The success of socialism: Part 7 — Venezuela is near collapse

I “know” Patrick Gillespie only due to a very brief correspondence, via Twitter personal messaging, after I criticized an article of his. He defended his position, but retained a courteous tone, which I appreciated. From CNN’s digital politics e-zine, State:

Venezuela’s dreams are dying

The tragic impact of a country’s collapse.

By Patrick Gillespie | September 2017

Caracas, Venezuela — I think about Deivis Perez every day.

We met on an overcast July day at a children’s hospital in Caracas, Venezuela, the capital. He didn’t say a word when I curled around the door on the dimly lit fourth floor. His big brown eyes just stared at me. I froze and tried to hold in a gasp. Deivis’ skin was splitting open on his swollen face, his body covered in dark brown spots. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and Deivis saw past my thinly-veiled look of calm. Tears began to roll down his face as he buried his head in his hands.

Deivis needed dialysis treatment for his failing kidneys. But instead of getting relief, he got a deadly bacterial infection called sepsis, according to his doctors. The filters in the dialysis machines at the children’s hospital no longer worked. Deivis received contaminated blood twice. He lost 22 pounds in two months. His 14-year-old body looked like that of a 7 or 8 year old. An ulcer in his throat made it too painful to eat so he could only digest liquids.

“I want everyone to see what’s happening with us here. It’s not just what you’re seeing on TV — the protests, the clashes. We are in the hospital suffering,” Deivis’ mother, Sandra Galindez, told me and my colleagues.

Being ‘magazine’ style journalism, Mr Gillespie began with the human interest introduction. That’s always been acceptable in magazine journalism, though I cringe when I see it in what are ostensibly straight news sources. Then he begins the straight journalism section:

Venezuela is in a death spiral that shows no signs of healing. President Nicolas Maduro erased any remnants of democracy in late July, stripping political opponents of power and establishing a new legislature filled with his cronies. Dozens of nations, including the US, labeled Maduro’s regime a dictatorship after the July 30 power grab. More than 120 Venezuelans have died since protests ratcheted up in March that sought – to no avail — to prevent Maduro’s consolidation of power.

But Maduro’s cemented regime still faces the same problems it started years ago: An exodus of its educated class combined with mass shortages of food, medicine, money and — most importantly — time.

Mr Gillespie then gives us some of the statistics, and they are pretty bad. Venezuela, he noted, has the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves, and “was once Latin America’s richest nation.” But the oil industry has been nationalized and badly mismanaged, and the fall of oil prices from over $100 a barrel to slightly under $50 ($WTI was in the low $49.00 range as I was writing this article)1 has ruined an economy that was almost completely dependent upon oil to bring in export dollars.

Venezuela fractured flagMy biggest problem with Mr Gillespie’s article is that it almost completely avoids the underlying source of Venezuela’s economic problems. He gives it only the barest of mentions:

In 2013, Maduro succeeded his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, who rode a wave of populist fervor to the presidency in 1999. Despite Venezuela’s vast resources, it had become a nation of deep inequality by the 1990s. Chavez promised to end that with his socialist agenda.

Chavez, who is still revered in Venezuela, is perhaps most lauded for making housing affordable for many urban Venezuelans. But in doing so, he began a years-long spending spree, doling out subsidies to the poor while fixing prices on everything from coffee to corn to a tank of gas. He shored up ties with Russia and China while distancing his country from the US. His government also nationalized many industries, then mismanaged them, leaving them to rot.

If you knew nothing other than what you read in Mr Gillespie’s article, you’d think that the problem has been mismanagement, compounded by President Maduro’s authoritarian regime stamping out pro-democracy forces. But the real problem is socialism, the idea that the government can run the economy successfully. In reality, the economy is the aggregate action of all the people, and what socialism ignores is that not all people are equally productive. It is capitalism which provides the tools by which productivity can be increased.2

Think about what has happened in Venezuela: under President Chavez’s “Bolivarian socialism,” a country with the largest crude oil reserves in the world, a country which basically imports dollars, has managed to go belly-up broke. A nation which did not need to be self-sufficient, but received the fruits of the labor of people in other countries, has still managed to have its economy completely collapse.

Cindy Sheehan was unavailable for comment.

Mr Gillespie’s article was truthful enough for what it was, but it lacked the perspective to tell the underlying truth, that Venezuela’s problems stem not just from mismanagement, but from the underlying socialist system itself.3 Presidents Chavez and Maduro used socialist rhetoric to provide subsidies for the less productive, to shore up their political support by the masses, whether the two presidents actually believed their socialist statements or not.4 Their giving rewards to those who had produced little, their holding down the profits of those who were successful in capitalism, their nationalization of major industries, did not make the formerly wealthiest nation in South America more prosperous. Instead, it led to the emplacement of inept managers based on political loyalty, and a dependence upon foreign workers with technical skills while failing to educate Venezuelans to acquire those skills themselves.

Think about it: Venezuela has been in the grip of Presidents Chavez and Maduro’s policies for 18 years now, plenty of time to have raised an entire generation of Venezuelans to take over from foreign nationals in the oil industry, yet the exodus of foreign managers is hurting.

It’s time for journalists, for people, to tell the truth: socialism is not just an authoritarian, anti-democratic political system, but it is a wholly failed economic system.5

Capitalism is the only economic system we have ever seen which has been able to lift more than a small percentage of the population above the subsistence level; socialism, as it has been put into practice, has a sordid history of taking a wealthier people and pushing them back down into poverty.
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Cross-posted on RedState.
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  1. Venezuela’s crude oil reserves are ‘heavier,’ and require a more intensive refining process, which has meant, in commodity prices, that Venezuela’s petroleum sells for roughly $4.00 less per barrel than ‘light, sweet’ crude. Reuters reported, on August 1, that independent oil refiner Phillips 66 has reduced their imports of Venezuelan oil due to declining quality of that petroleum.
  2. Under the socialist ‘labor theory of value,’ the value of any product is determined solely by the amount of labor which went into producing it. But if I have a backhoe, I can dig a longer, deeper footing than any ten men can dig just using shovels in the same amount of time. Even ignoring that ten laborers with shovels will have worked harder than I would have operating a backhoe, the labor theory of value holds that the footing the ten men with shovels dug is ten times more valuable than what I would have done, even though the footing I would have dug is longer, and will provide more of the foundation of the building than what the laborers produced. It is the capitalist addition of the backhoe which has increased my productivity ten-fold.
  3. It isn’t just Mr Gillespie: as august a publication as Foreign Policy said:

    The contrast with Venezuela’s own past — or the present of some once-struggling neighbors, like Colombia — is stark. In the 1960s, Venezuela was a beacon of transparency and democracy — and wealth. With democratic presidents Rómulo Betancourt, Raúl Leoni, and Rafael Caldera, Venezuela became a role model subsequently copied throughout Latin America, and one that offered refuge for political exiles seeking freedom.

