

Sharpe wins fans by arguing that it would be good if individuals make their own decisions without government spending constantly getting in the way.

"What we understand as libertarians is at the end of every single law is a guy or gal with a gun who's going to put you in a cage; if you don't want to go in that cage, they're going to shoot you. What that means is you should only use the law when there is loss of life, health, limb, property, or liberty ... Not because I don't like what you're doing."

That's refreshing to hear from a politician.

No new government programs under a Larry Sharpe administration, then?

"No, no, no, no, no, no," he assures me.

At least one candidate doesn't want to make government bigger.

New York faces a $4.4 billion deficit. Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed raising taxes.

Sharpe has other ideas.

"Lease naming rights on our infrastructure," he says in my latest internet video. "The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge."

My staff asked some New Yorkers what they thought about leasing naming rights to bridges and tunnels. "Bad idea!" said one woman. "It's commercializing!" Most people were opposed.

I said that to Sharpe.

"You know what she should do?" he responded. "Start a nonprofit, raise $30 million, she can name it whatever she wants."

One man said he didn't "want to rename something after some sort of corporation!"

"Shake your fist and say, 'This doesn't sound good,'" replied Sharpe. "You're going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high."

Under our current system, many bridges and other public structures advertise anyway — but they promote politicians. Gov. Cuomo just named a bridge after his father.

"An imperial bridge named after our royal family!" said Sharpe with a laugh. "I'm embarrassed."

We libertarians don't think politicians deserve monuments just because they got elected.

"Tell you what I'll do," said Sharpe. "(Governor Cuomo's) got $30 million a year? He can keep his name on that bridge and take care of the maintenance."

Sharpe applies similar thinking to New York's decrepit subway system.

"We have lines on the MTA right now not being used at night. Home Depot or Google or Amazon or whomever — they can use these lines ... move their freight ... They'll pay. Win-win."

Sharpe's campaign is attracting new people. His rallies draw bigger crowds than minor party candidates normally get.

"If you're unhappy with the system, you've got to change it," he said on Joe Rogan's podcast.

For a libertarian, Larry Sharpe surprised me by saying he wouldn't dream of proposing cuts to existing welfare programs. "Pull the rug out from somebody, somebody's going to be afraid," he explains. If voters fear you, they don't vote for you.

I assume he'd shrink those programs eventually, maybe after other parts of government were reduced and the economy improves as a result.

He also sounds friendlier to labor unions than most libertarians. "Collective bargaining is fine. My issue with the unions has always been: Are you forcing me? ... I have a problem with (union shop laws). But you're voluntarily doing it? I don't have a problem at all."

Listening to Larry Sharpe is very different from hearing most Republicans and Democrats.

"Because no one has any new ideas," he says. "No ideas how to fix anything or do anything right. ... I'm a third party. I have to have ideas or no one will listen to me."

  • Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."

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77. Ben Shapiro: When We Broaden the Definition of Incitement, Free Speech SuffersСр., 31 окт.[−]

Over the past week, we've heard the media pitching one particular narrative nonstop: the story that President Donald Trump's rhetoric has resulted in increased violence. We heard it in the aftermath of a spate of attempted bombing attacks against Democratic targets by a Floridian nut job, and we heard it in the aftermath of a shooting attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue by an outspokenly anti-Trump white supremacist.

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Is there truth to the charge?

To determine whether there is, we've first got to consider the question more broadly: When is speech related to violence?

It's obvious that speech is often related to action. We change how we think and see the world based on what other people say to us. We change our opinions. Our emotions can be soothed or our anger provoked. The entire purpose of political speech is to motivate people to believe and act in certain ways. It would be foolish and shortsighted to suggest, then, that over-the-top rhetoric and violent metaphor have no impact on the public discourse.

Free Speech and Violence

But we cannot equate all speech with incitement, obviously. To do so would be to destroy the entire rationale for free speech. If we can attribute the violence of a few to the speech of public figures, the only available solution would be to curtail speech. And we cannot base our standard for protected speech on those with eggshell skulls. If the craziest and most easily provoked among us become the standard, then free speech dies.

Thus, our legal system generally relies on a "reasonable person" standard when determining whether speech incites action. Courts of appeal have held that threats and incitement generally require that "a reasonable person would foresee that the statement would be interpreted by those to whom the maker communicates the statement as a serious expression of an intention to inflict bodily injury."

Curtailing Free Speech

By this standard, none of President Trump's statements has come close to inciting either attempted bombings or shootings. The media's suggestions otherwise seem to equate speech with violence, making an argument for moral culpability that cannot be sustained.

But that doesn't mean that misuse of non-inciting free speech isn't damaging. It most certainly is. Rhetoric that equates political opposition with murderers, traitors or enemies of the people tears away at the social fabric, the baseline trust we have for one another. If our opponents are motivated by evil intent, then why bother conversing with them? If they're deplorables on the one hand and globalists who intend to destroy the country on the other, how are we supposed to come together in civil ways?

The answer is that we won't. And every violent act merely tears us apart further as we seek to cast blame on those we think either inspired or supported the violent act. Lone evil actors can kill and maim. Only we, as a country, can tear ourselves apart. And as we blame one another for the actions of non-reasonable actors, we're doing just that.

  • Shapiro is host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.

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78. George Will: Missouri's Josh Hawley Is An Actual, Not A Pretend, ConservativeСр., 31 окт.[−]

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — Here in the state's southeast, which calls itself the Bootheel and nurses a genial distrust of Missouri's metropolitan fleshpots (St. Louis, Kansas City), the loudspeaker is blasting out John Mellencamp's "Small Town" as Josh Hawley's cowboy boots alight from his campaign bus at this stop on the "Stop Schumer Fire Claire Tour." Before he became a Senate candidate, and before he became Missouri's attorney general — after Stanford, Yale Law School (where he met his wife Erin; they clerked together for Chief Justice John Roberts) — Hawley grew up in a rural Missouri county.

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Erin, the daughter of fifth-generation New Mexico ranchers, also is comfortable speaking beneath slate-gray seeping Midwestern skies, in front of enormous bins of rice, to a small but grateful gathering of farmers.

Josh Hawley vs. Claire McCaskill

Hawley reminds them that he has litigated against the Waters of the United States rule, by which the federal government torments farmers, treating any occasionally soggy parcel of land as ripe for regulation. While in private practice he supported the Hobby Lobby company's successful appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that its free exercise of religion was denied by ObamaCare's requirement that employers provide employees with all kinds of contraception, including abortifacients. This keenly interests whoever filled a field alongside Interstate 55 with little white crosses for victims of abortions.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill might soon be relieved of the strain of pretending to not be what she is — much more liberal than her state. Until recently, Missouri was America's bellwether: It voted with the winner in all but one 20th century presidential election. (In 1956, it favored Adlai Stevenson, who hailed from across the river.) But in 2008, John McCain won Missouri narrowly (3,903 votes), Mitt Romney won by 9 points in 2012 and Donald Trump by 18.5 points, so it now is much more Republican than the nation.

McCaskill, 65, has been in politics almost as long (36 years) as Hawley, 38, has been alive. The timing of her first Senate campaign was lucky, and her second campaign illustrated the axiom that luck is the residue of design. In 2006, a blue tsunami washed her into the Senate. In 2012, she selected her opponent by funding ads that solemnly warned Republican primary voters, many of them very conservative, that Todd Akin was very conservative. They nominated him, and he self-immolated with the interesting physiological theory that "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy.

McCaskill boasts that she supposedly ranks as "the fifth-most-likely Senator to break with my party." But the difference between the fifth-most-likely and the least likely is insignificant in an era when the Senate votes on almost nothing. And on something that mattered, the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, she was conspicuously not one of the three Democrats who voted for him. Her campaign has run an ad featuring a make-believe conversation between Two Ordinary Guys, one of whom says, "Claire's not one of those crazy Democrats." This, which drove Missouri Democrats crazy, was probably a response to the post-Kavanaugh backlash against Democrats, which has probably propelled Hawley to a mid-single-digit lead.

Youngest Senator

If elected, Josh Hawley will be the youngest senator (two years younger than Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton) in a body where today the average age is 63. Although never is heard a discouraging word from Hawley about his party's leader, Hawley is educated and thoughtful, so it is possible to hope that he is as insincere in his praise of the president as McCaskill is in her insistence that she is really not like those anti-Kavanaugh hysterics led by almost all of her Senate Democratic colleagues. She supported the gross violations of due process that were mandated by the Department of Education in response to hysteria about the fictional "campus rape culture."

This is an era of "let's pretend" politics, as Republicans who control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue run trillion-dollar deficits during full employment while pretending to believe in fiscal rectitude, and Senate Democrats pretend to be thoughtful while their combined votes on two Supreme Court and 29 appellate court nominees are 391 for and 1,084 against.

Josh Hawley, who hopes to serve on the Judiciary Committee (a Republican seat is opening: Utah's Orrin Hatch is retiring), is an actual, not a pretend, conservative — although he has written a serious but too-admiring book mistakenly calling Theodore Roosevelt a conservative. Hawley can be part of the GOP's intelligent future, if it chooses to have one.

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79. Memo To Midterm Voters: It's Democrats, Not Republicans, Who Are The Extremists TodayСр., 31 окт.[−]

Election 2018: Every day in the run-up to the midterm elections, the mainstream news peddles the same message: Republicans are extremists. But look at the data, and you see that it's Democrats who are increasingly well outside the mainstream.

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Writing in New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait had this to say about the Republican party: "Everything that was terrible about the party that nominated Trump is significantly, terrifyingly worse today. Even more distressing: It is likely to lurch further rightward regardless of the outcome of the elections."

As a mainstream journalist, Chait is hardly saying anything unusual about Republicans. Day after day, the mainstream press files stories describing Republicans as fascists, sexists, racists, anti-Semites, etc.

Here's a tiny sampling of recent headlines: "How Republican Extremism Became Normalized." "Yes, the Republican Party Has Become Pathological." "Why Are Republicans Promoting Ultra-Right Extremism." "The Proud Boys, the GOP, and 'The Fascist Creep.' "

What evidence is there of this, other than President Trump's often abrasive rhetoric, and the actions of a few crazed lunatics?

Trump's agenda so far has been mainstream conservative — tax cuts, deregulation, strong defense, secure national borders. (President Clinton said similar things about illegal immigrants and border security when he was president.)

Where Trump has strayed from conservative orthodoxy, it's tended to be toward the left — witness his efforts to force down drug prices and his rhetoric on trade.

But survey data show fairly conclusively that when it comes the ideology of each party, it's Democrats who have been moving to the fringe.

A Pew Research Center report out last year, for example, showed that while the Republican views shifted slightly to the right from 1994 to 2017, Democrats had moved far to the left. Nearby is the table we ran when that report came out.

A Gallup poll from 2015 pointed to the same trend. It found that Democrats had become far more liberal over the previous 15 years. Republicans hadn't changed in their views much. In fact, they had moved leftward on some social issues.

This year, the Democratic field is full of self-declared socialists. And the Democratic party has embraced a radical agenda of socialized health care — via the artfully named "Medicare for all" — free college, a doubling of the federal minimum wage, "guaranteed" federal jobs, eliminating ICE, a government takeover of corporate boards, and so on.

