Demise of Journalism Is Confirmed

Glenn Greenwald explains in his Intercept article Journalism’s New Propaganda Tool: Using “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Outlets claiming to have “confirmed” Jeffrey Goldberg’s story about Trump’s troops comments are again abusing that vital term.

The same misleading tactic is now driving the supremely dumb but all-consuming news cycle centered on whether President Trump, as first reported by the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, made disparaging comments about The Troops. Goldberg claims that “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day” — whom the magazine refuses to name because they fear “angry tweets” — told him that Trump made these comments. Trump, as well as former aides who were present that day (including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Bolton), deny that the report is accurate.

So we have anonymous sources making claims on one side, and Trump and former aides (including Bolton, now a harsh Trump critic) insisting that the story is inaccurate. Beyond deciding whether or not to believe Goldberg’s story based on what best advances one’s political interests, how can one resolve the factual dispute? If other media outlets could confirm the original claims from Goldberg, that would obviously be a significant advancement of the story.  Other media outlets — including Associated Press and Fox News — now claim that they did exactly that: “confirmed” the Atlantic story.

But if one looks at what they actually did, at what this “confirmation” consists of, it is the opposite of what that word would mean, or should mean, in any minimally responsible sense.

AP, for instance, merely claims that “a senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press,” while Fox merely said “a former senior Trump administration official who was in France traveling with the president in November 2018 did confirm other details surrounding that trip.”

In other words, all that likely happened is that the same sources who claimed to Jeffrey Goldberg, with no evidence, that Trump said this went to other outlets and repeated the same claims — the same tactic that enabled MSNBC and CBS to claim they had “confirmed” the fundamentally false CNN story about Trump Jr. receiving advanced access to the WikiLeaks archive. Or perhaps it was different sources aligned with those original sources and sharing their agenda who repeated these claims. Given that none of the sources making these claims have the courage to identify themselves, due to their fear of mean tweets, it is impossible to know.

But whatever happened, neither AP nor Fox obtained anything resembling “confirmation.”

They just heard the same assertions that Goldberg heard, likely from the same circles if not the same people, and are now abusing the term “confirmation” to mean “unproven assertions” or “unverifiable claims” (indeed, Fox now says that “two sources who were on the trip in question with Trump refuted the main thesis of The Atlantic’s reporting”).

It should go without saying that none of this means that Trump did not utter these remarks or ones similar to them. He has made public statements in the past that are at least in the same universe as the ones reported by the Atlantic, and it is quite believable that he would have said something like this (though the absolute last person who should be trusted with anything, particularly interpreting claims from anonymous sources, is Jeffrey Goldberg, who has risen to one of the most important perches in journalism despite (or, more accurately because of) one of the most disgraceful and damaging records of spreading disinformation in service of the Pentagon and intelligence community’s agenda).

But journalism is not supposed to be grounded in whether something is “believable” or “seems like it could be true.” Its core purpose, the only thing that really makes it matter or have worth, is reporting what is true, or at least what evidence reveals. And that function is completely subverted when news outlets claim that they “confirmed” a previous report when they did nothing more than just talked to the same people who anonymously whispered the same things to them as were whispered to the original outlet.

Quite aside from this specific story about whether Trump loves The Troops, conflating the crucial journalistic concept of “confirmation” with “hearing the same idle gossip” or “unproven assertions” is a huge disservice. It is an instrument of propaganda, not reporting. And its use has repeatedly deceived rather than informed the public. Anyone who doubts that should review how it is that MSNBC and CBS both claimed to have “confirmed” a CNN report which turned out to be ludicrously and laughably false. Clearly, the term “confirmation” has lost its meaning in journalism.

How Climatism Destroyed California

Ben Pile writes at Spiked The problem in California is poverty, not climate change. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The heatwaves and the fires are natural – the electricity blackouts are not.

Events leading up to today’s power cuts follow a bizarre history. The fact that advanced economies need a continuous supply of power is well understood. Yet for three decades, the political agenda, dominated by self-proclaimed ‘progressives’, has put lofty green idealism before security of supply and before the consumer’s interest in reasonable prices. Even if the heatwaves experienced by California were caused by climate change, are their direct effects worse than the loss of electricity supply?

California’s green and tech billionaires, and its business and political elites, certainly seem to think so. But they are largely protected from reality by vast wealth, private security, gated estates, and battery banks. The high cost of property in the state of California means that, despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, and with the sixth highest per capita income in the US, it is the worst US state for poverty. According to the US Census Bureau, around 18 per cent of Californians, some seven million people, lived in poverty between 2016 and 2018 – more than five per cent above the US average.

As well as being the greenest (and most poverty-stricken) state, California can also boast that it is the No1 state for homelessness.

According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, there are more than 151,000 homeless people in California – a rise of 28,000 since 2010. That figure is shocking enough, but it masks the reality of many thousands more moving in and out of homelessness. The same agency reports that more than a quarter of a million schoolchildren experienced homelessness over the 2017/18 school year.

It is degenerate politics, not climate change, that presses hardest on the millions of Californians who live in poverty, and the many millions more who live just above the poverty line. The problems of this degenerate politics are visible, on the street, chronic and desperate, whereas climate change, if it is a problem at all, is only detectable through questionable statistical techniques. Yet California’s charismatic governors, since Arnold Schwarzenegger, have made their mark on the global stage as environmental champions.

At the 2017 COP23 UNFCCC conference in Bonn, Germany, then governor Jerry Brown shared a platform with the green billionaire and former New York mayor, Mike Bloomberg, to announce ‘America’s Pledge on Climate’ – a commitment of states and cities to combat climate change – despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement earlier that year.

But why not a pledge on homelessness? Why not a pledge to address the problem of property prices? Why not a pledge to tackle poverty? Why not a pledge to secure a supply of energy? The only conceivable answer is that environmentalism is a form of politics that is entirely disinterested in the lives of ordinary people, despite progressive politicians’ claims that environmental and social issues are linked. Clearly they are not in the slightest bit linked.

