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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The audacity of Obama’s lying

Brazenness is key. If you’re going to lie, don’t be shy

What makes a good liar? It’s a harder question to answer than you might think, partly because it’s a harder and more complex thing to accomplish than you might think.

Let me begin by acknowledging that I do not have a satisfactory answer to the question. Nevertheless, as an aficionado of the sport, I admire from afar expert practitioners. And I was reminded just a few days ago that we have in our midst a grand master of mendacity. In his speech in Milwaukee on Friday, Barack Obama demonstrated once again his effortless, masterly deployment of deceit.

Again, I do not say that we groundlings have been vouchsafed all the inner workings of the mechanism. But one thing is clear from Obama’s performance: brazenness is key. If you are going to lie, don’t be shy. Capitalise on the public’s inherent goodwill — and its poor memory.

Another useful gambit: accuse others, preferably in violent terms, of precisely that of which you are yourself guilty.......To Read More.....

A Brief History of Leftist Political Violence in 1 Year

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 6 Comments Monday, October 29, 2018

On September 9, Rudy Peters, the Republican running for Congress in the 15th District in California, was attacked by a knife-wielding man shouting, "F___ Trump".

The attacker, Farzad Fazeli, an Iranian Clinton supporter, had previously posted, “Don Trump won’t clean his own house, so he’s too dirty to know right from wrong. Impeach/incarcerate him before more children die. P.S. complacency is worse than being the shooter.”

Next month, Shane Mekeland, a Republican running for the Minnesota House of Representatives, suffered a concussion after being punched in the face at a restaurant. “You f____g people don't give a s___ about the middle class,” his assailant had shouted at him.

Mekeland is back on the campaign trail, while still recovering from the assault. “The media and the likes of Maxine Waters, Hillary, and Eric Holder as of late is driving this behavior," he warned.

"If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, at a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere," Rep. Maxine Waters had urged an angry leftist mob.

Eric Holder, Obama’s attorney general and a possible 2020 candidate, had urged, “When they go low, we kick them." He had tweeted at Democrats, urging them to, “Use the rage.”

Hillary Clinton had told CNN, "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."

Senator Hirono had refused to condemn the harassment of Republicans, telling CNN, "This is the kind of activism that occurs and people make their own decisions. If they violate the law, then they have to account for that.”

That same month, also in Minnesota, State Rep. Sarah Anderson, a Republican, was punched by a man when she tried to stop him from vandalizing her campaign signs.

Also in October, Kristin Davison, the campaign chief for Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate for governor in Nevada, was left with pain and bruises after a confrontation with a Democrat operative. Her alleged assailant faces a charge of misdemeanor battery.

Three violent attacks on Republican political figures in just one month alone earned almost no coverage in the media.

Instead the media egged it on. Even the country’s leading leftist papers urged greater displays of rage.

October editorials, columns and op-eds in the New York Times included headlines such as, "Get Angry, and Get Involved," "Tears, Fury or Action: How Do You Express Anger?", “Fury Is a Political Weapon And Women Need to Wield It.”

The explosion of violence against Republicans in October was the culmination of a climate of crazed hatred, which lead to death threats, and when those were unaddressed, to actual physical violence.

In the two months from May to June, 30 Republican members of Congress were attacked or threatened.

These included, Christopher Michael McGowan who warned Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s staff, "I am not making a joke. I will kill him." It included Steve Martan, a "pacifist", who threatened to shoot Rep. Martha McSally.

E. Stanley Hoff was arrested for leaving a message for Rep. Steve Stivers warning the Ohio Republican, "We're coming to get every g_____n one of you and your families. Maybe the next one taken down will be your daughter."

Messages aimed at Rep. Tom Garrett threatened, "This is how we're going to kill your wife", and "This is what I'm going to do to your daughters."

And Rep. David Kustoff was nearly run off the road.

In the middle of June, James Hodgkinson, a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter, opened fire at a Republican charity baseball practice, seriously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise, and Zack Barth, an aide to Rep. Roger Williams. Even though Hodgkinson had a hit list of conservative Republicans, Rep. Mo Brooks, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Jim Jordan, Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith, the FBI denied that it was a political assassination.
In August, Carlos Bayon was arrested for threatening House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “We are not going to feed them sandwiches, we are going to feed them lead,” he declared.

Law enforcement found bomb and assassination manuals in Bayon’s house.

Around the same time, DeReal Finklin, a registered Democrat, was charged for sending death threats to Rep. Christopher H. Smith. DeReal had also posted, "Anybody outside of my blood in Monmouth or Ocean County on my Facebook account, you are dead."

In June, Laurence Wayne Key, a Democratic Party of Marin County volunteer, was arrested for threatening to kill Rep. Brian Mast’s three children.

“I’m going to find the Congressman’s kids and kill them. If you’re going to separate kids at the border, I’m going to kill his kids,” the Planned Parenthood supporter threatened.

In Florida, in June, Steve St. Felix was charged with threatening to kill Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

“Ill kill your ass and you better not show up to the next rec meeting,” St. Felix, who can be seen grinning widely in his booking photo, warned.

In July, in Tennessee, Clifton Ward was indicted for threatening to kill Rep. Diane Black. In New York, Martin Astrof allegedly tried to run over one of Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign workers who had been recognized for feeding rescue workers at Ground Zero after 9/11.

Ian Nicholas Nix was arrested for threatening to kill South Carolina state Rep. Steven Long. Nix called Long “right-wing scum” and warned him, You’re a ____ dead man.”

Also in July, a man who threatened to chop up Senator Rand Paul and his family with an axe was

After months of this, the media did not relent. It poured more fuel on the fire. The death threats of summer then became the violent assaults of fall.

The media called this “activism”. It denounced Republicans for warning of “angry mobs”.

And now the very same media has suddenly decided that threatening and assaulting people whose politics you disagree with is wrong. As long as the political figures being assaulted are Democrats.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Democrats and their media allies have sanctioned violence against Republicans. They’ve defended harassment and even assaults as activism. They have embraced and celebrated hate groups. The mob culture they have brought forth is fundamentally changing the rules of American politics.

Once political terror is unleashed, it can’t be controlled or compartmentalized.

Leftists, who have written a bloody history of political terror from Europe to South America, from the Middle East and across Asia, and right back to America, ought to know that better than anyone else.

The Left has made it its mission to destroy America. This is what destroying a country looks like.

In academia, there is glib talk of overturning Western civilization. But without civilization, there is only savagery.

The mad toll of death threats and assaults, of shootings and harassment was unleashed by the Left. The hectoring media has made millions from it. Fortunes have poured into the war chests of radical Democrats. They can make it stop. Or they can go on feeding the beast while blaming conservatives.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

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Thank you for reading.

Senate Judiciary Committee holds nominee hearings during recess, and Dems are pissed

Posted by William A. Jacobson October 29, 2018

For all the Democrat complaining, no one is stopping them from attending and asking questions.

You may recall that just after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democrats agreed to confirm 15 federal judicial nominees in exchange for Mitch McConnell putting the Senate in recess so that vulnerable Senate Dems could return home to campaign.

