Friday, December 31, 2021

The Democratic Party is now the party of welfare — not working people

The Democratic Party used to call itself the party of working people and hail the “dignity of work.” No more. Now Democrats want to guarantee people who choose not to work an income funded by the suckers who show up for employment, care for their families and pay taxes.

Fortunately, these self-supporting Americans just dodged a bullet. The failure of Build Back Better to pass in Congress, thanks to holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), means that the monthly checks or automatic bank deposits to parents with kids — sometimes dubbed Biden Bucks — come to an end this month. (Though progressives haven’t given up on trying to revive them some other way.)

For working people, the monthly payments were merely an advance on their tax refunds. But parents who choose not to work have been getting no-strings money to support their nonworking lifestyles.

Using the pretext of pandemic relief, Democrats who enacted the American Rescue Plan in March changed a feature of the tax code — the child tax credit available to adults who work and pay taxes — into a grant paid unconditionally and monthly to almost all adults with kids, whether they work or not.

Democrats have been pushing to extend the free monthly payments through 2022 as part of the Build Back Better Act, with a plan to make them permanent.

Manchin saw right through what his party intended: a socialist-style universal basic income. Manchin objected to the unconditional monthly cash grants: “There’s no work requirement whatsoever. Don’t you think if we’re going to help the children,” he asked, the parents “should make some effort?”

So what about the Democratic Party that represents working people? President Joe Biden still talks the talk. “My dad used to say, ‘Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community.’”

But Biden’s party is no longer walking that walk. As Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) told the House Ways and Means Committee during a debate over Build Back Better, “the so-called dignity of work — that’s like hearing a fingernail on a chalkboard.” New York magazine’s Eric Levitz calls Manchin’s work-ethic convictions “contemptible.”

Sorry, but most Americans don’t want to support the moochers.

Advocates of the monthly payments hail them as “already a huge success” for lifting millions of children out of poverty. Nonsense. That’s what a working parent does. The national poverty rate fell temporarily, but the payments didn’t solve the problem of parents without the mindset to support their children.

This is déjà vu. Uncle Sam used to send checks to nonworking parents. The 1996 welfare reform enacted by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton changed that, requiring parents to work or train for work in order to receive cash benefits.

It succeeded, reducing the welfare rolls, ameliorating child poverty and helping single mothers become self-sufficient.

Yet today’s Democratic Party spurns that model. Democrats tend to blame unemployment on racism or a rigged economy and argue that people deserve dignity whether they choose to work or not.

Of course, all human beings deserve dignity. But not a seat on the couch in front of the TV, funded by people who toil.

Democratic politicians all over the nation are pushing to provide a monthly basic income to the nonworking poor, courtesy of taxpayers. They’ve formed Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.

Los Angeles is sending out monthly $1,000 checks to 2,000 residents.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is using millions in federal pandemic relief funding to distribute $500-a-month cash stipends to randomly chosen low-income recipients. That ought to enrage anyone who works and pays taxes.

Jobs are plentiful. The National Federation of Independent Business reports that half of small businesses cannot fill positions and a record number say labor quality is their biggest business problem. Small businesses nationwide are posting “Help Wanted” signs in windows.

Every time you pass one of those signs, you can think of Manchin. And thank him for holding the line against turning taxpayers into suckers supporting the freeloaders.


Riot Games to pay $100M in gender discrimination suit

Tencent Holdings’ Riot Games on Monday said it has agreed to pay $100 million to settle a 2018 gender-based discrimination class-action lawsuit with California state agencies and current and former women employees.

The company said it will pay $80 million to the members of the class-action suit, comprising all current and former full-time women employees and temporary agency contractors in California who worked from November 2014 to the present.

An additional $20 million will be paid towards attorneys’ fees and miscellaneous expenses, Riot Games, the maker of League of Legends, said in a statement.

“In an effort to drive ongoing transparency and accountability, Riot has also committed to having its internal reporting and pay equity processes monitored by a third party jointly approved by Riot and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for three years,” the company said.

A final approval of the settlement by the court is pending, with a hearing expected in the coming months, the statement added.

The lawsuit was filed in November 2018 by now-former employees Melanie McCracken and Jess Negrón, alleging gender discrimination as well as sexual harassment and misconduct at Riot Games, the Washington Post reported on Monday. The suit was followed by two inquiries led by California state agencies, the reported added.


Coronavirus response needs to put freedom first, New York’s Zeldin says

New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin bashes President Biden over his handling of the COVID pandemic on ‘The Ingraham Angle.'

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., appeared on Fox News’ "The Ingraham Angle" on Tuesday night, where he claimed the Democrats’ coronavirus response has been a heavy-handed list of restrictions such as mandates and lockdowns.

The congressman – who’s looking to be elected New York’s governor next year -- claimed the Republicans’ trust in people making their own decisions and exploring such possibilities as natural immunity might be a better path forward as the nation continues to grapple with the deadly outbreak.

U.S. REP. LEE ZELDIN, R-N.Y.: First, you have to value freedom. You have to respect that people are smart enough to make their own decisions, talking with their own doctors.

The left has run out of ideas so they’re talking about mandates, lockdowns, threats, fines, firings, instead of talking about early access to advance treatment and therapeutics -- following science as opposed to having the science follow the politics.

As we’re getting new information out from omicron -- as we saw in South Africa and the same thing playing out here -- the data, the facts, the science, the truth is telling us that the peak time may be narrower, that hospitalizations are lower, the reactions are milder.

Yes, it’s contagious but the reactions might even be more milder [sic] than the mild prediction that people are making.

Let’s also look at the science behind natural immunity. People have gotten COVID and there’s now research that’s out that says that their body has a certain level of immunity to the virus.

It’s being studied by scientists as to whether or not that level of protection may be more than if you get vaccinated.


France closes mosque after imam incites hatred against Christians, Jews

A mosque in northern France has been shut down after the government determined that the place of worship was "inciting hatred" against Christians and Jews, as well as gay people.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced earlier this month that his administration was in the process of shutting down the mosque. The mosque was accused of hosting a regular speaker that pushed its members toward violent radicalization, according to translations provided by EuroNews.

Darmanin claimed that the mosque's speaker was "presented as an occasional speaker but who, in reality, acts as a regular imam." He reportedly made comments to the congregation that "glorify jihad and the fighters, whom he describes as heroes."

A lawyer for the nongovernmental organization Espoir et Fraternité (French for "Hope and Fraternity"), which operates the mosque, told journalists that the NGO would be filing a countermeasure with the courts within 48 hours.

The organization defended the attendance and preaching of the unnamed imam at the center of the investigation, with their lawyer dismissing "certain remarks made during preaching by one of the mosque's imams – who has since been suspended – who was speaking on a voluntary basis."

Darmanin has been a point man for dozens of investigations into reportedly radical mosques across France.

The minister previously stated that 99 mosques have so far been controlled for advocating dangerous or violent ideology.

"Of these 99 [mosques], 21 have been closed, and 6 are currently in the process of being closed," Darmanin reported earlier in December, according to EuroNews. "We also found that 36 of these mosques had accepted the demands of the Republic – either to leave a particular federation, or to separate from the imam whom we considered dangerous, or to stop foreign funding, or unfortunately to combine these provisions – and so we removed them from the list."

The Daily Mail reported that earlier this year the French government announced it was cracking down on places of worship and groups suspected of pushing radical Islamic propaganda. The interior ministry revealed earlier this month that they had investigated 100 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in recent months out of more than 2,600 across France due to fears of "separatist" ideology being spread across the country.




Church of England priest who disrupted consecration of first female bishop loses religious discrimination tribunal after claiming he was forced to retire aged 70 because of his belief that women shouldn't be ordained

At least someone in that church is faithful to the Bible. The Bible says:

"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church". (1 Corinthians 14: 33 NIV)

That scripture makes it particularly plain that a woman cannot be a bishop. The word "bishop" is dervived from the Greek word "episkopos" (ἐπίσκοπος) in the original of the Greek New Testament. And episkopos literally means an overseer or supervisor. And that is precisely forbidden in the text above

A Church of England priest who protested at the consecration of the first female bishop has lost a claim of religious discrimination at a tribunal after he claimed he was forced to retire because he believes women shouldn't be ordained.