California was the experiment, and now it is the proof: environmentalism is worse for ‘social justice’ than any degree of climate change is.

What about the wildfires? Aren’t they proof of climate change? It is a constant motif of green histrionics that more warming means more fires. But as has been pointed out before on spiked and elsewhere, places like California have long suffered from huge fires; fire is a part of many types of forests’ natural lifecycle.

What California’s rolling blackouts and its uncontrolled fires tell us is that green politics is completely divorced from any kind of reality. Environmentalism is the indulgent fantasy of remote political elites and their self-serving business backers. If California doesn’t prove this, what would?

Footnote: Bjorn Lomborg tried in 2015 to reason with Arnie Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Wrong On Climate Change Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

But that makes it even more important that those of us talking about global warming and its policy responses are responsible about statistics and data. It’s not good enough to swagger around saying, “I think I’m right and I’m going to ignore the haters.” Schwarzenegger loses me when he declares, “every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths?”

It’s emotive, but it’s wrong to say that 19,000 people are killed by fossil fuels every day. About 11,000 of these people are killed by burning renewable energy – wood and cow dung mainly – inside their own homes. The actual number of people killed by fossil fuels each day is about 3,900.

This matters for two reasons. First, it is disingenuous to link the world’s biggest environmental problem of air pollution to climate. It is a question of poverty (most indoor air pollution) and lack of technology (scrubbing pollution from smokestacks and catalytic converters) – not about global warming and CO₂. Second, costs and benefits matter.[vi] Tackling indoor air pollution turns out to be very cheap and effective, whereas tackling outdoor air pollution is more expensive and less effective. Your favorite policy of cutting CO₂ is of course even more costly and has a tiny effect even in a hundred years.

Lomborg failed to change Schwarzenegger’s mind since Arnie was so enamored of being a global environmental star as a sequel to his Hollywood movie celebrity.

 

 

 

Heisenberg Uncertainty Appears in Socio-Political Research

Background:  Heisenberg Uncertainty

In the sub-atomic domain of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, determined that our observations have an effect on the behavior of quanta (quantum particles).

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know simultaneously the exact position and momentum of a particle. That is, the more exactly the position is determined, the less known the momentum, and vice versa. This principle is not a statement about the limits of technology, but a fundamental limit on what can be known about a particle at any given moment. This uncertainty arises because the act of measuring affects the object being measured. The only way to measure the position of something is using light, but, on the sub-atomic scale, the interaction of the light with the object inevitably changes the object’s position and its direction of travel.

Now skip to the world of governance and the effects of regulation. A similar finding shows that the act of regulating produces reactive behavior and unintended consequences contrary to the desired outcomes. More on that later on from a previous post.

This article looks at political and social research attempts to describe the electorate’s preoccupations and preferences ahead of 2020 US Presidential voting in November.

John McLaughlin explains in his article Biased Polls Suppress Vote  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

McLaughlin noted among the 220 million eligible voters in the U.S., only around 139 million voted in 2016, which is considered the most all-time.

“Even if it goes up to 140-150 million, the polls of adults are going to be skewed against Republicans,” McLaughlin told Monday’s “Greg Kelly Reports,” especially “since President Trump gets over 90% support from Republicans.”

McLaughlin noted CNN’s poll among adults featured just 25% registered Republicans, where as around one-third of the electorate that voted in 2016 were Republicans.

He added to host Greg Kelly, it costs more to run focused polls of likely voters from actual voter registration lists.

“It’s cheaper for them to do,” in addition to being advantageous to the Democratic candidate, McLaughlin told Kelly. “They don’t have to buy a sample of voters, that campaign pollsters – whether Republican or Democrat – are going to have to do.”

Also, per McLaughlin, reporting a blowout lead ultimately can cause voter suppression, a frequent rally cry of Democrats against Republicans in election.

Politico notes that there is nothing nefarious going on to skew these polls toward Biden. But they do have the same issue the 2016 polls had: They’re not reaching all of the Trump supporters.

At the center of the issue are white voters without college degrees; in 2016, Trump earned 67% of this demographic’s support, while Democrat Hillary Clinton got just 28%. Current polls, according to Politico, are not capturing enough of this voting bloc, which unintentionally skews the results toward Biden.

My Comment:  This post was inspired by a Flynnville Train song that captures the sentiment of working class Americans alienated from the political process.  Disrespected as “deplorables” they turned out for Trump and made the difference in 2016.  Now with arbitrary pandemic restrictions and random urban rioting, these folks are even more incensed about the political elite.  Lest anyone think them inconsequential, remember that many of them get up and go to watch the most popular US spectator sport.  I refer to stock car racing, not the kneeling football or basketball athletes.

Lyrics:

IF YOU’RE HANDS ARE HURTIN’ FROM A WEEK OF WORKIN’
AND HOLDING YOUR WOMAN IS THE ONLY THING THEY’RE GOOD FOR
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF THE PRICE OF GAS IS BREAKIN’ YOUR BACK
AND THAT DRIVE TO WORK IS KILLIN’ YOUR PAYCHECK
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF YOU’RE WORRIED ‘BOUT WHERE THIS COUNTRY’S HEADED
AND YOU DON’T BELIEVE ONE POLITICIAN GETS IT

CHORUS
YOURE PREACHIN’ TO THE CHOIR
A FELLOW WORKIN’ MAN
THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF STUFF MESSED UP
CAN I GETTA AMEN
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE
CAUSE WE’RE ALL GETTING TIRED
SO GO ON BITCH AND MOAN
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR

