Monday, December 30, 2019

The ITER experimental fusion reactor is switched on in 2022

Human-engineered fusion was already demonstrated on a small scale. The problem has been finding ways of scaling it up to commercial levels in an efficient, economical, and environmentally benign way.

ITER – previously known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – aims to be the first project to achieve this. Built in southern France at a cost of €20 billion, it has taken over a decade to construct and is among the largest scientific projects ever undertaken, second only to the International Space Station. This joint research experiment is funded by the US, EU, Japan, Russia, China, India and South Korea.

To demonstrate net fusion power on a large scale, the reactor must simulate the conditions at the Sun's core. For this, it uses a magnetic confinement device called a tokamak. This doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber generates a powerful magnetic field that prevents heat from touching the reactor's walls. Tiny quantities of fuel are injected into and trapped within the chamber. Here they are heated to 100 million degrees, forming a plasma. At such high temperatures, the light atomic nuclei of hydrogen become fused together, creating heavier forms of hydrogen such as deuterium and tritium. This releases neutrons and a huge amount of energy.

Following its operational activation in 2022,* it is hoped that ITER will eventually produce over 500 megawatts of power, in bursts of 400 seconds or more. This compares with 16 MW for the Joint European Torus (JET) in 1997, the previous world record peak fusion power, which lasted only a few seconds.

ITER will require many more years before its reactor has been sufficiently perfected. To generate the sort of continuous levels of power required for commercial operation, it will need a way of holding the plasma in place at the critical densities and temperatures. This will need refinements in the design of the chamber, such as better superconducting magnets and advances in vacuum systems.
However, it could ultimately lead to a revolution in energy. If this project were to succeed, humanity would gain a virtually unlimited supply of clean, green electricity.*

iter experimental fusion reactor 2018 future
Credit: ITER

Railguns are in use by the U.S. navy in 2026

After years of research and development, railguns are now in common use on U.S. naval ships.* Unlike traditional artillery, which create force with explosive materials, the railgun is powered entirely by electricity from the ship's grid. It works by storing up a supply of electrical power, using what is called a pulse-forming network, which is then converted to an electromagnetic pulse. This travels up the barrel along parallel tracks of magnetic rails, forcing the projectile out of the gun, away from the power source.

The weapon is capable of firing an 18-inch metal projectile, itself equipped with complex internal guidance systems, over 100 miles at close to mach 6. This is fast enough to set the air around the projectile ablaze, while delivering it to targets in mere minutes. Explosive rounds are unnecessary, since the kinetic energy released upon impact yields more power than traditional bombs of much greater size. New rapid-fire systems allow for a launch rate of around ten per minute.

A number of technical issues first had to be overcome to reach this point though. Advances in materials technology were required to keep the barrel from wearing out after repeated firings, while the projectiles needed to be outfitted in a way that protected internal guidance systems during launch. New cooling techniques also had to be introduced. The guns themselves originally required more electricity than standard naval ships could provide. This was overcome with advances in energy efficiency, along with ultra-dense storage batteries.

In combat situations, the railgun offers major benefits. It has greater accuracy over extremely long ranges. It can be used as initial cover fire for marines landing on shore, or as a defense against incoming missiles and other threats. Ships armed with these hi-tech weapons are able to attack with virtual impunity, safe from almost any retaliatory strike. Railguns become widespread around the world in the 2030s, adopted by many other navies. This devastating form of weaponry provides a considerable advantage in modern conflicts.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Cultural Winners and Losers of 2019

As we end another year, our popular culture still revolves around President Donald Trump, and our news and entertainment conglomerates continue to be outraged that conservative Christians stick with him, so much so they are summarily ignored. Support him as, say, Franklin Graham and a vast majority of evangelicals have done and ... crickets. But what happens when evangelicals don't?

Happy days are here again. The left has lunged to promote an editorial by Christianity Today magazine that insists Trump must be removed from office. What the left understands -- and some on the right still ignore -- is that the cultural is far more powerful than the political. Thus, whenever a force on the cultural left flaps its wings, it is saluted. In the rare occasion that the entity advances the cultural right, it's slammed, or ignored.

But that's not necessarily how America sees it, thanks to social media that has done an end run around the press and told the truth. The left still dominates in the cultural space, but it no longer enjoys a monopoly.
Let's look at the cultural winners and losers of 2019:

Loser: Jussie Smollett, the "Empire" actor and Hollywood race hoaxer who cost the taxpayers of Chicago more than $130,000 for all the time it took police to look for a nonexistent hate crime. Nothing says viral like a black gay celebrity claiming he was beaten by red-hatted Trumpster thugs. For two weeks, the left went nuts. Celebrities, politicians and the "news" media convicted Trump World for what it had allegedly caused. And it never happened. And now all of America knows it.

Winners: the students of Covington Catholic High School. Speaking of viral sensations of "fake news" around Trump hats, these high school kids were smeared relentlessly for several days for allegedly making evil smirks at a Native American activist. But the Diocese of Covington launched an investigation and found "no evidence of offensive or racist statements." Again it was social media that spread the word to tens of millions across the country about the wrong done to the students. They were vindicated in the court of public opinion.

Winner: "Unplanned," the movie about Abby Johnson, who converted from Planned Parenthood clinic director to conservative Catholic activist. Major music labels refused to license songs for it. Cable-news channels refused to run ads for it. Newspaper film critics refused to review it. And yet the little film became the talk of social media. What Pure Flix delivered has done more to advance the pro-life cause than the National Right to Life Committee has accomplished in the past three decades.

Loser: the abortion industry. In September, the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute estimated that there were about 862,000 abortions in 2017, nearly 200,000 fewer than in 2011. The abortion rate -- the number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 -- dropped to 13.5 in 2017, the lowest rate since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973.

Loser: Gillette. In January, NPR touted a Gillette ad that attacked its own consumers. "The first half of the ad portrays males as boorish, sexually harassing women, mansplaining and bullying," NPR reported. It probably saw the ad as an anti-Trump message. The second half of the ad insisted men must change. The ad went viral. Then, Gillette dug in deeper. Shortly before Father's Day, the company launched an ad about a dad teaching his "son" -- a biological girl -- how to shave. Sales tanked. But the company claimed it wasn't the ads. It blamed "lower shaving frequency."

Loser: The Walt Disney Studios. It dominated the top-grossing movies, but superhero flicks like "Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain Marvel" pandered aerobically to feminists. And for all that energy, leftist sites like Slate still bashed the movies for being "too patronizing, too late." Why bother messing with superheroes

We're Living in the (Almost) Best of Times

The best of times, the worst of times. Your instinct on which one we're living through is affected by your basic temperament, but it also depends on how well you're observing -- and quantifying -- things in the world around you.

Temperamentally, in the United States -- or at least in that loud, if not large, part of it dominated by political tweets -- the overwhelming

weight of opinion, crossing party lines that are unusually rigid in this period of American history, is that we live in the worst of times.

President Donald Trump, enjoying all-but-unanimous support from Republicans in polls, tells us that we are living on the brink of disaster, at risk of being sucked under the sludge by vicious creatures of the swamp.

Trump opponents, including almost the whole of the Democratic Party and a tattered but still loudly chirping fragment of the Republican Party, assure us that we are entering the dark night of Nazism, racism and violent suppression of all dissenting opinion.

To which I say: Nonsense.

As does, in more elegant terms, science writer and British House of Lords voting member Matt Ridley in the British Spectator. "We are living through the greatest improvement in human living standards in history," he writes of the decade just ending.

Olden times -- multiepisode dramas of Edwardian noblemen or statistics showing a narrower pay gap between 1950s CEOs and assembly line workers -- may look better in warm memories. But cold hard statistics tell another story.
CARTOONS | Ken Catalino
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"Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 per cent of the world's population for the first time," Ridley writes. "It was 60 per cent when I was born," which was in 1958, a year that some of us can actually remember.

Of course, you may say economic progress made since China and India discovered the magic of free markets has helped people over there but that over here, in advanced countries, we're not growing, just gobbling up and wolfing down more of the world's limited resources.

Not so, replies Ridley. Consumers in advanced countries are actually consuming less stuff (biomass, metals, minerals or fossil fuels) per capita, even while getting more nutrition and production from it. Thank technological advances and, yes, in some cases, government regulations.

We're also experiencing, as a world and in advanced countries and domestically, less violence and more in the way of peace. That's the argument of Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker in his book "The Better Angels of Our Nature." Wars are infrequent and less deadly than in the past.

So is violent crime in the United States and other advanced nations. It used to be taken as given that disadvantaged young males, especially those minorities discriminated against, were hugely likely to commit violent crimes. Now, thanks to improved policing and changed attitudes, far fewer do so.

