American Spectator

  • Liberals Warn: Their Worst Will Only Get Worse
    Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was more than attempted character assassination, it was the liberals’ warning shot. Intended to be lethal, it also signaled the next one will be worse. No group is more dependent on the Supreme Court’s power than America’s left and they will stop at nothing to prevent losing further ground there. The left’s anti-Kavanaugh strategy was clear. An accretion of accusations, rolled out to roil the press, was meant to sink a nomination they could not outright defeat. Timed to coincide with the calendar’s closing and punctuated by increasing demands, it was meant to bleed the nomination to death, not down it with a single blow. That liberals’ orchestrated effort took both Congress and Court to new lows was not their concern. Their one and only goal was in not seeing the Supreme Court move any more to the right. Yet, the left’s effort also served notice: If they have their way, the process will only get worse. That such an effort would be expended on this pick may seem surprising. After all, Kavanaugh was replacing Kennedy, another Republican nominee who often voted with conservatives. Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Court would not so much quantitatively change its 5-4 conservative majority, as it would qualitatively change it. Looking ahead, the left’s reasoning becomes clearer, though. The Court’s next two oldest justices are liberals Ginsburg and Breyer. At 85 and 80 respectively, they are 15 and 10 years older than the next oldest justice, the conservative Thomas. Liberals could easily see the Court move quantitatively to the right quite a bit — potentially going to a 7-2 conservative majority — before having an obvious chance to swing it back to the left. Looking backward, liberals’ fear is understandable. America’s left have a long history of dependence on the Supreme Court. The Court has been the primary means of advancing their political agenda for decades. Unsurprisingly, they have a sentimental attachment to the Court. More importantly for liberals, it is not directly dependent on a political majority. Certainly, the President nominates and the Senate confirms justices, but these can be far removed from particular decisions… and both can also have been wrong in their assumptions about their picks. The Court’s lack of dependence on a political majority has been crucial to liberals, America’s smallest ideology. Lacking the thick edge of the political wedge, America’s left have sought the thin one of the Court to advance issues for which they could never have constructed a public majority. The Court’s seeming absence from politics has also given it greater public credibility than the presidency or Congress. This perception has only increased the Court’s attraction for the left, allowing them to cloak their causes in the Court’s gravitas when they have been successful there. Of course the Court’s primary attraction for the left remains its power. Not only the left’s most accessible branch of America’s government, it is an equal one. This makes it an outsized value for them — allowing them a coequal branch of ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By J.T. Young
    17 hours ago
  • Wearing a MAGA Hat at the Volusia Mall
    If a blue wave exists in Florida, it certainly didn’t crash over me at the Volusia Mall in Daytona Beach. As an experiment, I wore a “Make America Great Again” hat as I strolled through the mall, which sits in the shadow of the raceway for the Daytona 500. Volusia County is one of the most important windows in the country on Trump’s struggle with the Dems, explains the journalist Daniel Allott. “Trump won this county of half a million people by 13 points after Romney’s 1-point victory in 2012. (Obama won it by 5 points in 2008.) Trump beat Romney’s margin by more than 30,000 votes,” writes Allott. “Encompassing Daytona Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast and on the eastern edge of the vaunted 1-4 corridor (dubbed the Golden Girdle) ‘where presidents are picked,’ the county is full of Midwestern retirees. It has a thousand more registered Democrats than Republicans, and a rising population of immigrants, including new arrivals from Puerto Rico. But the Republicans are more likely to show up to vote on Election Day. Trump won in part because 9,000 more Republicans than Democrats turned out.” Judging by my experience at the Volusia Mall, where people responded to my hat with either indifference or support but no anger, I would have to say that the media’s hoped-for blue wave in Florida looks like a trickle. I was expecting at least one or two deranged Rachel Maddow fans to object to my hat. Nobody did. As I sat in the food court, a long-time Floridian, who described himself as a “Jimmy Carter voter,” came up to me and said, “I didn’t vote for Trump, but he is delivering results.” “I don’t like that he is a blowhard,” he continued. “But the fact is the economy is getting better and he is keeping his promises.” Why, I asked him, did Volusia County support Obama over McCain? “We were guilty about slavery and civil rights,” he said. Is he a Republican? “No, I am an independent,” he replied. His mixed reaction to Trump — ambivalence toward his style, respect for his results — was common amongst Floridians with whom I spoke. “Trump has been good for my business,” said a woman who owns a café. “I don’t like all the fights he gets into. But I am making more money.” “We didn’t vote for Hillary because she was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg,” said another businessman. “Trump is good for business.” “If you want to make America great again, you will try my sample,” said another smiling café owner. He didn’t mind my hat, but didn’t care all that much about politics. “I am tired of all the back and forth,” he said. Even amongst Trump critics, I detected disengagement, not political energy. Perhaps the folks at the mall were exceedingly polite, and that’s why they didn’t object to the hat. Or maybe the shock of the Trump presidency has worn off for Dems around Daytona. But I suspect the real ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By George Neumayr
    17 hours ago
  • Congress Looks to Stick Its Nose in Sports Betting
    The U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations recently held a hearing called “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” to discuss sports wagers in the wake of its possible legalization around the United States, which is the first step in Congress trampling on state authority in regards to sports betting. In May, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 after the law that only allowed Nevada to offer legal sports betting was challenged by New Jersey and nearly 20 other states. SCOTUS ruled the concept violated the Tenth Amendment that reserves rights for the states not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution. The majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito said “the legalization of sports gambling is an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.” Now some in Congress are looking to take the reins on the issue. Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the subcommittee, said “this is going to be an issue that is going to be very important in terms of making a determination of how professional and amateur sports are played, and any regulation, if any, that Congress should decide to put on the huge amounts of money that are bet both in legal and, in some cases, illegal forums.” Since the SCOTUS ruling, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia have legalized sports betting, with many more states considering their own legislation. But Congress may butt in and establish some guidelines — whether states like it or not. The National Football League has argued — and Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, spoke to the issue at the hearing — that sports gambling is an issue of interstate commerce, which merits the federal government stepping in. The American Gaming Association (AGA), on the other hand, told the subcommittee it’d rather see Congress take a light-touch approach and leave the decision to states, as it has for lotteries and casino games. Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA, said a survey the group commissioned of Nielsen Sports found that 71 percent of sports bettors would move their bets from bookies to regulated sportsbooks if they had the legal access. That also depends on keeping the games fair. I pointed out in a previous American Spectator column that states that are implementing sports betting could easily be lured by the siren call of higher sin taxes. This may keep bettors currently in the black market solidly in the black market as sportsbooks would be forced to offers worse odds to compensate for the loss of revenue due to too-high taxes. The current black market for sports betting is estimated at $150 billion, dwarfing the wagers made in Nevada on an annual basis. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By Johnny Kampis
    17 hours ago
  • Coming Home With the Info
    Operation Columba—The Secret Pigeon Service: The Untold Story of World War II Resistance in EuropeBy Gordon Corera(William Morrow, 344 pages, $28.99 World War II is probably the biggest and most horrific event in the history of the world. It led to probably more than 65 million deaths, untold suffering on the part of millions more across the globe, and changed the direction of history for the remainder of a very bloody century. It’s only sometimes called “the good war” because it had more moral clarity than most. No mistake, it was awful. That tragic war, which was probably avoidable given a little more backbone and action on the part of the Western democracies when the little corporal was building up his war machine, was also the biggest story in the history of the world. Actually millions of stories. Stories about sweeping battles and grand strategies on the part of generals, admirals, and national leaders. Stories of the privates, seamen, airmen, NCOs, and junior officers of all the services who actually did the fighting and who usually had no clearer view of The Big Picture than did your Aunt Eunice back in Keokuk. And there were the stories of the civilians in nations under attack or in nations occupied by the Axis powers. One would think that 73 years after the end of the war, there would be no more diverting stories coming out of it. Nothing more that would add to our understanding of it. No more heroes. No more villains. No more great sacrifices or heroic actions to celebrate. No more cowards. But there are new stories coming out of World War II. And Gordon Corera, a security correspondent for BBC News, brings us a fine one in Operation Columba. To the list of heroes like RAF airmen, human agents dropped into dangerous situations, and the civilians in occupied Europe who risked all, Corera introduces readers to a much less likely and less known hero in the history of wartime intelligence gathering. That would be the humble pigeon. The humble homing pigeon to be exact. Perhaps hero isn’t the right word. The bird, of course, has no knowledge of or interest in strategic or tactical matters. And he doesn’t know the risks he faces. He just wants to go home. But therein lies the military use pigeons have been put to in The Great War, World War II, and subsequent wars. Home, for the matters dealt with in Columba, just happened to be lofts put together by allied intelligence gathering agencies eager, for many vital reasons, to know what was going on in occupied Europe. Those providing the information included ordinary citizens — farmers, a courageous priest, and others in various walks of civilian life. The pigeons arrived in occupied Europe thanks to the RAF, who dropped them in cases suspended from small parachutes. Attached to one of the pigeons’ legs were small capsules containing a message as to what kind of information was wanted, and small pieces of rice paper on which the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By Larry Thornberry
    17 hours ago
  • Four Revived Whine Vintages From the Democrats’ Whineries
