The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Liar

Hillary Clinton gives new meaning to the word chutzpa when she and her campaign call Donald Trump a liar. In the first debate, she bragged about a page on her web site that recounts all of Trump's "lies." That page was a reprise of a campaign press release that listed the Trump "lies" and was turned immediately into lead stories by her trained media hamsters at the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico. The main stream media has a visceral dislike for Donald Trump, has jettisoned any objectivity about the man, and has now all but admitted that it will both shield Clinton from legitimate investigation into her dishonesty and corruption and shill for her regularly.

Since the debate, Trump has been castigated based on a 20 year-old charge that he called a beauty contestant "fat." Oh—the humanity! (BTW, it looks like this innocent beauty contestant might have a rather lurid past). Hillary said far worse (think; accusations by surrogates of "trailer park trash") about the many women who claim to have been sexually abused by her husband, but the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico would never introduce that inconvenient truth to counterbalance Hillary's charge. Recall that Hillary, who would like her base to believe she's an uber-feminist, has stated that the accusations of the accuser (a woman) are to be given significant weight when compared to the defense offered by the accused (a man). The media reaction to her double standard? Crickets (almost*).

Hillary suggests that Trump stiffed more than a few small contractors as he conducted his businesses. I'm sure that's true, but does it measure up to Hillary's corrupt activities as a high government official granting favors via the Clinton Foundation and enriching herself at the same time? Of course it doesn't, at least for the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico.

Hillary accuses Trump of supporting the war in Iraq, using three words, "I guess so" uttered in a 2002 radio interview, rather than literally hundreds of recorded instances from 2003 to 2016 where Trump said he opposed the war. Do three words measure up to the fact that Hillary is on record supporting the conflict, until she decided not to -- years after Trump expressed his concern? Even more important, do three words compare to the irrefutable fact that she and Barack Obama scuttled the surge and a titular victory and turned Iraq into a nightmare (and incubator for ISIS) by precipitously withdrawing troops? Only Trump's three words to Howard Stern in 2002 matter, at at least for the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico.

Hillary states that Donald Trump's promise to reduce taxes to spur economic growth beyond the pathetic 1.2% per year under the democrats will cost us $3.5 trillion (or whatever) and then gives the impression that "respected economists" agree in that assessment. Does no one mention that those same economists are loyal Democrats and that there are an equal number who refute their claims? Nope, only Hillary's claims are taken as fact, at least for the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico.

Hillary suggests that Donald Trump does not have the "temperament" to be president. It might be worth considering the "temperament' of a woman who can stare a gold star mother in the face and lie about the death of her son in Benghazi as the casket is being unloaded from the plane, and then suggest that the same mother was "confused" in her recollection of the conversation. Does the media investigate the many reports of Hillary's questionable temperament while first lady, Senator and Secretary of State. Nope, no point in doing that, at least for the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico.

Clinton (and the Democrats) greatest weapon is a compliant media. Clinton's lies and/or incompetence associated with Benghazi? No story there. Clinton's lies about her private email server? Old news. A string of Clinton aides granted immunity from prosecution or talking a fifth amendment stand? It's just politics. A clear pattern of lies and corruption that begins in 1993 (with travelgate) and ends in 2016 (with the email scandal)? What pattern? The manner in which Clinton went from "broke" to a $100 million net worth in 15 years with no job other than government, no business to generate revenue (except the Clinton Foundation, ahem), and giving speeches to fat cats? Not worth a second look. Clinton's utter incompetence as Secretary of State in numerous instances (think: the thoughtless withdrawal from Iraq)? Not her fault. Clinton's lack of any meaningful legislative accomplishments as senator? She was very busy saving the world's children. Foreign donations to The Clinton Foundation (from unsavory locales and people) tied to State Department decisions benefiting the "charitable" giver?" Sheer coincidence. It goes on and on and on, but why bother.

Hillary lies, and about half of the electorate knows it. The media lies and obfuscates, misleads and protects one candidate from thorough scrutiny, and far more than half of the population cringes with distaste.

Michael Goodwin writes:
The [public] anger [against the media] has grown more pronounced since Trump, the ultimate outsider, crashed the party to win the nomination. With media bias blatant on a daily basis, it is far more than a sideshow ...