The natural tendency of most people is to ignore positive trends. They are neither the lead stories on your local newscast nor mentioned in shouting matches on cable news. People usually focus on complaints and grievances. And there are worrying negative countertrends, like the opioid abuse that has cut life expectancies down for some demographic groups.

And we tend to focus on negative trends, even after they've been reversed. Illegal border crossings peaked just before the 2007-08 financial crisis and are much fewer -- though not zero -- today. Low-skilled workers' wages for years rose little or not at all, as politicians of both parties complained. Since 2016, they've been rising faster than average, but only Trump's fans seem to have noticed; Democrats probably will if the trend continues when their party has the White House.

One can even make the case that where we lament sluggish economic growth -- Japan since 1990, continental Europe since 2001, the U.S. from 2007 up through 2017 -- judged in any historic perspective, living standards remain more than comfortable.

That's a reminder that the positive force of democratic politics tends to produce the negative force of cynical partisanship, visible today not just in Donald Trump's America but in most of Europe and much of Asia. But nationalistic politics has not undermined civil liberties, and the center-left's fumbling attempts to sell economic redistribution suggest that people are actually better off than their grumbles to pollsters suggest.

Of course bad things can happen in even the best of times, and a minor cloudburst can spoil a bright summer day. But at year's and decade's end, our grumbling society is closer to the best of times than to the worst of times

Monday, December 23, 2019

Top 100 Books

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Impeachment from the "Star Chamber"

The Star Chamber (Latin: Camera stellata) was an English court which sat at the royal Palace of Westminster, from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century  The vote to impeach President Trump last week was the culmination of
a trend in the Democratic Party that is just plain weird.

The vote to “formalize” Adam Schiff’s one-sided, secret Star Chamber impeachment hearings in the basement of the House and send the process to the House Judiciary Committee took place on Halloween. One Democratic member, Katie Porter of California, wore a Batman costume to cast her vote that day.

Then the vote by the House Judiciary Committee to recommend impeachment and send the matter to the full House for a vote took place on December 13. That was a Friday. As in Friday the 13th.

Now I am not the superstitious sort. The votes had to take place on one day or another, and Rep. Jerry Nadler had apparently originally planned to hold the House Judiciary Committee vote on Thursday, December 12, but the hearings ran late into the night. Not wanting to take a vote at 10PM, which would miss the zenith of the daily news cycle, he opted to adjourn and hold the vote the next day, when a whole panoply of cameras and microphones would be available for Democratic congressmen to gloat before the world. Still, that makes the timing of the event on Friday the 13th even eerier, since it was seemingly less planned.

When you consider these two events in light of other surreal happenings on the Left, I think I’d be running from the Democratic Party like a teenage girl on Elm Street running from a guy in a hockey mask holding a blood-drenched butcher knife.

Take the recent story about the Texas pro-abortion group called Texas Equal Access Fund, which held a holiday party this month in which the party favors consisted of votive candles with the image of a unicorn and the words “Abortions are Magical!” on them. Seriously. These were given out by an abortion group at a “holiday party” – what us old-school folks call Christmas parties, designed to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World. They actually posted a photo of their candles on social media, saying, “Getting our holiday party favors ready! Every year we honor our volunteers and make sure they get a token of appreciation at our annual holiday party.” That’s some honor.

Yes, the group was perhaps trolling right-wingers with their stunt. But at what price to their souls? Or do they have any?

That question isn’t just rhetorical when you consider that Democrats in 2019 passed a shockingly liberal abortion law in New York, to the point where a full-term baby can be murdered (sorry, “aborted”) for virtually any reason right up to its entry into the birth canal.

And in what has to be among the creepiest political interviews ever conducted, Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam, a pediatrician no less, actually endorsed infanticide. That is not hyperbole. He told Washington, D.C. radio listeners in his most soothing bedside manner voice, how in third trimester abortions if a baby to be aborted survives its trip through the birth canal, the doctor and the mother can have a “discussion” about that baby’s fate, with the implication being that if mother and doctor decide that baby will not live, it will be dispatched in one form or another. That is infanticide.

Even more shockingly, that interview did not end Governor Northam’s political career. In fact, Governor Northam was able to weather revelations shortly after that interview that he appeared in his medical school yearbook in a photo depicting someone in blackface standing next to someone in Ku Klux Klan regalia (which character Gov. Northam depicted – blackface wearer or KKK guy – was never definitively determined, although Dr. Northam did later confess to having worn blackface in the past, helpfully advising people not to use shoe polish to achieve the effect, since it’s so hard to remove).

Gov. Northam survived all of these scandals, while his Democratic lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, stood credibly accused of having sexually assaulted two women, also without having to resign. Not to be outdone, the third in line in Virginia’s state government, Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring, admitted himself to having work blackface. He also survived this scandal, which would unquestionably have finished the career of any Republican.

All of these Democratic politicians continue in office to this day. And what is most concerning is that, notwithstanding these bombshell disclosures, the Old Dominion would see the Democrats take control of both the State Senate and House of Delegates six months later. Incredibly, Lt. Governor Fairfax has just announced that he plans to seek the governorship, despite the allegations of the two very serious women who accused him of sexual assault.

Finally, as 2019 neared its end, we saw the Democrats and progressives worldwide loft to stardom a young Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg who, at the ripe old age of 16, stood before presumed adults around the world and scolded them for not doing enough to address global warming, or climate change, or whatever the term du jour is for man’s alleged sins against the planet.

This young lady could easily have been cast in a starring role in the 1960 British sci-fi shlock flick, Village of the Damned, or its 1964 sequel, Children of the Damned. In this Cold War horror story, teenagers in the idyllic English village of Midwich have been experimented on by the military and – oops – things go awry, with the kids developing psychic powers that their military experimenters can’t control. Maybe the scariest part is their glowing eyes and zombie-like stares, not unlike Greta’s.

Presciently, the writers of the sequel had the cast of creepy kids representing countries from all over the world. How diversity-conscious of them. No doubt Greta would approve. But I’m not kidding about Greta resembling these kids. Watch a trailer for Village of the Damned here, and then watch Greta’s “How dare you!” speech at the U.N. I think Greta has a shot for a lead role in a 2020 remake.

But really what’s creepier than some poor brainwashed Swedish teenager spouting programmed talking points about so-called climate change are the number of adults who actually listen to her, or even revere her, such as those at Time Magazine who named her Person of the Year.

That is creepy. What is wrong with the Democratic Party and leftists generally who embrace this stuff?

Let 2019 be remembered as the year the Democrats went full-on creepy. Let’s hope 2020 pulls them back to somewhat sane.

William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private, and non-profit sectors for more than 30 years. He is a senior investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc., and a contributor to Townhall, American Thinker, and The Federalist. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch

Friday, December 20, 2019

Understanding Democrats' March Toward Electoral Defeat

After months of false starts and threats and endless posturing, Donald Trump has joined Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as the third American president impeached by the House of Representatives. Democrats started promising to do this before the president was elected. Still, it feels kind of weird, surprising, surreal even, that it actually happened. Why? Because impeachment is a terrible idea for the country. At this point, there is no chance the Democrats can remove the president. And in trying, they will only hurt themselves. The polls are clear. Yet -- and here is the fascinating part -- they did it anyway.

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin explained why: "The president's continuing course of conduct constitutes a clear and present danger to democracy in America. We cannot allow this misconduct to pass. It would be a sell-out of our Constitution, our foreign policy, our national security, and our democracy." See if you can follow his logic chain: Leaving a president in office until voters can decide to remove him from office if they want to is "a danger to democracy."

The entire impeachment saga has become detached from reality. Here are the facts: Democrats do not have the votes to remove Trump from office. They never will have the votes to remove the president. The point of impeachment is to remove a president. They cannot do that. This process is doomed. By the way, they don't have the votes because voters don't support it. The irony is that our democracy is working just fine. Voters support it. After a full month of watching public hearings on impeachment, Democrats have not gained support. They have lost it. In late October, when this began, about half the country backed impeachment and 44% said they were opposed. In the most recent polling, those numbers have inverted. In other words, the more people learned about impeachment, the less they wanted impeachment. That's not one person's opinion. That is the sum total of the polling.

Even in the face of all the data, elite Democrats still will not admit it. They are in denial. Democratic Party cheerleader and CNN commentator Jeffrey Toobin attacked his own company's polling when it didn't match what he believes to be true: "You see a decline from our last poll in Democratic support from 90% down to 77%. Can I just say, that I don't believe that poll for one second...The 90% to 77%. You know, it's just I don't believe it. Like it makes no sense that that the numbers would change like that. I mean... sometimes polls are sometimes wrong."

Why doesn't he believe it? Because he doesn't. Says the legal analyst. I look out my window and I see the horizon. That means it's flat. You can tell me the Earth is round. But I just don't believe it, never mind your dumb numbers and scientific theories. I just don't believe it. This is the definition of ideological extremism. It's an inability to change course no matter what the evidence tells you. At that point, this is no longer politics. We left that a long time ago. What we are seeing is religion. And, of course, being the Democratic Party, it's always the exact opposite of what they claim it is.