IF THE GOOD BOOK SITS BESIDE YOUR BED
AND UNDER YOUR ROOF WE’RE STILL ONE NATION UNDER GOD
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF YOU LIKE THE CHANCE TO WRAP YOUR HANDS
ROUND THAT S.O.B. THAT HURT THAT KID ON THE EVENIN’ NEWS
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF YOU KNOW THERE AIN’T NO HERO LIKE A SOLDIER
BUT YOU HATE TO EVER HAVE TO SEND ‘EM OVER

CHORUS

IF THE GOLDEN RULE STILL MEANS SOMETHING TO YA
WELL HALLELUJAH

CHORUS

PREACHING TO THE CHOIR

Previous Post: Regulatory Backfire

An article at Financial Times explains about Energy Regulations Unintended Consequences  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Goodhart’s Law holds that “any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes”. Originally coined by the economist Charles Goodhart as a critique of the use of money supply measures to guide monetary policy, it has been adopted as a useful concept in many other fields. The general principle is that when any measure is used as a target for policy, it becomes unreliable. It is an observable phenomenon in healthcare, in financial regulation and, it seems, in energy efficiency standards.

When governments set efficiency regulations such as the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for vehicles, they are often what is called “attribute-based”, meaning that the rules take other characteristics into consideration when determining compliance. The Cafe standards, for example, vary according to the “footprint” of the vehicle: the area enclosed by its wheels. In Japan, fuel economy standards are weight-based. Like all regulations, fuel economy standards create incentives to game the system, and where attributes are important, that can mean finding ways to exploit the variations in requirements. There have long been suspicions that the footprint-based Cafe standards would encourage manufacturers to make larger cars for the US market, but a paper this week from Koichiro Ito of the University of Chicago and James Sallee of the University of California Berkeley provided the strongest evidence yet that those fears are likely to be justified.

Mr Ito and Mr Sallee looked at Japan’s experience with weight-based fuel economy standards, which changed in 2009, and concluded that “the Japanese car market has experienced a notable increase in weight in response to attribute-based regulation”. In the US, the Cafe standards create a similar pressure, but expressed in terms of size rather than weight. Mr Ito suggested that in Ford’s decision to end almost all car production in North America to focus on SUVs and trucks, “policy plays a substantial role”. It is not just that manufacturers are focusing on larger models; specific models are also getting bigger. Ford’s move, Mr Ito wrote, should be seen as an “alarm bell” warning of the flaws in the Cafe system. He suggests an alternative framework with a uniform standard and tradeable credits, as a more effective and lower-cost option. With the Trump administration now reviewing fuel economy and emissions standards, and facing challenges from California and many other states, the vehicle manufacturers appear to be in a state of confusion. An elegant idea for preserving plans for improving fuel economy while reducing the cost of compliance could be very welcome.

The paper is The Economics of Attribute-Based Regulation: Theory and Evidence from Fuel-Economy Standards Koichiro Ito, James M. Sallee NBER Working Paper No. 20500.  The authors explain:

An attribute-based regulation is a regulation that aims to change one characteristic of a product related to the externality (the “targeted characteristic”), but which takes some other characteristic (the “secondary attribute”) into consideration when determining compliance. For example, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States recently adopted attribute-basing. Figure 1 shows that the new policy mandates a fuel-economy target that is a downward-sloping function of vehicle “footprint”—the square area trapped by a rectangle drawn to connect the vehicle’s tires.  Under this schedule, firms that make larger vehicles are allowed to have lower fuel economy. This has the potential benefit of harmonizing marginal costs of regulatory compliance across firms, but it also creates a distortionary incentive for automakers to manipulate vehicle footprint.

Attribute-basing is used in a variety of important economic policies. Fuel-economy regulations are attribute-based in China, Europe, Japan and the United States, which are the world’s four largest car markets. Energy efficiency standards for appliances, which allow larger products to consume more energy, are attribute-based all over the world. Regulations such as the Clean Air Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Affordable Care Act are attribute-based because they exempt some firms based on size. In all of these examples, attribute-basing is designed to provide a weaker regulation for products or firms that will find compliance more difficult.

Summary from Heritage Foundation study Fuel Economy Standards Are a Costly Mistake Excerpt with my bolds.

The CAFE standards are not only an extremely inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emission but will also have a variety of unintended consequences.

For example, the post-2010 standards apply lower mileage requirements to vehicles with larger footprints. Thus, Whitefoot and Skerlos argued that there is an incentive to increase the size of vehicles.

Data from the first few years under the new standard confirm that the average footprint, weight, and horsepower of cars and trucks have indeed all increased since 2008, even as carbon emissions fell, reflecting the distorted incentives.

Manufacturers have found work-arounds to thwart the intent of the regulations. For example, the standards raised the price of large cars, such as station wagons, relative to light trucks. As a result, automakers created a new type of light truck—the sport utility vehicle (SUV)—which was covered by the lower standard and had low gas mileage but met consumers’ needs. Other automakers have simply chosen to miss the thresholds and pay fines on a sliding scale.

Another well-known flaw in CAFE standards is the “rebound effect.” When consumers are forced to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, the cost per mile falls (since their cars use less gas) and they drive more. This offsets part of the fuel economy gain and adds congestion and road repair costs. Similarly, the rising price of new vehicles causes consumers to delay upgrades, leaving older vehicles on the road longer.

In addition, the higher purchase price of cars under a stricter CAFE standard is likely to force millions of households out of the new-car market altogether. Many households face credit constraints when borrowing money to purchase a car. David Wagner, Paulina Nusinovich, and Esteban Plaza-Jennings used Bureau of Labor Statistics data and typical finance industry debt-service-to-income ratios and estimated that 3.1 million to 14.9 million households would not have enough credit to purchase a new car under the 2025 CAFE standards.[34] This impact would fall disproportionately on poorer households and force the use of older cars with higher maintenance costs and with fuel economy that is generally lower than that of new cars.