    But years of economic mismanagement under former president Hugo Chavez and then Maduro, aggravated by a slide in global oil prices, have poleaxed Venezuela’s economy, giving it the world’s highest inflation and a dearth of food, medicine, and other basic goods,

    without ever mentioning socialism.

  4. Given the vast personal wealth accumulated by the Chavez family, perhaps one might be forgiven for not believing that President Chavez was being honest about his feelings when he stated that “ser rico es malo,” “being rich is bad.”
  5. It would be a fair criticism of me to note that I have endorsed the idea of a single-payer health care system, but that is because neither Republicans nor Democrats are now willing to abandon the principle that the government should guarantee access to health care for everyone, and I am simply stating that ‘Medicare for all’ is the most efficient way to accomplish that, even though I have also said that our health care quality will be degraded. This does not mean that I am endorsing Bernie Sanders’ plan, because I have not yet read it.

Economics 101: Raising the debt ceiling does not matter; the federal government cannot run out of money! Unconventional thinking

From The Washington Post:

Trump didn’t solve the debt ceiling crisis. He just delayed it

By Heather Long | September 6, 2017 |  4:46 PM EDT

John Chambers thought of himself as a quiet, nerdy guy until he started receiving death threats in 2011. The next thing he knew, his Gmail account was hacked and he received an alert that someone was trying to steal money from his investment account.

Chambers was one of three authors of an August 2011 Standard & Poor’s report that lowered the U.S. credit rating, saying American federal government bonds were no longer AAA — the highest rating issued — because “political brinkmanship” between Republicans and Democrats over the nation’s finances meant the country was no longer an absolute guarantee to repay the money it owed.

The report, which stripped the country of a AAA rating it had enjoyed for 70 years, stunned the world and drew furious pushback from the top Obama administration officials. It also turned Chambers’ life upside down. Threats from strangers to harm him and his family became so bad that S&P hired a bodyguard to follow him for two weeks. Chambers, who lived in New York City at the time, couldn’t even walk his dogs in sleepy Riverside Park without an armed guard. He was instructed not to take the subway.

Six years later, Chambers feels vindicated in his call.

Since the downgrade, the nation’s lawmakers have held a series of standoffs over the nation’s finances, using the threat of default in an attempt to leverage other concessions on spending and taxation. And while the nation has yet to default, a lurch from one crisis to the next appears to be the new normal when it comes to the United States paying its bills.

The latest standoff appears to have been temporarily defused on Wednesday, as President Trump said he had managed to negotiate a deal with Democrats to avoid default. Trump and top Democratic leaders said they agreed to raise the debt ceiling — a cap on how much money the government can borrow to pays its bills and repay off its loans — for another three months, as well as providing aid to hurricane-afflicted parts of the country.

If approved, the deal moves the country away from an immediate crisis. The U.S. Treasury had just $32 billion in cash on hand when it made its latest report on Sept. 1, only enough to keep the government out of default for a few weeks.

There’s more at the link, but, to summarize — rather than plagiarize! — Miss Long noted that previous debt ceiling and government shutdown crises occurred when the Congress was controlled, or one House of Congress was controlled, by the President’s opposition party; this is the first time we’ve faced such a thing when the same party controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House.

But, as so many conservatives have noted, President Trump isn’t a typical Republican. For many years, he was a Democrat, and both he and his son, Donald Trump, Jr, made political contributions to Hillary Clinton in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. There are some actually serious conservatives in the Republican party, conservatives staunchly opposed to increasing the debt ceiling, and thus it requires some Democratic votes to extend it.

However — and I’m a lonely voice in the wilderness in noting this — it doesn’t actually matter, because the government will not run out of money because it cannot run out of money.

Why? As Miss Long noted, the government reported that it had but $32 billion on hand, and, combined with anticipated receipts, that will last only until mid-September. So, what happens when the government writes a check for which it has insufficient funds on hand? The checks are still good, that’s what happens!

“What? How can this be?” you ask. If you or I write a check for which we lack sufficient finds, the bank on which the check is drawn will ‘bounce’ the check. But if the United States Treasury writes a check,1 and there’s not enough money in the Treasury to cover it, who bounces the check?

There is no precedent to answer that question, because a United States Treasury check has never bounced. The Treasury Department issues a daily balance report, and the closing balance as of September 5, 2017, was $40.456 billion. The Financial Management Service has a couple thousand diligent employees to monitor spending, to insure that none of the myriad of federal agencies writes more in checks than there are funds to cover them. No one has ever bounced a Treasury check, because there have always been sufficient funds to cover them.

But if the money wasn’t there, there’s still no one to bounce the check!

The federal government keeps a single checking account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; who is going to be the first Fed employee to mark a check “Insufficient Funds” and return it?

Way back in Economics 1012 we all learned the concept of the creation of money by commercial banks. By similar logic, if the Treasury issues a check for which there are insufficient funds to cover it, but no one bounces the check, then new money has been created. Sound flaky? The Federal Reserve has already been doing that, through three rounds of quantitative easing.

Of course, the good folks at the Federal Reserve never let quantitative easing get out of hand; they kept it at a moderate level, because doing it too aggressively might have caused a loss of confidence in the dollar, triggering excessive inflation.3 By the same token, while, in theory, the government could just issue checks without taxing us at all, doing that would undermine confidence in the dollar, and thus the Fed and the Treasury Department has to be extremely careful, not using monetary tricks any more than necessary. But, in the end, the federal government will not run out of money because it cannot run out of money.
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Cross-posted on RedState.
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  1. I am using some prosaic license here: most federal payments are now electronic fund transfers rather than issued paper checks. When I have used ‘writing a check’ in this article, I am including EFTs in that phrase.
  2. It was actually Econ 161 when I took it at the University of Kentucky, back during the reign of King Richard III.
  3. Actually, inflation has been less than the Fed’s target of 2% over the past several years.

Hillary Clinton still doesn’t know What Happened

I have stated previously that I would never buy Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened, because I did not want to put a single penny from my pocket into her bank account. I’ve also stated that I would read the book if someone gave me a copy. With all of the promotional excerpts floating around out there, there’s really no need for anyone to buy the thing, but CNN purchased the book from a Jacksonville, Florida, bookstore a week before its official release:

Defiant Clinton looks to explain loss in new memoir

By Dan Merica and Kevin Liptak, CNN | Updated 7:02 AM ET, Wed September 6, 2017

(CNN) A raw and aggrieved Hillary Clinton takes ownership — to a degree — for her stunning 2016 loss to Donald Trump in her upcoming book, which offers a revealing look at the campaign through the eyes of the contest’s loser. . . . .

The defeated presidential contender offers a patchwork of explanations for what, exactly, did happen last year — some of which she insists were outside her control and some she concedes were her own fault.

“I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made. I take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want — but I was the candidate,” she writes. “It was my campaign. Those were my decisions.”

In a voice that swings from defiant to conciliatory to — at rare moments — deeply vulnerable, Clinton does assume ownership where the fault lines are obvious. And in overarching terms, she admits she badly misjudged the environment in which she was running and the candidate she was running against.