As Trump noted in the recent letter to Nancy Pelosi: "You are the ones interfering in America's elections. You are the ones subverting American democracy. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to the republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain." The public, whether they like Trump or not, agrees with that. Polling shows it.

But the Democrats can't acknowledge that they are stuck. In 2016, even before the election, they went all-in on denouncing Trump and his supporters as beyond the pale racists not worthy of being hated. When they lost, they refused to learn. They refused to think about why they may have lost. Instead, they moved seamlessly from calling voters who wouldn't support them "racists" into a conspiracy about Russia that was so bizarre they could never fully explain its outlines. That collapsed, too. But what hasn't changed is the rage storm they've created with years of propaganda. Democratic leaders whipped their voters into such a frenzy that the voters can't be pulled back now. They want blood. The Democrats have no choice but to march forward even though it will inevitably destroy them, and they know it will.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Xbox Series X Specs similar to Playstation 5 (16 GB of RAM)

The CPU will be a custom AMD ZEN 2 chipset, accompanied by a custom GPU built on the AMD RDNA architecture, with ray-tracing touted as a standout capability. Confirmation of a solid-state drive should be welcome news for those sick of loading times.
Microsoft also claimed that the new console handles "4K at 60FPS, with possibility of up to 120FPS, including support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and 8K capability."
This obviously falls short of detailed information on its capabilities, so we turn to rumours for specifics. As reported by Windows Central's sources, Series X might boast:
  • CPU: 8-core targeting around 3.5 GHz.
  • GPU: Xbox Series X GPU and custom processor.
  • Compute Power: 12 TFLOPS.
  • RAM: 13 GB for games, 3 GB for operating system (16 GB total).
  • Storage: Custom non-volatile memory express solid-state storage (NVMe SSD).
 Phil Spencer, Microsoft's Xbox chief, said: "We wanted to have a dramatic upgrade from the Xbox One base console. So when we do the math, we're over eight times the GPU power of the Xbox One, and two times what an Xbox One X is."
For comparison, here are the Xbox One X specs:
  • CPU: 2.3 GHz AMD-customized Jaguar Evolved (8-core).
  • GPU: 1172 MHz AMD-customized UC RX 580.
  • Compute power: 6 TFLOPS.
  • RAM: 12 GB GDDR5.
  • Storage: 1TB HDD.

Problem arrives where Dragon Quest XI looks great on PS4 and I have nobody to brag to about Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X to! I get the same likes of old Super Nintendo games as I do Nintendo Switch games on Instagram. Although at my Laptop Chips job, they were bragging about Xbox One X and their 4k TV. Xbox One doesn't have many really great games and I have a Xbox One!  Nobody comes over to play multiplayer on my Playstation 4. My Wii had more multiplayer action when I was younger!  I'm nearing 40 when Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is activated. It's 5 years away and I need a job.  I feel I"m unemployed because ADEA didn't activate soon enough (like age 35).  Minnesota starts age discrimination laws at age 18, but I'm in Wisconsin only under ADEA.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Corrupting Our Social Norms

Here are several questions for biologists and medical professionals: If a person is found to have XY chromosomes (heterogametic sex), does a designation as female on his birth certificate, driver's license or Social Security card override the chromosomal evidence? Similarly, if a person is found to have XX chromosomes (homogametic) does a designation as male on her birth certificate, driver's license or Social Security card override the chromosomal evidence? If you were a medical professional, would you consider it malpractice for an obstetrics/gynecology medical specialist, not to order routine Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer for a patient who identifies as a female but has XY chromosomes?

If you were a judge, would you sentence a criminal, who identifies as a female but has XY chromosomes, to a women's prison? A judge just might do so. Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit focused on a Florida school district ruling that a transgender "boy," a person with XX chromosomes, could not be barred from the boys' restroom. Pryor suggested students shouldn't be separated by gender at all.

Fear may explain why biologists in academia do not speak out to say that one's sex is not optional. Since the LGBTQ community is a political force on many college campuses, biologists probably fear retaliation from diversity-blinded administrators. It's not just academics and judges who now see sex as optional. Federal, state and local governments are ignoring biology and permitting people to make their sex optional on one's birth certificate, passport, Social Security card and driver's license. In New York City, intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual's preferred name, pronoun or title is a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. If I said that my preferred title was "Your Majesty," I wonder whether the New York City Commission on Human Rights would prosecute people who repeatedly refused to use my preferred title.

One transgender LGBTQ activist filed a total of 16 complaints against female estheticians, with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal after they refused to wax his male genitals. He sought financial restitution totaling at least $32,500. One woman was forced to close her shop. Fortunately, the LGBTQ activist's case was thrown out by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, and he was instructed to pay $2,000 each to three of the women he attacked. The LGBTQ activist is not giving up. He is now threatening to sue gynecologists who will not accept him as a patient.

In 2012, an evangelical Christian baker in Colorado was threatened with jail time for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony. When Christian bakery owner Jack Phillips won a landmark (7-2 decision) U.S. Supreme Court case in June 2018 over his refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple based on his religious convictions, he thought his legal battles with the state of Colorado were over. But now Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, 24 days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, faces a new court fight. This fight involves a lawyer who asked him to bake a cake to celebrate the anniversary of her gender transition. There are probably many bakery shops in and around Lakewood, Colorado, that would be happy to bake a cake for homosexuals; they are simply targeting Phillips.

For those in the LGBTQ community, and elsewhere, who support such attacks, we might ask them whether they would seek prosecution of the owner of a Jewish delicatessen who refused to provide catering services for a neo-Nazi affair. Should a black catering company be forced to cater a Ku Klux Klan affair? Should the NAACP be forced to open its membership to racist skinheads and neo-Nazis? Should the Congressional Black Caucus be forced to open its membership to white members of Congress? If you're a liberty-minded American, your answers should be no

The Right to Destroy Cities

This week, the Supreme Court effectively mandated continued legal tolerance for homelessness across major cities on the West Coast of the United States. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Americans have a right to sleep on the streets, and that it amounts to

"cruel and unusual punishment" under the Constitution to levy fines based on such behavior. That court -- a repository of stupidity and radicalism, the Mos Eisley of our nation's federal bench -- decided that writing a $25 ticket to people "camping" on the sidewalk is precisely the sort of brutality the Founding Fathers sought to prohibit in stopping torture under the Eighth Amendment.

That ruling was so patently insane that even liberal politicians such as Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined the appeal attempt. "Letting the current law stand handicaps cities and counties from acting nimbly to aid those perishing on the streets, exacerbating unsafe and unhealthy conditions that negatively affect our most vulnerable residents," he explained.

But the 9th Circuit ruling will stand. That ruling followed a separate 2006 ruling from the same court, which found that cities could not ban people from sleeping in public places. In this case, Judge Marsha Berzon, in language so twisted it would make yoga pioneer Bikram Choudhury jealous, wrote that "the state may not criminalize the state of being 'homeless in public places'" and thus could not criminalize the "consequence" of being homeless.

It is worth noting that being homeless is not a "state" of being. It is not an immutable characteristic. It is an activity and can certainly be regulated. That doesn't mean the best solution is prosecution of those living on the street -- a huge swath of homeless people are mentally ill or addicted to drugs and would benefit from better laws concerning involuntary commitment or mandatory drug rehabilitation. But to suggest that cities cannot do anything to effectively police those sleeping on the streets is to damn those cities to the spread of disease, the degradation of public spaces and an increase in street crime.

Hilariously, Berzon contended that this 9th Circuit ruling would not mandate cities to provide full housing to the homeless; it would just prohibit them from moving or arresting the homeless for living on the streets. Which is somewhat like Tom Hagen telling Jack Woltz that while he doesn't have to cast Johnny Fontane in his new war film, he can't stop the Corleones from rearranging the family stable.

But here's the problem: Cities that have attempted to provide increased housing for the homeless, despite some early successes, have seen their problems return. Cities like Seattle and Los Angeles have attempted to build new housing. It's been an expensive failure. It turns out that the carrot of housing must be accompanied by the stick of law enforcement. If you cannot compel drug addicts to enter treatment, or paranoid schizophrenics to take their medication, or those who refuse to live indoors to do so, homelessness will not abate.

As it is, the Supreme Court has damned America's major cities to the continuation of the festering problem of homelessness. And that problem won't be solved by judges who attempt to force social policy through deliberately misreading the Constitution, or who believe they are championing "freedom" for tens of thousands of Americans who are seriously mentally ill or addicted to drugs

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America (Smith Act of 1940 anyone?)

