American Spectator

  • Iraqi Kurdistan’s Crisis: A Failure of Strategy
    As the war against the Islamic State as an entity controlling territory comes to a close in Iraq, control over territories disputed between the Iraqi central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government (KRG) has come to the forefront. Forces officially affiliated with the Baghdad government, as well as militias aligned with it on this issue, have taken control of several key disputed sites, including Kirkuk city and Sinjar, which were previously held by Kurdish forces. While it initially seemed that the aim of the operations was just to assert the boundaries that existed prior to the Islamic State surge of 2014, there are indications the rollback may go as far as the 2003 boundaries. What is the root of this crisis? And what, if anything, should be the U.S. role? Inevitably, much commentary has taken on a moralistic tone, lamenting a supposed U.S. abandonment of the Kurds to the Iranians and their clients, or getting into arguments about whether places like Kirkuk are actually Kurdish. The issue at hand, though, is not so much right or wrong over who should control which area as strategic failure. The root of this crisis lies in the miscalculation by Masoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), who rule in the KRG capital of Arbil, to insist on going ahead with the unilateral independence referendum last month. It was clear from the outset why the referendum in the present circumstances was problematic. Holding the referendum unilaterally in disputed territories, for example, was sure to provoke a wide spectrum of local Iraqi opposition transcending many sectarian boundaries, including not only Sunni and Shi’a Arabs but also many members of Iraqi minorities such as the Turkmen and Yezidis (the latter not necessarily identifying as ethnically Kurdish, despite speaking the Kurdish language). This Iraqi domestic opposition to the referendum has been the strongest and main incentive for Iraq’s prime minister Hayder al-Abadi to take action, given his desire for political legitimacy for next year’s parliamentary elections and the risk of being undermined by actors who are far closer to Iran, such as the previous prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who became much more closely aligned with Iran from 2010 onwards. The perceived need for Abadi to outmaneuver more pro-Iranian hardliners in Iraq is likely the main explanation for the U.S. position, which did not actively oppose the reassertion of federal government control over places like Kirkuk, even as Iran is also exploiting the situation in a bid to dampen as far as possible the prospect of a Kurdish state, fearing a ripple effect among its own Kurdish populations. Besides strong local Iraqi opposition, there was by no means a unanimous consensus among the KRG’s various factions to hold the referendum, with the main reservations existing within the area’s other main political faction historically (the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK], which is tied to the Talabani family and controlled Kirkuk city) and the opposition Gorran movement. There were suspicions, for instance, that the referendum was merely being ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, October 22, 2017By Aymenn Al-Tamimi
    16 hours ago
  • The General Shames the Briefing Room
    Washington Since retired Gen. John Kelly became White House chief of staff, news outlets have portrayed him as the disciplinarian sent to impose order over an unruly President Donald Trump. Kelly rejects that scenario — when it comes to taming, he has other fish to fry. To wit, at Thursday’s press briefing, Kelly tongue-lashed the usually feisty White House press corps so relentlessly that in 18 minutes he reduced the usually swaggering scribes and talking heads into shamed silence. After Kelly slammed reporters for taking a “sacred” moment — the notification of family when a military member is killed in action — and turning it into a cable-news chew toy, after he pointed out the thankless toil of the 1 percent of Americans who serve in the military, and after he directed members of the media to raise their hands if they knew any Gold Star families, Kelly offered one final salvo. “We don’t look down upon those of you who haven’t served,” Kelly closed. “In fact, in a way, we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kind of things our servicemen and women do. Not for any other reason than they love this country.” Kelly’s trip to the podium was a rescue mission of sorts designed to extricate Trump from another media mud pit of his own making. It started Monday when Trump strolled into the Rose Garden with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player in the GOP effort to pass a tax-cut bill. This summer Trump told the press he was “very disappointed” in McConnell. But Monday, Trump promoted McConnell to longtime friend with whom he is “closer than ever before.” When a reporter asked Trump why he had not commented on four U.S. soldiers recently killed in an ambush in Niger, the president’s need to frame himself as better than his predecessors prompted a tortured response. Trump said he had written letters to the soldiers that would be mailed over the weekend, and that he would like to call the families even though “President Obama, and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.” Politifact rated Trump’s statement “misleading.” Obama went to Dover Air Force Base to receive the bodies of 18 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and comfort their families in person. Having backed himself in a corner, Trump phoned the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four killed in Niger. Later, family friend Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, told the media that Trump cavalierly told the widow that Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” but “it still hurts.” Johnson’s aunt added that Trump was disrespectful. Trump denied that he said the words Wilson had repeated. At Thursday’s briefing, Kelly essentially confirmed Wilson’s quote — although Kelly took strong issue with the suggestion that Trump said anything that did not bestow deserved praise on the slain soldier. Kelly framed the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, October 22, 2017By Debra J. Saunders
    17 hours ago
  • Imagine My Surprise
    I head George W. Bush’s remarks Thursday afternoon about how “Bigotry seems emboldened” and “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and downright fabrication.” He’s certainly right about this. But I assumed he was talking about the political and cultural left, the mainstream media (pardon the redundancy), and American universities. All of the above retail bigotry, fabrications, and absolutely roll and snuffle in conspiracies theories, as long as all the evil conspirators are on the right. Imagine my surprise when I cruised news shows last evening to find that the media was under the impression Bush was talking about Donald Trump and his deplorable supporters. What a downright peculiar conclusion, but one I guess I should have anticipated. Today W said he wasn’t talking about Trump. What a disappointment this must have been in news rooms, faculty lounges, Hollywood, and the Upper West Side. But this didn’t inconvenience these folks long. They quickly pivoted to the lunatic assertions of an opportunistic Florida Congresswoman with no scruples about what she politicizes (and who wears a hat that looks like she won it at a carnival because the barker couldn’t guess her weight). ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Larry Thornberry
    2 days ago
  • Unusual Drinks (Part 2)
    Sour beer, white lightning from South America, smoked rum, and liqueur made from the sap of a tree in Greece — those were featured in my first installment of “Unusual Drinks.” But there is more weirdness to come. Oh so much. Let us begin with another offering from our friends at Stolen Spirits. They purchased 11-year-old American whiskey, and added a smoky flavor by pitching charred, chopped barrel staves into it. (It’s a bit like the technique some vintners use to add flavor to their white wines.) The result is a 92 proof brown booze loaded with vanilla and baking spice flavors. Yum. Wait, you might object, that’s not all that unusual. Well, how about this: barrel-aged gin? Historically, this white spirit has sluiced straight from the still to the bottle. No more. Folks are aging it. Beefeater, producer of the venerable London dry gin, has introduced a few new products in recent years, including Burrough’s Reserve. This 86-proof gin spends time — how much is not clear — in small oak casks that formerly held red and white Bordeaux wines. This imparts a straw color to the spirit and produces a gin that is softer, less piney, and more herbal. Does it work in a martini? Beats me — I sip it neat. When a small bottle of Underberg digestif (88 proof) landed on my desk, I was unnerved. It looked like a tincture from the late 19th century — an eye-dropper type bottle wrapped in brownish newspaper, with a label boasting herbs from 43 nations. I nearly looked to see if the label claimed it cured dropsy, pleurisy, and priapism. Nope, but it does exclaim: “TO FEEL BRIGHT AND ALERT.” Five minutes after my first tiny sip of this German medicine the bizarre, intense, bitter flavor afflicted my tongue. It was as if I had licked wood that had been stewed in mint, anise, licorice, clove, and who knows what else. After Underberg, I thought I was well girded to taste “death schnapps.” I was wrong. Brennivin is an evil booze. It is only 75 proof but unswallowable — it bombs the mouth with caraway and cumin aromas, and sent me to the sink. Last, but assuredly not least in the unusual drinks queue this time is…. Beet spirit. Yes, a craft distillery in Pennsylvania has made a 90-proof clear spirit from red beets. I take my hat off to the producer, Boardroom Spirits, this liquor is astonishingly smooth. If you like borscht, well, this is the hooch for you. It oozes beet aroma and flavor. Which is very unusual. Kevin R. Kosar is a senior fellow at R Street Institute and heads its alcohol policy reform program. He is the author of Moonshine: A Global History (2017) and Whiskey: A Global History (2010). ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Kevin Kosar
    2 days ago
  • Me, Too —Two Cases
    My book writing career started when Michael Korda, editor in chief of Simon & Schuster, bought a novel about a hyper inflationary catastrophe à la Weimar, co-written with my father, Herbert Stein. That was in about early 1976. The book was called On The Brink. It came out as the U.S. was facing high inflation and was well reviewed and sold decently. Then I wrote a book about the interesting way that the political views of producers and writers about the military, business owners, clerics, wealthy people in general, meshed seamlessly with the negative way they were portrayed on TV shows. That was bought and published by Basic Books. It was blasted in the liberal media but loved by conservatives. That came out in about 1977 and had required a lot of research. It had the title, The View From Sunset Boulevard. I then wrote a humorous diary, DREEMZ, of my first year as a scriptwriter in Hollywood. The name came from the license plate of my snazzy car. It was well reviewed. A kind man at the New York Times called it “stunning.” That came out in about 1978. It had a lot of sex stories in it, although none at all graphic. I well recall sending it to my beloved Mother, whom I called for her reaction. “This isn’t your mother,” she said, “your mother is in shock.” That was in about 1979. I was hard working. A famous editor contacted me and asked if I wanted to write a book for his house. Indeed, I did. I had already started research on a three generational saga (they were big at the time) about a wealthy Los Angeles family. I pitched the story, which began with an immense brush fire that burned the Malibu Beach Colony. The fire had been started by two teenage boys smoking pot — then illegal — and rolling over on their motorbike in a field of dried grass. The editor loved the idea we discussed and contacted my agent and made a deal that seemed to me to be generous at the time. I started work on it and quickly wrote about 50 pages. I was then living in Los Angeles. My pages flew off to my editor and he called me to say he’d like to see me about it next time I was in New York but in the meantime to get him a first draft as soon as possible. He was enjoying it. “It’s like the story of a royal family,” he said. In a few days I boarded my plane and headed off to see my editor. It was winter and it was cold. I was staying, if I recall rightly, at The Berkshire Place hotel, but I could have that wrong. I had dinner with my editor and he drank a fair amount and then told me he had some issues with my pages and could he discuss them with me. “Of course,” I said. “I can come ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Ben Stein
