The Best Times, the Worst Times, and Riding the Powder Keg on November 3, 2017

The crackup is something to behold. Obama–and America’s exhaustion with Obamaism–left Democratic ranks devastated across the land. They’re just starting to grasp that grim state of affairs. But media and Democrat elites can’t come to process how anyone could be dissatisfied with the Great Smooth First, a really great phony in the incisive words of Thomas Sowell.
But they know something is amiss. Hillary was the last one steering the ship. She connected with normals about as well as a cold fish. The disaster must be her fault! The smaller fish are starting to nip and tear at her carcass while she’s still alive.

Socialist Bernie and Fauxcahontas the great redistributer and Kamala the California revolutionary are fighting for primacy in a party that wants to lead America hard left. But, Americans are so sick of being yanked left by the nose they are taking a whirl on the Trumpicopter. Establishment Rs and even Constitutional Rs are left dizzy on the ride, clinging by finger tips, not recognizing anything familiar or safe to aim for.

Meanwhile, technology and consumer toys proliferate like feral bunnies, even as people feel poorer and poorer. America reputedly has the most advanced medical care in the world, and a convoluted federal web that makes it unaffordable for millions.

The natives are restless and getting angrier at each other. The media becomes a parody of itself in its bid to regain stature or at least stay relevant. Progressive communists hope discontent yields fertile soil for people who like to burn streets and loot stores. Identity warriors living in the most civil-rights-fastidious society yet known to earth insist they are living a genocide, so they’re prepping for race war. Normals hope to find some kind of normalcy. Believers in the original Constitutional pattern hope Trump and Congress-even if just accidentally–can somehow slow the whirlwind enough for enterprise, institutions, and economic growth to restore some hope and attract more Americans to vote for limited government.
That last sounds like as much of a fantasy as the visions of the commies and the race warriors.
This is a Triple E ride for sure, destination unknown. 

Good News: Trump Making Stellar Judicial Nominations.

While detractors detract and defenders defend and a few intrepid souls try to call ‘em as they see ‘em, President Trump is keeping one campaign promise spectacularly: appointing highly qualified Constitutionalists to the federal bench. The libertarian publication Reason notes Trump’s nominees are getting excellent reviews from both conservative and libertarian scholars.
Case Western Reserve University’s Jonathon Adler, a noted libertarian law professor and active litigator for limited government, calls Trump’s early nominations “incredibly strong” and predicts they will have an intellectual impact on their respective appellate courts. Adler was quoted in a New York Times article that noted warily Trump was assembling his selections with the help of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
Paul Mirengoff of the influential Power Line Blog comments that on judicial nominations, Trump keeps winning. Mirengoff cites the appointments of Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, distinguished litigator James Ho, Kyle Duncan, and federal trial judge Kurt Engelhardt. Mirengoff pays particular notice to Engelhardt, who “wrote a scathing 129-page order denouncing the misconduct of lawyers at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the local New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s Office in a prosecution of New Orleans police officers. As Christian Adams says, Judge Engelhardt’s order ‘offers a look behind the curtain of some of the worst ideological misconduct that occurred at the Obama DOJ.’”
Here in Colorado, respected Supreme Court Justice and law professor Allison Eid received Trump’s nod for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. She cleared the judiciary committee last week, and advances to the full Senate. Eid faced united but mostly ineffectual opposition from Democrats on the committee.
Trump’s string of excellent appointments is good news for a few reasons. First and foremost, it will increase the critical mass of Constitutionalists who eschew leftist policy making from the bench, but also protect against the government trampling important rights and liberties that are clearly identified in the Constitution.
Moreover, there was nothing in Trump’s background to inspire confidence he’d select judges of this bent and caliber. Many believed he was making meaningless promises to mollify conservatives that would be forgotten as soon as he took office. The Gorsuch nomination to the high court suggested otherwise. The roster of strong lower court nominations give further indication Trump meant it. That is good news for believers in limited government and independent checks and balances.

“Trickle Down Economics”–It’s the New “Racism”