A recent Gallup survey found a new low in public trust of the media, with only 32 percent of Americans saying they have a great deal or some trust in newspapers, TV and radio “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.” Trust fell eight points in one year alone and is only 14 percent among Republicans.

In a change election where both candidates have historically high negative ratings, many voters could make their choice for secondary reasons.

Voting against the other candidate is the most likely option, while voting against the media as a proxy for voting against the establishment is emerging as another.

In that case, the news media could be more than part of the story. They could be the story.
The blatant bias of media sources like the NYT, WaPo, the LAT, and Politico (to name only a few) might actually work to Trump's advantage. If that comes to pass, the irony would be delicious.

The harsh truth is that Hillary Clinton is (in the words of the military) a "target rich environment." Donald Trump does not have the quickness of mind or the depth of thought to exploit that reality, but that in no way changes Clinton's long history of dishonesty and corruption. The main stream media does not treat Hillary Clinton as a target (as it does Trump) but rather as an asset to be protected. Therein lies a problem for our democracy.

FOOTNOTE:
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* In what can only be called a shocking display of actual journalism, the WaPo addressed this issue in today's edition. However, the overall tone of the piece is protective (of Hillary) arguing that she was just "standing by her man." Not surprising.

UPDATE:
----------------

Kathryn Blackhurst comments:
The media jumped on the opportunity to bash Trump for something he said [about beauty contestant, Alicia Machado] decades earlier and help paint Clinton as a feminist defender.

But what about Juanita Broaddrick? Or Paula Jones? Or Kathleen Willey? Or Gennifer Flowers? You won’t see Anderson Cooper bring these women on and ask how they felt when they were humiliated and maligned by Hillary Clinton or assaulted by her husband...

"Hillary likes to call Donald out for shaming women, calling them names, repeating the names he's called them. But let's remember one thing: Hillary Clinton has called me a bimbo for the last 19 years," Willey said Wednesday on "The Laura Ingraham Show." "It started years ago in Arkansas. So she doesn't have a whole lot of room to talk about who's calling women names."

Willey, a former White House volunteer, claimed that former President Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in a private study in the Oval Office in 1993. As the author of the 2007 book, "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton," Willey represents one of the so-called "bimbo eruptions" that the Clintons and their surrogates tried to suppress and discredit.

"They all called us bimbos. They called us sluts. They called us whores," Willey said. "If you ask somebody a word comparison, you put our names up there and you ask somebody a word to describe us, it's probably going to be, unfortunately, 'bimbos' — instead of we're victims of Bill Clinton's. And [Hillary Clinton's] OK with that. She just hasn't called off her dogs when it comes to that."
The media, of course, seems to have forgotten about Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky and the way the Clinton treated them. I have to believe that most women would prefer to be characterized as "fat" or even "Ms. Piggy" as opposed to being called a "bimbo" a "slut" or a "whore." But the Clintons are protected, so their hypocrisy goes unmentioned and unpunished.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Systemic Racism

Heather McDonald is a serious journalist who has spent years studying, researching, and writing about crime, policing, and the impact of race. She discusses Hillary Clinton's claim that "systemic racism" determines how people are treated by our criminal justice system. Clinton, who never told a lie she didn't like (and she tells many), would have us believe that African American men are more likely than whites to be incarcerated for identical crimes. The media loves the narrative and reports her claims without serious evaluation, taking them as the truth. Hillary's lie works well for her base who tend to allow emotion and belief to supercede hard facts. Her lie also helps her cement the support of the African American community, who under the Democrats, have become increasingly prone to perceive themselves as victims.

Unfortunately, hard facts, years of research, and everyday reality indicate that Hillary Clinton is either woefully misinformed or downright dishonest. Heather McDonald writes:
Criminologists have tried for decades to prove that the overrepresentation of blacks in prison is due to criminal-justice racism. They have always come up short. They have been forced to the same conclusion as Michael Tonry in his book, Malign Neglect: “Racial differences in patterns of offending, not racial bias by police and other officials, are the principal reason that such greater proportions of blacks than whites are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned,” Tonry wrote. In 1997, criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen reviewed the massive literature on charging and sentencing. They found overwhelming evidence establishing that “large racial differences in criminal offending,” not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms.