    2 days ago
  • Congress Poised to Bailout Insurers, Fleece Taxpayers
    Democrats and some Republicans in Congress are pushing for a $10 billion a year payout to insurance companies that sell Obamacare plans. President Trump calls it “bailing out” the insurance industry. Truer words were never spoken. The politicians backing this sweetheart deal claim it will protect consumers. Don’t fall for it. The money will go straight to the bottom lines of insurers – who enjoy tremendous clout in Washington, D.C., thanks to over $85 million in campaign contributions and over $150 million spent on lobbying every year. The deal’s authors — Sen. Lamar Alexander (R. Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D. Wash.) — have taken hundreds of thousands in insurance contributions personally and through their PACs. No surprise the deal gives insurers everything they want: an estimated $10 billion a year cash plus $100 million in Obamacare ads. No other industry gets taxpayers to pay for their advertising. Meanwhile, consumers get nothing: no freedom to buy affordable plans without Washington-mandated benefits, no escape from onerous tax penalties for not enrolling. In 2010, the powerful insurance industry worked hand in glove with Democrats to enact the Affordable Care Act, a scheme compelling everyone to buy their product. The ACA also steered tens of billions of dollars in backdoor payments to insurers through 2016 to insulate them from losing their shirts on Obamacare. It doesn’t get any sweeter — a law making your product mandatory and forcing taxpayers to subsidize your bottom line. The current $10 billion tug-of-war is more of the same — the Washington swamp exploiting the public. Insurers are fighting for more taxpayer largesse — and too many members of Congress are lining up to accommodate. But not President Trump. In the Rose Garden this week, Trump quipped that insurers “contribute massive amounts of money to political people.… Me, I’m not interested in their money.” The ACA requires insurers selling Obamacare plans to give low-income consumers a break on deductibles and copays. Insurers claim they lose money doing that, and want taxpayers to make up the shortfall. But Congress never voted for those payments, despite providing many others to the industry. No problem, under President Obama. He paid the insurers without getting Congress’s consent. But the U.S. Constitution says the president can’t spend what Congress doesn’t appropriate. The House of Representatives sued, and Obama lost. Federal judge Rosemary Collyer ruled the payments illegal. Fast forward to October 12, when Trump announced he would halt the payments. Democrats howled that Trump was sabotaging the health law. Sen. Chris Murphy (D. Conn.) accused the president of “health care arson,” an inflammatory statement and untrue. Trump’s decision lobs the issue back to Congress, where it belongs. But tragically that’s where insurers have more sway than taxpayers. Denying it’s a “bailout,” Alexander claims “we have strong language in the Alexander-Murray agreement that consumers get the money, not the insurance companies.” Those are weasel words. In truth, low income consumers are already guaranteed breaks on co-pays and deductibles under the ACA. This agreement gives ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Betsy McCaughey
    2 days ago
  • ‘Only the Brave’ — Running Into the Danger
    The towers burned, the city was in a panic. Most of us fled as smoke and fear filled the air. Still, a small group of men and women moved toward the danger. It was September 11, 2001, when we became acutely aware what heroes do: the opposite of the rest of us. Among the thousands of dead were 343 firefighters; the men who climbed up toward the flames in the towers. They were quietly honored recently, in an excellent little movie called 9/11. And now we have Only the Brave, a film with an equally fitting title, to tell the story about the greatest loss of life among firefighters since September 11. The timing is poignant. While parts of northern California are still on fire, this movie shows us what the crews battling the flames and protecting our homes must be going through. It seems like a perfect moment to pay homage and show respect to those very tough, good-hearted Americans by seeing this unsentimental yet deeply emotional film. The story about the Arizona Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013 is well known to anyone living in the wildfire country that is the American Southwest and West. Without spoiling much we can say it was brutally tragic. Nineteen heroes perished, and this film tells the story of who they were, why they did what they did, and how they became trapped in the all-consuming fire. Only the Brave hews close to real events. The main character is Eric ‘Supe’ Marsh, chief of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. They were the first ever squad of municipal hotshots, the crews fighting wildfires on the front lines. As he leads this elite team in Prescott, Arizona, Eric (another solid role by Josh Brolin) teaches them that the gorgeous land is really fuel for the fires that inevitably come. Miles Teller plays Brendan McDonough, a rookie firefighter who stands out as a recovering junkie and an accidental new dad trying to do the right thing. This is Teller’s second excellent role in a few months: he also shines in the veteran drama Thank You for Your Service. Marsh recognizes McDonough’s trouble and takes the kid — nicknamed Donut — under his wing. Their shared backstory of addiction and recovery deepens the characters whom we quickly come to like, even love. That’s not quite true for Fire Chief Duane Steinbrink, as he is somewhat lazily played by Jeff Bridges. Jennifer Connelly, on the other hand, plays the only strong female part as Amanda, Marsh’s wife. She is the quiet type, great with horses and men, lovely and strong. Connelly captures with amazing subtlety why she supports Eric. Connelly has had some misses (Shelter was simply bad), but for me this is one of her best roles yet. Her scream as she stumbles out of a barn in one of the final scenes will stay with me for a long time. These actors have done a terrific job bringing good, honest, hard-working, real-life Americans to life. So why ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Diederik van Hoogstraten
    3 days ago
  • Muslimedia Wants You to Think It’s Moderate
    Coming soon to a mosque near you: Muslimedia, a forum that promises to offer “blunt debate about the way journalists cover Muslims at home and abroad.” For the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which organizes the events with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the forum serves as an opportunity to deceive the press and attain legitimacy for its extremist worldview. SPJ and CAIR make for strange bedfellows. While SPJ is concerned with defending freedom of speech and pursuing ethics in journalism, CAIR was designated as a terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates in 2014. The FBI and Justice Department suspended contact with CAIR in 2008 because of the group’s links to terrorism, and the Anti-Defamation League has labeled CAIR an anti-Semitic group with ties to terrorism. Despite this dark past, CAIR enjoyed the support of a naïve media long before SPJ’s Muslimedia experiment. CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times are among the mainstream media outlets to regurgitate CAIR’s deceptive press releases and publish its theological opinions in over 5,000 media references every year. Although the terror-tied Islamist group seems to have persuaded the media that it represents Muslim Americans, a 2011 Gallup poll shows that 88 percent of this population believes that CAIR fails to represent their interests. Much of this distrust from moderate Muslims is likely due to CAIR’s frequent support for some of the most hateful, homophobic, and misogynistic religious leaders in the country — some of whom will lead discussions at Muslimedia panels in three separate states. CAIR-less reporting in Boca Raton The premiere Muslimedia event was held at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR). Citing “Islamophobia,” event participants brought up a controversial decision by Florida election officials to preclude the ICBR mosque from serving as a polling station during the 2016 election. However, no one mentioned the mosque’s long and troubling history of anti-Semitism, or how this hateful rhetoric may have dissuaded voters from visiting the ICBR mosque. Locals were certainly troubled by ICBR’s co-sponsorship of an anti-Israeli protest in 2000 where Muslim participants chanted, “With jihad we’ll claim our land, Zionist blood will wet the sand.” ICBR Imam Ibrahim Dremali was also on site to whip the crowd into a frenzy with a sermon on martyrdom. An essay appearing on ICBR’s website in October 1999 (only removed after September 11, 2001) concluded that, “There can be no harmony between Jews — who are usurpers and aggressors” and who have “taken organs from [Muslims] for transplant into Jewish patients…” Muslimedia panelists failed to discuss how Florida Atlantic University Professor, ICBR founder, and Muslimedia panelist Bassem Alhalabi once served as an assistant to Palestinian Islamic Jihad member and convicted terrorism financier Sami al-Arian. In fact, the Islamist guest speakers at the event also avoided talking about how current ICBR Imam Fathi Kalthi has railed against Shia Islam, calling its adherents “worse than Jews and Christians.” Instead, discussions were limited to media coverage of the presidential election, and a debate about the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Benjamin Baird
    3 days ago
  • Intellectual Morons: Professor Evil Calls for the End of Humanity
    New research on Mensa members claims demonstrably higher rates of mental illness among people with high IQs. One finds anecdotal support for the statistical evidence in a new article by a South African philosopher calling for the elimination of mankind. Philosopher David Benatar argues in an article at Aeon called “Kids? Just Say No” that “coming into existence is always a serious harm. People should never, under any circumstance, procreate.” Is it too cheap to insert a joke about the shame that the nonexistent Benatar could not first give this advice to his parents? Parodying academic liberalism proves increasingly difficult as academic liberalism increasingly presents itself as a caricature of itself. The bioethicist’s screed against the ethics of indulging biological impulses relies on the contention that reproduction condemns beings unable to give their consent to their existence to enduring a life that includes pain and always excludes the possibility of immortality. Apart from the presumptuousness involved in creating life without the permission of the created, the chair of the philosophy department of the University of Cape Town notes that since “every birth is a death in waiting” reproduction really represents a form of capital punishment. The fact that humans inevitably cause harm to other humans and deaths in animals also serves as a support for his argument. He points to the existence of “chronic pain” and the absence of “chronic pleasure.” He opines that a lifespan of 90 years falls short of the ideal of 10,000 or 20,000 years. “If any other species caused as much damage as humans do,” the South African professor writes, “we would think it wrong to breed new members of that species.” Strange that some of the same people who periodically attempt to drastically alter human behavior through extinction scare stories now say they welcome the apocalypse. So much of academic liberalism strikes as reflexive alienation. Tellingly, this estrangement began with an alienation from the church and winds up here not considering that body’s wisdom on the value of human life or the possibility of an afterlife. Many of those fashionably alienated wear a hairshirt of the past sins, real and imagined, of their countrymen and seek to erase memorials to historical figures. When fanatics wage war against Western Civilization, this kneejerk response conditions the secularists to strangely side with religious zealots. One senses that such people hate themselves more than their country or culture. One knows that one pining for human extinction, at some level, hates himself. This academic apartness manifests itself in weird fashion choices (turtlenecks under sports jackets, winter clothes in spring), insider jargon (beware of people marking themselves as the other by using the phrase “the other”), and various gestures (the contemplative chin scratcher coming in as a favorite). People who separate themselves on a campus from the surrounding world perhaps cannot but develop peculiar folkways. But one gleans that academics set themselves not so much apart but above everyone else. They look down on us from below. Benighted is the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Dan Flynn