There’s a lot more at the original, including telling us that, while Mrs Clinton has accepted ‘responsibility’ for her failed campaign, she still had plenty of scorn for former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who had the temerity to challenge her for the Democratic presidential nomination.

It has been reported that both Bill and Hillary Clinton dislike Barack Obama for having challenged, and beaten, her in the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination race, but, if Mrs Clinton put that in her book, it hasn’t yet been reported, and there’s no way on God’s earth a statement to that effect in the book would not have been made public.

But this part, to me, is the most important:

(S)he lambasts media coverage of her emails, singling out The New York Times as a repeat and high-profile offender. And she wonders aloud why, after terms as first lady, US senator, secretary of state and two-time presidential candidate, the public still just doesn’t seem to like her.

“What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I’m really asking. I’m at a loss,” she asks her readers, before concluding: “I think it’s partly because I’m a woman.”

Maybe, just maybe, it ought to be considered that large sections of the public don’t like her because she just isn’t very likable.

I have never met Mrs Clinton, and have no idea what she is like in person. And, despite her interminably long occupation of the public stage, the vast majority of Americans have never met her, and most of those who have have only seen her in staged public appearances. It is quite possible that she is a warm, friendly, very likable person, in person.

But, not in person, in her carefully staged public appearances, and on television, she does not come across as particularly likable. Her husband, who campaigned in 1992 by telling us that she was an equal partner and that we’d get two for the price of one, did come across as likable on television. Mr Obama, who always appeared to me to be oozing with smugness, came across as, to most people, anyway, as being very personable even over television. Even Donald Trump, whom so many people absolutely loathe, has a charisma that takes over every stage he is on, that has inspired millions of people to support him.

But, at least on television, Mrs Clinton has none of that. To me, she has always come across as thinking that she’s just better than the rest of us; I doubt that I am alone in having that impression. She wants to blame that on sexism, on the fact she is a woman, but a solid 53% of white female voters cast their ballots for Mr Trump, not Mrs Clinton. Mr Trump’s advantage among white men was huge, 63% to 31%, but it was also substantial among white women. If white women chose a boor like Donald Trump over Mrs Clinton, then maybe the reason she isn’t liked that well isn’t because she’s a woman.

Mrs Clinton ran, both in 2008 and 2016, because it was just plain her turn to be President, because it was simply a woman’s turn to be President. And the truth is that a lot of people supported her for exactly that reason, her sex, and little else. But, in the end, she is simply another one of the failed candidates, among Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Al Gore and Mike Dukakis, who were defeated by more charismatic candidates.

Protecting patient privacy and rights

My darling bride (of 38 years, 9 months and 16 days) is a registered nurse, working at a hospital, so it’s possible that I’m a bit prejudiced in this case. From The Washington Post:

A Utah nurse’s violent arrest puts patient-consent law — and police conduct — in the spotlight

By Amy B Wang and Derek Hawkins | September 3, 2017 | 1:33 PM

The videotaped arrest of a nurse at a Salt Lake City hospital — after she told police, correctly, that they weren’t allowed to draw blood from an unconscious patient — has been roundly condemned by national nursing organizations, Utah officials and even the local police department.

The July 26 incident, captured by an officer’s body camera, was made public last week after the nurse came forward. Since then, several groups have echoed the nurse’s outrage, calling for greater consequences for the police detective in question and demanding increased awareness of patient-consent laws.

In the footage, Jeff Payne, a detective with the Salt Lake City Police Department, confronts Alex Wubbels, a nurse in the burn unit at the University of Utah Hospital, over her polite but firm insistence that police could not collect blood samples from a badly injured patient. Payne didn’t have a warrant, Wubbels pointed out. And the patient wasn’t conscious, so he couldn’t give consent.

Wubbels cited hospital policy in the video — showing Payne a printout of the rules just before he abruptly arrests her — but her actions also were in line with a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which explicitly ruled last year that blood can be drawn from drivers only for probable cause, with a warrant.

In the moment, none of that seemed to matter to Payne, who snapped, seized hold of Wubbels, shoved her out of the building and cuffed her hands behind her back. A bewildered Wubbels screamed “help me” and “you’re assaulting me” as the detective forced her into an unmarked car and accused her of interfering with an investigation.

Wubbels, who was not criminally charged, played the footage at a news conference Thursday with her attorney. They called on police to rethink their treatment of hospital workers and said they had not ruled out legal action.

There’s more at the link; the incident is described here. And the video is below the fold:

Let’s be clear about one thing. While Detective Payne has been put on paid leave, the truth is that he fired himself that day. Oh, there will be some sort of investigation, and Mr Payne may well ‘choose’ to resign before the investigation is completed, but he’s done, finished, kaput, out of a job. Lt James Tracy, the shift supervisor who (allegedly) told Detective Payne to arrest Miss Wubbels, will also find himself unemployed if he did, in fact, give such instructions.

The other officers present will count themselves as being very fortunate indeed if all they receive are administrative punishments; they should have stopped Mr Payne before the situation escalated as it did.

Police officers have a tough job to do, and it brings them into daily contact with the scum of the earth. But they cannot allow that to change their interactions with law-abiding citizens, and Mr Payne failed in that situation. He will learn that the hard way.

The August jobs report

From The Washington Post:

Job growth slumps in August

By Danielle Paquette | September 1 at 8:31 AM

Job growth lagged in August, with the economy adding a lower-than-projected 156,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticking up slightly to 4.4 percent.

Average hourly wages rose 3 cents last month to $26.39, up 2.5 percent from a year ago — a raise economists call tepid and government officials say “has room for improvement.”

The growth missed expectations, as analysts thought federal economists would report approximately 200,000 new jobs in August.

While the unemployment rate crept up from a 16-year-low, the increase is still within the margin of error.

“Growth was slower in August, but that’s because there were fewer gains in growing industries, not because we’re seeing more losses in shrinking industries,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed.com. “We’re actually at a point of unusual stability.”

There’s a lot more at the link, including an end of the article graph noting that the U-6 rate is at 8.6%; I refer to U-6 because it is a better indicator, to me, of the real employment situation, counting both ‘discouraged’ workers, who would like a job but have given up looking, and people who need full-time jobs but are working only part-time because that’s all they can find.

One point I have made consistently is that trusting economists’ projections as the basis for government policy is foolish, and this story is another example: in projecting 200,000 new jobs, while the result was only 156,000, economists overestimated job growth my more than a quarter, by 28.2%. This wasn’t a projection into the future, but an estimate of what has already happened. If economists can’t be trusted to estimate what has already happened, how can we have any faith in what they tell us a given policy will do years into the future?

Heather Long quoted part of the story in this tweet:

With an 8.6% U-6 rate, why would they? Given that much of the problem of businesses being unable to hire is due to a skills mismatch, raising wages simply leads to poaching, which would lead to higher wages, eventually causing real problems for businesses. Businesses want to secure profits rather than go out on a limb; the 2008 recession taught them that lesson, the hard way.