The Illinois university partners with several Chinese universities in exchange programs; at least two of those Chinese universities have directed participants to form party cells on the Urbana-Champaign campus, using those cells for ideological monitoring and control, according to articles posted to university websites and interviews with student participants.

One Chinese exchange student who studied at UIUC in the fall of 2017 says that before embarking on the study tour in Illinois, the students had to attend a lecture on the dangers of the Falun Gong, a strongly anti-party spiritual group banned in mainland China but active in the United States.

After the students’ arrival in Illinois, their home university asked the group to set up a temporary party branch and requested that the students hold a viewing party to watch the 19th party plenum in October, the major party planning conference held every five years. (The plenum was the subject of a major global propaganda push, with Chinese embassies and consulates reaching out to Chinese community organizations around the world, asking them to organize events for their members.)

The exchange students at UIUC were also asked to report on any potentially subversive opinions their classmates may have evinced while abroad, according to the student.

“After we went back to China, we had one-on-one meetings with our teachers. We talked about ourselves and others performance abroad,” the student says. “We had to talk about whether other students had some anti-party thought.”

Illinois is not alone. Party cells have appeared in California, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The cells appear to be part of a strategy, now expanded under Chinese President Xi Jinping, to extend direct party control globally and to insulate students and scholars abroad from the influence of “harmful ideology,” sometimes by asking members to report on each other’s behaviors and beliefs.

Members of a Chinese Communist Party cell at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hold a meeting on July 20, 2017. (Fair Use/Huazhong University of Science and Technology)

These overseas cells fit in with the party’s broader goals, says Samantha Hoffman, a visiting fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. “You still know that if you actively protest against [the party], or if you make some kinds of comments, you know that that could harm you later on,” she says. “Information gets around. It’s a way of controlling what you are willing to do.”

Since assuming office in late 2012, Xi has implemented a sweeping campaign to consolidate more power in the party’s hands. A major reorganization announced in late March transferred control of key government bureaus to party organs, changes that appear to undo some elements of the party-state divide set up by party leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s.

Mihrigul Tursun (right) speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on Nov. 26, 2018. Through a translator, Tursun, a member of China’s Uighur minority, said she spent several months in detention in China where she was beaten, tortured, and given unknown drugs. (Maria Danilova/AP)
The Chinese Communist Party Always Needs An Enemy

A relentless war on free spaces for Chinese exiles stems from past revolutions.
Argument | Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
A section of the portfolio for Xijian, China's leading augmented reality firm, explains how their technology can be used to improve Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Courtesy of Xijian

Xi has also cracked down on universities, calling for greater ideological control on campuses. In early 2016, the Ministry of Education released a directive calling for more “patriotic education” for students — including Chinese students studying abroad. And in December 2017, Xi urged overseas Chinese students to adopt the attitude of “studying abroad to serve the country.”

The overseas party branches are typically established by a group of Chinese exchange students or visiting scholars at the direction of their home institution’s party committee, according to articles and reports viewed by Foreign Policy. Each cohort forms its own cell, which is typically then disbanded when the group returns to China.

The party isn’t shy about the purpose of these new branches. “The rising number of overseas party branches is a new phenomenon, showing the growing influence of the [Chinese Communist Party] and China,” according to a November 2017 report in the party-aligned Global Times newspaper. “Overseas party cells are also responsible for promoting party and government policies.”

The UIUC public affairs office declined to comment on whether it was aware that party cells were being established on campus.

“We take the safety and security of all of our students seriously and work extremely hard to ensure that they have the opportunity to freely pursue the full educational experience we promised them when they chose to come to Illinois,” the university said in a statement to FP.

China’s effort to establish party branches at universities abroad has already hit some road bumps. In November 2017, a group of visiting Chinese scholars at the University of California, Davis attracted international media attention after it was revealed that they had founded a party branch on the Davis campus.

The scholars disbanded the branch shortly after its creation, citing unspecified concerns over compliance with “local laws.”

Yet other efforts appear to have gone largely unnoticed.

In August 2017, three teachers and five visiting scholars from Zhejiang University of Technology School of Pharmacy formed a party cell at the University of California, San Diego, holding meetings in a campus dormitory in which they selected their party secretary and discussed Xi’s recent speeches.

In July 2017, a group of visiting teachers from Shanghai Business School set up a party branch at West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, where they held joint events with the Confucius Institute there, according to an article posted to the Shanghai Business School website. Other branches have been set up at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, Ohio State University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of North Dakota’s aviation department, according to Chinese-language articles published on WeChat.

Grouping students into party cells while abroad sounds like a “downward extension” of a policy that has long been applied to high-ranking Chinese officials who travel overseas, says Andrew Chubb, a fellow at the Princeton-Harvard China and the World program. “This is important information that should be carefully considered by universities hosting exchanges. Host institutions need to make sure they are familiar with the kinds of situations their exchange students may be in,” he says.

The party cells popping up on campuses across the United States aren’t the Communist Party’s only expansion abroad. The U.S.-based party branches are part of a growing network of cells located on campuses in Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, South Korea, Thailand, and elsewhere.

One hub for the establishment of party cells on campuses around the world is Shanghai International Studies University, which has partnerships with institutions in 56 different countries and regions, including in the United States. According to the November 2017 Global Times report, the university’s School of European and Latin American Studies started setting up party branches at its study abroad locations in 2009; it now operates party cells in a number of countries, including Spain, Portugal, Chile, Greece, Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands.

The cells aren’t always used for ideological purposes. In March 2011, as the Arab Spring protests devolved into a civil war in Libya, Beijing sent a warship to the region to evacuate all 35,000 Chinese nationals there. A small group of Chinese students on Crete, members of a party cell at the University of Athens, participated in the evacuation effort, according to an article in the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s main newspaper.

Helping to evacuate compatriots from a war zone is the type of humanitarian work many university groups would want to promote, but the students’ mobilization demonstrates Beijing’s growing capacity to establish functional party cells in Western countries that can be activated if needed.

“The party branches are the channel through which political power is exercised. It does not mean good or bad — power is not that,” says Peter Mattis, a China analyst at the Jamestown Foundation. “The way and purpose for which it is used is what matters.”

At least one Chinese university connected to the military has established party branches abroad as well. In 2012, the National University of Defense Technology, an institution affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), set up eight overseas party cells, including in the United Kingdom, according to a report in the official PLA Daily.

The branches were required to collect written ideological reports from members each quarter and submit them to their political department. The goal, according to the PLA Daily, was to strengthen the “management” of overseas students and to “resolutely resist the corrosion caused by harmful ideology.”

For Chinese students abroad, there’s a clear message, according to Hoffman of the Mercator Institute.

“You know that the party’s there,” she says. “It’s integrated directly into your study abroad experience.”

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Scott Walker Effect At Trump's Impeachment

A funny thing happened on the way to President Trump’s impeachment.  Somewhere along the way, House Democrats lost the support of the American people.

When they announced Articles of Impeachment against Trump on Tuesday, they did so with the support of just 48% of the American people (a number that is dramatically skewed by the fact that a near-unanimous 87.3% of Democrats want him impeached and removed from office), while the RealClearPolitics average of polls finds that 46.2% of the country does not want the President impeached and removed.

Amazingly, support for impeachment has gone down as impeachment hearings have attempted to paint a clear picture of impeachable offenses.

On October 8th, after weeks of breathless media coverage of the Ukraine scandal, support for impeachment hit a high of 52.2% in the RealClearPolitics average.  On November 10th, two days before hearings began, support for it was at 51%.

After two weeks of hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, though, that average dipped to 48%-46% support for impeachment, where it remains to this day.

Obviously, the absence of any actual firsthand evidence of wrongdoing impacted public opinion, but newly released polling from key battleground states suggests that something more might be at play.

Republican polling firm Firehouse Strategies reports this week that the impeachment inquiry seems to be helping President Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where he is now beating every single leading Democrat in hypothetical matchups.

Not only does a clear majority of voters in these three critical states oppose impeachment and removal from office, President Trump has reversed declining numbers as the impeachment inquiry has taken off.

Nowhere has this shift been more pronounced than in Wisconsin.  In March, former Vice President Joe Biden (who has been damaged by his association with the Ukraine scandal) led President Trump by a whopping 12 percentage points.  Now, President Trump leads him by nine.

What could have caused a 21-point swing in just 10 months?  Why did it come during a period in which logic would seem to dictate that Trump would lose support as evidence of his supposed wrongdoing is made public?  And why is this odd trend so especially pronounced in Wisconsin?

The answer is what might be dubbed “The Scott Walker Effect.”

In November of 2010, then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker swept into the Governor’s Mansion with a 52.3%-46.5% victory over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  A little over a month after his inauguration the following January, Walker introduced a comprehensive overhaul of collective bargaining for Wisconsin’s public employees known as Act 10.

