Rights or Liberty? 26

Which would you rather be able truthfully to claim:

“I have a right to …”

or

“I am free to …” ?

There has been some discussion in the comments section of our post The Colossus … and the enriching of America (29 January, 2018) about whether government is necessary for the protection of a citizen’s rights or the protection of his liberty. I say, for the protection of his liberty. That is what defines “a free country”. In the United States of America, there are certain “rights” granted in law that are themselves protective of the individual’s freedom. The ultimate aim of the Founders in granting those rights was the protection of liberty.

*

Freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization

– Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chapter Four.

To be for freedom to do what one wants to do is not to be for unbounded liberty. (I use the words “liberty” and “freedom” interchangeably, as they are synonyms.)

What then are the bounds of liberty?

Ideally, my liberty is limited by nothing except everyone else’s liberty.

Sane, sober, sensible self-interest tells me that if I don’t want to be bonked on the nose by my neighbor, I would do well not to bonk him on his nose. But I cannot trust everyone else – or even myself – to be always sane, sober, and sensible.

If I live in a time and place when and where I have to fear continually that I will very likely be assaulted, injured, killed, and that the things I have acquired to sustain my existence, comfort, safety, and pleasure may be forcefully taken from me, I am not free. I am constrained to be perpetually on my guard against attack. I must never venture abroad unarmed. I must carry my possessions with me or stay with them. I am burdened with anxiety. I am severely hampered.

But if my freedom is protected by law and the apparatus of law-enforcement – police, judicial courts, prisons, gallows – I can take the safety of my person and my things for granted, and go lightly about my business among my fellow citizens. (Which is not to argue that it’s unnecessary to insure my house and its contents, or register my intellectual property. These are, it is true, private protections taken on by personal choice, but available to me only in a society governed by the rule of law.)

The city-states of ancient Greece embodied the idea of a society made up of people from many different countries, nations and tribes, all governed by the same rule of law. Your willingness to obey the law made you a worthy citizen, regardless of what region of the earth you derived from. The idea that people of many different nations could melt together into one nation ruled by law (“e pluribus unum”) was lost and forgotten for centuries and was not applied again until the eighteenth century with the founding of the United States of America.

However, the idea of a nation governed by the rule of law rather than by a monarch, re-emerged earlier than that, in England, with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. By signing it, King John conceded the principle: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you.” It was intended to be a “charter of liberties”, not a bestowal of “rights” on his subjects or on any one class of his subjects such as the barons. Clause 60 declared: “all the customs and liberties which we have granted to our own men shall be observed by all of our men, both lay and clerk [cleric], to their own men”. In other words, just as the king pledged liberty to the barons, so the barons, by the same token (the Charter) pledged liberty to their tenants.

Magna Carta affirmed the vital principle of freedom under the law. Clause 39 of the Charter said: ‘no free man shall be imprisoned or deprived of his lands except by judgement of his peers or by the law of the land’.  Clause 40 said: ‘To no one shall we sell, delay or deny right or justice’ (“right” in the sense of what is right, not “a right”).  Before Magna Carta, the king had been able to do pretty well whatever he liked – and did.  After the making of the charter of liberties, the king was as firmly subject to the law as everyone else.

(It is true that the monarchs of England nevertheless went on for centuries having too much arbitrary power. But it would be a mistake to believe that the continuing existence of an English monarch now means that the people are not as free as the American people. [The British have recently become less free, but not for that reason.] Since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when William of Orange and his wife Mary became the constitutional monarchs of the United Kingdom, the reigning king or queen is the nominal and ceremonial head of state, not the power of the state. The present Queen has no choice but to sign the acts of law that Parliament passes. The people are “subjects” in name only.)

A free country is one in which the people are free to do anything that is not specifically prohibited by law. Most of its laws proscribe rather than prescribe. They say you must not do this and that, such as murder, steal, perjure yourself. While there  are some that say you must do – for instance, the laws of the fisc: you must pay your taxes – the fewer “must” laws there are, the freer the people.

Now let us suppose that legislators decide that the law should specify everything you may do. Those would be your rights. It would be an infinitely long list, never exhaustive. So the enterprise would be impossible.

Does that mean that there can be no such thing as a “right” granted by law? No, it does not mean that. The law, and only the law, can grant a right. Even if one believes in a god, and makes the claim that the god bestowed certain rights on every human being ever born – the right to life, say – it would be meaningless if it were not recognized as a right, and protected, by the law.

Only the law can grant a right. The rights the laws of a free country can grant are very few. And there is a danger in granting any: that some governments, having granted a few, may claim that what those few permit you is all that you are permitted.

Why can governments only grant a few rights? Because no one can have a right that puts an obligation on someone else.

That is why it is nonsense to speak of a “right” to health care; a “right” to an education, a “right” to a house, a “right” to a minimum income, a “right” to equality of pay; a “right” to social security; a “right” to an abortion; a “right” to contraception; a “right” to a sex-change operation; or, the crowning stupidity, a “right not to be offended”. That takes away the essential freedom on which all the rest depend – the freedom to speak. And it is in itself a deeply offensive notion.