CAFE standards may also have redistributed corporate profits to foreign automakers and away from Ford, General Motors (GM), and Chrysler (the Big Three), because foreign-headquartered firms tend to specialize in vehicles that are favored under the new standards.[35] 

Conclusion

CAFE standards are costly, inefficient, and ineffective regulations. They severely limit consumers’ ability to make their own choices concerning safety, comfort, affordability, and efficiency. Originally based on the belief that consumers undervalued fuel economy, the standards have morphed into climate control mandates. Under any justification, regulation gives the desires of government regulators precedence over those of the Americans who actually pay for the cars. Since the regulators undervalue the well-being of American consumers, the policy outcomes are predictably harmful.

 

 

Kneeling to Experts Not Advisable

Taking an opinion “under advisement” means seriously considering it but retaining the independence to weigh it against other considerations.  Charles Lipson explains the importance of not bowing to expert recommendations in his article Reopening Schools and the Limits of Expertise.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The last thing you want to hear from your brain surgeon (aside from “Oops”) is “Wow, I’ve always wanted to do one of these.” You’ll feel a lot better hearing, “I’ve done 30 operations like this over the past month and published several articles about them.”

Expertise like that is essential for brain surgery, building rockets, constructing skyscrapers, and much, much more. Our modern world is built upon it. We need such expert advice as we decide whether to open schools this fall, and we should turn to educators, physicians, and economists to get it. But ultimately we, as citizens and the local officials we elect, should make the choices. These are not technical decisions but political ones that incorporate technical issues and projections.

We should hold our representatives, not the experts, responsible for the choices they make.

When we listen to experts, we should remember Clint Eastwood’s comment in “Magnum Force”: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Even the best authorities have them, and one, ironically, is that they seldom admit them, even to themselves. It is important for us both to appreciate expert advice and to recognize its limits every time we’re told to “be quiet and do what they say.” We should listen, think it over, and then make our own decisions as citizens, parents, teachers, business owners, workers, retirees — and voters.

The best way to understand why we need experts but also why we need to weigh their advice, not swallow it whole and uncooked, is to consider this illustration: Should we build a hydroelectric dam in a beautiful valley? If we construct it, we certainly need the best engineers and construction workers. We need engineering firms to project the cost and economists to project the price of its energy and potable water. Their expertise is essential.

But they cannot tell us whether it is wise to destroy California’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to build that dam. The world’s top experts on wildlife conservation and regional economic growth cannot give us the definitive answer, either. They would give us, at best, different answers, reflecting their different expertise. The conservationist would tell us it is a terrible idea to destroy such beautiful, irreplaceable habitat and kill endangered species. The economist would tell us we need the energy and fresh water if Northern California is to grow. What no economist could have predicted, decades ago, is that the entire world’s income would vastly increase because of technological advances from Silicon Valley, which had the resources needed to grow.

The hydroelectric example illustrates a more general point: complex questions involve experts in multiple fields, but there is no supra-expert to aggregate their differing advice. Even if we assume all experts within a field give similar advice, who can aggregate it across fields? No one. There is no “expert of experts.” In the example of the hydroelectric dam, the policy decision depends on how much we weigh conservation versus growth and how well we can predict future options and alternatives, such as the price of solar power or prospective growth from Palo Alto to San Jose.

Sorting out the answers is ultimately a question for voters and their representatives, not for experts in hydroelectric engineering, wildlife conservation, or regional economics. We need the best advice, but only we, as citizens, can weigh it and make a final decision. In a representative democracy, we elect officials to make those decisions. If democracy is to work, we must hold them accountable. One criticism of the growing regulatory state is that it is impossible to hold the decision makers accountable. Some of that criticism should be directed at legislators, who avoid responsibility by writing vague laws and then off-loading hard decisions onto bureaucrats and judges.

We should be especially skeptical when experts predict distant outcomes.

Their record is none too impressive. We should be skeptical, too, when laws and regulations set one definitive criterion, such as preserving the endangered snail darter, at the expense of all other considerations. That might be the best decision, or it might not, but it is ultimately a political choice. Right now, federal judges have awarded themselves extensive — and unilateral — power to make it.

These problems, which combine technical expertise and political judgment, are essential to understanding our dilemmas about reopening K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Epidemiologists are saying, “Resuming in-person instruction too soon could spread the disease. Although children are at low risk, they will bring it home to parents and grandparents.” Pediatricians, by contrast, say it is important for children’s overall health to get them back in school. Online learning is not very effective, they say, and losing a year’s classroom instruction and socialization will be extremely harmful. Economists focus on different issues, such as parents who cannot return to full-time employment because they must care for children at home. That constraint is especially harmful to one-parent households and low-income, hourly workers, whose children also have less access to computers and fast internet connections. Notice that these experts are not the self-interested voices of interest groups such as teachers’ unions or small businesses. They are specialists in economics, education, and public health. Each has its own “silo of expertise.” Each silo produces a different answer because its experts focus on their own subset of issues and weigh them most heavily.

As we listen to these experts, we need to remember that even the best, most disinterested advice has its limitations. Reopening schools, like other big policy questions, involves multiple silos and hundreds of moving parts. It is impossible to predict what all those parts will do, how much weight to give each one, or what effects they might have, now and in the distant future. It was only from trial-and-error that we learned how inadequate online instruction really is. We entered this massive national experiment with some optimism and trudge forward with pessimism.

We should be humble about what we still don’t know.

Our success in reopening schools and businesses depends on things we cannot know with certainty. How quickly will our biotechnology companies discover effective therapeutics and vaccines? How quickly will the American population develop “herd immunity?” How soon will customers return, en masse, to shopping malls, indoor dining, and cross-country travel?

Predicting the secondary and tertiary effects of policy choices is especially hard.

Keeping businesses closed, for instance, sharply reduces local tax revenues, which probably means reducing essential services such as garbage collection and local policing. Those cuts harm public health and safety. But how much? No expert is smart enough to predict all these knock-on effects, much less aggregate them and give an overall conclusion. As it happens, experts are no better at predicting these effects than well-informed laymen. The main difference, according to studies, is that experts are more confident in their (often-wrong) predictions.

