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.

The Price Of Indulging Sanders

The Hillary-Bernie saga is not yet closed. In her new book Hillary allegedly says that Bernie Sanders did her lasting damage during the Democrat primary campaign.

I have no doubt that is true – but the more interesting allegation is that Obama kept her in a ‘straitjacket’ by not allowing her to attack Sanders – out of fear of dividing the party.

That allegation is the heart of the difficluties within the Democrat party. Sanders lost but went through the campaign unscathed due to the ‘straitjacket.’

Let me state an obvious truth that every single Democrat wishes to avoid – Bernie Sanders was the single worse major party Presidential primary candidate in the history of this country. Bernie is a self-proclaimed socialist who was quite public with is admiration of the Soviet Union (he even went to the USSR on his honeymoon!), Castro’s Cuba, the Sandinista in Nicaragua, and as of late that charming example of socialism – Venezuela. This is a man who once said that food lines are good – because it means there is food! This is a man who when directly ask to condemn the Sandinista genocide of the Mosquito Indians in Nicaragua declined to do so.

All on video by the way.

That Hillary could have destroyed Bernie at any moment she wished during the primary is without doubt true. That the Democrats could not afford to speak the truth in order to disqualify a terrible candidate demonstrates just what a mess they have become. I am sure the Democrats are hoping that the mess sorts itself out with time but it seems to be going the other way – the failure to destroy the absurdity of a socialist candidate that has vocally supported the most murderous regime’s on the planet over the last fifty years has simply made him more popular with the Democrats. No, still not at peak absurdity!

These political hens will come home to roost. Not allowing Hillary to destroy Sanders with the simple truth of who he is and what he has supported has exacerbated their problem with the socialists. The Democrats feared that allowing Hillary to speak the truth in regard to Sanders would cost them the 2016 election. This may turn out to be the most disastrous political miscalculation in modern history – NOT exposing the absurdity of the Sanders candidacy early in the primary was perhaps exactly what did cost her the election and furthermore it appears in 2018 and 2020 the Democrats will have the identical problem.

The Democrat Party is most likely approaching a painful decision – abandon the socialist aspect and lose for a while or embrace the socialists and probably become a permanent minority party. That many socialist-leaning Democrats have made the incorrect assumption that because Hillary declined to destroy Sanders in the primary the socialist ideology is electorally solid will lead to some sporting moments in the near future.

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…

“The State Is That Great Fiction By Which Everyone Tries To Live At The Expense Of Everyone Else”

“The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

Everyday I hear a complaint along the lines “Why does the government allow this to happen?”

Bastiat had the answer – very few feel it is any longer their obligation to help their neighbor – it is now the amorphous ‘government’ that is obliged to remedy any and all pain. How many people calling for single payer or Medicaid for all are currently writing a check to cover another persons healthcare? Pretty close to zero – that is the job of somebody else to pay for it, not their job. Their job is to vote to alleviate pain, not actually personally do anything to alleviate pain. Basically they believe in outsourcing their humanity.

To the point Bastiat was making – if you ‘vote’ for it then it will be the expense of someone else, not you. That is the mindset. That it is completely bogus is irrelevant. The government feeds this perception by creating credit out of thin air in order to sustain an ever greater debt load in order that the mindset that it is the job of somebody else to pay, not their job, can be continued. As Thomas Sowell said, “It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.” Reality has left the building.

As long as the central banks can continue generating credit from thin air the illusion can continue.

The day the illusion ends will be quite sporting – and it will someday end.

Buckle Up!

Yesterday I shared a newspaper column I wrote two years ago, Unwinding. In it I said, “The pattern is common, they come to believe that they can solve the problems in the world by changing human nature. That belief is inevitably acted upon by using all of the power they can amass in order to compel people to change. What will follow will often be people changing their behavior because they fear the consequences represented by the force compelling them to do so. However forcing people to change their behavior in the face of dire consequences is not the same as changing human nature.

That is the rub in this belief system. You cannot use force to change human nature, you can use force to change human behavior. Ever more force is required in order to maintain that ‘change’ in human behavior. ‘Ever more force’ has a logical end and when that logical end is reached the logical end of the ‘change’ is also reached.”

A couple of days previous to that I quoted Paul Brodsky extensively in a blog post – “Mr. Trump’s “Being There” presidency is reflecting an inconvenient truth back on a society that has, until maybe now, successfully deluded itself into believing government is functionally the glue holding society together. Though he does not mean to, Mr. Trump is single-handedly demonstrating to groups ranging from idealistic Washington elites to social media zombies to southern white supremacists that Madisonian government has become a dignified cover for the financial, commercial and national security interests that control it. We suspect those interests would rather the reach of their power be less visible”

Who really is running this country? That is not an intro to a Ron Paul conspiracy theory but an honest question. It seems to be ever more obvious that Trump is not running it – the bureaucracy he supposedly directs counters and foils him at every turn. If that Federal bureaucracy is not working for Trump, whom are they working for? As I noted previously, Goldman-Sachs alumni have taken nearly every meaningful economic position in the administration. Who is running the country? Rather than that question being ask in terms of a grave crisis and a complete subverting of the will of the voters and the electoral process it is instead celebrated as victory by the Washington establishment and the media.