If your “right” compels the labor of someone else, it is not a “right” but a privilege – and what is worse, the indefensible privilege of the parasite.

What of your “unalienable”[1] rights named in the Declaration of Independence as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”? They do not put an obligation on someone else, so aren’t they good rights? You are declared to be endowed with them by your “Creator”, “Nature’s God” – which is a way of saying that they are yours simply because you exist. And many there are who believe that because they exist, they have a right to exist.

If you believe that God or Nature granted you the right to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness, you may also believe that God or Nature will protect those rights of yours. But in fact Nature guarantees you nothing. You have no natural rights. You can call them natural, you can call them God-given, but unless they are recognized and supported by the law, you may find that they are not dependable.

So what rights can the law grant – and sufficiently protect to make the granting of them more than just the wistful thought of a somnolent parliament?

These: The right to speak freely. The right to a trial if you are accused of breaking the law. The right to safeguard yourself, your property, your reputation. They are among the rights granted by the US Constitution in the first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights), and all of them can be, and are, protected by the law. By protecting them, the law – or say the government – is protecting your freedom.

That is what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are all about: realizing the idea on which the USA was founded – the idea of liberty.

 

Jillian Becker   January 31, 2018

 

[1] “Unalienable” means the same as “inalienable”: that which cannot be taken away.

The Colossus … and the enriching of America 26

Watch Donald Trump, President of the United States, as the Colossus standing astride the world, to whom the CEOs of the biggest companies in the world bring their tribute – their promises of doing business, more business, much more business in America, with investments of vast sums.

Several of the CEOs acknowledge that President Trump’s tax reform and deregulation have prompted them to grow their business in the United States.

Could any other American politician do this?

The Jesus gang and the Mohammedan menace 12

We often say of Christianity, that its theology is absurd, its morality impossible, its history bloody; and that it brought down a thousand years of darkness.* 

Peter Gay, in the first volume, Chapter Four, of his two-volume magisterial work The Enlightenment: an Interpretation, describes Christianity in terms that are equally disparaging:

Romans had at least made a serious attempt to construct a civilization founded on reason, not myth. Then came Christianity, profiting, vulturelike, from decay, preserving ideas that deserved to perish, and stamping out ideas that deserved to survive.

In its early history, its very origins, there was something unsavory about Christianity. Significantly, it flourished in an age of decadence and among the lower orders, among men and women sunk in ignorance, vice, and despair. Significantly, too, it hammered out its doctrine, its discipline and organization, amidst undignified wranglings, inane debates in endless assemblies, angry conflicts over trivial matters, mutual slanders and persecutions. Christianity claimed to bring light, hope, and truth, but its central myth was incredible, its dogma a conflation of rustic superstitions, its sacred book an incoherent collection of primitive tales, its church a cohort of servile fanatics as long as they were out of power and of despotic fanatics once they had seized control. With its triumph in the fourth century, Christianity secured the victory of infantile credulity; one by one the lamps of learning were put out, and for centuries darkness covered the earth.

“St. Paul” was the author of the Christian religion. How his wild fantasy – that a dead Galilean Jew was “God” – came to be believed by uncountable millions of human beings for two millennia and continuing, is hard to account for. Edward Gibbon suggests in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that the new religion caught on as it did – secondarily, says the great ironist, “to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author” – was that it promised “a future life” after death. But Roman myth taught that there was an “afterlife” too, and if the Elysian Fields were not as glorious as Christian Heaven, at least Hades was not as terrible as Christian Hell.

As for the Galilean Jew himself – called “Jesus” by his Greek-speaking first worshiper who never met him and was not interested in his life or his birth name – well, he probably did exist, and was (again and always probably) crucified by the Romans as an insurgent leader. Like other insurrectionist Jews in the age of the Emperor Tiberius, he led a gang of cut-throats, including Judas Iscariot, the “dagger-man”, and James and John, the Boanerges, the “sons of thunder”. The only thing that was different about him was that he was an extreme religious fanatic, to the point of insanity, really believing that if he prayed hard and long enough, and his followers then brandished a couple of swords at some Roman soldiers, Jehovah would do the rest; upheave the earth, flood the valleys, terrify the Romans until they fled from Judea, so that the Israelite Kingdom could be restored. (“Thy Kingdom come!”) But as that didn’t happen, it is of no importance.

The religion founded by “St. Paul” has been of fearful import. But the worst of it is over. Discredited and disarmed, most effectively by the Enlightenment, it is not a serious threat to life and limb anywhere in the world any more – though some atheists complain that Christians in the southern states of the USA treat them harshly, and constitute an active danger to the thriving abortion industry.

The religion that is gravely dangerous to the world now is Islam. Islam needs to be discredited and disarmed. It needs to be exposed in all its naked nastiness for all that it truly is: supremacist, totalitarian, homophobic, misogynist, murderous and savagely cruel. It needs to be despised, argued against, relentlessly mocked.

Yet as long as “Jehovah”, and “God”, and “Jesus”, and the many gods of Hinduism, and even the frail and arcane divinities of academic “agnostics” continue to be fed with belief, it will be impossible to evaporate “Allah” into thin air forever as he desperately deserves. 