What kind of stupidity is this? We are leaving Da’ish fighters alive to return to the battlefield!

My mind is boggled. From The New York Times:

Islamic State Convoy Remains Stuck in Syria

By Rod Nordland | August 31, 2017

BEIRUT, Lebanon — For four days now, an Islamic State convoy with more than 600 people has been stuck in the middle of the harsh Syrian desert, blocked by American airstrikes, as a deal to allow it safe passage across Syria has collapsed.

The American-led military coalition has used airstrikes to prevent the convoy from reaching its destination in the Islamic State stronghold of Deir al-Zour Province, and vowed to continue doing so, criticizing the Lebanese and Syrians for trying to relocate terrorists. The convoy includes 308 lightly armed ISIS fighters with 330 of their relatives in 17 buses. A dozen ambulances carry 26 wounded fighters.

By relocating them, Syria and Lebanon removed any Islamic State presence on the western border and concentrated it in the east, where Iraqi and American forces would have to deal with them. The Islamic State is also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Now it appears that even if the convoy does reach Islamic State territory, the fighters’ own comrades may not be pleased to see them. In addition, the Syrian regime’s allies appear to be extracting more concessions to allow the convoy to keep moving.

On Thursday, the fighters and their relatives were on the move again, according to Reuters. Quoting a Syrian military source, Reuters said the convoy had retraced its route from the southeastern border near Humaimah, in a 100-mile western loop and then north in an effort to reach Deir al-Zour through the Syrian town of Sukhna.

American military officials said that coalition warplanes would make sure that did not happen.

There’s more at the original, and the money line is further down:

So far the coalition has not bombed the convoy directly because it is carrying civilians.

What kind of idiocy is this? Did we refrain from bombing German war materiel factories because civilians were working in them? Did we not bomb Japanese cities because civilians might be hurt? No, we did what was necessary to win the war, and it has turned out that was the last war we won.

Da’ish1 are guerrilla fighters, blending into the background whenever it suits their needs, a tactic which has bedeviled the American military in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. When you do find guerrilla fighters, you kill them, period, and the civilian casualties around them be damned.

Instead, we have been bombing roads and bridges, to prevent the Da’ish convoy from moving toward its destination. If the Times story is accurate, we are leaving 308 Da’ish fighters alive, along with another 26 wounded soldiers, men whom we are leaving alive to fight against our allies.

A so-called ‘free passage’ was negotiated between Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah and the local Da’ish fighters, allowing the Islamists to leave in exchange for them quitting the fight; they were to be allowed to head toward Deir al-Zour, close to the Iraqi border. The coalition were not involved, and the agreement angered them.

We have already taken the position, through our actions, that the deal is not binding on the coalition; if it were, the coalition wouldn’t be bombing their projected route, to stop them from reaching their destination. We are bombing Da’ish positions in Deir al-Zour almost daily, with ‘collateral damage’ against civilians certainly occurring; why shouldn’t we simply destroy this convoy, and kill all of the Da’ish fighters in it, even if the families with them die as well? After all, if we are willing to bomb Da’ish positions in Deir al-Zour and other places, we are willing to accept the inevitable civilian casualties that go along with that. Why not, then, with this convoy out in the open, destroy the convoy and keep these Da’ish fighters from ever joining the next battle.

President Obama sent American ‘advisers’ back into Iraq, as the Iraqi military was losing ground to Da’ish, and President Trump has kept them there. Business Insider reported, last May:

The Pentagon is no longer going to disclose how many troops are in Iraq and Syria, a sharp departure from an Obama administration policy that kept the public abreast of increased troop deployments to the region.

Though the US military has increasingly deployed conventional ground forces in its fight against ISIS in recent months, to include US Army Rangers and US Marine artillerymen, neither were announced by the Department of Defense.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the reason is due to a policy shift from the Trump administration.

“In order to maintain tactical surprise, ensure operational security and force protection, the coalition will not routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations, or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria,” Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Times.

Translation: American soldiers and Marines have been in direct combat with Da’ish forces. To allow 308 Da’ish fighters, along with 26 wounded who may recover and return to the battlefield, to remain free and alive is to risk the possibility that some of those fighters will be shooting at American forces.

I wonder: will it be Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis, winner of the Bronze Star for valor in combat, who gets to tell a grieving family that their Army Ranger son was killed in Iraq by a Da’ish fighter he had allowed to remain free and alive?2
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Cross-posted on RedState.
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  1. The Editor is not particularly fond of the initials ISIS, and the reduction to just IS, for Islamic State, seems even worse. Da’ish is an acronym for the Arabic al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham. According to the BBC, the group “objects to the term and has advised against its usage,” and therefore, I shall use it. The Editor shall not edit comments using other commonly-used terms, but the use of Da’ish is now the accepted form in The First Street Journal’s stylebook.
  2. My older daughter is currently deployed with the Army Corps of Engineers in the Middle East. Though she is not particularly close to the Da’ish action, I can easily understand the feelings of American families who have deployed soldiers who are in harm’s way.

The Trumps fly to Texas; having nothing else to whine about, the left criticize their clothes.

It has been two days since fashionistae were ruthlessly mocked for focusing on Melania Trump’s shoes but that didn’t stop The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Melania Trump’s stilettos another example of good fashion, but poor taste

by Elizabeth Wellington | Updated: August 30, 2017 | 3:45 PM EDT

President Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, waves as they walk from the White House on Tuesday on their way to Texas to view the federal government's response to Harvey's devastating flooding. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

President Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, waves as they walk from the White House on Tuesday on their way to Texas to view the federal government’s response to Harvey’s devastating flooding. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

I’ve been over the poor taste slithering from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for months now.

Translation: she’s consumed by #TrumpDerangementSyndrome

But Tuesday’s shenanigans were the last straw.

First lady Melania Trump wore sky-high stilettos as she boarded Marine One on Tuesday morning on her way to to Corpus Christi, Texas, to survey Hurricane Harvey damage.1 As usual, FLOTUS was runway ready. She sashayed to the aircraft in a fitted army jacket, her eyes obscured by must-have oversize sunglasses.

Devastation? What devastation?

While the Trumps were en route, the photo went viral.

By the time the Trumps arrived in the Lone Star State, FLOTUS had switched up her look, pairing a starched white button-up and flats with her skinny black pants. Still pretty, just less glamorous.

There’s more at the link.

I have stated previously that it was my belief that President Trump made his trip to Texas too early:

(I)t is too soon to visit, and the visit will (probably) just get in the way of rescue efforts. But, and you know that this is true, if he’d waited longer, the left would use that to claim that he doesn’t care, and only went when he did go because he way trying to tamp down criticism. For the left, nothing he can do is ever right.