#TheResistance was upset. While they can’t stop nominees, they demand resistance for resistance sake. But Senate Democrats had other priorities. So Senate recess was a time for Republicans to halt the judicial confirmation train from rollin’ down the tracks?


Before you can get to a floor vote, you need a Committee vote. And before you can get a Committee vote, you need a Committee hearing. So, the Senate Judiciary Committee has continued to hold hearings on nominees. lining up more Committee votes for just after the midterms. Nina Totenberg at NRP writes, Trump, Republicans Continue Remaking The Federal Courts — Even As Senate On Recess:..........To Read More.....

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

IARC Retraction Watch Begins: They Faked Images In Controversial Claims

By Hank Campbell — October 25, 2018 @ American Council on Science and Health

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has a new leader, an Old Guard insider named Dr. Elisabete Weiderpass, who promised not to change the status quo, which means they remain stuck with an old problem; credibility.

While for its first 20 years they were a much-needed voice of reason that stood up to activists claiming that some new chemical of the month was a carcinogen because it could kill rats, for the last 10 IARC have been the source of ridicule among the science community. And that is because the environmentalists whose hype they once exposed played the long game and wormed their way inside.(1) Today, thanks to letting them hijack that science body, we are told to believe that a weedkiller can cause cancer and deli meat is as bad for you as plutonium or mustard gas. Such claims are literally baloney.

But media who love centralized authoritarian bodies and veils of anti-corporate credibility have gleefully reported each more cosmic claim from the French organization during that time. They have even touted media press releases distributed prior to actual reports as fact. Though IARC decisions do not consider risk (to determine a hazard they allow papers that show 5 orders of magnitude, so one dose of a compound is the same as 10,000 to them) the WHO group will mention risk dozens of times in media claims in their press releases.

There is just one problem they face: Every few years, a new crop of journalists enters the field, and not only might they not be in the bag for your brand of activism, they might be neutral and wonder why no one turns their gaze on the manipulations of supplement hucksters, alternative to medicine purveyors, and environmental lawyers. And some scientists who engage in public outreach are critical thinkers about studies everywhere, like molecular biologist Leonid Schneider and microbiologist Dr. Elisabeth Bik, who have called out groups who do this and also journal editors who enable them with a desire to publish provocative claims that will bring international media links.

A recent analysis of both journals and IARC involvement, titled WHO Cures Cancer In Photoshop, went into detail about the cultural flaws that allowed IARC to lose its way but more broadly about how easy it is to duplicate or reuse or slightly change graphics to look original in a science study. Some of the inferences I don't agree with - the involvement of a private sector scientist does not sway results by default, that is Cui bono? conspiracy signaling - but the overall examination is sound. (2)

Schneider is not alone in being concerned that IARC is trapped in the past using a methodology that is easily exploited by activists with nefarious agendas and patience, like Professor Martyn Smyth of Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) (3) or Dr. Chris Portier of Environmental Defense Fund. They used 21st century strategy to infect a stodgy 20th century institution, which creates ad hoc working groups based on having friends inside, refuses to be transparent, and has no rules for the study of each compound. It has become just statisticians finding things to correlate to cancer. As Dr. Angela Logomasini of Competitive Enterprise Institute notes in the Washington Times, "The working groups are free to focus on myriad small-scale studies with implausible results. That can lead to cherry-picking that serves the biases of working group members."

It certainly has. Look at two California court cases, on coffee and on weedkiller, and the first thing you will find are two IARC participants mentioned above, Chris Portier and Martyn Smith, who have been paid by attorneys to help them sue companies.

Is there hope? There certainly is. The American Council on Science and Health Board of Scientific Advisors was part of a group of four people called on to testify before the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee about IARC and we recommended Congress use its financial leverage, and the credibility U.S. backing grants, to rein the rogue statistical body in.

The only opposition we faced on that panel was Natural Resources Defense Council's Dr. Jennifer Sass, who argued IARC's closed door mentality and lack of transparency about its working groups should remain untouched. That was the opposite of what she claimed in 2002 and when that was noted she could only reply, "2002 was a long time ago."

In many ways, this is true, and IARC should consider shucking off the parts of our past that no longer have validity in 2018.


(1) If your career goal is to get a fat paycheck as an expert witness or as a consultant at an environmental NGO, today there is a clear roadmap. First, write provocative epidemiology papers linking harmless things to health effects - it can be miracle vegetables creating eternal life or scary chemicals taking years away. Second, become a Washington insider and get a title, any title, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). If you are good with media and share the correct political proclivities, use that title to get quoted frequently in the New York Times. Soon enough, a litigation group like Earthjustice or Environmental Defense Fund or Center for Biological Diversity will start offering you money. And if you are really good at political maneuvering, you will get a slot on an IARC Working Group, where you can get the chemical you wanted banned all along subjected to a review. Once that is complete, you can claim to be a U.N. expert on the chemical you want banned while signaling to trial lawyers you are ready to "play ball", and then the expert witness checks will start coming in.
(2) "Apparently, by re-using certain western blot bands, a potential prevention therapy for cervical cancer can be established. Amazing research, done by WHO scientists at IARC, with public support."
He pulls no punches. You should read it.
Attention @PNASNews @jbiolchem @J_Immunol @ASMicrobiology @PLOSPathogens @JExpMed @ACasadevall1 Look what @IARCWHO published in your journals.
— Leonid Schneider (@schneiderleonid) October 11, 2018
(3) Despite its lofty name, CERT is not a council at all, there is no 300-person Board of Scientific Advisors like we have, it was instead created by Metzger Law group to have a non-profit to act as a front for lawsuits against companies - if it exists outside paper at all it now it seems to be "run" by a politically

Why the Left Hates Prosperity

Stephen MooreOct 30, 2018

Here is Moore's rule of modern-day politics: The better the economy performs under President Donald Trump and the more successes he racks up, the more unhinged the left becomes. It's a near linear relationship. And it goes for media as well.

That's why the monthly jobs announcements and the quarterly GDP reports, like the one released Oct. 26, are the unhappiest days of the year for the Trump haters. News of 3.5 to 4 percent growth and 7 million surplus jobs are the bane of the resistance movement's existence.

So with the economy flying high, the pundits who predicted Trump would shut down the world economy have had to continually invent new reasons that Trump is the worst thing to happen to the United States since typhoid fever.

Consider the latest leftist rant: Trump has moved the GOP to the far right and has hijacked the principles of the Republican Party. Whatever happened, they ask, to the good ol' days when moderates in the GOP used to compromise, cut deals with Ted Kennedy and capitulate?

Liberals want a return to the days when the GOP's standard bearers were people like George H.W. Bush, Bob Michel, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and most recently, John Kasich.

Think. What do all these Republicans have in common? Losing.

My intention isn't to disparage these men. I have known all of them and respect them all -- especially the noble war heroes. Michel was a Republican minority leader beloved by the left for years and years, precisely because he kept the House Republicans where they belonged -- in the minority.

It was only when the mean Newt Gingrich "hijacked" the party with a hard-charging conservative political and economic reform agenda that the GOP blasted out the Democrats with dynamite and won the House for the first time in a half-century.

Or consider Bush, Dole, McCain and Romney. They all lost the White House and now are treated as statesmen and political icons. Lovable losers.

