I’m noticing more than a few folks are demanding we leave the likes of David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez alone. The argument generally goes something like this: they’re just kids who’ve experienced a horrible trauma, and their spewing venom on cable TV and Twitter is just part of the grieving process for them.
I have no doubt that these kids need to grieve. I have no doubt the experience at Parkland on Valentine’s Day was traumatic. I have no doubt their emotions are still all over the place and on edge.
But here’s the thing: they injected themselves into the political fray, and did so in a way that was intended to provoke. Whether or not the idea of banning guns was their own, a thought planted by the liberal environment where they’ve been raised, a line of attack suggested by their media handlers, or a combination of some or all of those factors, the fact remains that they opted to become the face and voice of the far left’s attempt to overturn a pillar of American society.
They have not attempted to engage in debate. In fact, they’ve run from actual debate to simply spew invective at anyone who doesn’t share their belief that banning firearms will solve the problem of violent assault in this country. They have been challenged, even by their own classmates, to debate the topic on the merits. To offer a cogent argument in defense of their opinion. Yet time and again, they’ve refused and responded instead by offering streams of profanity-laced invective.
These kids are not typical teens. They are drama students, who have learned in class how to evoke emotions in others, and had that craft further honed by their coterie of media handlers. They are members of the 1%, both in income and family status (how else did you think they appeared on TV so fast?). In short, these kids have been raised to believe they are better than the average American; that they are destined to lead the rest of us – whether it be to a better future or off a cliff.
So please, spare me the sanctimony. These kids injected themselves into a full-blown attack on the Second Amendment. They did so willingly, of their own accord and with the full blessing of their elders, who are supposed to have their best interests at heart. Yet, we’ve heard virtually nothing from those elders, except for the elder Mr. Kasky occasionally parroting liberal talking points on Twitter.
Not only have they dived into the political fray, they’ve done so by copying the Hillary Clinton playbook. Rather than looking to engage proactively with the rest of us, they’ve adopted the same condescending attitude that sank Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. They speak of democracy, but they are all about talking down to the little people. Just as Mrs. Clinton saw fit to declare anyone who refused to be brainwashed by her abundant charm as “deplorable,” the Parkland activists have labeled those who support our Constitution as “child killers.” It may win them plaudits from the liberals on MSNBC and CNN. It simply makes everyone else regard them with equal ridicule.
If you want to blame anyone for their being subjected to internecine political battles, blame their parents, their teachers, and the media companies that have put them front and center. Tell them to give the kids time to grieve properly. Tell them to get the kids actual grief counselors, not cable news hosts, to whom they can pour out their emotions and guide them back to sanity.
Until then, as Von Clausewitz observed, “politics is war by other means.” As long as they remain engaged, they are fair game. And that’s how it should be.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” –Benjamin Franklin
This past week, two seemingly unrelated events occurred that brought the 18th century to life in our modern age. Unless you are completely unaware (and if you are, I doubt you would bother to read this), Saturday was the “March for Our Lives,” the highly contrived display of juveniles calling for an end to an essential freedom. But earlier in the week, an Uber autonomous taxi struck and killed a pedestrian. Later reports laid the blame on the pedestrian, but that didn’t stop government from forcing every company testing autonomous driving technology to pull their vehicles off public roads.
What Franklin and the other Founder’s understood is there is a dynamic tension between safety and liberty. The reality is that they cannot perfectly coexist, and so the question is about how to set the dynamic to serve the most good. Think on it for a moment, and you’ll realize the two are polar opposites. Any society that promises absolute safety for it’s citizens offers no liberties, not even within the confines of the home. Conversely, the society that offers unlimited freedom has nothing in the way of societal protections.
What those wise old men created was a system that separated a subset of freedoms from everything else, and referred to them as “essential liberties.” They considered them essential for the simple reason that these freedoms guarantee every other human liberty. Among those considered absolutely necessary are the freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into an individual’s life and incarceration without first being tried by one’s peers, the right to peaceably assemble and address the government’s representatives, the right to worship and the right to defend oneself against the government, by force of arms if necessary. They packaged the essential liberties into the Bill of Rights – something the anti-federalists* demanded in order to secure their votes for ratification of the new Constitution.
What wasn’t mentioned, in the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation or the Declaration of Independence was the idea of a personal safety. Personal safety was generally accepted as an individual responsibility in the new republic.
Generally, but not universally. There have always been those who believe the duty of government is not the assurance of liberty, but dedication to protection from danger. While the nation was founded by, and throughout our history has rewarded risk takers, those who are risk averse have also made their homes among us. As the nation has aged, our society has reached agreement that certain personal liberties could be exchanged for government assurances of a sort of communal safety. Big Brother might not be watching your every move, but he’ll watch enough to make certain that some actions are prevented (or at least punished).
This brings me back to Franklin, Uber and the “#MarchForOurLives.” While Poor Richard might have been bemused at the idea of the government regulating transportation companies to this extent, he would have been willing to go along. After all, transportation is not an essential liberty. The government could ban all mechanized modes of getting about tomorrow as being inherently unsafe (and a glance at NTSB statistics will tell you just how unsafe they remain, despite government’s best attempts at making them safe), but you could still figure out a way to get from point A to B.
However, Ben would have taken umbrage at Saturday’s connived attempt to toss away one of those essential liberties, the right (and to many of the founders, the responsibility** of all citizens) to own firearms. I understand this concept is alien to the children who participated who, with the surety only born from the ignorance of youth, believe any idea older than they is ancient and outdated. It certainly is not alien to the people of Think Progress and the other left wing organizations that organized the protest. Indeed, removing it from the pantheon of essential liberties has been a goal of theirs from the beginning of the progressive movement, because they understand it is that which undergirds the individual’s ability to ensure his ability to exercise any of the others.
Think Progress has the right to assemble, and the even the right to dissemble on the nature of the Constitution. But the children whose unnatural fears they’re preying upon should also take note of the last part of the Franklin quote above. When he said those who desired safety over liberty deserved neither the safety they seek, nor the protections of liberty, he was referring to this other passage he had a part in crafting:
-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.
This was the American Declaration of Independence, which stated the case that government does not exist to provide for personal safety, and that the duty of all people when confronted with a government that places benevolent tyranny ahead of individual liberty is to overthrow that government – by force, if necessary. That is the Pandora’s box they are toying with. Beware opening the lid. You won’t like what you find inside.
*For those of you not well versed in US history, the anti-federalists were Americans who opposed the adoption of the Constitution. Indeed, they opposed the idea of any strong government that could bind the individual states into a permanent union. Among their number were such notables as Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and James Monroe.
**The various Founding Fathers have numerous dissertations on a citizen’s duty to maintain a firearm and remain proficient in its use, but this quote from Thomas Jefferson sums up the prevailing sentiment: “The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
In the wake of the President Trump’s signing the omnibus budget act, I am hearing and seeing a frenzied (indeed, almost apoplectic) reaction from my fellow conservatives. But I want to to stop you now, stop you dead in your tracks, because I am now going to tell you who is most responsible for this thing’s passage.
Yes, that’s right. YOU are the reason Congress just spent $1.3 trillion it doesn’t have. YOU are the reason that by the time the next Congress is seated, the federal debt will have swelled to $22 trillion.
By the way, I’m just as guilty of this fiasco as the rest of you.
Why are we responsible for this mess? Because we ignored the most basic tenet of our system of government. We’ve been great at describing our positions to one another. We’re lousy at describing them to anyone who doesn’t share those views. American government is not about just ramming your agenda through. Nothing lasts that way. No, it’s still about winning the marketplace of ideas. Think about it: the founders of this country traded speeches and newspaper editorials until the public eventually chose the vision of the federalists over that of the anti-federalists. That same dynamic still exists, and we’ve been terrible at the art of persuasion.
A big part of that is that while we’re all willing to talk the talk, almost none of us are willing to walk the walk. The last national elections pretty much embodied everything wrong with the conservative movement, and still we haven’t learned that lesson.
Think about it – a guy whose idea of fiscal discipline is going bankrupt and leveraging himself to the hilt managed to convince the nation he’s a fiscal conservative. From what I’ve been seeing throughout the day in my Twitter and Facebook feeds, he managed to convince a sizable number of you of the same. The guy who swore he could deliver the first balanced budget in two generations without touching entitlements (when anyone who can do basic arithmetic knows better) did enough reasonably conservative things over the first year of his Presidency to make you think he could somehow pull off that bit of alchemy.
Therein lies the problem. We are supposedly the people who want less government, which by definition means we want government to do less. But how many of you truly want less government across the board? I constantly hear we want less welfare, but: save the fuel subsidies. Enforce the ethanol mandate. Don’t touch my mortgage deduction. Hey, my job relies on that outdated weapons program!