For Miss Wellington, who noted that “the photo went viral,” despite the Twitter outcry against the complaint about Mrs Trump’s footwear, she just had to persist. For the left, everything the Trumps do is a legitimate subject for criticism even when it comes to the shoes they put on their feet. An article from The Daily Beast criticized both Trumps’ appearance, claiming that what they wore showed that they were “indoor people,” not comfortable being outdoors anywhere but on manicured lawns and Trump-owned golf courses.2

Well, yes, the Trumps are indoor people: he is a real estate mogul and businessman, while she was a high fashion model, and those are (mostly) indoor professions. I might suggest that Erin Gloria Ryan, the senior editor at the Beast who wrote that article, is engaged in an indoor profession as well.  All of our Presidents have been “indoor professionals,” working from very swanky offices, because that is what their jobs entail.

Miss Ryan wrote:

When they left Washington, the President and First Lady were dressed like two people who have never gotten dirty in their lives. Living avatars of city softness. Indoor kids.

Yet, oddly enough, ’twas the “living avatars of city softness,” the urbanized population, which most strongly voted against Donald Trump last November. It was in suburban and rural America in which Mr Trump found his greatest support. Perhaps Miss Ryan thought that the President needed more outdoor experience, such as dodging snipers’ bullets in Bosnia.

There is simply nothing that the Trumps can do which will not generate some criticism from the sillier members of the credentialed media; just Mr Trump waking up alive in the morning is enough to send some on the left into fits of apoplexy. Serious writers can make legitimately serious criticisms of the President and the First Lady. After all, no one is perfect, and the Trumps are certainly not exceptions. But when I see such silly criticisms, elevating the trivial to some Great Political Statement, I know that the writers of such pieces are not serious people.
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  1. Photograph used specifically to document point being made, under ‘Fair Use’ guidelines.
  2. I remember when we were told that criticism of the First Lady’s fashion choices was sexist (and racist), but, of course, that was when we had a different First Lady.

I wonder if we’ll see this report on the mainstream media

From the Washington Free Beacon:

Report: Welfare Reform in Kansas Caused Individuals to Reenter Labor Force Earning Higher Incomes

Combination of welfare reforms led to a 78 percent decline in TANF enrollment

By Ali Meyer | August 27, 2017 5:00 am

Welfare reform implemented in Kansas caused individuals to reenter the labor force while earning higher incomes, according to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2011 and began to implement welfare reform after the previous governor, Kathleen Sebelius, had relaxed requirements for those on welfare to work or search for employment.

From 2000 to 2011, the number of able-bodied adults on cash welfare was increasing by 42 percent in Kansas, while nationally the number on welfare had dropped by a third.

Brownback first began reforming welfare by strengthening sanctions for those who received cash assistance by implementing a three-month ban on those who refused to meet work requirements. If an individual failed to meet the requirement for a second or third time, the ban was prolonged for six months to a year.

“Since these reforms took effect, compliance with work requirements has climbed from historic lows,” the report states. “The percentage of able-bodied adults on the program who are employed has also risen. Meanwhile, the opposite trends were occurring both nationally and in the region with fewer able-bodied adults on welfare working.”

Brownback also began collecting employment and wage data on 17,000 individuals who had left the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for a duration of four years to see if these individuals became self-sufficient.

The study found that those who left welfare saw their earnings increase by 104 percent in one year, which is $20 million more than they had while on welfare. In four years, these individuals saw their incomes increase by 247 percent.

Individuals who left welfare are also better off because they found employment in more than 600 different industries and found long-term, high-paying jobs.

“Critics of work requirements frequently suggest that enrollees who leave welfare are only able to find low-wage, entry-level employment,” the report states. “Able-bodied adults removed from TANF found employment in more than 600 different industries, ranging from health care to finance to information technology. Even better, those who did find initial employment in entry-level jobs—such as those in food service, retail, or temp agencies—quickly found longer-term, higher-paying jobs.”

Finally, the report finds that enrollment in the TANF program has begun to decline again. Since Brownback took office in 2011, participation in the program has declined by 78 percent, while nationally enrollment has declined by only 14 percent.

There’s more at the original, and while the linked report is dry reading, it tells a great story: forcing people to look for work or lose their welfare benefits has resulted in many of those people finding jobs.

The left will hate this story, of course, because they love having more people on welfare; to the Democrats, more welfare recipients means more votes for Democrats. And when people start to work for a living, they start voting Republican more frequently, because they start to understand that they are working to support those still languishing on welfare. When they see their paychecks, and the deductions for taxes, they realize that part of their labor is going to support people who won’t work.

The report notes that many of the people who initially found only minimum wage jobs eventually secured better-paying positions. Why? It’s simple: employers are looking for people who have a history of getting out of bed and going to work, and even a short record of that is far better than none. Just going to work is the best preparation for getting a better job than any other.

I’ll admit it: I am an (insert slang term for the rectum here), and I have said that welfare should simply be ended, period, and that every problem we have would be solved by ending welfare. But results are results, and the evidence is that forcing people to have to work for a living is beneficial to them. Some would call that ‘tough love,’ though I do not. Rather, this is something which needs to be done, for the good of our nation.

The Washington Post is starting to report the truth about #Antifa Perhaps 'Radical Chic' seems less appealing?

One wonders how much ‘editorial regret’ The Washington Post is experiencing over the idiotic article, “Why the American left gave up on political violence, and why the right increasingly embraced it.” The author, Yoav Fromer,1 concluded:

This doesn’t mean the left is inherently superior. But it has cleansed itself through a painful process of introspection. And if American democracy has any chance of convalescing from the fever of intolerance that has seized it since Trump’s election, people on the right must take a similarly long, hard look in the mirror. If not for their party’s sake, then at least for the country’s.

From the Post this morning:

Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonstrators in Berkeley

By Kyle Swenson | August 28, 2017 | 3:47 AM EDT

Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about a 100 anarchists and antifa — “anti-fascist” — barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a “Rally Against Hate” gathering.

Shortly after, violence began to flare. A pepper-spray wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields. Another was attacked by five black-clad antifas, each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself. A conservative group leader retreated for safety behind a line of riot police as marchers chucked water bottles, shot off pepper spray and screamed “fascist go home!”

All told, the Associated Press reported at least five individuals were attacked. An AP reporter witnessed the assaults. Berkeley Police’s Lt. Joe Okies told The Washington Post the rally resulted in “13 arrests on a range of charges including assault with a deadly weapon, obstructing a police officer, and various Berkeley municipal code violations.”

And although the anti-hate and left-wing protesters largely drowned out the smaller clutch of far-right marchers attending a planned “No to Marxism in America” rally, Sunday’s confrontation marked another street brawl between opposing ends of the political spectrum — violence that has become a regular feature of the Trump years and gives signs of spiraling upward, particularly in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville.

Note the not-so-subtle blaming of President Trump. However, the point that this has begun with the inauguration of President Trump is both correct and significant. Conservatives protested during the previous eight years, but there were no real instances of violence. The left had little excuse for violence, their One True God2 Barack Hussein Obama being President. Now, with Mr Trump as President, the left see that need.

