An African-American mom and veteran on Trump’s first year

Op-ed on Fox News by Kathy Barnette, a conservative political commentator and Army veteran who is homeschooling her two children. Follow her on Twitter @Kathy4Truth.

Much has changed since President Trump took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2017. But one thing has remained constant – the anger and vitriol directed at the president from the left, many Democrats, many in the media, and even some folks who call themselves Republicans. Few presidents have been so demonized and denounced.

The president has been accused of being incompetent, a racist, mentally ill, senile and corrupt. Investigations of his alleged collusion with Russia to win the election go on and on and on with no end in sight.

The resistance to President Trump has gotten so hysterical that Jen Statsky, a writer and comedian who has written for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon;” Parks and Recreation” and “Broad City” even tweeted that “if you support Trump you should have your children taken away, etc etc.”

Now that we’ve arrived at the one-year mark of the Trump presidency, I’ve done some soul-searching regarding my support of the man elected by the American people to lead our nation. As a black woman, a mother and a veteran, am I doing the right thing to continue backing President Trump? Is he really as awful – even evil – as his critics claim? Are his ideas half-baked and dangerous? Is he harming the nation I love?

And what does my support for President Trump say about me? By backing a man so hated by some am I compromising my integrity and values? Can I be pro-Trump and still be a good person?

When I looked at the president’s policies and not just his tweets I decided that yes, I could be pro-Trump and still live my life with integrity.

Let me tell you why.

First, as a black woman, I believe President Trump’s overall impact on the black community has been positive.

Like many people who joined me in voting for Donald Trump in 2016, I’ve attended several of his campaign rallies. I have never been more warmly welcomed. My children had surrogate parents, uncles, aunts and cousins for a night, and were enveloped in the excitement and pride of being an American.

Beyond these personal anecdotes, however, are real markers that show President Trump’s impact on the black community. The December unemployment rate for black Americans fell to 6.8 percent – the lowest level in 45 years. That’s one full percentage point – meaning that roughly 480,000 more jobs are now held by black Americans. This is not just a statistic – it is about changed lives.

Additionally, the spread between black and white unemployment, measured as the black rate minus the white rate, fell to 3.1 percent, also the lowest on record. Would I like the black jobless rate to drop to the level of the white jobless rate? Of course I would! I have no doubt that President Obama wanted this as well. But under President Trump we are moving in the right direction, and I hope the unemployment gap between the races continues to shrink.

Couple this with the tax cuts signed into law by President Trump that are designed to incentivize companies to invest in the U.S., create more American jobs and lift stagnant wages; a booming stock market; and over a 100 companies giving bonuses and other benefits as a result of those tax cuts and widespread deregulation undertaken by the Trump administration.

All of this makes for a strong economy that is good for everyone. As one old saying goes, “you can’t have employees without employers” and as another saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Second, as a military veteran, I see that President Trump’s impact on veterans has been positive.

There are over 20 million veterans. Tragically, an average of 22 commit suicide every day. As a veteran, this horrible statistic is very painful for me. While we have done our fair share of haggling over health care and tax reform, the VA has not been stymied.

Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin has made important progress and managed to rise above the partisan divide. Veterans are getting their benefits faster. The backlog of veterans waiting more the 125 days to get a decision on their disability benefits has fallen from 611,000 to about 86,000.

The G.I. Bill has become the “Forever G.I. Bill,” allowing veterans to now pursue educational opportunities with government financial aid with no timing restrictions.

Furthermore, under President Trump, a new law now makes it possible to “drain” the VA of employees whose poor performance and mismanagement led to poor treatment of vets. The VA still has problems. But I see significant progress. These policies are good and are a reflection of decisive leadership.

Finally, as mother, I believe President Trump’s impact has been positive for my children.

National security matters just as much to me as making sure I lock every door before going to bed each night. As I demand to know who is entering my home, I think it’s only reasonable to demand that we know who is entering our country.

I’ve read President Trump’s 70-point immigration plan. As a mother, I do not understand what is so un-American about terminating the outdated catch-and-release of those who have been charged with a crime that resulted in the death of another person.