We have an innate inability to reconcile, even in our own heads, that limiting government means actually taking more responsibility for own fiscal lives. We haven’t been able to realize that before we can ask a liberal to give up their government handout, we have to be willing and ready to give up our government handout.
In this respect, Congress is doing exactly what we want of it. We want our government programs, though we’re loathe to acknowledge they are a form of redistributionist welfare. Of course, liberals also want their government handouts, but the difference is they are not being intellectually dishonest with themselves. They know it’s redistributionist government. So, in order to get something passed, “conservatives” get their favorite programs and liberals get their favorite programs. The net result is that Congress passes a $1,300,000,000,000 spending bill with at least $880,000,000,000 in new debt. And of course, the President who thinks “debt is good” is going to sign it. (Indeed, the only reason he gave for almost vetoing the thing was it didn’t spend even more money).
If you’re truly outraged by this, it’s time to prove it. Call, write, go to town halls – and tell your congressman you’re ready to give up every government dime that floats your way. AND I MEAN EVERY SINGLE ONE. Because until you do, liberals will continue to smirk and call us hypocrites.
The sad thing is, they’ll be right.
I find myself, once again, having to cut through the bullcrap like a light saber through Ben Kenobi.
Look, here’s the deal folks: when Donald J. Trump, current President of these United States, was nothing more than an old lech (ok, a rich old lech), he paid to get laid by a porn star. He did this while his third wife, a former high-class skin model, was knocked up with his kid and while simultaneously having an affair with a Playboy playmate. Now, if I had more money than God (or at least, more than 90% of other Manhattan residents), I would waste my money on other things, but it’s his money. Besides, it’s part of his life-long pattern of keeping STD clinics in business.
The thing is, none of this should surprise anyone. After all, Trump has been a braggart about his sexploits since he first started appearing on Page Six. (What did you think was going on at Studio 54?) This is a guy who cheated on his first wife with his second wife, who he then dumped when she had the temerity to get pregnant. Long before achieving a career rebirth as a sort of lovable reality show host, he was famous for being the cad who turned Atlantic City into a hedonistic pleasure dome (albeit a badly managed, over-the-top version).
Indeed, this is the last scandal I ever expected to besiege the Trump White House. After all, only the wilfully ignorant would have thought Donald J. Trump hasn’t spent the last 50 years trying to hump every female human that crossed his path. For Pete’s sake, he’s bragged about. Loudly.
So, why wouldn’t he just fess up this time around? Surely he remembers 20 years ago. Yes, we were all skeeved by the middle aged dude boffing a barely legal intern in the Oval Office – but only the wilfully ignorant were surprised by the behavior. But what got that president into a heap of trouble was lying about it, even though nobody believed him. It cost him his legacy. 50 years from now, the only thing he’ll be remembered for is being the second President to be impeached.
The only thing I can think of is, he’s afraid of losing his base of support. But those of you who are rabid Trump fans wouldn’t abandon him over this. I mean, 5 minutes on Twitter proves that, right? So, it’s up to y’all. Already, the lawsuits are in motion. It’s Monica all over again. Shortly, the President will be forced to submit to being deposed and any missteps or misstatements in those, and he’ll have fallen into the same self-imposed trap that ensnared Bill Clinton. So, Trumpkins, save us all the spectacle. Urge him to fess up to doing the horizontal bop with a porn star named Stormy (and yes, having quite ordinary sized hands) and pay the settlements so we can all move on. There are real problems. We don’t need a lecherous old fool’s hubris to create new ones.
Some time back, the left uncorked a nutty idea: parents weren’t essential cogs in society. Over the last couple of weeks, this ugly theme has reappeared as a talking point in several leftist articles with wide circulation, all arguing that child rearing is better left to government overlords. Indeed, we are again being told that thousands of generations of humans have been poorly served by parents, because the reality is that “it takes a village” to properly care for a child – if that child is even deemed viable in the womb by those overlords. This seems like yet another attempt at destruction of the most essential building block of society, the nuclear family.
Now, for a quick detour. Why, you may ask, would anyone want to destroy families? The answer is simple, if you understand history. The first thing to understand is the roots of modern liberalism are found in the ideals of socialism, and modern socialists (whether they understand it or not) are promoting a soft communism. They may be willing to swap out the dictator for some sort of proletarian government, but make no mistake: they believe all of society’s ills can be cured by government. Their contention is that no government, regardless how well intentioned, can survive so long as private, unregulated ownership of property and capital is allowed to exist.
The nuclear family has been seen as an existential threat to this ideal since the very first promulgation of their warped philosophy. It was Engels who wrote an entire book on the subject, in order to reinforce his and Marx’s idea that the family was a construct of capitalist societies that existed primarily to ensure the preservation of individual wealth. They then further fantasized that governments and western religions encouraged the nuclear family, as a way of ensuring that children were indoctrinated with the approved morals and views of government.
Taken in that light, it isn’t terribly surprising to the rest of us that the family is one of the left’s foremost targets. So long as the family unit exists, the possibility of a socialist utopia cannot. The two are mutually exclusive.
Over the past 50 years, the left has launched a legislative assault on the traditional family. Liberalized divorce and abortion laws have removed most legal impediments to dissolving a family. The expansion of child welfare agencies and redefinition of what constitutes abuse have left parents who want to discipline their children at the state’s mercy. Increased participation in school curricula and operations by federal and state legislatures have ended parental control over their children’s education. They have even redefined the family with the legalization of gay marriage and making gay adoptions permissible.
While this assault on the family has recorded casualties (we’ve gone from 87% of children being in a traditional family to 68% in the last 50 years), the fact is that the normative family remains the standard in American society. But if your goal is to further the socialist ideal, to focus on the dubitable positives of equality of outcome, the family remains as your greatest threat. Modern socialists realize they cannot emulate their Marxist heroes and end the family by decree, so they instead have instigated a propaganda campaign to persuade us that parenting is not the most important job a person can have.
This line of attack, while perhaps not coordinated, has seen a dramatic uptick in the last few weeks. The first of these “thought pieces” that came to my attention was by Daniel Enberg in Slate. In Parenting Doesn’t Matter, he writes:
…what does affect a child’s future? Twin studies say a large proportion of the differences between children’s cognitive abilities, personalities, and chances of ending up with mental illness (among other long-term outcomes) can be explained solely by their DNA. And most of the rest appears to come from random chance, quirks in their biology, and specific non-parent-related life experiences: the teachers they had, or the friends they made along the way.
The entire article is a screed about how, even though he’s the father of an infant, he doesn’t see how anything he does – including things such as helping his daughter choose her friends, selecting her classes, her extra curricular activities, even simply reading her a bedtime story – will make any difference in her life. As he puts it, nothing he does “means she’ll still be shitting her pants at her high school graduation.”
The second piece was Ruth Marcus’ well publicized op-ed in the Washington Post. It is one of the most reprehensible articles I have ever read. It is nothing less than a full throated endorsement of eugenics, solely for a prospective mother’s “convenience.” She wrote:
I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted. That was not the choice I would have made. You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision.
Indeed, further on in the piece, she acknowledges that she foresees abortion as being the key to allowing eugenics to become a new societal norm (not unlike Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”):
Technological advances in prenatal testing pose difficult moral choices about what, if any, genetic anomaly or defect justifies an abortion. Nearsightedness? Being short? There are creepy, eugenic aspects of the new technology…
But hey, if the mother chooses to kill her family before it even begins, that’s not society’s concern, right? I would fully expect an avowed leftist like Marcus to pen such drivel and assume some sort of perverted moral high ground with it.
Then there’s “How to Raise a Boy” by Will Leitch. Now, I enjoy Will’s writing when he sticks to his bailiwick, which is sports. But for some reason, he felt it necessary to provide the rest of us his take on parenting. Many others have taken his piece to be a commentary on other leftist tropes: white male privilege, the need to end “gun culture,” the virtue of being a beta male and so forth. But in reality, he supports Enberg’s view that parenting really amounts to little more than providing food and shelter for his offspring, not moral guidance or education.
There are things that I think I’m supposed to show them…that I don’t necessarily agree with but don’t want to stand in the way of. What do I know, you know? Every parent is only pretending that he or she has any real answers…this lesson of self-reliance is only an illusion. I can tell myself that any “success” I’ve had has been because of “hard work” and “perseverance,” but I’m kidding myself.
So, even though Leitch acknowledges that his parent’s example and instruction, their constant admonishment to “work hard and study hard” may be the reason he is able to earn a comfortable living as writer, he is conflicted as to the reason. Why? Because the combination of a liberal education and liberal thought has told him that his success is solely dependant on his DNA.
And in the end, that is what liberalism wants us all to believe. Not what our history and experience tells us. They won’t be happy until something similar to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is society’s new normal – and they know that can’t exist so long as even one traditional family exists.