    They whine without end. At times one wonders whether the Democrats are a political party, a stomping grounds for urging people to stomp on opponents’ grounds, or a whinery. And when they whine, they never stop, no matter how often the truth is explained. So we again GOPsplain, as truth demands we must, why four of their latest whine revivals are so lame: 1. The Electoral College How many times must it be explained? A contest has rules. When all contestants are advised of the rules, the contest begins. Everyone plays by the same rules. In America, we have a nickname for that process. It is called “Fairness.” In baseball, for example, the contest is to score the most runs. Not to get the most hits, to strike out the most batters, to steal the most bases, or to hit the most homers. Rather, whoever gets the most runs wins. Here is how that plays out: The Visitors are leading by a score of 4-3, and the Home team is up in the bottom of the ninth. The Visitors have hit three home runs, and the Home team has hit only two. They have an equal number of base steals, have struck out the same amount. The Visitors have eight hits, the Home team seven hits. There are two out, and the Home team has the bases loaded. The count is 3-0 (three balls and no strikes; if you are lost at this point, go two paragraphs down.) The next pitch is wide outside. Under the rules of baseball, any sane batter who has not been fooled by the ball’s trajectory (e.g., by a nasty slider) will not swing at that pitch; rather, he will take ball four and walk in the tying run. Now the next batter steps in and soon also works a 3-0 count. Again the next pitch is wide. That batter, too, will take that pitch and walk in the winning run. His teammates will celebrate and douse him with a bucket of Gatorade. The goal was to get the most runs, and the home team has won 5-4. That is why the last two Home batters did not swing at the 3-0 pitches in a desperate effort to tie or exceed the Visitors’ numbers of hits or home runs. Because hits and homers do not matter in deciding the winner; only runs matter. In HillaryClintonWhineCountrywhat difference does this make? Does the whiner from the Visitors side whine for the next two years “But we had more hits: 8-7. And we had more home runs: 3-2. How could they say they won?” And indeed such logic may make perfect sense in an episode of the “Handmaid’s Tale” or in an episode of “Alec Baldwin Interviews Robert De Niro to Compare Who Curses More Often in Public.” But for people who have an idea of what is going on in the baseball game — what difference this actually makes — the Home team has won 5-4. Now, for Presidential politics (and we welcome back our readers from “The Handmaid’s Tale”). In Presidential races, the contest is to ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By Dov Fischer
    17 hours ago
  • Medicare for All: A Disaster 
    Senator Bernie Sanders says that because Medicare is “the most popular, successful and cost-effective health insurance in the country” everyone should have it, regardless of age. But watch out for the bait and switch. Truth is, Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation actually abolishes Medicare and Medicare Advantage, as well as employer-provided coverage, union plans and plans people buy for themselves. Every person will be forced into a mandatory, government-run system with the phony name “Medicare for All.” Whether you want it or not. The quality of your medical care will plummet. Medicare for All will plunge hospitals into financial distress, exposing patients to dangerous medical shortages, and forcing pay cuts on healthcare workers. New York hospitals and their workforce will get clobbered the worst. But 16 Democratic Senators, including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, and 123 Democrats in the House endorse the legislation. Have they actually read it? President Trump warns that Sanders is “eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors.” Trump cautions that “hospitals would be put out of business,” patients will face “long wait lines,” and seniors will “effectively be denied” care they need. Sanders calls Trump a liar. Fortunately there’s a way to determine who’s telling the truth. The answer is in the 96 pages of Sanders’ bill. Here’s what it says. Four years after Medicare for All begins, all private insurance will be banned (Sec. 107), and Medicare and other government health programs will be terminated, just as Trump said. Everyone, including illegal immigrants, will be enrolled in the new government program (Sec. 106). Newborns will be automatically enrolled at birth (Sec. 105). On paper, the new program guarantees hospital care, doctors’ visits, even dental vision and long-term care, all paid by Uncle Sam. Here’s the hitch. Hospitals will be forced to operate under conditions of extreme scarcity, with too little revenue and more patients than ever. Right now, Medicare shortchanges hospitals, paying them less than the full cost of caring for seniors. but hospitals accept the low payments because they can shift the unmet costs on to younger patients who have private insurance that pays more. But in the new scheme, hospitals will be paid at Medicare rates for all their patients, not just seniors (Sec. 611). With everyone on Medicare for All, no cost shifting will be possible. The rates will be 40% less than what hospitals could get from private insurance plans. The severe short changing will throw hospitals into crisis. Meanwhile, demand for care will surge, because it’s free to all comers. Hospitals will have to jam more beds into rooms and corridors, skimp on nursing care, and make patients wait. Sounds like the austerity in the British National Health Service, only in Britain, the public has an escape hatch. They’re allowed to buy private coverage. Not under Sanders’ Medicare for All (Sec. 107). Those alternatives are banned. You’ll be trapped. The gold-plated union health plan or Medicare Advantage Plan you used to have will be a distant memory, as you wait in crowded clinics alongside people who never paid into Medicare ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By Betsy McCaughey
    17 hours ago
  • The Pope At a Loss for Words
    Washington Back in late August, Pope Francis declared that he would “not say a word” about a letter from a former Vatican envoy to Washington who claimed among other things that the Pope had ignored sexual abuse charges made against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, formerly archbishop of Washington. The letter was written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, and it also implicated the present archbishop of Washington in a cover-up of McCarrick’s decades of misbehavior. That would be Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Well, now as of Friday Wuerl’s resignation has been accepted by the Pope. So is the Pope going to continue to remain mum? In accepting Wuerl’s resignation Friday, the Pope said the archbishop’s admission to “mistakes” made in his handling of sexually abusive priests demonstrated his “nobility.” Is this really the Pope’s spin on what has to be one of the Church’s most serious scandals in centuries? Is that all that he is going to say? His continued silence is characteristic of the Pope and typical of the Vatican. He has still said very little about the predatory behavior of an astonishingly large number of American Catholic priests. In the diocese of Pittsburgh alone, 300 errant priests were mentioned in an August grand jury report that goes back 70 years. Why is the Pope so reluctant to speak out? Archbishop Viganò also leveled charges against the Pope himself. Is the Pope going to address those charges honestly? His silence and euphemistic references to the heinous acts committed by American clerics are going to ensnare him in an even bigger crisis. Viganò has already asked the Pope to resign. This could get much worse. Around the world other voices could sound for the Pope’s resignation. Now there are indications that Wuerl and the Pope are working on Wuerl’s replacement. It is suspected that they are angling toward a candidate very similar to Wuerl. That could be a disaster. It is time that the hierarchy of the Church understood that the laity will not tolerate sending its children to schools and churches where abusive priests lurk. It is time for the laity and the faithful clerics in the Church to take action and eliminate these predators. The hierarchy has charge of the Church in doctrinal matters and even in administrative matters. The laity, however, controls the purse strings. We are not living in the late Middle Ages. There has sprung up a middle class over the past 500 to 600 years that has changed things radically for the Catholic hierarchy. It controls a huge amount of the Church’s assets. Moreover, the hierarchy controls very little wealth. Its vast land holdings have vanished. The bishops and cardinals ought to adjust their arrogance to these realities. Already American Catholics, rich and not-so-rich, are calling for the faithful to pull back on their donations. It will set back the bishops’ budgets very rapidly. Donations are already down. I am told that parishes are experiencing as much a 50 percent decline in their weekly collections.  My guess ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 17, 2018By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
    18 hours ago
  • 2018’s Biggest Horror Film: Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer
    America is a country obsessed with crime and criminals. Films about murderers and serial killers have captivated our country for decades, from the Friday the 13th series to Psycho. October is a big month for horror films, and the most terrifying horror film of the century was released theaters across America last week. You won’t see any hockey masks or zombies in this horror film, the antagonist of this film is an unassuming elderly doctor. In Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, the misdeeds of America’s most notorious abortionist are put on full display. While most horror films focus on fantasy, Gosnell sticks to the facts. The film focuses on the leadup to and trial of Kermit Gosnell (Earl Billings), who operated an abortion clinic in inner-city Philadelphia. The film was directed by Nick Searcy and written by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, a pair of documentary makers who also wrote a book detailing Gosnell’s crimes. The film was originally crowdfunded by thousands of ordinary people who wanted Gosnell’s story to be known, Hollywood wouldn’t fund a movie critical of abortion. Despite the limitations of no major backing, the film received overwhelmingly positive audience feedback, and for good reasons. Initially, Philadelphia detectives, including James Wood (Dean Cain) are looking into Gosnell’s clinic due to a narcotics scheme. When Wood, along with the FBI and DEA raid Gosnell’s clinic, they find a house of horrors. In Gosnell’s abortion clinic, conditions are appalling. Cats roam the halls and “fetal remains” are stored in jars bags and jugs around the clinic. Most shocking is a collection of fetal feet stored in jars for “identification and educational purposes.” The rest of the film focuses on Assistant DA Alexis McGuire’s (Sarah Jane Morris) efforts to prosecute Dr. Gosnell for the death of a patient, Karnamaya Mongar, as well as the murders of babies who were born alive during his procedures. The legal battle is difficult, as Gosnell hires a highly skilled defense attorney, Mike Cohan (Nick Searcy). Much of the dialogue in this portion of the movie is directly lifted from the trial, and the cast delivers it convincingly. In the end, due to compelling testimony and the photo of liveborn boy (Baby Boy A) who had his neck cut with a pair of scissors, Gosnell is charged with three counts of murder of newborn infants, the manslaughter of Karnamaya Mongar and 21 felony counts of late-term abortion, Gosnell now serves life in prison for these crimes. Billings’ portrayal of Gosnell is what really makes the film stand out. Like many big screen serial killers, Gosnell appears as a normal man. Gosnell’s tacky sweaters and his playing of classical music make him somewhat of a cross between Mr. Rogers and Bill Cosby. Much like Cosby, Gosnell has a lot to hide behind his “pillar of the community” persona. Gosnell maintains that while his clinic isn’t the cleanest, he is simply trying to help the poor by providing the necessary services and that when he ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Evan Maguire
    22 hours ago
  • Horseface: What if….no, but what if?