Reverend Paul Williamson, 72, claimed he was forced to retire aged 70 - as is common practice in the Church of England - because of his unpopular view.

His notorious campaign against women being ordained dates back 25 years when in 1997 he tried to sue the dean and chapter of St Paul's Cathedral for appointing a female minor canon.

In 2015 the priest publicly interrupted the ordination of Libby Lane - England's first female bishop - at York Minster to object to it, shouting that it was 'not in the bible' and that it was an 'absolute impediment'.

Now, Rev Williamson has lost his second employment tribunal after he was forced to retire from his post as priest of St George's Church, Hanworth, London.

Rev Williamson, 72, first lost an age discrimination case in 2019 after he was retired at 70. All priests retire at 70 under Church of England rules unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Reverend Libby Lane became the Bishop of Stockport in a service conducted by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu at York Minster.

The historic event was briefly interrupted by the appearance of ultra-conservative priest Rev Paul Williamson shouting 'Not in the Bible' as she was presented to the congregation.

A Church of England spokesman described him as a 'serial protester' who had been expected to attend. He said: 'He's got the right to protest but the contrast was between a lone voice protesting and a sea of voices affirming.'

Mrs Lane, an Oxford-educated mother of two, was appointed as a bishop last month, in a historic move which ends five centuries of all-male leadership in the church.

That announcement came just weeks after the General Synod formally adopted legislation allowing women to take the role, following years of furious debate on the issue.

Rev Williamson was first ordained as a deacon in 1972 and as a priest the following year. He served as priest St George's in Hanworth since 1992.


Marjorie Taylor Greene Again Pushes for ‘National Divorce’ of Red and Blue States

Creating an assembly of red state governors and giving it a power of veto over Federal legislation would certainly be doable

Twitter was ablaze late on Wednesday, after one of Congress’ most controversial members made a harrowing suggestion.

Greene, who has been a very vocal supporter of the MAGA Movement and of former President Donald Trump, posited the possibility of a “national divorce” again this week, after having first discussed the idea back in October.

And, what’s more, Greene believes that transplants from “blue states” should perhaps have their voting rights restricted if they move to “red states”.

If red states and blue states were to “divorce” each other, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called it possible that people who move from a Democratic state to a Republican state would be barred from voting for a temporary “cooling off” period.

California’s seen an influx in people moving out of the state and many have opted to go to Texas and Florida, where residents can get more bang for their buck. However, some, including Greene, have complained that those who are leaving California are bringing their political beliefs with them and potentially shifting the political landscape.

On Wednesday, the Georgia congresswoman posted on Twitter that “brainwashed people” who move from California and New York need a “cooling-off period.” Her comment was in response to a Twitter user who wrote he supports discriminating against Democratic transplants, including restricting their ability to vote for a period of time. He also wrote that they should have to “pay a tax for their sins.”

Greene’s suggestion was all a part of this “national divorce” narrative.

Twitter users did not appear to take to the idea kindly, lambasting Greene with comparisons to the Confederacy and the secession that played prelude to the Civil War.


Elizabeth Warren's one-trick inflation pony

by Jeff Jacoby

PRICES IN the United States are rising faster than they have in decades. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that inflation was up 6.8 percent over the past year, the steepest annual increase in consumer prices since 1982.
There is no mystery about why inflation is exploding: Prices spike when too many dollars are chasing too few goods. The federal government has massively increased spending over the past two years in the name of economic stimulus and COVID-19 relief: too many dollars. At the same time, the pandemic's upheaval has led to a global labor shortage and snarled supply chains, preventing commodities of every description from being produced or from reaching vendors: too few goods.

The result is straight out of Economics 101: Everything is more expensive.

But Senator Elizabeth Warren has a different theory. She insists prices are being pushed up not by anything as impersonal as supply and demand, but by greedy business executives.

"Prices at the pump have gone up," she told an MSNBC interviewer last month. "Why? Because giant oil companies like Chevon and ExxonMobil enjoy doubling their profits. This isn't about inflation. This is about price gouging."

Warren had the same explanation for why turkey has become so expensive: "plain old corporate greed." She demanded a Justice Department investigation, accusing poultry companies on Nov. 23 of "abusing their market power" by "giving CEOs raises & earning huge profits."

The next day she widened her indictment from the poultry department to every department.

"Wondering why your Thanksgiving groceries cost more this year?" Warren tweeted. "It's because greedy corporations are charging Americans extra just to keep their stock prices high."

It's more costly to rent a car these days. That too, says Warren, is caused by capitalist greed.

In a letter to the CEO of Hertz, Warren blasted the company for being "happy to reward executives, company insiders, and big shareholders" with stock buybacks, "while stiffing consumers with record-high rental car costs."

Wherever prices are rising, Warren fingers the same culprit: rapacious corporations. Like Henry Ford, who would sell customers a Model T car in any color they wanted as long as it was black, the senator from Massachusetts will gladly explain why any product has become more expensive, as long as the explanation involves greedy businesses out to make more money.

It is true, of course, that corporations continually look for ways to increase their profits. That's how they survive. The reason businesses exist in the first place is to supply goods or services to customers and make money doing so. If companies can't turn a profit, they eventually go out of business and no longer sell those goods or services.

But if corporate greed is Warren's one-size-fits-all explanation for why prices go up, how does she explain why they go down?

Consider gasoline. In the spring of 2020, the average price of gasoline plunged to less than $1.90 a gallon. Why didn't Chevron and ExxonMobil do then what Warren claims they are doing now — gouge customers to boost profits? The answer is that prices aren't driven by all-powerful capitalists capable of "doubling their profits" at will. Last spring, the pandemic and its attendant worldwide lockdowns caused a drastic cut in demand, which led in turn to a sharp fall in prices — so sharp, in fact, that the oil industry suffered an unprecedented crash. In 2020, the five largest oil companies (ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Total) lost a combined $76 billion. Then, when the economy recovered and the demand for oil grew faster than the inventories available to meet it, prices soared.

Inflation in the US is at its highest level since 1981. Does Sen. Warren believe that, after decades of stable prices, corporate America was suddenly gripped by insatiable greed?

In the world according to Warren, every unwelcome spike in prices is the result of a conspiracy to put the screws to consumers, while every dramatic price reduction is an irrelevancy. In the real world, market forces, not corporate villainy, explain why prices fluctuate. And "market forces" go far beyond decisions made by a handful business leaders in C-suites. They comprise choices made by tens of thousands of producers and vendors, as well as millions of consumers.

Inflation isn't on the march because, after decades of stable prices, corporate America was suddenly seized by a wave of greed. It's a ridiculous theory, but it's the one Warren is sticking to. So she plays the corporate-greed card over and over, like a relative repeating the same dreary party trick at every family gathering. Meanwhile prices keep rising, and voters are less and less amused.


After Spokane Food Program Officials Turn Away Unvaccinated for Christmas Meals – Patriots Step In and Feed Everyone

Unchristian Catholics

A week before Christmas, in Spokane, WA, the Christmas Bureau food assistance program turned away needy people who could not show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours old.

The Christmas Bureau is an annual holiday assistance program coordinated by Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Volunteers of America, and the Spokesman-Review. The program is made possible by generous monetary funds and volunteer hours donated by community members and organizations.

In response to the Christmas Bureau’s actions, a group of Christian patriots launched a “No Vaccine Canteen” to feed everyone — regardless of their medical history.

Dan Bell, who helped organize a food drive and feed the homeless, said he was surprised to see that a Catholic church was involved in turning away the hungry.