I often hear liberals saying, “a minimum wage should give the same earning power as when it was first introduced.”
Well, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’m happy to announce I fully agree with this position. When the federal government instituted a national minimum wage in 1938, it was set at 25¢ an hour. Adjusted for inflation (after all, only an idiot thinks a quarter goes as far now as it did 80 years ago), that would be $4.28 an hour today.
And I’d like to thank my liberal friends for pointing out the inequity in our current minimum wage structure vis a vis as it was originally intended.
By now, you’ve read every professional pundit’s take on what last night’s non-decision in the Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election means. So, in that time honored tradition of piling on, here’s a few thoughts of my own.
- Crappy candidates don’t win elections: unless they’re running against even crappier candidates. So long as the GOP keeps running people like Rick Saccone (who tried to pressure his possibly pregnant secretary into an abortion, despite running as a pro-life candidate) and Roy Moore (no need for further explanation), they will continue to lose elections. Unless, of course, the Democrats run even worse candidates. They tried that with Jon Ossoff. They also tried it in 2016 with somebody named Hillary Clinton.
- Smart Democrats run away from the “Party of Pelosi”: If you closed your eyes, Conor Lamb sounded like any number of moderate Republicans. At least in word, he is about as far from the national party platform as you can get and still call yourself a Democrat.
- Which leaves national Democrats in a quandary: Democrats need to flip 24 seats to regain the House in November. In order to do that, they’ll need a whole lot more people like Conor Lamb to run. If they succeed, what happens to the Democrats who’ve hewed farther to the left since the 2016 election? The return of a strong “Blue Dog” faction can’t be something Democrats eyeing a 2020 Presidential run (Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, etc) are eagerly anticipating. Nor can it be something the “old guard” House members (Pelosi, Hoyer, etc) really want to deal with.
- Presidents no longer have coattails: It might sound trite, but Presidents truly don’t enhance anyone else’s electoral chances anymore. While America has a long history of voting for the opposition in midterm elections, none of our last three Presidents have been able to transfer their considerable intraparty favorables into voter turnout. This year is continuing that trend. Whether that’s a function of our three decade long bout of hyper-partisanship, or Presidents who simply can’t reach voters on the “other” side, I don’t know. But it doesn’t really matter – it is, what it is. Just remember, the House has changed leadership 4 times during a midterm in the past 25 years.
- Anyone who thinks 2018 won’t be the fifth, is deluding themselves: Yes, 24 seats is a tall order. Yes, Democrats winning those seats will be running against the national party’s positions in many cases. Yes, that will create massive headaches for them, both in governance and electoral politics. But you know what? Another function of this period of hyper-partisanship is that the only accomplishment that matters is winning the damn election. Actual governing is secondary. You can bet the DNC and DCCC will pour everything they have into the districts they believe they can flip, and flip them they will.
“The Memo” – that 4 page document that’s tied our overlords in Washington into knots for over a week – has finally been released! If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you you click here and do so. Now.
Forgetting the political implications for a moment, I want to focus on the critical aspect I haven’t heard anyone mention yet: the FISA court’s existence. Think about it for a moment. None of what our nation has been subjected to over the past 20 months would have been possible, if not for a Constitutionally questionable extra-legal entity that was created for the sole purpose of allowing the federal government to spy on American citizens.
Absent the FISA court, the shady dealings of messers Comey, Rosenstein, Ohr, McCabe, et al., would have been presented in open court. Absent the FISA court, Mr. Steele’s questionably sourced, partisan “dossier” would have had to be presented as a verified source in open court – where any judge not asleep would have laughed the warrant application away. Absent the FISA court, Mr. Page and President Trump would have been notified they were the targets of a federal investigation.
That the last administration weaponized the various enforcement arms of the federal government as a political retribution tool has never been in much doubt. That they attempted to ply their retribution campaign in the shadows is also without dispute (think of the damage a weaponized IRS did to dozens of legitimate conservative groups). That some of the leading members of that administration’s Justice Department were utilizing a secret court to engage in a political dirty tricks campaign should not surprise anyone.
We, the people, gave the government that tool 40 years ago. Just like giving a spoiled child a hammer and telling him “No!”, how can we be surprised that the government uses that tool to smash everything in it’s way?
The political fallout from this will be with us for a while, possibly years. I hope that before those ashes are done burning America takes a good, hard look at the entire FISA process and decides to kill it. Any government that aspires to egalitarian principles cannot have secret courts, cannot grant the police authority to spy on it’s citizens, can never allow political actors control over those same police. Oversight, yes – operational control, never. That is the overriding lesson we need to learn from this fiasco.
Is it possible that the rank-and-file members of the FBI are loyal to the country and their mission, while their Obama administration era, politically appointed leaders are only loyal to a political movement?
Is it possible the Russian government engaged in an influence campaign during the last election, without either directly assisting either campaign, or being assisted by either campaign?
Also yes. And in both cases, more probable than not.
Unfortunately, the American public seems incapable of living with this state of things. The President is such a polarizing figure, and these issues so closely related both to the man and his temperament, that battle lines are being drawn where none should be. If you are a member of the “#Resistance,” that ill-defined cabal of #NeverTrumper conservatives, radical liberals and social justice warriors, then the Mueller investigation and FBI are the archangels of your salvation. If you’re fully aboard the #TrumpTrain, then the Russians are our friends, had no influence on the election and the FBI is staffed by former members of the Keystone Kops, all of whom are on Hillary Clinton’s payroll.
First for my friends on the #TrumpTrain: to pretend that Russia wasn’t attempting to influence the 2016 election is the height of naivety. Russia, from the time of the Czars, has never been a true friend of our nation. Russia has always been, and likely will always remain, an autocratic society that innately fears the very things that the United States’ very existence embodies. Russian governments, whether czarist, communist, perestroika or the current oligarchist regimes, have made it a point throughout history to gain influence over the American electoral process. At times, it was overt as hell. Boris Checherin, a Muscovite professor, was employed by Alexander II to identify and support American politicians who would be sympathetic to Russian interests during the early Reconstruction period. Some of you may be familiar with a KGB unsuccessful attempt to funnel campaign funds to Gerald Ford’s 1976 campaign. In 2009, the House of Representatives acknowledged that Dmitri Medvedev’s government had illegally contributed to political action campaigns for both candidates in the 2008 election.
Given that history, why is it outlandish to think Medvedev’s benefactor and mentor, Vladimir Putin, wouldn’t engage in some sort of dirty tricks campaign? It would be more outlandish to think the former KGB spook, whose only allegiance is to a Russian version of Manifest Destiny, hadn’t engaged in a disruption campaign during the Presidential race. Understanding the methods used, and their efficacy, should be a concern of every American. So take the blinders off. Nobody (except for some very dimwitted #resistance members) believes Putin actively threw the election to Donald Trump. If you give the President cover (i.e., so he doesn’t have to be defensive about Russia’s role), you’ll also give him the ability to unleash a proper investigation. That would be a good (and proper) thing.
Now for the #NeverTrumpers: as conservatives, we lamented the politicization of the Department of Justice under Barack Obama and his two Attorneys General, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. To suddenly be shocked that the highest levels of the Department of Justice were operating as a political committee, working to exonerate one candidate of a host of illegal activities while simultaneously creating a false narrative around supposed illegal activities of another, is disingenuous. It was precisely this type of behavior from the DoJ that had us most worried. Further, everything the politicized Obama DoJ had undertaken – from the Fast and Furious gun running fiasco to the early rush to judgement in the Michael Brown “Hands up, don’t shoot” lie, proved to be a political activity, not something actually related to criminal justice. The Obama administration politicized and weaponized all sorts of federal agencies, with a clear intent of crushing any thought of a conservative movement. Agencies with supposedly as diverse missions as the IRS and DEA, the SEC and BLM were all deployed as crusaders against the “evils of the bitter clingers.” Unless you’re willing to accept that the people responsible for creating and implementing those policies suddenly had a change of heart – that the Andrew McCabe’s, Peter Strzok’s, James Comey’s and Sally Yates’ that populated the upper bureaucracy of the Obama administration – decided on November 9, 2016 that duty to country replaced their duty to their Obamaführer, such an outcome wasn’t just a possibility. It is a probability.
It’s perfectly legitimate to call into question the political motivations of a James Comey or Vladimir Putin. It is not legitimate to dismiss concerns about their roles in the tumultuous 2016 campaign over your love or hatred of Donald Trump. Like it or not, he’ll be gone by 2025, at the latest. But the ramifications of these two, symbiotic scandals will resonate in our electoral and justice systems for many more decades after that. Understanding who was trying to put their thumbs on the levers of power and why is far more important than any President.