    3 days ago
  • Feminism’s Experiment Against Common Sense
    In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, the commissars of feminism are policing ideological infractions with increased vigor. Several women in the entertainment industry have had to apologize abjectly to the commissars for daring to suggest that women seek protection from a salacious, pawing Hollywood culture by not participating in it. “Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik Publishes Irresponsible Essay On Sexism In Hollywood,” ran a headline in Newsweek, capturing this atmosphere. Bialik had merely allowed herself a brief aside in the New York Times reflecting on the prudence of modesty in an industry of creeps: I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy. I am entirely aware that these type of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior? In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in. The commissars decreed this an impermissible thought (in spite of its dubious caveats deferential to feminism) and demanded that Bialik prostrate herself before them, which she has duly done in a teary confession note: “I am truly sorry for causing so much pain, and I hope you can all forgive me.” Fashion designer Donna Karan is also promising to re-educate herself after she asked: “How do we display ourselves, how do we present ourselves as women, what are we asking? Are we asking for it, you know, by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?” Karan blamed her remark on a lack of “sleep” and is prepared to submit to whatever abasements the feminists have in mind in order to erase her “horrible mistake.” In these pitiful purges, one sees the intensity of feminism’s rejection of common sense, all in the service of a fantasy that ends up hurting women and empowering boors. The Harvey Weinstein scandal didn’t happen in spite of feminism in Hollywood but in part because of it, insofar as feminism encouraged women to plunge into a culture of immodesty without warning them of its costs and dangers. Indeed, according to the logic of feminism, which holds that all female choices are good ones (provided they deviate from traditional paths), the women who submitted to Weinstein are as honorable as the actresses who resisted him. Feminism, if anything, encouraged a culture of mutual exploitation in which men and women proved their equality by making identically immoral choices. As all of the protections of women — chivalry, modesty, traditional morality, religion, and so on — dissolved over the years, the feminists cheered. They marked progress in society not by the presence of protections but by their absence. For decades, feminists clamored for the exposure of women to the horrors of war. They ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By George Neumayr
    3 days ago
  • Toxic Femininity
    Since the election of Donald Trump to the White House a little under a year ago, the interwebs have been awash in complaints and “analysis” by our postmodernist betters on the subject of “toxic masculinity” and what a threat it poses to our general harmony. And yes, “toxic masculinity” is an actual thing. Or better put, it’s an actual construct of the feminist Left. To offer up an elevator-speech version of what this is supposed to be, we’ll do the lazy thing and offer the Wikipedia definition… The concept of toxic masculinity as used in the social sciences indicates that traditional American and European society tends to promote a certain set of masculine behaviors that can be harmful to men, women, and society overall. Terry Kupers, a professor at The Wright Institute school of psychology, defines toxic masculinity as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia and wanton violence”. The concept of toxic masculinity is not intended to demonize men or male attributes, but rather to emphasize the harmful effects of conformity to certain traditional masculine ideal behaviors such as dominance, self-reliance, and competition. According to Kupers, the term toxic masculinity serves to outline aspects of hegemonic masculinity that are socially destructive, “such as misogyny, homophobia, greed, and violent domination”. Kupers states that other aspects of hegemonic masculinity such as “pride in [one’s] ability to win at sports, to maintain solidarity with a friend, to succeed at work, or to provide for [one’s] family”, are not part of the concept of toxic masculinity. According to the psychologist Ronald F. Levant, the socialization of boys into gender roles idealizing toughness, dominance, self-reliance, and the restriction of emotion can begin as early as infancy. Such norms are transmitted by parents, other male relatives, and members of the community. Many media representations of masculinity on websites such as YouTube promote similar stereotypical “alpha-male” gender roles. Bullying of boys by their peers and domestic violence experienced by boys at home can also be expressions of toxic masculinity, which creates hierarchies that benefit some males and harm others. In American prisons, toxic masculinity is reflected in the behavior of both male staff and inmates. The qualities of extreme self-reliance, domination of other men through violence, and avoiding the appearance of either femininity or weakness, become necessary coping skills and comprise an unspoken code among prisoners. These conditions, defined by harsh punishment, suppression of emotions, social isolation, and aggression, likely play a role in suicide among male prisoners. If your eyes haven’t glazed over thus far and you’ve paid full attention to this, you might have recognized that “toxic masculinity” more or less means “masculinity” — or, more specifically, what until five minutes ago was generally recognized as the pursuit of status as a “real man.” Remember Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche? Everything in that book is now “toxic masculinity.” Bullying those weaker than oneself, which is the claimed essence of the toxicity decried in this ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Scott McKay
    3 days ago
  • Explanations of (Excuses for) Sex Harassment: Are They Relevant in Court?
    As the national media spotlight continues to glare on Harvey Weinstein’s arrogant and shameful sexual misconduct (and possible criminal assault) and the “me too” social media campaign demonstrates the grotesque depth of the problem nationwide, a variety of questions swirl around the perplexing complexity of sexual harassment laws. Employment lawyers often are called upon to conduct or coordinate investigations into workplace misconduct. An employee is suspected or accused of criminal or illegal activity and the attorney is retained to get to the bottom of it all. From drug offenses, to petty theft, to embezzlement or fraud, these workplace investigations can be perplexing and complex. But investigations of sexual harassment in the workplace without doubt are the most challenging of investigatory assignments. As with the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, most sexual harassment investigations involve difficult credibility resolutions resulting from accusations and denials regarding one-on-one situations. Often, there isn’t one shred of corroborating evidence. Also, the stakes may be very high. The victim or harasser alike may be aggrieved, angered, and injured by the results of the investigation. The employer often is caught in the middle between two very angry employees and expects to be sued no matter what action is taken. Emotionally charged investigations of alleged sexual harassment can result in a wide variety of dangerous legal claims and counterclaims including the following: Title VII sex discrimination and harassment, defamation, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or even negligent hiring/negligent retention, and so on. Whom do you believe in the course of your investigation, the victim or the alleged harasser? Rarely does the alleged harasser break down and confess à la Perry Mason and throw himself (herself) on the mercy of the investigator. Often the result of the investigation will be inconclusive. After the complaint of sexual harassment has been made and the alleged victim interviewed, the next step ordinarily will be to interview the alleged harasser to get his response to each of the allegations. It is important for investigators to be familiar with and prepared to deal with the wide variety of explanations, excuses, and statements in mitigation they may hear from the alleged harasser. The investigator should also know whether the proffered explanations, if proven, would constitute a legal defense to a Title VII sexual harassment complaint in federal court or whether they are merely legally insignificant rationalizations for his alleged conduct the alleged harasser might offer to friends or family. Here is a sampling of explanations we have heard over the years in the course of dealing with allegations of sexual harassment. We have categorized the excuses for convenience and offer our comments on whether the explanations are relevant evidence in a sexual harassment complaint under Title VII. Obviously, in all cases, the credibility of the proffered testimony will be crucial; our comments are addressed solely to the issue of admissibility. With apologies in advance to those who may be outraged by the very suggestion that some of these theories would ever fly, here ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Gerald D. Skoning
    3 days ago
  • An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos
    Dear Jeff: Amazon is amazing. In just 20 years as a public company, the company you founded has experienced a thousand-fold growth in sales — going from $148 million in 1997 to $138 billion in 2016 and a projected $160 billion in the current year. Adjusted for splits, the price of the stock has gone up 200-fold — from a high of $5 a share in 1997 to $1,004 a share today. To paraphrase the bard, Amazon doth bestride the narrow world of retailing like a colossus. Others quake at its every movement. Back in June, when you announced the acquisition of Whole Foods, the stocks of other grocery chains plummeted — with Kroger falling 26 percent in the two days following the announcement and SuperValu down 16 percent. Wal-Mart fell 5 percent. Within days, Amazon’s market cap went up nearly as much as the $13.7 billion it agreed to pay for Whole Foods. In many years of writing about business and economics, I can think of no other enterprise that has come so far so fast. Even so, waxing biblical in your 2016 letter to shareholders, you said it is still “Day 1” (the first day of creation) in the company’s evolution. When someone asked you at a recent “all-hands meeting” what Day 2 would look like, you answered: Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1. Your words prompt me to warn you that Day 2 may be approaching much more quickly than you think. Surely you don’t want Amazon to become a subsidy junkie. If that happens, you can say goodbye to Day 1 and hello to stasis. You will be turning Amazon into just another big, bloated, competition-adverse corporation — seeking public assistance for private gain. Right now, cities and states across the country are competing with one another to throw big money — taxpayer money — at Amazon in the hope of being chosen as the site for Amazon’s proposed second headquarters. With one hand, you dangle the promise of up to 50,000 jobs with an average annual compensation of more than $100,000 per employee. With the other, you rattle a tin cup, stating in your request for proposals: Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset the initial capital outlay and ongoing operational cost will be significant factors in the decision-making process.… Outline the type of incentive (i.e., land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, utility incentives/grants, permitting, and fee reductions) and the amount. The initial cost and ongoing cost of doing business are critical decision drivers (emphasis added). A few years ago, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, your cross-town neighbor in Seattle, initiated a similar nationwide bidding war for production of its latest big new wide-body — the 777X. In the end, Boeing decided to keep production at its massive facility in Everett, Washington — but only after winning nearly $9 billion in tax breaks and subsidies ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, October 20, 2017By Andrew B. Wilson