To say, as Clinton did last night [at the first Presdiential debate] , that blacks are more likely to be incarcerated for doing the same thing as whites ignores the relevance of a defendant’s criminal history in determining his sentence, among other crucial sentencing factors. Just last week, an analysis of Delaware’s prison population presented to the Delaware Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Fairness in the Criminal Justice System revealed that when juvenile and adult criminal records are taken into account, along with arrest charges and age, racial disparities in sentencing decisions are negligible to nonexistent.

Clinton also complained that “too many young African-American and Latino men end . . . up in jail for non-violent offenses.” In fact, the majority of prisoners in the U.S. are serving time for violent felonies. The enforcement of low-level public order offenses in New York City during the mayoralties of Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg actually lowered New York State’s prison population by intervening in criminal behavior early, before it ripened into a serious felony.
As the Democrats continue the drumbeat of "systemic racism," arguing that stop and frisk and similar measures are "unconstitutional" (they are not), police have begun to back off in their policing of the inner city. This "has already produced the largest one-year surge in homicides in urban areas in nearly a half-century."

Clinton's empty solution is "bias training" for police officers. Again McDonald comments:
Clinton reiterated her call for “implicit-bias” training for officers. The premise of such training is that police officers are shooting black males out of such bias. Yet, four studies have come out this year alone that demolish this charge. They show that if there is bias among police officers in their shooting decisions, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. “Implicit-bias” training, based on a lie, is a grotesque waste of resources at a time when officers are desperate for more hands-on tactical training that will help them make those crucial shoot/don’t shoot decisions in the field, or avoid being put into such an excruciating situation in the first place.
Hillary and her supporters worship at the alter of political correctness—facts be damned, results ignored, and reality jettisioned to feed a dishonest narrative. The problem is this: Hillary, when elected, will use her false narrative to develop policy that will be celebrated by her Stepford wives supporters and the media. Only one thing—It won't solve any real problem and will likely make matters much, much worse for the same African Americans who will give her 90+ percent of their vote.

UPDATE (9/29/16):
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During the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton suggested that because of "systemic racism" and "implicit bias" all police officers required "retraining." Damn, that sounds a lot like Moa Tse Tung's communist China in the middle of the 20th century.

David French comments:
...that’s the magic of “implicit bias” and “unconscious racism.” Skepticism of its existence is proof of its existence, and you can just “know” that Crutcher or Philando Castile or Michael Brown or Keith Scott [vicims of police shootings] would be alive today if they had been white. In other words, the very existence of the incident proves the racism. The denials of racism prove the racism. And everyone who’s “keeping score” or “gets it” knows the real truth.

Indeed, it is this politicized metaphysical certainty that breeds premature calls for “justice” and for “retraining.” If you don’t believe what the radicals think you should believe, you must be taught to believe something different — on the government’s dime, of course. Hillary wants to fund the retraining, and the NAACP wants to make it mandatory — complete with sanctions if your perceived biases don’t disappear. How will the thought police know the actual police are biased?

If they don’t believe the “right” things. Spend any time on campus, in diversity training, or on progressive websites, and you’ll see that disagreement with leftist cultural critiques is all the proof anyone needs of racism and other forms of bigotry. Evidence, experience, and probabilities are completely irrelevant when it comes time to cleanse the mind of “bias.” There are those on the Left who simply refuse to look at a case on the facts. They insist that they have knowledge about the inner lives and motivations of the relevant parties that is unknown even to the parties themselves. They use this alleged knowledge to stoke unrest and violate civil liberties. And they have an ally in Hillary Clinton. She’ll fund all the re-education we need.
Increasingly, the Democrats, now ruled by leftist thought, work hard to divide and balkanize the country. This works well for them as a political strategy, but it's enormously irresponsible as a cultural/sociological phenomenon. Then again, Hillary Clinton traffics in lies, so her lie about "systemic racism" doesn't bother her a bit.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Plan

In an essay in The New York Times, entitled "I’m Black. Does America Have a Plan for My Life?", Chris LeBron provides a window into the minds of those who use racism as an excuse for the problems that are far more complex and often rooted in the failure of their own communities. He writes:
First, to plan for a life one must be able to see an open path to basic resources necessary to make good on a plan, such as education, housing and health care. Second, one must be able to rely on some degree of balance between the effort expended on realizing that life plan and the rewards received for that work. Finally, one must be able to depend on the absence of arbitrary interference or oppression, by either fellow citizens or the state.

