Trump’s Political Hits and Misses Between the Storms.

Behind the receding waters of Harvey and the deafening roar of Irma, the Trump administration last week did a fair bit of administrating, not just on emergency response, but on a wide range of policy and legal issues. In a strange way, the hurricanes created a loud white-noise that dominated the agenda and blotted out the media’s fabricated frenzies in search of impeachable offenses. This makes it easier to assess Trump’s moves on their merits rather than through the combat echoes among Never Trumpers, Trump Loyalists, and uncommitted observers. The week offered plenty of fodder for supporters and critics alike.
 
First, there was the federal response to the storms themselves, which, despite inevitable and mostly churlish sniping, generally has been praised as sure footed and reassuring. Presidents are in their strongest position to be seen as presidential while responding to threat or catastrophe.
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The president’s biggest governing move was his action to rescind, on a six-month fuse, President Obama’s DACA program which granted legal residency and some benefits to certain unlawful immigrants who were brought to America as children. The president’s announcement sparked an intense debate both about the merits of giving cuts to the front of the line for some immigrants, the harshness of deporting young adults to unknown “homes” because of events that happened when they were children, and, the dry but crucial debate over the proper maker of the decision, Congress or the president.
 
In the area of judicial appointments, two stellar Trump nominees, Amy Barret and Joan Larsen had their Senate confirmation hearings last week, and Trump unveiled a new nominee, Greg Katsas. Conservative activists speak in superlative terms of these nominees, particularly Katsas.
 
The Justice Department surprised many conservatives and infuriated a few when it announced it would not reverse the decision of Obama’s DOJ not to prosecute Lois Lerner for her abuse of office, when she directed harassment of conservative activists seeking non-profit status for their groups. This observer gives that decision a thumbs down. If anyone deserves to wear stripes for the stripes she flogged onto the backs of American citizens, it is Lerner. However, some savvy commentators suggest this is the best outcome. With civil lawsuits proceeding against her and the IRS, and with the criminal threat removed, Lerner has no refuge to hide behind the 5th Amendment. She must answer all questions or faced contempt charges. Further, legal investigation, depositions, and documents should provide a trove of information for plaintiffs to expose wrongdoing by the government.
 
AG Jeff Sessions caused controversy this week when he announced he would reverse Obama era restrictions on local police departments using shared federal dollars to purchase surplus military equipment. The debate here is mostly symbolic, as Obama did not actually prohibit local purchase of war implements. He just restricted one pot of money that police departments had relied on: shared revenues seized from criminal suspects in the controversial practice known as “asset forfeiture.” Departments could still buy advanced gear. They just had to dig into their own pockets.
 
Trump’s reversal of the policy is consistent with his campaign promises to crack down on crime and to be more supportive of police work. It strikes some conservatives and civil libertarians as wrong headed, however, both in endorsing the trend toward militarized police departments, and in recognizing and rooting deeper the offensive tactic of seizing property from people who have not been convicted of, or often charged with, any crime.
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Trump’s other big news this week was blindsiding Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to cut a deal with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on a short term extension of the national debt limit. McConnell and Ryan had pressed for additional concessions from the Democrat caucus and Trump basically stiffed the Republicans to side with the Democrats.
 
Trump’s Republican fans think it demonstrates a needed new toughness and shot across the bow of the Accomplish-Nothing Republican Congress. His Republican critics cite it as evidence that Trump was always a Democrat and seeking occasion to sell the GOP’s soul.
 
No one, probably not even Trump, knows exactly what he intends. He did seem to drive a weak bargain, asking for little from Schumer and Pelosi for the handshake and with only a three month deal, setting up another shut down showdown in December when other things will be in full boil.
 
Finally, Education Secretary Betsy Devos announced that the DOE will review and modify certain policies of the Obama administration that controlled the way colleges conduct sexual assault and harassment investigations on campus. Supporters of the announcement believe the existing practices are a one-sided travesty that deny accused males fairness and due process. Women’s groups and other activists argue the move turns a blind eye to a campus rape culture and will cause more women to be victimized.
 
Reviewing all these developments affords political animals a certain respite from frenzy fatigue and gives a chance simply to discuss policy pros and cons, rather than be sucked into the great maelstrom of condemning or defending Trump and Trumpism. When the wind and water settle, this will be remembered as a politically consequential week.

One Person At A Time

I had a conversation with a fellow this past week that went like this –

He is in his 30’s, professional, accomplished and works for a well-known corporation. He told me that he is leaning toward socialism.

I ask him why and he responded that capitalism is immoral and undercutting people.