    3 days ago
  • Independence for Catalonia Threatens Spain and Europe
    Earlier this morning, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that the Spanish Parliament would begin the process of stripping Catalonia of its autonomous status. This comes after a wave of protests that became violent during the October 1st  referendum on Catalonian independence that was ruled illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court. On the day of voting,  the Spanish police used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell rioting crowds. Because of this unrest and a lack of loyalty from the Catalan regional president, Carles Puigdemont, Rajoy is considering having the national government take complete control of the region. Much like the state system that we have in the United States, Spain is divided into 19 autonomous communities. These communities all have their own lower-level governments but some are far more independent than others, including Catalonia. This system arose after the death of Franco, and the Spanish reforms that led to Constitutional Monarchy, to give more power to areas that had long been suppressed by the Franco regime. Catalonia and the Basque countries have always had rebellious streaks, from the early days after the Spanish unification in 1492, to the ETA terrorism of the past century, to current demands for independence in Catalonia. Is holding onto Catalonia worth the trouble?  It would certainly seem so. 19% of the Spanish economy is centered in Catalonia, which is far richer than the rest of the country because of its strong tourism and manufacturing industries. People in Catalonia are richer and less likely to be unemployed than their fellow Spaniards. Were Catalonia to secede, the possibility of Basque secession, due to emboldened regional nationalism, could also take a large chunk out of the Spanish economy. Rajoy’s concern is very real, his country faces the possibility of a massive collapse were Catalonia to secede. Other European leaders, such as Macron and Merkel have also noticed this being a potential catastrophe, and have voiced their support for the Spanish central government. Europe is just now recovering from the Great Recession, and countries like Southern European countries like Spain are recovering even slower than other countries. The possibility of economic collapse is very real. As Europe is threatened by economic crisis, mass migration, and Islamic terrorism, Spain doesn’t have the patience to handle an unruly region. In mid-August, over a dozen people were killed and over 100 were injured on the streets of Barcelona when an ISIS-affiliated terrorist plowed through Las Ramblas. This was the deadliest terror attack in Spain since the Madrid train bombings of 2004.  While Rajoy’s response to secession may seem harsh, it needs to be done.  Spanish unity is threatened more than at any time since its civil war and unity is what Spain needs now. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Evan Maguire
    3 days ago
  • Alexander-Murray Bill Dooms GOP
    Besides the certainty of death and taxes, it seems, Democratic-passed entitlements never really end. For context, the President has rightfully proclaimed Obamacare “a disgrace to our nation.” Furthermore, after cutting off the Obama administration’s illegal subsidies to the insurance companies (known as Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments), Trump added, “it’s virtually dead,” but is it? Well, it would be if the Republican establishment would finally honor 7 years of broken promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. Yet, just days after these latest developments what’s Congress’s response? Enter the touted bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill. A “deal” to legally fund Obamacare—the governmental behemoth that appropriated 1/6 of the U.S. economy—foranother two years! A grand trick on the American people: Obamacare is undead for Halloween! That’s rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, folks. For progressives, that’s vitally past the midterm elections, giving the GOP nothing of substance to run on. That, in turn, will likely give Democrats control of the Senate. In other words, the same anti-Trump obstructionists—whose party created this health-care mess in the first place—will be back in charge. The horror gets worse. This Republican “stop-gap” measure wastes time; adds another 14 billion to the nation’s escalating 20 trillion dollar debt, and can be hung around Donald Trump’s neck in 2020.   ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Evan Maguire
    3 days ago
  • Trump Right to Oppose “Bipartisan” Healthcare Proposal
    Well, the “bipartisan” health care deal is pretty much what you would expect when the Republican involved is Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). Democrats get to spend more money and keep Obamacare intact while Republicans get something only if they fool themselves into thinking they get something. President Trump initially said he would support the deal, but now appears to have changed his mind after learning the details. The deal—negotiated by Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington)—restores the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies that President Trump discontinued last week. President Obama had instituted the payments even though they were unconstitutional. Under Obamacare, Congress must authorize the payments. Congress never did, so, like any good lefty, Obama said, “Screw the Constitution.” When Trump did the right thing last week, liberals threw a hissy fit and Democratic State Attorney Generals filed suit to restore the payments. (Yeah, good luck with that.) In addition to appropriating money for the cost-sharing payments, the proposals also spends $100 million for Obamacare outreach. The way such deals are supposed to work is that Republicans will get some significant portions of Obamacare repealed in exchange for the funding. Alas, Alexander apparently didn’t understand that going into the negotiations. According to CNN: The deal would make it easier for states to obtain waivers to customize Obamacare rules to their needs. States have complained that applying for waivers is a long and complicated process. Alaska and Minnesota, for instance, have received permission to use federal funds for reinsurance programs that reduce premiums. This agreement would speed administration approval of the waivers and allow states to copy provisions in waivers that were already approved. However, it does not actually loosen any of Obamacare’s regulations, which had been a key goal of the Republican effort to repeal the health reform law. The agreement would also allow all Obamacare enrollees to sign up for so-called catastrophic plans, which have lower premiums but have higher deductibles. Right now, these so-called copper policies are only open to those under 30. What’s worse is that getting a waiver doesn’t mean that costs for taxpayers decrease. Quite the opposite. For example, Alaska’s reinsurance program helps insurers cover the costs of their sickest and, thus, most expensive policyholders. This will likely help slow the rate at which insurance premiums increase. But, as I noted a few months ago: If you think that means taxpayers will pay less since premiums that rise more slowly result in the federal government paying out less in premium subsidies, you would be wrong. Rather, the money that would have gone toward premium subsidies will now be diverted to Alaska’s stability fund. Worse still, Alaska taxpayers will have to come up with another $11 million in 2018 on top of the federal money for the fund. A rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that taxpayers would fork over at least $10.1 billion more annually if all states participated in the stabilization fund. So, we get a deal that lets Democrats spend more money and Republicans get a sped-up waiver process that ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By David Hogberg
    3 days ago
  • Senators Scramble to Save Subsidy Smartly Stopped by Trump
    Donald Trump pulled the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) propping up the individual healthcare market last week. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-WA) hastily offered a temporary fix to those ailing individual markets in an effort to salvage them. But it remains unclear why the president would want to sign a bill to restore what he just revoked. “This takes care of the next two years,” Alexander told the New York Times. “After that, we can have a full-fledged debate on where we go long-term on health care.” Throw me the idol. I’ll throw you the whip. Donald Trump needed allies in Congress to replace Obamacare. Now congressmen and senators need Donald Trump to preserve Obamacare. The president finds himself in a more comfortable, and powerful, position this fall than he did in the summer. His executive order essentially allowing the health care equivalent of “collision” insurance and empowering small businesses to band together to get big business prices on plans, along with his decision to abolish the CSRs, eroded Obamacare more in a single day than Republicans in Congress did over the last seven-plus years. The elimination of CSRs, in particular, means, at the very least, that Obamacare requires mending and amending to survive. And, for Democrats to get Republicans to agree to that (yes, Trump’s power play reversed roles, Democrats now need Republicans to change Obamacare), they need to do something heretofore foreign to their Trump-era selves: compromise. Not doing so means the end of the previous president’s signature legislation, at least as it pertains to the individual markets. Obamacare, acting in the individual markets as a socialism benefiting the old, the sick, and those with bad habits, relies on the young and the healthy to subsidize everyone else. To get these populations to enroll, the federal government essentially bribes them through a subsidy that goes to insurance companies to make plans somewhat affordable to healthy people. Despite the subsidies, the markets remain unprofitable to many insurers, and unattractive to consumers, because of restrictions on what companies can charge higher-risk (older, sicker, addicted, etc.) customers and because the law saddles plans with a host of “essential” benefits that many find neither essential nor beneficial. To keep the sinking individual markets afloat, the executive branch, contrary to the Constitution, allocates about $7 billion annually. Still, Aetna, Anthem, and other insurers flee certain Obamacare markets. The hyperbole, “I wouldn’t do X even if you paid me a million dollars,” becomes real here. Companies in the business of making money refuse free money because the strings attached prove too constricting. Fewer competitors ultimately pushes prices higher. Fewer young and healthy enrollees, a certainty without the subsidy, skyrockets prices for older and unhealthier individuals. This inevitably results in the “death spiral” so often discussed. Senator Alexander, who voted for the Graham-Cassidy replace bill, nevertheless aims to preserve Obamacare by restoring the subsidy the previous president allocated and this president abolished — and a federal judge, in between those two Oval Office actions, ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Hunt Flynn