Trump's crime is that he's a winner. Which is why the left now pines for, as The New York Times recently put it, "principled Republicans." The party has "lost its way" and abandoned what it stood for. Nicholas Kristof writes in The Times that "sure, there are still many principled individuals left in the party" -- by which the left means people who oppose Trump 00 but "as a national institution the Republican Party is hollow."

Wait a minute. Aren't prosperity and opportunity two of the most cherished Republican principles?

What infuriates Trump haters is that he figured out how to win over tens of millions of disaffected working-class voters with an unapologetic "America First" platform. These voters abandoned the union leaders and the party of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders in favor of an agenda of better trade deals, border enforcement, lower taxes, less regulation and more coal, oil and gas jobs.

Trump found the fault line in the Democratic coalition and exploited it like the bombing of Dresden. He persuaded blue-collar workers that they have nothing in common with people like Tom Steyer, radical environmentalists who have taken over the reins of the Democratic Party and want to destroy manufacturing, mining and energy jobs as a sacrifice to the gods of global warming.

Because Trump has taken on the left's sacred cows of political correctness, victimization, open borders and racial preferences, he's labeled a racist, xenophobic, lslamophobic woman-hater.

It turns out though that a whole lot of voters agree with Trump. If Trump is a bigot for articulating his "America First" paradigm, doesn't that mean the millions of formerly Democratic voters who crossed over to vote for Trump must also be narrow-minded and culturally inferior rednecks?

In other words, liberals really do hold the view that blue-collar voters are a gang of "deplorables." Good luck winning back their votes. Ironically, as Democrats complain that Trump's tax cuts only benefit the rich, the wealthiest counties in America overwhelmingly vote Democratic and the poorest counties and states are more likely to vote Republican.

Politics is a contact sport. There aren't many moral victories in politics. And yes, it really all does come down to winning. As two-time winner Bill Clinton used to say, you can't change the country if you don't win.

The problem for the Trump haters, and the reason they are so spitting angry, is that Trump is changing the country for the better. According to a Quinnipiac poll, 7 of 10 voters rate the economy as good or great. Liberals are doubly angry and frustrated because they were so sure he would fail. Perhaps they are the ones who are intellectually inferior.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy."

A Florida Lynching & A Broken Friendship

When a vote for Trump provides a license to destroy a man’s character and credibility by any means necessary.

NYT Scoop: Brett Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep Class Had 35th Reunion This Weekend—And They Drank Beer

By Staff | October 29, 2018

The New York Times scored another huge scoop on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh over the weekend: His Georgetown Prep class had its 35th reunion celebration and some of Kavanaugh’s classmates—although apparently not Kavanaugh himself—drank beer at the event.

The Times also somehow managed to get a recording of Georgetown Prep’s president speaking to the alumni gathering—although not one of Kavanaugh’s classmates would return calls from the Times.
The reunion took place on the same weekend as Georgetown Prep’s homecoming football game, which Kavanaugh attended.

“At one point during the football game, Justice Kavanaugh prepared to pose for a picture with former classmates,” the Times breathlessly reported. “First, though, he instructed everyone to put down their beers, according to a person who witnessed the exchange. (Justice Kavanaugh didn't appear to be drinking.)”............To Read More....

My Take - He attended a class reunion and didn't drink.  Wow!  Now that's really breaking news! And it seems to me they actually had an undercover reporter there.  No wonder the NYT is going down the tubes.  Just not soon enough.  I hate to think how they would have spun this story if this poor man actually drank a beer. 

Cartoon of the Day!

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Multiemployer Pension System Faces a Crisis Threatening Millions of Workers’ Benefits

By Charles Blahous | October 29, 2018

Earlier this year, federal lawmakers established the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans to address an intensifying crisis in multiemployer pensions. A primary focus of the Committee, which is co-chaired by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), is the projected insolvency of our national multiemployer pension insurance system operated by the federally chartered Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

PBGC’s multiemployer insurance program faces a $65 billion shortfall, and insolvency by 2025, threatening the vital pension benefits of workers. Worse yet, the projected insolvency of PBGC insurance is but one symptom of systemic underfunding in multiemployer pensions themselves, which has left $638 billion in worker pension benefits—over $60,000 per worker—without financing. The committee is required to vote on recommendations by the end of November. Last week, the Mercatus Center published my study of the crisis, which lays out the causes of the shortfall and offers a suggested framework for reform. This piece summarizes the principal findings of the study................To Read More.....

Three Cases to Watch at the Supreme Court

By Elizabeth Slattery | October 29, 2018

The Supreme Court is back in session after a two-week break. The justices will hear arguments in a number of important cases, including ones dealing with coercive class-action settlements, using hovercrafts for moose hunting in Alaska, and Virginia’s ban on uranium mining.
Here are three cases to watch closely in the coming weeks.

Frank v. Gaos - Is it fair for the majority of a class-action settlement to go to third-party recipients with ties to the defendant and the class attorneys? ............

Sturgeon v. Frost - A moose hunter named John Sturgeon was using a small hovercraft to travel along the Nation River in Alaska’s Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in 2007 when National Park Service rangers informed him that it is a crime to operate a hovercraft in federal preservation areas. Sturgeon protested that the Yukon-Charley is a state waterway and that Alaska law permits the use of hovercrafts. The hovercraft dispute led to a battle over which government owns the Nation River, and two trips to the Supreme Court................

Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren - This case also involves a dispute over federal and state authority. The Supreme Court has long held that, under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, state laws that conflict with federal law are pre-empted (meaning they are without effect)...........

These are just a few of the important cases coming up at the Supreme Court. Later this term, the justices will hear cases involving the 8th Amendment’s ban on excessive fines, the double jeopardy clause, and whether most of Oklahoma is actually an Indian reservation.......To Read More...

Legally-Armed Father Kills Masked Gunman Who Shot Up Alabama McDonald's

By Craig Bannister | October 29, 2018

A legally-armed father protected his two sons and store employees at a Birmingham, Alabama McDonald’s restaurant Saturday night when a masked gunman entered and opened fire.
When the gunman began shooting, the father drew his gun, shooting and killing the unidentified masked gunman, who had wounded him and one of his sons, reports:
“The shooting happened about 10:45 p.m. at the Lomb Avenue restaurant. Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Bryan Shelton said one juvenile and two adults were injured. All three were transported to area hospitals where one of the adult victims was later pronounced dead.”
"Right now it appears the victim made a decision that cost his life and the father made a decision that preserved his and children’s' life,'' Sgt. Shelton said.

“He’s my hero,” said Markus Washington, one of two McDonald’s employees working at the time, WAFF 48 reports. “Because I can only imagine how it would’ve went if he wasn’t armed. We might not be here having this interview.” Washington and a fellow employee hid out in the store’s freezer during the shooting...........To Read More.....

Improving the Interior Departments Science and Policies

H. Sterling Burnett @ Heartland Insititute

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) is taking a page out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) playbook, to improve the transparency behind the science used to develop regulations on the millions of acres of public lands it controls, and the legal actions it takes in response to lawsuits filed against it.