“As a Christian, if you’re following the teachings of Jesus, you feed the hungry, right? You feed all hungry. So, we wanted to make sure nobody went without a good hot meal on Christmas,” Bell said in an interview with the North Idaho Exposed YouTube channel.

Bell and other volunteers held a food drive, served chili on Wednesday evening, and partnered with an organization called Blessings Under the Bridge to serve breakfast burritos on Christmas morning.

Now, Bell hopes that they can keep going and continue to provide meals two days a week — no matter anyone’s vaccination status.

“Hunger doesn’t have a vaccination status,” Bell said of the food discrimination. He said that, so far, they have raised about $3,500 to put towards their efforts

Bell added, “anyone who is going to pick and choose which hungry get to eat, when there’s food for everyone, I’d ask them to look in the mirror long and hard at themselves.”

A great example of true Christian charity, unlike the Catholic organization more resembling those who passed by the injured Samaritan




Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A New York judge upheld his order for The New York Times to return documents they obtained about communications between the conservative activist group Project Veritas and the group's lawyers.

In his Friday ruling, Justice Charles Wood ordered The Times to immediately give back all physical copies of their Project Veritas documents and destroy any electronic copies the newspaper has, as they were protected by attorney-client privilege.

Wood also argued that The Time's story regarding the documents were of no 'general interest and of value and concern to the public.'

A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The Times, said the news outlet would seek a stay of the ruling and would appeal it on First Amendment grounds.

'This ruling should raise alarms not just for advocates of press freedoms but for anyone concerned about the dangers of government overreach into what the public can and cannot know,' Sulzberger said in a statement. 'In defiance of law settled in the Pentagon Papers case, this judge has barred The Times from publishing information about a prominent and influential organization that was obtained legally in the ordinary course of reporting.'

The judge's order came as part of a defamation lawsuit filed against The Times by Project Veritas leader James O'Keef.

The group came under federal scrutiny in relation to the alleged theft of the diary of President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley, which the group considered publishing but never did. The group admitted to being in possession of the diary at some point but claim to have since handed it over to authorities.

Portions of the diary were published by National File, a right-wing website, which said they were provided by a frustrated employee of a media outlet that passed on them. Project Veritas denies any connection to the publication of the diary.

It has objected to a November 11 New York Times article that drew from memos from a Project Veritas lawyer, and purported to reveal how the group worked 'gray area between investigative journalism and political spying' using its lawyers to 'gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.'

O'Keefe and the group have been heavily criticized for allegedly using deceptive tactics to expose what it describes as liberal media bias.

Elizabeth Locke, a lawyer for Project Veritas, said: 'Today's ruling affirms that The New York Times's behavior was irregular and outside the boundaries of law.

'The court's thoughtful and well-researched opinion is a victory for the First Amendment for all journalists and affirms the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship,' Locke added.

O'Keefe and Project Veritas have alleged that The Time's story is meant as nothing more than a smear campaign against the group. Following Friday's ruling, O'Keefe said, 'The Times is so blinded by its hatred of Project Veritas that everything it does results in a self-inflicted wound.'

The group had been suing over a September 2020 The Times article describing a video it released that alleged voter fraud connected to the campaign of U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat.

The New York Times reported that the allegations made in the video were made: 'through unidentified sources and with no verifiable evidence.'

Theodore Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets, told The Times the ruling was 'way off base and dangerous. It's an egregious, unprecedented intrusion on news gathering and the news gathering process,' Mr. Boutrous said. 'The special danger is it allows a party suing a news organization for defamation to then get a gag order against the news organization banning any additional reporting. It's the ultimate chilling effect.'

Dean Baquet, The New York Times' executive editor, previously said Wood's November 18 order to stop newspaper set a 'dangerous precedent,' while the newspaper has said courts might find prior restraints acceptable only 'rarely,' such as to protect national security.

The New York Times had not faced any prior restraint since 1971, when the Nixon administration unsuccessfully sought to block the publication of the Pentagon Papers detailing U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

An attorney for O'Keefe aso accused the Department of Justice of tipping off The New York Times about recent raids on current and former employees, while suggesting federal prosecutors may have also leaked the group's legal communications.

The FBI conducted raids at O'Keefe's New York home and those of others connected to Project Veritas this month, seizing two of O'Keefe's cell phones, among other items.

Days later The New York Times published a report based on memos from the group's lawyer, revealing his legal advice on the group's use of false identities and undercover filming, tactics that are eschewed by most modern journalists.

Later that day, a federal judge ordered the DOJ to stop extracting data from the phones, granting a request from O'Keefe's legal team made the day before for an independent party to be appointed to oversee the review of the confiscated devices.


What Does the Separation of Church and State Mean?
The SCOTUS hearing the FBI's religious spy case begs the question

On November 8, 2021, the Supreme Court heard arguments for a case that has serious ramifications for religious and civil liberties in the United States. FBI v. Fazaga will determine to what extent, under section 1806(f) of FISA, a US District court can review contested surveillance that is protected under state secrets privilege.

In an effort to sift out potential terror threats, the FBI began investigating Muslims in 2006 under Operation Flex. In one particular instance of this operation, the FBI paid an informant to attend the Islamic Center of Irvine and surrounding mosques in Southern California. The informant collected surveillance in the vast majority of his interactions with the Muslims in these communities. The FBI didn’t even have cause to single out any of these mosques, nor was the information tasked with following anyone suspected of criminal wrongdoing.

Unable to find any evidence of illegal activity after well over a year, the informant began to speak of “jihad and armed conflict”. Not wanting any part of what the informant was selling, uneasy community members soon reported him, ironically, to the FBI and filed a restraining order against the informant. After the informant went public, Fazaga and his fellow plaintiffs filed a suit claiming unlawful searches and religious discrimination.

State secrets privilege was invoked over surveillance gathered on Fazaga and his fellow plaintiffs. State secrets is an evidentiary rule that allows the withholding of evidence from legal proceedings, based on the government’s claim that revealing the evidence would be a risk to national security.

A large portion of Fazaga’s case against the FBI hinges upon the evidence deemed a state secret. Unable to weigh the evidence, the US District Court that first heard the case threw out most of Fazaga’s claims for that reason. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court reversed the decision.

What’s at the heart of this case is the relationship between section 1806(f) of FISA and the state secrets privilege. 1806(f) says that if the Attorney General files an affidavit claiming certain evidence would threaten national security if disclosed, then the US district court can review the orders and applications for the electronic surveillance in camera (in a private session without the public) and ex parte (without an improper party being present) to see if the surveillance was legally conducted.

The FBI claims that 1806(f) of FISA has no clear language on whether it supersedes state secrets privilege.

Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the FBI, evidence considered state secrets privilege could be immune to 1806(f) of FISA. This type of evidence would usually be dismissed, and lawsuits contingent upon such evidence would likely be thrown out entirely. US District judges would have their hands tied by this Supreme Court case.

State secrets privilege could provide far more cover for the US government to spy on its citizens in the event of a ruling favorable to the FBI.

United States v. Reynolds, the first Supreme Court case to officially recognize state secrets privilege, said that the state secrets doctrine should not be “lightly invoked.” However, its invocation has increased in recent decades. With no official system of checks, the courts have given federal agents an immunity hall pass.

Depending on the outcome, this case could open the flood gates to more government spying. It is no coincidence that a lawsuit posing a serious challenge to the state secrets doctrine has to do with religious discrimination.

In the wake of 9/11, Muslim Americans have been high on the list of religious groups of concern to the US government and it has resulted in many instances of discrimination. Glenn Greenwald has previously covered how the FBI has concocted similar schemes in the past. Since 9/11, roughly the FBI has paid 15,000 informants $3.3 billion to spy on Muslims. Yet this case should concern everyone, particularly any religious person.

Though it has been Muslim Americans at the forefront of this issue, there is no reason to think that Christian, Jewish, or Hindu Americans (or any other religious group) are exempt from government spying either. It’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility where the government would be interested in spying on these groups.