I responded that we have not had capitalism in this country in a very long time if you define capitalism as free markets, i.e. transactions and prices are voluntary and no one can prevent or force you to buy something or set the price at which you must purchase something.

He said that he had to agree.

I further added that what we have is corporatism, cronyism – that each of these laws, taxes and regulations are intended to work to the favor of the corporations in that they snuff out choice and raise the bar in order to eliminate or prevent competition.

He thought about it and again said that he had to agree.

I finished my point by stating the obvious – socialism is simply more laws, taxes and regulations that snuff out choice and competition and, no matter how much you tax the corporations, socialism simply guarantees the corporations a market and a profit – which the corporations are all for.

Again he agreed.

He then thanked me for having the conversation and told me he had never thought of it in the terms I explained.

One person at a time.

Solving Problems

Those who wish for government to solve problems – economic, social, educational, transportation, poverty, et al. – all have a fundamental core belief: that private human beings are corrupt, greedy and not to be trusted but that a government consisting of these same corrupt, greedy and not to be trusted individuals will not be corrupt or greedy and can be fully trusted.

Truth.
The ideological foundations of believing government should solve problems is premised on the assumption that government is not corrupt and greedy but that private human beings are.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, these folks who believe that government should solve problems could not accomplish without involving government. Healthcare, transportation, education, making society more ‘fair’ – all of it could be done through private voluntary organizations. So why don’t they do that? Because they believe private organizations cannot be trusted but government can be. That there is zero in all of human history to substantiate that belief is irrelevant to these folks – it is the linchpin to the entire ideology and admitting to reality is akin to admitting they have been wrong.
Nothing terrible about being wrong, we are all wrong about things. The problem is when you are willing to destroy lives by the millions rather than admit maybe there was a better way to do something – then doubling and tripling down on those bad ideas rather than admit that you were wrong about it.
Some of these folks may confess that government can indeed be corrupt, greedy and not to be trusted – then qualify that by saying the private world is worse so government is the best of bad choices.
Again, there is zero in all of human history to substantiate that belief or qualification.
There is one major difference between government doing something and the private world doing something – the private world is voluntary except where government has mandated it not to be. Government is force. If the private, voluntary world is corrupt or has a bad idea – one can walk away from it and not be compelled, coerced or forced into participating.
Government is nothing except using compulsion, coercion and force to require you to participate – no matter how bad the idea, no matter how corrupt, no matter if it violates your conscience to participate.
It boggles the mind to think that so many people would prefer to be compelled, coerced and forced into participating in things that are corrupt, bad ideas or violate their conscience rather than have the opportunity to walk away – but there you have it.
Think on it.

The Fascination Of Virtue Signaling

The virtue signaling dynamic is beyond fascinating.

Just a few weeks ago we had the Charlottesville episode where those who define their moral superiority via virtue signaling unanimously sided with Antifa. Major politicians and the major media sided with Antifa. President Trump caught absolute hell for saying the Nazi’s and Antifa were equally responsible and implying equally as evil. People resigned from the administration due to Trump saying that.

The press, the Washington establishment, the virtue signalers of all stripes went absolutely nuts.

Now just a little while later the WashPo and other outlets explicitly say that Antifa is every bit as evil as the Nazi’s and the virtue signalers are now signaling how evil Antifa is! In other words – they now agree with Trump while they continue to castigate him for saying what they also say.

Yes, the virtue signalers are that shallow and easily manipulated.

It is becoming ever more obvious that virtue signaling is identical to shouting “I have no core values, I have no principles, I simply do anything I think will let me remain a part of the group! Let me stay in the group, please please!” Virtue signalers are no different than a leaf that falls in the river and they will go whereever that river takes them. They have apparently forsaken their volition in exchange for being popular with all of these others who have also forsaken their volition to remain popular – wash rinse repeat.

It is truly fascinating. In the wake of Charlottesville the virtue signalers were all apparently compelled to tweet and post that they ‘Opposed the White Supremacist and stood with those who opposed them’ along with the required ‘I am not a racist’ posts. We all saw them – endlessly and meaninglessly. It was simply a requirement to remain in the group – it had zero meaning beyond that and no positive effect what so ever in fighting racism.

What passes for ‘news’ organizations in this country have been nothing but virtue signalers for a long time now – the New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and MSNBC and on and on and on. They do not actually provide news and information but rather tell people what they believe is virtuous and what is not while providing just enough information to substantiate the signal while omitting everything that would destroy their position – and the bleating sheep follow mindlessly and proudly.

The flip side of virtue signaling is the shaming. When people depart from the program, engage their own brain, decide that they indeed own and are accountable for their own morals – the virtue signalers endlessly publicly shame them. It truly is a cult. People are so tremendously insecure and unwilling to think – anyone who does decide to think must be made to pay!