 

*For our full condemnation, see the series of essays titled The Birth and Early History of Christianity, under Pages in our margin.

Posted under Christianity by Jillian Becker on Sunday, January 28, 2018

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The white man’s tale 29

The Left rules that whiteness is bad, and white maleness is very bad.

Yet white men of the Left trust that they can just stubbornly go on being white and male and it will be okay, they will still be accepted by their party comrades. After all, they have oodles of Leftist credentials.

But no. They are not acceptable.

Professor Bret Weinstein – still a far-left Bernie Sanders supporter – was hounded out of Evergreen College because he would not accept punishment for being a white male. Ordered to stay away for a day, he refused. Now he’s out of the university – though not yet formally fired.

Here he is being interviewed on HBO. A cellphone film of him being confronted by stupid arrogant aggressive students accusing him of being – you guessed it – a “racist” is included. And the weak principal of Evergreen, George Bridges, concedes ruefully that he himself could be called a “white supremacist” as he is  “a white man in a position of privilege”.

 

And Professor Michael Rectenwald, who was – and maybe still is sort of – a communist, has been brought down by campus totalitarianism. He too has not been fired but put on “paid leave”. Not for expressing unacceptable opinions, his New York University employers insist. No!  There is no connection whatsoever between his being sent away and the opinions he expresses on, say, Fox News.  Absolutely none. (Though no other reason is given.)

He has been hounded for those opinions by his colleagues at NYU.

No mention is made anywhere in what follows about his being white while male. Or male while white. But he is guilty of both those evil things. You can be sure his attackers will not have overlooked that grave double fault among all the others they accuse him of.

Mark Tapson writes at Front Page:

“In the fall of 2016,” New York University professor Michael Rectenwald recently told The Daily Caller, “I was noting an increase of this social justice ideology on campuses, and it started to really alarm me. I saw it coming home to roost here at NYU, with the creation of the bias reporting hotline, and with the cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulos talk because someone might walk past it and hear something which might ‘trigger’ them.”

Rectenwald, himself a leftist, created an initially anonymous Twitter account, @antipcnyuprof, to speak out against that ideology and the “absolutely anti-education and anti-intellectual” classroom indoctrination he was witnessing, as well as the collectivist surveillance state that the campus was becoming, as students were urged to report each other for the sin of committing microaggressions.

In October of that year, he outed himself as the man behind the controversial Twitter account, and “all hell broke loose”. He swiftly found himself the target of shunning and harassment from his colleagues and the NYU administration. In true Cultural Revolution fashion, several colleagues in his department in the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group published an open letter declaring him guilty of incorrect thinking. “The thing that is interesting here is that they were saying that because I don’t think like them, I am sick and mentally ill,” Rectenwald said to the Daily Caller.

Instead of kowtowing to the campus totalitarians, Rectenwald declared himself done with the Left in a February 2017 tweet (“The Left has utterly and completely lost its way and I no longer want anything to do with it.”) and has gone on to become an even more fervent defender of free speech and academic freedom. He has appeared often in conservative media to discuss those issues and the harassment he has received from the Left.

The Professor said:

I explained in numerous interviews and essays, I was not a Trump supporter; I was never a right-winger, or an alt-right-winger; I was never a conservative of any variety. I wasn’t even a classical John Stuart Mill liberal.

In fact, for several years, I had identified as a left or libertarian communist. My politics were to the left (and considerably critical of the authoritarianism) of Bolshevism! I published essays in socialist journals on several topics, including a Marxist critique of postmodern theory, analyses of identity politics and intersectionality theory, analyses of political economy, and an examination of the prospects for socialism in the context of transhumanism. I became a respected Marxist thinker and essayist. I had flirted with a Trotskyist sect, and later became affiliated with a loosely organized left or libertarian communist group.

It wasn’t only strangers who mistook me for rightwing or conservative. So too did many who knew better. An anti-Trump mania and reactionary fervor now gripped liberals and leftists of nearly all stripes. Previously unaffiliated and warring left and liberal factions consolidated and circled the wagons. Anyone who failed to signal complete fidelity to “the resistance” risked being savaged. 

After my appearance on Fox Business News, such rabid ideologues ambushed me. The social-justice-sympathetic members of the left communist group to which I belonged denounced me in a series of group emails. Several members conducted a preposterous cyber show-trial, bringing charges against me and calling for votes on a number of alleged transgressions. From what I could tell, my worst offenses included appearing on Fox News, sounding remotely like a member of an opposing political tribe, receiving positive coverage in right-leaning media, and criticizing leftist milieus just as Trump became President.

I denied that these self-appointed judges held any moral authority over me and declared their arbitrations null and void. Meanwhile, the elders of the group (one a supposed friend of mine) had remained silent, allowing the abuse to go on unabated for a day. When the elders finally chimed in, they called for my official expulsion. I told them not to bother as I wanted nothing further to do with them; I quit.

In their collectivist zeal, they later stripped my name from three essays that I’d written for publication on their website, and assigned their authorship to someone else entirely. Upon discovering this fraudulence, I publicly berated them for plagiarism. A prominent member of the American Association of University Professors noticed my complaint and investigated the alleged breach of intellectual integrity. Verifying my authorship of the essays, he condemned the group’s actions in a popular blog. Only then did the benevolent dictators return my name to the essays’ mastheads.

