After Alexandria, fairy tales are still more important than facts to MSM

Yesterday, James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter, almost committed a massacre by shooting at Republican congressmen and staff at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. Fortunately, Capitol police prevented the massacre by killing him.

One would think it is reasonable to evaluate whether the toxic political environment had anything to do with encouraging leftists such as Hodkinson from taking violent action against Republicans. Must we remind ourselves of the Kathy Griffin beheading “art”, Snoop Dog assassinating Trump in a rap video, and Madonna dreaming about burning down the White House?

Alas, it appears that for the mainstream media, it is far more important to maintain the fairy tales in their minds than to understand the facts for what they are.

In the interest of brevity and sanity, I will focus only on three examples of the mainstream media pursuing herculean efforts to maintain their narrative. At least what’s left of it.

MSNBC

First, let us turn to MSNBC counter-terrorism analyst Malcom Nance, who attempted to turn the shooting into a gun control issue.

“The most important thing we need to understand from this is this is what happens when you have an over proliferation of guns,” Nance told Brian Williams, “and it is to be expected to a certain extent.”

There are two obvious problems with Nance’s argument. First, as I’ve mentioned before, but for the Capitol police shooting Hodgkinson, the situation could have been far, far worse. Second, Nance has personally contributed to the toxic political environment when he tweeted that should ISIS should send a suicide bomber to a Trump property in Istanbul.

That tweet alone should disqualify Nance from commenting on political violence in the US.

Washington Post

Next, we turn to an opinion piece written by Stephen Stromberg in the Washington Post, in which he attempts to use content-free rhetoric to paper over a clearly partisan attack.

Headlines are calling it the “GOP baseball shooting.” But when James T. Hodgkinson III opened fire Wednesday morning on Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and a group of other GOP members of Congress, he was not just attacking Republicans. He was attacking the republic.

Early reports suggest partisanship may have motivated Hodgkinson. He apparently campaigned for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and hated the way Republicans have been running the government. These are not remarkable characteristics. What made Hodgkinson different from thousands of other Americans was his apparent conclusion that his feelings justified a treasonous assault on the legislative branch of the federal government. This deranged conviction seemingly led Hodgkinson to turn his back on civilized society and embrace the cruel barbarism of force.

More than perhaps any other institution in the country, the legislature represents the notion that

Ok, I’m just going to stop right there. He is clearly attempting to portray Hodgkinson’s shooting as an attack on the legislature, and using high-falootin’ rhetoric to do it. However, eyewitness accounts clearly indicate that he wanted to attack Republicans.

A GOP lawmaker said Wednesday that the alleged gunman in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice that wounded five asked whether “Republicans or Democrats” were on the field shortly before the attack in Virginia.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told CNBC that a man came up to him and Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., at the practice and asked if the players on the field were Republicans or Democrats.

“We both agreed that that individual who came up to us and asked if it was Republicans or Democrats … is the same individual police have identified,” DeSantis said. “That picture is the same guy that we saw.”

The man approached him and Duncan in their car and asked who was playing, and Duncan responded that they were Republicans, DeSantis said.

“We both kind of shrugged it off, by the time we got back to the Hill when news broke we immediately called each other and said that guy was … we’ve got to report that,” he said.

It is simply irresponsible for Stromberg to ignore a central fact and attempt to whitewash a clearly political attack against a particular political party. What makes this all the more galling is that he is attempting to do so in one of the nation’s leading newspapers.

I mean, if one didn’t know any better, it’s almost as if the Washington Post had an agenda or something.

New York Times

Now we save the best, or worst, for last.

Simply put, the New York Times published one of the slimiest editorials that I can recall reading. It accomplished the never-never land trifecta of insisting on moral equivalency on the flimsiest of circumstances, arguing that gun control is still relevant, all while maintaining the air that liberals still hold the principled high ground.

No wonder Paul Krugman writes for them.

I will address each of my charges in turn.

Moral equivalency

The editorial attempts to make a parallel between the Alexandria shooting and the shooting of Gabby Giffords in 2011.

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But no connection to that crime was ever established.

Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Liberals should of course be held to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

There are two rather obvious objections to these two paragraphs.

First, if Palin’s map had nothing to do with Jared Lee Loughner’s attack, what is the point of the bringing it up? The only reason would be to somehow show an equivalence between the attacks, when none can be made.