Of course, things happen. We lose loved ones, jobs or faith, or we find them; we explore new skills; health conditions make us re-evaluate our priorities or goals. But these are normal contingencies of life. What I am referring to is something very different and has to do especially with the last condition of noninterference.
The "open path to basic resources" is available to us all, but it is not America's job to provide a plan for your life. A desire to achieve a basic education, hard work, supportive family structure, and attitude have far more to do with achieving an "open path" than government policy or programs. Despite the cries of victimization that abound among those who believe that racism is systemic, that police leave their stations in the morning looking for young black men to shoot, that the deck is stacked against minorities, there are millions of black and brown people who have found the "open path." How have they done this? What secret do they know that seems to elude others?

Ask yourself this: How does one come into contact with the police? One way is to request help. Another is to commit a crime. Still another is to live in neighborhood that experiences significant crime and violence, meaning that police patrol those neighborhoods in much greater numbers in order to stop crime and violence and protect the law-abiding, but besieged residents who live there. The greater the frequency of contact, the greater the frequency of something going wrong, of things getting out of control, of violence perpetrated by either side.

LeBron cites the tiny percentage of cases of unjustified police shootings and extrapolates those to suggest that all African American men are at mortal risk. He writes:
Here is another idea that matters for us: rationality. This is the idea, at least in economic and theoretical circles, that one’s future expectations generally are formulated in line with reasonable observations about the present. If one is black in America, what could rationality possibly look like? One would have to always live with one foot on the terrain of hope, and the other on the ground of fear; one would have to act in such a way that one might flourish if one is allowed, but be prepared that one not be allowed to flourish. The ability, then, for black Americans to be rational citizens is really upside down and inside out, yet we are perpetually counseled to patience and understanding, and in some ways that seems the least rational thing to do.

You might now be thinking that this is really something — for somebody like me to say all this, sitting in the ivory tower in the Ivy League. I seem to have disproved my own point, because as I write this, I have been allowed to pursue, and in large part achieve, my plan of life.

It is absolutely true that I have managed to carve a space for myself, but that space may not be what you think it is. My professional social circle, because of the lack of diversity in the academy, is composed in such a way that the chances of my being harassed outside my home are diminished, not because of who I am, but on account of who I am with. And, yes, money helps — I earn a salary adequate to buy me surface level credibility in the eyes of American society. But these achievements and small securities come with the cost of not knowing how far they will carry me or how long they will protect me. In planning my life, I’ve come to accept this...

So maybe this is how black Americans ought to plan for a life in America — holding out the hope to meet basic goals or striving to achieve larger ambitions knowing all the while that the present-day effects of America’s racial history can fatally disrupt enjoying, celebrating, commemorating the results of achievements small or large. Let me be honest with you — that is neither rational, nor is it fair. And there’s still the small matter of the luck that runs out.

I wish I knew America’s plan for me.
All of us face challenges in "planning" our lives. It is NOT America's job to provide guarantees or for that matter a "plan." It's your job to rationally assess the terrain you must navigate, to react to the realities of our journey, to grasp every opportunity to learn and grow, to avoid situations that might put you at risk, to accept the inherent unfairness that things beyond your control might bring, and to soldier on—day after day, month after month, year after year. Yes, racism still exists—fight it, work to eradicate it, but do not use it as an excuse that you cannot plan, cannot achieve, cannot make your way.

America doesn't have a "plan" for you or for anyone else. You create your own plan as time passes and do the things necessary to achieve it. Sometimes the plan works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it ends in tragedy, other times is triumph. But to suggest that there is some malevolent, uniquely American force that can disrupt that plan is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bad and Crazy Places

Today, about 100 million people will watch the political theater that we call the "presidential debate." In actuality, it's not an real debate and in this bizarre election, it's unlikely to change many voting decisions, unless Clinton or Trump really screws up. Rather than commenting on the upcoming "debate," I'd like to consider the milieu that got us here.

Over the past eight years, the public has watched as the economy stagnated, racial strife increased in intensity, divisiveness was not only encouraged but cultivated, islamic terror attacks increased in frequency both at home and abroad, political correctness went from mildly irritating to insanely intrusive, government grew but its effectiveness cratered, government agencies became increasingly corrupt, foreign policy crashed and burned, allies were spurned and enemies embraced. And that's the short list.