Prominent liberals routinely say the most incredibly extremist things, without anyone batting an eye.

Case in point is actor James Cromwell, who recently promised violence if Republicans retained control of Congress.

"If we don't stop (President Trump) now, then we will have a revolution for real," he said at an awards ceremony this week. "Then there will be blood in the streets."

You'll try in vain to find any Democrat who — after lecturing the public on the dangers of Trump's word choices — has denounced Cromwell's rhetoric.

Despite journalists' endless efforts to portray Democrats as reasonable, mainstream moderates, the public is getting wise to their increasingly extremist views.

This summer, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that just 33% think Democrats are mainstream today, while 56% say they're out of step. Just two years before, 48% said Dems were mainstream, and only 42% said they were out of step.

So please, enough about how extremism can only be found among Republicans.

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The post Memo To Midterm Voters: It's Democrats, Not Republicans, Who Are The Extremists Today appeared first on Investor's Business Daily.


80. Robert Samuelson: The Future Of Anti-SemitismСр., 31 окт.[−]

Perhaps it was naivete, ignorance or stupidity — or all three — but when I was growing up in the 1950s in a suburb of New York City, I had no sense of anti-Semitism. By that, I do not mean that I looked around and found little evidence of anti-Jewish feeling. I mean that I had no concept of anti-Semitism. To me, it didn't exist. I had as much knowledge of it as I did of, say, quantum physics. Nothing at all.

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There were very few other Jews in my public elementary school, and I did not feel different from the students, with Christmas as a minor exception. The singing of those Christmas carols made me uncomfortable. But there was no wrenching identity crisis. I mouthed some of the songs that seemed religious and sung those that didn't. My family straddled the divide between the secular holiday and the religious. We had a Christmas tree and presents; but we also celebrated Hanukkah. More presents!

I saw myself then — and see myself now — as an American, whose fundamental religion is Americanism. By this, I believe that being an American is just about the greatest identity anyone can have. That's my faith, and one of the fabulous things about being an American is that you can practice whatever your personal religion is without anyone — including the government — interfering, as long as you don't threaten others. I am not a very good Jew; I don't know most of the Hebrew prayers and go to synagogue mostly around the Jewish new year. To boot: I am an agnostic. Still, I wouldn't surrender my Judaism for anything.

Of course, I know a lot more about America now than I did as a third-grader, and much of what I have learned in more than 60 years does not reflect well on us as a society. Conflict was a large part of our heritage. I learned that the Civil War failed to solve all the injustices of race, many of which linger to this day. I learned that many of the great advances of the U.S. economy were often accompanied by hardships and suffering that, in some cases, were inexcusable and, in others, were simply cruel.

And, naturally, I also learned that the relationship between Jews and America was a lot more complicated than I had imagined. In the real world, anti-Semitism was widespread. Covenants prevented Jews from living in certain neighborhoods; many companies wouldn't hire Jews; clubs wouldn't accept them as members. But I also thought that, after World War II, many of these abhorrent practices had been outlawed or had receded before new norms of public opinion. Most Jews had assimilated into the mainstream of American life.

I had assumed that my three children, now in their late 20s and early 30s, would grow up in a world where their Jewishness, depending on how much they felt it, would remain mostly a private matter. For all that I had learned, I still accepted my basic childhood perception that, in this country, Jews were Americans like anyone else, and they lived in a society that would treat them as equals, as everyone should be treated. This was one of the glorious gifts of being an American. This was my faith, and it was shared, I think, by many Jews.

We were wrong; I was wrong. Anti-Semitism had not disappeared. It had simply hibernated. The tendency to turn normal disappointments and setbacks into obsessive hatred and deranged anger has proven indestructible. It's made worse by being promoted by national leaders who exploit it for political advantage. This creates a permissive climate for overheated rhetoric and (ultimately) violence that, in varying forms, afflicts much of our political culture. What's missing is bipartisan self-restraint that is a sign of maturity.

The slaughter of 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue is a great tragedy; but so were the killings of dozens of others in many different settings — schools, concerts, churches. Our descent into this societal inferno is obviously a condition that affects more than Jews.

The promise of America is that we all consider ourselves Americans first — and then whatever else we are as individuals. This defines how people engage with the larger society. But we are losing this essential cohesion and are being fragmented ("sliced and diced") into a society of different and clashing loyalties. If Jews — as well as African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and even whites — are singled out as groups that need special protections or privileges, they will paradoxically become second-class citizens, deprived of the full freedoms that are central to our character and dependent on the goodwill of the larger majority. That is what's at stake.

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

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The post Robert Samuelson: The Future Of Anti-Semitism appeared first on Investor's Business Daily.


81. Take It From An Employer: Tax Cuts — Not Minimum Wage Hikes — Help the Working ClassВт., 30 окт.[−]

Employers beware: The $15 minimum wage is back.

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Next month, Amazon plans to increase its base wage from $11 to $15 an hour, impacting 250,000 full-time employees and 100,000 seasonal workers. Following Amazon's lead, retailers like Target and Walmart are likely to follow suit, and congressional Democrats are promoting legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Voters in two states will decide whether to raise their minimum wages in the midterm elections next Tuesday.

It's fine if a business chooses to raise its wages. But the difference comes when politicians mandate a minimum wage hike without foreseeing the policy's unintended consequences.

For Democrats, the logic is simple: If you support a $15 hourly wage, then you're compassionate. You're "pro-worker." If you oppose the wage increase, then you must be an evil capitalist with no care in the world for working Americans.

It's flawed logic, and it's insulting.

Costly Side Effects

While minimum wage hikes sound appealing, they do little more than jeopardize the professional lives of the very workers they purportedly help. When the minimum wage increases, employers — that is, job creators — face an increase in labor costs. The more they must pay for labor, the fewer resources they have left over to introduce new products, slash retail prices, and so forth. They have less wiggle room to improve the customer experience.

This often results in difficult choices. In California, New York, and other states where the $15 minimum wage has been adopted, we've seen dozens of businesses — many of them small businesses — close because a wage hike is simply unaffordable. Others have raised their prices or laid off employees to cope with the higher wage floor. Take Reaching Beyond Care, a child-care provider in Oakland, which was converted to a part-time after-school program. Or consider Long Island's Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which "now schedules one less person per hour and expects employees to work faster."

We're talking jobs, jobs, and more lost jobs. In California, a $15 minimum wage is expected to cost the state as many as 400,000 jobs. It's a similar story in cities like Seattle, and Flagstaff, Ariz. Are unemployed workers truly better off when hourly wages increase? ( For more IBD coverage of the minimum wage debate, click here.)

Tax Cuts Are Pro-Worker

There's a better way to be "pro-worker." Cut taxes.

Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed and signed last year, more than 730 U.S. employers have used their tax savings to raise wages, award bonuses, and distribute other employee benefits. With more money in their wallets, millions upon millions of working Americans have benefited — not the 1%, but the 99%.

Under the Trump economy, business owners are paying higher wages to keep and attract employees. According to the White House, 6 million employees have received raises due to last year's tax cuts.

Moreover, 90% of American income earners are seeing greater take-home pay because of the new law's tax withholding tables. In other words, the overwhelming majority of the U.S. workforce is now better off because of tax cuts.

No Unintended Consequences

Unlike minimum wage hikes, tax cuts come with no unintended consequences for working Americans. They don't lead to price increases. They don't lead to layoffs. And they don't force small business owners to close their doors. Tax cuts lead to lower unemployment — a sure solution for increasing wages the right way.

Take it from a small-business owner: Tax cuts leave us with more cash on hand, making it easier to expand business operations and create jobs for those willing to work.

Whereas a higher minimum wage leaves countless losers in its wake, tax cuts come with no caveats — just a whole lot of winners.

  • Semprevivo is president and CEO of Joseph's Lite Cookies in Florida. He is an adjunct professor of finance, real estate, and insurance at Indian River State College and the author of "Madness, Miracles, Millions."

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82. Midterm Elections: 5 States Could Wreck Their Economies In Futile Fight Against 'Climate Change'Вт., 30 окт.[−]

Election 2018: Next week, voters in five states will decide whether they want to raise their own taxes, kill jobs and lower their standards of living. All in a fanciful effort to stop "global warming." They'd be better off letting the free market do the work.

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Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado all have global-warming ballot initiatives, each heavily financed by environmental activists. New Mexico voters will decide whether to elect a powerful land commissioner who promises stiff curbs on emissions.

None of these will make any difference in the global climate. But they will cost their residents dearly.

In Washington, voters will decide whether to be the first state to impose a carbon tax. Initiative 1631 would slap a $15 tax on each ton of CO2 emissions starting in 2020. That would climb by $2 every year after that.

Tax On Everything

This tax will hit everything, from gasoline prices (up by as much as 59 cents a gallon) to electricity bills to everyday household goods. That translates into hundreds of dollars a year for a typical household right out of the gate, with costs climbing to nearly $1,000 a year by 2035.

An analysis by the National Economic Research Associates also found that the tax would cut the state's growth by 0.4% in the first two years.

Even more absurd than the tax hit, however, is the fact that the initiative includes numerous exemptions — such as on aluminum production and fuel bought by government.

Talk about pointless. The U.N. says that the entire world would have to slap carbon taxes of up to $5,500 per ton to avoid a supposed climate-change catastrophe. Washington state's action will only hurt Washington residents.

In other words, Washington's tax amounts to nothing more than very expensive virtue-signaling.

Costly Renewable Mandates

Voters in both Arizona and Nevada, meanwhile, will decide whether to boost their mandates on renewable energy. Both initiatives would force utilities to get half of their electricity from renewables like wind and solar by 2030 — less than 12 years from now.

As Stephen Moore explained in these pages recently, these renewable mandates are a punitive tax on the poor and middle class. Why? Because these mandates raise the cost of energy.

Moore notes that a Manhattan Institute study found that eight of the 10 states with the highest electric bills had renewable-energy mandates. "We are talking about hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars of higher costs every year to homeowners," he says.

And because energy costs represent a bigger share of the budgets of lower-income families, these hikes end up being regressive taxes. The impact on global warming? Less than negligible.

Limits On Fracking

Over in Colorado, voters will have the chance to severely limit the ability of oil and gas companies to extract energy in the state using the state-of-the-art drilling technology known as fracking.

Initiative 97 would ban oil and gas wells within 2,500 feet of homes, businesses and protected lands. That would effectively ban drilling in about 85% of the state.

This is a particularly ludicrous effort since fracking is responsible for a significant decrease in CO2 emissions over the past decade.

The fracking revolution opened vast supplies of natural gas to drillers, which sharply lowered natural gas prices. That, in turn, made natural gas (which emits less CO2) more competitive than coal (which emits more). As utilities switched, CO2 emissions dropped.

Banning or limiting fracking will make such gains more difficult.

Cutting Methane Emissions

Meanwhile, New Mexico voters will be picking the next powerful public lands commissioner. As the New York Times notes, "at stake is a job with the authority to regulate the emissions of methane."