This fact is illuminated by recent examples during the pandemic. Many states barred or forcibly altered religious gatherings during the pandemic, and often granted much more lax restrictions on other non-religious social gatherings. In some cases, police have even shown up to shut down church gatherings. The outcome of this Supreme Court case could allow the government more cover to carry out such surveillance, leaving the victims of unlawful surveillance with little to no chance at restitution.

This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state, and an attack on the rights of Americans to practice their beliefs without being spied on. This is a great affront to one of our founding principles—religious freedom.

What’s more, is that this case can also chip away at our right to a fair trial if the government can entrap individuals and suppress the evidence in a court of law. FBI v. Fazaga could establish a legitimate check on the state secrets privilege and it almost seems like common sense. One could easily see it work out where a judge could review evidence under state secret privilege and maintain an oath to secrecy. This way national secrecy isn’t under threat AND an element of fairness and justice is maintained in lawsuits.

But, like most instances of state secrets privilege is invoked, we are at the mercy of the government to decide.


Marjorie Taylor Greene tears into Republicans for tweet celebrating Kwanza and calls it a 'fake religion created by a psychopath'

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene hit out against College Republicans for a tweet wishing a Happy Kwanzaa, calling it a 'fake religion created by a psychopath.'

'Wishing you a happy and prosperous Kwanza,' the national group for conservative college students wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

'Stop. It's a fake religion created by a psychopath,' Greene, a Georgia Republican, wrote back on Twitter. 'You aren't bringing in new voters, you are turning them away. People are tired of pandering and BS.'

Kwanzaa is a secular festival of African American culture celebrated each year from Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

Founded in 1966 by activist and Black Power movement figure Maulana Karenga, it is based on African festival traditions as a way to 'give blacks an alternative to the existing holiday of Christmas and give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society,' according to Karenga.

It is said to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Karenga was placed on the FBI's watch list under its COINTELPRO program, which had been tasked with surveilling and disrupting revolutionary political groups. Karenga was later arrested and thrown in prison for assaulting two female members of his black nationalist organization, a charge which he denied and said was manufactured to derail him as a political figure.

Even former President Trump, who Greene closely allies herself with, issued a statement celebrating the beginning of the festival during his first year in office.

'Today marks the first day of Kwanzaa, a weeklong celebration of African American heritage and culture. Together, let us celebrate during this joyous time the richness of the past and look with hope toward a brighter future,' Trump said.

'As families and friends join to light the Kinara, Melania and I extend our warmest wishes for a joyful holiday season and a prosperous year to come,' he said.

College Republicans did not respond to Greene's attack, instead retweeting past Kwanzaa messages from other prominent Republican accounts, including the Republican National Committee, the Texas GOP, the Manhattan GOP, Ohio GOP, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Trump's White House.


Another Democrat switches to GOP

A Texas Democrat switched his affiliation to the Republican Party over the party’s left-leaning embrace of defunding the police policies and “chaos” on the southern border.

State Rep. Ryan Guillen announced in a Monday press conference that he would seek reelection to his south Texas seat as a Republican, saying the Democratic Party’s far-left values are no longer in line with his own.

Specifically, Guillen cited his now-former party’s backing of defunding the police and the compounding crisis at the southern border under President Biden.

“Friends, something is happening in South Texas, and many of us are waking up to the fact that the values of those in Washington, D.C., are not our values, not the values of most Texans,” Guillen said.

“The ideology of defunding the police, of destroying the oil and gas industry and the chaos at our border is disastrous for those of us who live here in South Texas,” he continued.

The former Democrat had won his seat by nearly 17 points in the 2020 election and has served in the Texas House for almost two decades. Guillen’s switch is a win for Republicans as the party pushes to gain traction along the historically blue border.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan joined Guillen at his announcement in Floresville.

“John Lujan’s upset victory earlier this month in a district with a majority Hispanic population already proved that Texans are fed up with the failures of Democratic leadership and Ryan Guillen’s party switch makes that fact all the more clear,” Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) president Dee Duncan said in a Monday statement.

“Today’s Democrat leaders are so focused on appeasing their fringe-left base by putting teachers’ unions ahead of parents, pushing socialist tax and spending schemes, and fighting for open border policies, that even elected officials in their own party cannot support their radical agenda anymore,” Duncan continued.

Duncan said the Republicans “welcome” Guillen to the party “with open arms and look forward to working with him” as he works with his new GOP colleagues “to deliver solutions for the people of his district.”




Tuesday, December 28, 2021

What’s fueling America’s political rage?

Kevin Drum has an article in "Mother Jones" trying to explain the furious political polarization that has evolved in America today. It is too long to reproduce so I will comment on it only.

One expects simplistic thought from Leftists and Drum gives us a prime example of that. He makes a case that is well-argued and worth reading but his conclusion is in the end risible: He blames it all on Fox News!

He is undoubtedly right in identifying the importance of Fox News but to blame a vast demographic change on on one media outlet is risible.

A demographic change needs a demographic explanation. And if I can risk being ass simplistic as Drum, my explanation is: Hispanics.

America's two major minorities are very responsive to the brainless arguments of Leftists and one of those minorities has steadily become much larger than it was. The size of the Hispanic population has reached a tipping point where it has a big effect on election outcomes.

And because Hispanics have until very recently been thoroughly "rusted on" to the Democratic party, that has enabled the Left to take less care to farm other population segments. To put it blunltly, the white vote matters less to the American Left these days.

Some whites will always vote Left can takes a fair slice of the white vote for granted. If their policies are unpalatable to other whites, the Left don't need to care about that. They have always got the minority votes to prop them up.

So in the circumstances, the Left can be what Leftists all want to be: Radical. Communism is their ideal and they want to get as close to that as they can. In the Soviet era they excused Soviet brutality by saying that the Soviets were just "reformers in a hurry" and to this day they excuse the Cuban regime.

So it is the Left who have changed, to the horror of many reasonable people who don't want their country to be turned on its ear. The Left have by their policies and actions generated in many normal people a great dislike of themselves and that has made them return the compliment. It infuriates them that the wonderful reforms that they have finally accomplished are not universally acclaimed.

A San Diego State University dean recently called conservative ideas a 'stench'. Since when has that been civilized discourse? How is that respect for others? There is no mistaking the furious hate that pervades the current American Left. They have abandoned restraints that once kept them civilized and reasonably moderate. People like that have got to be very hard to talk to


BBC only just behind Hamas in respected Jewish organisation the Wiesenthal Center's antisemitic 'list of shame'

The BBC has been branded anti-semitic by one of the world’s most respected Jewish organisations.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center –named after the famed Nazi-hunter – has placed the BBC at No 3 on its annual ‘Global Antisemitism Top Ten’ list.

Last night, Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the centre, told The Mail On Sunday: ‘People might be surprised to see the BBC on our list but the decision to place the BBC at No 3 came after months of intense debate and discussion.

‘We believe the BBC has been guilty of several incidences of anti-semitism during the past year.

‘People might assume we would put neo-Nazi groups on our list but the BBC is there because when a globally recognised organisation allows antisemitism to creep into its reporting, it makes it all the more insidious and dangerous.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center ¿named after the famed Nazi-hunter ¿ has placed the BBC at No 3 on its annual ¿Global Antisemitism Top Ten¿ list +2
The Simon Wiesenthal Center –named after the famed Nazi-hunter – has placed the BBC at No 3 on its annual ‘Global Antisemitism Top Ten’ list

‘People around the world trust the BBC and rely on it for truthful reporting of world events.’

The Rabbi singled out the Corporation’s reporting of an attack on a busload of Jewish teenagers by a group of men who chanted anti-Israel slogans.

The incident took place in London’s Oxford Street last month as the teens celebrated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

‘The BBC falsely reported that a victim on the bus used an anti-Muslim slur. But what was heard on tape was a distressed Jewish man speaking in Hebrew appealing for help,’ Rabbi Hier said.