Friends and acquaintances from other communities also turned on me with a vengeance, joining in the groupthink repudiation. After my appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, the Twitter attack was so fierce, vitriolic, and sustained that my associate Lori Price and I spent a whole night blocking and muting tweeters. But the worst banishment came from the NYU Liberal Studies community – to which I had contributed a great deal, and of which I had striven for years to be a well-regarded member. Soon after the open letter appeared, I recognized a virtual universal shunning by my faculty colleagues. One after another, colleagues unfriended and blocked me on Facebook. The few that didn’t simply avoided me entirely, until I saved them the trouble and unfriended them. Most stinging were the betrayals of those who once relied on my generosity, some whose careers I had supported and considerably advanced. 

Despite the harsh treatment doled out to me by the social justice left and the warm reception I received from the right, I did not become a right-winger, or a conservative. But after the social-justice-infiltrated left showed me its gnarly fangs and drove me out, I could no longer identify as a leftist.

What took him so long? Even now he cannot quite bring himself to recognize that every political opinion he expresses is conservative. The final step to saying “I am on the right of the political divide” is still too hard for him to take. (As it was for Christopher Hitchens, who became a conservative in the last years of his life, in all but name.)

Here is Professor Rectenwald, daring yet again to appear on Fox, talking to Stuart Varney:

 

And then there is Mark Farrell, who has been appointed interim mayor of San Francisco.

Of San Francisco! In a condition of whiteness and maleness! 

Needless to say, he is a Democrat.

He has replaced London Breed, a black woman.

His appointment has been greeted with fury because he is a white man.

KQED’s reporter Scott Shafer says:

As soon as it became apparent that the first African-American woman to lead San Francisco was being replaced by a white male representing some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the board chambers erupted.

Some members of the audience, infuriated by the turn of events, chanted, “Shame, shame, shame.”

“This is war!” some shouted as board members left the chamber.”

Will all white men on the Left get the message soon? Will Bernie himself? How long before all white males are shamed and expelled from whatever posts they hold in Democratic fiefdoms?

Can’t say there isn’t a certain satisfaction for the less forgiving of us Righties in watching this happen!

Robespierre comes to mind. He set the guillotine achopping, and the day came when it chopped his head off.

Against nature 4

Biologically speaking, the only perceptible purpose we have is to reproduce. A biologist once said: “An egg gives rise to a chicken in order to ensure that there will be another egg.” The same applies to a human (fertilized) egg. Or with equal validity it could be said that a fetus gives rise to a fertile adult in order to ensure that there will be another fetus.

To nature, a man or a woman is not more valuable than a fetus. To the man or woman – in whom the only consciousness of consciousness exists in all the universe as far as anybody knows – there may be not only an instinct but a thought that the continuation of the human species is profoundly desirable. Or perhaps the idea is more often understood and articulated in the negative: the human species cannot be allowed to die. Which is why weapons of mass destruction are much more feared than guns or conventional bombs.

And that’s the reason – and a reason it is, however much urged on by emotion, be it lust or love – why women (excluding transgendered “women” of course), are a natural and truly “sustainable” resource, necessary to the greatest of all causes, the survival of the species; the species which carries the consciousness of the universe; the species that names and orders the parts of the universe; the species without which the universe is nothing but a vast variety of dumb forms of energy.

And yet … The fact is, no matter what we do, all will come to an end. To only a few generations, born in our Age of Science, has it been known that Everything will come to an end. True, it will come about billions of years from now. But an end there will be. Time will have a stop. The universe will be gone. And then – if not long before – the human species will be gone.

How conscious is the informed section of humanity in our time that this is the case? Could it be that the knowledge of ultimate doom, however far off, the certainty of extinction makes the men and women of the informed section discard the reason and resist the instinct for reproduction? Is that why, in plain terms, most Europeans, in Europe and outside it, have given up having children? How consciously are they abandoning all care for the future of the species, choosing instead to live as pleasurably as they can as individuals? What is sure because it is observeable, is that most of them do not care if their own culture survives them. For their comfort – their security, their pensions, their health care – they need people. But why give birth to them and raise them – a costly and trying enterprise – when you can simply import them? Any people will do, as long as there are a lot of them to keep the welfare state going …  You know the rest. And hence the death of Europe – billions of years before the end of the universe.

In self-contradiction, half of those who are ideologically for the welfare state, those who constitute the political Left, want the human species to be thinned down. Some – fanatics who worship the planet – want the entire species gone, and to start dying out now. They see it as a filthy thing, whose total elimination would make the planet healthy and happy.

A variety of reasons there are then for not having children; for aborting them in the womb if the pleasure involved in the act of reproduction has the tragic result of conception.

As a leading man of the Left put it not long ago, who wants to be “punished with a baby”?

You are pregnant? How horrid for you! My condolences! Abort, abort, abort!

 

Jillian Becker    January 24, 2018

Posted under Articles, Commentary, Environmentalism, Philosophy by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Q: What are those pink two-eared baby hats all about? 24

A: They are on the silly heads of grown women who go out and gather together to complain about something.