Amazing.

Choose Wisely

Everyday I hear or read people arguing for

Their speech to be limited

Their property rights to be limited

Their choices in healthcare to be limited

Their choices in employment to be limited

Their choices in lifestyle to be limited

Their choices in what they are allowed to believe without being punished by government to be limited

Yes, we have reached this level of absurdity.

Why anyone would want their speech, property rights, healthcare, employment, lifestyle and beliefs to be limited or chosen for them by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell I have no clue.

These folks respond with “Ahhhh! I don’t want it controlled by Trump and McConnell, I want it controlled by people who agree with ME!”

This is how delusional we have become as a society – people are arguing for government to take away their rights – but not ‘those guys’ but ‘their guys’ to unilaterally decide what is what! As though they would have a choice in the matter and as though even if it were ‘their guys’ it would somehow be any different than ’the other guys’. These people all have the delusion that only ‘those other people’ would be controlled and punished for what they think or believe or do – they would not be controlled and punished at all.

These folks have an endless litany for why ‘those other guys’ rights should be taken away – climate change, racism, ‘fairness’, ‘whiteness’, ‘blackness’, privilege, ‘toxic masculinity’ – the list goes on and on.

These folks are not limited to Leftist, a number of Trump people are perfectly willing to deny fundamental rights to the people that they disagree with.

A major component of this argument to deny basic rights to people (including themselves!) is to mischaracterize liberty and freedom. I hear and read these mischaracterizations everyday as well. Absurdities such as “If you drive on roads you are a socialist” are common – which if true would mean that Caligula and Tsar Nicholas I were socialist as well? Yeah, it is that dumb. The difficult part is that no matter how logically and morally ridiculous their argument is these people believe it. To be observant – not disparaging – these people cannot even begin to explain how the current system works let alone how their fantasy future system of denying fundamental rights would work. What they know is propaganda and propaganda that if followed through on inevitably enriches and empowers the few at the expense of the many.

“If socialist understood economics they wouldn’t be socialist” is as close as we will ever come to a universally true statement.

Let me be clear – liberty and freedom is

The right to say what you want

The right to do as you wish with your property

The right to choose the healthcare you prefer

The right to do what you choose to make a living

The right to live your life as you wish

The right to believe what you choose to believe instead of what is chosen for you

I could add about a hundred thousand other items to this list – but you get the point.

Our division is not between Republicans and Democrats – the division is between those who want to make their own choices about their own life and those who maintain that society can only function if the government or some other entity makes those choices for you.

Choose wisely…

Let Us Talk About What No One Wants To Talk About

Let us talk about the reality that no one wants to talk about anymore – your economic and social outcome in life, as well as your general happiness, contentment and ability to behave as a human, has more to do with the family you grew up in that any other single factor. In fact – no other factor is even close. It has very little to nothing to do with your skin color, your last name, your immigration status, or your gender.

This is kryptonite to the Social Justice Warriors because it is true. Tear down all of the statues you want, you will not improve the economic and social outcomes in life, as well as the general happiness, contentment and ability to behave as a human unless you fix the family. It is well documented, researched and established as to the family models, behaviors and habits that will constantly produce the happiest, most content and most successful human beings. Unfortunately to a significant degree the Social Justice Warriors are intent on destroying that model – in fact many Leftist believe that evading every aspect of that model is virtue signaling their superiority.

Now just because there is a well documented, researched and established family model, behaviors and habits that will constantly produce the happiest, most content and most successful human beings does not mean it is always the case that it will produce the most successful human. It means it is overwhelmingly more successful than other models in accomplishing that. Great families can produce terrible adults and children who grow up in terrible circumstances can become great human beings. No one doubts or argues that.

There was a study some years ago that determined that if you avoided having babies before marriage, being convicted of a crime, finished high school, spent at least one year in your first job, and got married and stayed married then your chances – statistically speaking – of dying in poverty were about the same as getting struck by lightening. This seems like a fairly straightforward formula to follow in order to avoid poverty and it is not at all dependent on your skin color, your last name, your immigration status, or your gender. If this is the solution to poverty we might rationally ask what family structure and values best produces this outcome?

If you guessed two parents that did all of the above themselves then you would be correct!

This is not rocket science despite what the Ph.D.’s may want you to believe. Deviate from these things – have babies before you are married, be convicted of a crime, drop out of school, get divorced, stay single all your life, start job-hopping or just quit working at a young age – and you will not be doomed to misery but you will greatly enhance the chances that your life – and your children’s lives – will consist of poverty, social isolation, unhappiness, discontentment and dysfunction.

Just the truth.