The Mail on Sunday understands the BBC has investigated the reporting and maintains the alleged slur was included to ensure the fullest account of the incident.

The BBC issued a statement earlier this month saying the story was a ‘factual report’ that ‘overwhelmingly focused on the individuals the police want to identify; those who directed abuse at the bus’.

The Wiesenthal Center report, which will be released on Tuesday, lists Iran – whose leaders deny the Holocaust and have pledged to ‘annihilate Israel’ – at No 1 on the list and the Palestinian terror group Hamas at No 2.

The report condemned former BBC reporter Tala Halawa who posted a series of tweets including ‘Hitler was right’ and ‘Zionists can’t get enough of our blood’ in 2014. Ms Halawa no longer works for the BBC.

It also criticised the Corporation for ‘often’ referring to Israelis as ‘settlers’ and cited a video tweeted by senior BBC producer Alaa Daraghme captioned: ‘An Israeli settler ramming a Palestinian man near the Lions’ Gate.’

Rabbi Hier said: ‘In fact, the car drove on to the pavement after an attempt by Palestinians to lynch the Jewish driver who lost control of the vehicle.’

A BBC source said the original tweet had been posted when there was ‘some confusion’ over the incident. Mr Daraghme later published another tweet clarifying what had happened.

The US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top ten also includes ‘social media giants’ (for allowing hate to spread online) and the Unilever corporation, which owns Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. Ben & Jerry’s board boycotted East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

A BBC spokesman said last night: ‘Antisemitism is abhorrent. The BBC strives to serve the Jewish community, and all communities across our country, fairly with accurate and impartial reporting.’


Switzerland to allow people to legally change gender through self-identification from 2022

The Swiss will be able to change gender legally by self-declaration at a civil registry office from Saturday.

The country will be among a handful in Europe to grant legal weight to gender self-identification. Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway are the only other nations on the continent to allow someone to legally change gender without hormone therapy, medical diagnosis or further evaluation or bureaucracy.

Anyone aged 16 and above not under legal guardianship will be able to do so. Younger people and those under adult protection will require guardian consent.

Current rules are dependent on region. Some require a certificate from a medical professional confirming transgender identity.

Others require a person to undergo hormone treatment and some ask for proof that the person’s new name has already been in use for several years.

Greater Manchester's Gender Based Violence Campaign #IsThisOK
While some other European nations, including Denmark, France and Greece, have removed the requirement of medical procedures – such as sex reassignment surgery – they require further steps or conditions.

In June, the Spanish government approved the draft of a bill that would allow anyone over the age of 14 to change gender legally without a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy.

In the UK, a report from the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee, says transgender people should be allowed to declare their own gender without “unfair and overly medicalised” scrutiny.

They argued that transgender people should no longer be required to have a gender dysphoria diagnosis from doctors to be legally recognised.

Proposals had been developed under Theresa May’s government to allow people to self-identify by signing a statutory declaration and without having to provide evidence of a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria but the plan was scrapped.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set $8 million in his 2022–23 budget to transport illegal immigrants out of The Sunshine State

He proposed the spending in the Freedom First Budget (pdf) to protect against harms resulting from illegal immigration. The spending may include the transportation of unauthorized aliens located within Florida to other states or the District of Columbia.

“In yesterday’s budget, I put in $8 million for us to be able to transport people illegally [in the United States] out of the state of Florida,” he said during a press conference on Friday.

The Republican governor listed Delaware, President Joe Biden’s hometown state, and Martha’s Vineyard, where former President Barack Obama owns a mansion, as potential destinations to relocate the illegal immigrants.

“If you sent [illegal immigrants] to Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard or some of these places, that border would be secure the next day,” he said.

The White House and The Obama Foundation didn’t respond immediately to requests for comments from The Epoch Times.

DeSantis also encouraged more counties to participate in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 287(g) program, under which individuals who have been arrested on criminal charges and are being booked into the county jails are asked about their immigration status.

Other proposed measures to reduce the harms of illegal immigrants include listing convicted illegal aliens on a public website.

DeSantis threatened to send illegal immigrants to Delaware back in November. He said his office is looking at legal avenues after his administration alleged that about 70 flights of illegal aliens were sent to Jacksonville, Florida, after being picked up by agents along the U.S.–Mexico border.

“We’re going to get together and figure out what we can do in the immediate term to protect folks in Florida,” DeSantis told reporters, noting that his options are limited because the federal government controls the immigration policies and actions.

But “if they’re not doing that,” DeSantis added, “then clearly the state should be able to come in and provide protection, and so that’s what we’re going to be looking to do.”

“If they’re going to come here, we’ll provide buses,” DeSantis said, before proclaiming, “I will send them to Delaware.”




Monday, December 27, 2021

Brexit: One year on, the economic impact is starting to show

The Muslim BBC writer below sets out that some British businesses have had problems in recent years. He attributes that to the adjustments required by Brexit. He admits that the effects of the pandemic and the economically destructive government responses to it are "overwhelming" but goes on as if they did not exist

And in a familiar Leftist way, he totally ignores the question of where the balance lies. No doubt there have been problems resulting from Brexit but what about the benefits? He makes no attempt to tell us

Such a one-eyed article is not worth much so I reproduce below only the opening part of it

The business owners I spoke to have pretty much the same reflection on different aspects of the reality of one year of trading outside the Single Market and Customs Union. It's clearly been challenging: "Frustrating. Scary. Huge drop in sales. Rendered uncompetitive in Europe."

When I put to them what ministers have suggested privately - that some sections of British business need to be as prepared as the best-prepared bigger businesses, it got a little testy.

"I found it astounding that they are telling us to get used to it," said Adrian Hanrahan, of Robinson's chemicals, who is dealing with a new set of UK regulations entirely duplicating EU requirements.

A gift box distributor, Karen Lowen, says it's cheaper for her to supply the US and Australia than Europe.

Meanwhile, a manufacturer of cutting edge green radiators says the expansion of his factory in Birmingham will now take place in Poland. One participant's voice cracks as he tells me they are fighting to survive after a century-and-a-half in business.

A year on from the signing of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement - the real economic start of Brexit - we can start to see some of the changes in how Britain trades.

Despite the overwhelming influence of the lockdowns, and post-pandemic bounce back on all aspects of the economy, it is possible in the data and in the direct experience of hundreds of businesses, to see the impact of Brexit.


They Tried To Sue Her For Not Working Same Sex Weddings, Then She Fought Back…

A lawsuit filed by an Elmira wedding photographer who refused to photograph same-sex marriages has been tossed out of court by a New York judge. But it doesn’t end there as the photographer plans to fight back.

A Christian photographer and blogger Emilee Carpenter based in the Southern Tier, sued the state in April, alleging that the state’s human rights law violated her First Amendment rights to free speech, free association, and free religious expression. She also said the law violated the establishment clause and her right to due process.

Carpenter said in a statement:

“The laws “substantially burden [her] sincerely held religious beliefs by requiring [her] to either operate [her] expressive business in a way that violates [s] [her] religious beliefs or to close [her] business.”

Carpenter said she would “not accept any projects… celebrating “anything immoral” or “dishonorable to God,” According to court documents.

This week, U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. dismissed Carpenter’s claims, noting that historically underserved, disfavored, or disadvantaged individuals are entitled to the same access to the public marketplace as afforded to everyone else. Additionally, Judge Geraci made clear in his decision that all businesses claiming to serve the public must serve all of the public, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Furthermore, the case does not specifically require the photographer to take pictures at same-sex wedding ceremonies, but instead dismissed the case for lacking a specific claim that could be granted relief.

However, an Arizona-based, Christian, nonprofit advocacy group, “The Alliance for Defending Freedom,” the organization representing Carpenter in the case, disagreed with the ruling.

ADF said in a statement:

“Even explaining on her company’s website which photographs and blogs she can create in good conscience based on her religious beliefs.”