I’ve spoken to a mother who lost her only child in a fatal car accident involving an illegal immigrant who had prior drunk driving convictions. As a mother, I do not have a child to spare. So I feel no shame in supporting President Trump’s plan to expand the grounds on which an illegal immigrant can be deported to include those convicted of multiple drunk-driving offenses.

What is so wrong about making sure known gang members do not receive immigration benefits? Why should we financially support that?  I believe each of the 70 points, including building a wall on our southern border, are reasonable and necessary. They are the first of many steps to Make America Safe Again.

Remember, we don’t lock our doors at night because we hate the people on the outside of our home. We lock our doors at night because we love the people on the inside of our home. To do anything less is to be derelict of our first duties – protecting the family and preserving our nation for the next generation.

Looking at all the above issues, I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, I can be a good person and support President Trump. Is he perfect? Am I happy about everything he says and tweets and does? Of course not – like all human beings, he has his flaws.

But elections are not about picking perfect people. They are about picking the best person running for an office to fill that office. And looking back at President Trump’s first year in office, I remain convinced that he was the better candidate for president in 2016.

The Signaling of Virtue

How To Trump The Media: Avoid Conservatives’ Biggest Mistake

JOE KATZMAN

A good friend of mine wrote me recently. He complained about smug leftist neighbors who are “making decisions to ‘feel good’ with virtually no regard for true factual input or testing.”

I get this a lot.

If you want to understand Donald Trump, you need understand why this complaint is myopic. Once you do understand, you’ll never see politics the same way again. You’ll also begin to grasp that leftism does work, and that you’ve just failed to understand how.

Which is why you lose so often.

Want a clue?

“Feel good” about what?

Not about being right, which is best described as “useful, to a point.” Aristotle noticed over 2,000 years ago that many people aren’t persuadable by logical arguments. So what’s the “feeling good” all about?

The right’s favorite mistake

Try this on for size:

People often take public positions in an attempt to increase their social status.

If you’ve been in a corporate setting, or settings with certain friends, I don’t need to offer further examples of this idea. You’ve seen it happen, and you also know that you need to be “reading the room” at all times before you speak and act. Failure costs status. People notice this dynamic, and act accordingly.

I didn’t say it was an ideal state of affairs. But a truly rational person must notice reality. My friend and his wife are picking up on a “we’re higher status than you” signal, and it’s part of the reason they’re so upset.

Macro examples also abound:

Do you really think it’s a coincidence that leftism and its “Diversity Pokemon Points” amount to a full caste system?

Do you have any doubt about The left’s hatred for those who will not stay in their assigned status?

Have you noticed their quickness to turn on their own allies? Fail to follow the latest fad, and your status is demoted.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that endlessly callous virtue signaling is the identifying badge of our modern try-hard Striver Class.

Maybe that’s because American public education is now a 20-year Milgram Experiment. Where the meta-message inside political correctness is to override your own judgement, in favor of deliberately-shifting judgements from people with higher status.

These aren’t accidents. They’re clues.

Leftism isn’t a policy machine or an economic machine. Its economic results would tell you that much in a hurry. But the machine keeps running. Which means it must work for something. The correct question is: in what way does it work?

Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is.

That’s conservatism’s most consistent and most damaging mistake.

Why do the media have power? Because they have social status with ordinary people. Are we still hearing about Watergate — decades later? The Pentagon Papers? How many movies seem to exist just to show journalists as heroes? Or let’s take a different tack: What’s the attraction of such a low-paying profession? Status given by the profession, and status from rubbing shoulders with high-status people. Status by acting as a vector for status signals, which is what every women’s magazine is. Ditto publications like WIRED, which is just Cosmo for geeks.

The media offers people clues about what things are high status within the areas they cover. People notice, and act accordingly. Yet most conservatives still don’t understand Trump’s response:

If I lower the media’s status, I will wreck their power.

So The Donald says that the media has “some of the most dishonest people” he has ever seen. Not an arm’s length complaint. A direct and personal status attack, rooted in truth.