Anyone who was in Wisconsin or even had a passing familiarity with the state knows what happened next.  Public employee unions went ballistic, and more than 100,000 angry demonstrators descended on the State Capitol building for weeks on end.  Democrats in the State Senate fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on the bill.  Once it was signed, liberal activists immediately organized recall efforts against state legislators who supported the bill.

The anger didn’t subside, and more than a year later, Walker himself faced a recall election.  But a funny thing happened on the way to his ouster.  He won with an even greater percentage of the vote (53.1%-46.3%).  Even more shockingly, he gained 206,644 votes over his total from November of 2010, when he faced the same opponent.

This increase is The Scott Walker Effect: Voter backlash to a perceived unjust effort to oust a leader over political differences.  In other words, while voter turnout increased overall from November 2010 to June 2012, Walker’s dramatic rise came largely from voters expressing their dissatisfaction that Democrats vindictively abused the recall process to get rid of a Governor whom they simply didn’t like.

Recall elections were traditionally used as a remedy for malfeasance in public office—not as revenge for an unpopular policy—and the widespread belief in Wisconsin that Democrats were simply bitter about losing the battle over Act 10 (and the 2010 election) helped make Walker the first Governor to ever survive a recall election.

It seems fairly obvious that the Scott Walker Effect is now driving impeachment polling, especially here in Wisconsin.  Did 21% of Wisconsinites suddenly change their minds about President Trump since March, or do they recognize impeachment as yet another tired recall effort?

Just as troubling for Democrats, the impeachment push seems to be galvanizing Republican support for President Trump just as the recall effort did for Governor Walker.  Those who might have been on the fence about Walker and voted for him almost out of a sense of obligation to vote Republican suddenly had a reason to back him with everything they had.  They knocked on doors, they made phone calls, and they put up yard signs…even if they had never done so before.  They felt it was their duty to save Walker from a fundamentally unjust process.

And now Republicans are doing the same for President Trump.  89% oppose impeachment and removal from office and 90% approve of the job he is doing.  Nearly all of them recognize impeachment for what it is—an effort to politically weaken a President (there is no chance the Senate will vote to convict and remove him from office) less than a year before he stands for re-election.  A process reserved for actual malfeasance in office is being cheapened with imagined offenses that barely mask naked political hatred.

The dramatic and seemingly paradoxical turn in support for impeachment reveals this, and once House Democrats’ overreach inevitably backfires, they will have only themselves—and the Scott Walker Effect—to blame

Five Ways America Should Secure the Border Against Terrorist Infiltration

Part IV: Five Ways America Should Secure the Border Against European-Style Terrorist Infiltration

Editor's note: This report represents the fourth and final installment of a series about what an epidemic of border-crossing Islamic terrorists who infiltrated Europe means for U.S. border security.

Read Part I, "A New Terror Travel Tactic is Born; Part II; “New Study Explains Why Islamic Terrorists Have Not Attacked Through America’s Southern Border; and Part III, “Like in Europe, America’s Broken Asylum System Enables Terrorist Infiltration Over U.S.-Mexico Border”

After working for years in Brazil as a “large-scale” smuggler of U.S.-bound Somalis, Mohammad Ahmad Dhakane decided to cross the Texas-Mexico border himself in 2008 and claim political asylum. He gave U.S. immigration a fraudulent story of persecution of the sort he often gave his smuggled clients.

But an FBI informant positioned inside the Texas detention facility soon discovered and reported that Dhakane was a trained guerilla fighter and trusted senior insider of the U.S.-designated terrorist group al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (AIAI), also known as the brutalizing “Islamic Courts Union,” the predecessor of al-Shabaab. He also was so trusted by senior AIAI leadership that he served for six years as its chief “hawaladar,” by which he used the U.S. Treasury Department-banned terrorist finance network known as al-Barakat to transfer millions in off-book funds to AIAI.

Whatever it was, if anything, that Dhakane was planning once across the Texas border with U.S. asylum never happened because, of course, he was serendipitously caught first. However, his 2008-2011 prosecution showed that he also facilitated the crossings of at least “several” AIAI operatives across the Texas and California borders whom he knew, from long discussions in hotel rooms along the way, were “ready to die for the cause.”

From the public disclosure of other border-entrants with dark terrorist pasts like Dhakane’s, the several AIAI clients he smuggled in, and at least 20 suspected extremists on terrorism watch lists also reported caught each year, the American public can definitively know that this threat exists on some arguable scale and cannot be dismissed as merely theoretical even absent actual attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Theory-turned-proof-of-concept is especially the case now, in light of new Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) research documenting that 104 Islamic terrorists infiltrated European borders as migrants between 2014-2018, completed 16 attacks and plotted 25 thwarted ones. The epidemic of death, destruction, and public cost from terrorist border infiltrations, which continued in Europe during 2019, is hardly notional there. Nor should it be here.

Five Solutions Government Can Implement without Congressional Approval

But what should American homeland security leaders do now that we know about the emergence of a new global terror travel tactic that terrorist organizations and operatives could not possibly have not noticed? As explained in Part II of this Townhall series based on the CIS research, American homeland security did build counter-smuggling, detection, and interdiction cordons in the years after 9/11 to partially filter the roughly 4,000 migrants from Muslim-majority nations, known in government parlance as “special interest aliens (SIAs),” that annually reach the U.S. southern border. But the whole effort, as I reported, is “neglected and easily defeatable,” leaving a persistent elevating threat unmitigated.

Following are five solutions that American homeland security authorities should and can immediately implement to help apprehend more Dhakanes and thereby reduce the threat.

Resurrect a 2016 initiative from Obama-era DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to bring together all DHS agencies, as well as the FBI and military intelligence components of the U.S. Southern Command, in a coordinated campaign to target and disrupt SIA smuggling over the American border.

In 2016, Secretary Johnson recognized the border threat from SIAs and ordered a comprehensive plan to apply the powers of all homeland security agencies in a coordinated way to disrupt this flow. Its purpose was to create common definitions, and finally integrate disparate intelligence with law enforcement efforts to vet SIAs at the border and to dismantle their smuggling networks in Latin America. After the election of President Donald Trump, the initiative lost traction and is no longer driven by leadership as a priority. The Democratic appointees' plan is fundamentally bi-partisan and should be resurrected.

Direct and prioritize a surge of SIA smuggling investigations in Latin America by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); ensure more HSI units exclusively target SIA smuggling in South America, in Central America, and in Mexico.

As described in Part II and the CIS research, ICE-HSI conducts most SIA smuggling investigations in Latin America, but is under-resourced and too often diverted to drug trafficking investigations. SIA smuggling investigations are time-consuming, expensive, and complex because they must occur in conjunction with the law enforcement and intelligence services of sovereign host countries. However, research shows that because SIA smugglers are uniquely specialized in terms of multilingualism and bi-nationality, and access to mandatory fraudulent identity documents, their removal can disrupt smuggling networks for longer periods of time than would the removal of typical contraband smugglers.

Require U.S. Attorney offices to prioritize prosecution of asylum fraud; direct agencies to prioritize asylum fraud detection and investigation involving claims made by SIAs.

As described in Part III, SIA smugglers rely on U.S. unwillingness to detect, investigate, or prosecute asylum fraud to ensure that migrants achieve legal status after arrival. SIA smuggling business continuity relies on successful asylum claims to justify fees paid in origin countries; therefore, smugglers coach clients in how to craft fake persecution stories to get U.S. approval. However, a 2015 GAO report found that U.S. Attorney offices usually decline to prosecute asylum fraud investigative referrals, so investigators won’t make cases. Directing an emphasis on asylum fraud investigations -- and prosecution -- for SIA smugglers would do real damage to the business.

Require that ICE ERO, the FBI, and other government agencies conduct personal security threat interviews of all SIAs detained inside the United States, as well as in Mexican and Central American detention centers, to assess individual risk before migrants are feed.

In past years, ICE intelligence officers and FBI agents were guided by a goal of 100-percent, in-person security vetting assessments of detained SIAs and to collect intelligence on their smugglers. However, these efforts are now largely episodic inside U.S. detention centers and in those of allied countries such as Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica. The release of SIA detainees absent security interviews vastly increases the potential that unknown extremists will be among them and valuable intelligence on their smugglers is uncaptured. Prioritize and direct as many interviews as possible while arranging for extended detention time and bed space to allow the time necessary.

Fund large-scale migrant repatriation flights of SIAs from Mexico and Central American transit nations, to include funding for detention facility infrastructure and air transport.

Mexico, Panama, and several other common SIA transit countries practice catch-and-release of SIA migrants as this video from my reporting last year in Panama and Costa Rica shows, with only a rare few undergoing security threat interviews. The two countries provide food, shelter, and medical attention for 10-21 days and then arrange bus travel to their northern borders. Both countries, because they are geographic smuggling chokepoints, are logical staging grounds for repatriation flights to home countries, which would profoundly deter future smuggling. In addition to their geographic advantages for repatriation flights, Mexico and Panama are U.S. allies with longstanding collaborative histories in intelligence and law enforcement operations.