On September 11, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a Secretarial Order promoting transparency and accountability in consent decrees and settlement agreements, aimed at ending secret “sue and settle” deals with activist plaintiffs.

Zinke’s order comes almost a year after the EPA issued rules ending such agreements at the agency.

DOI reports from January 1, 2012 through January 19, 2017, Interior entered into more than 460 settlement agreements and consent decrees, resulting in the payment of more than $4.4 billion to plaintiffs, while keeping key provisions of these agreements secret. In President Barack Obama’s last year in office, Interior entered into 96 such agreements or decrees, costing taxpayers more than $1.7 billion.

Although consent decrees and settlements may sometimes be a prudent way to avoid costly litigation in cases DOI is likely to lose, Zinke notes, “concerns have been raised” DOI has used secret settlement agreements to undermine the safeguards Congress established to ensure public input into policymaking.

Order 3368 requires DOI to file public notice of all litigation, proposed settlement agreements, and consent decrees in the Federal Register. Another provision establishes a process for public input before Interior can approve a settlement with significant policy implications or large payouts.

The order requires DOI to establish a publicly accessible “Litigation” webpage linked in the federal Office of the Solicitor’s homepage. Entries on this page must include the names of the parties involved in litigation, the case number, the date filed, the court where the complaint was filed, and the statutory or regulatory provisions at issue in the complaint.

By December 11, 2018, the Solicitor’s office must begin compiling, and the Chief Information Officer to begin posting, a searchable list of final judicial and administrative consent decrees and settlement agreements governing DOI’s actions. The summaries must include a brief description of each decree or agreement, details of any attorney fees or costs paid, and a link to the text of the decree or agreement.

Also, within 15 days of receiving service of a complaint or petition for review of a law or regulation, the Solicitor must notify any state or tribe possibly affected by a pending complaint or petition, except when the state or tribe is a party to the petition.

An example of how this may work comes from EPA’s website, which now includes a page titled “Notices of Intent to Sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” providing details of nearly 300 notices of intent to sue, mostly from citizen groups plus a few from state and local governments, with a separate table listing about 380 active environmental cases, and a third table providing details of 15 finalized consent decrees and settlement agreements.

In another pro-transparency, pro-accountability move, in the last week of September, DOI followed EPA’s lead once again, implementing a new policy intended to improve the transparency, integrity, and quality of the science its agencies use to make decisions. Going forward, officials may use only scientific studies or findings the underlying data for which are publicly available and reproducible, with few exceptions. EPA proposed a similar policy earlier in 2018.

DOI’s policy covers the science used by the wide variety of bureaus under its jurisdiction, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey, affecting the science used to shape policies ranging from endangered species determinations and protections—such as the decision to list polar bear populations as endangered based on speculative future risks from climate change even while their numbers are increasing—to decisions about grazing, hunting, mining, and oil and gas production on public lands and offshore. Under the new policy, the climate science used to justify any future actions by DOI to close public lands or offshore areas to oil and gas development, or impose more stringent limits on greenhouse gas emissions from those operations, would now be open to review by the public, including outside scientific auditors.

Announcing the policy, Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt said the order is intended to ensure Interior “bases its decisions on the best available science and provide[s] the American people with enough information to thoughtfully and substantively evaluate the data, methodology, and analysis used by the Department to inform its decisions.”

People have a right to know what their government is up to, yet under previous presidents the science used to justify regulations and policies and the terms of settlement agreements at DOI often blindsided local, state, and tribal governments, industries, public land lessors, and private land owners adjacent to public properties, imposing huge costs on them with little or no notice, based on science hidden from public view. This was unfair, amounting to regulation behind closed doors.

These orders should improve the transparency and soundness of DOI’s policies by giving the general public, we who pay DOI’s bills and for whom they are supposed to work, some input into its decisions.

Trump’s DOI is giving the government back to the people, or at least ensuring we have oversight of and influence on it. Only environmentalists and crony capitalists who historically, in secrecy, have wielded inordinate power over government policy could be opposed to that. Every other department and agency should adopt similar policies.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Democrats Using Cloward-Piven as their Midterm Hail Mary Pass

October 29, 2018 By Brian Joondeph

Cloward-Piven is a political strategy first described in 1966, by two Columbia University sociologists, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. This was published appropriately in the far-left The Nation, the oldest continuously published news magazine in the country.

Cloward-Piven’s goal was the creation of, “A political crisis would result that could lead to legislation for a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.” The objective was chaos and turmoil, or in their words, “A massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.”  This would be followed by, “A federal program of income redistribution has become necessary to elevate the poor en masse from poverty.”

The strategy uses community organizers to mobilize welfare recipients. Then, “As the crisis develops, it will be important to use the mass media to inform the broader liberal community about the inefficiencies and injustices of welfare.” It’s more effective when a community organizer is the leader of the country for eight years assisted with a compliant and nonobjective national media. Or as Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”.......... Read more

The Sad, Sad Culture of Progressivism

By E.M. Cadwaladr October 29, 2018

If you’ve ever read anything written by any progressive over the age of forty, chances are pretty good that you’ve been exposed to a certain weary, self-indulgent, spiritually-agonized tone. It is very recognizable, like the smell of decay that’s characteristic of a swamp. By comparison, leftists under the age of forty are likely to have more-or-less the same tone that they were born with -- the high-pitched tone of an infant that is not getting its way. Older leftists have usually run out of this youthful vigor, just like the rest of us. They do not participate in Antifa riots on the streets. They think about such youthful protests with a sense of nostalgia, remembering their wild, radical college days -- whether they actually experienced them or not. Lost in a kind of communal introspection, they gather to have a coffee and a chat about how infinitely, heartbreakingly hard it is to endure the misery of the world. It would be vulgar to point out that a nice income and a nice house in a nice neighborhood can do a lot to ease this unbearable sense of soul-wrenching angst. Moral anguish can actually be quite comfortable if you can manage to do it safely at a distance.

A few years ago, while researching an entirely worthless opposition article claiming Trump supporters are characteristically authoritarians, I ran across an editor at a progressive publication whose full title was “Senior Sadness Editor”. That’s exactly what it said: “Senior Sadness Editor.” No other title has ever so perfectly captured the tone of the intellectual left. A career of virtuous weepiness. A bleeding heart that suffers theatrically for public consumption. Christine Blasey Ford really should, and probably will, get an Oscar for her performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or is it an Emmy, since the movie version isn’t out yet?

To someone raised in a leftist family, the drill is all too familiar. There may be variations, but my experience went something like this:.........To Read More....

A looming technology-security minerals crisis?

New book analyzes near-total foreign dependency for critical minerals – and offers solutions

Paul Driessen

In 1973 OPEC countries imposed an oil embargo to retaliate for US support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Drivers endured soaring gasoline prices, blocks-long lines, hours wasted waiting to refuel vehicles, and restrictions on which days they could buy fuel. America was vulnerable to those blackmail sanctions because we imported “too much” oil – though it was just 30% of our crude.

The fracking revolution (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) and other factors changed that dramatically. The United States now produces more crude oil than at any time since 1970.