In fact, the editorial board of a major American newspaper was so intent on demonstrating that link, it overstepped its bounds, resulting in the following correction:

Correction: June 15, 2017
An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established.

Second, to what liberal standard of decency are you referring? The left’s rhetoric during and after the election has been nothing but personal and virtiolic. To characterize the liberals’ need to be accountable in the same manner they hold the right accountable is downright laughable.

Gun control

The editorial also argues that the shooting somehow demonstrates the need for gun control.

Was this attack evidence of how readily available guns and ammunition are in the United States? Indisputably. Mr. Hodgkinson, by definition, should not have had a gun, but he was licensed in his home state, Illinois. And in any event it would have been easy for him to acquire a weapon in Virginia, which requires no background checks in private sales, requires no registration for most weapons and has few restrictions on open carry.

It’s pathetic how flimsily the New York Times constructed this strawman.

Let’s put aside the fact that someone had to shoot Hodgkinson and Loughner to prevent their respective attacks from being worse than they actually were.

Every human being has a natural right to protect themselves. If someone believes that carrying a concealed weapon would provide that protection, so be it. If someone were to harm someone else with that weapon, intentionally or not, that person should be held accountable through the law. Otherwise, the second amendment simply codifies the natural right each and every American has.

However, the New York Times attempts to portray that natural right as some nefarious attempt by gun lobbyists to increase sales. Such a strawman may work on idiot liberals who don’t know how to think for themselves. However, it doesn’t stand under reasonable scrutiny.

What moral high ground?

Finally, the tone of the editorial is that in which the editorial board attempts to demonstrate that the left still has the moral high ground. Hence, its nods to liberal standards of decency.

However, one can make a reasonable assumption that the Times knows that the Alexandria attack shatters any illusions the left may have about the ground on which it stands.

In short, the left knows they are in hot water. They just don’t know how to spin this yet. And unfortunately, they seem to be more interested in maintaining the narrative than constructing a dialogue.

Conclusion

If Hodgkinson ends up being the only one who dies from the Alexandria shooting, we should count ourselves incredibly fortunate. Now would be an excellent time for everyone to slow down, and do some soul searching.

The rhetoric has been running too hot for too long. In fact, there have been suggestions that we have been building towards a civil war in the US, and I can’t say that those suggestions are wrong.

Nevertheless, we have an opportunity to slow down and evaluate how we have been communicating.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it does not appear that the mainstream media will be assisting us in this necessary exercise.

Anger over new gas tax gives California Republicans a chance for revival

While Ronald Reagan was a governor of California before becoming President, the Republican party has been a weak political minority here for decades. The last time Republicans won the Golden State during a presidential election was in 1988. However, public anger over new gas taxes may give the GOP an opportunity to increase its presence in the state.

As John Meyers of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Less than seven weeks ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a sweeping $5.2-billion package of proposals to fix California’s roads and highways. To pay for it, the base excise tax on gas goes up by 12 cents a gallon in November. Diesel fuel taxes will rise by 20 cents a gallon.

There’s also a new annual vehicle fee the DMV will charge to help fund the transportation projects, based on a vehicle’s value and ranging from $25 to $175. Brown has made a frequent point of defending the necessity of the transportation plan, which won a supermajority vote in both legislative houses and earned the support of business and transportation groups.

While Governor Brown may have convinced the Democrat-controlled California legislature over these additional taxes, he doesn’t appear to have convinced taxpayers. And therein lies the opportunity for the Republicans.

Californians hate bad roads. But they may hate taxes even more. In a new statewide poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, 58% of voters surveyed said they oppose the tax-and-spend transportation plan.

The California GOP is making two moves against the gax taxes. First, they have organized a recall effort against Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), a freshman legislator who voted for the tax increase. Second, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) is seeking an initiative to repeal the tax increases.

This initiative could alter significantly the 2018 state elections if it makes the ballot.

It could force Democrats in battleground legislative races to defend the tax. The California Democratic Party might have to open up its sizable war chest. Perhaps even Brown, by then on the homestretch of his political career and facing questions about his legacy, would dip into his $15 million campaign bank account for the transportation plan he helped craft.

Even vulnerable GOP members of Congress might benefit, giving them something other than President Trump to talk about. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently suggested that the unpopular gas tax could fuel strong Republican turnout next year.