    So The Donald struck again this morning with his Horseface tweet. The collective Beltway inhaled breath and tightened sphincter could be felt across America. Everyone else who read it laughed, because, well… Here’s the tweet in question: “Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees.” @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018 The line that is most interesting to me, though, is this, “She knows nothing about me, a total con!” What does the President mean here? Does he mean that nothing happened between Stormy and him? The idea that the President had never crossed paths with Stormy Daniels seems absurd. When the allegations originally came out, it wasn’t unthinkable that the President had messed around while his wife was at home with a baby. But what if it was all a fabrication? Michael Avenatti is a proven liar. He successfully encouraged women to confabulate and make up rape stories in an attempt to prevent Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Supreme Court. The stories were so absurd and outlandish that they strained credulity and the rest of the allegations, including those by Christine Blasey Ford. Suddenly, the Democrats’ operation looked like a cheap, cynical ploy to destroy an innocent man. Back to Trump. Almost anything is believable about him. No one doubted Stormy Daniel’s story. They just didn’t care. Trump is, like Tony Stark, a billionaire playboy philanthropist. He had a porn star on the side? Because of course he did. But what if he didn’t? Anyway, here are the various lawsuits. Wouldn’t it be crazy if Trump really never had a relationship with Stormy and this was all a fabrication as Trump seems to be alleging? Letter to Avenatti from Cohen. Stormy Daniels v. Michael Cohen. Trump will let go of the non-disclosure agreement. And Stormy responds: Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present your president. In addition to his…umm…shortcomings, he has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN! And perhaps a penchant for bestiality. Game on, Tiny. https://t.co/6DpDD5ELtj — Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) October 16, 2018 We’re off to the races. The post Horseface: What if….no, but what if? appeared first on The American Spectator. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Melissa Mackenzie
    1 day ago
  • States Ill-Prepared for Next Recession
    If states were squirrels most don’t have enough nuts stored for winter – or the next recession. Standard & Poor’s recently released a report that says 30 states don’t have enough reserves to operate at full capacity during the first year of an economic downturn. The report said the majority of states would have to raise taxes or trim their budgets during the next recession. In fact, S&P indicates states would fare worse than they did a decade ago during the Great Recession because they rely more heavily on personal income taxes now. The report says those types of taxes make up 55 percent of general fund revenues in 2018, compared to 49 percent in 2008. Other factors like rising pension costs and increased Medicaid payments will likely make the next recession tougher to weather, S&P said, with 15 states at risk of large revenue shortfalls during the first year of an economic downturn. “In their fight against recessions, budget reserves are what states send to the frontline,” the report said. “They are an internal source of immediate liquidity and can provide transitional funding to agencies before budget cuts take effect.” At least a recession isn’t likely given the strong economy. S&P pegged the chance of a recession starting in the next year at just 10 to 15 percent. Moody’s Analytics also released a study that shows similar numbers – 23 states have enough reserves to withstand a recession. On the other hand, 17 states are very ill-prepared for an economic downturn, the report said, creating a disparity between the states. The states least prepared for a recession are Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Jersey and Montana, according to Moody’s. Dan White, a director at Moody’s, told Governing that some states continue to struggle to balance their budgets even with the economy strong. He also notes that different tax structures will effect how states are affected – comparing Pennsylvania’s flat income tax with New Jersey’s more progressive tax structure that would see the latter lose twice as much revenue as the former during a recession. “All else equal, this is going to result in a faster recovery among the states that are most prepared,” White said. “What’s troubling, though, is we’re seeing an increasing gap between the have and have-nots.” The post States Ill-Prepared for Next Recession appeared first on The American Spectator. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Johnny Kampis
    1 day ago
  • What Kavanaugh’s Near-Death Experience Means for the Midterms
    The Brett Kavanaugh affair was just amazing. The extreme partisanship and antics accompanying his nomination to the Supreme Court rightly alarmed much of the nation’s responsive political center. Yet on CNN the following week, Hillary Clinton told Christiane Amanpour that “you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Clinton nominally stands for crushing deplorables — but in fact just craves personal power without end. The assault on fair play and the principle of honorable opposition has revolted enough voters to change political vectors in critical midterm elections nationwide. The emergence of Christine Blasey Ford and her spectral claims ended up being like the Heimlich maneuver, resuscitating comatose Republicans three weeks before midterm elections. The Kavanaugh affair invigorates campaigns amid GOP rank-and-files beset with anti-Trumpism, notable among affluent suburban women. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s duplicity was shocking, as the geriatric but widely respected lawmaker resorted to below-the-belt tactics. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and the vulgar, know-nothing woman from Hawaii grandstanded grotesquely. Charles Schumer’s midterm strategy failed badly. Warning lights of constitutional collapse flashed though functional Americans’ heads. The craziness was directed at a relatively moderate, very able jurist and federal judge, a Bushie for God’s sake, not a Trumpist. It was said that he had pawed Chrissie at a pool party one teenage summer three decades ago. Charges of alkie and rapist followed. It turned out Kavanaugh was a beer-drinking Deke at Yale. Say no more. Guilty. The Democrats stalled for a week, then came a televised, mortifying national spectacle, followed by an FBI report that turned up no evidence at all. “The pile-on wound up doing more to stiffen Republican spines against an apparent witch hunt than it did to weaken their resolve in the face of Blasey’s powerful accusation,” said columnist Bret Stephens at the New York Times. But Stephens must know, Blasey Ford’s accusation was not powerful. It was delusional, invented or wildly embroidered. The unsubstantiated charges turned into a manhunt. First Kavanaugh endured character assassination, and when he protested angrily in a televised spectacle, he was said to lack judicial temperament. As Sen. Susan Collins acted with probity, examining the FBI report with scrupulous care, she embodied a senator who should be a senator, exhibiting a fine public mind and great dignity. She contrasted with Sens. Booker, Harris, and the execrable Hirono, all playing to the Democratic faithful. Nonetheless, Collins and other Republican women who supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation “were denounced as ‘gender traitors’ in an eye-opening op-ed in this newspaper,” the Times’ Stephens reports with apprehension. Eye-opening indeed: to obsessive, take-no-prisoners identity politics and the mindset of Kavanaugh’s bacchante accusers. Collins’s address preceding the Senate vote was exquisitely rendered, a classic of applied civic thought. “We have seen special interest groups whip their followers into a frenzy by spreading misrepresentations and outright falsehoods,” Collins said. “Certain fundamental legal principles — about due process, the presumption of innocence, and fairness — do bear on my thinking, and I cannot abandon them.” The far-left screamers and Resistance-friendly legislators who share their political style have ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Gilbert T. Sewall
    2 days ago
  • Fast Cash for Fast-Moving Businesses Now In Scope of Regulators
    You heard it here first: Banks could become the next video stores or blacksmith shops. They are large, often immobile businesses that move slowly to adapt and have survived to this point thanks to a significant degree of help from government regulators. As such, they have retreated into two corners of the financial services sector — large institutional loans and checking accounts. In most every other area — from car loans to consumer loans, even to loans to keep businesses afloat — the action is elsewhere. With the most anti-regulatory president in our lifetimes in office, that strategy may not hold much longer. Already, there are numerous competitors sprouting up to offer many of the services banks offer without the bureaucracy and lead times of banks. Short-term financing for businesses is an example. Larger companies can work through banks, but smaller businesses — which still account for 99 percent of businesses and nearly half of all private-sector employees — often cannot survive the time lags or collateral requirements associated with larger banks. A bank could be months approving a loan; merchant cash firms, such as Kabbage, OnDeck, Fundbox and others, can meet the demand within hours. In many cases, there is no loan at all but rather a merchant cash advance, in which the provider puts up money for a short-term business need in exchange for future accounts receivable. This is the Uber and Airbnb of finance. It is quick and customer-centric. It travels light, takes risks, charges with that in mind, and provides customers alternatives to more established means of finance. Not surprisingly, the swamp has grown concerned. Banks have friends in the regulatory realm. The Small Business Administration has friends who want to keep it relevant. State governments see all this free-flowing wheeling and dealing and see opportunities for either taxes or regulations. California, of course, went first with a proposal to require nonbank small business lenders to estimate the “annualized cost of capital” in an attempt to prove the companies are gouging their customers. The Commercial Finance Coalition — a new group of these financiers that includes Bizlender, CFG Merchant Solutions, Yellowstone Capital and others, formed to create standards for deploying capital to small and mid-sized businesses and to fight threatening legislation — has stepped forward to oppose the legislation. Banks and other traditional lenders work with their friends in government to try to ensure all capital institutions follow the same rules for approving financing because these rules favor them. The willingness of others to take on more risk for more repayment is seen not as a complimentary product in the market but as a threat. Yet, the potential is enormous. Small businesses, particularly in the tech sector, those whose businesses are cyclical in nature — think shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities in beach communities — and businesses in newer sectors have benefitted from these new loan products. But these are not fixed-payment loans or even loans at all in the legal sense. They are closer to temporary debt-for-equity swaps, ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Brian McNicoll
    2 days ago
  • Spreading Bull
    Just what did Elizabeth Warren, the persistently unhinged Democrat senator from Massachusetts, expect to gain from releasing a DNA test proving she isn’t a Native American while insisting the test indicates that she is? Perhaps it was the glowing-but-hilarious Boston Globe headline which read “Warren reveals test confirming ancestry.” That in and of itself may have been enough — though the Globe story going with that front-page headline Monday advertised Warren’s heritage as 1/512th Native American. And then the Globe retracted that claim due to what it called a “math error,” and admitted it was going with a different number — 1/1024th. The average white American’s lineage, according to the Genetic Literacy Project, is 0.18 percent Native American. Warren’s DNA test puts her in a range between 0.098 percent and 3.0 percent, which means statistically she’s likely no more Native American than anybody else in the country. And it means she’s no less a liar today about the American Indian heritage she claimed as a means of making herself an affirmative-action baby than she was when she originally claimed it. This woman is whiter than Liquid Paper. She’s whiter than the inside of an Oreo. She’s whiter than a snowflake. Go and have yourself a couple of bourbons on the rocks and you’ll have more alcohol in your blood than Liz Warren has Native American in hers. In a sane world it would not be possible for Elizabeth Warren to release the results of this DNA test. In a sane world there would be non-disclosure agreements, threatened lawsuits, and riveted-shut lips about the issue, and Warren would never raise her claims of Cherokee heritage again — for fear that she’d be hooted out of public life with non-stop derision and catcalls. This isn’t a sane world, however. In this world, Elizabeth Warren is claiming she’s a real-life Pocahontas and her pals in the partisan Democrat media are dutifully lapping up the lie. My favorite was from the mouth-breathers at Talking Points Memo, who declared “After Years Of Trump Mockery, Warren DNA Analysis Shows Native American Heritage.” Yeah, right. As if 1/1024th Native American blood gets you so much as a free pull on a slot machine at the reservation. Let’s just say that people who aren’t invested in the ridiculous idea of Liz Warren as a 2020 presidential candidate were a bit less impressed with all the smoke signals today. For example, here was the Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin, Jr., with his own take on Warren’s triumphal claim. “A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship,” he scoffed. “Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America.” Hoskin wasn’t done… Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Scott McKay