Trump also acts in ways that cause journalists to fulfill his pre-suasion labeling. He makes “outrageous” statements, which many people outside the Beltway Bubble agree with. Those statements receive over-the-top media attacks, which make his enemies look ridiculous. Then events swiftly show that Trump had a point. Trump rubs it in, using the media’s own “Fake News” term against them and pouncing on every sloppy and dishonest mistake. As a final topper, Trump makes the dishonest media a focus during every massive rally. Which strengthens his out-grouping effect among participants and viewers.

He uses ridicule and lèse majesté, not bended knee and appeals — note that subordinating word — to logical argument.

The result?

American belief in the credibility of their news media is now at about 32 percent. That’s the lowest ever polled, and an 8 percent drop from the lowest point of the 2008-2015 period. The media has lost audience, and a lot of power. When Vogue tried to damage Melania by ripping her wardrobe, activists promptly made memes from a photo of the weird-looking critic. The attack instantly lost its power.

Facebook has tried to fight these trend lines by flagging items as “fake news.” Recently, the social media giant decided to stop. Too many people sought out flagged articles. Or, put another way: In many circles, the mainstream media’s status has become negative.

What an amazing amount of damage to a hostile institution.

Rational people notice and acknowledge real-world results. Even the left has noticed.

So, why hadn’t anyone ever done this before? In fairness, Newt Gingrich had some success in the 2012 primaries, and Ted Cruz has also tried. But they lacked the full array of tools. Worse, they didn’t understand how to make the media their enemy.

Once you understand conservatives’ biggest and most consistent mistake, it all becomes clear.

Pits of fecal matter

President Trump is alleged to have referred to a number of countries as “shitholes”. Democratic operatives and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) are behaving like first-graders and saying, “Ummmmm! You said a bad word! I’m telling…”

From PowerLine blog:

A reader asks a good question: “Would it make a difference if he’d said ‘hellholes’? How else would liberals describe these God-forsaken places?” And why are so many residents of these places anxious to emigrate to the U.S.? The same reader, a Boston native, suggests that Trump may be saying, however crudely, what most Americans believe: “Boston, 1974, Louise Day Hicks: ‘She Says What You Think.’” That is indeed how a great many people view President Trump.

Perhaps he should have said,

“There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit
“And the vermin of the world inhabit it
“And it’s morals aren’t worth what a pig can spit
“And it goes by the name of London Haiti
“At the top of the hole sit the privileged few
“Making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo
“Turning beauty into filth and greed
“I too have sailed the world and seen its wonders
“For the cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru
“But there’s no place like London Haiti”
….
“There’s a hole in the world
like a great black pit and it’s
filled with people
who are filled with shit
and the vermin of the world inhabit it.”

But he didn’t. And even if he had, Democratic operatives and the mainstream media (a degenerate set in the mathematical sense, at the very least) would have focused on skin color as the only possible reason for Trump’s sentiments. People who can only see skin color as an explanation of behavior lack the credibility to label anyone else “racist”.

Rules for Innocents

Vassar Bushmills (First published in 2010, then cut from the original website when the new editors realized I was talking about them here, which is an indicator about the youth-cult in conservatism is faring.) Underneath the hotel I always stayed in Bulgaria is an (unlicensed) Buddha Bar, where the [Read More]

Source: Rules for Innocents

On the Crying of “Wolf!”

If you can’t call a black out for misbehavior, you’re the racist.

Black Protest Has Lost Its Power

Have whites finally found the courage to judge African-Americans fairly by universal standards?

By Shelby Steele
Jan. 12, 2018

The recent protests by black players in the National Football League were rather sad for their fruitlessness. They may point to the end of an era for black America, and for the country generally—an era in which protest has been the primary means of black advancement in American life.

There was a forced and unconvincing solemnity on the faces of these players as they refused to stand for the national anthem. They seemed more dutiful than passionate, as if they were mimicking the courage of earlier black athletes who had protested: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, fists in the air at the 1968 Olympics; Muhammad Ali, fearlessly raging against the Vietnam War; Jackie Robinson, defiantly running the bases in the face of racist taunts. The NFL protesters seemed to hope for a little ennoblement by association.