Strong Republican turnout could be strong for no other reason than to punish Governor Brown for his calling Republicans “freeloaders” during the gas tax debate. While Republicans aren’t anarcho-capitalists, the vast majority of them vote for the GOP because they don’t want the government to burden entreprenuers.

While it’s too soon to tell how the 2018 election will play out, at the very least the prospect of a gas tax repeal initiative ought to put state Democrats on the defensive.

Given how active – and destructive – the Democrats have been in the state, that can be nothing but a good thing.

 

California Senate passes single-payer health care bill

The level of dumbassery in California politics knows no bounds.

By a vote of 23 to 14 (with three abstentions), the California Senate passed a bill that would set up a single-payer health care in the state.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Lara’s bill would provide a Medicare-for-all-type system that he believed would guarantee health coverage for all Californians without the out-of-pocket costs. Under a single-payer plan, the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare.

There’s only one minor problem with the bill.

No one knows how the hell to pay for it.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), one of the key sponsors of the bill, admits that the bill will have to be “further developed”, and he hopes that a consensus will emerge on how to pay for it.

Lara proposed the bill while President Trump and Congressional Republicans are working to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Despite the incredible progress California has made, millions still do not have access to health insurance and millions more cannot afford the high deductibles and co-pays, and they often forgo care,” Lara said during a floor debate on the bill.

In other words, the bill is virtue signaling writ large.

The Times has analyzed the various ways single-payer health care could be financed; none of the options look pretty. While a portion of the funds could come from existing federal and state sources such as Medicare and Medi-cal, it would require additional taxation. Among the tax proposals include a 2.3% business receipts tax and an additional 2.3% sales tax, or a 15% payroll tax.

Health Care

Such massive taxes would supposedly pay for a program that is twice the size of the current state budget.

“We don’t have the money to pay for it,” Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said. “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB 562, we wouldn’t even cover half of the $400-billion price tag.”

Fortunately, even if the state Assembly were to pass the bill, there are several significant roadblocks preventing the bill from being implemented.

Even if the bill is approved, it has to go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been skeptical, and then voters would have to exempt it from spending limits and budget formulas in the state Constitution. In addition, the state would have to get federal approval to repurpose existing funds for Medicare and Medicaid.

Nevertheless, such impediments should not discount the reckelessness with which Democratic leaders are pursuing this bill. State finances are fragile enough as they are, given the state’s huge debt load and weak pension plans for teachers and other government employees.

However, such a bill would truly take the state down the road to Venezuela. The fact that state leaders are even considering such a brazen move simply shows how out of touch they are.

Fortunately, a backlash is beginning to brew within the state. I’ll address that in an upcoming post.

 

 

Mises on Nationalism and Immigration

Tom Woods recently had Joseph Solerno on his podcast to talk about his essay entitled “Mises on Nationalism, the Right of Self-Determination, and the Problem of Immigration”.

This is an extremely timely article. Mises’s views on nationalism and immigration are well-reasoned, nuanced, and premised on the flourishing of individual rights. As much as I would like to summarize it, I’m still digesting it.

I encourage everyone to read the whole thing.

 

The Atlantic publishes a video on The Church Militant

The video is entitled “Church Militant: Right-Wing Media Empire in the Making”.

On the whole, it is a well-balanced short documentary. It allows Michael Voris and his organization to speak for themselves on what they believe. It also shows Voris as a human being who has fought his own demons and has worked tirelessly to care for his parents as they have dealt with cancer and aging.

One thing that struck me about Voris is that while his Catholicism is quite traditional, Church Militant operates very much in the spirit of how John Paul II acted while he was pope.

Voris and the Church Militant propose rather than impose. They make arguments, and they explain why they hold their positions. While they call out sins as sins, they do not seek to hurt anyone. If anything, Church Militant views their mission as saving as many souls as possible.

I’m sure that Church Militant’s views will not resonate with The Atlantic’s liberal audience. However, I’d go so far as to say that the manner in which Church Militant goes about their proselytizing is rational and respectful of each individual’s ability to think and decide for themselves the best course of action.

We certainly can not control how people react to an argument. However, we can control how we conduct ourselves when we make our own arguments.

In my humble opinion, Michael Voris and his colleagues at Church Militant are very good models of how one should conduct themselves when presenting controversial views to a hostile audience.