    3 days ago
  • Adios, California
    It’s not easy watching California self-destruct. After all, my four sons are 6th generation Californians. One relative of ours journeyed here prior to the Gold Rush when the state population was just a handful of people. Family lore has it he was a gunslinger who, victorious in a gun duel, headed to California to avoid the law. He ended up ranching on what is now known as Mammoth Mountain. Other family members took part in the gold rush and one ended up discovering gold in 1895 in the Mojave Desert. My grandparents arrived in Kern County in the 1930s and worked as teachers educating the children of oil workers shortly after the discovery of oil in that region. Proud of my heritage, I had this urge to run for the state legislature, so I did and I won. I was hoping I could do something in Sacramento to slow the decline of the Golden State. But it was not to be. I quickly discovered that the legislature was so dominated by far left ideologues, there was nothing that could be done to reverse course. My Democrat colleagues were not concerned one bit about how their policies were destroying the economic golden goose that made California so famous worldwide. Indeed, they actually believe their big government and nanny state policies have made California the model of how progressives can succeed in governing. Seriously. The entire time I served in Sacramento, the Democrats were focused almost exclusively on legislation which either had to do with wealth redistribution or creating new “rights” for alleged victims such as illegal aliens, criminals, union members, homosexuals, transgenders and other “oppressed” groups. And it’s no different today. The reality is that the average middle class Californian hasn’t had representation in the halls of Sacramento for decades. Indeed, I predict the destruction of California will, unfortunately, be one of the great legacies of the progressive movement. Indeed, the Democrats hold supermajorities in both legislative chambers. The Assembly has been in Democratic hands since the 1970 election, except for 1995-1996. The Senate has been controlled by the Democrats continuously since 1970. As for the Governor, well, the last semi-real Republican Governor was Pete Wilson, who ended his term in 1999. However, action superstar and former champion body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, did serve as Governor from 2003-2011 but essentially governed as a Democrat, even to the point of hiring leftists to be his key staff. So much for his tough guy image. Progressive hero Jerry Brown has served as Governor since 2011. Sure, the liberals like to claim California socialism is working by pointing to the much heralded statistic that “California’s economy is the 6th largest in the world” as calculated by the state’s Department of Finance. Indeed, California’s $2.62 trillion economy is larger than that of France, Canada, Brazil, Russia, and Italy. However, that GDP stat does not factor in California’s cost of living, which is 36.2% higher than the national cost of living. As Carson Bruno ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Steve Baldwin
    4 days ago
  • The Rise of the Patent Snowflakes
    As anyone who’s followed the long-standing battle to fix America’s patent system and cut off abuses by bottom-feeding legal parasites and abusive monopolists will tell you, the list of excuses for our broken system offered by those people is seemingly never-ending. They tell you patent reform will hurt job growth. The opposite is true. They tell you patent reform will hurt the small inventor tinkering in his garage. This is, again, not true — in fact, the small inventor tinkering in his garage (or, more likely, at his laptop) is more vulnerable to the kind of frivolous lawsuit threats that patent trolls bring due to comparatively smaller resources. They tell you that patent reform is contrary to the Constitution. Actually, given that the Founders put patents in the Constitution in order to promote “science and the useful arts,” and given that patent trolls (and, for that matter, pharmaceutical companies) often use patent rights as a pretext to shut down research or development, this is also false. So, having run out of legitimate grievances to complain about, what are the trolls now resorting to? Claiming that holding them accountable is racist. I wish I was kidding. But that is literally the defense being used to justify one of the more absurd end runs around the patent system ever. I refer to the scandal surrounding the sleazy pharmaceutical company Allergan. How does racism tie to intellectual property rights, you might ask? Well, Allergan’s particular attempt to circumvent U.S. patent laws consisted of selling their drug patents to a Native American tribe, on the theory that U.S. law doesn’t apply to Native American tribes the same way it does everywhere else. Thus, once Allergan’s patent was safely out of reach of the U.S. justice system, it could simply license the patent back from the tribe and keep itself immune to competition or litigation forever. To say that this is not how the system is supposed to work is an understatement. And in a rare moment of clarity, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has already taken action to try to stop this sort of thing from happening again — that is, she has drafted a bill to make this sort of patent law evasion illegal. The response from Allergan and its allies in the Native American community? Cry racism. And no less a source than Newsweek has decided to assist them, claiming that the only thing fueling the scandal over Allergan’s behavior is “racism.” In its article, Newsweek also quotes the tribe in question accusing Sen. McCaskill of enforcing a “double standard” (i.e. of being racist) with her legislation, and of cutting off its access to money it needs for public services. The tribe even accuses McCaskill of leaving people uniquely incapable of getting healthcare out to dry… by attacking their ability to partner with people using some of the exact tactics that make healthcare so expensive in the first place. All of which is to say, the unholy alliance of pharma companies ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Mytheos Holt
    4 days ago
  • Markle Interests: Administrative Overreach and Regulatory Dark Matter
    The dusky gopher frog, a “shy” creature according to Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is both endangered and the excuse for an unmitigatedly overreaching administrative action by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service declared 1,500 acres of private property to be critical habitat for the frog even though it hasn’t lived there for years and can’t live there now. To get there in the future, it needs to be “translocated,” something that requires consent from the property owner, which is not forthcoming. It would also require some changes in the property’s vegetation, which aren’t forthcoming either. Nonetheless, the Service has put its marker down on the property. After the federal courts denied relief, Markle Interests, an LLC that owns an interest in the property, the other property owners and Weyerhaeuser asked the U.S. Supreme Court for help. Their request is pending. The property, according to the lawyers who represent the Poitevent family and co-owners Markle Interests, has been in family hands for more than 100 years. After the Civil War, they started a lumber business on the property. While it’s managed for timber today, it’s in St. Tammany Parish, outside of New Orleans, and was recently rezoned to allow for mixed-use and residential development. Its higher elevation made it desirable for residential and commercial development after Hurricane Katrina’s flooding devastated lower-lying areas. As the Service’s economic consultant noted, the property is “particularly attractive for development” because “Louisiana Highway 36 runs through [it].” So, real money is at stake, although the Service didn’t see it that way. The frogs don’t live there now and haven’t been seen there for more than 45 years. So, even the Service says the frogs would have to be “translocated.” They can’t get there on their own because the farthest they’re known to travel is some 300 meters, and the Poitevents’ property is about 50 miles from Mississippi, where the frogs live. Even if the frogs got there, it’s not clear that they could survive. The frogs need three things to live, but the property has only one of them. The frogs need ephemeral ponds, i.e., ponds that come and go, for breeding, and the property has those. But, they also need the right kind of forest, something the Service describes as “historically dominated by longleaf pine, adjacent and accessible to and from breeding ponds, that is maintained by fires frequent enough to support and open canopy.” The canopy on the land is closed, not open, so here’s where a form of dark matter comes in. The Service knows it can’t make the Poitevents do anything, so it said it “hope[d] to work with the landowners to develop a strategy that will allow them to achieve their objectives for the property and protect the isolated, ephemeral ponds that exist there.” Without the property owners’ consent, though, there is no possibility of controlled timber burnings or translocated frogs. But, nice ephemeral ponds you got there, buddy! And, as ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Jack Park
    4 days ago
  • The Next Solyndra: DOE Proposing Massive Energy Subsidies
    Energy Secretary Rick Perry has come up with a proposal for nuclear energy and coal that would make the Obamacrats “who cooked up the famously botched bailout of defunct solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra blush.” That’s according to Mark Perry, the American Enterprise Institute scholar and University of Michigan economics professor, writing in U.S. News last week: Washington, D.C. has a funny, if not sad, way of changing the way folks think and act. Many officials ride into town with clear eyes and deeply rooted market-based principles only to have their outlooks fundamentally — and often rapidly — changed. Case in point: Rick Perry, the outspoken energy secretary who served as the governor of Texas for 14 years, has stated firmly that his agency and the Trump administration “are not here to pick winners and losers,” adding that “the market can pick winners and losers.” However, less than a year in the job, Secretary Perry appears to have come under Washington’s spell. Perry is wrong about R. Perry, but he’s right about the policy. Rick Perry was a very good governor of Texas in most respects, but he had a weakness for crony capitalism, which we discussed in 2014 in an ill-fated cover story for this magazine (it was the first issue that didn’t make it to the printer, after TAS went all-digital to save money). As governor, Perry convinced the Legislature to put almost $1 billion at his disposal in two economic development accounts — slush funds, really — called the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. He’d use that money to provide sweeteners to companies looking to relocate to Texas. This allowed him to take credit for the state’s robust record of job creation, even as studies found it had almost no effect on the economy. In much the same way, Perry’s new proposal will allow the Trump Administration to take some credit with coal interests — voters in swing states as much as the business interests that fund campaigns. Whether it goes into effect or not, the administration has a new talking point for voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Perry isn’t proposing to undo some of the Obama-era anti-coal environmental regulations — that’s not his jurisdiction, anyway. But he’s pushing the same sort of heavy-handed market intervention, just in the opposite direction, calling for a total subsidy by ratepayers for all costs involved in nuclear and coal-fired power generation. The plan has been denounced as a giveaway by policy experts and journalists from across the political spectrum. One analyst called it the energy equivalent of “Cash for Clunkers,” estimating that it would create some $88 billion in new subsidies, seven times more than the federal government spends subsidizing renewable energy. Perry has defended the proposal by insisting that “there is no free market in the energy industry,” but this is nonsense. The retail and distribution side of the business is still conducted under the regulated utility model in most of the country, but power generation ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Jon Cassidy