The point here is not that experts are irrelevant. We need them, and we need to pay attention to their data, logic, and conclusions. But we also need to remember that

  • Even the best current knowledge has its limits, and
  • There are no “supra-experts” to weigh the best advice from different fields and aggregate them to reach the “definitive” answer.

Sorting out this expert advice is not a technological question. It is a political one. Mayors, governors, and school boards across the country understand that crucial point as they decide whether to open schools this fall for in-person instruction. The voters understand it, too. They should listen to the experts, see what other jurisdictions decide, and check out their varied results. Then, they should walk into the voting booth and hold their representatives to account.

Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he founded the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security.

Chancey Biden

For those who are unfamiliar with either the book or the 1979 movie starring Peter Sellers, “Being There” is an allegory about a simple-minded man — Chance, the gardener — whose world is defined by what he has seen in the garden and on TV. Through various twists of fate, Chance the gardener becomes Chauncey Gardiner, and is catapulted to the upper echelons of society, business and government.

His advice is sought by the president and other world leaders, who interpret Chauncey’s simple statements about the garden as pithy metaphors about the economy.

For example, asked if the government can stimulate economic growth with temporary incentives, Chauncey replies: “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.”

He explains that “growth has its seasons.” And, yes, “there will be growth in the spring.”

Compare those comments with these Bidenisms:

“As my father says, Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget. I’ll tell you what you value.”

“My wife has an expression: Any country that out educates us will out compete us.

“If my mother were here, she’d say, ‘Joe, hush up and start taking some questions.’ ”

Without your word, you’re not a man” (his dad); “As long as a person’s alive, they have the obligation to strive” (his mom); or “The greatest gift God gave to mankind was the ability to forget” (his first wife, who died in a car accident).

‘Joey, don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.’ ’’

“I shouldn’t have started this because it was too complicated, I know

My dad would “say, ‘Joe, remember, never argue with your wife about anything that is going to happen more than a year from now.’ ”

Those anecdotes from Chancey Joe are folksy, for sure, but other ones are more disturbing:

“Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a racial jungle, with tensions so high that it is going to explode.

“If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,”

“I told Ukraine, if the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the billion dollars.”

If Trump loses and won’t leave, I’m convinced the Military will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

“We would make sure Coal and Fracking are eliminated, and no more subsidies for either one of those, period.’”

“I would immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord, which I helped put together.”

When a woman comes forward with claims of sexual violence “at least the essence” of what she is saying should be presumed true.

“I would do everything possible to make it required that people have to wear masks in public.

Update 2020 Divide: Producers vs. Parasites

Update June 14, 2020:  The New Face of Diversity

The silent march in Seattle on Friday shows how diversity looks according to BLM.  Those who think like us but don’t look like us are tolerated, so long as they know their place at the bottom.  Look at how the parade was organized.  From KOMO in Seattle.  In italics with my bolds;

In Seattle, marchers met at Judkins Park at 1 p.m. and start marching to Jefferson Park just after 2 p.m.

Organizers say the march was a black-led event and asked participants to respect the march procession order, starting with Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County leadership, followed by (in order) black youth, black community members, people of color, elected and appointed officials, political candidates, white allies and bicyclists.

Rosa Parks refused to ride in the back of the bus.  Should non-Blacks submit to 2nd, 3rd, or lower class citizenship?  This is pure Marxist class warfare, with no redeeming qualities, and adding segregation on top.  What is on offer is pitched street battles to throw the rascals (whites) out, destroy their monuments, place BLM leaders in power, and impose their will upon the others.

Background

In 2015 I posted on the US socio-political climate after Trump entered the contest.  Animal Farm and Climate Change.  The introduction went this way:Animal Farm2

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a masterpiece of a simple story suggesting so many realities of societies. Among many things, it shows how a basic dichotomy mobilizes people (or creatures) for social or political action. The image above expresses the heart of the story whereby some animals took power over the others out of fear of humans.

Consider another dichotomy:    Producers Good, Parasites Bad.

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

People who are astounded by Donald Trump’s candidacy are overlooking how widely and deeply felt is this distinction between those who produce and those who take, and not only in the Tea Party but far beyond. The power arises from the emotional investment in the branding, no matter how illogical or mistaken it may be. Those who don’t feel it, don’t “get it.” Add in the envy of someone so rich he can say anything unbounded by Political Correctness, and Trump becomes a force to be reckoned with. It remains to be seen whether his followers are voters beyond being fans.

 2020 Update

Against all odds, and to his own surprise, Trump went on to win the Presidency and survive a fierce resistance from entrenched partisans who voted for his opponent.  Now that effort to unseat him is intensifying leading up to this year’s general election.  The rioting triggered by George Floyd’s death shows that the Producer/Parasite dichotomy is now overlaid with racial bigotry:  Black Lives Good/ White Lives Bad.  Premium brand items were targeted in the looting, justified by saying:  “People deserve to have nice things.”

The Parasite claim comes through the the Black Lives Matter manifesto calling for freebies.  #BlackLivesMatter movement bizarrely demands: “Reparations for…full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education…retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.”  See When a Hate Cult Took the Streets

The producer/parasite divide also appeared in governors’ priorities during lockdowns:  Public Workers Essential/ Private Workers Nonessential. As some observed, knowledge workers and employees paid with tax dollars didn’t miss a check while taxpaying workers who make things were laid off. See Bad Idea: Politicians Decide Essential Business

And this gets at the heart of the contradiction between socialists’ focus on redistributing wealth vs. capitalists’ emphasis on producing wealth.  In the current meme, capitalism and its artifacts must be destroyed to make way for the people’s paradise. It is remarkable that the ideological divide is opening up at all levels,  Federal, State and City, including national policies and pandemic relief, state post-covid regulations and city policing priorities.