    2 days ago
  • ‘Not In Vein’: America’s Terrifying Drug Problem Documentary
    It is without doubt one of the most powerful documentary films out there. The subject: “The drugs your kids don’t know they’re taking — a documentary about open borders and the cartels crossing them to kill our kids.” Not in Vein, co-produced by the Dark Wire company’s Lynda McLaughlin (Sean Hannity’s radio producer) and investigative reporter Sara Carter, the latter also a Fox contributor, screened their new film Not in Vein in Washington the other week. And for those — like myself — who were only vaguely familiar with the details of the opioid crisis in America, this film is a shocking eye opener. It is viewable here on YouTube — and viewer beware: the film is starkly graphic. Reporter Carter (famous these days for her bird dog persistence in investigating and uncovering the role of the FBI and the Justice Department in the Trump-Russia collusion business as she regularly reports on Hannity’s radio and TV shows) is the narrator and on-screen investigator as she travels the country and talks to everyone from Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch fame to parents like self-described “pissed off Mom” Heidi Riggs, who lost her 20-year-old daughter to opioids. The film opens with Riggs telling the sad story of daughter Marin and what became her fatal dependency on opioids. Farrell, a member of the Judicial Watch Board of Directors, who earlier served in the U.S. Army as a Military Intelligence officer, then takes Carter on a tour of southern Arizona as he explains in detail the harsh reality of the drug smuggling that is directly responsible for the deaths of Americans like Marin Riggs. All told, in 2017 some 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose, a truly shocking reality. As they drive through this part of Arizona Farrell explains that while what they are looking at may seem like an ordinary section of the American Southwest, in fact it is “the superhighway for narcotics (and) drug smuggling” into the United States. As images of bagged pounds — and pounds and pounds — of drugs are flashed on the screen, Farrell discusses the “very sophisticated criminal operations that know how to move contraband.” Carter notes that the Congressional Research Service has flagged nine — say again, nine! — “Drug Trafficking Organizations” or “DTOs” operating in Mexico. One of them, the Sinaloa Cartel, was headed by one Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, better known as “El Chapo.” Guzmán was once described by the U.S. Treasury Department as the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world,” with Forbes magazine three times naming him to their list of the planet’s “most powerful people,” calling him the “biggest drug lord of all time” until his arrest and expedited incarceration in New York. Patricia Cramer, the president of the Arizona Chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union, makes it clear that “we don’t have the manpower and even the technology, you know, to beat them.” A Border Patrol officer stands with Carter on the U.S. side of the border and says that her operation ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Jeffrey Lord
    2 days ago
  • Congressman Tries to Zap Electric Car Credits
    Zap. That’s the sound of the majority of taxpayers being shocked at the tax credits that electric car buyers continue to receive — a credit that may be extended as part of a tax-extenders package during the lame-duck session of Congress. The policy began under Bush and continued under Obama. Then President Bush signed into law in 2008 a credit of up to $7,500-per-vehicle for the first 250,000 electric vehicles purchased in the market. Obama boosted the program further during his stimulus package, providing the credit to the first 200,000 electric vehicles sold by each manufacturer in the U.S. As some of the biggest brands such as Tesla are exceeding that 200,000 milestone, Congress is considering continuing the credit even farther under President Trump. Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free-market think tank, dubs the credit “costly subsidies for the rich” because 79 percent of the credits were claimed by households making adjusted gross incomes of more than $100,000 per year. All but 1 percent of the credits were used by households with annual incomes exceeding $50,000. “When politicians talk about the need to subsidize costly electric cars, they fail to tell you that the hundreds of millions of dollars of subsidies that taxpayers are paying for are just another giveaway to the wealthy,” said Wayne Winegarden, the institute’s senior fellow in business and economics and author of a recent study on the issue. “Taxpayers should start asking elected officials what benefit we are getting from these expensive subsidies that only benefit upper-income households.” Windegarden found that the total value of federal manufacturing grants and loans over the lifetime of the credit is nearly $41 billion, and that some states such as California offer additional credits that can add up to more than $13,000 per car. He argues that there wouldn’t be mass demand for electric vehicles “without government playing car salesman.” “If government wants to encourage an electric car future, it should embrace the free market and remove the barriers to cheap and efficient car manufacturing that drive up costs too high for most drivers,” Winegarden said. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, is turning the wheel in the other direction, having introduced “The Fairness for Every Driver Act” that would repeal the credit. Barrasso’s legislation would also mandate that alternative fuel vehicle operators pay into the Highway Trust Fund via a fee. Drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles currently get a pass on that gas tax. That’s an important component of the bill since the revenue from that fund is already stretched thin to pay for repairing the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. “My legislation levels the playing field for all drivers across America,” said Barrasso, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “Gas, electric and alternative fuel vehicles use the same roads.” The Manhattan Institute estimated eliminating the credit and implementing the fee would save taxpayers who don’t drive such vehicles about $20 billion over the next 10 years. The legislation, S.3559, was read twice on ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Johnny Kampis
    2 days ago
  • Liberals Discover the Dangers of a Powerful Supreme Court
    Who knew? Leftists have discovered to their horror that judicial government might not be good for them. Turning power over to judges might be a bad idea. Jurists can work for the other side. They can impose hostile values. They can undermine democracy. Someone needs to do something! Slate recently hosted a debate among analysts over what to do about the looming threat posed by the horrid angry partisan Brett Kavanaugh. Having dominated the court for decades and relied on it to impose policy outcomes without popular support, they appear shell-shocked. For instance, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern warned that the newly confirmed Kavanaugh “will become part of a five-justice-conservative block that will swiftly roll back decades of progressive jurisprudence.” Alas, there is little evidence that any such reversal is likely, or likely to be swift — remember Chief Justice John Roberts’ determination to uphold Obamacare on grounds that even the left didn’t take seriously, that the program was a tax. Nevertheless, the imagined progressive golden age inaugurated by enlightened lawyers is going a-glimmering. Given the fact that it has taken a half dozen GOP presidents decades to create a seemingly “conservative” majority, which has its own divisions over such issues as executive power and civil liberties, liberals shouldn’t whine. They have long enjoyed the benefits of an activist judiciary which only slowed down in recent years. It seems only fair for democratic change to eventually transform the court. What most concerns Stern, however, is that the high court will do what it has always done, toss out measures which violate the Constitution: “[A]s soon as Kavanaugh takes the oath, he will plunge the Supreme Court into a legitimacy crisis that could weaken its power over the long term. This crisis will become particularly acute if Democrats retake Congress and the presidency but find their reforms stymied by a reactionary judiciary. The broad consensus over the court’s authority to interpret the Constitution will crumble.” Yet the justices have been doing the same for years against more conservative governments. Courts have overturned policies involving welfare, criminal penalties, abortion, contraception, prison conditions, education, housing, zoning, employment, gay marriage, and much more. Stern acknowledged that because of Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, even the Republican-dominated high court for years “handed the left a stream of victories.” For many on the right, the judiciary long ago became illegitimate. There were efforts to impeach liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren. Right-leaning politicians proposed stripping the courts of jurisdiction over controverted issues. And activists made the membership of the Supreme Court a political issue. But now, looking into the judicial future, liberals see Hades rather than paradise. So SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. Stern imagines “Democrats marching in the streets, demanding that the president and Congress ignore” rulings they don’t like. He projects Democratic officials implementing policies despite contrary high court rulings, rather like when President Andrew Jackson reportedly said of Chief Justice John Marshall, regarding a decision to protect Native Americans: “Marshall has made his ruling. Let him ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Doug Bandow
    2 days ago
  • Trump’s North America Trade Triumph
    For those on the left and right who were certain that Donald Trump’s presidency meant the end of global free trade… think again. Though Trump’s critics have dismissed the significance of the new Mexico and Canada trade deal (USMCA), it’s hard to deny it’s a welcome advance for the economy of the entire continent. The pact will extend for years a (mostly) tariff-free North America trade zone. This was Ronald Reagan’s vision nearly four decades ago — and that legacy will now live on for hopefully many years to come. Here’s just one example of the importance of this agreement. In the area of energy production, the integration of our economies and the freer flow of energy investment capital across our southern and northern borders means more pipelines, more LNG terminals, more oil refineries, and more exploration. North America is now poised to be the new Middle East for energy production for the next fifty years with all the related economic advantages that confers on our region. One of the most favorable outcomes of the new trade pact is the provision that locks in 10 years of patent protections for new pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. While some critics are portraying this as a sell-out to the big drug companies, the opposite is true. Patent protections for drugs invented in America reduce costs for American consumers by forcing foreign countries to help pay for the research costs (about $1 billion for each new drug brought to market) and stop free riding on our innovation. As University of Chicago professor Tomas J. Philipson puts it in a 2018 study on the drug industry:There is no free lunch. If neither Americans nor foreigners pay for the R&D to develop new drugs, then soon nobody will receive new treatments.” One research team found that price controls and inadequate patent protections will prevent the development of six new blockbuster drugs each year by 2020 and more than a dozen a year by 2050. No one can benefit from a drug to cure cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s, or epilepsy at any price if it hasn’t been invented. The USMCA will both save lives by accelerating medical research and reduce drug prices at home by ensuring that foreigners no longer enjoy medical innovation without paying their fair share. Despite these virtues, Democrats in Congress are threatening to vote as a bloc to prevent passage of the trade pact. These are the same people who just a few months ago were complaining that Trump’s “reckless and dangerous” trade policies were harming the economy and alienating our allies. Now he has a deal that helps the economy and unifies our neighbors — and they are against it. They have exposed themselves as free trade hypocrites. Opponents of the new trade agreement on the left and right have nitpicked about certain hard-to-defend features of the plan — such as foolish wage requirements for Mexican auto workers. But this misses the bigger point. USMCA means that free trade is alive and well across ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Stephen Moore