But now we face new, potentially far greater dangers – because we import up to 100% of dozens of metals and minerals essential for wind turbines, solar panels, and a vast array of defense, security, automotive, computer, communication, electrical grid, battery and countless other technologies. Two dozen of them come 60% to 100% from China, Russia or mines controlled by those two countries … and where child labor, worker safety, human rights and environmental standards are minimal to nonexistent.

Recent Defense and Interior Department reports have identified literally hundreds of ways US industries and military readiness are acutely vulnerable to supply interruptions for these rare earth and other exotic materials. Equally troubling, 90% of the world’s printed circuit boards are produced in Asia, more than half of them in China; that presents still more risks that competitors and enemies are establishing more ports of entry (on top of highly professional hacking) into industry and defense computer systems.

And now the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change absurdly claims American (and global) fossil fuel use must be slashed from over 80% of our energy today to zero by 2050 – and replaced by renewable energy. That would raise our dependency on these metals and minerals, and their costs, by orders of magnitude. It would severely impact every facet of our economy, security, defense and personal lives.

Just building the wind turbines, solar cells and high-tech transmission systems for billions of megawatt-hours of electricity would require incalculable quantities – and money. Batteries to back up all that electricity for windless and sunless hours, days or weeks would require vast additional quantities.

Thankfully, volcanic and magmatic activity, plate tectonics and other powerful geologic processes have blessed America with metallic and other mineral deposits unsurpassed almost anywhere else in the world. We likely have all these essential materials right under our feet. Incredibly, insanely, the United States is the only nation in the world that locks them up, makes them inaccessible under almost any conditions.

Federally controlled lands are especially problematical. Not only are they our most mineralized regions. We have no idea what is actually there. And we are not permitted to evaluate their mineral potential, in order to make informed, rational decisions about how they should be managed – to balance environmental protection and preservation against the raw material needs of a modern industrialized, technological nation.

A 1975 report found that 74% of federal lands were totally or effectively closed to exploration for and development of critical minerals, because of pro-wilderness, anti-mining, anti-energy laws, regulations, bureaucratic roadblocks, environmentalist lawsuits and court decisions.

An updated 1994 study (conducted after 78 million acres had been transferred to the State of Alaska and Alaskan Natives) concluded that 71% of federal lands were still off limits: 427 million acres; our best mineral lands; a land area equal to Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming combined! Since then, the situation has worsened steadily, especially during the Obama years. Even supposedly available lands are mostly inaccessible, because bureaucrats refuse to issue permits.

Perhaps worst of all, much of this steady lockdown resulted from a concerted, irresponsible effort to place lands in wilderness and other highly restrictive land-use categories – often with the deliberate purpose of preventing anyone from ever assessing or accessing their critical and strategic mineral potential. A recent US House of Representatives committee memorandum summarizes growing congressional concerns.

A groundbreaking book – titled Groundbreaking! America’s new quest for minerals independence – will soon provide persuasive reasons why we must reexamine the policies that brought us to this untenable and unsustainable point in American history. In concise, plain language, geologist Ned Mamula and Silicon Valley expert Ann Bridges explain why we must literally break ground in these areas … and drill down to find out what minerals are in them. Their key points must be pondered, absorbed and acted on by all who care about our security and prosperity.

* We won the oil and gas energy war, but a growing minerals and metals dependency imperils our future.

* America is undeniably endowed with mineral riches, but we have no idea what we have or where it is located, because we are not permitted even to look for, map and evaluate deposits. In fact, we cannot even mine major deposits when we know their precise location, composition and value. We need to know as much about subsurface values as we do about surface values, if we are to make informed decisions.

* American jobs, prosperity and security have always been based on “mineral wealth.” Some of our major cities and many of our major industries (including Silicon Valley) exist because of metals and minerals.

* We are at great risk now, because we are 50-100% reliant on foreign countries for the exotic minerals and metals needed to satisfy our addiction to computers, cell phones and other high-tech gadgetry, for virtually every civilian, industrial, medical, communication and defense application imaginable.

* China and Russia supply enormous quantities of our most critical and strategic materials – and could easily use them as leverage if the US challenges their hegemonic goals in Asia, Europe or the Pacific. The wealthy, powerful, increasingly radical environmental industry exacerbates these vulnerabilities.

* Chapters devoted to rare earth metals, uranium and copper-molybdenum-gold explain the politics, economics and corruption surrounding their stories, and how certain politicians and pressure groups actually want to de-industrialize America and reduce our living standards and global power.

* Excessive laws, land withdrawals run amok, costly and interminable environmental review and permitting processes, and other factors impose severe constraints on US viability and sustainability. Constantly changing technologies mean constantly changing materials needs and renewed exploration.

* Australia and Canada protect their precious environmental heritage while also utilizing their precious metals and minerals heritage. The United States must apply these lessons in devising better ways to handle land withdrawals, environmental reviews and permitting – with the White House, Congress, universities and the private sector leading the way on public discussions and positive initiatives.

* Alternatives to fossil fuel energy, high-tech equipment of every description, nearly everything we use in our daily lives is tied to the exotic, strategic and critical minerals we have so cavalierly made off limits.

* Except for national parks and certain other places, federal lands must be surveyed and explored by government agencies and private sector companies using aerial and ground-based induced polarization, magnetometer and radiometric technologies, grid soil analyses and equipment literally carried in backpacks. Good prospects must then be evaluated further using truck and helicopter drilling rigs, to collect core samples and other information needed for deciding an area’s highest and best uses.

* It’s time to launch a groundswell of support for more responsible policies, disrupt the status quo, and turbo-charge US mining, job creation, job and industry preservation, and long-term national security and defense readiness. Failure to do so violates the most fundamental principles of national security and responsible government.

The needs of current and future generations are at stake, because prolonged disruptions of our access to these minerals would lead to the collapse of Silicon Valley and many other industries, severely compromised defense capabilities, and the disruption or even destruction of almost every sector of our computer-dependent economy and society.

President Trump, his cabinet, members of Congress, military and industrial leaders, regulators, citizens and environmentalists need to read this book (coming in December). Above all, they need to recognize that modern mining technologies, techniques and regulations enable us to develop the minerals and metals we so critically need, while preserving the scenic, wildlife and environmental values we cherish.

Paul Driessen is policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of articles and books on natural resource issues. He has degrees in geology, ecology and environmental law.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Greece and the Grim Consequences of Democratic Socialism

October 28, 2018 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
My left-leaning friends periodically tell me that there’s a big difference between their benign policies of democratic socialism and the wretched track records of Marxist socialism, national socialism, and other forms of totalitarianism.

I agree. Living in a European welfare state, after all, is much better than living in a hellhole like Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, or Venezuela.

Not only do you enjoy the rule of law (no Khmer Rouge-style concentration camps!), but you also enjoy considerable prosperity compared to the rest of the world.

But there are two things to understand about that prosperity.
Let’s consider the case of Greece. I’ve written many times about the debilitating impact of high tax rates and wasteful spending in that nation. It has the least economic freedom of all nations in Western Europe, so it’s no surprise that it is falling further behind.