    4 days ago
  • Brown’s Few Vetoes: This Is as Good as It Gets
    Sacramento Since the 1970s, when “Moonbeam” first was elected governor, commentators, including this one, have remarked on his “canoe theory” of politics. You paddle a little to the left and a little to the right. Back then, there was more merit to Brown’s maxim, given that he stood up for tax-limiting Proposition 13 after its passage even though he opposed it on the ballot. Brown also enforced the death penalty even though he was personally opposed to it. Those were the rightward paddles. But in his latest two terms as governor, Brown has paddled mainly to the left and then to the left some more, on everything from taxes to “cap and trade” to union issues. His rightward “paddles” have been largely rhetorical. The governor, say, signs budget deals that expand spending to record levels, then gives a nice lecture about not overspending — and avoiding the creation of new programs because of fears of recession. That was usually enough to mollify Republicans, who were always thankful that he didn’t make things even worse. Indeed, an argument that some Republican legislators made when they supported the recent expansion of the cap-and-trade system was that if they didn’t support it the governor would impose on businesses a regulatory system that was even more heavy handed. Now that the legislative session is over and Brown has completed all his bill signings and vetoes, it’s clear that the canoe theory really is about paddling to the left over and over — but with that occasional, albeit much appreciated paddle to the right. Overall, he OK’d 859 of 977 bills that passed out of the legislature, which means that 88 percent of this far-left Legislature’s priorities have become law. For instance, Brown signed a law turning California into a sanctuary state, whereby police cannot hold people purely for immigration violations. It also limits state and local officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. As noted, he extended the costly cap-and-trade system. He signed a massive gas-tax increase. He signed a housing package that expands union wage requirements and funds more subsidized housing. Brown signed the New Parent Leave Act, which now requires small businesses to allow their employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid (but still costly) leave for pregnancy and other family related matters. It used to apply to companies with 50 or more employees but now applies to those with 20 or more. (It reminds me of U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock’s quip that California is still the best place to have a small business — the key is starting out with a large one.) Brown signed a bill that requires schools to provide free tampons to low-income students. He signed one that forbids employers from asking applicants for their salary history, which was pitched as a way to clamp down on gender discrimination. He signed one to provide diaper subsidies to the poor, and another that provides a free first year of community college — something that will only make it that ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By Steven Greenhut
    4 days ago
  • America Divided: Trumpism Emerges Where Left and Right Fall Short
    Because the leading spokesman of Trumpism is such a controversial figure, many have been quick to dismiss Trumpist populism or to deny that such a worldview exists. That is a mistake. Whatever one may think about Donald Trump the man, there is much to learn from his populism and “Americans First” nationalism. Indeed, Trumpist populism offers a clearer view of the fault lines of American politics than any of the competing worldviews on the Left and the Right. Trump rightly sees that America’s fundamental divide today is in terms of class — and not of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any of the other largely outdated categories of identity politics. Liberal diversity, after all, often conceals class homogeneity (at least in the narrower and measurable Sandersian sense of the term). Our elite universities’ cherished diversity statistics, for instance, look very different when they are broken down by income bracket instead. At Ivy League colleges, where diversity reigns and all identities are proportionally represented in the student body, there are more students from families in the top 1 percent of the income distribution than from the bottom 50 percent. Trump also has a much better grasp of what defines the ruling class than does Sanders. As noted, he does not confine his analysis to income and wealth, but focuses instead on background, worldview, and access to power. Libertarians and conservatives, meanwhile, do not generally think in terms of class. They are so enamored with ideas — with the idea that ideas have consequences — that they have forgotten what Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Madison all taught: politics is primarily a clash of interests. Ideas, it is true, shape interests — and vice versa, of course — but once they enter the public square, ideas must attach themselves to interests More so than anyone else, however, conservatives do think in terms of family, and Trump’s populist analysis could be deepened by considering the familial divide that separates the children who are lucky enough to be raised by married parents, from the others who grow up in broken or never-formed homes. Based on Charles Murray’s work, one suspects that the familial divide will largely overlap with the class divide. That divide is also probably more fundamental than the racial divide. For instance, one can readily imagine what would happen to crime and incarceration statistics if they were broken down not by race as they currently are, but by family background to highlight absentee fathers. Few such studies exist, but one published by the Progressive Policy Institute (in 1990 admittedly) found “that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime.” Trumpism not only explains our divisions better than the other competing ideologies, it is the most clear-sighted regarding the most serious threats confronting the country. If destruction ultimately be our lot, it will not be because of too much bigotry or concentrated wealth, as the Left claims, or big government, as the Right claims. Rather it ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, October 19, 2017By David Azerrad
    4 days ago
  • More Marxist Skylarking From Francis 
    “It’s clear that wars and climate change cause hunger; let’s stop presenting it as an incurable illness.” Pope Francis made this remarkable and easily refuted statement Monday in remarks — that the usual left-leaning media called “powerful” — before something called the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization. The assembled bureaucrats and high pooh-bahs, at least those still awake after sumptuous, expense-account lunches at some of Manhattan’s tonier eateries (no hunger in Turtle Bay), gave the Pope a standing-O for his iteration of tired old liberation theology talking points. Sorry, Your Holiness. With respect, it’s not at all clear that wars and climate change are, as you claim, the “root causes” of hunger. Wars and climate change have always been with us (you could look it up). But hunger is caused, in peace as well as war, by nations with nonsensical political and economic systems presided over by kleptocratic elites. In these countries, even those with large potential work forces and natural resources, very little wealth is created. And most of the little wealth that is created is stolen by the small group of thieves in charge. (Francis seems to prefer these countries to the capitalistic ones, which be berates for “selfishness,” but where hunger is less of a problem than obesity.) Francis suggested that the world, through international law and collaborative action, has the means to eliminate conflicts and war. I guess here he’s referring to how the League of Nations kept another world war from breaking out and how the United Nations (League of Nations 2.0) has kept the world such a safe and peaceful place since 1945. And he suggested that we could lick climate change if a certain large, wealthy, and pig-headed nation would re-join the Paris hustle on climate change and we all would turn off our air-conditioners during the summer (that means you too, Al). We’ve heard this mix of blue-sky smoke-blowing and Marxist sky-larking from Francis before. And we’ll hear it again. It seems to be his only game. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By Larry Thornberry
    4 days ago
  • Kaepernick Sues NFL
    Everybody’s favorite anthem protester is filing suit against the National Football League. Colin Kaepernick is charging that the reason he doesn’t have a job as a quarterback is that the NFL owners are colluding to “to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice,” according to the lawsuit. Last season, Kaepernick played with the San Francisco 49ers. A few games into the season he began kneeling during the National Anthem to supposedly protest racial injustice and police brutality. This created a backlash among fans, and the NFL’s television ratings dropped as a result. Going into this season, Kaepernick offered little value to an NFL team as he had been a dismal quarterback the last few seasons. As it became more and more clear that no team would sign him, he said he would no longer kneel during the National Anthem because he “no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created.” That may have been the only laughable moment in this pathetic saga. Until now. Kaepernick’s lawsuit is a joke, according to Michael Elkins, an employment law attorney with Bryant Miller Olive. Speaking to the Daily News, Elkins said, I think filing the grievance is a mistake. Kaepernick has a really tough road to hoe to make this case out. Really tough. Unless he comes up with some smoking-gun email or text message, which isn’t going to exist because these owners are smart people, it’s going to be very tough. [Kaepernick has to show that two or more teams] got together and agreed not to sign him because of his political viewpoint. He’s going to need some direct evidence of that. But the owners didn’t need to conspire to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL. They merely had to use common sense. At best, Kaepernick would be a backup quarterback, and as I wrote at the beginning of the NFL season: …it’s pretty simple why Kaepernick isn’t on a team. No fan goes to an NFL game or watches on television because of the backup quarterback. So if you are an NFL team owner, you realize that Kaepernick has no value to you insofar as attracting fans if you sign him as a backup quarterback. However, his past antics might very well drive some fans away. And any NFL owner who can rub two brain cells together knows that driving fans away means driving dollars away. Finally, at the Daily Beast Robert Silverman laments that Kaepernick’s NLF career is over. “He’s done. Period,” writes Silverman. Let’s hope so. Crossposted at Bombthrowers. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By David Hogberg
    4 days ago
  • Protecting Privacy in a Borderless World