 

California Lieutenant Governor concerned about “job-killing robots”

The beauty about being a liberal politician in a liberal state is one gets countless opportunities to be concerned about the negative consequences of previously-implemented policies.

For example, an inevitable outcome of California’s minimum wage law, under which the wage will rise to $15 and hour by 2022, is businesses dependent on manual labor will seek to automate those tasks as much as possible. However, because the memories of liberals are those of gnats, politicians can point to the symptom and call for ACTION against such a pernicious trend.

In the case of the minimum wage, Brietbart points to a Guardian article that reports Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s concern that the increased use of technology is killing jobs:

The graduating computer science students at the University of California at Berkeley had just finished chuckling at a joke about fleets of “Google buses, Facebook shuttles and Uber-copters” lining up to whisk them them to elite jobs in Silicon Valley. The commencement ceremony for a cohort of students who, one professor confided, were worth around $25bn was a feel-good affair.

Until, that is, Gavin Newsom took to the lectern and burst the bubble.

The smooth-talking Democrat, and frontrunner to win California’s gubernatorial race next year, warned the students that the “plumbing of the world is radically changing”. The tech industry that would make them rich, Newsom declared, was also rendering millions of other people’s jobs obsolete and fueling enormous disparities in wealth. “Your job is to exercise your moral authority,” he said. “It is to do the kinds of things in life that can’t be downloaded.”

No, Lieutenant Governor, their job is not to exercise moral authority; their job is to find a job.

Honestly, it takes a tremendous amount of guile for a grown man to whine to a bunch of smart kids that their career paths may lead to the next political crisis. That is especially the case because his party’s policies have created the very conditions for their future success!

Don’t believe me? One of the companies that irritates Newsom to no end designs robots … for the fast food industry.

[Newsom] frequently complains about Momentum Machines, a secretive San Francisco startup promising to transform the fast-food industry with robotic technology. The ambition, according to the company’s founder, is to “completely obviate” human workers.

“There’s an empathy gap,” Newsom said. “I really feel intensely that the tech community needs to begin not just to solve these business problems but to begin to solve societal problems with the same kind of disruptive energy that they put behind developing the latest app.”

So let me get this straight. Out of empathy, California passes a law that keeps more and more low-skilled people out of the work force. Businesses look to automating previously affordable manual work just to stay in business. So businesses lack empathy because they are trying to solve a problem government policy created.

If this is what it means to show empathy, keep it far, far, away from me!

So what is Newsom’s “solution” to the “empathy gap”?

Serious thinker that he is, he doesn’t know. However, one possibility is what socialists call “universal basic income”.

He is “not opposed” to universal basic income, an idea popular among Silicon Valley utopians that would see all citizens receive some kind of regular and unconditional payment, and is interested in a proposal from Bill Gates to tax companies when they replace humans with robots.

But Newsom said he was not ready to endorse either policy. Adopting politician-speak, he said his team was “starting to lean in to create the tenor of a policy approach” that will involve rethinking the education system and massive investment in apprenticeships.

Then he reverted to a more frank response. “I’m struggling to figure it out,” he said. “So I don’t have the damn answer.

May I offer a suggestion, Lieutenant Governor?

Perhaps you can look at the state’s minimum wage law for a clue about what to do next?

Homelessness in Los Angeles County skyrockets

Mac Slavo reports through ZeroHedge that the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County has exploded:

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles is skyrocketing. In just one year, the figures revealed that the homeless population in the city grew 20% while the numbers for the wider Los Angeles County were even higher at 23%.

Given the fact that Democrats run the county, the solution they have provided is to throw money at the problem:

The county needs to build more than 550,000 affordable rental homes for low-income households, the [Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority] says. Los Angeles recently approved new measures to raise $1.2 billion in bonds to build 10,000 new units of housing for homeless people. There are also plans to raise about $3.5 billion over 10 years to pay for other homelessness projects.

This is in addition to the $100 million the Los Angeles City Council has pledged to tackle homelessness.

Unfortunately, none of these measures will alleviate homelessness in the county, primarily because they don’t address the the high cost of living in LA.

One primary reason living in LA is so expensive is because lots of people live here. However, another reason is all of the tax and regulatory burdens that exist in the county.

The county’s sales tax is 8.75%. Between the high taxes, the increasing minimum wage, and onerous zoning and building restrictions, it is becoming more challenging for poor people to find jobs and affordable housing, let alone keep them.