But sometimes a compelling example is the best way of helping people understand the harmful impact of big government.
We were on Filis Street — a warren of alleyways and dingy two-story houses — which has been home to Athenian brothels for most of the past century. The trade is more desperate now because of Greece’s lost decade since the 2008 financial crisis, which has left no profession unscathed. The collapsed economy and the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants have pushed even more women into prostitution — even as prices have fallen through the floor. …“I had a flower shop for 18 years — and now I’m here out of necessity, not out of joy,” said Dimitra, a middle-aged woman who lost her shop in the crisis and now works as a madam…the number of prostitutes in the city had increased by 7 percent since 2012, yet prices have dropped drastically, both for women working on the streets and in brothels. “In 2012, it would require an average of 39 euros” for a client to hire a prostitute in a brothel, Mr. Lazos said, “while in 2017 just €17 — a 56 percent decrease.”
The saddest part of the story is the commentary of the prostitutes.
“I hate sex,” Elena said. “I like the money, not the job.” Anastasia…has worked as a prostitute since she was 14. She’s now 33, and says the work is harder than ever. “People don’t have money anymore,” she said… Monica, a 30-year-old Albanian prostitute…spends six to eight hours a day trying to entice clients, but most do not stay. “They don’t have money,” she said. “They haven’t had money for the past seven years.” …Many Greek men are simply too poor to pay anymore.
I support legal prostitution, in part because the alternative of pushing these unfortunate women even further into the underground economy would be worse.

(Editor's NoteI'm not in harmony with the author's views on prostitution, but one thing this article points to is the economic mess socialism brings to society making prostitution a default setting for so many women in countries run by socialists. Venezuela is a clasic example.  RK)

But that doesn’t change the fact that these women don’t have good lives. And the misery of democratic socialism in Greece is making their lives even sadder.

The bottom line is that I now have three awful anecdotes from Greece to help illustrate the wretched impact of big government. In addition to the price-cutting prostitutes we discussed today, let’s not forget that Greece subsidizes pedophiles and requires stool samples to set up online companies.

Needless to say, I hope we never go that far in the wrong direction.

The moral of the story is that socialism (however defined) has never worked in any form at any time in history.

Thought For the Day!

Media Hypocrisy: You "Must" Believe Women! NBC News Hid Information that Would Have Cleared Kavanaugh of Avenatti Rape Allegations

NBC News deliberately hid vital information that would have helped clear Brett Kavanaugh of the serial rape allegations Julie Swetnick and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, leveled against him.

On September 16, Kavanaugh and his loved ones were dropped into a pit of hell due to allegations of sexual assault from Christine Blasey Ford. Although her story quickly fell apart during public testimony, for the three-plus weeks that would follow, in an effort to derail his confirmation, Democrats and their allies in the establishment media did everything in their power to personally destroy this man as a drunken serial rapist.

NBC News and Avenatti played a huge role in this obscene smear campaign. One notable example was NBC breathlessly publishing and airing an assault allegation against Kavanaugh that was quickly exposed as a hoax. NBC did not even bother to independently corroborate this allegation prior to airing it. A Democrat handed NBC the smear, and NBC ran with it............To Read More....

Democrat Hypocrisy: You "Must" Believe Women and Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison reeling after abuse allegations.  The No. 2 at the Democratic National Committee is running behind in his bid for Minnesota attorney general.

By Matthew Choi 10/27/2018

Minnesota hasn’t elected a Republican attorney general in over 40 years. Keith Ellison — the prominent Democratic congressman and No. 2 at the Democratic National Committee — is putting that streak to the test.

Rocked by accusations of domestic abuse, Ellison has fallen behind former Minnesota Republican state legislator Doug Wardlow, according to a poll this week. And while each candidate has tagged the other as too far outside the mainstream to be the state's top law enforcement official, in reality the race revolves around Ellison and what voters make of the misconduct allegations he’s facing.............

Wardlow’s campaign manager, Billy Grant, said it was hypocritical for Minnesota Democrats to portray themselves as defenders of sexual assault survivors if they don’t denounce Ellison. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) played a central role questioning Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh during his tumultuous confirmation hearing, and Minnesota Democrats were quick to remove then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) after allegations surfaced that he groped women when he was a comedian. “They refuse to rescind endorsements. They’re still campaigning with him,” Grant said. “But then with the Kavanaugh hearings, it’s the complete opposite. So I think people just see the glaring hypocrisy in that, and that it’s really all about power for them.” .......... To Read More.....

Feel the Bern: Murderous communists? Who knew? Take a look at what they are doing in Venezuela

By Monica Showalter October 27, 2018

When we think of Venezuela, we think of starving people fleeing their country without access to food, clothing, toilet paper, or medical care. We think of street urchins fighting over garbage scraps with machetes. We think of migrant exoduses from socialism. But there's another reality about the place, and it's not getting the attention, say, Saudi Arabia or Russia is, over the killings of dissidents.

The Maduro regime is showing an alarming willingness to violently attack opposition leaders, and it's moving in on high-profile ones who had previously seemed untouchable. They've already jailed politician Leopoldo Lopez and driven many others into exile. But the regime's people have stepped up the thuggery to higher levels since then. They tortured to death a city councilman who was then flung off a ten-story building earlier this month. And they encircled and beat up leading opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, likely signaling intent to kill............Read more

Maybe It’s Time To Stop Trying To Get Along

Derek Hunter Oct 28, 2018

There was a time when Americans from both political parties managed to get along. I know that seems crazy, like some sort of fever dream, but it’s true. More than that, on some occasions, politicians came together as one and stood up for our country. Now we don’t even speak the same language anymore.

The night of September 11, 2001, on the steps of the US Capitol, the Members of Congress who were in DC gathered together with one purpose, to show the world we would not cower in the face of those horrible attacks. Spontaneously, those Democrats and Republicans sang “God Bless America,” with the lack of self-consciousness we have when we sing in the shower, and pride in this country.

That was the last time we united, the last time we could talk..........When the dud-bombs started showing up this week, President Trump unequivocally condemned the act and called for unity against all political violence. It was the right thing to do and he did it without any qualifications. Democrats rejected the sentiment, choosing to try to score political points ahead of the midterms. The media rejected it too, blaming the President for the actions of a madman. .........Democrat after Democrat formed a conga line of fake outrage knowing the pearl-clutching statement of Congressman Backbencher would be gobbled up by a media desperate to share more attacks on the only man calling for unity. ............These leftists have refused to denounce the liberal mob’s tactics for years, as Republicans and average citizens are harassed from coast to coast. Now they demand the President, Republicans, and Fox News admit complicity in the actions of a madman? To Hell with that. ...........To Read More.....

An Endoscopy of the American Culture

Sam Rohrer

Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in as the next Supreme Court Justice, but, without a doubt, the procedure that led up to this final vote was more tumultuous, angrier and witnessed more deception, lies and conspiracy to dismantle the process, destroy lives and divide America that any previous event in Congressional history.

As a result, the nation has been changed. To what extent, we don’t yet know. Like watching a day-time soap opera, Americans were immersed in this sickening display of raunchiness, with most hoping it was pure fiction. But sadly, the Kavanaugh experience was not fiction. It was real.
Recently on the American Pastors Network’s “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program, we examined and diagnosed what we’ve seen. Like a medical professional, we had a chance to peer deep into the heart and soul of the modern American culture. What did we learn? Are we healthier or sicker? Is the Church in America stronger or weaker? Above all, can these wounds be healed?...........To Read More.....