If the idea that all news is fake somehow shocks you, then you haven’t paid much attention to the world around you for the last 40 years or so. It wasn’t always this way. In the not so distant past, journalism truly was our “fourth estate,” and journalists actually did their bit to keep government more or less honest. This reached it’s peak in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It was Walter Cronkite who was the only person with enough cache to convince Americans that the war in Vietnam was not going well and American lives were being sacrificed for a feckless foreign policy. It was valiant newspaper editors who risked everything – even imprisonment – to publish the Pentagon Papers. It was intrepid reporters who blew the cover off the Watergate conspiracy. It was a dogged reporter who went against his own political bias to doom Gary Hart’s candidacy.
Sadly, the Gary Hart story was the last hurrah for journalism. Already, political bias was creeping further and further into our evening newscasts. Reporters were feeling their oats and network news executives were feeling the heat to make their divisions profitable. The combination of the two was a slow turning of serious telejournalists into entertainers. David Brinkley gave way to Sam Donaldson. Walter Cronkite was replaced by Dan Rather. Barbara Walters was moved from interviewing monkees for Today to co-anchoring the evening news.
Likewise, newsprint reporters were no longer satisfied with reporting on the dull, mundane day-to-day things. No, now they had to be the news as much as they reported on it. One, John Anderson, even mounted a presidential campaign in 1980. Getting the above-the-fold, banner headline wasn’t just a matter of of industry prestige. It became both the means and the end, the potential springboard to fame and glory. Woodward and Bernstein had done it. Why shouldn’t they?
Of course, that was a generation ago. In the intervening years, the emergence of the internet as a news source not only intensified the drive for eyeballs. Before, the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times might have competed somewhat, but each had it’s own region. No more. Now, each of those papers was not only competing nationally with each other (as was every newspaper and magazine), but they found themselves in virtual warfare with the television networks and he newly emerged 24 hour cable news stations. Stories became more salacious and the telling more over-the-top as each source competed for those same eyeballs.
There had always been reporting errors, of course. Human beings are fallible, and that includes the ones reporting the facts. But whereas before, editors had been dogged in protecting their brands by ensuring accuracy, now they found themselves forced to protect their brands by ensuring they got a story out first, even if it meant having to make corrections later.
But even that bit of true editorial control fell apart in 1998. Newsweek had uncovered and sourced a story about President Clinton and a 21 year old intern, but refused to run it because the editorial board hadn’t been able to talk to the intern herself.
That intern was Monica Lewinsky, and the story was broken by a previously fringe newsman, Matt Drudge, on his internet blog. It wasn’t so much a blog as a news aggregator (as now), but the moment his site announced that bombshell story – which eventually led to the first impeachment of a president in 130 years – news was changed forever. Getting a story out first was no longer a big deal, it was the only thing that mattered. Editorial standards were demolished. It wasn’t long before reporters were openly editorializing on-air. Cable news became less news, and more talking heads arguing about the “issues.” As networks and news organizations began to target their editorial slant to be either pro- or anti-Clinton, the audiences that viewed their content sorted itself likewise. What was once a non-partisan fourth estate had fully migrated into becoming the propaganda arms of the two major political parties.
The lack of any true balance or bias in news reporting for the last 20 years has led to where we are today. Everyone in the news industry is either spinning the news around an editorial cyclotron to extract the content most craved by their target audiences, or just simply creating “infotainment” to reinforce those preconceived notions. It’s how you get CNN declaring the President is about to have a heart attack. It’s how you get MSNBC declaring the President has early-onset Alzheimer’s. It’s how you get Breitbart declaring that Hillary Clinton had a secret stroke.
It is how you get fake news, and how you get news arguing over what qualifies as fake news and what isn’t fake news. Here’s the only thing I know for certain: if Ben Bradlee were around today, here’s what he’d tell current reporters. Go back to reporting the facts, and nothing else. Leave the editorializing for the editorial pages (or in the case of television, the editorial segments). Leave the creative writing for writing novels. The message he would have the suits would likewise be similar. News is about disseminating information, not ratings, not clicks per page – just information.
Until that message gets through, though, here’s what you need to do. Break out of your bubble. If you’re not a reader (and if you are not into reading, then I really need to thank you for reading this!) and getting your news from television, then please, vary your sources. Watch a little of everything. You’ll note the four or five points in each story that CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, etc will agree on. The rest of it? That’s the spin, the emotional tug. The same thing goes for reading newspapers. And if you can’t at least double-source a story, you can bet that it’s the ultimate in fake news: the contrived story.
You can do this, America. And that’s the real No Spin Zone.
So, Chelsea Manning is running for Senate in Maryland. Yay us. If you live in Maryland, you have my sympathy.
It’s the greatest swindle in the history of politics, but it’s also the version of the American Dream espoused by liberals. To wit: endanger the lives of your fellow servicemen, get convicted of treason, openly declare your particular mental illness, become a cause celebré, get pardoned by a president desperately seeking attention from his fellow liberals. Then get the government (read: American taxpayers) to pay for unneeded medical procedures so you can further your dubious celebrity and finally, cash in on that celebrity to become much wealthier than someone who actually works for a living.
As for the candidacy itself, it’s beyond a longshot. I probably have a better chance of winning the Democratic primary in Maryland. First off, as she’s still on active duty, she can’t be seated even if she wins. The reason she’s still on active duty (albeit on extended leave) is because the United States Army wants to dishonorably discharge her, but her lawyers are in court fighting that. They’re pointing to that politically motivated pardon as their excuse – which, of course, is the only reason she’s even allowed to run. Anyway, forget the rest of the controversy – not even many liberals are going to vote for a dishonorably discharged traitor.
So why run a futile campaign? Of course, she’ll run out a litany of reasons. Her first campaign ad is mix of Orwellian dystopia and Edward Snowden conspiracies, with a few LGBT themes mixed in. As a message, about the only ones who might buy into it are a few ANTIFA troglodyte types, and those people are not only a very small minority, they’re also the least likely people to vote. After all, blowing stuff up and rioting on George Soros’ dime is hell of a lot more fun.
But what do you need to run a campaign, even a bad campaign that has less chance of succeeding than I do of finding a cure for cancer? M-O-N-E-Y.
Let’s do some math here. Let’s say only 1% of voting age Americans would support a Chelsea Manning candidacy. That’s still around 2.2 million people. Now, let’s say only 10% of those people would be willing to donate $10 towards that candidacy. That’s $2.2 million in a campaign warchest. Think that’s a far-fetched number? Look at how much money Bernie Sanders raised in similar small donations during his quixotic run for the presidency two years ago (according to FEC records, he raised over $228 million).
$2.2 million is a lot of money, far more than Manning would probably ever spend on her campaign. It’s also small potatoes when compared to the sums the actual contenders will raise for the 2018 Maryland Democratic primary. But, what that level of fundraising would do is enable to live Manning to live very comfortably as a permanent gadfly candidate, similar to what Jill Stein has been doing for a decade now. And she won’t have to settle for ridiculous bids for the Senate, after all, she can use those campaign funds to campaign for governor and even president, a truly permanent gadfly candidate with no chance of ever winning anything, and therefore, no chance of ever having to actually work. Like I said, it’s the ultimate liberal dream: get rich while not doing anything.
But how to raise that money? Well, you have to target those people most likely to contribute to your swindle. Who are they? Predominantly young (mostly under 25), all extremely liberal, not very tuned in to television or newspapers. But they are very tuned in to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
Guess where the Manning campaign ad is running? On Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Guess how many views it has on YouTube? About 100,000 already, and over 1,000 likes. Cha–ching!
My daddy always told me that only fools complain without having a solution. Ok, he used more colorful language – after all, he was a Navy man. But this is the PC version of some rather sage advice.
I mention this since day before yesterday I wrote a bit about my frustration (and based on the responses I’ve read, yours as well) with Congress’ unwillingness to actually do anything about immigration, or DACA, or the budget, or pretty much anything else. But I’m following my daddy’s advice. Now, you can say I’m as mad as a hatter. In fact, I’m pretty sure some (if not all) of you will think so by the time we get to the end of this. Then again, if you’re following me here (or on Twitter or Facebook) you probably already think I have a screw or two loose, so what have I got to lose?
First up, these are all separate issues. Stop the grandstanding. Please. The fate of illegal aliens brought here as children is not related to how much we pay our servicemen. How many people we let in (and how we decide who those people are) has nothing to do with kids brought here when they belonged somewhere else. Trust me on this. How many people are employed by the EPA (or even if there should be an EPA) is a completely different discussion from what to do about the roughly 8 million illegal aliens who wouldn’t be covered by some sort of “DACA fix.”
So, do the simple stuff. The House passed all twelve of the appropriations bills for this fiscal year last September. Pass those out of the Senate. That is entirely up to Democrats. If they ended their charade now, they could pass the current CR tonight, then spend the next month debating those appropriations bills and where there are differences with the House bills, go to conference to hammer them out. That is the “regular order” which liberals spent all last summer demanding the Congress return to, but have conveniently forgotten about now that they want to execute “leverage.” Have I mentioned recently what a bunch of hypocrites politicians are?