The ADF noted:

“Penalties for violating the laws noted in the ruling could include a fine of up to $100,000, revocation of a business license, and up to one year in jail”

After receiving seven requests since March to create content celebrating same-sex weddings in New York, frustrated Carpenter decided to start the case, as it go beyond her belief.

Carpenter said when the lawsuit was announced in April:

“The state shouldn’t be able to silence or punish me for living out my convictions,” She said.

“I serve clients from all backgrounds, but the government is attempting to tell me what to do, what to say, and what to create based on its beliefs, not mine. Free speech protects everyone. Photographers and other artists should be able to choose the stories they tell,” she added.

Carpenter plans to appeal the decision


The British Labour Party will never scent victory if it keeps up its toxic class war on hunting

By Baroness Mallalieu, a Labour peer

image from

In a normal year, 250 hunts meet on Boxing Day in town squares, on village greens and at rural pubs from one end of the country to the other, and hundreds of thousands of people gather to support them. This year, given that Boxing Day fell on a Sunday, many will meet instead on Monday. It is part of their Christmas and a long-standing country tradition. However, for reasons that are long forgotten, decades ago hunting became not just an idiosyncratic rural pastime but a totem for the class war that some in the Labour Party still want to fight.

I use the present tense because despite the huge and disproportionate effort required to get the Hunting Act passed into law in 2004, many in my party remain obsessed with the pursuit of hunting at a huge cost to Labour’s standing in the countryside. The party went into the last election with a commitment to legislate on hunting again, as well as restricting game shooting. This week, Labour demanded an outlawing of trail hunting on public land.

When Labour won the 1997 and 2001 general elections, it boasted more than 100 rural MPs. It now holds just 17 of the 199 seats in England and Wales designated as rural. It is one thing being beaten in traditional Tory shires, quite another to see working class rural constituencies such as Penistone and Stocksbridge, Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield fall to the Conservatives, as they did in 2019.

Labour’s rural problem was starkly illustrated in the Cumbrian constituency of Workington, where Sue Hayman, then shadow Defra secretary, was defeated in a seat that Labour had won in every general election since the constituency was created in 1918. All of those constituencies have hunts and, while the South Durham and Cumberland Farmers might not boast the aristocratic pedigree of more famous packs, they have a loyal local following.

Why would any political party seek to woo an electorate where it has no competition?
This matters for Labour because there is no route to Downing Street that does not involve recapturing rural seats. This matters for rural communities, too, because at the moment they are being taken for granted by the Tories.

Never in my lifetime has the countryside been such a one-party state. Why would any political party seek to woo an electorate where it has no competition and wins almost unchallenged? Yet, as the recent North Shropshire by-election showed, the countryside is not blue by nature. It is quite willing to vote for any party which shares its priorities and aspirations.

To win in the countryside, Labour needs to engage with the rural electorate and focus on what matters to them, and not simply manipulate rural issues in the belief that it will appeal further to its increasingly urban base. Labour will not be taken seriously in the countryside until its priorities match those of people in rural constituencies.

Last month, when the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill was in the House of Commons, the Labour front bench moved a series of amendments which would have removed the exemption which allows packs of dogs, like other working dogs, to be off the lead when livestock are present, and would have required all “hunting dogs” to be licensed. This sort of petty politics is a million miles from addressing real animal welfare priorities, let alone reflecting the needs and concerns of the countryside.

Yet if Labour can get beyond the playground politics of “hunting, shooting and fishing” there is a huge opportunity for the party. There are fundamental issues including rural crime, access to public services, affordable housing, broadband and rural poverty, which desperately need addressing and which match exactly the priorities of the Labour Party. It needs to pursue policies relevant to the countryside and work with stakeholders who represent their interests.

If nothing changes, this continuing obsession will keep Labour out of office. It is impossible not to conclude that it would be of great advantage to both the party and the countryside if hunting were to be removed from the political agenda. Imagine if as much energy had been expended on issues that could really make a difference for rural communities.


Israel unveils $300m plan to double settlers in occupied Golan

Israel on Sunday announced a multi-million dollar plan to double the number of Jewish settlers in the Golan Heights, in a move to entrench their control of the territory more than 50 years after they captured it from Syria.

Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights - which it formally annexed in 1981, 14 years after its seizure in 1967 - has never been recognised by the international community.

In 2019 former US President Donald Trump became the first and only country to recognise Israel’s claim to the territory. Syria blasted it as a “flagrant violation” of their sovereignty.

“This is our moment. This is the moment of the Golan Heights,” Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett said at a special cabinet meeting in the area. "After long and static years in terms of the scope of settlement, our goal today is to double settlement in the Golan Heights."

The $317m (£237m) plan will significantly tip the demographic balance of the annexed land, which currently stands at around 25,000 Israeli settlers and 23,000 Druze families - a religious minority in the region - who remained after it was captured.

Mr Bennett on Sunday said that this recognition from Mr Trump, as well as President Biden’s indication that there would be no Middle East policy change, was an “important” factor in the decision to invest in the area.

Under the plans two new neighbourhoods will be created, as well as development programmes for construction, tourism, transportation and medical facilities. In 2019 a new town named “Trump Heights” was inaugurated.

"It goes without saying that the Golan Heights is Israeli," Mr Bennett said on Sunday.

The Right-wing prime minister maintained that entrenching Israeli control of the Golan Heights is necessary to protect itself from Iran and Syria.

“Just imagine what it would be like to battle Iran's attempt to use Syria as a military base, from which to attack Israel, if the Golan Heights were in Syrian hands,” Israeli deputy prime minister Gideon Sa’ar was reported as saying in the Jerusalem Post.

The plan - which was unanimously passed by the cabinet - aims to double the settler population by 2025.




Sunday, December 26, 2021

Why won’t governments fix housing affordability?

Because they CAN'T. No government has ever found a way. And the reason is simple. Housing is a commodity like everything else that is bought and sold. And anything that is bought and sold is governed by the law of supply and demand. If the demand outstrips supply, the price will rise. So it follows that there is only one way to get the price of housing down. You have to increase the supply of it

But governments put up lots of obstacles to block an increase in supply, -- principally land use restrictions. And local governments are big on both lande use restricions and building restrictions. So local governments have to be stamped on to increase the supply of housing. And that is politically dynamite any time it is attempted. Existing homeowners like the restrictions. They keep "riff raff" out of their neighbourhoods

Rapidly rising property prices have led to increasing concerns around affordability, but support for government intervention may actually decline as affordability worsens, a new paper suggests.

Authors of the study argue that homeowners seek to protect their property price gain from being taxed away or undermined by growing housing supply, resulting in less support for government intervention in housing market inequality.

While based on European data, local experts and economists say it points to the challenge of rolling out reforms to improve housing affordability when more people, and voters, are homeowners than not.

Grattan Institute household finances program director Brendan Coates said the politics of improving housing affordability was fraught because most voters already owned a house or investment and mistrust any change that might dent property prices.

“The interest of homeowners tends to outweigh the interest of renters. There’s that classic adage from John Howard who [as prime minister] said that no one is complaining in the streets about their house value going up,” Mr Coates said.

The political consequences of housing (un)affordability, published in The Journal of European Social Policy earlier this month, used data drawn from European and British social surveys and an analysis of British elections to explore the relationship between housing affordability – house prices relative to incomes – and the demand for redistributive and housing policy.

Authors Ben Ansell, a professor at Nuffield College and the University of Oxford, and Asli Cansunar, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, found consistent evidence that declining affordability, driven by increasing house prices, decreases support for interventionist housing policy, especially among homeowners across Europe, and increased votes for the conservative party in the UK.

The beneficiaries of unaffordability, who they noted were those who own property, will prefer to keep policies and parties in place that keep prices high and rising, they concluded. However, while citizens on aggregate become less supportive of intervention, this masked a growing polarisation in preferences between renters and owners in less affordable regions.