One GOP Mega-Donor Left the Party – And Now He's Dropping Big Money....For the Dems

Beth Baumann @eb454 Oct 27, 2018

L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner was a major Republican Party donor in the swing state of Ohio. In September, Wexner decided to leave the GOP, saying he wouldn't "support this nonsense in the Republican Party” anymore, The Hill reported. Now, he's dropping quite a bit of money on Democrats. ..............Wexner said he was a member of the Republican Party since he joined the Young Republicans while at Ohio State University, USA Today reported. That changed back in September after former President Barack Obama made a short stop in Columbus. Wexner "was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others." ........To Read More.....

My Take - I believe Wexner is listed as the richest man in Ohio. That leaves an impression of a higher degree of insight and intelligence than the general population. However, he's met Obama and was "was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others." 


Well, what struck me was it would appear great riches and great insight and intelligence don't necessarily go hand in hand.

Non-Functioning Bombs and Double Standards

Endorsers of Antifa terror are suddenly outraged about non-exploding packages.

Opening up the Package Plot

But mysteries linger about Florida suspect Cesar Sayoc.

October 27, 2018 loyd Billingsley 64 

This week suspicious, potentially explosive packages were sent to former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former vice president Joe Biden, former CIA boss John Brennan (via CNN), former DNC boss Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters, billionaire George Soros, and actor Robert De Niro. Warnings that more packages had been sent turned out to be true.

On Friday, authorities intercepted suspicious packages sent to senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, former national intelligence director James Clapper, and billionaire Tom Steyer. Like the first group, all are prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump.

FBI director Christopher Wray described the packages as improvised explosive devices and not “hoax devices,” though according to a U.S. News report it was unclear whether they could be detonated. To date, none of the devices exploded and no one has been harmed, but Wray believes “we’ve caught the right guy.” That turned out to be Cesar Sayoc, 56, and the establishment media cranked out stories on what was known about him...........To Read More....

Andrew McCabe, the Deep State henchman

October 26, 2018 By Thomas Lifson

The process by which the FBI and Department of Justice were corrupted into serving as political attack machines for the Democrats is finally coming into focus. In an article in The Hill that is today's read of the day, a retired senior FBI executive puts together the evidence already on the record to offer a roadmap of how the politicization of these powerful bureaucracies was accomplished.

Kevin R. Brock, who is identified as "former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)," sees Andrew McCabe as the point man, pulled up through the career bureaucracy of the bureau by his mentor, James Comey, who was, after all, an outsider political appointee in need of a henchman to implement his political machinations. Once Comey was fired, McCabe became the key figure leading the law enforcement branch of the Deep State's resistance to Trump.................Read more

Understanding the Socialist Delusion

October 28, 2018 By Paul Murphy

Democrats are nuts, and their violence will get worse - but to help them back to sanity we must understand what's going on with them. We can observe the left's behavior without understanding or judging it. In general that behavior can be summarized as a collective response to two conflicting imperatives: shout allegiance to basic Christian, and thus American, values; act at every opportunity in opposition to those values.

That's insane, but it is happening all around us, every day -- ask any of the screaming harridans who protested the Kavanaugh confirmation and they'll tell you they're committed to the ideals of freedom, human rights, truth, and the rule of law -- and yet their actions showed them spitting in the face of all they believe in, all that's good about the American judicial and political system........That behavioral dichotomy demonstrates a limited, but very real, form of insanity in which the person's actions in the political context absolutely contradict their own values and most deeply held beliefs. ........ Read more

The UN Wants to be Our World Government By 2030

By E. Jeffrey Ludwig October 27, 2018

In the 1960s, an informed but naïve undergraduate, I was walking across the campus of the University of Pennsylvania with the Chairman of the Chemistry Department, Prof. Charles C. Price. He told me that he was president of the United World Federalists, and asked if I knew what that organization was. When I said that I did not, he replied that they believed in a one-world government that would grow out of the United Nations. I was nonplussed as I had never heard anyone suggest that idea before. To me, the United Nations was a benevolent organization dedicated to pressuring the world community in the direction of peace, and to operating charitable programs to help the struggling, impoverished peoples of the world. I imagined the UN as a kind of United Way on a worldwide scale.

How would Prof. Price’s vision of a new world government emerge? Although there was a socialistic thread in its founding document, the United Nations was formed based on a vision of human rights presented in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR) which placed the concept of rights at the forefront for the progress of the world body. And rights are the mainstay for uplifting human freedom and the dignity of the individual. The UDHR document followed many amazing documents that presented rights as the central concept of the post-feudal world: the English Declaration (or Bill) of Rights of 1689, the U.S. Declaration of Independence with its important and forceful assertion of inalienable natural rights, the powerful U.S. Bill of Rights enacted in 1791, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789)...............United Nations was formed based on a vision of human rights presented in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR) .............The word “rights” appears in almost every sentence of the 1869-word UN document. The document is literally obsessed with rights ...........To Read More.....

Friday, October 26, 2018

The EU is Coming Apart

By Rich Kozlovich

Today Ryan Bridges posted the article The EU Goes to Battle Over Italy’s Budget, at Geopolitical Futures, which is a subscription site.  I thought it played into Dan Mitchell's article, A Helpful Solution to Italy’s Budget Standoff with the European Commission.

Bridges notes that Brussels has to look strong and the only solution is a market based solution because they don't have the tools to enforce any of their demands on Italy's budget, which is bankruptcy in the wings. 

But the reality is the EU is doomed, and that should be obvious to the most casual observers.  The EU is facing the exit of the United Kingdom and they're trying to impose sanctions of some kind against Poland and Hungary.  The Eastern European members of the EU aren't impressed with Brussels, or afraid, and now that the EU has rejected Italy's budget draft, they're facing what I believe is just one more unresolvable crisis. 

As Bridges notes, the EU now fears an exit of the EU by Italy.  It's the fourth largest economy in Europe, but it's debt load is staggering and this budget has spending at levels that will triple their deficit spending.   But who will lend them the money if they've become so deranged to believe they can spend unendingly and still be a viable economic power? 

He rightly observes the EU wants to end this problem as swiftly as possible, but the fact of the matter is - this is just one of many problems that will not go away swiftly or otherwise. 

To understand this whole EU mess is to understand Europe is a patchwork quilt of unending ethnic variations.   In so many of Europe's nations they're broken up into their own social paradigms and languages.  As Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor of Germany once noted, Europe is nothing more than a geographic designation.  Unlike the United States, Europe doesn't share the same language or the same culture.

The rest of the article goes on to explain - quite well I think - the different strategies being used by both sides to each get their way, but all this is nothing more than fighting to sit at the Captain's table for dinner while the ship is sinking. 

This is just one more plug being pulled out of the ship's hull.  When just one of these nations defaults, and it's going to happen, the rest of Europe will be flushed down the toilet economically, taking many of the world's banks with them, along with Russia and China, both of who's banking systems are a complete and fraudulent mess. 

A Helpful Solution to Italy’s Budget Standoff with the European Commission

October 25, 2018 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
I’ve warned many times that Italy is the next Greece.