    2 days ago
  • How Guns Made America
    Andrew Cuomo recently blurted out that “America has never been great.” The remark generated the predictable reaction and Cuomo quickly backed away, saying that the remark had been “inartful” and that, of course, “America has always been great.” The Governor of New York is plainly confused, here, so perhaps he could arrive at some clarity if he would take a short drive from his office in Albany to the battlefield at Saratoga where, 241 years ago this week, General John Burgoyne surrendered his British Army. It was the victory that saved the colonists and led, ultimately, to the creation of the United States of America. The battle is included in Edward S. Creasy’s classic, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo. Also in J.F.C. Fuller’s Decisive Battles of the Western World. It was, undeniably, one of history’s turning points. “Saratoga” was more properly a campaign than a battle. It consisted, actually, of a series of battles. Not all of them were victories for the colonists and there were times, especially early in the campaign, when their cause seemed forlorn, at best. Burgoyne was one of the ablest of the King’s generals and his troops were British regulars. The American forces consisted of the usual mix of militiamen and hastily assembled, indifferently trained formations. They were neither professional nor, in most cases, especially well-led. The exception was Benedict Arnold, who deployed his soldiers expertly and rallied them when they were on the verge of breaking. He took a ball in the leg in the critical action of the battle but remained on the field until the British retreated, then he was carried off on a stretcher. He believed that his contributions to the victory were inadequately recognized and praised and this was, no doubt, a factor in his turn to treason. There probably isn’t much for Cuomo to learn from Arnold’s story. After all, the governor has been in politics a long time so he is surely familiar with the vanities of ambitious men and, also, with their betrayals. But there is another element of the story that might be instructional. The governor is an enemy of guns and gun ownership. He recently said, “If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago.” In a debate during his recent (and successful) campaign for re-election, he boasted that, “We passed the toughest gun control law in the United States of America…” Fair to say, then, that Cuomo doesn’t “like” guns, doesn’t understand people who do, and isn’t interested in learning what makes so many Americans so attached to guns. Why they want to own them, shoot them, collect them, read about them. Why guns are an essential part of their identity. If Cuomo doesn’t “get” what it is about many Americans and guns, then Saratoga might be a good place for a tutorial. It was marksmanship, more than generalship, that won the battle. And the marksmanship was preceded by ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By Geoffrey Norman
    2 days ago
  • Cruz’in Toward Victory
    There are tides in the affairs of men, we are reliably assured, which, taken at the flood, lead on to fortune. Does that mean Texans may expect the ascent of Rep. Beto O’Rourke to the U.S. Senate, on a flood of antagonism toward Donald Trump? Hanged if I see any such prospect cresting out there in the political sea. I say so in spite of all the cash supposedly deluging O’Rourke’s campaign organization. I say so, additionally, despite the forest of “Beto” signs surrounding my premises. My conservative neighborhood has given over, at least somewhat, to admiration of a liberal Democrat seeking to displace a right-wing Republican senator?! Oh, come on. At the same time, what’s happened to the stars by which we were accustomed to steer, prior to the coming of Trump — or for that matter of Barack Obama? People do things, say things, and vote for things and people you wouldn’t have thought they would. We’re in a transitional time, which is what excites liberals and progressives so much. They see a moment to be seized, a new day to be uncurtained. I think they overthink. They dream that red Texas will award Ted Cruz’s red Senate seat to a blue congressman nobody outside of El Paso had heard of until this year. He became the fresh produce we’re excited to see on the stands. Trump had the same element of freshness going for him when he defeated in the Electoral College a drooping Hillary Clinton. Obama, before him, had similarly fluttered pulses. A nation that expects a new smartphone every year was ready for iPhone 2016 when it came out in the form of an abrasive New York real estate investor. Now it’s 2018. Let’s go on with the Next New Thing. In Texas, Beto — the Hispanic nickname for Roberto, if it’s still necessary to point it out — positions himself so as not to repel rightward-leaning moderates, even while he excites anti-Trumpers in general. He sells mostly himself — a not-unattractive product at that. He’s tall and lean and hardly ever appears in public without the rolled-up sleeves meant to connote love of shirt-sleeved people. Beto eschews the violent imagery of Donald Trump. This you have to like. He doesn’t tweet insults. He calms while gingering you up. As a candidate, Obama had the same knack. He handled himself civilly most of the time. You might, in fact, call Beto the Irish-American Obama, picking up where the earlier version unwillingly left off due to term limits: the outward modes and manners the same, the policies the same. Here we get down to basics: the policies. You don’t have to like or dislike a politician to like or dislike his policies. To like Cruz’s policies — as the majority of my fellow Texans do, unless I’m emerging from a drugged sleep — is not necessarily to like tight, tense Ted. It is to like his commitments to freedom. Progressives à la Beto (how love of ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 16, 2018By William Murchison
    2 days ago
  • ‘Cult City’ Comes Out Today
    Today marks the day I have been waiting ten years for. Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco officially became available for purchase a few hours ago. I toiled over my sixth book, off and on, for the last decade. That’s a record for me, and one that I hope I never surpass. By way of comparison, my previous book, The War on Football: Saving America’s Game, took about a year to write. The writing came mostly in my attic. The research primarily took place at the California Historical Society, San Francisco Public Library, and Library of Congress. I interviewed about 30 eyewitnesses to history, including one of three people still with us—and one of just nine total 40 years ago—in Jonestown when the killing began to live to tell the tale, Dan White’s chief of staff who detailed a startling confession of violence that his boss made to him, and former friends and rivals of Harvey Milk who shared his homosexuality but not always a fondness for him. It got really interesting for me. To spread the news, I wrote this piece for National Review Online and this article for the Washington Examiner. Hopefully people read them and want to read the book.   The post ‘Cult City’ Comes Out Today appeared first on The American Spectator. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By Dan Flynn
    2 days ago
  • Medicare Advantage Rates Are Falling — Let’s Help Keep Them Down
    The Trump Administration has rightly celebrated the news that private-sector administered Medicare Advantage plans will actually have lower premiums next year, declining six percent in 2019 compared to 2018. As Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar observes, “Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage demonstrate the successes possible when we harness consumer choice and private-sector innovation to improve care and lower cost.” This is great news for the estimated 22.6 million older Americans who have chosen Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare — an all-time high.Seniors are increasingly opting for Medicare Advantage because of the range of additional services they receive and the protection it affords against higher medical expenses. Medicare Advantage has also proven successful in bringing down overall health care costs by utilizing start-of-the-art disease management programs. Recent rules by the Trump Administration will further enhance the flexibility of Medicare Advantage plans to tailor their benefits to the individual needs of beneficiaries. It’s a common sense and important way to keep costs in check by recognizing the fact that a senior with diabetes has different health care needs than a senior with heart disease. But free market principles are not the only factors driving down the cost of Medicare Advantage. Congress voted this year to suspend the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) for 2019, further reducing Medicare Advantage rates. The HIT is a perverse remnant of Obamacare that targets seniors and middle-class Americans for shouldering the largest burden of this tax. The HIT is particularly painful for retirees who already struggle with the costs of health care. Asking them to underwrite the cost of health insurance and care for younger, working-age people is wrong. Thankfully, Congress did the right thing in suspending the HIT for 2019 and in doing so, it reduced costs by more than $500 per year for the average couple with Medicare Advantage. It’s real money that seniors can use for other household bills or saving for a rainy day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the HIT is scheduled to come back in 2020 unless Congress takes action. After the one-time suspension of the HIT expires, seniors will be forced once again to pay higher Medicare Advantage premiums. It’s a bad deal for all Americans, but the more than 20 million seniors who depend on Medicare Advantage will feel the most pain. Older Americans can ill afford the $500 per couple rate increase that is lurking around the corner. The solution is straightforward. In a perfect world, the HIT would be abolished once and for all. At a minimum, Congress could continue the suspension of the HIT into 2020. Either action would provide seniors with greater financial security. The Trump Administration is doing a good job keeping the Medicare Advantage program innovative and reasonably priced for seniors, but the administration cannot unilaterally eliminate this Obamacare tax. It is up to Congress and they need to do their part by suspending the HIT for 2020. The post Medicare Advantage Rates Are Falling — ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By Jim Martin
    3 days ago
  • Assassination Fascination
    Since long before Brutus, Cassius, and their gang carved up Julius Caesar in 44 BC, political assassinations have been a favorite tool of revolutionaries, terrorists, and despots. People find assassinations to be endlessly — and not grimly — entertaining as demonstrated by the constant market for books, plays, and movies about them, both fact and fiction. Lady Macbeth is still trying to wash out that damned spot and 007 is still plying his trade while seducing beautiful women around the world. There’s even a video game called, “Assassin’s Creed.” Judged by their number, political assassinations have become trendy over the past decade or so. Kim Jong Un murdered a couple of his uncles for what he said was disloyalty about five years ago. He also ordered the assassination of his half-brother in early 2017 using the nerve agent VX, one of the weapons we wish we could uninvent. Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, the historically-thriving Russian assassination industry is highly active in Russia and abroad. Both former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko and anti-Putin journalist Anna Politkovskaya were assassinated in 2006. Litvinenko’s book, Blowing Up Russia, was banned in Russia because of its revelations of how the KGB propelled Putin to power and because it condemned Russian military actions in Chechnya. Litvinenko was killed exotically in London by someone believed to be another FSB agent who put Polonium 210 into a cup of tea. Anna Politkovskaya was shot to death by Chechen men paid by the Kremlin to kill her. Litvinenko and Politkovskaya were two of about forty Putin opponents who have either been murdered or died in strange circumstances in the past decade. The UK is a favorite venue for Russian assassination attempts as proven redundantly in the March attack on Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. The attack failed despite the fact their two Russian would-be assassins used the nerve agent Novichok in sufficient quantity to sicken passers-by. In the case of Jamal Khashoggi, we know that on October 2 he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain proof of divorce of an earlier wife which he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. He hasn’t been seen since. Turkish authorities say that they have audio proof that upon entering the consulate, Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured, and murdered. U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly knew that the Saudis were trying to lure Khashoggi back to that nation. A fifteen-man team of Saudi agents reportedly flew from Saudi Arabia and may have been filmed arriving at the Istanbul consulate early on October 2 and departing the same day on Saudi government-chartered aircraft. The Saudis vehemently deny that they killed Khashoggi and insist that he left the consulate on the afternoon of October 2. But they — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (a.k.a. “MBS”) and his father King Salman — are quite capable of ordering Khashoggi’s death. Khashoggi’s journalistic credentials don’t conceal the fact that he isn’t (or wasn’t) an admirable character. Born in 1958, Khashoggi was a radical ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By Jed Babbin