Q: To complain about what?

A: They don’t know. Nobody knows.

Katy Grimes writes aptly at Canada Free Press:

What rights do these women not have as Americans? Is there something in the Bill of Rights that prevents them from voting, working, mothering, marrying, or even marching?  …

The good women of America aren’t buying the faux delirium of the pink-hatted hysterics, and I’m one of the good women of America. We are married to gentlemen, and we raised strong sons who are gentlemen. We work, we are employers, we contribute, and we faithfully vote because we are diehard American Patriots. And they are simply entitled haters, whiners, and losers who can’t articulate, in a single sentence, why they are marching.

Which makes this the best picture of the young year 2018, and it will be hard to beat:

 

(Hat tip to Cogito for the “dinner” picture)

Posted under Feminism by Jillian Becker on Monday, January 22, 2018

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Reason thy name is man 4

Excellent commentary by Paul Weston on Professor Jordan Peterson’s argument with the brain-washed feminist Cathy Newman of Britain’s Channel 4 TV (see two posts down, A feminist stumped, January 21, 2018) which the Professor triumphantly won.

Posted under Feminism, Leftism, Sex, Videos by Jillian Becker on Monday, January 22, 2018

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Trump, Trumpism, and THEM 2

It’s altogether too much for THEM to bear! The man is a billionaire who loves life, lives well, and enjoys himself tremendously both at work and at play; has a wife who is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and is also graceful, gentle, intelligent and competent; has handsome successful children and bright charming grandchildren; and, on top of all that, has become the most powerful man in the world. To add a final insult to THEM, he is perfectly healthy at the age 0f 71; immensely energetic and strong; and fully capable of continuing to do what he wants to do.

And then, try as THEY might to find something he has done terribly wrong to blot his intolerably immaculate escutcheon, THEY cannot find anything!

Actually, it is even worse for THEM. Far worse. Because not only is he victorious, THEY are defeated. Probably (with luck) irrecoverably. He has risen to power at a moment when THEY had  almost conquered the world; almost made it poor; almost brought the nations – possibly even including the USA – into universal homogeneity at the lowest level of subsistence in subjection to THEM running a world communist government (in order to “save the planet” from people using cars and making things in factories); almost destroyed Western civilization.

We are enthusiasts for Trumpism because we are warriors against THEM.

As such, do we exaggerate his achievements? If so, by how much? Overlook his flaws? If so, what are they?

As a corrective to our possibly overindulgent judgment of the president, we reproduce an article by Victor Davis Hanson; surely a reasonable and fair assessment of the Trump presidency thus far and prospectively. It is also necessary to know that it appeared at the mostly, persistently, and emphatically anti-Trump National Review:

As President Trump finished his first full year in office, he could look back at an impressive record of achievement of a kind rarely attained by an incoming president — much less by one who arrived in office as a private-sector billionaire without either prior political office or military service.

As unintended proof of his accomplishments, Trump’s many liberal opponents have gone from initially declaring him an incompetent to warning that he has become effective — insanely so — in overturning the Obama progressive agenda. Never Trump Republicans acknowledge that Trump has realized much of what they once only dreamed of — from tax reform and deregulation to a government about-face on climate change, the ending of the Obamacare individual mandate, and expansion of energy production.

Trump so far has not enacted the Never Trump nightmare agenda. The U.S. is not leaving NATO. It is not colluding with Vladimir Putin, but maintaining sanctions against Russia and arming Ukrainians. It is not starting a tariff war with China. The administration is not appointing either liberals or incompetents to the federal courts. A politicized FBI, DOJ, and IRS was Obama’s legacy, not Trump’s doing, as some of the Never Trump circle predicted. Indeed, the Never Trump movement is now mostly calcified, as even some of its formerly staunch adherents concede. It was done in by the Trump record and the monotony of having to redefine a once-welcomed conservative agenda as suddenly unpalatable due to Trump’s crude fingerprints on it.

On the short side, Trump has still not started to build his much-promised border wall, to insist on free but far fairer trade with Asia and Europe, or to enact an infrastructure-rebuilding program. Nonetheless, Trump’s multitude of critics is unable to argue that his record is shoddy and must instead insist that his list of achievements is due mostly to the Republican Congress. Or they claim he is beholden to the legacy of the Obama administration. Or they insist that credit belongs with his own impressive economic and national-security cabinet-level appointments. Or that whatever good came of Trump’s first year is nullified by Trump’s persistent personal odiousness.

At the conclusion of Trump’s first year, the stock market and small-business confidence are at record highs, and consumer confidence has not been higher in 17 years. Trump’s loud campaign promises to lure back capital and industry to the heartland no longer look quixotic, given new tax and deregulatory incentives and far cheaper energy costs than in most of Europe and Japan. Trump has now ended 66 regulations for every one he has added. Few believed a Republican president could cut the corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent while capping state- and local-tax deductions for mostly high earners to $10,000. Those are the highlights of a comprehensive tax-reform and -reduction agenda that will likely accelerate the economy to an even more rapid growth rate than Trump’s first two full quarters of annualized increases in GDP of more than 3 percent. Dozens of large companies are already passing along some of their anticipated tax cuts to employees through increased wages or bonuses — dismissed as “crumbs” by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Rising workers’ wages and anticipated tax credits and savings for the lower and middle classes for now are rendering almost mute the age-old fights about state-mandated minimum-wage laws.