The elites struggled to hold on, telling us that all is well, but at the same time, it became apparent what those elites think about those (the "deplorables") who don't agree with their world view, their governance, or their arrogant certainty that only they can lead us to a better future. It's hard not to feel combination of fury over moral preening that is grounded in generally baseless accusations of racism or bigotry or Islamophobia, anger at their repeated failures on the world stage, disgust at their insider dealings and essential corruption on the domestic front, and concern over their extreme, unbounded efforts to stay in power.

Richard Fernandez addresses how the 'non-elites' are reacting when he writes:
The publics of the world are now subconsciously aware that peril is near to them and are reacting by attempting to partially dismantle the globalized world as manifested by the Brexit and Trumpism. They are doing this because the ordinary person realizes far more astutely than the purblind political class that the current arrangements are much more fragile than described and are retreating to older forms in an attempt to survive. They know, even if their rulers do not, that the storm is not over; far from it. They are battening down the hatches against the gale which must come.
The gale is presaging by a lack of trust in government (exemplified by the corruption and political weaponization of agencies ranging from the IRS to the DoJ to the EPA to the VA to the FBI). As the gale winds begin to blow, the first damage will be wrought by bad actors who now think (possibly correctly) that America has lost its will; that our leaders no longer do anything but talk; that action has been replaced by empty "negotiation" and that the result is never win-win and never in our favor. The storm will hit shore when one of those actors decides that it can injure us grievously with an action that is as horrific as it is predictable. And then ... what?

Under a president Hillary Clinton (the most likely scenario) we'll get a predictable reaction to the gale—the elites will get the politically correct counsel of the same people from the same Ivy league universities who have failed so miserably over the past 15 years. They'll struggle to limit damage to the global network of those in power; proportionality will be the watch word; calm meaningless words (what they refer to as "temperament") will replace any meaningful action, and nothing will change. It's possible that the bad actors (people and events) might recede for a time, allowing the gale to strengthen off-shore.

Under a president Donald Trump, things would be far less predictable—and that alone might give the bad actors pause. In fact, that Trump is viewed by many as unhinged is like the high altitude winds that break up even the most powerful storm by shearing its strength. The gale just might be weakened by uncertainty about how the United States would react to a threat. I'm not sure that a good result would occur under Trump—in fact, I worry that no good result can occur until after the gale has destroyed much and created universal pain.

Holman Jenkins, no fan of Donald Trump, provides interesting insight:
At bottom, it’s this rottenness of American political culture that allows Mr. Trump, for all his flaws as a candidate and human being, to find traction with so many voters. Not because he’s a uniquely attractive individual, but because he’s uniquely willing to violate the political taboos and challenge the status quo. Indeed, his most insidious offense may be his suggestion that some problems aren’t intractable.
For all his flaws (and they are many), Trump does identify problems clearly, is not cowed by politically correct boundaries, and at least suggests that solutions are possible. His politically incorrect suggestion, for example, that we limit immigration from countries with significant support for Islamists stands in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton's advocacy for increased immigration from those places. That contrast was magnified over the past week with Islamic terror attacks in the New York metro area and a likely terror event in Washington State over the weekend.

Peggy Noonan, a keen observer of our country and its people suggests that many 'undecided' voters are asking this question: "Shall we go to the bad place or the crazy place?"

Under Hillary Clinton we'll go directly to a "bad place," and we'll get there quickly. In the bad place, gross governmental dishonesty will become the norm. We'll have no idea whatsoever what a Clinton administration is doing and what the ramifications are. We won't know whether decisions are being made to enrich Clinton supporters or the Clintons themselves or whether they're being made in the interest of the American people. Worse, we'll have a media that protects Clinton no matter what she does, and a Democratic party that seems unable to call her out for the dishonesty and corruption that is an ingrained part of her character. We won't know whether our enemies are using hacked information (from her infamous private server) to blackmail her, or whether they are not. We'll institutionalize corruption far beyond what it is now. As I've noted in an earlier post, corruption is the rot that brings down great countries.