    3 days ago
  • Trump Is Right About Medicare-for-All
    President Trump’s recent declaration in USA Today that Medicare-for-All would “demolish promises to seniors” produced a deluge of denunciations from the Democrats, the media, and the plan’s primary congressional promoter — Bernie Sanders. The latter’s response to the President’s op-ed uses the word “lie” repeatedly and CNN claims Trump’s op-ed “assaults the truth.” But elderly voters should heed the President’s warning about the left’s latest health care brainstorm. Despite disingenuous promises from Sanders and his fellow travelers, it simply isn’t possible to implement their rebranded single-payer proposal without undermining the traditional Medicare program that most seniors rely upon for health care coverage. But, before we get into the specific damage this ill-conceived program would inevitably cause, it’s useful to pause for a moment and consider that the people making grandiose promises on behalf of Medicare-for-All are the same characters who told us Obamacare would cure the various maladies afflicting American medicine. Remember when they pledged that the risibly titled “Affordable Care Act” was going to reduce health care costs, cover the uninsured, and improve access to care? After eight years beneath the yoke of that misbegotten law, health care is more expensive than ever, there are still 30 million uninsured Americans, physician shortages are steadily worsening, and community hospitals are closing at the rate of one every three weeks. In other words, the last time the Democrats “fixed” health care, they exacerbated every problem that bedeviled the system. Yet the very people who accomplished that dubious feat are making the same promises on behalf of Medicare-for-All that they made on behalf of Obamacare. Why would any rational voter believe them? Anyone with an IQ exceeding single digits and the energy to spend a little time researching the well-documented failures of single-payer health care will quickly conclude that Medicare-for-All would dramatically increase the aggregate cost of medical care, reduce access to doctors and hospitals, and necessitate stealth rationing. And it will be elderly Americans who feel these negative effects most acutely. Let’s begin with the cost of Medicare-for-All. Bernie Sanders writes in his response to Trump’s op-ed, “Medicare is the most popular, successful and cost-effective health insurance program in the country.” It’s ironic that Sanders repeatedly calls the President a liar in this piece. This single sentence contains an outrageous falsehood. I literally laughed aloud when I read his claim concerning cost-effectiveness. The most recent Medicare Trustees report indicates that the program is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. That’s right, the current Medicare program — without any grandiose plan to expand it to all Americans — will go bankrupt in less than ten years if it is not dramatically reformed. This is not a complicated message: The estimated depletion date for the HI [Hospital Insurance] trust fund is 2026, 3 years earlier than in last year’s report. As in past years, the Trustees have determined that the fund is not adequately financed over the next 10 years.… The Trustees recommend that Congress and the executive branch work closely together with a sense of urgency ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By David Catron
    3 days ago
  • Believe Emmett Till
    The “Believe Women” movement started with a commendable goal, namely, to take women seriously when they charge that they’ve been sexually harassed. But now, in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh spectacle, and the uncorroborated charges made against him by Christine Blasey Ford — uncorroborated by the very witnesses Ford herself named and the FBI investigated — the movement risks being politicized, ideologized, and hijacked. What began as a drive to respect women’s claims is morphing into an effort that demands that all charges leveled by all women at all times against all men must be believed, because — it is said — women don’t lie about sexual assault. And if you don’t believe it has gone that far, then you weren’t listening to the protesters on Capitol Hill during the Kavanaugh fracas, and you probably haven’t read enough trash on Twitter, and you probably haven’t spent enough time on a college campus. As to the latter, a case in point is what has happened with a USC professor, James Moore, who dared to send an email last week stating that, as a matter of plain fact, “accusers sometimes lie.” He added this crucial warning to students: “If the day comes you are accused of some crime or tort of which you are not guilty, and you find your peers automatically believing your accuser, I expect you will find yourself a stronger proponent of due process than you are now.” Yes, so do I. So does anyone with common sense. Moore wrote his email in response to a “Believe All Survivors” email sent by campus activists. In response, a student rally was held under the name, “Times Up for James Moore,” demanding the professor be fired for a statement deemed “extremely inappropriate, hurtful, and insensitive.” An ideological mob of young women and young men unfurled a giant banner, WE BELIEVE ALL SURVIVORS. In response, the mob labeled Moore a “rape enabler” (yes, seriously) who “must be held accountable.” Predictably, USC administrators responded to the torch-carriers with expected cowardice and capitulation: Moore’s dean joined the chorus of inquisitors, dubbing his professor’s remarks “insensitive and incendiary.” In classic Orwellian-speak, Dean Jack Knott assured the horde that he would push for “education” on issues surrounding sexual assault and implicit biases. Naturally. It’s only a matter of time before Professor Moore stands a heresy trial at USC’s Chapel of Diversity and Tolerance. Think about the sheer absurdity on display there, and the stupidity — particularly the stupidity to the pack’s own cause. Consider: Do these people really want to contest such an obviously factual claim? Note that Moore didn’t say that accusers always lie, or lie even a majority of the time, but that they merely “sometimes” lie. Of course, they sometimes lie. There isn’t a judge or attorney who doesn’t know that. There’s not a rationally thinking adult who doesn’t know that. This professor’s job is to help train students not only for the real world but, in some cases, for law school — for ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By Paul Kengor
    3 days ago
  • Pope Francis, Cardinal Wuerl, and the Communist Chinese
    What do the Communist Chinese have to do with this event? I’ll get to that later. But first the news is not that Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington. The news is: Pope Francis dithered over accepting it since Wuerl had submitted his resignation as a matter of course three years ago when he turned 75 and again, according to the Pope’s letterof October 12, 21 days earlier on September 21. Pope Francis’ letter praised Wuerl’s “heart of the shepherd” and his“nobility,” in that he had the grounds to defend himself but chose not to put himself ahead of the Church. Pope Francis named Wuerl, rather than someone else, “apostolic administrator” of the Archdiocese until the appointment of his successor; and Pope Francis did not require Wuerl to resign as Cardinal. (Did he offer to resign?) So, let’s see. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report was made public on Tuesday, August 14. With a public petition in his former diocese of Pittsburgh to have his name removed from a high school, Wuerl submitted a letter on August 16, asking that his name be removed. He did this, he wrote, so there would be no distraction from students getting a good Catholic education. No grass grew under the feet of the local educators and parents. On the two ensuing consecutive business days, Friday, August 17, and Monday, August 20, two different boards met and resolved to have his name removed. A man unfit to have his name on a high school remains fit enough to serve as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese and to vote in the next papal conclave. A word here about the role of an “apostolic administrator.” In 2011, an apostolic administrator was appointed for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the local canon law tribunal published a document to describe, for the public, the role: These limits often require the administrator to seek the consent of the College of Consultors before taking certain actions, including issuing letters authorizing the ordination of deacons or priests for the archdiocese. The administrator is also prohibited by canon law from naming pastors of parishes. However, he is given authority to appoint pastors if no archbishop is named within a year of [the retirement/resignation]. Canon law also prohibits the administrator from closing parishes or relegating churches to secular uses. “In general…the diocesan administrator…maintains the necessary day-to-day functioning of a diocese, but does not make any structural changes that would truly be innovations in the particular diocese.” * * * “It’s an assurance that there is a leader still…Even though there’s not an archbishop on the scene, it’s not that we’re without a shepherd. We do have a shepherd… He doesn’t have the title ‘archbishop,’ but he is apostolic administrator.” This means that Cardinal Wuerl’s caretaker duties for the Archdiocese, include: ordaining men to the priesthood (whether from this Archdiocese or elsewhere); participating in and voting in meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishopsand its committees; the next meeting is November ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By Wlady Pleszczynski
    3 days ago
  • Night After Night
    Sunday Last night, as is usual, I went out to Mr Chow for dinner. It was packed, as usual. My favorite Irish waiter, James the Flirtatious, whirled around with his magic of bringing Diet Coke just when it’s needed. And by the way, what a miracle Diet Coke happens to be. It’s always delicious. Never makes me feel sick. Unless you buy it at Mr Chow, it’s inexpensive to the point of being virtually free. I’m in love with my Diet Coke. I came home and watched the second half of a documentary about World War I. Good Lord. The suffering that men and women, especially men, went through, is simply beyond belief. There were battles in which 20,000 men died on one side in one day. The Somme. The Marne. Gallipoli. Passchendaele. St. Mihiel. Verdun. Who even recalls these names now? Who even recalls when the wars were? And who ever knew, that is, knew for sure, what the wars were about? Who would ever have dreamed that the assassination of an Austrian archduke whom no one liked much anyway would have wrecked Western civilization for generations. But who would have dreamt that a few bullets from a lunatic’s pistol would lead to Bolshevism, Nazism, a second World War? Who would have dreamed such horrors as the Holocaust would follow? I have noticed in my own poor scrabbling that the words I use most are “horrify” as a verb form and “horrifying” as an adjective. I think I am permanently traumatized by history. Who was it that said, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to escape”? Ok. It was James Joyce. Easy question. Anyway, then wifey and I watched the first two hours of a documentary narrated by the magnificent Tim Pigott-Smith (an evil fellow in Jewel in the Crown) about the Battle of Britain. To think that we, sitting here in our air conditioned office, our can of Diet Coke at my right hand, would be free and alive at all thanks to the courage and intrepidity of a few hundred RAF pilots and ground crews and the glorious engineers who made the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire such great saviors. At dinner that night I told my friend, “Never in the history of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” re: The Battle of Britain. She didn’t quite get it at first but then I explained it. She got it. At about 2 a.m. my wifey fell into sleep and so I did my usual routine of dozens of digestive aids and then a long shower and then prayers in both Hebrew and English for my parents. Then, to sleep. I had horrible nightmares all night long. I dreamed my wife was away on a long trip. I was at an AA meeting and was supposed to speak but then they kept changing the room on me. I was scared. Not scared. TERRIFIED. I want to tell you ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, October 15, 2018By Ben Stein