    On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will be taking up a case that will determine the reach of government when issuing warrants for information not held in the United States. Specifically, the Court agreed to address the issue of whether a warrant served to an American company requires it to turn over data stored in another country. The case has substantial implications for privacy and the continued migration to cloud-computing, where information tends to ignore traditional borders. The internet poses a host of challenges with respect to privacy, and the nation’s laws desperately need updating to reflect current practices. The cyberworld is dynamic and in a constant state of transformation. Sadly, laws and regulations have not kept pace with the internet’s evolution, and, more often than not, we are stuck with laws aimed at yesterday’s problems rather than today’s realities. For example, the major law governing privacy and the government’s ability to access personal data online — the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — was written in 1986, when most Americans did not own a cell phone and most people had never even heard of email. Today, Congress is struggling to modernize outdated laws that are ill-suited for today’s digital world. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, in particular, sorely needs an upgrade. Yet the global increase in terrorism and the rise of international criminal activity has made reform difficult and slow-going as questions of criminal activity and national security are balanced against questions of privacy. And now, the Supreme Court is weighing in, not only to clarify the reach of warrants, but also in another case it has agreed to hear, where it will address whether a warrant is required for data that provides the location of cell phone users. In the case involving warrants for data stored abroad , American law enforcement officials served Microsoft with a warrant to turn over personal data stored on a server in Ireland. The company partially complied with the warrant by providing some non-content data that was stored on servers in the United States. But Microsoft objected to the extraterritorial aspects of the warrant and refused to turn over data that was on the servers in Ireland. Typically, without explicit authorization from Congress, warrants cannot reach beyond the nation’s borders. The issue wound up in court, where a federal judge in New York sided with the government and held Microsoft in contempt for not providing the data from the server in Ireland. On appeal, however, the lower court ruling was overturned. The Second District Court of Appeals noted that “warrants traditionally carry territorial limitations” (page 5). And now, at the urging of the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court will review the case, with a decision expected in June. This uncertainty casts shadows that make American firms less competitive in the global market for cloud computing. And it raises concerns about “data localization,” a practice that could impede the global flow of data. Not only in the United States, but across the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By Wayne Brough
    5 days ago
  • Fossil Fuels Protect the World’s Poor Against Natural Disasters
    Natural disasters kill thousands of people around the world annually, and they are not equal-opportunity killers. In a typical year, only hundreds of people are likely to die in Europe and the United States from floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, but these events kill thousands of people each year in Asia, South and Central America, and on small island nations. Earthquakes and hurricanes/cyclones are no stronger when they hit developing nations than they are when they affect developed countries, and flooding occurs in Europe and the United States every year, causing billions of dollars in damage but taking relatively few lives. In Asian countries, however, thousands drown during floods annually. Why is there such a stark difference? It is not because of climatic factors or the presence of harsher natural disasters; it’s almost entirely because there is a difference in wealth. Property rights and market economics — defended by strong but delimited governing institutions — existing alongside voluntary, dispersed self-help networks, have created wealth beyond what many people dreamed possible just one century ago. It has been this wealth that has fostered and been enhanced by the development of modern infrastructure; strong, disaster-resistant structures; improved building materials, techniques, and standards; the creation of new technologies, including early warning systems and emergency response systems; and modern medical treatment and facilities. Each has contributed to making industrialized societies more resilient. In 1900, Galveston, Texas was a relatively large, modern city. Yet when the Great Galveston Hurricane (a Category 4 storm) hit the city, it claimed more than 8,000 lives. By contrast, Hurricane Ike caused just 84 deaths in 2008. And for all the talk about Hurricane Harvey (a Category 5 storm), it has resulted in a total of 70 deaths in the 23 counties harmed the most by the storm. Although millions more people live along Texas’ coasts now than in 1900, the present generation is much wealthier than it was then, so the people are safer. As deadly as Hurricane Katrina was in 2005 (it caused the death of more than 1,200 people), it pales in comparison to the 300,000–500,000 lives lost in Bangladesh because of the Great Bhola Cyclone in 1970, or the 138,000 killed in Myanmar by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Though earthquakes are hard to compare (due to magnitude and location), differences in mortality across location and time are still telling. The Great San Francisco earthquake and associated fire caused between 700 and 3,000 deaths. By comparison, the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that hit the San Francisco Bay region in 1989 only claimed 67 lives. There were vastly more people living in San Francisco in 1989 than in 1904, yet modern San Franciscans were much wealthier, and their city’s infrastructure and emergency response system was thus substantially better. Despite the fact Taiwan is 600 percent more densely populated than Turkey, the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit Taiwan in September 1999 killed approximately 2,500 people, significantly fewer than the number killed by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey just one ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By H. Sterling Burnett
    5 days ago
  • Condemning Harvey, Still Clinging to Bill and Teddy
    Amidst the flurry of demands that Harvey Weinstein be extinguished from the liberal memory, Democrats keep turning up at institutions and award ceremonies named after serial exploiters of women. The other day John Kerry took a break from the denunciations of the bloated mogul to pick up an honor from the “Edward Kennedy Institute.” Barack Obama sent his fraternal greetings to the august gathering. Needless to say, memories of Teddy Kennedy’s exploitation of waitresses and campaign volunteers didn’t figure into the high proceedings. Teddy had the seduction techniques of Harvey Weinstein down pat, though perhaps he refrained from Weinstein’s practice of giving women the privilege of watching him bath. And let’s not discount the impression JFK’s interactions with Marilyn Monroe may have had on a young Harvey. But don’t count on any liberal celebrities and pols, in solidarity with the memory of that ruined starlet, to cease their pilgrimages to the JFK presidential library, with its half-constructed Teddy wing. John Kerry, reflecting on his career at the Edward Kennedy Institute’s awards ceremony, didn’t mention his old running mate John Edwards, whose zeal for the female empowerment of videographers and the like surely impressed Weinstein. Before Hillary fell and broke her toe in England the other day, she had an even more unsteady moment on the topic of “women coming forward” — switching in seconds from extolling Weinstein’s accusers to shaming her husband’s, what with their “past” and “litigated” complaints. Her hypocritical gall reached new heights in the interviews. One moment, she was seconding the need to believe and revere accusers; in the next, she was dismissing her husband’s accusers as losers whining about ancient misconduct. Proving that words matter more than criminal deeds for the Democrats, Hillary whipped herself into a state of towering indignation over the sexual predator who has tarnished the “oval office” — referring not to her husband, who treated the oval office as his casting couch, but to Donald Trump for his banter with Billy Bush, comments that don’t constitute an endorsement of sexual assault even if the worst construction is put on them. Trump was talking about consensual behavior; he used the word “letting.” No judge would ever allow such a remark to be presented to a jury as an admission of sexual assault, as Hillary, who considers herself such an expert on “litigated” matters, surely knows. No matter; she continues to cite it as irrefutable proof of wickedness. Michelle Goldberg, writing for the New York Times, says “the movie business is corrupt and depraved,” but “Trump’s party is worse.” As if to punctuate that adherence to conservatism constitutes greater misconduct than sexual assault, she continues: Now that Weinstein has been exposed, conservatives are jeering that Hollywood has lost the right to lecture anyone about sexism. “Liberals love to be so sanctimonious, holier than thou, but they’re really hypocrites,” said Fox’s Sean Hannity on October 10. Perhaps, but Trump supporters acting shocked by sexual harassment are in no position to complain about hypocrisy…. Betraying the principle of gender equality is bad. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By George Neumayr
    5 days ago
  • It’s Official: The Left Has Abandoned Evolution
    Of all the absurd and ill-informed clichés being parroted by today’s politicos, the notion of science as a saber wielded exclusively by the left is among the most laughable. Fear mongering over GMOs and absurd arguments about when life begins (and should end) have done plenty to damage the left’s scientific street cred. But liberals’ willful scientific ignorance has now gone stratospheric with arguments surrounding sex and gender that grow more outlandish seemingly by the hour. In fact, the “party of science” now appears fully prepared to slaughter its most sacred cow: evolution. Long before squabbles over the thickness of polar ice caps, the debate over the origins of life, and more specifically mankind, pitted religious conservatives against more science-minded folk. This early flashpoint in the culture war was long heralded as a quintessential victory by the secular left and helped to establish evolution as scientific “fact” for much of the country. And in many ways provided the precursor for liberals’ current claims of scientific ownership — claims now being abandoned for the sake of social justice. Regardless of one’s own views toward evolution, the irony of the left eating its own, on what was once sacred secular ground, is undeniably rich. Consider the progressive crusade to have logically minded people acknowledge a seemingly infinite number of genders (Facebook recognizes 58 last time I checked), or the idea that sex and gender can be turned off and on like a light switch, both of which grossly contradict accepted evolutionary theory. Of course, liberals attempt to skirt this inconvenient truth by declaring sex and gender separate concepts, but the laws of nature recognize no such distinction; in fact, the literal definition of “gender” is “the state of being male or female,” and attempts to account for such a separation have instead found that: The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or “a woman trapped in a man’s body” — is not supported by scientific evidence. The process of sex itself exists solely for the sake of reproduction, not for convenient cultural identity. And when it comes to 99 percent of all multicellular species, humans included, sexual reproduction (involving both sexes) is the preferred method for a very good reason. While asexual reproduction offers distinct advantages, it doesn’t allow for the passing on of “learned” information in the form of beneficial mutations that enable species to thrive. This is a cornerstone of Darwin’s natural selection, itself a cornerstone of evolutionary theory. By diluting the binary nature of sex, and to some degree stigmatizing heterosexuality, the buffet of gender options being proffered by the left impedes human progress, biologically speaking. While in many ways we humans have separated ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom, we are still playing by the same evolutionary rules — notice you don’t see any “non-binary” penguins or “two spirit” giraffes walking around. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By Greg Jones
    5 days ago
  • Google Endangers Public Health