The Democrat running for this job, Stephanie Garcia Richard, has promised to cut down on methane emissions. Since the state owns nine million acres of land, a crackdown on methane leaks from oil and gas operations there has the potential to severely hamper the industry, along with the well-paying jobs that go with it.

But methane emissions in the state have been dropping on their own. That's thanks to industry-driven advances in the technology. In 2017 alone, emissions dropped by more than 50%.

Forcing still deeper cuts in methane emissions will likely cost the industry — and the state's economy — plenty, but will do nothing to change the global climate.

Voters in these states should know that while they're deciding whether to impose these costs on themselves, the free market has been making huge inroads in cutting CO2 emissions, without any carbon taxes, mandates or Paris climate accords.

A Better Way

The Energy Information Administration reports that CO2 emissions from electric utilities has dropped so much in recent years that they're now lower than they've been in more than 30 years.

EIA data show that the decline is due not only to fracking. It also the result of increased economic efficiency.

This increased efficiency, mind you, has little or nothing to do with federal regulations or mandates. It is the result of the relentless pressure a competitive free market puts on companies to wring out every ounce of waste and inefficiency.

Next week, voters in these five states will have a unique opportunity to send a loud message to the rest of the country. Namely, that they aren't buying the global-warming hysteria.

We can only hope they do so.

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83. Dennis Prager: The Pittsburgh Synagogue, Anti-Semitism And TrumpВт., 30 окт.[−]

All my life I have reminded fellow Jews in America that we are the luckiest Jews to have ever lived in a non-Jewish country. I know what I'm talking about. I wrote a book on anti-Semitism, taught Jewish history at Brooklyn College and fought anti-Semitism since I was 21, when Israel sent me into the Soviet Union to smuggle in Jewish religious items and smuggle out Jewish names.

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Even after the massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, this assessment remains true.

But the greatest massacre of Jews in American history is a unique American tragedy.

It is a tragedy in part because America has now made the list of countries in which Jews were murdered for being Jews. While this was probably inevitable, given that 330 million people live in America, it is painful — equally for me as an American and as a Jew.

Anti-Semitism Is Exterminationist

And second, while there is no difference between the murder of Christians at a church and the murder of Jews in a synagogue with regard to the loss of life and the suffering of loved ones, there is something unique about the murder of Jews for being Jews: Anti-Semitism is exterminationist. Anti-semites don't just want to persecute, enslave or expel Jews; they want to kill them all.

On Passover, Jews read the Haggadah, the ancient Jewish prayer book of the Passover Seder. In it are contained these words: "In every generation, they arise to annihilate us" — not "persecute" us; not "enslave" us; annihilate us.

So, when the murderer yelled, "All Jews must die," he encapsulated the uniqueness of anti-Semitism.

There is another unique aspect to anti-Semitism: It destroys every society in which it grows. The animating force within Adolf Hitler was Jew-hatred. More than anything else — desire for German "Lebensraum," hatred of Bolshevism, a view of Slavs as subhuman — it was anti-Semitism that invigorated him. Anti-Semitism was not a Nazi scapegoat; it was the Nazis' raison d'etre.

The results of German anti-Semitism for Germans alone: more than 5 million dead, including half a million German civilians; 130,000 more civilians murdered by the Nazi regime; 12 million Germans expelled from East Europe, 2 million of whom died; innumerable rapes of German women; Germany divided in two for half a century — and the loss of a sense of self and reputation.

I have no idea if, outside the universities and the Israel-hating left, there has been an increase in anti-Semitism in America. I wish I could trust the Anti-Defamation League, other Jewish organizations and Jewish community newspapers. Sadly, only Jews on the left do, because most of these organizations have a left-wing, anti-Trump agenda.

Here's a perfect example:

The mainstream left-wing media, along with left-wing Jewish organizations and media, told us every day for months after Trump's election that anti-Semitism had greatly increased. They cited the great number of Jewish Community Centers that received bomb threats. It turned out, however, that about 90% of those threats were called in by a mentally disturbed American Jewish teenager living in Israel, and the other 10% were made by a black radical seeking to frame his ex-girlfriend. So, the claim eventually vanished from the news — with not one Jewish or non-Jewish organization or media outlet apologizing for crying anti-Semitic "fire" in a crowded theater.

Pittsburgh Synagogue And Trump

The dishonest now have the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre to blame on Trump. But that's as big a falsehood as blaming Trump for the bomb threats. In reality, the Pittsburgh murderer criticized Trump for his close connections to Jews and Israel.

For Jews to blame the most pro-Israel president since Harry Truman — the only president with a Jewish child and Jewish grandchildren, moreover — for increasing anti-Semitism is another example of a truism this Jew has known all his life: Unlike Jewish liberals, who get most of their values from Judaism, Jewish leftists are ethnically Jewish but get their values from leftism.

The biggest increase in anti-Semitism in the last 10 or so years has come from the left. Just ask young Jews who wear yarmulkes or are vocally pro-Israel on most American college campuses. And this generation's threat of Jewish annihilation comes from Israel's Iranian and Arab enemies.

As a Jew who attends synagogue every Shabbat, and as an advocate for the carrying of concealed weapons, I fervently pray we will not need armed guards at American synagogues. America's uniqueness has been exemplified by the fact that Jews do not need armed guards in their synagogues.

May it always be so.

Even if you don't love Jews — if you only love America — you need to fight anti-Semites. As the Jews go, so goes the fate of the nation in which they live.

  • 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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84. Stephen Moore: Why Trump Haters Hate ProsperityВт., 30 окт.[−]

Here is Moore's rule of modern-day politics: The better the economy performs under President Donald Trump and the more successes he racks up, the more unhinged the left becomes. It's a near linear relationship. And it goes for media as well.

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That's why the monthly jobs announcements and the quarterly GDP reports, like the one released Oct. 26, are the unhappiest days of the year for the Trump haters. News of 3.5% to 4% growth and 7 million surplus jobs are the bane of the resistance movement's existence.

So with the economy flying high, the pundits who predicted Trump would shut down the world economy have had to continually invent new reasons that Trump is the worst thing to happen to the United States since typhoid fever.

Consider the latest leftist rant: Trump has moved the GOP to the far right and has hijacked the principles of the Republican Party. Whatever happened, they ask, to the good ol' days when moderates in the GOP used to compromise, cut deals with Ted Kennedy and capitulate?

Liberals want a return to the days when the GOP's standard bearers were people like George H.W. Bush, Bob Michel, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and most recently, John Kasich.

Think. What do all these Republicans have in common? Losing.

My intention isn't to disparage these men. I have known all of them and respect them all — especially the noble war heroes. Michel was a Republican minority leader beloved by the left for years and years, precisely because he kept the House Republicans where they belonged — in the minority.

It was only when the mean Newt Gingrich "hijacked" the party with a hard-charging conservative political and economic reform agenda that the GOP blasted out the Democrats with dynamite and won the House for the first time in a half-century.

Or consider Bush, Dole, McCain and Romney. They all lost the White House and now are treated as statesmen and political icons. Lovable losers.

Trump's crime is that he's a winner. Which is why the left now pines for, as The New York Times recently put it, "principled Republicans." The party has "lost its way" and abandoned what it stood for. Nicholas Kristof writes in The Times that "sure, there are still many principled individuals left in the party" — by which the left means people who oppose Trump — but "as a national institution the Republican Party is hollow."

Wait a minute. Aren't prosperity and opportunity two of the most cherished Republican principles?

What infuriates Trump haters is that he figured out how to win over tens of millions of disaffected working-class voters with an unapologetic "America First" platform. These voters abandoned the union leaders and the party of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders in favor of an agenda of better trade deals, border enforcement, lower taxes, less regulation and more coal, oil and gas jobs.

Trump found the fault line in the Democratic coalition and exploited it like the bombing of Dresden. He persuaded blue-collar workers that they have nothing in common with people like Tom Steyer, radical environmentalists who have taken over the reins of the Democratic Party and want to destroy manufacturing, mining and energy jobs as a sacrifice to the gods of global warming.

Because Trump has taken on the left's sacred cows of political correctness, victimization, open borders and racial preferences, he's labeled a racist, xenophobic, lslamophobic woman-hater.

It turns out though that a whole lot of voters agree with Trump. If Trump is a bigot for articulating his "America First" paradigm, doesn't that mean the millions of formerly Democratic voters who crossed over to vote for Trump must also be narrow-minded and culturally inferior rednecks?

In other words, liberals really do hold the view that blue-collar voters are a gang of "deplorables." Good luck winning back their votes. Ironically, as Democrats complain that Trump's tax cuts only benefit the rich, the wealthiest counties in America overwhelmingly vote Democratic and the poorest counties and states are more likely to vote Republican.

Politics is a contact sport. There aren't many moral victories in politics. And yes, it really all does come down to winning. As two-time winner Bill Clinton used to say, you can't change the country if you don't win.

The problem for the Trump haters, and the reason they are so spitting angry, is that Trump is changing the country for the better. According to a Quinnipiac poll, 7 of 10 voters rate the economy as good or great. Liberals are doubly angry and frustrated because they were so sure he would fail. Perhaps they are the ones who are intellectually inferior.

  • 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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85. Migrant Caravan: A Foreign-Financed, Leftist-Led Violation Of U.S. SovereigntyВт., 30 окт.[−]

Immigration: The so-called migrant caravan that's slowly making its way to the U.S. from Central America is many things to many people. But one thing seems pretty certain: it's not about seeking "asylum," or "refugee status." It's about getting to the United States at all costs.

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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Sunday was blunt. She said the caravan wending its way through Mexico to the U.S. is " not getting in."

"There a legal way to get into this country," she told Fox New Sunday. "Those who choose to enter illegally will be stopped."

Even so, thousands continue on their way. They know from their fellow Central Americans or from their own experience that the U.S. is notoriously lax about its border controls. It does next to nothing once you get here. Even those who are caught entering illegally get a legal slap on the wrist and an order to return to court for a deportation hearing. The vast majority never show up. We do nothing.

Americans are, perhaps understandably, squeamish about all this. After all, what other nation has ever described itself as a "nation of immigrants" with such obvious pride? To push back a group of thousands who seek come here doesn't feel right for some.

But it should.

Caravan Of Chaos

First is the ineluctable fact that a country that doesn't protect its borders isn't a country at all. We've said this many times before, but it bears repeating. Countries that can't defend borders cease to exist, at least in any meaningful sense.

Second, the people coming here are being abetted by outside money and aid to create an embarrassing spectacle on our border right as our midterm elections hit. Can there really be any other reason for the timing of this mass migration?

Writing for PJMedia, Rick Moran notes that "only about 1,700 of the estimated 7,000 Central American refugees in the caravan heading to the U.S. border have accepted an offer from the Mexican government for asylum."

The offer shows Mexico is at least trying to help the U.S. to end this political travesty. Not only did Mexico's government offer the migrants asylum in a country that speaks their language. It also offered them a host of benefits, including temporary ID cards, work permits, medical care, schooling and local housing. Only 23% took them up.

No, as repeated comments from caravan participants show, the U.S. is the promised land. It has more jobs, bigger welfare checks, and massive illegal communities just waiting to welcome the newcomers. The idea that this is about leaving political repression and gang violence doesn't wash.