“I applaud the more than 7,000 people who came out today to peacefully oppose bigotry, hatred and racism that we saw on display in Charlottesville,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in a statement. ” … However, the violence that small group of protesters engaged in against residents and the police, including throwing smoke bombs, is unacceptable. Fighting hate with hate does not work and only makes each side more entrenched in their ideological camps.”

Oh, look! It’s not the left as a whole, but “that small group of protesters.” How odd that, in Charlottesville, one idiot drove his vehicle into a crowd, killing one woman, but his action was laid on the alt-right as a whole. Yet, as we noted previously, though many on the “alt-right” side came armed, not a single shot was fired.

Last May, 150 similarly black-clad agitators caused $100,000 worth of damage when they smashed through Berkeley protesting a University of California Berkeley speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Portland, Ore., has been the scene of street battles between antifa and white nationalists this summer. White nationalist Richard Spencer was sucker-punched by a protester in a January video that went viral. And Inauguration Day 2017 in Washington, D.C., was marked by violence when masked protesters burned vehicles, smashed windows and clashed with police, leading to 231 arrests.

There’s more at the original, including the notation that the Antifa side came “armed with sticks and shields, and clad in shin pads and gloves.” They were expecting violence, they were planning on being violent.

Che Guevara

Che Guevara

The American left have always had a fascination with Marxist revolutionaries, from John “Jack” Reed’s admiration of the Communists during the Bolshevik Revolution to the popularity of Che Guevara t-shirts, a form of radical chic.

Tom Wolfe3 wrote of Radical Chic in 1970:

At 2 or 3 or 4 a.m., somewhere along in there, on August 25, 1966, his 48th birthday, in fact, Leonard Bernstein woke up in the dark in a state of wild alarm. That had happened before. It was one of the forms his insomnia took. So he did the usual. He got up and walked around a bit. He felt groggy. Suddenly he had a vision, an inspiration. He could see himself, Leonard Bernstein, the egregio maestro, walking out on stage in white tie and tails in front of a full orchestra. On one side of the conductor’s podium is a piano. On the other is a chair with a guitar leaning against it. He sits in the chair and picks up the guitar. A guitar! One of those half-witted instruments, like the accordion, that are made for the Learn-To-Play-in-Eight-Days E-Z-Diagram 110-IQ 14-year-olds of Levittown! But there’s a reason. He has an anti-war message to deliver to this great starched white-throated audience in the symphony hall. He announces to them: “I love.” Just that. The effect is mortifying. All at once a Negro rises up from out of the curve of the grand piano and starts saying things like, “The audience is curiously embarrassed.” Lenny tries to start again, plays some quick numbers on the piano, says, “I love. Amo, ergo sum.” The Negro rises again and says, “The audience thinks he ought to get up and walk out. The audience thinks, ‘I am ashamed even to nudge my neighbor.’ ” Finally, Lenny gets off a heartfelt anti-war speech and exits.

For a moment, sitting there alone in his home in the small hours of the morning, Lenny thought it might just work and he jotted the idea down. Think of the headlines: BERNSTEIN ELECTRIFIES CONCERT AUDIENCE WITH ANTIWAR APPEAL. But then his enthusiasm collapsed. He lost heart. Who the hell was this Negro rising up from the piano and informing the world what an ass Leonard Bernstein was making of himself? It didn’t make sense, this superego Negro by the concert grand.

June 8, 1970 issue of New York Magazine.

June 8, 1970 issue of New York Magazine.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. These are nice. Little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts. Very tasty. Very subtle. It’s the way the dry sackiness of the nuts tiptoes up against the dour savor of the cheese that is so nice, so subtle. Wonder what the Black Panthers eat here on the hors d’oeuvre trail? Do the Panthers like little Roquefort cheese morsels wrapped in crushed nuts this way, and asparagus tips in mayonnaise dabs, and meatballs petites au Coq Hardi, all of which are at this very moment being offered to them on gadrooned silver platters by maids in black uniforms with hand-ironed white aprons . . . The butler will bring them their drinks . . . Deny it if you wish to, but such are the pensées métaphysiques that rush through one’s head on these Radical Chic evenings just now in New York. For example, does that huge Black Panther there in the hallway, the one shaking hands with Felicia Bernstein herself, the one with the black leather coat and the dark glasses and the absolutely unbelievable Afro, Fuzzy Wuzzy-scale in fact—is he, a Black Panther, going on to pick up a Roquefort cheese morsel rolled in crushed nuts from off the tray, from a maid in uniform, and just pop it down the gullet without so much as missing a beat of Felicia’s perfect Mary Astor voice. . . .Felicia is remarkable. She is beautiful, with that rare burnished beauty that lasts through the years. Her hair is pale blond and set just so. She has a voice that is “theatrical,” to use a term from her youth. She greets the Black Panthers with the same bend of the wrist, the same tilt of the head, the same perfect Mary Astor voice with which she greets people like Jason, D.D. Adolph, Betty, Gian Carlo, Schuyler, and Goddard, during those après-concert suppers she and Lenny are so famous for. What evenings! She lights the candles over the dining room table, and in the Gotham gloaming the little tremulous tips of flame are reflected in the mirrored surface of the table, a bottomless blackness with a thousand stars, and it is that moment that Lenny loves. There seem to be a thousand stars above and a thousand stars below, a room full of stars, a penthouse duplex full of stars, a Manhattan tower full of stars, with marvelous people drifting through the heavens, Jason Robards, John and D. D. Ryan, Gian Carlo Menotti, Schuyler Chapin, Goddard Lieberson, Mike Nichols, Lillian Hellman, Larry Rivers, Aaron Copland, Richard Avedon, Milton and Amy Greene, Lukas Foss, Jennie Tourel, Samuel Barber, Jerome Robbins, Steve Sondheim, Adolph and Phyllis Green, Betty Comden, and the Patrick O’Neals . . .

. . . and now, in the season of Radical Chic, the Black Panthers. That huge Panther there, the one Felicia is smiling her tango smile at, is Robert Bay, who just 41 hours ago was arrested in an altercation with the police, supposedly over a .38-caliber revolver that someone had, in a parked car in Queens at Northern Boulevard and 104th Street or some such unbelievable place, and taken to jail on a most unusual charge called “criminal facilitation.” And now he is out on bail and walking into Leonard and Felicia Bernstein’s 13-room penthouse duplex on Park Avenue. Harassment & Hassles, Guns & Pigs, Jail & Bail—they’re real, these Black Panthers. The very idea of them, these real revolutionaries, who actually put their lives on the line, runs through Lenny’s duplex like a rogue hormone. Everyone casts a glance, or stares, or tries a smile, and then sizes up the house for the somehow delicious counterpoint . . . Deny it if you want to! but one does end up making such sweet furtive comparisons in this season of Radical Chic . . . There’s Otto Preminger in the library and Jean vanden Heuvel in the hall, and Peter and Cheray Duchin in the living room, and Frank and Domna Stanton, Gail Lumet, Sheldon Harnick, Cynthia Phipps, Burton Lane, Mrs. August Heckscher, Roger Wilkins, Barbara Walters, Bob Silvers, Mrs. Richard Avedon, Mrs. Arthur Penn, Julie Belafonte, Harold Taylor, and scores more, including Charlotte Curtis, women’s news editor of the New York Times, America’s foremost chronicler of Society, a lean woman in black, with her notebook out, standing near Felicia and big Robert Bay, and talking to Cheray Duchin.