U.S. monetary policy is also a key factor why living in LA keeps getting more expensive over time. The Federal Reserve system expands the money supply by printing money (albeit electronically nowadays) out of thin air. Those closest to the monetary spigot benefit the most from money creation. Those farthest away from it, such as the working poor, suffer the most: as prices keep going up, their low and fixed incomes pay for less and less.

If county Democrats were truly concerned about the poor in general and the homeless in particular, they would reduce taxes and regulatory burdens to create a more vibrant job market, and make it more attractive for investors to build housing that people could afford. They would also learn how monetary policy hurts the poor and work to stop unnecessary money creation.

Unfortunately, none of this is happening. Unless and until county leaders recognize the errors of their ways, and understand how monetary policy is hurting the poor, all one can expect regarding homelessness in Los Angeles County is more of the same.

California Governor Brown calls Republicans “freeloaders”

Hail! Art thou a freeloader?

California has one of the highest income tax rates in the nation. It also has some of the nation’s worst roads. Meanwhile, the state government routinely diverts gas tax money from road maintenance for general spending purposes. (Thanks to ZeroHedge for the links.)

However, that hasn’t stopped the New Venezuela Party, I mean the Democrats, from pushing for an increase in gas taxes and vehicle license fee, to the tune of about $52 billion. And while a majority of Californians reject the proposal, that hasn’t stopped Governor Jerry Brown from describing Republican lawmakers as “freeloaders”.

While criticizing a Republican plan to fund road maintenance, Brown said:

“The freeloaders — I’ve had enough of them,” Brown said, adding that the approved tax and fee hikes bring those charges to the level they were 30 years ago if adjusted for inflation. “They have a president that doesn’t tell the truth and they’re following suit.”

It’s fascinating that a man whose career consists mainly in holding public office would have the audacity to call anyone else a freeloader.

Project much, Governor Brown?

Brown’s 2018 budget called for $179.5 billion in spending, a 53% increase since just 2010. With such a large budget, a strong argument can be made that the state ought to prioritize how much should be spent. However, Brown wants to hear none of that, and instead demonizes the state’s taxbase.

However, the state risks losing that very taxbase because it keeps losing residents. In 2014, the state lost 129,000 net residents. After all, why should productive people stay in the state when all they do is keep paying more taxes and get nothing in return?

At some point, California’s destructive policies will come back to haunt its residents. Until then, responsible Californians will be forced to suffer through Governor Brown’s prudish outbursts.

 

California pension liabilities skyrocket 22%

Breitbart reports that new accounting rules have required California to report that its unfunded pension liabilities have skyrocketed 22%:

The State of California is notorious for predicting spectacularly high pension investment returns, and then admitting lousy performance. But Governor Brown’s 2017-18 May Revised Budget admitted for the first time that the state’s and UC’s long‑term pension and healthcare liabilities jumped by $51 billion in the last year to $279 billion, “due to poor investment returns and the adoption of more realistic assumptions about future earnings.”

The Brown administration’s willingness to be more forthcoming with the cost of granting unions spectacular benefits was not voluntary. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which sets the accounting methodology for all government entities, issued Statement 85 in January 2016. The new mandate required pension plan audits to include postemployment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, such as retiree healthcare.
The State of California’s first GASB-compliant audited financial balance sheet revealed that unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities substantially exceed pension liabilities. The 2016 calculation of unfunded employee pension liability for the state was $59.141 billion, and $15.141 billion for the University of California. But the unfunded state retiree health liability is 36 percent greater, at $76.533 billion; and the UC unfunded retiree health liability is over 44 percent greater, at $21.719 billion.

The big jump in unfunded liabilities means a bigger burden on future California state budgets. The May Revised Budget reveals that the state’s contributions to California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) “are on track to nearly double from $5.8 billion ($3.4 billion General Fund) in 2017‑18 to $9.2 billion ($5.3 billion General Fund) in 2023‑24.

State pension plans provide returns that are woefully under the 7.5% rate used to discount the value of their future pension obligations. For example, CalPERS earned just 0.6% during its last fiscal year. Further, CalPERS was only 65% funded as of June 30, 2016.

Between the high level of obligations, low returns, and unrealistic earnings expectations, pensioners and California taxpayers need to prepare for a bumpy ride over the next thirty years.