And protest has long been an ennobling tradition in black American life. From the Montgomery bus boycott to the march on Selma, from lunch-counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides to the 1963 March on Washington, only protest could open the way to freedom and the acknowledgment of full humanity. So it was a high calling in black life. It required great sacrifice and entailed great risk. Martin Luther King Jr. , the archetypal black protester, made his sacrifices, ennobled all of America, and was then shot dead.

For the NFL players there was no real sacrifice, no risk and no achievement. Still, in black America there remains a great reverence for protest. Through protest—especially in the 1950s and ’60s—we, as a people, touched greatness. Protest, not immigration, was our way into the American Dream. Freedom in this country had always been relative to race, and it was black protest that made freedom an absolute.

It is not surprising, then, that these black football players would don the mantle of protest. The surprise was that it didn’t work. They had misread the historic moment. They were not speaking truth to power. Rather, they were figures of pathos, mindlessly loyal to a black identity that had run its course.

What they missed is a simple truth that is both obvious and unutterable: The oppression of black people is over with. This is politically incorrect news, but it is true nonetheless. We blacks are, today, a free people. It is as if freedom sneaked up and caught us by surprise.

Of course this does not mean there is no racism left in American life. Racism is endemic to the human condition, just as stupidity is. We will always have to be on guard against it. But now it is recognized as a scourge, as the crowning immorality of our age and our history.

Protest always tries to make a point. But what happens when that point already has been made—when, in this case, racism has become anathema and freedom has expanded?

What happened was that black America was confronted with a new problem: the shock of freedom. This is what replaced racism as our primary difficulty. Blacks had survived every form of human debasement with ingenuity, self-reliance, a deep and ironic humor, a capacity for self-reinvention and a heroic fortitude. But we had no experience of wide-open freedom.

Watch out that you get what you ask for, the saying goes. Freedom came to blacks with an overlay of cruelty because it meant we had to look at ourselves without the excuse of oppression. Four centuries of dehumanization had left us underdeveloped in many ways, and within the world’s most highly developed society. When freedom expanded, we became more accountable for that underdevelopment. So freedom put blacks at risk of being judged inferior, the very libel that had always been used against us.

To hear, for example, that more than 4,000 people were shot in Chicago in 2016 embarrasses us because this level of largely black-on-black crime cannot be blamed simply on white racism.

We can say that past oppression left us unprepared for freedom. This is certainly true. But it is no consolation. Freedom is just freedom. It is a condition, not an agent of change. It does not develop or uplift those who win it. Freedom holds us accountable no matter the disadvantages we inherit from the past. The tragedy in Chicago—rightly or wrongly—reflects on black America.

That’s why, in the face of freedom’s unsparing judgmentalism, we reflexively claim that freedom is a lie. We conjure elaborate narratives that give white racism new life in the present: “systemic” and “structural” racism, racist “microaggressions,” “white privilege,” and so on. All these narratives insist that blacks are still victims of racism, and that freedom’s accountability is an injustice.

We end up giving victimization the charisma of black authenticity. Suffering, poverty and underdevelopment are the things that make you “truly black.” Success and achievement throw your authenticity into question.

The NFL protests were not really about injustice. Instead such protests are usually genuflections to today’s victim-focused black identity. Protest is the action arm of this identity. It is not seeking a new and better world; it merely wants documentation that the old racist world still exists. It wants an excuse.

For any formerly oppressed group, there will be an expectation that the past will somehow be an excuse for difficulties in the present. This is the expectation behind the NFL protests and the many protests of groups like Black Lives Matter. The near-hysteria around the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and others is also a hunger for the excuse of racial victimization, a determination to keep it alive. To a degree, black America’s self-esteem is invested in the illusion that we live under a cloud of continuing injustice.

When you don’t know how to go forward, you never just sit there; you go backward into what you know, into what is familiar and comfortable and, most of all, exonerating. You rebuild in your own mind the oppression that is fading from the world. And you feel this abstract, fabricated oppression as if it were your personal truth, the truth around which your character is formed. Watching the antics of Black Lives Matter is like watching people literally aspiring to black victimization, longing for it as for a consummation.