    3 days ago
  • Trump May Be Inching Toward Broad Criminal Sentencing Reform
    Washington President Donald Trump frequently brings up prison reform at his Make America Great Again rallies. The subject is on his short list of favored topics, like the wall at the Mexican border and killing NAFTA. Trump brought up prison reform in his 2018 State of the Union address. On Monday, he thanked the International Chiefs of Police for working with him on the issue. The question is, will Trump embrace reform of federal mandatory minimum sentencing? At times Trump looks as if he is ready to make the plunge. In June, he commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother sentenced to life without parole for serious but nonviolent drug offenses, at the request of reality TV star Kim Kardashian. Johnson already had served two decades, which to Trump certainly seemed like enough time. “How this would have happened — and maybe it was a different time, a different age,” Trump said of Johnson’s life sentence during an extended phone interview on Fox and Friends Thursday morning. He sounded baffled as to how Johnson could have been sentenced to prison for the rest of her life with no possibility of parole, even though she is hardly alone. Trump went on to support reform to address the inherent unfairness in federal sentencing. The law-and-order president is on to something. Federal mandatory minimum sentences were supposed to ensure that drug kingpins served hard time. But there are too many stories such as Johnson’s of mid-level or low-level offenders sentenced to decades, even life, behind bars. According to the Sentencing Project, almost 2,000 federal inmates are serving life without parole for drug offenses. A 2017 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that while the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act was supposed to impose mandatory minimum sentences on “major” and “serious” drug traffickers, they are applied to a third of couriers and a quarter of mules. Many offenders sentenced to mandatory minimums “had little or no criminal history.” Since low-level offenders have less information to barter for a lighter sentence, they are less likely to have time shaved off their sentences in return for cooperating with authorities. Johnson was sentenced to life while some co-defendants who testified against her saw their terms reduced. Crime and punishment used to be a right-left issue with conservatives pushing for harsh sentences and liberals pushing for short time and counseling. In recent years, however, conservatives have peeled away from the lock-’em-up model because it is draconian and pricey. Mark Holden, chairman of the Koch-funded Freedom Partners, hailed the commutation of Johnson’s life sentence as a sign Trump “understands that our country has an over-incarceration problem caused mainly by antiquated ‘tough on crime’ policies of the failed War on Drugs from the 1970s to the present.” Holden called on Trump to commute more such sentences. Trump’s focus has been on the First Step Act, which stands for Formerly Incarcerated Re-enter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person. The bill, which enjoys bipartisan support and passed through the House by ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, October 14, 2018By Debra J. Saunders
    4 days ago
  • The Fall of the Gay Mafia’s Don
    Some of Donald Wuerl’s priests called him the “Tin Man,” a reference to his cold, heartless style as the archbishop of Washington, D.C., a position from which he has now formally resigned, though outrageously Pope Francis is permitting him to continue as an “apostolic administrator” until his successor arrives. It is hilarious that Wuerl became arguably the most powerful American cardinal in the “pastoral church of Pope Francis,” given that Wuerl is the least pastoral prelate imaginable. He instinctively avoided encounters with his flock and priests, unless they served some immediate interest or enjoyed riches and power. “He is a robot,” said one of his priests. “All he cared about was money and living as comfortably as possible and whatever else he got up to.” Around three years ago, I ran into a very peculiar chap coming out of Wuerl’s personal garage at 10:30 at night. He described himself as Wuerl’s “personal chef,” but the archdiocese refused to answer my questions about his employment status. To this day, I still don’t know this individual’s identity. I was told that after I reported his odd habit of parking not in the employee lot but in the cardinal’s personal garage (attached to Wuerl’s Embassy Row penthouse apartment) the “personal chef” vanished, as did Wuerl’s priest-secretary (who was living in Wuerl’s penthouse), Fr. Charles Cortinovis. (I wrote this story up for the Daily Caller, “Who is the Personal Chef of Donald Wuerl?“) It appears that Cortinovis, shortly after that article appeared, got Wuerl to orchestrate his transfer to a parish in Maryland, St. Ambrose. Or possibly an angry Wuerl reassigned Cortinovis. In any case, his transfer meant displacing pastor Fr. Kevin Kennedy, who wrote to his parishioners in December 2015 that his hasty transfer and replacement by Cortinovis came as a “surprise” to him after seven and half years of service in that role. “It is happening abruptly,” he wrote to them. (Cortinovis’s service to Wuerl appeared to have lasted less than a year, an oddly short period of time for a priest secretary to a cardinal. Cortinovis did not respond to my request for comment about the brevity of his tenure.) At the time I asked a Church insider why Cortinovis would quit so quickly. He agreed that it was “peculiar” and noted that Wuerl has cycled through a parade of priest secretaries. Having to do dirty work for a particularly touchy member of the Church’s Gay Mafia, he said, is an “awful job.” I remember I contacted Fr. Kennedy to ask about his hasty ouster from St. Ambrose. His response was downright bizarre. He has “nothing to do” with Wuerl, he explained, as if he was talking about the head of a crime syndicate. When I probed Kennedy further, he hung up on me. “Donald Wuerl is a criminal and the archdiocese is a criminal enterprise,” an angry mother with children in a D.C. archdiocesan school said to me. “He sent a Gay Mafia priest to our children’s school and destroyed it.” ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, October 14, 2018By George Neumayr
    4 days ago
  • Gosnell: A Must, Must, Must See Movie
    Saturday Run. Don’t walk. If you care about abortion. If you care about the precious innocence of the hundreds of thousands of unborn babies — and especially BORN babies — murdered every year by the abortionists. If you care about the sanctity of life. RUN DON’T WALK to see “The Gosnell Movie,” as I call it, also sometimes called “The Trial of Kermit Gosnell.” (Its official title is Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.) He was the notorious “I’ll do it at any time, any place” abortion “doctor” whom it took years to convict despite mountains of evidence. If you care about the cruelty of the people who promote abortion (just my opinion), about their hypocrisy — RUN DON’T WALK to see the Gosnell movie. And bring your friends. Hollywood has put up a furious attack to suppress this movie but it’s at theaters near you anyway. So, yes, run, don’t walk to see it, support it, make it last. I know my share about how the powers of darkness can attack a movie that does not hew to the PC Line. They did it to our movie, EXPELLED. We questioned why it was not allowed to even mention that there are questions about whether evolution answers all questions about the origins of life. We asked why teachers could not even mention that there are alternative theories about why and how life started and expanded. Your humble servant in particular asked how it was possible that physical laws like gravity or thermodynamics could have just “evolved.” Didn’t there have to be some starting point for these laws which govern the universe? Who created these laws? Who enforces them? These questions were suggested to me by the smartest person I have ever met, Al Burton. And where is the evidence that one species evolves into another — not a variant of one species, but a whole different species? I was attacked savagely by the powers that be. We delved into the connection of Hitler with Darwin, about how we explain why a theory that says there are superior and inferior races and that the inferior races should not be allowed to eat up all the food of the superior races is NOT connected with The Final Solution. We went to Nazi killing centers like Hadamar and Dachau and had the curators there tell us that what went on at these killing centers was not political. It was Darwinian. I know I’m going to get slammed for saying these things. I’m prepared. But our movie’s run was cut short by a lawsuit by Yoko Ono of all people. Let’s support the Gosnell movie wherever and however we can. Abortion is the world’s leading monstrosity. It is its own form of genocide in which the people with political power use it to kill the people they do not respect — or who are a major inconvenience to them. Please support “The Gosnell Movie.” Okay, back to current events: I have a ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Saturday, October 13, 2018By Ben Stein
    4 days ago
  • How Living Two Years Under Socialism Made Me a Capitalist
    Background In 1985 my family moved to Israel for two years, playing our part in reclaiming a heretofore unclaimed portion of our Biblical patrimony. So, with 35 other young families, we co-founded the new community of Neve Aliza in Ginot Shomron (“Samaria Gardens”) in the heart of Samaria, the northern half of what is falsely misnomered as the “West Bank.” Neve Aliza since has grown by 600%, with Ginot Shomron likewise now comprising part of greater metropolitan Karnei Shomron. Karnei Shomron now has a population of some 8,000 people, approximately the population of Malibu or Sedona, Arizona. Israel-haters call it a “West Bank settlement.” In those years, Israel was governed primarily under socialist economic principles. Always a democracy, Israel’s governing institutions nevertheless were founded by deeply non-religious and even anti-religious secular socialists who had fled Tsarist Russia in the late 1800s. For half a century, until the Menachem Begin earthquake election of 1977, Israel was governed by coalitions led by the leftist Labor Party. They had built the socialist kibbutzim (agricultural socialist collectives) that the liberal media idealized. These were the darlings of the leftist-liberal media during Israel’s nascent years, names like Ben-Gurion, Rabin, Dayan, Golda Meir. Leftist socialists all. Today, and for the past several decades, Israel’s kibbutz movement and socialism is all but dead. That is why socialist Bernie Sanders has led the way incorporating anti-Israel policies into the Democrat party. Today’s Israelis despise and reject socialism (outside their academia, mainstream media, and entertainment industry — sound familiar?). The leftist Labor Party is in shambles. Benjamin Netanyahu’s center-conservative Likud coalition reigns. (Meanwhile, to this day America gets as much or more monetary and military strategic value from its investments in Israel’s defense as it spends. Typically, most American military defense allocations towards Israel must be spent on American-made parts and materiel. American weapons then are battle-tested against Soviet arms, and Israel thereupon shares lessons learned in battle with the American defense establishment and their contractors. Modifications then are made, often with upgrades devised by the Israelis themselves, and that assures American military superiority over Soviet/Russian weapons. That is why, although Israel historically has been opposed by the Deep State within the U.S. State Department (with brief breathers under three great pro-Israel Secretaries of State Alexander Haig and George Shultz under President Reagan, and now Mike Pompeo), Israel always has enjoyed enormous support within the U.S. Defense Department.) Economic and Television Socialism When we arrived in Israel in 1985 the first forty years of ingrained state socialism, dating to the country’s founding in 1948, still was proving hard to extirpate. Menachem Begin’s election in 1977 had brought Israel’s first non-leftist government into power, but he was thwarted throughout by the Deep State bureaucracy that had formed over decades. Deep State moles with lifetime government-tenured jobs were embedded, working night-and day to sabotage his democratically elected government. Like the “anonymous” op-ed columnist in the New York Times, they slow-walked and subverted superiors’ orders. I had graduated from Columbia University in 1976 with a degree in political science. Thus, I had read virtually everything that Karl Marx ever ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Saturday, October 13, 2018By Dov Fischer
    5 days ago
  • Does Washington Want to Lose Little or Bigly in the Mideast?