The mostly unheralded nixing of the Obamacare individual mandate — once the great ideological battlefield of the Affordable Care Act — will insidiously recalibrate the ACA into a mostly private-market enterprise.

Domestic oil production is slated to exceed 2017 record levels and soon may hit an astonishing 11 million barrels a day. “Peak oil” for now is an ossified idea, as are massive wind and solar Solyndra-like government subsidies and the mostly unworkable Paris Climate Accord. Gas, oil, and coal production are expected to rise even higher with new Trump initiatives to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge field in Alaska, encourage more fracking on federal lands and offshore, and complete needed pipeline links while encouraging coal exportation.

For all the political horse-trading over extending or ending the Obama executive orders on DACA, illegal immigration has declined according to some metrics by over 60 percent. It is now at the lowest levels in the 21st century — even before the ending of chain migration and enacting of new border-security initiatives. Abroad, the ISIS caliphate is for all purposes now extinct. Its demise is in part due to Trump’s outsourcing of the conflict to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who liberated ground commanders from Obama-administration-era legalistic rules of engagement. Trump’s appointees, such as Mattis, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have worked in concert to restore U.S. deterrence.

Variously called “principled realism” or a new “Jacksonianism”,  the Trump doctrine has now replaced the “strategic patience” and “lead from behind” recessionals of the prior administration and not emulated the neoconservative nation-building of the George W. Bush administration. New pressures on nuclear North Korea have prompted the toughest U.N. trade sanctions in history on the rogue state. After Trump’s fiery and erratic rhetoric and muscular displays of U.S. naval and air power in the Pacific, Pyongyang has agreed to landmark talks with Seoul. China is slowly beginning to pressure North Korea to stop launching missiles. Beijing’s Asian neighbors are beefing up missile defense and growing closer to the U.S. For now, the bad cop Trump and the good cops Mattis and McMaster have encouraged friends and frightened enemies, although the shelf life of such diplomatic gymnastics is limited.

Trump almost immediately voiced support for mass demonstrations in Iran, in a manner Obama failed to do in 2009. An ironic fallout of the disastrous 2015 Iran deal may be that the theocracy so hyped its cash windfalls from American relaxation of embargoes and sanctions that it inadvertently raised Iranians’ expectations of a rise in the standard of living. Then it dashed just those hopes by squandering hundreds of millions of newfound dollars in subsidizing Hezbollah, conducting a costly expeditionary war to save the genocidal Bashar al-Assad regime, and likely continuing an exorbitantly costly nuclear-weapons program. What is different about Iran’s internal unrest this time around is twofold. The Trump administration is not invested in any “landmark” deal with Tehran that requires ignoring protesters in the street. Trump also does not envision revolutionary and terror-sponsoring Iran as a “very successful regional power” with “legitimate defense concerns”. Rather, he sees Tehran, along with ISIS and al-Qaeda, as the chief source of Middle East unrest and anti-Americanism.

Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, in line with past congressional mandates, along with threatening to curtail Palestinian aid, only reifies what is now widely accepted. The new Middle East is not the old. There are no longer any ongoing and viable “peace plans”, “road maps”, or “summits”.  America is becoming energy-independent and immune to oil boycotts. There are new and greater threats than Israel to Arab regimes, from nuclear Iran to the scourge of Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Syria. Patience is wearing thin as after 30 years the Palestinians still cannot create transparent and consensual government. Seventy years after the birth of Israel, the Palestinians still insist on being called “refugees” — when most of the world’s millions of displaced persons decades ago moved on.

Yet as Trump heads into the 2018 midterms, his favorability ratings are unimpressive. Because of loud Democratic threats of using impeachment proceedings to undermine the Trump project, the 2018 fight for the House is taking on historic importance. It is not just a referendum on the Trump agenda, but likely a means to seek to discredit or remove Trump himself — even if the prosecution in the Senate would likely never find the necessary 67 votes. In sum, an embattled Trump now finds himself in a war on all fronts. The first and most important conflict is one of favorability. Trump’s actual approval ratings, as in 2016, are probably somewhat higher than the low 40s reported in many polls. But Trump’s image is still astonishingly dismal in relation to his unappreciated achievements. For congressional Republicans to survive the midterms and retain majorities, Trump perhaps has to hope that the economy will grow not just at 3 percent but even more robustly — with marked rises in workers’ take-home wages due to tax cuts and labor shortages. Is it really true that politics can be reduced to “It’s the economy, stupid”? Obama failed to achieve 3 percent growth per annum over his eight years. As a result he may have lost both houses of Congress, but he also was reelected. More likely, no one quite knows the exact political consequences of economic growth. Between November 1983 and November 1984, the economy grew at 7 percent and ipso facto ushered the once “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan into a landslide reelection victory over a previously thought-to-be-far-more-impressive Walter Mondale. Yet this time it may be that 3 percent GDP growth will not mitigate Trump’s personal negatives but 4–5 percent would.