Another twist:  This is not your stereotypical uprising of the poor against the rich.  Ed West explains how and why upper middle class youth are in revolt against the “system” they see aligned against them.  The essay at Unherd is Why the rich are revolting. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Great Awokening and the 2020 protests are the product of growing radicalisation among the upper-middle-class

That year (1968), the United States was rocked by riots, assassinations and political crisis, and half a century later, history seems to be, if not repeating itself, then certainly rhyming. Yet while there are huge differences between the 1968 and 2020 disturbances, the one continuous theme running through both uprisings, and indeed all revolutions down the years, is the prominent role of the middle class. In particular, the upper-middle-class, the haute bourgeoise, are the driving force behind revolt and disorder throughout history, especially — as with today — when they feel they have no future.

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

The rich have always paradoxically been radical, something G.K. Chesterton observed over a hundred years ago when he wrote “You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.”

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black. Likewise with the radicalisation of American academia, with the safe spaces movement most prevalent at elite colleges, where students were much more likely to disinvite speakers or express more extreme views.

Climate protesters disrupt Yale-Harvard football game. Nov. 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the university system has created what Russian-American academic Peter Turchin called ‘elite overproduction’, the socially dangerous situation where too many people are chasing too few elite places in society, creating “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable… denied access to elite positions”.

So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree. Many of those graduates, under the impression they were joining the higher tier in society, will not even reach managerial level and will be left disappointed and hugely indebted. Many will have studied various activist-based subjects collectively referred to as ‘grievance studies’, so-called because they rest on a priori assumptions about power and oppression. Whether these disciplines push students towards the Left, or if it is just attending university that has this effect, people are coming out of university far more politically agitated.

This has been bubbling up for years — and then along came the coronavirus, throwing millions of people out of work, many from exactly the sort of sections most likely to cause trouble. And what makes it slightly spooky is that a few years back Turchin predicted that there would be a violent flashpoint in American politics — in 2020.

2020 Divide: Producers vs. Parasites

In 2015 I posted on the US socio-political climate after Trump entered the contest.  Animal Farm and Climate Change.  The introduction went this way:Animal Farm2

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a masterpiece of a simple story suggesting so many realities of societies. Among many things, it shows how a basic dichotomy mobilizes people (or creatures) for social or political action. The image above expresses the heart of the story whereby some animals took power over the others out of fear of humans.

Consider another dichotomy:    Producers Good, Parasites Bad.

Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

People who are astounded by Donald Trump’s candidacy are overlooking how widely and deeply felt is this distinction between those who produce and those who take, and not only in the Tea Party but far beyond. The power arises from the emotional investment in the branding, no matter how illogical or mistaken it may be. Those who don’t feel it, don’t “get it.” Add in the envy of someone so rich he can say anything unbounded by Political Correctness, and Trump becomes a force to be reckoned with. It remains to be seen whether his followers are voters beyond being fans.

 2020 Update

Against all odds, and to his own surprise, Trump went on to win the Presidency and survive a fierce resistance from entrenched partisans who voted for his opponent.  Now that effort to unseat him is intensifying leading up to this year’s general election.  The rioting triggered by George Floyd’s death shows that the Producer/Parasite dichotomy is now overlaid with racial bigotry:  Black Lives Good/ White Lives Bad.  Premium brand items were targeted in the looting, justified by saying:  “People deserve to have nice things.”

The Parasite claim comes through the the Black Lives Matter manifesto calling for freebies.  #BlackLivesMatter movement bizarrely demands: “Reparations for…full and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education…retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.”  See When a Hate Cult Took the Streets

The producer/parasite divide also appeared in governors’ priorities during lockdowns:  Public Workers Essential/ Private Workers Nonessential. As some observed, knowledge workers and employees paid with tax dollars didn’t miss a check while taxpaying workers who make things were laid off. See Bad Idea: Politicians Decide Essential Business

And this gets at the heart of the contradiction between socialists’ focus on redistributing wealth vs. capitalists’ emphasis on producing wealth.  In the current meme, capitalism and its artifacts must be destroyed to make way for the people’s paradise. It is remarkable that the ideological divide is opening up at all levels,  Federal, State and City, including national policies and pandemic relief, state post-covid regulations and city policing priorities.

Another twist:  This is not your stereotypical uprising of the poor against the rich.  Ed West explains how and why upper middle class youth are in revolt against the “system” they see aligned against them.  The essay at Unherd is Why the rich are revolting. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Great Awokening and the 2020 protests are the product of growing radicalisation among the upper-middle-class

That year (1968), the United States was rocked by riots, assassinations and political crisis, and half a century later, history seems to be, if not repeating itself, then certainly rhyming. Yet while there are huge differences between the 1968 and 2020 disturbances, the one continuous theme running through both uprisings, and indeed all revolutions down the years, is the prominent role of the middle class. In particular, the upper-middle-class, the haute bourgeoise, are the driving force behind revolt and disorder throughout history, especially — as with today — when they feel they have no future.

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

The rich have always paradoxically been radical, something G.K. Chesterton observed over a hundred years ago when he wrote “You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.”

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black. Likewise with the radicalisation of American academia, with the safe spaces movement most prevalent at elite colleges, where students were much more likely to disinvite speakers or express more extreme views.

Climate protesters disrupt Yale-Harvard football game. Nov. 23, 2019.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the university system has created what Russian-American academic Peter Turchin called ‘elite overproduction’, the socially dangerous situation where too many people are chasing too few elite places in society, creating “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable… denied access to elite positions”.

So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree. Many of those graduates, under the impression they were joining the higher tier in society, will not even reach managerial level and will be left disappointed and hugely indebted. Many will have studied various activist-based subjects collectively referred to as ‘grievance studies’, so-called because they rest on a priori assumptions about power and oppression. Whether these disciplines push students towards the Left, or if it is just attending university that has this effect, people are coming out of university far more politically agitated.