Second, stop pretending Congress can only work on one issue at a time. Or, if there are congresscritters who can only tackle one problem at a time, they need to retire immediately. Think about your job. How long would you be employed if you couldn’t do more than one thing a month? Oh, you would be looking for another job? Then why haven’t your fired your representative?
Of course Congress can address multiple issues at once. So while debating the appropriations bills, there is nothing stopping them from beginning real work on all those other issues.
And here’s my proposals around each of them.
The DACA program ends on March 5. So address that first. My position hasn’t changed since the President first announced he was ending the highly illegal program. Grant those who’ve applied to the program permanent residency. Allow those who have reached adulthood and lived here for at least ten years, without incurring a felony charge, to apply for citizenship immediately. Otherwise, it’s the same restrictions as for any other alien resident. See, that was simple.
Next, all other illegal aliens (or undocumented migrants, or whatever the term du jour happens to be): they gotta go. Again, my position hasn’t changed since I first wrote about this 4 1/2 years ago. And yes, proper and aggressive enforcement of our immigration laws will get the majority of them to self-deport. Nobody wants to live in a place where they can’t eat.
Our immigration system needs an overhaul for current times. The idea of “diversity visas” and lotteries is not just stupid, but asinine and awkward. For my less prurient readers, it’s like getting drunk, walking into a whorehouse, grabbing the first available girl, and going off to do your thing without wearing a condom. You’ll spend the rest of your life regretting that decision – and that’s if it didn’t kill you. We obviously can’t take everyone who wants to live here, but that gives us leverage. We can pick and choose, and we should pick the very best candidates. And we should have back-end enforcement of that selection process: anyone granted alien residency in the United States should be required to become a citizen within ten years of arrival – or they should be sent packing.
As an aside to that point – I can’t recall where I read it, or heard it, but there was a legal resident who said she would never become a US citizen, because she was proud to be Jamaican. I have no problem with her being proud to be Jamaican; it’s a beautiful island with some great people. But be a proud Jamaican in Jamaica. If you’re going to live here, then you need to be a proud American. That shouldn’t even be up for discussion. And anyone not willing to give up allegiance to their country of origin should not be granted residency here.
What this means in practical terms is ending the hodge-podge of work and travel visas that currently muck up both our immigration system and allow so many illegal aliens to stay here after their visa expires. No more H-1B or H-3N or any of that other nonsense. You can get a tourist visa to visit, or you can get a residency visa. Period.
Finally, there is the both the federal debt and federal deficit. We aren’t even in February yet, which means there is plenty of time to start working on these problems now, before the appropriations bills for FY2019 have to be ready. Before Congress gets to work on them this time, I would have them ask themselves one thing: if 40% of what the federal government does is “non-essential,” why is the federal government doing those things? Think about it. Our budget deficit is about $600 billion, on around $4.2 trillion of spending. A little math says the recently passed tax bill, assuming no increased revenues from economic growth, will add $180 billion to that deficit. A little more math says reducing federal spending by 40% would yield around a $900 billion surplus. That won’t get rid of the nearly $21 trillion federal debt, but it sure will put a serious dent in it.
Okay, that’s a lot for now, I realize. This ending the partisan idiocy that grips Capital Hill is enough to send your head spinning, but the solutions aren’t that hard. They certainly aren’t as hard as the heads of our congresscritters. But that’s where it’s up to you. If they won’t do the job, then it’s time to fire them all.
You get your chance (again) in November.
It looks as though (once again), the federal government is about to “shut down.” But what does that mean, exactly?
We’ve been down this road before, and quite a few times. What a government shutdown actually means is the roughly 40% of the federal government that is deemed “non-essential services” will cease functions until the latest hissy fit ends. Here’s a brief list of things that won’t be affected:
- The military
- Border patrol
- Air traffic control
- Social Security payments
- Most operations of the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc
- Tax collections
So, if Congress is going to shut down those non-essential services but the essential functions of governance continue, then I hope it’s a long shutdown. Not a few days or even a month. No, let’s make it a go right through the end of the fiscal year in September.
Why? Simply put, after seven months of realizing that non-essential services are just that – not essential – we can finally start wresting control of the budget back from the bureaucrats. Once Americans recognize that they’ve been hoodwinked for generations into supporting things nobody really needs, they won’t be anxious to start those operations up again.
So, yes. Let’s have us a shutdown. But this time – let’s leave it shut down permanently.
I get plenty of people asking me why, if I’m as non-partisan as I claim, do I spend so much time bashing Democrats.
That’s probably the easiest question to answer I can imagine. This is why:
So is this:
And of course, who can forget this:
Folks, Republicans are hypocrites. They’re liars. They have no moral compass, except the one that polls best in October of an election year. They would sell their own mother to the highest campaign donor, if that’s what it took.
But let’s face it: Democrats are flat-out CRAZY. I mean not, “Maybe Johnny needs a Diazapam” crazy. We’re talking full-blown, straight jacket ready, padded room required INSANE. Think Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” or Anthony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs,” and you’ve got an idea how positively nuts Democrats have become.
So, yes, of course I’m going to drop as many bombs on them as I can. I have a faint hope Republicans can be reformed. Their sins are those of character, not utter foolishness. But Democrats? As long as their party is obsessed with trying to justify 37 genders and insisting everyone not named “Kamala Harris” is a racist rapist, they’re beyond hope.
Well, THERE’S a headline I never thought I would see, much less write.
Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past week, you might be confused by this topic. It certainly seems a great number of people who should know better – our politicians, our press and our pundits – are confounded, similarly to how a dog might wonder what his master is up to by having a bone yanked away just as he’s about to take a bite.
So a quick refresher course might be in order, both for those recently arrived from outer space and us more earthbound types.
On January 9, during what became an impromptu, hour-long televised bipartisan meeting on immigration matters in the Cabinet Room, the basic framework for granting amnesty to the roughly 800,000 “Dreamers” seemed agreed to. In exchange for amnesty, Democrats would agree to a $1.8 billion down payment on border security measures, which presumably would go towards further development of the border wall. Hammering out the long overdue overhaul to America’s immigration system would be fast-tracked after the budget was passed.
But in typical Washington fashion, nobody could long stand the positive vibes. Liberals immediately decried the border wall, Trumpkins decried the amnesty. And so…
On January 11, a new “Gang of Six’ (apparently, the old “Gang of Eight” atrophied in the bright sunlight the last time Congress attempted to tackle immigration) struck a deal that they simply had to know was going to be a non-starter with anyone politically left of California. In exchange for amnesty not only for “Dreamers,” but their extended families, granting permanent residency to everyone here under Temporary Protected Status and a couple thousand fewer lottery visas, the government would get $1.8 billion in border security measures.
The White House almost immediately announced their displeasure with essentially granting fully legal status to over 4 million illegal aliens. Which brings us to…
Can you say “verpiss dich?” No? How about “shithole” (or “shithouse,” depending on who’s interpretation of events you choose to believe)?
That evening, during a meeting with the Gang of Six and a few others, the President made his position clear: no more unfettered immigration from shithole (or shithouse) countries, which he loosely defined as being Haiti, El Salvador, and pretty much all of Africa. But not Norway.
And so, for four days now, any discussion of doing the actual work required of this Congress and the Executive branch – little things, like passing spending plans for the federal government and actually passing a realistic immigration plan and doing something about border security and doing something about entitlements and…
You get the picture? Instead of focusing on the real business of governance, we’re distracted by discussions of the President’s racial animus. (For the zillionth time, he isn’t a racist – but he is, as we all are, a prejudiced shithole. Deal with it.) And here’s the part that drives people like me nuts: any substantive discussion regarding immigration is immediately tinged with calls of “racism” by those opposed to anything other than fully open borders. All because the President uttered a rather crass epithet in describing a rather larger segment of the world.
Here’s what should be beyond dispute: there are large swaths of the globe in Africa, Asia, Central and South America that are, in the common vernacular, either outhouses or the holes located at the bottom of an outhouse. There isn’t one sane person who would describe Haiti, Gabon, Rwanda or Chad as a prime tourist destination. Nobody except a Jack Nicholson character would characterize Thailand, Libya, El Salvador or Venezuela as the kind of place where you would want to raise your kids (it’s a great neighborhood, Mr. Nicholson – on a good day, you can get three hours of electricity, the corner market will have toilet paper and the drug gangs will only take half your belongings!).
Here’s what should also be beyond dispute: not everyone from a basket case nation is themselves a basket case. Yes, the predominant population in those places isn’t
(the following statement will be too true for some of you)
what we want as new Americans. After all, if they were their countries wouldn’t be basket case outhouses. But some of those people are the sorts of folks we do want to come here, and those should be the ones we allow in.