Mr Coates said the research design was plausible in the European context, and that poor affordability would likely impact the preferences of political constituents. However, it was not clear if the politics would play out the same way in Australia, noting that at the last election, when Labor was promising changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, the electorates that swung to Labor tended to be those of higher income earners, while lower income electorates swung toward the Coalition.

However, Mr Coates also noted it was inner city working-class suburbs that had won big in the “housing lottery” as prices climbed over the years, as they were the group with the largest share of their wealth in housing, while the wealth of higher income earners was typically more diversified.

Mr Coates added there was a clear trend in Australia, though, of wealthier areas being more resistant to increased housing supply, but this was driven by multiple factors and not just potential concern of downward pressure on property prices.

“The real question in the Australian context, where there are clearly more house owners than renters making housing policy transformation really hard, is whether there is enough interest from baby boomers … sufficiently worried about whether their kids can ever buy, that leans them more to reform.

“Or whether the solution [they reach] is to double down … by giving [their children] more access to the bank of mum and dad [to get into the market].”

Mr Coates said both tax reform and increased supply would be key to improving housing affordability in Australia, and worried about staunch proponents of either approach downplaying the other at the current inquiry into housing affordability and supply in Australia, when both were clearly needed.

Independent economist Saul Eslake said supply side reforms were only part of the solution and the federal government needed to back away from policies that inflate housing demand, and had been pursued by both sides of government, such as first-home buyer grants, negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.

It was a tragedy that Labor had walked away from proposed changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax, he noted, with the opportunity for such reform now possibly gone for a generation.

A greater focus on building more social housing was also needed, with both parties allowing the proportion of such housing to decline egregiously over the decades.

Appearing before the affordability inquiry last month, he asked members of the committee whose interests they were most concerned about: the 11 million Australians who already own at least one property, and the more than two million who own more than one, or the minority, albeit a growing minority, who have been unable to buy. He noted their answer would determine what they recommended to Parliament, with their report expected early in 2022.

Mr Eslake said while politicians shed “crocodile tears” for young Australians struggling to get onto the property ladder, there was a huge gulf between what they say and do. However, Mr Eslake, who also referenced Howard’s comments, acknowledged most homeowners did not want to see government action that would stop the value of their property going up.

“There is a very large constituency that is resolutely opposed to anything that would dampen the rate of house price inflation, yet that is surely at the heart of what you have to do if you’re going to solve the affordability issue.”

Mr Eslake said it was unclear if Australians had become any more opposed to redistribution policy as affordability declined, but noted that while Australia had quite a progressive income tax transfer system, wealth was taxed very lightly compared to other countries.

Any polarisation in preferences between renters and owners was less obvious locally, Mr Eslake added, saying he was often surprised that there was not more anger from young Australians about the way in which the market has been rigged against them by their parents’ generation. But even if they were to adapt their voting behaviour, he said, who would they vote for, with no big reforms on the table from either party.

The last federal election showed the concern homeowners had for housing reform.

Economist Jim Stanford, director of The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, said that in the context of declining housing affordability it made sense for homeowners to be more cautious about their future and reforms, as they could feel more insecure in their situation, but was sceptical of the paper’s suggestion that they had benefited from unaffordability, noting few could sell off property without needing to buy elsewhere.

Many would also worry about their children and see that their kids did not “have a hope in hell” of buying a decent property, if poor affordability continued.

“I don’t think they are better off, even middle-class homeowners would be better off with a policy that thought of a housing as a more basic service. I don’t accept that they have made money off this boom [and just want] to continue to,” he said.

However, the last federal election had shown the concern homeowners had for housing reform, Dr Stanford said, noting that rightly or wrongly, those who saw themselves as housing investors could be influenced by scare campaigns against policies that made a lot of sense, like Labor’s proposed change to negative gearing.

“The government tried to portray it as a tax on homeowners, which is nonsense, but given how the election unfolded everyone is going to be curious about what they propose in this election, that experience sort of ratified the point … with this article.”

Dr Stanford said a big part of the solution would be building up Australia’s supply of non-market housing, which governments had basically walked away from over the last generation, with the time right for an ambitious plan to build more social and affordable housing.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar and shadow minister for housing and homelessness, Jason Clare, were contacted for comment.


UK Supreme Court backs Government's decision not to allow gender-neutral passports with an 'X' option instead of just male and female categories

The Supreme Court has backed the Government's decision to not allow gender-neutral passports.

Earlier this year, justices heard an appeal from campaigner Christie Elan-Cane who believes the Government's current passport policy is degrading and illogical.

Elan-Cane, who has campaigned for more than 25 years to achieve legal and social recognition for non-gendered identity, brought a case to the UK's highest court in the latest round of a legal fight for 'X' passports.

Elan-Cane argues that the UK's passport application process, which requires individuals to indicate whether they are male or female, breaches human rights laws.

The Supreme Court challenge, which was contested by the Home Secretary, centred on the current policy administered by Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) - part of the Home Office.

Last year, the Court of Appeal ruled it was 'beyond argument' that Elan-Cane's right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was engaged, but that the current policy did not amount to an unlawful breach.

In a judgment today, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Giving the ruling, Lord Reed said: 'The form is concerned with the applicants' gender as a biographical detail which can be used to confirm their identity by checking it against the birth, adoption or gender recognition certificates provided and other official records.

'It is therefore the gender recognised for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which is relevant.'

The President of the Supreme Court found that Elan-Cane's interest in being issued with an 'X' passport was 'outweighed' by other considerations, including 'maintaining a coherent approach across government' as to what genders are recognised.

Lord Reed continued: 'There is no legislation in the United Kingdom which recognises a non-gendered category of individuals.

'On the contrary, legislation across the statute book assumes that all individuals can be categorised as belonging to one of two sexes or genders, terms which have been used interchangeably.'

At a hearing in July, justices were told by that the current gendered policy has a significant impact on the lives of those affected.

Kate Gallafent QC, for Elan-Cane, said that non-gendered people, such as Elan-Cane, and non-binary people have to make a false declaration to get a passport, which 'strikes at the foundation of the standards of honesty and integrity to be expected of such official processes'.

Elan-Cane underwent a double mastectomy and then an NHS-funded hysterectomy in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ms Gallafent told the justices it was illogical for part of the state to recognise and facilitate Elan-Cane's identity while other parts did not.

She also argued there was a 'fundamental incoherence' in how the sex on a passport is changed for binary transgender people compared with other legal documents.

The court also heard that the Home Office accepts that a person's gender identity can be male, female, both or neither.

Sir James Eadie QC, for the Home Office, argued there was a need for an 'administratively coherent system for the recognition of gender'.

In written arguments, he said: 'It is obviously problematic, and highly undesirable, for one branch of Government, i.e. HMPO, to recognise non-binary identification when no other Government department does so.

'It may lead to the same person being treated as having a different sex/gender by HMPO for the purposes of issuing a passport on the one hand, and by other Government departments for all other Governmental functions on the other.'

Sir James said that amending the passport policy would be likely to require eligibility criteria for an 'X' passport to be raised.

'If there are no such criteria, and access to an 'X' passport is a matter of free choice unconnected to gender identity, the justification for such a change is significantly less forceful,' he said.


Why You Should Come Out of the Closet With Your Conservative Values

Dennis Prager

I received a phone call on my radio show from a man who said, “Dennis, I’m a gay conservative actor in Hollywood, and it is far easier to come out of the closet as gay than as a conservative.”

That call was in the 1980s.

While the current cancel culture —the firing, humiliation, disparagement, and smearing— of conservatives is exponentially worse today than 30 years ago, it is not new.

As a result, the great majority of Americans who are conservative—that is, about half the country—hide their true beliefs. They fear saying anything that differs with the Left. This would include such reprehensible sentiments as:

* With all its flaws, America is the finest country ever made.
Men do not give birth.

* There are only two sexes.

* A person’s color is the least important thing about them.

* The greatest problem in black life is not whites but a lack of fathers.