Apparently, in advance of Congress tackling tax reform, the 80s called and offered Democrats their class warfare vocabulary for the debate. “Trickle down economics” is the new go-to sneer, more valuable even than “racist.”
Lower, flatter tax rates are just trickle down economics, sniffs Salon. Tax cuts are about nothing but trickle down, huffs PBS. Esquire, for variety, accuses Republicans of voodoo economics, and reserves “trickle down” for the search tags. The American Prospect intones that reducing U.S. corporate tax rates (among the highest in the world) just perpetuates the trickle-down myth.
Tax reform is a sticky wicket, with near infinite details to facilitate the mud wrestling of interests, industries, and politicians. But, the tired smear “trickle down economics” has always been an incoherent mess. What does it mean? That if we don’t tax the rich snotless, maybe they’ll pour some spare pennies down on the heads of the poor? Nonsense. Beyond achieving a miserly-sounding sneer, the pairing is exactly wrong in at least three different ways.
First, in the ordinary course of things, the wealthy don’t actually trickle anything down on anyone. They pay for things they need and want, with whatever effects that produces in the economy. They don’t trickle their wealth generously, they spend it selfishly. Meanwhile, people and companies make money providing goods and services. That’s how the economy works. The real trickle-down is what progressives seem to prefer–a system to wring the rich like a wet towel and politically drizzle the money on the poor—what’s left anyway after government waters its favored causes and cronies.
That’s the approach of the shake-down state economies of the Euro-moribund zone and of the great Peron-Castro-Chavez banana tradition of strongmen. They gain power, neutralize competing power centers–like checks and balances and media—and seize economic control, thus chocando the fortunes and freedom of formerly rising Latin powers. (“Chocar” doesn’t mean “to choke” but close enough).
That turns out to be the real “trickle down”: extract lots of money from the rich, feed it through the digestive tract of government and its many corrupt parasites, then dribble what’s left on the heads of the grateful, dependent poor, thus securing their suicidal votes. Come to think, “trickle down economics” also reasonably describes the redistributive obsession and promises President Obama powerfully and empirically debunked in an exhaustive 8-year field study. Bravo, Mr. Ex-President!
Second, what liberals call “trickle down” is just good ole’ “supply side” or “free market” economics. It means human freedom in commercial activity. Get out of the way of people’s pursuit of happiness and gainful labor, so free exchange and economic growth can build prosperity. Investors, entrepreneurs, managers, and workers build enterprises that hire employees to market goods and services. Opportunity spreads out from there.
Third, interestingly, if any vertical-spatial metaphor makes sense here, it’s not “down,” but “up.” “Trickle up economics” describes free enterprise far better than “trickle down.” The way to build wealth in a free economy is to satisfy the market, meaning consumers. That is, to get rich you have to offer goods or services for which A) people are willing to pay you; B) a price higher than your cost of providing; and C) in sufficient quantity that profits proliferate. And your offer has to be more attractive than your competitors’.
If people get wealthy in a free economy, it’s because the wealth trickles up as a result of others’ free choices pursuing their own benefit. All the related suppliers, employees, contractors and others also gain from the same flowing currents of wealth generation. Apart from charitable giving–a different subject–the rich don’t pour or trickle anything down on less fortunate heads; rather the middle and working classes earn income in the streams that trickle up toward profit.
Ever since this silly insult first trickled harmlessly off Ronald Reagan’s Teflon, its logic has been amiss. But when you hear it, be charitable. The speaker probably suffers from a public education and is innocent of any exposure to economics.

Beware, Republicans; Niger is Exactly Like Benghazi

Republicans dismiss at their peril the obvious strong parallels between Niger and Benghazi. From the buildup to the brutal events of that night to the aftermath and cover up, this truly if Trump;s Benghazi. Consider the record.
Over the last year, there were hundreds of cables from AFRICOM to the Defense Department begging for better security installations for their one-night secret foray into a remote village in Niger. DoD denied every request. At the same time, it increased defense budget for grounds grooming at the Coast Guard Academy.
Islamist militants had launched escalating attacks on other nation’s troops in the area. They withdrew, leaving only America to try to train the locals to resist being overrun.
The ambush came after a meeting between US forces and village leaders. Troops were pinned down for 13 hours begging for help. While America’s security leaders watched grimly in the situation room, Trump and Tillerson withdrew to an undisclosed location to shoot pool. They were not seen until the next day. Trump made a brief statement and jetted off to a fundraiser at Mar a’Lago.
The weekend after the ambush, Trump dispatched National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to all the Sunday News shows to assure America and the world that the late night, well executed, heavily armed ambush was a spontaneous reaction to a really offensive, anti-African Facebook meme.
As the fallen warriors returned through Dover, Secretary of State Tillerson stared into the eyes of the stricken families and solemnly assured, “We’re gonna get that bastard, the guy who posted that meme!”
Not long after, white nationalist Jeffred J. Spoonwinder, the author and poster of the scurrilous meme, was arrested for being 11 months in arrears on child support. Federal agents and network cameras descended on the trailer of Mr. Spoonwinder, who was hustled out to waiting police vans wearing only a wife beater and confederate boxer shorts.
The administration had its man.
The similarities with Benghazi are massive and distressing. It is not possible that impeachment will be avoided. Any time a president is caught in such dereliction, obviously the media and the people will rise up in wrath and demand accountability.