****TRIGGER WARNING CANCELLED****
Merit has nothing to do with nation of origin or skin color. Conversely,
****TRIGG… oh, screw it
barring someone from, say, Haiti likewise has nothing to do with skin color, either. But the President’s remarks, which were in response to the asinine idea that the “temporary” in TPS now means the same thing as permanent in non-Washington speak, have been twisted, misconstrued, massaged and rebranded by both sides of the identity politics war into competing clarion calls.
That’s what all the teeth gnashing , thumb sucking and 140 character diatribes of the past four days have left us with. If you happen to agree with the President’s position that maybe, just maybe, a system that right now says if your homeland, which wasn’t in particularly great shape to begin with, get whacked with a hurricane, you get to stay here indefinitely, is off-kilter, you’re branded a racist. If you sort of wandered over the border, or maybe overstayed a tourist visa, a couple of decades ago, no biggie – you get to stay, too (why should our laws apply to you? You meant well)! If you think that a system that says we’re going to have immigration based on a lottery, where winning not only means you get to set up house here, but you can bring your mother, your brother, your great uncle and your second cousin thrice removed while we deny a software engineer residency is just a wee bit out of whack, you’re a racist. If you happen to think the systems in Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, etc, and so forth (all, by the way, “enlightened liberal” democratic societies) might be something we could learn from, you’re obviously a racist. Because those damned Canucks are totally racist, eh?
So, how do we get out of this miasma of non-productivity? I’d suggest the first thing to do would be for both sides to ditch to identity politics and identity politicians, pundits, journalists and all the rest of that diaspora. Al Sharpton, you gotta go. Same for you, Sean Hannity. Because so help me, if I hear one more idiot yell “I’m a proud black man!’ or type in all caps “I’M PROUD TO BE WHITE”, I just might lose it.
Speaking of identity politicians, if I see one more disingenuous congresscritter emerge from a private meeting fuming about language, I might just have to point them to their own past statements (bunch of hypocrites, the lot of ’em). Besides, ever listen to the tapes from the Kennedy, Johnson or Nixon Oval Offices? You would hear language that would make a Parris Island Drill Instructor blush. And Trumplicans don’t get a pass on this, either. Saying the President didn’t utter one epithet because he used a different cuss word is equally disingenuous. It was pure huckstering on both sides, and it had the desired effect. The status quo will remain for at least two more years. Congratulations! Washington has once again succeeded at doing the one thing it’s proven incredibly efficient at: creating new problems while ignoring the existing ones. It’s back to the ramparts, you plebes – fight the good fight and if the country burns in the meantime…well, at least I won reelection.
I haven’t commented on the Alabama Senate race for a simple reason. I don’t live in Alabama. And of the thousands of people who follow this blog, very few of you do, either.
The nationalization of local and state elections is one of the trends that’s evolved over the last decade that’s left all of us worse off than we were before. Even without the media attention focused on this particular election, which features two candidates few people outside of Alabama had even heard of until a few months ago, the national party apparatuses had already been staging forces, sending money and trying to coordinate with the state parties.
To what end? The reason we supposedly enacted the 17th Amendment was to prevent the rampant corruption that comes about from Senators being beholden to political machines. Yet here we are, 104 years later and we’re no better off than we were then. If anything, we’re worse off. At least in the latter 19th century, politicians were only corrupted by their local and state machines. Today’s politicians may start out being corrupted by local interests, but they quickly learn that in order to maintain their status on Capital Hill they need to play the tune according to what their national taskmasters demand.
As originally envisioned by the Founders, Senators were supposed to be representatives of their states. Today, they are nothing more than pawns in the all-consuming sport of the national party getting to 51 votes. Even if a bill would absolutely destroy or enhance their respective state’s industry, economy or sovereignty, every Senator knows where their duty truly lies. Yes, they know they must vote the way their party leadership tells them to vote.
So excuse me if I do not get as worked up about today’s election in Alabama as the various bloviators on the web or television. After all, they’re part of the machine, too. They rely on keeping you exercised, rooting for your team (Go Blue! Go Red!) in matters that don’t concern you whatsoever. But do you know what it is good for? It’s good for my popcorn consumption.
You see, I just sit over here munching on my popcorn watching y’all line up opposing football teams, ready to bash and clash over sheer nonsense while the country burns around you – and you not realizing how complicit you are in it’s demise.
There are days when I feel like I fell asleep and woke up in an alternate dimension. You know, kind of like Rod Serling kidnapped me and threw me into an episode of “The Twilight Zone” without asking first. There’s been more of them over the past 26 months than in the previous 50 years of life, but I’m beginning to think all of that was just a warm-up for the past month.
You see, that’s when people suddenly became aware that men will, given the opportunity, think of women as sexual objects (and vice versa).
I know, that’s a shocking concept. Prior to a month ago, every woman in every nightclub around the world was dressed in a potato sack. Those jokes you heard about men thinking about sex every ten seconds (personally, I think those overestimate the time between thinking about sex by around 8 seconds) were invented somewhere around October 15. Marilyn Monroe was the most talented actress of all time, which is why she’s so well remembered.
Of course, all of that is bunco, but judging from the hew and cry over the past month you would never know it. This isn’t to excuse the behavior of a Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer. I’m going to be honest, before either of those guys hit the news I hadn’t even heard of the mating ritual that involved jerking off to a potted plant while your intended watched. But the sudden shock that anything of this sort was going on is, well, disingenuous, to say the least. Look, I’m not one who reads Page Six or watches TMZ. But even I recall hearing stories about the infamous Hollywood “casting couch” as a kid. You know, how wannabe starlets would trade sexual favors in exchange for roles in movies and television. To pretend that any of this is new, or that every woman who participated, was somehow abused is laughable on its face.
Now, we’ve moved on to the next target: politicians. Somehow, in all this recent fervor, we’ve discovered that not every politician is a great guy (or gal). Their effectiveness as a legislator, jurist or executive is of no matter when judging their fitness for office. Nope, the only thing that counts now is if they ever grabbed somebody’s ass in a hotel room (or, in Al Franken’s case, a dressing room). This is about as ridiculous an idea as has ever been thrown into public discourse.
The simple fact is history is replete with examples of horrible, terrible people who excelled in public service. Think where the civil rights movement would be today if Martin Luther King or Lyndon Johnson (or John Conyers, for that matter) were held to these absurd standards. The world might well be a cinder if JFK had been subjected to them. We might all be speaking German if FDR’s peccadilloes had forced him from office. The US might not even exist if Thomas Jefferson (or if John Hancock or Samuel Adams) were held to this sudden contempt we have for men who act like boors. And just imagine where the #MeToo movement would be if the sexual predations of Eleanor Roosevelt had been splashed across the front pages of her day.
And please, let’s not even get started on the sexual career of William Jefferson Clinton. He may not have been a great President, but he did introduce all of us to other unique mating rituals. *ahem*
So, grow up people. Get past the junior high titillation and get back to the real issues at hand. Lord knows we have things facing our country, things that really matter, than to allow ourselves to be distracted by all this folderol.
Oh, and guys? If you feel the need to make love to a potted plant, seek professional help.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about President Trump being removed from office via the 25th Amendment (thanks, Steve Bannon). I thought all that had gone away months ago, but suddenly talking heads can’t get enough of the latest talking point. Since everyone seems to have forgotten what the 25th Amendment says, I thought I would share the following Roll Call video. It’s by far the most unbiased presentation on the topic I’ve come across.
Since everyone else is weighing in on the issue of DACA, I figure I might as well, too.
First, although I am opposed to illegal immigration in general, I think this particular class (children raised in the US, although not born here or granted legal immigration status) merits special consideration. For the most part, these are people who didn’t choose to come to the United States. That decision was made for them while they were minors. When we’re talking about DACA, we’re talking about people who have been raised here and are American in every sense of the word – except legally. Moreover, there are at least 800,000 of them. There could be as many as 1.7 million.
Some have become high achievers in their chosen fields, some have served in the military with distinction, others are just ordinary folk, trying to find their way in this world. Yes, some are bad apples – as you can find in every demographic group. But it is a small minority, and they can be dealt with as any nation deals with crappy immigrants.
All that being said, I applaud President Trump’s decision to terminate the existing DACA program, and for one reason: our Constitution says immigration decisions are the responsibility of Congress, not the Executive. Before President Obama created the DACA program, he acknowledged (often) that any such executive action was unconstitutional. When he issued that executive order in June 2012, it was not his intention to make it a permanent fixture. The EO included a sunset period, since renewed twice. Obama had dual intentions; first, he wanted to try to force Congress to tackle immigration reform. Secondly (and cravenly), was his intent to shore up his support in the Latino community prior to the 2012 election. He failed on the first count, but succeeded on the second.