Unfortunately, governments place traffic lights and stop signs only after fatal car crashes mark the spots in blood. Europe and the capture of far too many people like Dhakane at the U.S. border are blinking now like red dummy lights on the car dashboard.

Ideally, common-sense solutions like the five described above would be implemented preemptively, without Congressional approval, using security assistance aid and other foreign assistance funding. But, if political leadership cannot bring itself to act preemptively, these solutions will be available on the Day After a border infiltrator attacks, just like in Europe.

Consider this series that clarion call

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Bronycon shut down in 2019

It wasn’t the most memorable episode. It was partway into the show’s second season, and the story was about a young pony desperate to have some special talent who learns that good things come to those who wait. The show always offers a lesson.
Early in his last year of high school, Gardiner was going through a rough patch. A fan of routine, he was now applying to university, approaching the moment when he would graduate and everything would change.
“I grew up in North Van, both my parents have degrees, everyone from my high school went to university. It was one of those high schools,” he said. “It was just very stressful.”
So on a dull Thursday night, Gardiner turned to something completely different. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic — the full title of the current series — was happy and colourful and upbeat. He watched an episode, and then another, and then a couple more. “And I just kind of got hooked from there.”
It became a new routine. He’d get up early on Saturday mornings to watch new episodes and dissect them in real time on internet forums with a growing online community of the show’s adult fans. Because the program aired in the U.S. months before coming to Canada, he would sometimes just be watching a livestream from a webcam pointed at someone’s TV south of the border.
 Bronies listen attentively to Andrea Libman (image on screen), voice actor for Pinky Pie on the My Little Pony television cartoon show, at the Brony Expo held at West Edmonton Mall’s Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton on July 5, 2014. Larry Wong / Edmonton Journal
Bronies — a portmanteau of “bro” and “ponies” that refers to the mostly male adult fans of American toy company Hasbro’s latest reincarnation of My Little Pony — emerged as a strange phenomenon in the first years after the show began. What started as a largely online community quickly broke through into the real world as fans organized conventions and began making and selling artwork and toys based on the show. The largest brony convention, BronyCon, exploded from just 100 guests in June 2011 to more than 10,000 in Baltimore in the summer of 2015.
In those early years, the fandom’s visibility was sustained by a barrage of media coverage that ranged in tone from curiosity to alarm. “Is this the end of American manhood?” cried the American Conservative in 2014.
Eight years after Friendship Is Magic premiered on Oct. 10, 2010 (10-10-10, for those in the know), the show still seems to fill a prominent role in Gardiner’s life. The living room of his East Vancouver apartment features a glass display case filled with My Little Pony plushies and plastic figurines. There’s a poster of the main pony characters on his wall, signed by most of the series’ principal voice actors. He can still spend several hours a week watching old episodes, or letting them play in the background.
But the brony fandom is now shrinking almost as fast as it grew and conventions, including BronyCon, are shutting down. Eight years in, the novelty seems to have worn off. It’s also widely believed the show’s next season will be its last, and the future beyond that is uncertain.
Now 24 years old, Gardiner doesn’t get up early on Saturdays anymore. He recently finished his master’s degree and has started a new job. He feels more stable. He used to be able to name every episode of every season, but not anymore. And if he just stumbled onto the show now, he said, he’s not sure he’d become a fan.
“I think it’s become more of an entertainment product than a lifestyle. I definitely watch it for fun versus as an escape,” he said. “I’m, like, trying to get into real life now.”
A lot of bronies tell versions of the same story. They didn’t intend to like My Little Pony. They started watching to make fun of it, and then they kept watching. And kept watching.
At the centre of this phenomenon is 4chan, the murky online imageboard that thrives on anonymity. The first posts about My Little Pony appeared on 4chan in the days after the show launched, as did the term “brony.” As the legend goes, what started as a joke swiftly turned earnest, and the volume of pony content on 4chan quickly became so overwhelming that one moderator tried to ban it altogether. So the bronies went elsewhere, creating their own internet forums and online communities.
Afion, a Vancouver brony who spoke to the National Post on the condition it refer to him by the name of his My Little Pony character (many bronies create their own original characters, which become the identities by which they know each other online), was one of those early 4chan converts. At first, he found the show “really, really cheesy,” he said. Then he found himself liking the writing and the characters. About six episodes in, he realized he was watching it “unironically.”
Informal surveys suggest that at the peak of the fandom in 2014, bronies were at least 80 per cent male and 75 per cent single, mostly in their teens and 20s and living with their parents, and overwhelmingly white and straight. Some bronies say the community also attracted a large number of people with disabilities, especially autism. Many, like Gardiner, say the show makes them feel happy and comforted.
Bronies often identify with one character, especially from among the six main ponies, all female, with distinct personalities and foibles: Fluttershy is timid, Rarity is a drama queen, and so on. From the start, there was speculation that the interest from young men was primarily sexual — and that’s certainly part of it for some, as is clear from the huge volume of sexually explicit online artwork and stories. Tabatha Hughes, a 27-year-old former chair of Canada’s sole brony convention, BronyCAN, said some bronies come to see the show as a kind of caretaker. “If someone’s a very important part of your life and they’ve shown you kindness, sometimes people will interpret that as sexual desire and romantic feeling,” she said. “So I think that kind of happened with ponies.” But that’s not at the core of the fandom, she insisted. Most bronies really just like the show.
Still, if it was the show that attracted young adult fans, it was the community that kept them. “I probably would have only lasted maybe not even till the third season if it was just about myself,” said Afion. “It was mostly because of the friends.”
In the show’s heyday, that community grew like wildfire. Gardiner can remember a time when the main My Little Pony discussion page on internet forum reddit was gaining thousands of subscribers each week. Increasingly, he said, this is what the fans of many popular shows want — not just to passively watch, but to feel like they’re part of something, too. “Engaged viewership,” he called it. “It’s the idea that big series like Game of Thrones, people don’t just watch it and then go away. They watch it and then they want to go discuss with all the other fans.”
But online communities offer more than that. Trapa Civet, BronyCAN’s former treasurer, a 38-year-old who used his character name, became a furry — a member of a much broader community for fans of a whole range of animal characters — after seeing The Lion King when he was 17, at the start of the internet era. For Trapa, facing the shame of feeling that a Disney movie had changed his life, the internet offered a lifeline. “Suddenly I have a place to belong,” he said. “Suddenly you have this group of people who are ostensibly validating your existence.”
When Friendship is Magic ends, then, it won’t just put a stop to the flow of new content. It will take away a massive online community’s raison d’être. On the forums today, the angst is clear. “Just because a show ends doesn’t mean all these friends you’ve made and things you have built will disappear,” wrote one user on Equestria Daily, the largest My Little Pony fan site, in December 2017. “As long as we keep celebrating pony, we can keep this going long into the future.”
Still, things are already changing. Trapa said he’s lost contact with a lot of his former brony friends since BronyCAN ended in 2017. “It’s not due to lack of desire. That’s just the way life works,” he said. “Real life starts to sneak in there.”
Rob Harrison dressed in a Rainbow Dash costume from My Little Pony in North Vancouver, B.C., on Sept. 15, 2018. Mark Yuen/Postmedia