Trump the Barking Guard Dog, Wilson the Ghoulish Clown, Kelly the Warrior–Remembering Sergeant La David Johnson

In the sadly contentious matter of remembering Sergeant La David Johnson, the villain turns out to be Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson, more of a ghoulish clown, really. President Trump plays the role of a loyal guard dog who doth bark too much, and General John Kelly comes off as a brave knight with a scratch in his armor.  The sudden frenzy already is old news and much picked over, but maybe insufficiently considered.

The flurry happened fast. President Trump called Myeshia Johnson, the widow of a soldier fallen in a raid in Niger to express his condolences. The next day, news reported that Congresswoman Wilson claimed Trump told the bereaved woman: “He knew what he signed up for.” Trump denied that was his message. The family said “Yeah, that’s about what he said.”  Suddenly, the national food fight commenced over the president remembering a fallen soldier. Partisans of different stripes variously condemned Trump’s crassness, defended  his intent and the fair meaning of the contested phrase, or, condemned Trump for bullying and debating a Gold Star family. Trump’s Chief of Staff, former Marine General John Kelly, a Gold Star parent himself, held a press conference and offered a magisterial and moving account of the way America treats its fallen soldiers, the debt we owe such men and women, and his own experience in the loss of a son.

He described his discussion with the president about how to speak to the families. He recalled the words of comfort his own best friend gave him: “He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war.”

As a relevant digression, the phrases are not unlike the tone and framing of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, in testimony before Congress, described the service of Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed in Libya:

“Chris Stevens understood that diplomats must operate in many places where our soldiers do not, where there are no other boots on the ground, and safety is far from guaranteed. In fact, he volunteered for just those assignments.

He also understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security, and that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country and advance our interests and values.

. . .

Nobody knew the dangers of Libya better — a weak government, extremist groups, rampant instability. But Chris chose to go to Benghazi because he understood America had to be represented there at that pivotal time.”

Apparently, admiring a person’s willing acceptance of the risk of service can be respectful, except when critics want to inject cheap politics into the moment.

At the press conference, General Kelly concluded his remarks by expressing regret bordering on lamentation that anyone like Congresswoman Wilson would degrade the solemnity of the president’s call by “listening in” and politicizing it. (Rep. Wilson later protested she “hadn’t listened in” at all. She was in a car and listened to the conversation on a speaker phone. Well. That clarifies things.)

Kelly described an earlier event, the dedication of a federal building in Florida, named for three fallen FBI agents. He said FBI Director James Comey had given a magnificent memorial, and then Wilson delivered a hyped political speech, bragging about how she secured the money to pay for the federal building. Kelly expressed his disappointment in the empty barrel making loud and inappropriate noise.

It was a bravura performance that brought tears to many eyes and a temporary halt to partisan sniping. But, in America today, all such halts are very temporary. Critics returned to the theme that Trump should not have contradicted a bereaved family. Shortly, video of the Congresswoman’s speech at the dedication surfaced. It turns out she had not bragged about bringing home the appropriations bacon, rather, she had bragged about pushing through the administrative process to name a federal building in record time.

This is a distinction without a difference. Wilson had given a political rah rah speech at a solemn occasion. But, the opportunity was there for partisan media to pounce on Kelly. “Video proves John Kelly lied about Rep. Wilson” brayed MSNBC. Other outlets piled on.

And so, not many days after the death of a brave man in a far away place the brawl continues over whether the president disrespected him in paying condolences. Another Gold Star widow, Natasha De Alencar, distraught by the politicization released the recording of the president’s respectful and “heartfelt” call to her after her husband was killed in Afghanistan.

It is worth summing up the roles of the major players here. President Trump wanted to comfort Myeshia Johnson on the loss of her husband. He sought counsel from his Chief of Staff, a man better positioned to give that counsel than anyone. He made the call.

Someone, it is a safe bet not the grieving widow, invited Fredericka Wilson to listen into the call and the next day, she was slamming the president to the media, politicizing a family’s tragedy. There is no benign explanation for Wilson listening in. If she was included because she was close to the family, she should have been there with them. Her participation was an obvious set up. She played her role and rained ugly controversy all over the suffering of Myeshia Johnson.

Trump took the bait, and escalated the rhetoric with a tweet that the Congresswoman had “fabricated” her account. More likely she had distorted and maligned his sincere respect. Truly he doth bark too much.

General Kelly did a masterful and gracious job putting things in context and directing the nation’s attention where it belongs, on the heroism and sacrifice of America’s fighting men and women. But, he botched an insignificant detail which invited the partisan jackals to keep barking.

And tonight, in far away places, thousands America’s finest young people stand guard, protecting the peace and security of a nation that may or may not deserve them.