This has been bubbling up for years — and then along came the coronavirus, throwing millions of people out of work, many from exactly the sort of sections most likely to cause trouble. And what makes it slightly spooky is that a few years back Turchin predicted that there would be a violent flashpoint in American politics — in 2020.

Battle of Presidents Park

Rachel Cooper, tripsavvy, What to see in Lafayette Park, Washington D.C.

Lafayette Park, also known as Presidents Park or Lafayette Square, is a seven-acre public park located across from the White House in Washington, D.C. The green space provides an arena for public protests, ranger programs, and special events.

When the park, as Lafayette Square, was first established it was to be used to enhance the grounds of the White House. Through the years it is said it has been used as a race track, a graveyard, a zoo, and a camp for soldiers during the War of 1812.

The park, bounded by Jackson Place on the west, Madison Place on the east, and Pennsylvania Avenue, is now a popular site for those who want to take photographs of the White House. The park is home to five statues, four honoring foreign Revolutionary War heroes and one of President Andrew Jackson.

Battle of Lafayette Park Sunday May 31, 2020

But Lafayette Park was attacked and vandalized Sunday night, as reported by the Washington Blade Damage, looting as D.C. protesters ignore curfew.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Similar to the D.C. protests that unfolded on Friday, May 29, and Saturday, May 30, the Sunday protests joined by about 1,000 people began peacefully at the site of the White House and Lafayette Park earlier in the day.

But shortly after nightfall when police blocked access to the White House area the protesters scattered into smaller groups and marched through downtown streets. Some of them wielded metal baseball bats to smash windows and glass doors of stores and office buildings, according to media reports.

Some of those engaging in vandalism, whom D.C. police and Bowser have said appear to be radical agitators who do not share the goals of protesting the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, set fires inside the buildings they broke into.

Among the buildings partially damaged by fire was the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church located across the street from Lafayette Park near the White House known as the Church of the Presidents. Also set on fire was the lobby of the AFL-CIO building two blocks away at 815 16th Street, N.W.

According to local TV news reports, it took D.C. police and fire department personnel close to an hour to arrive on the scene to clear away protesters and begin putting out the fires at the church and the AFL-CIO building.

In an announcement on Sunday night, D.C. police released the names of 18 people they said police arrested for felony rioting related acts mostly on Saturday, May 30. TV news reporters on the scene of the disturbances on Sunday night reported additional arrests, but police didn’t immediately disclose the number of arrests on Sunday and early Monday morning.

Battle of Lafayette Park Monday June 1, 2020

On the green of Lafayette Park is St. John’s Episcopal Church, a short walk away. Often called the “Church of Presidents,” the building sustained damage in a fire after protests on Saturday night. Every president since Madison has at least visited the church, though the last two who regularly attended services there were George H.W. Bush and Franklin Roosevelt. On the morning of his 2017 inauguration, Trump attended the service at St. John, where a pastor who campaigned for him delivered a sermon centered on how strong leaders don’t get distracted.

Just after 10 p.m. on Sunday, someone set a fire in the basement of the parish hall, which firefighters quickly extinguished, The Washington Post reported. The fire was contained to a nursery room, although there was smoke and water damage to other areas of the basement, according to the Rev. Rob Fisher, the church’s rector.

Fisher told Episcopal News Service that the nursery room is “completely destroyed,” but it could have been much worse. Nobody was hurt and none of the church’s “irreplaceable” historical items were damaged, he said in an interview.

President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden around 6:30 p.m., where he said he was taking “swift and decisive” action and dispatching “thousands and thousands” of military personnel and law enforcement.

As Trump spoke, explosions could be heard in the background.

“What happened in the city last night was a total disgrace,” Trump said, later adding “Our 7 o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested, detained, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

As law enforcement cleared out the area around the White House, Trump walked across the street after his address for a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which briefly suffered a fire Sunday night. Every president since James Madison has visited the more than 200-year-old church.

Battle of Lafayette Park Tuesday June 2, 2020

D.C. Protests Remain Markedly Peaceful After Days Of Intense Clashes reports DCist. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

By Tuesday night, nearly every conceivable law enforcement agency was stationed in the District. Images of the National Guard positioned on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looming over protesters below seemed destined to become iconic. At the start of the night, people handed out goggles and helmets to fellow protesters.The crowd near the White House appeared to grow to its biggest size in five consecutive nights of large demonstrations in the District.

Yet as the District girded for a fifth night of violent clashes, there was instead overwhelming calm.

Protesters looped throughout the city — walking up to U Street, passing under the Convention Center, marching through Dupont Circle, chanting on K Street, passing long lines of voters at polling stations, returning to the area around the White House — for hours after the District’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect. Demonstrators were trailed at times by Metropolitan Police Department officers on bicycles, but law enforcement didn’t try to stop the peaceful demonstrations.

What Do We Learn from the Battle of Lafayette Park?

Mollie Hemingway explains at The Federalist Media Falsely Claimed Violent Riots Were Peaceful And That Tear Gas Was Used Against Rioters.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Following days of violent riots and looting in cities across the country, Washington, D.C., announced a 7 p.m. curfew on Monday night. About the same time, President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden. Afterward, he walked through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which rioters had set on fire the night before. Standing before the church sign, which reads “All are welcome,” President Trump, who previously said he’d be paying his respects to a very special place, held up a Bible.

The speech announcing the country would return to rule of law and protection of civil liberties, the walk through a park that the night before had been given over to rioters, and the visit to the vandalized historic church where every president has worshiped since James Madison, were reassuring to many in the country.

For the media, however, these actions were further proof that Orange Man Bad is literally the worst, restoring rule of law is criminal, and standing in front of a church holding a Bible is an assault on the American conscience. They focused on how the Park Police had cleared the area ahead of the city-wide curfew declared by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Protesters sit atop structure in Lafayette Park, facing police defying curfew.