In the food court at Metrotown, an enormous shopping mall in suburban Burnaby, Afion and a dozen other bronies cluster together on a few couches, eating and chatting on a Saturday afternoon. Several are wearing My Little Pony T-shirts. Some carry plushies of their favourite characters. They seem largely immune to the looks of passers-by.
“A lot of people watch the show to cope, that’s one thing,” said Adrian, a 16-year-old with a pair of headphones slung around his neck and a small plushie of the character Rainbow Dash. He rocked back and forth nervously as he spoke. (He asked that the Post not use his last name out of privacy concerns.)
Adrian is a relative newcomer to the brony fandom — he only began watching the show in 2017, after his father died. There was an episode about grieving that helped, he said. Before he died, Adrian’s dad used to tell him that My Little Pony was a little girls’ show, but Adrian now believes it’s for everyone. “Actually give something a try before you judge it,” he said.
In the early days, the brony community existed mostly online, but with the advent of conventions, internet bonds turned into real-life friendships. Between conventions, groups of bronies often gather at local meet-ups like this one.
The devotion of younger fans like Adrian is tinged with regret at having missed the peak of the brony fandom — the “golden age,” said 22-year-old Aric, who was wearing a BronyCon T-shirt from his first Baltimore convention last year, which he said was one of the best times of his life. Though he’s been watching the show for years, Aric didn’t have the money to go to the conventions until recently. Now, it feels like his last chance. BronyCon will end this year due to declining numbers — attendance has halved since 2015 — and Vancouver’s BronyCAN is already gone.
Aric, whom the Post is also referring to by his first name because of privacy concerns, credits the show with getting him some more friends and making him a little less shy. “During summer break in high school, I used to sit in front of my computer for 17 hours a day, doing nothing, browsing the internet. It was really sad,” he said. “I can’t ever forget this.”
Many older bronies have their own stories about how the show and the community changed their lives. Hughes was working in a restaurant, “making minimum wage, tossing salads and chopping carrots,” when she discovered My Little Pony. She was introduced to the show by her boyfriend at the time, who got her to help organize the 2013 BronyCAN. Two years later, she was chairing the convention. “It just taught me what I’m capable of,” she said.
Today, Hughes works as operations manager for a tech company, a startup whose CEO is also a brony. She and her boyfriend live in a small house in New Westminster. She recently finished her diploma, and things are busy. She thought she’d last watched My Little Pony around Christmas 2017, but she couldn’t be sure. “I think a lot of people might have had that grow-up moment,” she said. “And it could be that a lot of these people required the fandom in order to kind of have that change in their life.”
It can be expensive to be a brony. Travelling to and from conventions alone can cost hundreds of dollars, but many devoted bronies have also amassed large collections of merchandise, including plushies, artwork, figurines and sometimes full pony outfits. These aren’t just children’s toys. Hughes spent $300 on a watercolour of Rarity, her favourite character. Gardiner has a custom-made plushie of an original pony he designed called Maxwell Citybuilder, which cost him $400. It’s a bit of a status symbol at conventions, he said. He and his friends all have high-end plushies. “We called ourselves the high-rollers.”
As the bronies have gotten older, Gardiner has started to see a different type of merchandise appearing at conventions, including bath towels embroidered with pony symbols. “It’s kind of the march of life, right?” he said.
This is one of the peculiar quirks of the brony fandom: the show’s adult fans, apparently drawn to it for its messages about friendship and acceptance, are also obsessed with accumulating stuff. Expensive stuff. This, of course, is the whole point of the show. Hasbro created My Little Pony for girls in 1981, and has released four generations of the toys since then. The accompanying TV shows are simply clever marketing for the toys. Still, Hasbro didn’t expect to be met with legions of adult fans, and initially didn’t seem to know what to do with them. As a result, many bronies buy their merchandise not from Hasbro, but from fan artists who create higher-quality products.
Rob Harrison shows off his My Little Pony collection at his North Vancouver, B.C., home. Mark Yuen/Postmedia
Hasbro eventually came around to the bronies, and has begun selling higher-end collectibles to its adult fans. The company has embraced the bronies in other ways, too. The show’s voice actors and series creator Lauren Faust often appear at brony conventions. Several episodes feature inside jokes that only bronies will catch.
But it can be a testy relationship. The bronies get upset when Hasbro is too transparent about using the show to sell toys. The Season 3 finale caused outrage when Twilight Sparkle, the central character, suddenly grew wings — a lazy attempt to boost sales, fans decided. They still talk about it today.
Some argue that the money is one reason for the fandom’s decline, as the bronies face new financial responsibilities. “I think, ultimately, the fandom was created for teens and tweens, and eventually mom and dad’s money ran out,” said Trapa.
To some extent, the decline of the brony fandom was inevitable. The show is eight seasons old and the sheen is wearing off. Some bronies grumble about how the writing isn’t as good anymore, or about how the focus has shifted away from the six main characters to a growing cast of lesser ponies.
Added to that, a slew of unintended email leaks from Hasbro in December 2017 signalled that the show may be coming to an end after Season 9, to make way for the next generation of My Little Pony toys. The revelation sent shockwaves through the community, now facing an existential threat. “A lot of it is a sense that Generation 4… was kind of lightning in a bottle,” said Gardiner. “Everything went exactly perfect, and that won’t ever happen again.”
But many also believe the frenzied heights of the brony fandom in 2014 and 2015, which Hughes compared to a Silicon Valley start-up, were never sustainable. “We saw a lot of people who maybe were just interested in the one convention to see what it was. Maybe a little bit of curiosity,” she said. “And I don’t think we had as many dedicated fans as we thought we did.”
BronyCAN opened in 2013 to 850 guests, and peaked at more than 1,000. But attendance soon started to drop off, and by the end, they struggled to break even, Trapa said. He believes part of the issue is that bronies are so narrowly focused on a single TV show with an expiry date. “This is the first time I’ve been involved in a fandom that I know is going to die,” he said.
Rob Harrison is a brony who is surrounded by his My Little Pony collection at his North Vancouver, B.C. home. Mark Yuen/Postmedia
Many bronies don’t like to talk about the fandom dying. They don’t see it that way — to them, it’s just levelling off. “I’m definitely as into the show as I was from the start,” said Rob Harrison. “I would say probably even more so at this point.”
At 38, Harrison is fighting perhaps harder than any other Vancouver brony to keep the fandom alive. After BronyCAN closed in 2017, he decided to start up a new convention, on a smaller scale, that he hopes will be sustainable. The Vanhoover Pony Expo launched on Jan. 11 and will run through the weekend, in defiance of those who say “the pony ride is over.”
Gregarious and confident, more outgoing than many bronies, Harrison makes a good spokesperson for his cause. His tiny basement apartment in North Vancouver is cluttered with plushies, figurines and a pirate airship from last year’s My Little Pony feature film.
I’m definitely as into the show as I was from the start
Harrison recognizes that without the conventions, some friendships won’t survive. A lot of bronies worry about that. When BronyCAN ended, Trapa said, “people realized they might have friends that they’ll never see again. And that’s pretty tough.”
Many of the bronies that organized BronyCAN are on board to help with Harrison’s new convention, even those that aren’t quite as attached to the fandom anymore. Gardiner, Hughes and Trapa are all involved. They want it to work.
If Harrison worries that his mission is a little quixotic, that he’s trying to resurrect a moment that’s already passed, he doesn’t show it. He says he’s just doing it for the community. “Are they growing up? I don’t know,” he said. “I think the whole point of this is that none of us will ever grow up who are interested in something like this.”
Gardiner, too, hopes the new convention will last. He doesn’t like change, even though he recognizes that an important chapter is drawing to a close. He’s planning to go to Baltimore this year, to send off the mother of all brony conventions with a bang. There’s no way to escape what that represents.
“It’s kind of a symbolic end to the fandom,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a moment in time that’s never going to happen again.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Why Would Anyone Vote for a Democrat for President?

Why Would Anyone Vote for a Democrat for President?

It's a serious question. Other than hating

Donald Trump, why would anyone vote for any of the Democratic candidates for president of the United States? They've given us precious few reasons to support them and plenty of reasons to conclude that they shouldn't be given any political power -- much less the presidency.

Here are just a few:

1. Their policy proposals would be fiscal and social disasters. The "Medicare for All" espoused by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is projected to cost anywhere from $30 to $50 trillion. That's already an insane amount of money. What's worse is that we have an abysmal record projecting the actual costs of social programs. When Medicare was passed in 1965, it was projected to cost $12 billion by 1990; the actual cost in 1990 was $90 billion. In 2018, the federal government spent $582 billion on Medicare. Spending on Medicaid in its first year (also 1965) was projected at $238 million; the actual cost was over $1 billion. Spending on Medicaid in fiscal year 2017 was $557 billion. Our ability to prognosticate hasn't improved in the past 50 years; projections for the 2009 Affordable Care Act were appallingly inaccurate. So you can probably safely double or even triple that single-payer health care estimate. The system would be bankrupt in short order -- and would take the quality of health care down with it.

2. Democrats are often accused of supporting regulations that cripple businesses. But this crop of candidates goes even further, promising to destroy entire industries. Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- who has never made a payroll in her life -- blithely announced that she'd make private insurance illegal, shuttering tens of thousands of American companies and putting millions of people out of work.

3. Warren isn't the only Democrat who threatens "like a dockside bully." Consider Sen. Kamala Harris' recent statements that she would "snatch" patents away from companies that won't put in price controls she wants. How many life-saving drugs has Sen. Harris developed? None. How many patents has she applied for and received? None.

4. They favor oppressive government. Michael Bloomberg -- a man who should know better -- has advocated for taxing the poor -- for their own good, of course. Bloomberg also said with a straight face that the communist government of China listens to the public and that President Xi Jinping "is not a dictator." (Tell that to the Hong Kong protesters, the untold numbers of women subjected to forced abortions or the Uighur Muslims in re-education camps.) That tells you plenty about what President Bloomberg would view as being "responsive" to the American people.

5. They are willing to shred the Constitution when it suits their purposes. Examples of this are legion including:

-- They oppose religious liberties -- including conscience protection. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke argued that churches that do not accept his views on human sexuality, marriage and family should lose their tax-exempt status as charities.