Foreign Help

So why do they keep going on their arduous trip? Obviously, they're being aided. Vice President Pence said that Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez told him that the caravan had been "organized by leftist organizations and financed by Venezuela."

Meanwhile, the U.N. is committing resources to the caravan. In essence, it uses U.S. taxpayers' money to fund a violation of their own border. That way, the U.S. can join all the other countries with a mass immigration problem.

As the UN News service reported, "A priority for UNHCR (the UN's refugee agency), which has mobilized extra staff and resources to help . Those making the journey in Mexico's southern borderlands, is ensuring migrants are informed on their rights to asylum. In an agency video, a UNHCR protection associate said many migrants were simply unaware asylum was an option."

In other words, the U.N. has set up shop in Mexico and is pushing these migrants to go to the U.S. Once again, the U.N. violates a member nation's right to protect its own borders. Fortunately, President Trump is having none of it. He'll send 5,200 troops to the border to stop the influx.

For those who have suggested Trump's move is illegal under the "Posse Comitatus" Act of 1878, they're wrong. That law's letter and intent was to keep the U.S. from using federal military troops against its own citizens. No one intended for this law to force our borders open to those who would violate our sovereignty.

Media's Misleading Narrative

By the way, the media's non-stop focus on the families with children, while some of their stories are heartbreaking, is deceptive. As photos of the march clearly show, the bulk of the "asylum seekers" are young, working-age men. They're not seeking "asylum." They're seeking jobs. And an unknown number are criminals, including murderous MS-13 thugs.

This has happened before, by the way. In March, a similar caravan headed our way, organized and pushed by far-left open-border groups. The U.S. and Mexico teamed together then to halt the caravan. This time, it's bigger, and the stakes are too.

This is not a human rights issue. All of those who wish to can already apply for asylum or visas or residence. No one will stop them. We're pro-immigration — pro-legal-immigration. But people may not enter the country illegally. That's a matter of the law.

It's time we take our border seriously, or we'll end up like those countries in Europe and the Mideast who find their nations no longer governable. Any president has as one of his main jobs to protect our border. President Trump is doing just that. As he should.

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86. Caution: Fed Criticisms By Trump Could Have ConsequencesВт., 30 окт.[−]

It's not the job of market participants to tell elected officials what to say or not to say, but it is our job to consider the consequences of their remarks. And thinking through President Trump's recent criticism of monetary policy, there are reasons to be concerned. The criticism is remarkable not for its pointedness but rather for the break with precedent.

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In recent decades, administrations have avoided commenting on monetary policy in recognition of the Federal Reserve's independence from politics. In addition, that the criticism has come as a result of just a six percent decline in the S&P500 raises questions about how the President would respond to a meaningful economic shock, and what sort of pressure the administration might put on Federal Reserve officials in such an event.

Tuning Out Politics

To be clear, there is no reason to doubt that Fed policymakers will remain faithful to their statutory mandate of promoting price stability, maximum employment and moderate long-term interest rates, tuning out any political pressure in the process. Markets appear to have the same view. Any serious concerns about a politicized central bank would most immediately be reflected in wider break-even rates of inflation derived from Treasury securities, but these measures remain in recent ranges.Tu

The fact that President Trump's appointments to the Board of Governors are all well-qualified individuals likely contributes to market confidence that the central bank will act independently of political pressure. And one could argue that there is a silver lining in the president's criticisms, as they suggest that the Federal Reserve is indeed setting monetary policy without input from the White House.

The real issue with President Trump's comments is that in certain circumstances they can create a perception that the Federal Reserve is bending to politics, an outcome which can have negative consequences for public and private borrowing costs.

Federal Reserve Dilemma

Take the following example: imagine that at some point in the coming months, a combination of tighter financial conditions, weaker inflation and a deceleration in growth — perhaps as a result of tariffs — makes the FOMC more concerned about downside risks to the outlook. In such a scenario, the FOMC could reasonably decide to put the interest rate normalization cycle on hold, skipping a quarterly interest rate increase.

Such a decision would represent monetary policy as usual — the FOMC would simply be adjusting policy in reaction to new information that changes their expectations for the economy or the distribution of risks around their central case. And in the present context, the public should view a pause in the tightening cycle as well-telegraphed and reasonable.

After all, the Committee's projections already incorporate a pause in the tightening cycle at some point next year. And Chairman Powell has also stressed the importance of a risk management approach to monetary policy as the FOMC attempts to balance upside inflation risks if policy tightens too slowly, and recession risks if the FOMC raises rates too quickly.

A (Fed) Pause That Refreshes?

But herein lies the issue. The president's comments can create the impression that at least on the margin, the decision to pause the tightening cycle was influenced by political pressure. And in the hypothetical situation outlined above — weaker data, falling inflation, and perhaps further declines in stock prices — the president would likely be criticizing the Fed in close proximity to the meeting at which the FOMC decides to pause.

The situation should not be taken lightly. The dollar remains the world's premier reserve currency, in no small part because of the faith in U.S. institutions including the Federal Reserve. At a time of soaring deficits that will require even greater reliance on foreign investment in U.S. Treasuries, any actions that call into question the credibility and independence of the central bank can have devastating consequences for the government's funding costs and the durability of the current expansion.

  • Friedman is a senior economist with BNP Paribas Asset Management in New York City.

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87. Here's Something Obama Actually Deserves Credit ForВт., 30 окт.[−]

Health Reform: The American people may not believe that Barack Obama deserves credit for the current economy, but they do say he's largely responsible for the state of health care, thanks to ObamaCare. It's not a compliment.

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Fifty-six percent of the public says that Obama is "most responsible for the current state of the U.S. health care system," according to the latest Morning Consult/Politico survey. That's up from the 44% who said Obama was most responsible in March. Fewer than a quarter (24%) say Trump is most responsible, which is down from 28% in March.

So, what is the "current state of the U.S. health care system"? Not good. And the public is right to pin the blame on Obama.

Unaffordable Health Care

Despite its official title — the " Affordable Care Act" — ObamaCare caused premiums in the individual insurance market to more than double since it went into effect in 2014. The result has been to price millions of middle-class families who aren't eligible for ObamaCare subsidies out of the insurance market altogether.

In fact, enrollment among this group dropped 10% from 2016 to 2017, while enrollment among those eligible for subsidies remained steady, official government data show. In short, as ObamaCare pushed premiums ever upward, individual insurance increasingly became affordable only to those eligible for subsidies.

Even those covered by ObamaCare plans often find health care unaffordable, thanks to the huge deductibles and extremely limited provider networks that typically come with those plans. Nor did ObamaCare do anything to lower employer premiums. They're up some $6,000 since 2010, despite Obama's repeated promise that his plan would cut them by $2,500.

What's more, all the gains in insurance coverage came from ObamaCare's vast expansion of Medicaid. Not its insurance market "reforms." Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that the share of working-age people covered by private insurance went from 71% in 2005 to 69.3% last year. The share covered by government programs, in contrast, went from 11.5% in 2005 to 19.3% last year.

So, in addition to jacking up premiums, ObamaCare vastly increased dependency on government.

Obama And Doctor Shortages

You can also thank Obama for the fact that doctors are increasingly in short supply.

A survey by the Doctors Co. found that more than half of physicians say they plan to retire next year. Fully 70% wouldn't recommend becoming a doctor to students.

One of the biggest factors driving rampant doctor dissatisfaction? Obama's mandate that they adopt "electronic health records." Obama said this would lower costs, increase efficiency and improve quality of care.

It's done none of those things.

The Physicians Foundation survey found that more than half of the nearly 9,000 doctors surveyed say the EHR requirement has made them less efficient, and two-thirds say it's cut the amount of time they spend with patients.

A study published in Health Affairs found that the mandate costs doctors $15 billion a year in compliance costs.

Misinformed On Health Care

Given all this, why do Democrats feel they have the advantage when it comes to health care? Why aren't they running scared on the issue, after their plan to fix health care with more government mandates, regulations, subsidies and controls horribly backfired?

Instead, they're spending a fortune advertising it, and the press reports that health care has become the Democrats' "closing argument" for the midterm elections next week.

We can think of only two reasons. One, the mainstream news media has horribly misinformed the public about the issue to help Democrats win elections. And two, Republicans badly bungled the health care issue when they failed to make the case for repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with free-market forms.

We can only hope that the Morning Consult poll is an indication that the public is starting to understand who's really to blame for the current health care mess.

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88. Merchant Capital Gives Small Businesses A Big BreakВт., 30 окт.[−]

Nearly 60 million Americans — and 7 million Californians — work at a small business. That's roughly half the private-sector workforce. Yet for all the value these companies add to our economy, they still struggle to secure short-term capital when they need it.

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Banks are usually a long shot. In July, America's large banks denied three in four small business loan applications. Community banks were just a touch more generous.

It's no wonder, then, that a growing number of small businesses are turning to alternative forms of finance. One option, "merchant capital" — an arrangement in which a company provides quick cash to a small business in return for a percentage of its future sales — has proven particularly popular in recent years

But lawmakers across the country, including here in the Golden State, are targeting this form of finance, claiming that it's too costly. If lawmakers succeed in these efforts, life will get a lot more difficult for small businesses — and the millions of Americans they employ.

Small businesses need quick infusions of cash for all sorts of reasons. Consider the neighborhood ice-cream shop that loses its freezer in the middle of the summer — or that clothing store that needs to act fast on a promising new retail location. Or think about the small software company that needs to make payroll, but is still waiting on checks from a half dozen dependable — but notoriously delinquent — clients.

Merchant Capital: Quick Cash

In all of these scenarios, access to quick cash doesn't just help the business — it helps employees and the overall economy.

Situations like these are fairly common. One in five small businesses either dipped into personal funds or relied on external financing last year in order to cover operating costs, according to a Federal Reserve survey.

This is especially true in California where the cost of operating a business are exorbitant. In fact, California ranks 49th out of 50 for the most expensive states to do business, according to one study.

The thicket of regulations foisted on California business owners often puts them in the unfortunate situation of having to reach out, quickly, for capital. I should know — for six years in a row, Sacramento has delivered higher-than-expected tax bills to all employers in the state because of a debt it owes to the Federal Unemployment Trust Account. Since the state isn't supposed to be in debt, businesses don't expect these tax bills.

For many small firms, turning to merchant capital — also known as a "merchant cash advance" — is a much safer bet than trying their luck at a bank.

With this form of finance, small businesses receive cash in exchange for a fixed percentage of their future sales until they've paid everything, plus a fee, back to the merchant capital provider. Retailers typically deduct a percentage of their credit and debit card transactions automatically to cut down on administrative hassle.

Traditional Loan Failure

There are plenty of reasons why a business might prefer this approach to a traditional bank loan.

For starters, banks are pretty stingy with small business loans. Merchant capital providers are less easily scared away by small businesses — and don't put as weight on business owners' personal credit histories.

Sometimes it's just an issue of time. Businesses applying for a merchant cash advance get an answer in a matter of days, and sometimes hours — not weeks or months, as with a bank loan. This is crucial for firms in a crunch that don't have time to navigate a complicated loan application process.