It is said that Trump is also at war with himself, in the sense that his tweeting alienates the key constituencies of women voters and independents. Conventional wisdom assures that Trump’s off-the-cuff invectives only fuel his critics and overshadow his achievements. In the heart of immigration negotiations, Trump was quoted secondhand as having called Haiti and other formerly Third World countries “sh**hole” countries and thus undesirable sources of mass immigration to the U.S. Whatever the reliability of reports of the slur, Trump is certainly not the sort of politician to have said instead, “It would seem wiser to encourage diverse immigration, including immigration from the most developed countries as well as the least developed” — even as many people privately agree with Trump’s earthy assessment that immigration should be far more selective and include a far greater variety of countries of origin.

Both Trump’s spoken and electronic stream-of-consciousness venting can be unorthodox, crude and cruel, and often extraneous. But can anyone measure whether and to what degree his Twitter account energizes and widens his base more than it loses him supporters otherwise sympathetic to his agenda? The orthodox wisdom is that Trump should let his achievements speak for themselves, curb his raucous campaign rallies, and restrict his daily tweets to expansions on his agenda and achievement and leave the feuding to subordinates. When Trump has avoided ad hominem spats, and been filmed conducting policy sessions with his cabinet and congressional enemies and friends, he has looked and acted “presidential”.  How good then must Trump’s record become to overshadow both the prejudices against him and his own inner demons to achieve favorability ratings that will provide coattails for his congressional supporters and fuel an even more ambitious second-year agenda? Again, time is running out, and in the next ten months the economy must boom as never before or Trump must learn to sound more like a Ronald Reagan than a Howard Stern.

Trump is simultaneously at war with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Once again, the critical element is time in the sense of the looming midterm elections. So far, after months of media speculation and press leaks, there is no evidence of Russian–Trump collusion. Robert Mueller’s investigative team has been riddled by charges of conflicts of interest, workplace unprofessionalism, and political bias. The basis of the entire writ against Trump, the Fusion GPS–Steele dossier, is now mostly discredited. The file’s lurid sexual accusations alone likely won it notoriety in 2016 among journalists and Obama-administration enablers. The more that is learned about the Steele opposition-research file — paid for by the Clinton campaign, polluted by Russian rumor-mongering, peddled to the FBI, manipulated by the Obama administration to justify FISA surveillance, likely leaked to pet reporters by Obama-administration and Clinton-campaign officials — the more apparent it may become that Mueller is investigating Russian collusion in entirely the wrong place. Another irony is that pushback against the Mueller fishing expedition may prompt reinvestigations into the earlier election-cycle-aborted inquiries about Clinton email improprieties. The Obama administration also likely acted improperly in ignoring the Clinton–Uranium One connections and Hillary Clinton’s violations of agreements with the Obama administration to report the sources of all private donations to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure. So far resistance at both the Department of Justice and the FBI to releasing documents pertaining to all these avenues of interest has stymied House and Senate inquiries. If the Republicans lose the Congress, these investigations will shut down entirely. Democratic majorities will give Mueller a free hand to do as he pleases without worries about past complaints over the ethical shortcomings of his investigation. Select Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings will likely give way in the House to impeachment proceedings. But if within the next nine months there are new explosive revelations about the improper or even illegal uses of the Steele dossier and the Clinton scandals, while the Mueller team settles for face-saving indictments of former Trump subordinates for transgressions that have little to do with the original Mueller mandate to investigate Russian–Trump collusion, then Trump will win the legal war. In that case, Trump finally will not only weather the collusion crisis but find himself a political beneficiary of one of the most scandalous efforts to subvert a political campaign and improperly surveil American citizens in recent American history.

Trump wages a fourth war against the proverbial mainstream media, whose coverage, according to disinterested analyses, runs over 90 percent anti-Trump. Negative Trump news fuels Trump-assassination chic in popular culture, the rants of late-night-television comedians, the political effort to grandstand with impeachment writs, calls to invoke the 25th Amendment, and lawsuits alleging violations of the emoluments clause. The threats of a Madonna, the raving of Representative Maxine Waters, the boasts of the “Resistance,” the efforts of blue states to nullify federal immigration law or to dodge compliance with unwelcome new federal tax statutes, and the conspiracy fables of Representative Adam Schiff are all fueled by media attention and preconceived narratives hostile to Trump. The anti-Trump news is still determined to accomplish what so far the Clinton campaign, Obama holdovers, and deep-state bureaucrats have not: so discredit Trump the messenger that his message becomes irrelevant. Trump apparently fights his war against the media in the fashion in which toxic chemotherapy battles cancer. His personal and electronic rants against “fake news” and “crooked” journalists are intended to exhibit media biases and thus discredit negative coverage just before the public tires of Trump’s own off-putting venom. On the one hand, Trump’s anemic approval ratings might suggest the media are winning in their 24/7 efforts to portray Trump as a Russian colluder, rank profiteer, distracted golfer, tax cheat, sexual predator, trigger-happy warmonger, or senile septuagenarian. On the other hand, the media are polling worse than Trump. And his battle has nearly destroyed the credibility of CNN, which has fired marquee journalists for false anti-Trump narratives, been embarrassed by hosts mouthing scatological venom, suffered employees’ hot-mic wishes for Trump’s death, and seen its anchors and special correspondents reduced to on-air rants. For now, no one knows whether Trump’s war against the media is pyrrhic, in that he may defeat his journalist enemies and even render their entire networks discredited, but at such costs that he is no longer politically viable.