Under Donald Trump we'll wind up in a "crazy place." We'll have a president with a refreshingly clear-eyed view of the domestic and foreign problems we face. But Trump has a mouth that has trouble properly enunciating solutions in an effective way and a brain that thinks bravado replaces both common sense and action. In the crazy place, we'll also have a media that returns to its job—that will aggressively act as a check and a balance against too much "crazy." We'll have a Congress that will also return to its job with both Dems and many in the GOP acting as brakes on too much crazy.

It's a difficult decision—a "bad place or a crazy place." I'm beginning to think that crazy just might be a better option.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In Memoriam

This week, my mother passed away at the age of 94. She was a Holocaust Survivor—among the last of her generation to pass.

Her life began in normalcy, turned into chaos, morphed into survival, and ended in triumph. Let me explain.

My mother was born in Warsaw, Poland and lived a comfortable, but modest urban life until the adherents of a truly evil ideology invaded her country in 1939. The West did nothing, hoping that the evil ideology would burn itself out. The ideology, Nazism, was virulently anti-Semitic, and within months, Jews were herded into the Warsaw Ghetto. Normalcy devolved into chaos.

My mother, a young girl of 17, blond, blue-eyed and athletic was assigned the role of scavenger. At night, she snuck out of the ghetto through the sewers and traded valuables for food, sneaking back in before dawn. One night the Nazis bricked up the sewers. She was locked out of the Ghetto. It was the last time she would see her mother and three sisters alive. We think her family died in Auschwitz. Chaos morphed into survival.

On the run, she traveled through war-torn Poland and Germany, her light skin and hair color allowing her to pass as Christian. She was homeless at times, a factory slave-laborer at others, lived through the kindness of strangers, had many near captures and escapes, and ran from an ideology that wanted her dead. She survived the horror of World War II through what I believe was a sheer force of will.

After the war, she met my father, a GI. They married and moved to the United States. She learned English, and they started a family of three children. She kept us very close, fearing I think, the idea of losing another family. Today, she is survived by her three children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Her family was her triumph.

She will be missed.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Terrorism Tax

In what is becoming a recurring event, multiple Islamic terror attacks occurred over the weekend. In what is becoming a recurring reaction, democratic leaders in the location of the terror attack twist themselves into pretzels to avoid labeling the attack as terror and outright refuse to associate it with radical Islam. Uber-progressive Mayor Bill DiBlasio of New York City hung on the phrase "intentional violence" until he became a laughing stock and finally admitted the obvious.

Barack Obama (who has so far remained silent on the weekend's attacks)and his probable successor, Hillary Clinton, take the same position on Islamic terrorism, beginning with their refusal to call it that. With the arrogant certainty of politicians who have been wrong on virtually every aspect of foreign policy on their watch, they tell us that "you're more likely to be killed by lightning than in an terror attack" and "radical extremism" (their term for Islamic terror) does not represent "an existential threat." Both statements are half-truths (the most dangerous kind) and represent a willful attempt to misrepresent the threat we face.

In a fascinating post, John Robb discusses a "terrorism tax" that is imposed on countries and/or cities that absorb a number of small, but deadly terror attacks (e.g., France in recent months). He writes:
Although Europe has suffered terrorism before, this time it's different. Instead of big and relatively infrequent terrorist attacks, these new attacks are small, numerous and geographically dispersed. This change is a big deal, because it makes it possible for terrorists to turn attacks into "a tax" that depresses economic activity by imposing new costs and changing economic behavior. Here's some of the theory from my 2004 article on it:

A terrorism tax is an accumulation of excess costs inflicted on a city's stakeholders by acts of terrorism. These include direct costs inflicted on the city by terrorists (systems sabotage) and indirect costs due to the security/insurance/policy/etc. changes needed to protect against attacks. A terrorism tax above a certain level will force the city to transition to a lower market equilibrium (aka shrink). So, what is that level? Here's what they concluded:
  • Singular terrorist events (black swans), like 9/11, do not impact city viability. The costs of a singular event dissipate quickly. In contrast, frequent attacks (even small ones) on a specific city can create a terrorism tax of a level necessary to shift equilibriums.
  • In the labor pooling model of city formation, a terrorism tax of 7% will cause a city to collapse to a lower equilibrium. Labor pooling equilibrium reflects the benefits of aggregating workers in a single location. Workers get higher wages and more choices. Firms get stable wages (no one firm can deplete the market) and more candidates.
In the core-periphery model of city formation, a terrorism tax of 6.3% will push a city to a lower equilibrium. The core-periphery model is based on transportation costs. Firms generate transportation savings by concentrating in a single location next to suppliers and customers. Customers and workers glean the benefit of lower transportation costs by locating near jobs and goods.
At the local level, the tax manifests with decreased tourism, increased local costs for policing, and the inherent economic damage that results during and after an attack. In the United States, localities have experienced these things, but the impact, so far, has been relatively minor.