President Trump is, in large measure, copying the Obama administration’s playbook. By announcing that he is ending the program, but delaying enforcement for six months, he is attempting to force Congress to act and giving them a window of opportunity. At the same time, he is trying to reinforce his standing among his base by at least appearing tough on immigration.
So, are Trump’s chances of getting Congress to act any better than Obama’s were? First, there is the House leadership, which so far has demonstrated that it is extremely consistent in running from their own shadows. If they can be forced to address the issue, the chances of something happening are pretty good.
In fact, something could conceivably pass this week. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) has had HR 496 pending for nearly 8 months, and it specifically addresses the DACA situation. Had the leadership scheduled it for a vote in the Spring or Summer, this issue would already be behind us. But, again, leadership is afraid of doing anything that might possibly bring about a challenge from the right, even if they personally support it. (Where I come from, we call that cowardice – but whatever). However, Coffman has about had it with the cowards in his party and is filing a discharge petition to force a floor vote. He might just get it, too. As of this writing, he was only 3 votes shy of forcing Speaker Paul Ryan’s hand.
That would be half of the equation, because as we all learned on Schoolhouse Rock, a bill has to pass both houses of Congress before it can be sent to the President’s desk. There is a companion bill pending in the Senate, S128. Unfortunately, the Senate leadership is as afraid of their shadows as their House counterparts (see: Obamacare repeal). So how could the bill make it’s way to the floor if Mitch McConnell decides to go into a corner and cower? Believe it or not, this is where the filibuster can be useful. Any senator who supports passage can tie the Senate in knots until S128 is voted on. This is the perfect time to engage in such tactics, too. In case you’ve missed it, virtually every fiscal matter facing the country needs to be addressed over the next 3 1/2 weeks. Even losing a day to a filibuster would seriously crimp on Mitch’s ability to get out and fundraise.
So yes, there is a better than 50/50 chance something finally gets done. In fact, if Congress wanted put the President on the spot, they could pass the BRIDGE Act, as is, ignoring the White House’s request to include border wall funding. But again, I doubt that happens. Congressional leadership is too cowardly to even consider it..
Like most of you, I watched President Trump’s speech last night with great interest. Of far more interest to me than any possible deployments was that this was billed as the President’s strategy for Afghanistan and Southwest Asia. Potential deployments are important, of course – but understanding why those deployments are happening and what the objective is, is far more important.
First of all, I have to give the President kudo’s for not pretending we’re withdrawing, as his predecessor did on multiple occasions. Likewise, I have to give him props for understanding that no military campaign can be run on a clock. It’s over when the objectives have been met, whether that’s tomorrow or 10 years from now. And I respect that finally we have a Commander-in-Chief who understands that battlefield commanders should be the guys calling the shots, carrying out missions created by folks who understand military strategy (such as General Mattis). Politicians understand political strategy, but generally they’re lousy at real battle plans. The last guy who sat behind the Resolute Desk proved that, over and over again.
But as far as the actual strategy we’re pursuing, I don’t actually see anything different than what we have been doing for the past 8 years. Trying to train up the local armed forces to defend their country from insurgents and rebels? Check. Pressuring the Afghan government to step up operations in the troubled provinces? Check. Pressuring the Pakistani’s to stop Afghan insurgents from using their territory as safe havens and travel routes? Check. We’ve been doing those things and none have worked. We train the Afghan army, but they can’t even recruit properly – and our advisors get shot on their bases. We threaten to withhold funding for the civilian Afghan government, but in addition to being more corrupt than an eastern European smuggler, they know it’s only threats. We aren’t about to financially cut them off at this point, because doing so would mean leaving our soldiers behind as hostages. As for Pakistan, we’ve actually withheld both military and civilian funding, with no effect.
The only new wrinkle was trying to draw India into the conflict. The President must have started drinking if he thinks this is going to work. India has nothing to gain – and everything to lose by meddling in this conflict. India’s biggest rivals are China and Pakistan. As long as Pakistan has to keep forces along the Afghan border and internally has to deal with the Haqqani and Pashtun populations, it’s less force India needs to worry about on their shared border. Quite frankly, given the rise of Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu-nationalist coalition, India has no problem with Pakistan dissolving into chaos. They would welcome it.
As for Pakistan itself, the President is fooling himself if he thinks that nation truly has a strong central government. They have a strongman as Prime Minister, but as with his predecessors, he is far more concerned with India to his southeast than ethnic Pashtuns in the north. Everyone who has ruled the territory that comprises modern-day Pakistan has had to deal with the Pashtun, from Alexander the Great through Genghis Khan, various Indo-Turk rulers, the British Empire to the 21st Century. In those 24 centuries, most ruled by benign indifference, as the exertion required to bring the region to heel would cost more in blood and treasure than the effort is worth. The same holds true for today.
The President’s yardstick for success – “a lasting political solution among the Afghan people” – is little more than a pipedream. As mentioned above, the central Afghan government is incredibly corrupt, but that’s only part of the problem. Afghanistan is dominated by dozens of tribes, each with a stake in maintaining their individual fiefdoms. Not only are there the tribal considerations, but there are some serious ethnic divisions – it’s generally accepted that there are at least 14 different ethnicities within Afghanistan’s borders, and they don’t all play nice together.
Finally, there is a serious gap in the strategy the President laid out last night. He failed to mention the other nations that border Afghanistan, namely Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For instance, Turkmenistan has a large, ethnic Turkem population, as does Afghanistan. Tajikistan has an area controlled by ethnic Pashtuns. Iran still considers the territory centered on the city of Herat to be theirs, since it’s ethnically Persian. Nor did he mention how Russia and China, who are both major players in the region, would have their considerations addressed.
In short, what I heard was the President basically saying we’re in Afghanistan until the conditions that led to the region becoming a home for terrorists and insurgents are rectified. He may not want to call it nation building, but essentially that’s what he’s committed us to doing. It’s the overarching strategy we’ve tried for the last 16 years without success. With all of the loose ends that aren’t even acknowledged under his version, I can’t see how it will be successful now.
It’s official: Steve Bannon was fired from his role as the President’s Chief Strategist earlier today.
But before anyone starts thinking this signals that the administration will now pivot to the center, you need to stop and think about something. Bannon wasn’t much of a strategist. Rather, he was the guy who came aboard the Trump Train after last year’s Republican National Convention to help streamline and polish Donald Trump’s existing “America First” positions into something more palatable to the general electorate. In terms of strategy, he proved (at best) to be a man playing checkers on the “swamp” chessboard. Otherwise, the President would have actual legislative victories he could point to as wins – and not be where he is, almost 8 months in. Which is to say, his efforts to remake Obamacare into Trumpcare defeated, with no movement on the other big campaign promises, either: the border wall still without funding (and Mexico thumbing their noses at us), no movement on tax reform or infrastructure legislation, and efforts to renegotiate our trade deals actually going backwards.
However, this is the second major administration official in two weeks to cross the new Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, and find themselves being sacked as a result. If nothing else, I’m certain other acolytes who may have thoughts of taking similar approaches – of operating the way they did for the campaign and the first 6 1/2 months of this Presidency – are having misgivings now. Kelly has made his imprimatur on the administration. Whether or not the President can abide Kelly’s style and handling remains an unresolved issue, but it’s apparent that Kelly is running the White House as he sees fit. For now, anyway.
Trump will, of course, continue to be Trump. He will continue to push his agenda, focusing on the culture wars that originally earned him electoral support. His economic agenda is actually pretty much straight from the Republican playbook (tax reform, job growth, etc) and he will find congressional support for that, regardless of whatever else he does.
As for Bannon, expect him to return to his previous vocation, agitating for a nationalist agenda. Near term, I foresee him excoriating lawmakers over the border wall funding (given the proximity of budgeting and the debt ceiling on the calendar), and making Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s lives miserable. Longer term, he’ll look to undermine the forces in the West Wing that undermined him from the outside. Expect to see all kinds of hit pieces on Kelly and National Security Advisor HR McMaster, along with Jared and Ivanka Kushner. I also suspect “normal” conservatives, such as Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos, and Ben Carson, could find themselves with banner headlines on Breitbart or the National Enquirer. As for the President’s economic team, Gary Cohn, Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin were part of the “establishment” long before the term became fashionable. Only a fool would think Bannon doesn’t have something special up his sleeve for them.
Removing Bannon won’t end the chaos surrounding the administration. If anything, the noise is about to get louder and more ferocious (although it will almost be funny to watch the NY Times and CNN suddenly forced into defending people like Perry and Mnuchin). Strap in, it’s going to be an even bumpier ride.
One of the unique things about being a citizen of the United States is that unlike other nationalities, we often have these discussions about what being an American actually entails. We’ve been engaged in just such a discussion for the past four or five years now, and many people have landed on many different definitions.