    Here’s a question: If a major tech company debuted a feature in one of their more popular apps that was designed to target one of the most brutal and widespread epidemics in American society, only to remove it after the fact, would you consider that tech company irresponsible? In fact, let’s make this concrete: Suppose that tomorrow, just hypothetically, Google added a feature to its Google Maps app that would show people who searched for the nearest liquor store a link to sites designed to help alcoholics alongside the directions to their chosen destination. Then, imagine that when an army of hardened alcoholics and lobbyists for the booze industry complained, Google folded immediately out of fear of offending those people and removed the feature. Would we not say that Google was willing to risk public health in order to avoid offending people without any regard for it? Well, if so, then boy, did Google screw up this week. You see, as part of an update to Google Maps this week, Google did a (rare) good thing and introduced a calorie counter to its Maps app, which would show how many calories walking to a particular destination would burn. In order to visualize this more effectively, Google even translated the number into an equivalent number of “mini-cupcakes.” To a sane person, this would seem to be a noble and helpful thing. According to the American Heart Association, over 80 million people suffer from obesity in the United States. What’s causing it, exactly, is still a matter of some debate, but what is not up for debate is the fact that, as anyone who’s picked up a workout DVD knows, exercise can help with weight loss, sometimes in highly dramatic ways. For Google to add encouraging statistics that could prompt people to consider exercise to their Maps function, therefore, was clearly a useful, entirely voluntary attempt at curbing one of the most deadly epidemics in contemporary America. After all, it wasn’t as if the information deliberately interfered with people choosing to use other means of transportation — it simply offered them positive information that might independently be persuasive. It should have been celebrated. Instead, Google was targeted and shamed for including the feature by the malign forces of political correctness, and they caved by removing it. Now, no information exists in the Maps app to provide any incentive to exercise. Why was there so much outrage? Why, because the feature might give people an incentive to exercise! Yes, really. According to the BBC, there was mass outcry over Google’s including the calorie counts because there was concern that the information might be “triggering” to people with eating disorders. Among those making this absurd claim, incredibly, were actual journalists such as Mic’s tech writer Taylor Lorenz, who tweeted, “Do they realize how extremely triggering something like this is for ppl who have had eating disorders? Not to mention just generally shamey.” In other words, how dare you tell people who might benefit from ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By Mytheos Holt
    5 days ago
  • Hillary and Harvey’s Shared Fate
    Washington I have been fascinated by Harvey Weinstein’s initial response to charges that the Bathrobed Romeo sexually molested women. His statement was at once otherworldly and yet weirdly similar to Hillary Clinton’s eventual response to the scandal. I say “eventual response” because it took her over a week to comment. Obviously, Hillary’s lawyers and public relations magicians had to word her response very carefully. In his statement Harvey said, “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and the work places were different.” In this I am at one with Harvey. I too came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, though no woman has yet stepped forward to say I sexually molested her, much less raped her. He then went on with some brave talk about his intent to “conquer” his “demons.” Ascending to the higher tiers of psychobabble, he said he needed “a place to channel” his “anger.” Where might that place be? Scurrying back to his Hollywood cocoon, he promised — get this — to give “the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre [head of the National Rifle Association] will enjoy his retirement party.” He went on to threaten early retirement on President Donald Trump too. What planet does a Hollywood mogul like Harvey inhabit? By the end of the week he was out of a job and his company was rumored to be up for sale. Eight days after Harvey’s statement Hillary, a beneficiary of his friendship and largesse through her foundation and political campaigns, felt it was safe enough to denounce the fallen genius. In a BBC interview she said of Harvey’s behavior, “This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it’s in entertainment, politics [sic].” Then she impudently added, “After all, we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office.” Like Harvey she had changed the subject as quickly as possible to Donald Trump, but her statement was a lie. Donald never admitted to sexual assault only to “locker room talk,” and when her BBC interviewer mentioned charges against her husband in the 1990s she lied again, saying: “That has all been litigated.” It has not, and Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and other aggrieved woman still wait their day in court. The BBC should employ interviewers more familiar with American politics. I would be happy to volunteer my services in this noble task. After all, I presided over the first great sex scandal in American presidential history, which began with The American Spectator’s Troopergate pieces and ended with Bill Clinton’s impeachment. I can report that there are some surprising similarities in Harvey’s and Bill’s scandals, though the journalists reporting on Harvey have been treated much more respectfully than those reporting on Bill. It took the reporters who exposed Harvey about 24 hours to gain respect. I am not clear that those exposing Bill will ever gain respect. To begin with, both scandals involved Democrats, often the same Democrats. Bill and ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Wednesday, October 18, 2017By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
    5 days ago
  • Hollywood Incentivizes Cowardice
    Professor Caroline Heldman, who is working with some of Harvey Weinstein’s victims, said the following about Weinstein’s behavior in an interview with Piers Morgan on Wednesday: “I think it is systemic and that not only have we seen the tip of the iceberg but we will see other men facing allegations. I believe the flood gates are open. We are in a new era.” Undoubtedly such sentiment is widespread: Many more Hollywood pigs like Weinstein are about to be exposed, and Tinsel Town will never be the same. Count me as skeptical. First, we are NOT in a new era unless by new Prof. Heldman means an era that began over a quarter century ago. The problem of sexual harassment was put under the klieg lights by the media during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy in 1991. It remained there during the 1990s thanks to President Bill Clinton’s uncontrollable appetites. That more people in Hollywood will now be coming forward about Weinstein-like abuse because the veil on sexual harassment has now been lifted is laughable. The only incentive that has changed is that women who have been abused by other Hollywood swine no longer feel alone. When people no longer feel alone, the fear of coming forward diminishes.  Unfortunately, that won’t be sufficient because the incentives for actresses to keep their mouths shut are still very powerful. The drive for fame is immensely compelling, second only to the drive for power. Achieving fame means getting your name up in lights, earning millions of dollars, living in a palatial estate, having assistants cater to your every whim, being adored by millions of fans, a press hanging on your every word, colleagues applauding you at award shows, and entrée to parties, restaurants, and clubs to which most people will never have access. Compared to that, being asked to give a massage by a fat man with an erection in his hotel room is a small price to pay. Consider actress Ashley Judd who in 1997 found herself in Weinstein’s hotel room where the portly producer asked her for a massage, shoulder rub, and to watch him take a shower. Judd’s reaction was not, “Oh my God, what a disgusting pig!,” nor “I’d better warn other women about this clown.” Instead, she thought to herself, “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” For Judd, fame was more important than taking one for the sisterhood by going to the media about Weinstein’s behavior. And it paid off for her as she would later appear in two films, Frida and Crossing Over, that Weinstein was involved in. The drive for fame is so strong that actresses will tolerate such behavior even if there is only a remote chance of stardom. Proof of this is that Weinstein’s bad behavior goes back about 30 years, to the late 1980s. Weinstein didn’t become a big Hollywood mogul until after he produced the 1994 hit Pulp Fiction. Presumably, Weinstein’s ability to boost an actress’s career was limited prior ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 17, 2017By David Hogberg
    5 days ago
  • Trump Executive Order Unravels Obamacare Redistribution Scheme
    Donald Trump’s executive order diagnosed the primary disorder in American health care. “The average exchange premium in the 39 States that are using www.healthcare.gov in 2017 is more than double the average overall individual market premium recorded in 2013,” the president noted upon issuing his health care executive order last Thursday. “The [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] has also largely failed to provide meaningful choice or competition between insurers, resulting in one-third of America’s counties having only one insurer offering coverage on their applicable government-run exchange in 2017.” Americans pay more than $10,000 per person on health care expenses annually. This amounts to more than $3 trillion, a figure fast approaching a fifth of gross domestic product, per year. The country that spends the second most, Sweden, spends about two-thirds of what we do per capita. Other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations average about half of what we expend. We spend like Americans. But we live like Costa Ricans and Cubans, the two other countries that also see life expectancy at 79 years. Yes, we manage to spend about seven times more than the Costa Ricans and four times more than the Cubans only to die at the same age. Can we get a refund? It turns out that paying billions on insurance adjusters, malpractice claims, and taxes on medical devices does not actually extend our lives. Who knew? There’s that cliché: work smarter, not harder. It applies here. The president fixes to fix this. His opponents say he reckons to wreck Obamacare. A distinction without a difference? His means of doing one or the other involve association health plans (AHPs), short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDIs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). The first allows small businessmen to team up to get the cost reductions big businesses receive when purchasing insurance in bulk. The second permits Americans to sign up for plans minus the bells and whistles mandated by Obamacare that drives up price. The third serves as accounts that shield health-care dollars from taxes. The president’s opponents lose their senses over the common-sense directive. Sam Berger of the Center for American Progress calls the executive order “sabotage plain and simple.” Eleanor Clift labels it “cynical” and “insidious.” The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson Sorkin accuses Trump of “trying to break the health-care system all by himself.” But even Barack Obama could not do that. The health-care system broke long before Trump or his predecessor took office. While the legislation that came to bear Obama’s name fixated on redistribution, Trump’s executive order focuses on costs. Given that relatively few people (true even before Obamacare) lack coverage, and very many people regard health insurance as too expensive, Trump addresses the issue from the perspective shared by most Americans. And when politicians focus on costs, the prospects for the uninsured affording insurance improve. When they focus on redistribution, costs rise. The executive order looks to reverse the cost spike in the wake of Obamacare. STLDIs, for instance, undermine the one-size-fits-all philosophy inherent ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Tuesday, October 17, 2017By Hunt Flynn
    5 days ago