* A man who becomes a woman and then competes in women’s sports is cheating.

* Posting to social media a video by a renowned epidemiologist, virologist, or medical doctor who asserts that ivermectin and/or hydroxychloroquine with zinc, when used early enough, almost always prevents hospitalization for COVID-19.

The list is far longer than this. But if you think even this list overstates the problem, put any of these statements on any mainstream social media platform and see what happens. See if any relatives drop you from Facebook or even from their lives. See what your employer says or does. See what Twitter or Facebook does to your account.

There are valid reasons to fear publicly differing with the Left.

So, then, what arguments can be offered on behalf of coming out of the closet?

The first is this: For every person you alienate, you will likely bring at least one new, wonderful person into your life.

Putting aside issues of courage, of standing for what is right, of saving America from those working to destroy it, there is a great selfish reason to come out of the closet: kindred spirits, i.e., good people, will discover you.

In 2020, I received an email from a young woman in her second year at Harvard who told me that my book that explains the Left and America, “Still the Best Hope,” had changed her from liberal to conservative. Needless to say, I was intrigued to learn more about her and, as it happened, she lives—as I do—in Los Angeles. So, I invited her to sit in on my radio show.

While speaking to her during commercial breaks, I was impressed enough to ask if she would be willing to describe her political and moral metamorphosis on the radio. I warned her that appearing on “The Dennis Prager Show” and talking about her conservative views would likely lead to some lost friends, angry, if not alienated, relatives, and attacks back at Harvard. I made that case persuasively enough to give her pause and ask, “May I call my mother?”

She stepped out to make the call. When she returned to the studio, she announced, “I’m coming on.”

About half a year later, she made another appearance on my show, and I asked her what happened after her initial appearance.

“I went through two weeks of hell,” she responded.

As predicted, she lost friends she had had since elementary school, some relatives limited their contact with her, and some students back at Harvard regarded her as an indecipherable sellout.

“Then what happened?” I asked.

“Then I entered heaven,” she responded.

She offered two big reasons.

One was that she began to sleep better than she had in years. The other was the number of kindred spirits, all quality people, who reached out to her, some of whom became friends.

Regarding reason one —sleeping better— staying in the closet exacts a serious mental price on a person. One should not think only coming out of the closet exacts a price.

As for the second reason, virtually no price paid for coming out of the closet is comparable to the rewards of doing so. There is little as happiness-inducing as having kindred spirits in your life.


San Francisco APPROVES new measure that will see notorious Tenderloin District flooded with cops to tackle homeless drug crisis despite protests from city's woke Supervisor and DA

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an emergency order Friday to tackle the opioid epidemic in the city's crime-ridden Tenderloin neighborhood, despite multiple woke city leaders attacking the crackdown because it would flood the area with cops.

Mayor London Breed's order was passed by a vote held shortly after midnight Friday, with eight voting in favor of the plan and two voting against it, following a marathon 10 hours of debate and public comment.

The public health emergency declaration also authorizes the Department of Emergency Management to set up a new temporary center where people can access expanded drug treatment and counseling. Anyone caught abusing drugs who refuses help faces being arrested and locked up, sparking howls of protest from some of the violent city's progressive leaders.

Several supervisors raised objections, although only Board President Shamann Walton and Dean Preston voted no. They decried the lack of details and dearth of available treatment beds, and said that over-policing would victimize African Americans and the homeless.

'I know that this is an incredibly painful, traumatic and emotional conversation,' said Matt Haney, the supervisor who represents the neighborhood, before the vote. He said he hopes the city will bring all of its 'innovation, unyielding compassion and relentless determination' to confront the crisis.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen and the city's infamous woke DA Chesa Boudin were among those moaning about Breed's new plan before it was passed.

'I believe that we should all be marshaling every resource we have in this city to address that crisis,' said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

'But because of the way that this has been described in the media, I don't have faith that we're talking about the same thing.'

Meanwhile, Boudin - facing a recall over an embarrassing spike in crimes in the city blamed on his soft-touch on crime - has also condemned Breed's plan.

He said: 'We can't arrest and prosecute our way out of problems that are afflicting the Tenderloin,' Boudin said during a press conference on Monday.

'Arresting people who are addicted to drugs, jailing people who have mental health struggles, putting folks who are vending hot dogs or other food on the streets in cages will not solve these problems, and they are certainly not the only tools available.'

Breed's public health emergency declaration allows the Department of Emergency Management to re-allocate city staff and bypass contracting and permitting regulations to set up a new temporary center where people can access expanded drug treatment and counseling.

But advocates for the homeless and substance users are urging a no vote because Mayor London Breed has also pledged to flood the district with police officers to halt crime.

Public health officials encourage treatment for drug addicts, not punishment, but Breed has said that people consuming drugs in public may wind up in jail unless they accept services. Many locals have said that while they are sympathetic to the plight of addicts, many of whom are also homeless, they're fed up with the crime associated with the drug problem, as well as the filth and needles that now litter the famously-liberal city's streets.

The Tenderloin includes museums, the main public library and government offices, including City Hall. But it's also teeming with people who are homeless or marginally housed, a high concentration of drug dealers and people consuming drugs in broad view.

Breed said last week that it was time to be 'less tolerant of all the bull***t that has destroyed our city.' She said it's not fair that residents can't use their parks or leave home.

'When someone is openly using drugs on the street, we're going to give them the option of going to the services and treatment we're providing.' 'But if they refuse, we're not going to allow them to continue using on the street,' she said on social media this week. 'The families in the neighborhood deserve better.'

Breed has committed to opening a supervised drug consumption site as well as a drug sobering center, and said the Department of Emergency Management will lead the response much like it coordinated efforts to address the pandemic.

The department will, in part, streamline emergency medical calls, disrupt drug dealing and use, and make sure streets stay clean.

Deaths attributable to overdoses have increased more than 200 percent in San Francisco since 2018, and last year, more than 700 people died from drug overdoses in the city, more than the number who died from COVID-19, according to the proclamation.

Nearly 600 people have died of a drug overdose this year, through November, with nearly half of the deaths occurring in the Tenderloin and in the neighboring South of Market district, says the proclamation. These areas make up 7 percent of San Francisco's population.

Politically liberal cities across the US are grappling with crime in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd, when their elected leaders pledged ways to reduce friction between police and vulnerable communities of color, particularly African Americans such as Floyd.

San Francisco and the Bay Area in particular has been hit hard by a spate of what officials are calling organized smash-and-grab burglaries and car break-ins. Between May 2020 and May 2021, there was a 753 percent increase in the car break-ins in the city's Central District, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Walgreens closed a location at 790 Van Ness Avenue in October 2020 after losing up to $1,000 in stolen merchandise numerous days in a row, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Officers have already made a string of arrests in relation to the late-November attacks, which police previously posited were related.

Three arrests have been made in connection with the coordinated attack on a Nordstrom Inc. store in the wealthy Bay Area suburb of Walnut Creek, California, on November 20.

An estimated 90 people overran the posh boutique and made off with more than $100,000 of merchandise before escaping in 25 separate cars that had their license plates removed or covered, prosecutors said.

The city's reputation has taken a hit amid embarrassing videos of shoplifting mobs targeting drug stores and high-end department stores, including Neiman Marcus. Earlier this week, Walgreens announced it was closing five of its stores in the city because of rampant shoplifting.

The city's woke DA Chesa Boudin has been accused of being too soft on crime, and faces a recall effort from locals who say say the ultra-rich area has become too dangerous to live in.

'The criminals are committing these acts in broad daylight in this city,' Breed told KGO-TV of the smash and grab Audi gang back in October.

They want her to use the money on adding more treatment beds, shelters, job training and other social services.

'What we currently see in the Tenderloin didn't happen overnight and stems from years of massive disinvestment and displacement,' said Jeannette Zanipatin, California director at the Drug Policy Alliance.

If approved, the emergency order would last 90 days unless Breed seeks renewal.