On top of that, bank loans are usually repaid through fixed monthly payments — regardless of how well a company is performing. Payments for merchant cash advances are based on a business' actual sales. This means the capital provider only gets paid when the business makes money.

In short, merchant capital gives small companies another option for dealing with unexpected expenses. And sometimes, this financial tool is the only way to keep a business' doors open or avoid a large-scale layoff.

Nevertheless, California lawmakers are trying to undermine the merchant capital industry. Both the state Assembly and Senate recently passed S.B. 1235, a bill that would require all alternative finance companies, including merchant capital providers, to use a new, uniform metric in disclosing financing costs associated with their products.

California Governor Jerry Brown just signed the bill into law.

Cali's Meddlesome 'Metric'

The newly-created metric, dubbed the "Annualized Cost of Capital," is more likely to disorient customers than to illuminate the real nature of alternative finance products.

And the likely result of all of this confusion will be an increase in the legal and administrative costs borne by the industry — a consequence that will surely make merchant cash advances few and far between in California.

The same is true for New York's effort to regulate merchant capital through the state's Department of Financial Services. By forcing the industry to comply with a thicket of regulations and requirements, the reform would burden the industry with new administrative costs and complications, thereby hindering its availability to New York businesses.

Merchant cash advances provide the short-term capital that small firms need to survive and thrive. California leaders who want to promote a vibrant, growing economy need to see the merchant capital industry as an opportunity — not an unwelcome threat to business owners.

  • Myers is an Orange County small business owner with over two decades of experience at America's leading technology firms. He is also an adjunct lecturer at Biola University and serves as program chairperson for the Lincoln Club of Orange County, a pro-business PAC.

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89. New Documents Reveal How Obama Unjustly Targeted Payday LendersПн., 29 окт.[−]

New federal documents shine the light on how the Obama administration unjustly targeted the payday loan industry. Through a sketchy initiative called Operation Choke Point, unelected bureaucrats stretched the law in an attempt to keep potential borrowers from accessing funds.

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Obama's Justice Department began Operation Choke Point in 2013. On paper, the initiative gave senior-level government officials at the Federal Insurance Deposit Commission (FDIC) the ability to investigate companies they believed could be involved in fraud or money laundering. In reality, the program enabled FDIC officials to abuse their power by strong-arming banks into cutting ties with industries that were arbitrarily deemed to be "high risk."

Targeting Payday Lenders

These industries included industries that the Obama administration didn't approve of — namely firearms, fireworks, and payday loans.

Information on the program was sketchy — few documents were public. But now we know a lot more about this political witch hunt due to letters subpoenaed in the court case Advance America et al. v Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. et al.

These letters show that FDIC regional directors were specifically targeting the payday lending industry, and their rhetoric reeks of bias. One director referred to the industry as a "dirty business" and told his staff that he must be informed if "(a)ny banks even remotely involved in payday (lending)." FDIC officials told one bank that it was "unacceptable" for the bank to continue to serve payday lenders.

In fear of potential retaliation, banks caved to FDIC officials' pressure. Sadly, many payday lenders paid the ultimate price when their banks and credit lenders, sometimes out of the blue, cut their access to credit and even closed their accounts. The impact was staggering: Advance America, the plaintiff mentioned in the above lawsuit, received termination notices from 21 banks and 275 rejection letters. Banks often gave no reason why they were terminating relationships.

What's more disturbing is FDIC officials seemed to cover their tracks by ensuring that the entire decision to terminate the bank's relationship with the lenders fell back onto the bank, and not the government. Payday lenders, without access to credit or bank access, were soon folding at record rates — and their customers had no idea why.

CFPB Went After Payday Lenders

This isn't the first time that the payday loan industry has been unfairly targeted by government officials. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), under former director Richard Cordray, was vocal in hounding the short-term lending industry, even though they only accounted for less than 2% of consumer complaints to the CFPB.

Similar to what the FDIC did to "choke off" the industry, the CFPB finalized a rule that would require all short-term lenders to conduct a "full-payment test." This test would strangle lenders in red tape that substantially slowed down the borrowing process — effectively stranding low-income Americans who rely on payday loans to get from paycheck to paycheck.

The previous administration made it a personal vendetta to unjustly target the payday industry by making the out-of-touch assumption that borrowers are being taken advantage of. In reality, payday loans offer borrowers a quick and transparent way to obtain cash for those not in the mainstream banking system. Payday loans provide a pivotal service in emergencies, considering that four in 10 Americans are unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense.

The payday loan industry is still hurting from the residual effects of a scandal that was almost swept under the rug. No industry should ever be targeted as a political pawn, especially one that provides a service so many Americans count on.

  • Joseph is an adjunct professor at George Washington University and George Mason University.

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90. 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' For Kavanaugh — Media Believe It, The People Don'tПн., 29 окт.[−]

Sexual assault is a fundamental violation of individual liberty. But so is denial of due process, whether it comes in the form of warrantless mass surveillance or — as Democrats demonstrated during the recent confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh the imposition of a "guilty until proven innocent" doctrine for assessing the merit of a criminal allegation.

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Democrats' doctrine seeks to overturn one of the foundational pillars of American jurisprudence — ensconced in the Fifth Amendment promise that "(n)o person shall … be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

This elemental right — reiterated by the Fourteenth Amendment — is an essential underpinning of the rule of law dating all the way back to the Magna Carta in 1215.

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land," the Great Charter stated.

Due process has been the definition of an inalienable right for seven centuries — which is why the contemporary war being waged against it by the forces of "tolerance" is so dangerous.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Setting aside ideological considerations for the moment, though, what is the practical impact of this new doctrine?

Clearly, Democrats believe "guilty until proven innocent" is politically advantageous to them. Otherwise they would not have doubled-down on the allegations against Kavanaugh (which were never corroborated, let alone proven beyond a reasonable doubt).

Nonetheless, dating back to the notorious Duke Lacrosse case over a decade ago mainstream media outlets have reflexively regurgitated this belief. Additionally, they insist Kavanaugh's supporters have positioned themselves on the wrong side of the #MeToo divide — and that anyone refusing to embrace the nation's new definition of "tolerance" is courting electoral defeat.

Is this accurate? No. Not at all.

Kavanaugh And Due Process

In fact, according to a recent Market Research Foundation (MRF) survey — which was conducted at the peak of the Kavanaugh confirmation drama — voters rejected this "new tolerance" doctrine (and embraced due process) by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

According to the survey, only 36% of respondents agreed with the statement "we should always believe a woman's claim of sexual assault even if the details and evidence are lacking." Nearly two-thirds of respondents — 64% — disagreed.

Meanwhile, 64% of respondents agreed that accepting an allegation of assault without evidence was a "violation of the due process Americans are guaranteed."

The same margin further agreed that decades-old allegations were "troubling" and created a situation in which "the accused has a very low chance of (receiving) a fair hearing."

Preference For Fairness

Only one survey question posed by MRF was even close. Respondents were asked whether they thought alleged sexual assault victims would always be believed "even if evidence says otherwise and the reputation of the accused person is permanently damaged." According to the survey, 52% of respondents agreed with that statement compared to 48% who disagreed.

This last question is obviously a commentary on the environment in which sexual assault allegations are raised — not the merits of the allegations themselves. In other words, respondents were assessing how others respond to such allegations — not necessarily expressing their individual views.

When it comes to their views, the data overwhelmingly indicate a preference for due process — a conclusion which thoroughly debunks the prevailing liberal narrative.

Such findings have potentially far-reaching ramifications for future elections. The media and the radical left have advanced the narrative that an allegation of sexual assault is tantamount to a criminal conviction. They have also convinced many candidates that standing up for due process is politically fatal.

Clearly, this is not the case. Americans are overwhelmingly inclined to support due process — especially in situations like the Kavanaugh hearing where material facts are in doubt.

Standing Up To The Mob

Every case is different, but it is clear from this research that a solid base of support awaits elected officials and candidates who extend the benefit of the doubt as opposed to reflexively joining a partisan lynch mob — or being cowed into silent submission.

Moreover, this support grows stronger the more educated respondents are — refuting the narrative that only "uneducated conservatives" embrace due process.

Further research is required on this topic, but MRF's survey provides us with an important reminder that conventional political wisdom — as dictated by the left-leaning media — is often wrong, and that independent fact checks are constantly required. It is also a barometer worth bearing in mind as we await the results of any number of contested races in November — and beyond.


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91. Robert Samuelson: Alan Greenspan's Splendid Overview Of Capitalism In AmericaПн., 29 окт.[−]

The story of American capitalism is a contradiction. It has succeeded brilliantly in creating widespread material well-being; and yet, it has not satisfied a popular yearning for a society with less economic insecurity and more "fairness" and equality. Can the two faces of capitalism coexist? Or is one bound to triumph over the other?

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These questions hover over the impending midterm election. Democrats — self-styled "progressives" — clamor for a more humane capitalism or an embrace of "socialism." Meanwhile, the Trump administration rejects socialism and advocates more tax cuts, a juiced-up capitalism.

The stock market's recent turmoil is a reminder of the system's instability. Granted, capitalism lacks a precise definition. It's more a spirit than a strict formula. Still, capitalism requires some bedrock conditions: property rights and widespread private ownership; reasonably free markets — decisions of what to produce and how are left mainly to private firms and individuals; an acceptance of some inequality to reflect differences in talent, work effort, risk-taking and good or bad fortune.

We now have a splendid new overview of capitalism's successes and failures in a new book — "Capitalism in America: A History" — by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge, an editor at The Economist.

You may have thought (I did) that America's economic advances have alternated between rapid gains and stretches of stagnation. Take the years between 1790 and 1860; they surely were dull decades.

Not so.

In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, dramatically improving cotton's profitability and entrenching a slave-holding economy. The Civil War became a virtual certainty. In 1825, the Erie Canal opened transport between Albany and Buffalo. A canal-building boom ensued. By 1850, America's canals totaled 3,700 miles.

Nor was that all. In 1844, Samuel Morse introduced the telegraph. Greenspan and Wooldridge consider it more important than the later invention of the telephone, which mainly stimulated socializing. By contrast, the telegraph quickly expanded the reach of business. Railroads were big users, because they needed to coordinate train movements.

What explains America's success at creating prosperity, argue Greenspan and Wooldridge, is society's willingness to accept change. "The central mechanism of this progress has been creative destruction," they write, evoking the phrase coined by economist Joseph Schumpeter.

Creative destruction involves a collective, though informal, bargain. In return for accepting the disruptions of new technologies, management methods and consumer tastes, people expect to be rewarded with higher incomes and living standards.

This bargain is besieged, as Greenspan and Wooldridge note. Gains have dwindled; wages and productivity increases have slowed. Meanwhile, pain — or public intolerance of pain — has increased. Unemployment after the Great Recession peaked at 15 million. Income inequality has risen. Many corporate executives and Wall Street traders seem ridiculously overpaid.

As a result, the sanctity of American capitalism is now questioned more than at any time since World War II. Critiques have proliferated, including a provocative and informative book ("Can American Capitalism Survive?") by my Washington Post colleague Steven Pearlstein.