Cheray tells her: “I’ve never met a Panther—this is a first for me!” . . . never dreaming that within 48 hours her words will be on the desk of the President of the United States . . .

Of course she’d never met a Black Panther before: she’d never have gone slumming where the Panthers lived and ‘worked’ their violent radicalism, and if she had gone there, she’d have been mugged, murdered, raped or molested. Instead, safely at Maestro Bernstein’s Manhattan penthouse, she’d have willingly laid down, right in the middle of the floor, to be fucked to rapture by this urban guerrilla.

These are no civil-rights Negroes wearing gray suits three sizes too big

—no more interminable Urban League banquets in hotel ballrooms where they try to alternate the blacks and whites around the tables as if they were stringing Arapaho beads—

these are real men!

Shootouts, revolutions, pictures in Life magazine of policemen grabbing Black Panthers like they were Viet Cong—somehow it all runs together in the head with the whole thing of how beautiful they are. Sharp as a blade. The Panther women—there are three or four of them on hand, wives of the Panther 21 defendants, and they are so lean, so lithe, as they say, with tight pants and Yoruba-style headdresses, almost like turbans, as if they’d stepped out of the pages of Vogue, although no doubt Vogue got it from them. All at once every woman in the room knows exactly what Amanda Burden meant when she said she was now anti-fashion because “the sophistication of the baby blacks made me rethink my attitudes.” God knows the Panther women don’t spend 30 minutes in front of the mirror in the morning shoring up their eye holes with contact lenses, eyeliner, eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, occipital rim brush, false eyelashes, mascara, Shadow-Ban for undereye and Eterna Creme for the corners . . . And here they are, right in front of you, trucking on into the Bernsteins’ Chinese yellow duplex, amid the sconces, silver bowls full of white and lavender anemones, and uniformed servants serving drinks and Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts—

“. . . The very idea of them, revolutionaries who put their lives on the line, runs through Lenny’s duplex like a rogue hormone . . .”

But it’s all right. They’re white servants, not Claude and Maude, but white South Americans. Lenny and Felicia are geniuses. After a while, it all comes down to servants. They are the cutting edge in Radical Chic. Obviously, if you are giving a party for the Black Panthers, as Lenny and Felicia are this evening, or as Sidney and Gail Lumet did last week, or as John Simon of Random House and Richard Baron, the publisher, did before that; or for the Chicago Eight, such as the party Jean vanden Heuvel gave; or for the grape workers or Bernadette Devlin, such as the parties Andrew Stein gave; or for the Young Lords, such as the party Ellie Guggenheimer is giving next week in her Park Avenue duplex; or for the Indians or the SDS or the G.I. Coffee Shops or even for the Friends of the Earth—well, then, obviously you can’t have a Negro butler and maid, Claude and Maude, in uniform, circulating through the living room, the library and the main hall serving drinks and canapés. Plenty of people have tried to think it out. They try to picture the Panthers or whoever walking in bristling with electric hair and Cuban shades and leather pieces and the rest of it, and they try to picture Claude and Maude with the black uniforms coming up and saying, “Would you care for a drink, sir?” They close their eyes and try to picture it some way, but there is no way. One simply cannot see that moment. So the current wave of Radical Chic has touched off the most desperate search for white servants. Carter and Amanda Burden have white servants. Sidney Lumet and his wife Gail, who is Lena Horne’s daughter, have three white servants, including a Scottish nurse. Everybody has white servants. And Lenny and Felicia—they had it worked out before Radical Chic even started. Felicia grew up in Chile. Her father, Roy Elwood Cohn, an engineer from San Francisco, worked for the American Smelting and Refining Co. in Santiago. As Felicia Montealegre (her mother’s maiden name), she became an actress in New York and won the Motion Picture Daily critics’ award as the best new television actress of 1949. Anyway, they have a house staff of three white South American servants, including a Chilean cook, plus Lenny’s English chauffeur and dresser, who is also white, of course. Can one comprehend how perfect that is, given . . . the times? Well, many of their friends can, and they ring up the Bernsteins and ask them to get South American servants for them, and the Bernsteins are so generous about it, so obliging, that people refer to them, good-naturedly and gratefully, as “the Spic and Span Employment Agency,” with an easygoing ethnic humor, of course.

And so it has been with American journalists, though one wonders how many of them are privileged enough to have servants. Until now, until now! they have been in bed, vicariously of course, with some sort of romanticized notion of Antifa, the urban guerrillas fighting the evil fascist Donald Trump, never mind how smashing a Starbucks window on inauguration day, or setting a rental limousine on fire — harming a small businessman — doesn’t do a thing to hurt the new President. Starbucks is owned by “lifelong Democrat and outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter Howard Schultz, and its American stores (outside of hotels, hospitals, colleges and grocery stores) are not franchised, but our (mostly) liberal American journalists didn’t care about those incongruities. That the Antifa scum who trashed Washington were not somehow defending themselves from raucous ‘alt-right’ demonstrators didn’t seem to matter. The simpleton students in the Che Guevara t-shirts don’t seem to care (or know about) Senor Guevara’s running of the firing squads for Cuba’s Revolutionary Tribunals. The romantic portrayal of “Jack” Reed ignores the fact that he was a socialist before ever getting to revolutionary Russia, despite being born and reared in wealth, and that he joined the “Red Guards” following the revolution. Walter Duranty’s reporting for The New York Times covered up the mass starvation in the Soviet Union as forced collectivization of farms led to widespread famine; he was too in love with Communism to do something really radical, like tell the truth.

And so it is that I was shocked, stunned, wholly amazed that The Washington Post, of all media, actually reported that it is Antifa starting the violence, Antifa beating up people, Antifa being the thugs that wicked conservatives like me have said that they were. You have reared-in-privilege whelps like the sons of Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), the 2016 Democrat Vice Presidential nominee, arrested for violent participation in left-wing demonstrations. But, perhaps the Post s changing its tun now that Antifa and the radical left have been attacking journalists.

Then again, with the internet being what it is, and the near ubiquitous possession of smart phones with cameras, the violence of Antifa cannot be kept quiet; the credentialed media have lost their ‘gatekeeper’ function, and can no longer ignore a story away.