Fred Reed posted in his blog over the weekend, “Clearly the people at the top, in the editorial suites in Manhattan, at Goldman Sachs, at Lockheed-Martin, know what they are doing. They want Trump out so they can continue looting. From their point of view, the placard-carriers and ball-bat wielders are, merely useful idiots. It is an odd and amusing alliance. The useful idiots, Leftists all, apparently do not know that they are carrying water for the arms industry and international finance.”

I have often pointed out that this country experienced a $15 trillion net wealth transfer during the Obama years, $15 trillion transferred from the bottom 93% to the top 7%. Each meaningful Obama policy and all of the legislation passed when the Democrats controlled congress and the White House amounted to nothing more than wealth transfers to the rich. These bills were written by corporations to benefit corporations. The Affordable Care Act drafted by the former VP of Lobbying for WellPoint, Dodd-Frank drafted by CitiGroup. The Obama administration was the pure and total take over of the Federal government by Wall Street banks and insurance companies.

Every law, policy and regulation from 2009 until January of 2017 worked to enrich the corporations and impoverish you – and the corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks all gained immense net wealth while you lost net wealth under Obama.

In no small measure Trump was elected to end this corporate ownership of the Federal government. It is undeniable that Trump is failing at kicking the corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks out of the government. It is also undeniable that most of the GOP is onboard with the corruption. If we had an honest media we would be treating this for what it is – the greatest threat and crisis since the Civil War. The corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks do not want to give up these policies, these regulations, these laws that allow them to gain wealth at your expense.

Somehow the American Left is standing foursquare in line with the corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks efforts to continue to plunder the country.

When I repeat James Kunstler’s line “Sometimes societies just collectively go insane” this is the level of insanity to which I refer. The one thing that 90% of Americans should be agreeing on – that corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks should not be plundering the country – the Left has decided is A-OK with them. Not only is the Left good with corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks plundering the country they are increasingly willing to back that view up with baseball bats and axes.

There is simply no end to the level of force the American Left is willing to bring to the table in order to allow corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks to continue to plunder the country.

It is just as Hayek said, “If socialist understood economics they wouldn’t be socialist.” This is the predicament this country finds itself in – Leftist refuse to entertain that what they are doing and want to do enriches the elites and impoverishes the masses. No amount of data will apparently convince them of the results of their position – and the more data presented the more vehement the resistance. The corporations and insurance companies and Wall Street banks are more than wiling to fund and support the Left to allow the plunder to continue.

The Left truly and sincerely believe that they are in the process of changing human nature. The Left truly and sincerely believe that force is justified in bringing about this change. They are wrong on both counts and no matter how truly and sincerely they believe something that is wrong – it is still wrong.

I have long said that Trump does not have the skill set or personality for the job at hand. I think that is shown to be true daily. It is unlikely to get better. Each day it looks more likely that the battle is corporations + Wall Street + insurance companies + American Left vs. Everyone Else.

Buckle up, Everyone Else is not going quietly.

Isn’t It Ironic

It would appear the worm has turned for Antifa. After Charlottesville it seemed all Democrats and even some Republicans defended Antfia as being ‘against white supremacists’ and they were treated as a mainstream group of people who happen to beat people up, but only Nazi’s and Klansman and that was ok.

Antifa has gone on to demonstrate since Charlottesville that they really are not too picky about whom they beat up – they have even beaten up Black Lives Matter folks. How to win friends and influence people? It also didn’t help the perception when they beat up people praying for peace in California.

Who beats up people praying for peace?

The focus of Antifa is apparently to oppose with violence anyone who is not them.

The Philadelphia ‘cell’ has come out calling for Marxist revolution. Antifa is leaving little doubt about where they stand ideologically and that they will use whatever level of violence they deem necessary to get what they want.

This is all leading to an interesting political situation – will having supported Antifa in the wake of Charlottesville end up being as politically toxic as supporting the Klan? That appears to be the road this is heading down at ever increasing speed.

Let us be honest – 90% of Americans are fed up with the hate and the violence. We are just done with it. Politicians perceived to have been supportive of a hate-filled violent group could end up paying a price in this environment. Antifa is demonstrating beyond any rational dispute that they are a hate-filled violent group.

Isn’t it ironic if the one thing that could unite and rally the overwhelming majority of people in this country is opposition to Antifa?

Could happen…

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