Describing some dubious incidents of business conduct, he writes: "These individual stories ... now color the way we think about American capitalism. ... What was once considered the optimal system for organizing economic activity is now widely viewed ... as having betrayed its ideals and its purpose and forfeited its moral legitimacy."

Some of this rancor reflects a hangover from the 2008-09 financial crisis and Great Recession, when the system's near breakdown coincided with much self-interested, ethically challenged or greedy behavior. If nothing else, this reminds us that capitalism has always had its seamier side of exploitation and fraud.

Pearlstein argues that the distribution of income could be improved — without harming the rate of economic growth — by public policies that emphasized worker profit-sharing and an overhauled welfare system based on a "guaranteed minimum income."

Maybe — or maybe not.

The truth is that American capitalism is a joint venture between the private sector and public policies ( regulations, taxes, government spending and monetary policy). Laissez-faire (literally "leave to be") died a long time ago. But the interaction of so many pressures frustrates our ability to control the outcome.

We don't know whether capitalism is reinvigorating itself or whether it is in long-term decline, overwhelmed by the cumulative effect of government regulations, higher taxes and aging populations.

Writing in the 1940s, Schumpeter feared for capitalism's future: "Can capitalism survive? No. I do not think it can." Capitalism's very success in raising physical output would, especially among "intellectuals," produce a backlash by unsettling social classes and making materialism seem virtuous.

Greenspan and Wooldridge echo the same thought. "By producing prosperity, capitalism creates its own gravediggers in the form of a comfortable class of intellectuals and politicians," they write. "People link arms to protect threatened jobs and dying industries. They denounce capitalists for their ruthless greed."

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

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92. George Will: Stacey Abrams Gives Democrats A Tantalizing Sense Of 2020 PossibilitiesВс., 28 окт.[−]

"Life happens," Stacey Abrams instructs a small but boisterous crowd in a sun-drenched park south of Atlanta. She says: Your car breaks down. Your child gets sick. Could happen on election day. So, vote early. Today. In her campaign to be the first Democrat elected Georgia's governor since 1998, and America's first African-American female governor, she, even more than most Democrats, is depending on "low propensity voters," prodding to the polls many who have rarely voted in midterm elections.

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Chatting on her campaign bus she exudes Yale Law School and the University of Texas' Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, fluent about issues and droll about her mother's reaction to "my trajectory of downward economic mobility" when she left the practice of law to enter politics, rising to be minority leader of the state House of Representatives.

In front of a crowd, she is the thinking person's Dr. Phil telling the story of one of her five siblings (the others include a U.S. district judge and an evolutionary biologist), her bipolar brother who when he left prison left health care behind.

Raised in Mississippi, Abrams and her family moved to Atlanta when her parents decided to train for the Methodist ministry. When she was invited to a reception at the governor's mansion for high school valedictorians, the guard at the gate tried to turn away her and her parents because having arrived by bus they seemed misplaced.

Her father, she tells her listeners, told the guard "where he would spend eternity if he did not improve his decision-making skills." She adds that her family resided in the least affluent neighborhood of an affluent school district in order to have access to a good school. Her crowd laughs when she says, "You should not have to have a degree in cartography to get a good education in Georgia."

Georgia is one of 17 states that rejected Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. This, she says, costs the state $8 million a day and threatens rural hospitals, eight of which have closed and 21 others are threatened. So, she fishes for votes on Christian radio stations that have mostly white rural audiences.

While Abrams, 44, is toiling to create her base, her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, is stroking the erogenous zones of his with what Abrams calls "traditional tropes."

Kemp, 54, boasts that he is "politically incorrect," which is the politically correct thing for Republicans to say. Throwing caution to the wind, he has announced, "I say 'Merry Christmas.'" In one primary ad he brandished a shotgun that he says "no one's taking away" (who wants to confiscate shotguns?). Later in the ad, his prop was a Ford pickup for use "in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself." In another ad he pointed a shotgun at a teenage boy "interested in" one of Kemp's daughters. He wants you to know he is tough as nails, although most who actually are feel no need for such public display.

As secretary of state, Kemp is the umpire of elections under Georgia's "exact match" law, which can block a voter's registration if even a missing initial differs from the person's other public records.

Some Republicans make a mountain out of not even a molehill of evidence of voter fraud: Orchestrating fraud on a scale necessary to turn most elections would be a hugely inefficient investment of time and energy. Some Democrats are comparably overheated about "voter suppression," which they detect in every measure aimed at election integrity.

But because substantial voter fraud is a fiction, measures like "exact match" do seem designed to sow confusion in order to discourage voters. It has delayed the registration of more than 50,000 — disproportionately African-Americans — who, with proper identification, can still vote Nov. 6. Democratic turnout in the primary was up 40% over 2010, the last competitive gubernatorial contest.

Georgia, the eighth-most populous state, is 32% black (the third highest percentage, behind Mississippi and Louisiana), 10% Hispanic and 4% Asian. It has the second-lowest percentage of whites east of the Mississippi (after Maryland). Donald Trump won Georgia by only 5 points (3 fewer than Mitt Romney in 2012) and carried 23 of his 30 states by more.

Abrams and Kemp are in a statistical dead heat. In Georgia. In late October. So, she probably already has given national Democrats' a tantalizing sense of 2020 possibilities, particularly if she is governor.

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93. GM Surrenders To The Green Lobby — Calls On Feds To Mandate Electric CarsСб., 27 окт.[−]

Zero Sense: General Motors has given up on the free market. It now wants the federal government to force electric cars on the market and taxpayers to heavily subsidize them. GM ( GM) should focus more on improving reliability than pleasing environmentalists.

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In an op-ed published by USA Today, CEO Mary Barra says the federal government should impose a "National Zero Emissions Vehicle" program that will "move our country faster to an all-electric zero emissions future."

The program, as envisioned by GM, would basically take California's electric car mandate nationwide. It would require 7% of new cars sold to be electric in 2021 — less than three years from now. GM wants the mandate to increase each year, until it hits 25% by 2030.

EV Credits

As in California, carmakers would get credits for each EV car sold, and could buy and sell them with other automakers.

Barra also wants Congress to renew and expand the $7,500 refundable tax credit given to electric car buyers. Taxpayers have already forked over nearly $5 billion to subsidize the (mostly wealthy) electric car buyers. The credit is supposed to phase out once a carmaker sells 200,000 plug ins.

Barra says stopping the taxpayer subsidies "will stifle growth."

In other words, Barra is flat out admitting that without federal mandates and massive tax subsidies, electric cars don't have much of a future. Environmentalists might love them, but consumers clearly don't.

And for good reason. As it stands, plug-ins are expensive and have a limited utility. They serve a niche market.

The tiny Chevy Bolt lists at $37,000, and can go only about 238 miles before requiring a 9-hour recharge. In the first nine months of this year, GM sold a total of 11,807 Bolts, which is down from last year. The company sold four times as many gas-guzzling Silverado trucks in one month.

Few Plug-In Sales

Overall, electric car sales accounted for just 1.5% of total car sales in the first half of this year, despite getting huge federal tax credits and additional credits available in many states.

By pushing this electric car mandate, GM is also selling the fiction that plug-in cars are "zero emissions." They're not.

As we noted in this space, when you consider what it takes to make battery powered cars, plus the fact that electricity production is not emission free, plug-in electrics can produce more CO2 emissions than gas-powered cars.

Of the 29 brands Consumer Reports ranked for reliability, not one of GM's finished above 19th place. GM's luxury Cadillac brand finished second to last.

GM might want to spend less time and energy trying to appease the car-hating environmentalist lobby, and more time building better cars. And then let customers, not the federal government, decide what kind of car to buy.

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94. Will The Real Economy Please Stand Up?Пт., 26 окт.[−]

Economy: As of right now, there are two different views of the economy: The stock market view, which for now is bearish, and the GDP view, which is bullish. Which one is right? And which one will the Federal Reserve believe?

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Stocks have been in a tailspin since early October. The Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index, which includes more than 3,700 stocks, has fallen by nearly 10% since the start of October — a net loss of $3 trillion in market value. It's a big hit for the economy to sustain.

OK, but what about GDP? The nation's output of goods and services rose at a yearly 3.5% rate in the third quarter, beating expectations for 3.3% growth by most Wall Street economists, after rising 4.2% in the second quarter. More than three fourths of the GDP growth came from one sector: personal consumption. That's being driven by a 4.1% jump in personal disposable income, fueled by this year's bonuses, raises and fatter paychecks following the Trump tax cuts.

No Inflation

Even better, the GDP price deflator — the broadest measure of inflation — rose at an annual rate of just 1.6% in the third quarter. So from an economic standpoint, we have the best of all possible worlds: Fast growth and low inflation.

The message couldn't be more mixed. The market and economy appear to be in a tug of war over the future. The outlook is further clouded by the fact that no one knows how the midterm elections will turn out, or what President Donald Trump will do on tariffs, tax cuts and more deregulation.

Even so, consumer confidence as measured by the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index has been moving up in recent months. So the downturn on Wall Street hasn't yet affected the mood on Main Street.

Even so, despite troubling signs from the stock market's drop and further indications that inflation is a non-issue, many expect the Fed to continue its recent interest rate hikes. Since late 2016, following Trump's presidential victory, rates have been raised seven times in quarter-point increments, rising from 0.5% in December 2016 to 2.25% now. Most Fed watchers agree that the central bank will push up rates another quarter point in December, to achieve the "neutral" rate of 3%.

Fed: What Is 'Neutral'?

In a normal economy with unemployment at 3.7% and the economy growing faster than 3%, you might expect the Fed to hike rates. But this is no normal economy. Eight years of subpar growth under President Obama, who never had a full year of 3% growth, left parts of the economy damaged. Will the Fed go too far?

Last summer, at the Fed's annual Jackson Hole gathering, Fed Chief Jerome Powell vowed to take it slow in raising rates, but to remain vigilant.

"I am confident that the FOMC would resolutely 'do whatever it takes' should inflation expectations drift materially up or down or should crisis again threaten," Powell said.

Has he learned from the Fed's mistakes in the 1970s, the late 1990s and the early 2000s? We hope so. We don't know that 3% is the "neutral" Fed funds rate. But neither does the Fed. It's a hypothetical number. So, as we approach December, the Fed should exercise some rate-hike caution. All it takes is one Fed misstep, a rate hike too far, and it won't just be the stock market falling.

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95. What Will It Take To Make America's Military Great Again?Пт., 26 окт.[−]

"America will never be destroyed from the outside," Abraham Lincoln once said. "If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

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There's more than one way to inflict such fatal harm. It doesn't have to happen overnight, or even by design. It can occur slowly, over time — through simple neglect.

Consider what's been happening with our military. No one set out to degrade our readiness. But 17 years of a long war against terrorism, combined with shrinking budgets, have taken their toll. Our brave troops work hard to do all that we ask of them, but they've been stretched to their limits, making do with aging ships, planes and tanks.

But not our adversaries. While the U.S. rested on the investments of past administrations, they've capitalized on the growing availability of advanced technologies. They've been drawing from global commercial innovation, stealing the intellectual property of American businesses, and developing ways to counter long-held U.S. advantages in every domain of warfare.