    Sir Winston Churchill once quipped that, “Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else.” Unfortunately, in the Middle East, doing the right thing is often the wrong thing to do for the national interest. Since 1945, the United States has vacillated between propping up savage dictatorships in the region (in order to ensure the flow of oil and to prevent the spread of Communism in the Cold War) to targeting such dictatorships for destruction. The reason the Mideast has preoccupied policymakers in Washington is due to the presence of oil in the region. What’s more, the fact that the Middle East serves as the connective tissue linking Europe to Asia, as well as the fact that much of the world’s seaborne trade passes through waterways throughout the region (such as the Strait of Hormuz and Suez Canal). The Freedom Agenda Wasn’t Free Following 9/11, the Bush Administration assumed that the best course of action was not only to hunt down the stateless al Qaeda terror networks responsible for that reprehensible attack, but to also end “states who sponsor terrorism.” The Bush Administration also embraced the dubious concepts of regime change through preemptive military strikes (in actuality, the Bush team waged a potentially illegal preventive war) in places like Iraq. Once in Iraq, former President George W. Bush was quick to announce his “Freedom Agenda,” which sought to topple autocratic regimes in the Middle East and replace them with democracies. According to the theory, removing unpopular (often U.S.-backed) autocracies with nascent democracies would make the Mideast more amenable to the United States. This program, according to the neoconservatives, would also reduce the threat of terrorism. The neoconservatives believed that al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups were able to gain support because of the tyrannical forms of rule that most Muslims in the Middle East were subjected to. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration chose to make Iraq the focal point of its democratization campaign for the Middle East. There was little evidence suggesting that Saddam Hussein was supporting al Qaeda. More importantly, Iraq was a natural balancer against radical Iran. Once Saddam Hussein’s regime was removed and replaced with a far weaker government, the Iranians were loosed from their containment, thereby destabilizing the entire region. Unlike the preceding decades in which the United States often took the path of least resistance — supporting secular autocrats over their more radical, more popular political opponents — the United States adhered to the amorphous concepts of “humanitarian warfare” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Later, the Obama Administration supported the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi as well as the rise of the violent Muslim Brotherhood (albeit temporarily) in Egypt…all in the name of supporting democracy; all to do “the right thing” (even to America’s detriment). Washington spent 20 years trying to do “the right thing” in the Middle East and, across the board, American actions have made the situation even worse. Today, the United States is faced with a potentially-nuclear-armed Iran that has spread itself far beyond its ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Saturday, October 13, 2018By Brandon J. Weichert
    5 days ago
  • Use Media Hate as Your Guide: Kanye Edition
    The media-Dem-activist complex hates Kanye West. Gay, black CNN talking head Don Lemon laughed as one of his guests called Kanye West an ignorant Negro. One would think that a man who might be the object of discrimination would hesitate at laughing at racist jibes toward another black person. Wrong. Donald Trump called Lemon the dumbest man on TV. He should have called him the meanest man. Yesterday, Lemon doubled down on the insults and said that Kanye’s mom is rolling in her grave. Other guests, including S.E. Cupp, shook their pretty heads sadly intoning about Kanye’s mental health (strangely, no one questioned his mental health when he met with President Obama). In short, the media is in full-blown meltdown over Kanye West’s meeting with President Trump and nothing – not racism, mental illness, or even insulting West’s mom – is too low to throw at the man simply for liking the President. If the hate seems familiar, it’s because there’s been a non-stop spectacle since Trump was elected. Soros-fueled activists rioted during the inauguration and they’ve been rolling ever since. Brett Kavanaugh was accused of rape and subjected to horrendous abuse (abortion). Steve Scalise was shot (health care). Rand Paul attacked by a wacked out neighbor. Mobs of insane leftists clawed at the Supreme Court doors (abortion). Cars and trucks with Trump stickers have been torched (intolerance). Kids wearing MAGA hats have been attacked in fast food restaurants. Senators have been hounded out of restaurants. Wives of elected officials have received death threats. Almost everyone on Trump’s staff needs personal security. Then there’s the hoary Democrat heads like Eric Holder calling for kicking (don’t worry, Leftists are already on that). Hillary called for more incivility until Democrats get power back. Maxine Waters is telling voters to hound Republicans. There is a climate of unbridled hate all fomented by the Left, but it’s useful to follow where their hate points. A week ago, it was Brett Kavanaugh. Right now, it’s directed at Kanye West. Why hate Kanye? Well, Kanye causes the Left trouble. The whole narrative about Donald Trump is that he’s a sexist, racist, homophobe, the paragon of White Privilege, despiser of Hispanics and other people with brown skin. He is the Next Hitler. So the word went out some time back to black people: Don’t talk to Donald Trump. Do not give him legitimacy. And so, there has been a unified hate-front towards Donald Trump. No one would be caught dead crossing the black line lest be labeled a scab. No one except Kanye and Jim Brown and some other artists. But Kanye is the big one. He’s a cultural juggernaut. He’s been labeled a genius (he is). He’s a self-made man who is a writer, producer, rapper, and clothing designer. Some of the work he produced this year is fire.  Lit. Incandescent. (Full disclosure: I’ve been a Kanye fan for a long time and think his work is getting better as he ages. This is not ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 12, 2018By Melissa Mackenzie
    5 days ago
  • Free at Last: Andrew Brunson Released by Turkish Strongman Erdogan
    In a shocking and welcome move, the government of Turkey has decided to release pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest, a move that President Trump has been pushing for months. With the release of Brunson, there is a possibility for the United States to improve relations with wayward “ally” Recep Erdogan. Brunson was arrested in October of 2016 for alleged ties with Gulenists and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party. Gulenists follow the Pennsylvania-based exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen,  who has been critical of Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian regime. The Kurdistan Worker’s Party is the constant subject of Erdogan’s rage as he attempts to halt all vestiges of Kurdish nationalism. The arrest came shortly after the failed 2016 military coup against Erdogan’s regime. The roots of that coup remain unclear to this day. Erdogan’s government claims that it was Gulen who instigated the coup. A comprehensive report indicates that the coup may have been an Erdogan-backed false flag to crack down on democracy supporters. And that is exactly what Erdogan did, after the coup, as over 50,000 people were arrested including military officials, police officers, teachers, and religious leaders. Among those 50,000 people were 20 Americans, according to the BBC; one of those Americans was pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson is a pretty unassuming figure. He’s lived in Turkey for over two decades with his wife and three children. He pastored a small church in Izmir. Shortly after the coup, Brunson and his wife were rounded up for supposed collusion with the “traitors”; his wife was released a week later. Since then, Brunson has been in house arrest and embroiled in a legal battle against Erdogan’s authoritarian government. Brunson has been accused of working with the CIA, PKK, Gulen, and even Mormons to undermine Erdogan’s Islamist government. Brunson’s defense witnesses were all dismissed and the prosecution’s witnesses, appearing on distorted videos in a series of sham hearings, were all anonymous. After the last of these hearings in July, a new hearing was scheduled for today. The positive result is likely a result of increased pressure from the U.S. Government and particularly President Trump to secure Brunson’s release. The obviously political move appears to have been part of a play by Erdogan to get Gulen back. In September of last year, Erdogan offered to “swap” Brunson for Gulen. This wouldn’t be an ordinary prisoner swap. Gulen isn’t a prisoner in the U.S and he certainly wouldn’t be welcomed back with flowers and chocolates. If Gulen were to return to Turkey, it’s likely he would disappear faster than you can say “Ataturk.” Trump and the State Department didn’t cave to the strong man’s demands, and that hardiness is likely why Brunson is a free man today. Trump, the stalwart tweeter,  called out Turkey in April for imprisoning Brunson: Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 12, 2018By Evan Maguire
    5 days ago