NYT All the NewsAnd so I return to Mr Fromer’s claim that the left have “cleansed itself (of violence) through a painful process of introspection.” Living in Israel, as he does, with the Palestinian threat a low-key but still ever-present threat to the safety and security of himself and his friends, I have to wonder about the utter blindness of his statement. That he submitted it to The Washington Post in fortuitously bad timing opens him to well deserved ridicule. At least this once, the Post is cleansing itself of his idiotic article, though whether the result of “a painful process of introspection” is unknown to me. Nevertheless, it is good to see part of the credentialed media telling the truth when the truth hurts the left, and maybe, just maybe, our professional journalists have decided to report All the News That’s Fit to Print.4
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Cross-posted on RedState.
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  1. Yoav Fromer teaches American history and politics at Tel Aviv University and Yeshiva University. He is currently at work on a book about Daniel Patrick Moynihan and American liberalism. He is not a Post staffer.
  2. A reference to Pontius Pilate calling Judah Ben-Hur the people’s “one true god” following his victory in a chariot race in the movie Ben-Hur.
  3. I confess a long admiration for Mr Wolfe’s prose. In The Right Stuff he described a rocket plane tumbling out of the sky “with all of the aerodynamics of a set of car keys,” a brilliant phrase which allowed me to really picture what was happening.
  4. Yes, I know: that’s The New York Times’ logo, not the Post’s. Still, it seemed appropriate.

#TrumpDerangementSyndrome strikes the left

There’s no evidence at all to support this claim:

Donald Trump ‘might refuse to leave the White House when his term ends’, historian warns

Tim Rogers says the US leader has ‘no interest in preserving the sanctity of the presidency’

By Shehab Khan | @shehabkhan | Sunday, August 27, 2017

Donald Trump might refuse to leave power when his time at the White House comes to an end, a historian has warned.

Tim Rogers said the US leader no respect for the “sanctity of the presidency”.

The expert on Nicaragua’s Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) and the country’s former President Daniel Ortega, Mr Rogers said it was common for Latin American leaders to stay in power for long periods.

He added that he sees similarities between Mr Trump and the likes of Mr Ortega.

Describing Mr Trump as a “tribal leader”, he said he was “dividing” the US as opposed to uniting it.

“This is a dangerous moment for the country,” he wrote on the Fusion website. “Trump has shown no interest in preserving the sanctity of the presidency or the traditions of U.S. democracy. He might not even be familiar with them.

“Trump is only interested in Trump. He’s willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of self-preservation. This is how dictatorships are born.”

There’s more at the original, and the original is much milder than what Tim Rogers wrote.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about whether Donald Trump will survive four years—or even one year—of his disastrous presidency.

The internet and cable news are full of voices speculating about whether Trump is more likely to quit the presidency or get impeached. Will his term get cut short by the 25th Amendment or will he be deposed by Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation? Maybe Trump will make it four years but then lose his reelection ticket to a Republican challenger? Or maybe a viable Democrat will emerge by 2020 to retake the White House?

Then there’s the sum of all fears: What if Trump can somehow channel his toxic brand of divisive narcissism into a tragic second term?

“Disastrous presidency?” Internet speculation? The 25th Amendment? And the best of all, “the sum of all fears.” These words tell us that the author is not a serious man, regardless of whatever merit his past scholarship might have.1 Rather, he has been so thoroughly consumed by #TrumpDerangementSyndrome that he simply cannot think straight.

That might seem like an impossible scenario. It certainly should be. The U.S. has a long tradition of peaceful transitions of power and clear rules to prevent presidents from squatting in the White House. But Trump is bucking tradition and playing by his own rules. And after watching his deranged cult rally in Phoenix this week, I’m starting to think that Trump could be positioning himself to stay in power at all costs, especially in the case of an impeachment attempt.

“Deranged cult?” Deranged means mad, insane, behaving in a way that is dangerous or not controlled because of mental illness. Mr Rogers is telling his readers that supporting or having voted2 for Donald Trump is not just something he abhors, but that those who have done so are mentally ill; how is one supposed to take Mr Rogers seriously after such a statement?

While Mr Trump appears to be physically strong and healthy, he will be 74 at the scheduled end of his term; if he is re-elected, he would be 78 years old at the end of his second, and final term. Who believes that a 78-year-old man would even attempt to engineer such a coup even if he thought he could? It’s pretty amusing that there’s so much internet speculation – to which I give exactly zero credence — that he’s looking for an early way out of the job.3

All of the speculation by the left that Mr Trump might leave the presidency early amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking; the left are appalled by the idea that he is actually president, in a way which makes the Bush Derangement Syndrome of 2001-2009 seem almost reasonable, and it is simply beyond their shared conceptual framework that a lot of people very much support him. To them, he just has to go, and random fantasies about how he somehow might have morphed into (supposedly) serious thoughts and have given rise to many pseudo-intellectual articles.4 It is as though a significant number of the left have adopted the mindset of the “birthers” (who were always small in number) who somehow thought President Obama could be disqualified and removed from the presidency.

There are two factors of Mr Trump’s personality that the left simply do not understand, and seem unwilling to try to grasp. The first is that he is a fighter; Mr Trump fought back against every attack levied against him during the campaign, in ways which shocked the left — and not a few conservatives as well — but ways which only strengthened him among his supporters. A fighter was what they wanted all along, someone who would not cave in to the left, but would fight back.

The second is that he is a winner. In ways that they simply refuse to understand, some people are winners and some people are losers: regardless of circumstances, regardless of the odds against them, winners find a way to win.5 They ought to understand this, because Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were winners, triumphing over serious odds6 to win the presidency. Hillary Clinton, for all of her (somewhat pumped up) résumé and frontrunner status, lost not one but two presidential campaigns she was heavily favored to win; in the end, Mrs Clinton simply is not a winner.

The concept of the born loser is one at which people laugh, but the born winner is something which should be taken seriously, though that concept is anathema to the left. Mr Trump is a fighter, and Mr Trump is a winner. He’s too much of a fighter to ever quit,7 and he’s a winner; if he runs for re-election in 2020, he very well may win.
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  1. His biography on Fusion, the e-zine for which he writes, states, “Tim Rogers, Fusion’s senior editor for Latin America, was born a gringo to well-meaning parents, but would rather have been Nicaraguan.” This is not the biography of a serious man.
  2. As I have mentioned several times previously, I did not vote for Donald Trump.
  3. The author of the second article cited concluded, “The consensus is building that Trump needs to go, and the next great battle in American politics could center on the removal of an insane president.” Yeah, that’s another serious writer!
  4. Yes, I entertained similar fantasies about how we might be rid of Barack Obama, but I was smart enough to realize that they were just that, only fantasies.
  5. Ask yourself: how did the New England Patriots come back from a 24-14 deficit to beat the heavily favored Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLIX, and come back from a 28-3 third quarter deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Superbowl LI?
  6. The elder President Bush had a 91% approval rating a year before the 1992 election, while Mr Obama not only beat the heavily favored frontrunner in the 2008 primaries, but won re-election in 2012 despite an 8% unemployment rate.
  7. Absent a serious, disabling health crisis, something always possible for a man in his seventies.