The threats we face have grown increasingly sophisticated. According to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, "We cannot expect success fighting tomorrow's conflicts with yesterday's weapons and equipment."

The Big Problem: Complacency

Yet the alarm bells haven't been sounding loud enough. U.S. military superiority has bred complacency among a population that has never known military defeat. As long as our country largely takes for granted the peace and prosperity won through generations of investment and sacrifice, we risk learning the hard way that continued superiority is not assured.

Retaining a military advantage — particularly under the current pace of technological development — requires an enduring commitment to consistent investment in our country's security. Our history shows that a strong, capable military deters aggression and effectively enhances our ability to engage the world through diplomacy and trade.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick," President Theodore Roosevelt famously said. Well, that works only if you ensure that the stick remains big — and at the ready.

Fortunately, Congress recently took a step toward reversing the underfunding that has long plagued our military. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provided two years of welcome relief from the threat of sequestration.

Long-Term Damage

But there is much more to do. Rebounding budgets and returning strength point to positive trends for U.S. national defense. However, the damage done over many years will not be undone overnight.

Congress and the president must stay the course. Decades of continuing resolutions and budgetary uncertainty have left the military hostage to political whims, unable to plan and prepare for challenges on the horizon.

Consider these alarming highlights from the just-released " 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength":

  • The Air Force and Marine Corps both received "weak" readiness ratings, with the Air Force mired in a crippling shortage of fighter pilots and fighter aircraft. The average fighter pilot is currently flying fewer than two times a week, severely degrading combat readiness of the force.
  • Of the U.S. Army's 31 Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), the building blocks of American ground combat power, only 15 are considered "ready," and only eight of those are "fully ready." Army leaders have said it could be 2022 before the service reaches its goal of having two-thirds of active BCTs ready.
  • The Army, Navy and Air Force all received overall ratings of "marginal" from Index editors, but the Marine Corps has an overall rating of "weak," with approximately half of its amphibious ship and tactical aircraft fleets unavailable for current operations.

Our military needs more than a temporary jolt of extra funding. As the world returns to an era of great-power competition, it is not enough simply to repair and replace aging ships, planes and tanks. We need to rebuild on a scale not witnessed since the 1980s.

Military Must Remain Strong

Some lawmakers contend that this is impossible. Indeed, the greatest threat to U.S. military strength is the misconception that America can no longer afford military superiority.

Yes, it will require some hard choices. Entitlement costs consume an increasing portion of the federal budget, and Congress continues to blow through debt ceilings. But we're talking about our national security. Too many treat defense as a trade-off rather than as the obligation and responsibility it truly is: a constitutionally mandated function of government to provide for the common defense.

The 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength provides an enduring benchmark for Congress based on what history has shown is necessary to defend national interests. The force we need will not come cheap, but the costs of weakness and complacency are far greater.

  • Kay Coles James is the president of The Heritage Foundation.

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96. Amazon's Minimum Wage Revelation: It's About Competition, Not WorkersПт., 26 окт.[−]

As many across the country argue for an increased federal minimum wage, such as the Fight for $15, Amazon announced on October 2 that they were raising their base pay to $15 per hour. While altering their own business costs is one thing, Amazon also plans to join others in lobbying Congress to mandate a higher minimum wage for Americans.

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Amazon's move to raise its base pay isn't surprising; the company recently passed the trillion dollar value threshold, second to only Apple. While Amazon may be applauded for raising workers' pay, its lobbying efforts aren't as worthy.

Just as the company's management had the freedom to consider the firm's profitability and outlook in deciding whether to offer the higher wage, other private employers should have the same freedom. Amazon apparently thinks they shouldn't, hence the lobbying for a national mandate.

Those lobbying efforts could end up doing even more harm.

Despite the commonly held perception that minimum wage laws reduce income inequality and provide the poor with a better life, the real effects are the opposite.

Fewer Jobs, Fewer Hours

Minimum wage laws have proven detrimental by reducing job creation and the total hours worked for low-skilled workers, who are primarily paid the minimum wage and have less than a high school diploma or little work experience. And the laws raise prices for everyone — thus widening income inequality.

A labor market without government impediments functions like any other market. Employers and workers negotiate a wage, benefits, hours worked, and other measures of compensation until there's mutual benefit. If they don't agree, the worker isn't hired. This is the same kind of mutually beneficial exchange that occurs when you go to the farmer's market or department store, and it shouldn't be any different in the labor market.

When this unhampered negotiation is restricted by government barriers such as an arbitrary minimum wage law, there is a misallocation of resources that hurts employers and workers.

For example, no matter what the minimum wage is, $15 or $150, the market will correct itself through higher prices and fewer jobs. In other words, the poor will stay poor, as they see their hard-earned dollars able to buy less and find fewer job opportunities.

Vulnerable Low-Skill Workers

Lower-skilled workers are especially vulnerable to the proven job losses caused by federal minimum wage increases because employers who can't afford the increases in the cost of production simply close up shop, reduce employee hours, or even switch to automation.

A recent study on the effects of minimum wage raises in California using data from 1990 to 2016 showed that a 10% increase in the minimum wage could contribute to a 3.4% reduction in employment. Key industries hit hardest are restaurants and retail stores that typically operate on razor-thin profit margins and often hire low-skilled workers and those new to the workforce.

And minimum wage laws actually make income inequality worse.

As noted from research by the American Action Forum, a large share of the added wage value from minimum wage hikes goes to workers already paid well.

For example, McDonald's has been replacing cashiers with kiosks in many of their locations nationwide. The kiosks are designed, built, and maintained by high-skilled, high-wage workers while cashiers are typically low-skilled, low-wage workers.

In other words, jobs are created for computer programmers and robotics experts, while jobs are destroyed for those with fewer skills and less workplace experience. The result is an increase in income inequality.

Minimum Wage Mistake

So why would Amazon lobby for a policy that has such broad negative effects on the economy?

Maybe because Amazon is a mammoth corporation that has seen tremendous success in recent years. A higher federal minimum wage would probably not hurt its bottom line much. But Amazon's competitors might not be so lucky, particularly if they are small businesses just starting out. A higher federal minimum wage could create artificial barriers of entry that would make it easier for Amazon to stay at the top while making it harder for its competitors to succeed.

When it comes to wages, what works for one employer doesn't necessarily work for another. We can applaud Amazon for giving its own workers raises; that doesn't mean Amazon should be lobbying to demand raises for everyone else's workers, too.

By strengthening the employee-employer relationship through economic freedom — not minimum wage laws — to let people freely negotiate, employees and employers can prosper.

  • Ginn, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Economic Prosperity and senior economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Research associate Alesondra Cruz provided research for this article.

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97. L. Brent Bozell: What's Halloween Without Racism Charges?Пт., 26 окт.[−]

It's Halloween and time for another round of outrage over inappropriate costumes.

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Once upon a time, parents -- most of them, anyway -- were concerned with oversexualized costumes for little children, but how unenlightened was that? Today we're focusing our energy on what's really important. Now it's all about "cultural appropriation." White children need to "own their privilege" and not dress up and pretend to belong to a non-oppressive race.

Megyn Kelly ran afoul of NBC's "diversity/inclusion" police, and as we write this, it looks like she'll be canned for saying: "But what is racist? Because truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on white face for Halloween." Oops. The word "blackface" is loaded and should be avoided, since people immediately think of minstrel shows, and kids shouldn't dress up as Al Jolson crooning "Mammy" in "The Jazz Singer."

Kelly continued: "Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character." Not only was she tongue-lashed on air by NBC's black news stars; it seems like this gave NBC a reason to end her morning show, a cover story to nix the (cringe) Fox News woman.

It might have been a better starting point to ask if it's offensive for a white boy to want to be Black Panther for a few hours. And if that's wrong, can a Person of Color be Superman?

Can a white comedian impersonate a black man? If not, then can a black man not poke fun at white people either? And what does it say about white people that when that happens, we ... laugh?

Oh, the intolerant preachings of the tolerant left.

CNN analyst Kirsten Powers is one of these obnoxious people. The other day, she tweeted: "Dear white people who are upset that you can't dress up as another race or culture for Halloween: your feelings don't matter. The only feelings that matter are of those who feel disrespected/mocked by you appropriating their culture for entertainment. Show some common decency."

This is the same Kirsten Powers who wrote a book in 2015 titled "The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech." Back then, she worked for Fox.

Back in 2015, after Powers' book came out, then-Yale lecturer Erika Christakis sent an email around campus suggesting Halloween used to be a time for children to be a little naughty or subversive. She wrote about Disney princess costumes, saying: "it is hard for me to give credence to a claim that there is something objectionably 'appropriative' about a blonde-haired child's wanting to be Mulan for a day. ... I wonder what is the statute of limitations on dreaming of dressing as Tiana the Frog Princess if you aren't a black girl from New Orleans? Is it okay if you are eight, but not 18?"

She even concluded, "Whose business is it to control the forms of costumes of young people? It's not mine, I know that."

Nearly a thousand students, faculty members and deans called for both Christakis and her husband, Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a Yale professor, to be fired immediately for this alleged offense. She stopped lecturing, and her husband resigned some duties at the end of the school year in 2016.

Powers actually spoke to the Christakis incident (and others) when she was a Fox News analyst in November 2015. She said, "It is not actually that anybody is in any danger." Bill O'Reilly added, "It is oppressive to hear somebody with an opposing point of view." Powers replied, "Exactly. ... They talk about it as if they've been actually physically attacked, because somebody has expressed an opinion different than theirs."

Now re-read that tweet of hers. You have our permission to laugh -- quietly.

There's nothing wrong with Halloween spurring a "teaching moment" for children, but what is being taught? Leftists want to use these costume controversies as just another grenade to destroy the careers of anyone asking them a single challenging question about how to negotiate their minefield.

  • 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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98. Mona Charen: Hyperventilating About The Migrant CaravanПт., 26 окт.[−]

A caravan of ragtag would-be immigrants is making its way through the nations of Honduras (per capita income $4,630), El Salvador (per capita income $7,540), and Guatemala (per capita income $8,000) to Mexico.

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The response in the U.S. (per capita income $60,200) — panic.

Hyperventilation is seemingly the response we bring to all challenges in 2018 America. We've seen caravans before. There was a 1,500-person caravan that marched north just this past April. Of the band, only 400 actually reached the border and requested asylum. On average, about 22% of asylum requests are granted.

Now, contrary to the tone of some left-leaning coverage, it is not inhumane to say that there is no "right" to enter the United States. We don't have an open-door policy. We have laws and procedures. One of those is asylum.

Migrant Caravan Coverage

The caravan coverage on the left is all about babies in strollers and desperate women seeking refuge from criminals. And those stories are heart-wrenching.

What they rarely acknowledge is that many migrants, especially able-bodied young men, are simply seeking a better life. There's nothing immoral about that (in their place, I would do the same), but neither do they get priority in immigration just because they live in a miserable country. To abolish ICE, as some on the left demand, would be the equivalent of throwing open our borders.