But the NFL protests may be a harbinger of change. They elicited considerable resentment. There have been counterprotests. TV viewership has gone down. Ticket sales have dropped. What is remarkable about this response is that it may foretell a new fearlessness in white America—a new willingness in whites (and blacks outside the victim-focused identity) to say to blacks what they really think and feel, to judge blacks fairly by standards that are universal.

We blacks have lived in a bubble since the 1960s because whites have been deferential for fear of being seen as racist. The NFL protests reveal the fundamental obsolescence—for both blacks and whites—of a victim-focused approach to racial inequality. It causes whites to retreat into deference and blacks to become nothing more than victims. It makes engaging as human beings and as citizens impermissible, a betrayal of the sacred group identity. Black victimization is not much with us any more as a reality, but it remains all too powerful as a hegemony.

Mr. Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is author of “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country” (Basic Books, 2015).

As a matter of fact, minimum wage laws hurt the poor

NO ONE LIKES to admit having been wrong. It’s especially tough for members of the pundit class, whose job amounts to telling people what to think. So when National Review’s critic-at-large Kyle Smith last week published a piece with the headline “We Were Wrong About Stop-and-Frisk,” people noticed.

Smith and National Review are conservative. Like many conservatives, they had predicted that if New York Mayor Bill de Blasio fulfilled his campaign pledge to end stop-and-frisk — the police practice of stopping, questioning, and patting down people for weapons merely because they seemed suspicious — crime in the city would go up. But that’s not what happened.

In the four years since de Blasio became mayor, conceded Smith, major crime has declined “to the lowest rates since New York City began keeping extensive records on crime in the early 1960s.” The left-wing mayor turned out to be right about stop-and-frisk. The right-wing journal said so, and in so doing, displayed more loyalty to truth than to theory.

Following facts where they lead is a principle easier to state than to live up to, particularly when the facts upend our preconceptions. Some public-policy debates are endless because they are rooted in disagreement over fundamental principles — the question of capital punishment, for example. But other disputes ought to be resolvable, at some point, by facts on the ground. Advocates of an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy were certain the only alternative was higher crime rates. They were mistaken. The honest response is to acknowledge it, and end the debate.

Another controversy that should be laid to rest is the impact of minimum-wage laws.

When government raises the lowest hourly wage at which a worker may lawfully be employed, does it help those at the foot of the economic ladder? The issue has been fought over for decades. Yet reality repeatedly renders the same verdict: Artificially hiking minimum wages makes it harder to employ unskilled workers. Raising the cost of labor invariably prices some marginal laborers out of the job market. Advocates of higher minimums may wish to ensure a “living wage” for the working poor. Yet the result is that fewer poor people get work.

Two years ago, Seattle’s hourly minimum wage jumped to $13, the second hike in less than a year. Before the legislation was enacted, there had been the usual arguments pro and con. But the impact of Seattle’s law is now a matter of facts, not theory. And those facts confirm what opponents of the increase had foretold: Minimum-wage hikes hurt the poor.

In a major research paper last summer, economists commissioned by the city of Seattle reported that the hike to $13 an hour caused a decline in the employment of low-wage workers. For those who remained employed, it caused a sharp cutback in hours. When the gain from higher hourly wages was set against the loss of jobs and hours, the bottom line was stark: “The minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016.”

Another 2017 study, by Harvard Business School scholars, analyzed the effect of minimum wage hikes on San Francisco-area restaurants. The upshot: Every $1 increase in the mandatory minimum wage led to a 14 percent increase in the likelihood that a median-rated restaurant would go out of business. Decades of empirical research, dating back to the first federal minimum-wage law, have reached similar conclusions.

In 18 states this month, minimum wages are going up. Will those changes make unskilled workers more employable? Will the hours they work be increased? As in Seattle and the Bay Area, these questions will have answers. Soon enough, fresh data will shed even more light on the question of what happens to unskilled laborers when their labor is made more costly. Perhaps that will be the moment when someone more loyal to truth than to theory will publish an essay bowing to reality and conceding, at long last: “We Were Wrong About the Minimum Wage.”