After thousands of false tweets, print stories, and broadcast stories to the contrary, local journalist Neal Augenstein of WTOP reported that a Park Police source said “tear gas was never used — instead smoke canisters were deployed, which don’t have an uncomfortable irritant in them.” Further, the source said the crowd was dispersed because of projectiles being thrown by the “peaceful protesters” at the Park Police and because “peaceful protesters” had climbed on top of a structure in Lafayette Park that had been burned the prior night.  Statement by United States Park Police acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan:

On Monday, June 1, the USPP worked with the United States Secret Service to have temporary fencing installed inside Lafayette Park. At approximately 6:33 pm, violent protestors on H Street NW began throwing projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids. The protestors also climbed onto a historic building at the north end of Lafayette Park that was destroyed by arson days prior. Intelligence had revealed calls for violence against the police, and officers found caches of glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street.

To curtail the violence that was underway, the USPP, following established policy, issued three warnings over a loudspeaker to alert demonstrators on H Street to evacuate the area. Horse mounted patrol, Civil Disturbance Units and additional personnel were used to clear the area. As many of the protestors became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls. No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park. Subsequently, the fence was installed.

Mollie provides numerous examples of media false statements about these events, concluding with this: NPR hit a trifecta by falsely reporting about tear gas, falsely reporting about peaceful protesting, and as a bonus downplaying the arson against the church:

The entire narrative the media glommed onto in lockstep was that Trump was a monster who tear-gassed peaceful protesters to do something meaningless. None of that was true. But it took a day of reporting to get the truth out, long after the lie took hold.

At times it seems as if there is nothing that many in the media won’t lie about to accomplish their political goals.

In related news, despite or perhaps because of the media hysteria, polls show overwhelming majorities of Americans support the use of the National Guard and the military to bring peace to the cities the media claim aren’t being targeted by violent riots.

Comment:  Is anyone confused about the Battle of Lafayette Park?  The tragic death in Minneapolis was only the pretext for taking the “Resistance” to a new level.  After the Mueller Russian Hoax collapse and the stupid House Impeachment farce, the next stage is for social justice warriors to take the public square away from anyone who disagrees.  Make no mistake, this was a militant occupation to deny Trump access to the “Presidents Park” and the “Presidents Church.”  Give leftist control freaks an inch, and they will take miles, which Trump sees clearly, and so should we all.  Meanwhile the media stirs up trouble and remains lost in their bubble.

 

2020 Dems: Hatred Destroys from Within

Wise advice for 2020 Dems.  If only they can stop hating and mend their ways.

Jonathan F. Keiler elaborates at the American Thinker After Three Years of Hate, the Dems Have Lost It Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Writing in the Atlantic (“This is No Way to Beat Trump”) Thomas Nichols, a self-described former Republican and #NeverTrumper, castigates Democrats for their failure to take down President Trump, in light of the disorganized Iowa Caucus and the party’s unimpressive stable of candidates. In the piece, Nichols pretends to dispense hard-headed political advice. In fact, the article reveals why he and the Democrats he wants to help are floundering.

Their perception of the world is so distorted by manic dislike of President Trump that they have ceased to act as a responsible political party which can offer a reasonable alternative.

The very premise of Nichols’ case, and by extension that of the Democrat party and all its putative candidates, is that beating Trump must be their principal goal, eclipsing all other concerns. Nichols thinks the Democrats are not attempting to do this — which is preposterous. But more interestingly having come to this false conclusion, he has no prescription for exactly how to beat Trump, only that it must be done.

Of course, beating Trump has been the monomania of the Democrats (and #NeverTrumpers) for over three years. It’s the first and last thing out of all the candidates’ mouths when they speak, and one of the few things they agree upon.

The Washington Post recently ran a typical article highlighting the malady entitled “’Tempted to despair’: Trump’s resilience causes Democrats to sound the alarm.” Huh? Are we talking about a presidential campaign or a soap opera? It’s quite as if Trump were ill, the Dems suffering heirs hoping he’ll just die — which is probably not far from the truth.

Manias in general are not good things. Occasionally a smart or extremely lucky maniac reaches his objective. Much more often mania sidetracks its victim by severely narrowing his focus, depriving him of necessary context and a broader and more realistic picture of reality.

That’s what’s happened to the Democrats. The Iowa caucus disaster is one symptom. The failed impeachment of Trump another. The stable of unstable Democrat candidates yet another.

And it’s pretty easy to see in the modern Democrat party the same dynamic taking hold, albeit before they have actually achieved total political control. Trump in almost every respect is the Dems’ Emmanuel Goldstein, a subject of such mindless animus and vituperation that the party can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s been three years of hate, and way more than two minutes a day.

Modern therapeutic psychology would suggest an intervention, and in the United States such a role has often been played by the press. Historically, when a party or politician went off the deep end, there was a vibrant press to point it out, mock it, and return things to semblance of rationality. That has not been the case in America for a generation or two now, with the mainstream media having lost most all semblance of objectivity to become the Democrats’ great enabler. And indeed, the mandarins of the modern media are, if anything, even more Trump-afflicted than the party that they supposedly cover.

Very much like a schizophrenic, neither the Dems nor the media can recognize the pervasive objective truth about American today — things are going pretty well.

The economy is doing great, unemployment is low, and the markets are confident. We are ending a China trade war with some gains. Borders are more secure. Unemployment is at historic lows. With the exception of small military commitments to Afghanistan and Syria, we are at peace. We are energy self-sufficient, and even climate-change doomsayers must now admit things are not so bad.

The Democrats have a lot of problems. But their biggest one is their grip on reality. As long as that’s the case, whoever they pick in 2020 is not likely to be any more successful than Emmanuel Goldstein.