Further, only the hopelessly naive would deny that advocates for immigrants do sometimes coach them. Our asylum law permits entry for those who have a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, sex, religion or national origin. Would-be entrants are told how to phrase things: "You will be asked why you are coming to America. Don't say, 'I want to work.' You must say you are afraid to return home because of persecution."

Clearly not all asylum requests are bogus or manufactured, but some are. Things are desperately bad in Honduras and other Central American nations (though not in Costa Rica — per capita income $16,100). Some frantic people really do need asylum. Would you repeal our asylum laws because some make unverifiable claims?

That brings us to the right's tone about the caravan.

Congressman Matt Gaetz made the wild charge that the Hondurans were being paid by George Soros to make the trek and "storm the US border." President Trump has been sounding the klaxon. The caravan is an "assault on our country," that the "Democrats had something to do with" and contains "criminals" and "unknown Middle Easterners." He threatened to cut aid to Central American nations, which the Heritage Foundation has cautioned against, since U.S. aid helps those nations fight drug traffickers and other criminals.

Overheated on the Right

The White House issued talking points describing the caravan — still 1,000 miles away — as a "crisis" and the Pentagon has announced the deployment of 800 troops to the border. Really? Even if all those folks with strollers and roller bags could cover 10 miles a day, it would still be 2019 before they reached the Rio Grande.

The right is treating these migrants as an invading army. Photos are ricocheting around social media showing Mexican police bloodied by encounters with the caravan. The photos are fake. They're from 2012, when Mexican police and student protesters got into an altercation. Another inciting photo shows two masked men burning an American flag on which a swastika has been painted. That photo is from an unrelated protest near the U.S. embassy and had nothing to do with the caravan.

There are an estimated 7,000 footsore marchers. Over the course of the next few weeks, it will dwindle. Many will seek asylum in Mexico. Others will turn back.

Though you'd never guess it from the tone of our politics, illegal immigration is at a 40-year low. Mexicans (per capita income $17,740) once accounted for 98% of illegal crossings. That has now dropped to 50%. Mexico is getting more prosperous, which, for many reasons, including illegal immigration, is what we should want for all of Latin America. The total number of yearly illegal entries has declined from 1.5 million in 2000 to about 300,000 today.

We might want to increase the number of immigration judges on the border, the better to process claims of asylum. But let's keep our perspective. As the Weekly Standard's Jim Swift reminds us, during its heyday at the turn of the 20th century, Ellis Island was admitting 5,000 immigrants per day.

A caravan of poor people marching north to signify their misery is not a national emergency. Our inability to keep our heads might be.

  • Charen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her new book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense."

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99. Happy 40th Birthday, Airline Deregulation — Despite Complaints, You're A Huge SuccessПт., 26 окт.[−]

Deregulation: Quietly this week, the U.S. passed an aviation milestone: the 40th anniversary of the airline industry's deregulation. In 1978, it led to a momentous restructuring of the industry and, despite romantic paeans to the lost "golden age" of air travel, represented a vast improvement for most Americans.

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It may be hard to remember, but President Carter, a Democrat, signed the bipartisan Airline Deregulation Act into law. It was one of his finest acts as president. In one swoop, the new law got rid of price controls and the Civil Aeronautics Board's (CAB) power to grant routes. And the law got rid of CAB completely.

Americans often express mixed feelings about today's airlines, with their missed schedules, small seats, extra charges, missing meals, and nearly nonexistent service. These are legitimate complaints, but in fact are really about individual airlines. Deregulation didn't cause these problems; they're management issues and failures.

The truth is, when it comes to the flying public, airline deregulation was a major win. Before deregulation, airlines charged those who flew a take-it-or-leave-it price for an airline ticket. Flying was outrageously expensive on some routes. You had no choice. Pay up, or drive. Or take a slow train. Or a bus.

So was airline deregulation a success? Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a blog post, argues the answer is yes. The data are convincing.

A Nation Of Fliers

"Since (deregulation), U.S. airline passenger volumes have increased by 210% — from about 250 million in 1978 to 850 million in 2017 — while average inflation-adjusted airfares have fallen by more than 40%. Formerly a luxury for the wealthy, air travel has become democratized so that nearly 90% of Americans have flown in their lifetimes and nearly 50% last year."

Some lament the demise of small and mid-sized airports following deregulation. And they lament the end of the pre-deregulation era, when, because ticket prices were so high, airlines competed intensely on service and food. Flying was a special experience, and those who flew often wore formal clothing — suits and ties for men, dresses and jewelry for women. No pajamas allowed, unlike today.

But bewailing the end to that is foolish. The fact is, few people flew. So for most people, service and style issues were irrelevant. They just didn't fly. It was too expensive.

Subsidizing Waste

As for deregulation killing off small airports and the airlines that serviced them, those who complain forget: Those airports never generated enough traffic to justify their costs. They were subsidized. Just as every town doesn't need a train station, not every town needs a commercial airport.

It's grossly unfair to lay all of the airline industry's sins and faults at the door of deregulation. The industry is capital-intensive, which means to stay in business companies have to keep prices competitive, trim operating costs where possible, and attract enough flying customers to cover their huge fixed costs. The end of government price controls meant airlines had to actually serve the American people — not just wealthy travelers — to stay in business.

Deregulation's Objections

There were other objections to deregulation, of course. One of the earliest and most powerful was that it would ultimately lead to less-safe flying as airlines cut costs to the bone. Except, it didn't happen. Quite the contrary.

As the Reason Foundation's Robert W. Poole, a longtime champion of airline deregulation, wrote earlier this year: "According to figures from the National Transportation Safety Board, there were 2.1 fatal accidents per million departures in the 1950s, which decreased to 0.88 per million in the 1970s. During the first decade of deregulation, the 1980s, the rate fell by half to 0.46, and we've averaged just 0.12 in the 2000s. Even more impressive, from 2010 through 2017 there were zero fatal accidents in the United States on U.S. scheduled airlines."

So the rate of airline fatalities fell 86% from the pre-deregulation 1970s to the post-deregulation 2000s, and, arguably, fell even greater in just the past few years.

Deregulation, it can be said, saved thousands of lives — a fact often ignored in the debate.

People also often complain about things like baggage charges, and having to pay for meals and other services. But why should anyone get a meal or anything else paid for by everyone else?

And the great variable cost for operating a jet is the weight it carries. Again, why shouldn't someone who brings on 150 pounds of luggage pay more than someone who brings on just 20 pounds?

Deregulation: Boon, Not Bane

The truth is, deregulation didn't ruin the industry. It created a new airline industry, one far more in tune with average Americans and their needs. It democratized flying, making it possible for most Americans to take vacations to exotic locales, to fly on business, or to just visit relatives in another part of the country.

Maybe you recognize the picture of the man that accompanies this editorial. His name is Alfred Kahn. As an economist and head of CAB in the late 1970s, Kahn was the guiding force behind the deregulation of airlines. As much as anyone, including ardent deregulation advocate Milton Friedman, he's the godfather of deregulation — the reason why millions of Americans today can afford to fly for weekend getaways, or for quick business trips, or for lengthy vacations to Europe, Latin America, Asia or Africa.

Before deregulation, such travel was once out of the question for most Americans. Not anymore. Today it's routine. So thank Kahn, Friedman, and the other deregulators. Flying is cheaper, safer and more convenient today than before. More people fly than ever. And you don't even have to wear a tie or a dress.

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100. Michael Barone: Will Burly Men Stop House Democrats' Blue Wave?Пт., 26 окт.[−]

Do they live in two different worlds? White college graduate women favor Democrats over Republicans in House elections by a 62% to 35% margin. White non-college-graduate men favor Republicans over Democrats in House elections by a 58% to 38% margin.

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Those results are from a Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted in 69 seriously contested congressional districts, 63 of them currently held by Republicans. The numbers in other polls are only slightly different for these two groups.

They all tell the same story. These Americans live in the same relatively small slices of America (average population about 750,000), not many miles away from one another if they're in major metropolitan areas or in similar communities in rural districts. But they take very different — often angrily different — views on where the nation is headed and on sensitive issues.

Most, though, take a similar view of what has long been considered a decisive issue: the economy. Fully 77% in the survey rate the economy positively, a huge contrast with just about every survey taken between 2000 and 2016. Several months of 4% growth, considered impossible by some economists, has apparently been impossible to ignore.

White College Women v. Non-College Men

But when asked their view of the direction of the nation "apart from the economy," the respondents revert to partisan type. White college women are especially negative, and white non-college men are solidly positive. Anyone whose personal acquaintance ranges across these groups can appreciate why one finds President Donald Trump repellent and the other congenial.

But there's a policy component, too. It's not that white college women are diehard Keynesians and white non-college men supply-siders. People tend to tailor their economic theories to partisan preference, not vice versa. But the economic policies of the last two administrations and concurrent trends have had — and were intended to have — very different effects on white college women and white non-college men.

Then-President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package was heavily tilted toward college women. As my American Enterprise Institute colleague Christina Hoff Sommers wrote in The Weekly Standard in June 2009, the Obama economic team's original idea was to finance infrastructure, construction and manufacturing, sectors that lost 3 million jobs from 2007-09.

But feminist groups objected. Obama economist Christina Romer, Sommers wrote, recalled that her first email "was from a women's group saying 'We don't want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.'" So Obama ditched his "macho" stimulus plan for one stimulating creation of jobs in government, and especially in education and health care, which had gained 588,000 jobs during the 2007-09 recession. Forget the bridge building and electric grid modernization; let's subsidize more administrators, facilitators and liaisons.

The results were disappointing. Sputtering growth nudged up toward 3% and down toward zero, as it was during the last quarter of the Obama administration. Administrators outnumbered teachers in higher education but added little value. Government payrolls were temporarily sheltered from cuts. There was little recovery in blue-collar jobs, reduced life expectancy among downscale groups, opioid dependency and deaths. There were millions of men lingering on the disability rolls.

The trajectory of the economy — and the beneficiaries — seems different in the Trump presidency so far. Growth is more robust, obviously, though some economists thought this was impossible. And the biggest gains are, in contrast with the last 30 years, in blue-collar jobs and downscale earnings.

Blue Collar Prosperity

It's not clear there's a connection between these trends and Trump's policies and promises to make blue-collar America prosperous again. White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow argues that tax reform — especially corporate tax cuts and 100% depreciation — has stimulated capital spending on manufacturing and jobs for burly men. That's certainly plausible, though it's probably wise to wait and see whether the trend continues.

It's also possible that economic gains or losses have been less important than increases in people's feelings when they are earning respect. And their angry feelings when they feel they're not.

How does this affect next month's election? White college women's anger has given Democrats an edge in enthusiasm and money most of this cycle. White non-college men's apparently rising anger over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination and pride in Trump's economy have apparently given Republicans a late boost.

How much? White college turnout is overstated in polls, says The New York Times' Nate Cohn, and overanticipated by a white college-dominated media. The Republican boost's size — and perhaps its existence — is unclear. The Post poll puts Democrats up 4% in its 69 districts; the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll has the parties even in the most competitive races. What looked like a Whole Foods blue wave for Democrats looks more like a narrow Democratic — or maybe Republican — House majority.

  • 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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