At a federal level the tax is different. We spend billions of dollars on the Department of Homeland Security, a federal bureaucracy whose effectiveness is open to question. We waste hundreds of millions of person hours standing in security lines at airports and at major events.

So when Obama or Clinton talk about lightning or existential existence, they might have the decency to be honest with the public and mention a terrorism tax that is corrosive on our culture as well as our finances. Since Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have never seen a tax they didn't like, you'd thing they'd be honest about this one.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Why Should They?

Clinton supporters—meaning just about every talking head in the main stream media, most editorial writers, and most Democrats—are wondering aloud why Hillary's polls are dropping, why the public doesn't like her, why she seems beset with scandals, manufactured, of course, by those who hate her. They suggest that it's a lack of charisma and partisan politics. Charisma may have something to do with it, but how on earth could partisan politics manufacture such a long string of scandals dating back to 1993?

Way back then, Hillary and Bill moved into the Whitehouse after an impressive election victory. Within months, the entire White House travel office staff—competent civil servants who served many presidents—were fired. Peggy Noonan revisits the the events that followed and provides with a ground-hog day look at Hillary Rodham Clinton:
Under criticism [for the firings] the White House changed its story. They said that they were just trying to cut unneeded staff and save money. Then they said they were trying to impose a competitive bidding process. They tried a new explanation—the travel office shake-up was connected to Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review. (Almost immediately Mr. Gore said that was not true.) The White House then said it was connected to a campaign pledge to cut the White House staff by 25%. Finally they claimed the workers hadn’t been fired at all but placed on indefinite “administrative leave.”

Why so many stories? Because the real one wasn’t pretty.

It emerged in contemporaneous notes of a high White House staffer that the travel-office workers were removed because Mrs. Clinton wanted to give their jobs—their “slots,” as she put it, according to the notes of director of administration David Watkins—to political operatives who’d worked for Mr. Clinton’s campaign. And she wanted to give the travel office business itself to loyalists. There was a travel company based in Arkansas with long ties to the Clintons. There was a charter travel company founded by Harry Thomason, a longtime friend and fundraiser, which had provided services in the 1992 campaign. If the travel office were privatized and put to bid, he could get the business. On top of that, a staffer named Catherine Cornelius, said to be the new president’s cousin, also wanted to run the travel office. In his book “Blood Sport,” the reporter James B. Stewart described her as “dazzled by her proximity to power, full of a sense of her own importance.” Soon rumors from her office, and others, were floating through the White House: The travel office staff were disloyal crooks.

The White House pressed the FBI to investigate, FBI agents balked—on what evidence?—but ultimately there was an investigation, and an audit.

All along Mrs. Clinton publicly insisted she had no knowledge of the firings. Then it became barely any knowledge, then barely any involvement. When the story blew up she said under oath that she had “no role in the decision to terminate the employees.” She did not “direct that any action be taken by anyone.” In a deposition she denied having had a role in the firings, and said she was unable to remember conversations with various staffers with any specificity.
The Hillary Clinton's approach to wrong-doing and the scandal that followed has a familiar ring to it. Lie, Deflect. Obfuscate. Apportion blame elsewhere. Finally, accuse the victim of wrongdoing.

With relatively small variations, this is the approach that Hillary has used in more recent years—for Benghazi, for her broad-based e-mail scandal, for the Clinton Foundation, for her health questions. In the end, it always works because Democrats refuse to police their own and thereby give her political cover (spend a little time listening to Elijah Cummings and you'll get the picture). But an unethical stench follows Clinton. Her dishonesty isn't an opinion. It is a fact that can be demonstrated by events that began in 1993 and continue to this day. That's why 'no one likes her.' Why should they?