Trump is waging a fifth and final war against Democrats. So far Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the Democratic atmosphere. Politicians and operatives are so obsessed with proving Trump a liar, a cheat, a pervert, a con artist, or an incompetent that they have offered so far no viable opposition leader or alternative agenda. But will just being not-Trump make Democrats preferable? The centrist Democratic party of the 1990s no longer exists. It has become instead a coalition of patched-together progressive causes. The redistributionism and neo-socialism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are now Democratic economic mainstays. Barack Obama’s lead-from-behind legacy remains Democratic foreign policy. Identity politics still constitutes the culture of the party establishment.

In more practical terms, for all the animus against Trump the person, his agenda — tax cuts, deterrence, reindustrialization, middle-class job growth, closing the borders, the melting pot — is increasingly polling well. In many cases, Trumpism is more popular than Democratic signature issues such as tax hikes, larger government, more entitlements, open borders, more identity politics, and European Union–like internationalism.

The idea of Oprah Winfrey as the 2020 Democratic nominee and the unwillingness of Democrats to secure the border reveal what can happen when a party is reduced to defining itself as not being the incumbent president. The Republicans learned that lesson in their four-time failure to defeat the hated Roosevelt. Democrats in the 1980s had little to offer the country other than not being the supposed buffoon Ronald Reagan. Shutting down the government is also rarely a winning strategy for an out party — as the Republicans learned in their politically disastrous 1995–96 showdown with Bill Clinton. In 2018, it may be enough for congressional candidates to run on anti-Trump invective without expressing strong views on the issues or identifying with any particular national leader. But it won’t be so in 2020, especially if the Trump agenda grows more popular and Trump allows it rather than himself to become his signature message.

For now, all that is certain about Trump’s first year is the 2016 truism that past prognostications and current polls are irrelevant. The jester candidate, Donald Trump, destroyed, not just beat, his 16 primary rivals. The doomed candidate Trump defeated the most well-financed, experienced, and media-favored Democratic candidate in memory. The inept President Trump’s first year was not liberal or directionless, but marked the most successful and conservative governance since Ronald Reagan’s. Trump’s critics insist that his comeuppance is on the horizon. They assure us that character is destiny. Trump’s supposed hubris will finally earn an appropriately occasioned nemesis. But in the meantime, nearly half the country may be happy that the establishment was not just wrong but nearly discredited in its non-ending, prejudicial dismissal of the Trump agenda and, so far, the successful Trump presidency.

So: HOWL globalists, socialists, warmists, feminists, Muslims, and Democrats.

He is impervious to your insults.

He is charitable and generous. Yes, he is.

He is not a “racist” or “anti-woman”. Certainly not.

He does not take drugs, drink alcohol – or even coffee.

He has not colluded with the Russians, or any other foreign power. (Obama did with the Russians and the Iranians. Hillary Clinton did with anyone who would pay her.)

He flourishes, he laughs, he acts, he wins.

A feminist stumped 8

… by Professor Jordan Peterson.

The video is rather long, but the denouement is worth waiting for.  “Gotcha!” he says to arrogant Cathy Newman, a “progressive” –  Social Justice Warrior –  feminist.

It’s delightfully satisfying.

 

(Hat-tip Chauncey Tinker)

*

James Delingpole writes at Breitbart:

Now, predictably, the left-wing media is trying to reframe Newman’s abject humiliation as a case of misogynist bullying by the “alt-right”. The aim, of course, is to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by implying that anyone who takes the side of Newman’s critics is anti-women and pro-abuse. …

The reason that this car-crash interview was such a landmark moment in the Culture Wars is that it demonstrated how quickly the SJW narrative crumbles when exposed to a dose of polite but unflagging reason.

Lots of people on the non-SJW side of the argument have taken heart from this because they’ve suddenly been shown how to win: don’t lose your cool; never surrender to any of the enemy’s terms — which are false terms; never be fooled by the enemy’s smears, straw men, or haughtiness into believing that they hold the moral high ground over you — because they don’t; and win by exposing the weakness and contradictions of their arguments.

And now Channel 4 and the Guardian are helping Cathy Newman lose her argument all over again, by pointing up the double standards of feminists and their pretense that all they want is “equality”.

On the one hand they claim that all they want is a level playing field, where women can compete on equal terms with men and everyone is treated fairly; on the other, as soon as the going gets tough, they want special rules to be applied because they’re more fragile and men are horrid and consequently as frail women they need special protection. 

Equality? Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.

 

(Hat-tip to Cogito for the Delingpole commentary)

Posted under Feminism, Leftism, Sex, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Democrats for Trump 7

Former Democrats praise President Trump!

AND CNN SHOWS THEM DOING IT!!

Posted under Commentary, Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 20, 2018

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