Simply stated, there’s a perfect storm of bad news. Government is far too big, debt is too high, and the economy is too sclerotic.

I’ve always assumed that the country would suffer a full-blown fiscal crisis when the next recession occurs.

At that point, tax receipts will fall because of the weak economy and investors will realize that the nation no longer is able to pay its bills.

But it may happen even sooner thanks to a spat between Italy’s left-populist government and the apparatchiks at the European Commission.

Here’s what you need to know. There are (poorly designed) European budget rules, known as the Maastricht Criteria, that supposedly require that nations limit deficits to 3 percent of GDP and debt to 60 percent of GDP.

With cumulative red ink totaling more than 130 percent of GDP, Italy obviously fails the latter requirement. And this means the bureaucrats at the European Commission can veto a budget that doesn’t strive to lower debt levels.

At least that’s the theory.

In reality, the European Commission doesn’t have much direct enforcement power. So if the Italian government tells the bureaucrats in Brussels to go jump in a lake, you wind up with a standoff. As the New York Times reports, that’s exactly what’s happened.
In what is becoming a dangerous game of chicken for the global economy, Italy’s populist government refused to budge on Tuesday after the European Union for the first time sent back a member state’s proposed budget because it violated the bloc’s fiscal laws and posed unacceptable risks. …the commission rejected the plan, saying that it included irresponsible deficit levels that would “suffocate” Italy, the third-largest economy in the eurozone. Investors fear that the collapse of the Italian economy under its enormous debt could sink the entire eurozone and hasten a global economic crisis unseen since 2008, or worse. But Italy’s populists are not scared. They have repeatedly compared their budget, fat with unemployment welfare, pension increases and other benefits, to the New Deal measures of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Repeating the failures of the New Deal?!? That doesn’t sound like a smart plan.

That seems well understood, at least outside of Italy.
The question for Italy, and all of Europe, is how far Italy’s government is willing to go. Will it be forced into submission by the gravity of economic reality? Or will Italian leaders convince their voters that the country’s financial health is worth risking in order to blow up a political and economic establishment that they say is stripping Italians of their sovereignty? And Brussels must decide how strict it will be. …the major pressure on Italy’s budget has come from outside Italy. Fitch Ratings issued a negative evaluation of the budget, and Moody’s dropped its rating for Italian bonds to one level above “junk” last week.
So now that Brussels has rejected the Italian budget plan, where do things go from here?

According to CNBC, the European Commission will launch an “Excessive Deficit Procedure” against Italy.
…a three-week negotiation period follows in which a potential agreement could be found on how to lower the deficit (essentially, Italy would have to re-submit an amended draft budget). If that’s not reached, punitive action could be taken against Italy. Lorenzo Codogno, founder and chief economist at LC Macro Advisors, told CNBC…“it’s very likely that the Commission will, without making a big fuss, will move towards making an ‘Excessive Deficit Procedure’…to put additional pressure on Italy…” Although it has the power to sanction governments whose budgets don’t comply with the EU’s fiscal rules (and has threatened to do so in the past), it has stopped short of issuing fines to other member states before. …launching one could increase the already significant antipathy between Brussels and a vociferously euroskeptic government in Italy. Against a backdrop of Brexit and rising populism, the Commission could be wary of antagonizing Italy, the third largest euro zone economy. It could also be wary of financial market nerves surrounding Italy from spreading to its neighbors… Financial markets continue to be rattled over Italy’s political plans. …This essentially means that investors grew more cautious over lending money to the Italian government.
For those who read carefully, you probably noticed that the European Commission doesn’t have any real power. As such, there’s no reason to think this standoff will end.

The populists in Rome almost certainly will move forward with their profligate budget. Bureaucrats in Brussels will complain, but to no avail.

Since I’m a nice guy, I’m going to give the bureaucrats in Brussels a much better approach. Here’s the three-sentence announcement they should make.
  1. The European Commission recognizes that it was a mistake to centralize power in Brussels and henceforth will play no role is overseeing fiscal policy in member nations.
  2. The European Commission (and, more importantly, the European Central Bank) henceforth will have a no-bailout policy for national governments, or for those who lend to national governments.
  3. The European Commission henceforth advises investors to be appropriately prudent when deciding whether to lend money to any government, including the Italian government.
From an economic perspective, this is a far superior approach, mostly because it begins to unwind the “moral hazard“ that undermines sound financial decision making in Europe.

To elaborate, investors can be tempted to make unwise choices if they think potential losses can be shifted to taxpayers. They see what happened with the various bailouts in Greece and that tells them it’s probably okay to continue lending money to Italy. To be sure, investors aren’t totally blind. They know there’s some risk, so the Italian government has to promise higher interest payments.

But it’s highly likely that the Italian government would have to pay even higher rates if investors were convinced there would be no bailouts. Incidentally that would be a very good outcome since it would make it more costly for Italy’s politicians to continue over-spending.

In other words, a win-win situation, with less debt and more prudence (and maybe even a smaller burden of government!).

My advice seems so sensible that you’re probably wondering if there’s a catch.

There is, sort of.

When I talk to policy makers, they generally agree with everything I say, but then say my advice is impractical because Italy’s debt is so massive. They fret that a default would wipe out Italy’s banks (which imprudently have bought lots of government debt), and might even cause massive problems for banks in other nations (which, as was the case with Greece, also have foolishly purchased lots of Italian government debt).

And if banks are collapsing, that could produce major macroeconomic damage and even lead/force some nations to abandon the euro and go back to their old national currencies.

For all intents and purposes, the Greek bailout was a bank bailout. And the same would be true for an Italian bailout.

In any event, Europeans fear that bursting the “debt bubble” would be potentially catastrophic. Better to somehow browbeat the Italian government in hopes that somehow the air can slowly be released from the bubble.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why the bureaucrats in Brussels are pursuing their current approach.

So where do we stand?
  • In an ideal world, the problem will be solved because the Italian government decides to abandon its big-spending agenda and instead caps the growth of spending (as I recommended when speaking in Milan way back in 2011).
  • In an imperfect world, the problem is mitigated (or at least postponed) because the European Commission successfully pressures the Italian government to curtail its profligacy.
  • In the real world, though, I have zero faith in the first option and very little hope for the second option. Consider, for instance, the mess in Greece. For all intents and purposes, the European Commission took control of that nation’s fiscal policy almost 10 years ago. The results have not been pretty.
So this brings me back to my three-sentence prescription. Yes, it almost certainly would be messy. But it’s better to let the air out of bubbles sooner rather than later.

P.S. The so-called Basel Rules contribute to the mess in Europe by directing banks to invest in supposedly safe government debt.

P.P.S. If the European Union is going to impose fiscal rules on member nations, the Maastricht criteria should be jettisoned and replaced with a Swiss-style spending cap.

P.P.P.S. Some of the people in Sardinia have the right approach. They want to secede from Italy and become part of Switzerland. The Sicilians, by contrast, have the wrong mentality.

P.P.P.P.S. Italy is very, very, very well represented in the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame.

P.P.P.P.P.S. You’ll think I’m joking, but a columnist for the New York Times actually argued the United States should be more like Italy.