-- Nor are they defenders of other First Amendment protections -- at least for conservatives. When Republicans or Christians bring suits to defend their freedom of speech, Democrats -- even on the Supreme Court -- now call that "weaponizing the First Amendment."

-- They want to abolish the Second Amendment.

-- With their candidate (Hillary Clinton) having lost in 2016, Democrats are all-in to eliminate the Electoral College, which -- like the structure of the U.S. Senate -- was structured to provide a meaningful voice to states with smaller populations. Both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore (in 2000) won the so-called popular vote by getting a large number of votes in California. But California doesn't get to elect the president.

6. They have no respect for the presumption of innocence, the rule of law or the integrity of the legal process. We saw this in the appalling behavior of Democratic senators (Dianne Feinstein, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris) during the confirmation hearings of Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But the abuse of process since Donald Trump entered the presidential race (and won) has been even worse. Having failed with the Robert Mueller investigation on "collusion" with Russia, Democrats are now trying to impeach Trump for a phone conversation he had with the president of Ukraine.

Under President Trump, we have seen record-low unemployment including among Hispanics and African Americans; consistent job creation; reform of Veterans Affairs; a new federal ban on animal cruelty; criminal justice reform; a new North American trade deal; and no new wars.

What makes Trump such a successful president? It's a simple point that goes right to the heart of the system of American governance: Trump trusts that most Americans can run their own lives, their families, their businesses, their schools and their communities. In other words, he does not (and did not) see it as his role to walk into the White House and "fundamentally transform" the country.

Democrats, on the other hand -- with almost zero experience starting, growing or operating any enterprise of any size; no experience with meeting the needs of customers, patrons or patients; no experience making payroll -- are certain that they can come in and run a country of 330 million people.

We don't have to speculate about their failures; we need only look at the places they do control to see how successful they've been. Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans: What do citizens of those cities (and states) enjoy? Corruption. High taxes. Bankrupt governments and underfunded state pensions. Population loss. Gun violence and other crime. Homelessness. Filth and rodent infestation. Streets filled with used hypodermic needles and human feces.

Tell me again. Why would you vote for that?

Thursday, December 05, 2019

democrat impeachment voliates due process

The lawmakers were echoing objections made by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in an Oct. 8 letter to top House Democrats that said Trump’s lawyers must be allowed to call and cross-examine witnesses, access evidence, and be afforded other “basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.”

The following examines the procedures followed in past impeachment investigations and explains why, contrary to Republican claims, the current inquiry does not violate Trump’s constitutional rights.

Members of three Democratic-led House committees have been interviewing government officials behind closed doors to try to build a case that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a rival - Democrat Joe Biden - for his personal political benefit.

While Democrats have led these interviews, Republicans who sit on the committees are also able to review documents and ask questions of the witnesses. Trump’s lawyers have been excluded.

Democrats have said they will hold public hearings soon in order to make their case against Trump to voters. House leaders have likened their investigation to a grand jury proceeding, a preliminary stage of a criminal case conducted in secret.


Cipollone said the House has “not established any procedures affording the President even the most basic protections demanded by due process under the Constitution and by fundamental fairness” in violation of “every past precedent.”

In addition to granting Trump the right to access evidence, examine witnesses, and have counsel present at hearings, the committees must also disclose evidence that is favorable to him, he wrote.

Cipollone argued that Republican lawmakers should be allowed to issue subpoenas, which would enable them to present their own evidence and try to undermine the Democrats’ version of events.

The White House also said the investigation was not legitimate because the full House had not voted to authorize it.

In U.S. impeachment proceedings, the House investigates and votes to impeach, and the Senate holds a trial to determine guilt or innocence and whether the president stays in office.

Some of the protections requested by the White House were given to Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, the two presidents in modern history to face impeachment probes.

The House allowed Nixon’s defense lawyers to respond to evidence and testimony during his impeachment inquiry. Nixon resigned from office in 1974 before being impeached, however.


Twenty-five years later, Clinton was afforded similar protections. Clinton was impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate.

In both of those cases, the House also held a full vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry.

Some scholars have said that Clinton’s case was unique and cannot be likened to the current proceeding, however, because the Republicans who impeached Clinton relied on evidence laid out in a report by former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who Democrats accused of political bias.

Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri, said the U.S. Constitution gives the House the freedom to set its own ground rules for the process.

No full vote is needed to authorize an investigation and the House is not obligated to let Trump’s lawyers participate, Bowman said.

“Trump has no standing whatsoever to insist that the House do impeachment the way he would like it done,” Bowman said.

Bowman added that fairness to Trump is more of a concern if there is a trial in the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans. Like the House, the Senate has broad authority to set its own impeachment rules.

But some legal experts said giving Trump basic protections and allowing his lawyers to participate would make the impeachment investigation appear more fair.

That could be a wise political move for Democrats, said Ross Garber, who teaches impeachment law at Tulane Law School and has represented four governors in impeachment proceedings.

Bypassing due process safeguards that are standard in the U.S. legal system “may make the American people question the legitimacy of the impeachment process,” Garber said.

Monday, December 02, 2019

four reasons why Trump isn’t a dictator

During the holiday season conservatives are going to spend lots of time across the dinner table from a family member that’s a know-it-all Democrat. No matter how much you’re determined to simply eat, laugh and watch sports, there’s always that one family member who will continue to goad you until talking President Trump and politics is unavoidable.

After you’ve destroyed that person with facts, instead of licking his or her wounds and accepting defeat, they actively recruit all of your other Democratic family members to gang up on you. Much like the original instigator, you quickly realize that their arguments are as void of facts and high on emotion as a Don Lemon monologue. Once they finally realize they can’t convince you to vote Democrat in 2020, they resort to calling Trump names and questioning how you could ever support him. The list of names might include everything from tax cheat, philanderer, racist, sexist, fake president, and Russian plant to dictator. 

It’s the word “dictator” I’m most concerned with, particularly when they ignore the fact that the top-tier candidates in the Democratic primary are running as socialists. Our parents, our schools, our media and even some of our churches have failed us.

Here are four reasons why Trump isn’t a dictator:

1. Dictators don’t cut taxes: Dictators don’t sign legislation like the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” as President Donald Trump did, that allowed more Americans to keep more of their own hard-earned money. On the contrary, via over taxation, dictators seek to hoard the nation’s wealth for themselves, their allies and to buy allegiance from their military so they can crush dissent like China does (note to LeBron James).

2. Dictators don’t deregulate: Personally, I hate regulation because it’s the easiest way for unelected bureaucrats to circumvent the will of voters. However, I understand under the right circumstance, regulation is a necessary evil. I’d prefer all regulation be implemented at the state and local levels.

With that said, President Trump promised to reduce regulation on the campaign trail, and he’s kept his promise. According to the Heritage Foundation, during Trump’s first 22 months in office he only took 229 regulatory actions compared to former President Obama, who took 647 regulatory actions, and former President George W. Bush, who took 465 regulatory actions in the same length of time. Under Trump’s Executive Order 13771, which he issued just 10 days after taking office, agencies were required to “offset the cost of any new significant regulation (or guidance) with at least two deregulatory actions.” Trump also placed a budgetary cap on agencies to reduce their incremental costs. The bottom line is, dictators don’t seek to relinquish control by weakening their own government. Dictators gain more power and control over their people by creating more government dependence.

3. Dictators don’t tolerate dissent: could you imagine President Xi Jinping of China tolerating the level of criticism President Trump endures daily from the mainstream media? What about Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro? Do you think North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un would tolerate dissent without some reporter ending up dead somewhere? Yet, over 90 percent of media coverage of President Trump is negative. Real dictators respond with military force to squash dissent. Trump uses Twitter to fight back against the media elites, and he’s the dictator? Give me a break!

4. Dictators wouldn’t support Second Amendment rights: you’d think this would be a no-brainer for Democrats but it’s not. Consider Venezuela. They banned private gun ownership in 2012. However, the police, Army, and some security contractors remained armed. According to the Daily Caller, the former Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, claimed “the law would curb the country’s high rate of violence and said the ultimate goal was to disarm all private citizens.” As a result of the law, only 37 weapons were handed over voluntarily, but more than 12,500 were taken by force. Chavez’s predecessor, Nicolas Maduro, ramped up the program in 2013 and today his soldiers are shooting citizens fending for food and fighting human rights in the middle of the street.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, was the first president since Ronald Reagan to speak to the National Rifle Association (NRA). He’s since spoken at several of their gatherings. Because our Second Amendment explicitly states that “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” it’s safe to assume that no president that wanted to be a dictator would speak in front of a group of gun toting Americans that would fight to the death to ensure that never happened.

Sadly, many on the left have been so dumbed down by our educational system that they wouldn’t know what a dictator was if he or she were promising a socialist utopia like Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and running in their own Democratic primary