Are we defined by our borders, the territory we control as a nation? Are we defined by our ethnicity or ethnicities? By our economic circumstances, both as individuals and as a nation? For many, these definitions, or a combination of these definitions, is what defines “Americanism.” These may be aspects of American life, but they are not what defines us as a people. As we saw this past weekend in Virginia, clinging to those notions is more divisive than unifying. They cannot define a nation as diverse as ours, one where wealthy and poor from every ethnicity on the planet call home.
Likewise, political leaders who foster these views cannot be unifying. They can only divide the nation along religious, ethnic and class lines. Both our last President and our current one have willingly used the imagery and language of grievance, attempting to force the nation as a whole to view the world through the distorted lenses of one subset of Americans or another.
The reality is the United States is not confined by our borders, defined by our economic clout or existent by our military power. You might have heard the United States identified as an ideal, and that is what our nation is. The glue that binds us are not the temporary trappings of wealth and power. The power that has allowed our nation to grow, to prosper, despite welcoming every ethnicity, every religion, and every race on the Earth was given to us by the men who created this country:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I think that for many of us, these words have lost their meaning. After all, we’ve all heard them countless times. I can scarcely think of anyone who can’t recite them word for word.
Yet, we cannot deny the power they hold. It is those words, more than anything else, that drew our ancestors to this country. Those words are the birthright of every American and it is those words that are our unifying force.
One of the things I like to do, when faced with a passage whose meaning is difficult to comprehend, is to reword it in a way that is easier to understand. Bear with me as I do so here.
We: Who were the Founders referring to by “we?” The document this passage is taken from – the Declaration of Independence – was an open letter to the King of England and Houses of Parliament, on the behalf of the citizens of the new nation they were creating. “We” is nothing less than every American citizen.
hold these truths: to hold a belief is to accept it without question; a truth is an incontestable fact.
to be self-evident: something that needs no outside proof of its existence.
that all men are created equal: everyone, everywhere is no different than anyone else – and we are born into this condition. Whether you have the privileges and wealth of a Wall Street billionaire or are left scrounging for subsistence in the Somali sun, every person that will ever see this world is the same.
that they are endowed by their Creator: While the majority of the Founders believed in the Christian god, it’s important to note that not all of them did. George Washington and John Adams were deists, as were notable non-signatories of the Declaration, including Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen. It should also be noted that New York and New Jersey already had sizable Jewish populations by the middle of the 18th century (indeed, Dutch Jews were among the first settlers in New Amsterdam and Newark). Even among the devout Christians, there were religious differences – Charles Carroll of Maryland was a practicing Catholic, for instance. But the one thing all of them agreed on was a belief in a higher power, or Creator.
with certain unalienable: something which can neither be granted nor taken away by human authority.
Rights: Jefferson, John Adams and Franklin all were well versed in the philosophy of John Locke. While Locke’s ideas regarding natural rights were already well-established in philosophical circles by the mid-18th century, the Founders were doing something truly revolutionary here: they were claiming that by our existence, human beings have entitlements that no government can interfere with.
What follows is a listing of what those entitlements are.
that among these are: Whoops! make that a partial listing. Jefferson is saying there are other, unspecified rights, and he’s selected only the ones pertinent to why the Colonists are creating a new nation.
Life: Yes, you have a right to live. Sounds almost silly, until you watch this.
Liberty: for the 18th century thinker, Liberty was well defined by David Hume – “By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; this is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.” I’ve read many other definitions of liberty, but this one – despite it’s age – still seems the best.
pursuit of Happiness: While nobody can guarantee that you will find peace and joy in the world, you’re entitled to try and find whatever it is that lets you achieve it.
One 36 word sentence carries quite a bit of import, I would say. If we were to reword the entire thing, it would come out something like this:
American citizens agree that the following is a statement of fact:
All people are born the same, and the Creator that grants us our existence does, by that existence, grant us certain privileges and entitlements that no person, government or entity can take away. Some of these entitlements are our lives, our freedom of movement and thought, and our attempt to derive peace and joy from our existence.
It isn’t as flowery or memorable as the original, I know. But this statement is what separates America from every other nation. It is what defines us a people, and as a country. America has not always lived up to the ideals laid out in this statement, but it is the fact we continue to strive towards it – rather than abandon it – that has characterized our place in history.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said he dreamed of the day when his children wouldn’t be judged by their ethnicity, but by who they were as people. It was Dr. King’s way of restating our guiding principle, the American principle of natural rights. We haven’t gotten there yet, as the events in Charlottesville showed. Call me a sap, a sentimental fool or a man blinded by his beliefs, but I still think the vast majority of the people who call the United States home believe in our founding principle, but are being led astray by fear of an unknown and rapidly changing future.
Thank you for your time today, and may God bless America.
*The video I linked to above can also be watched here. You’ll need about 20 minutes to watch the whole thing. It’s painful and at times angering, but I suggest you do.
In case you haven’t noticed, North Korea has been doing a lot of saber rattling over the past few weeks. If you listen to only the talking heads on television, you could easily believe the world stands on the brink of nuclear war. You would believe that Kim Jong Un is certifiably crazy, and is engaged in showing the USA (and President Trump, in particular) that he doesn’t have tiny hands.
Whatever else Kim might be, a crazed megalomaniac looking to annihilate Guam for the sake of a show of force is not it. He was literally bred to lead his country. Like his father and grandfather, he is dictator for life, assuming the reins only after the death of his predecessor. In olden days, we would have called him the third king of the Kim dynasty. Like monarchs of previous centuries, after assuming the throne he engaged in a purge of anyone who might challenge his power: family members, military leaders and others. To the modern mind, those moves seem outdated, bizarre, surreal; the actions of a madman.
Put in the proper context, they are anything but the actions of an insane megalomaniac. They are the actions of a cold, calculating monarch entrusted not only with leading his nation, but ensuring that the dynasty continues unabated. And if you judge Kim by that standard, then the current situation becomes much easier to understand.
North Korea is a small, isolated country of limited resources and not much material wealth. As it’s leader, Kim has certain responsibilities and like the monarchs of ages past, one of the most important is ensuring his subjects are fed. World history is replete with examples of monarchs who failed in that respect and the results have never been particularly good for them or their families. King Louis XVI lost not only his empire, but his head in the French Revolution. Czar Nicholas II was forced to watch his family’s executions before finally losing his life during the Russian Revolution. Kaiser Wilhelm II was forced to flee to the Netherlands when even his army turned against him.
Rest assured, Kim is well aware of all those historical precedents and has no intention of joining their ranks.
His current situation is dire. As mentioned above, his nation is isolated and materially poor. Historically, ensuring the North Korean people are fed is difficult enough – and this year, they’ve suffered their worst drought since at least 2001. Kim knows unless he can secure an imported food source, and the means to pay for it, he faces a winter of mass starvation, a discontented populace and internal unrest. Even if the people are unable to overcome generations of indoctrination and rise up against the regime, there still exists the very real possibility of the army deposing him.
So, what stands in Kim’s way of securing enough food to keep his nation fed? As it has been for the past 67 years, the United States and South Korea.
What Kim wants is to enter into direct negotiations with the both countries, with three ultimate objectives: 1, getting the current sanctions against North Korea lifted; 2, getting grain from the US and 3, obtaining a security guarantee. To that end, he has reverted to a standard North Korean negotiating tactic, threatening to tear up the 64 year old armistice and resuming hostilities.
After all, threats of open warfare worked for both his father and grandfather. It works for one reason: nobody wants to see a shooting war on the Korean peninsula again, particularly South Korea. During the 1950-53 war, the US suffered nearly 60,000 deaths – but South Korea lost over a half million people. (Nobody is certain how many North Koreans died, but most estimates put the number just shy of a million). The capital city, Seoul, was conquered and recaptured on 4 separate occasions. Fast forward to today: Seoul is home to over 10 million people (with another 15 million living in its suburbs) and sits only 35 miles from the border. It is within easy striking distance of conventional artillery, to say nothing of aircraft and rockets. Should the Korean War get “hot” again, it’s generally accepted that South Korea would suffer over a million civilian casualties on just the first day.
This is why ratcheting up the rhetoric always worked in the past. Even if the US is reluctant to grant anything to the North, pressure from the South (who desperately wants to avoid reopening hostilities) has led to begrudging acquiescence.
The calculated gamble Kim is making now is based on that history. The reason he’s amped up the rhetoric even more than in the past is he knows that unlike previous administrations, the current US leadership is unlikely to be swayed only by the pleas from what is currently a scandal-plagued South Korean government. By threatening a US territory, he is hoping to force Washington to the negotiating table.
It’s not that Kim actually wants a war with the US, He knows that in such an event, he wouldn’t last long. During the 1950-53 conflict, it took the combined power of China and the Soviet Union to stave off total defeat for North Korea. Of course, the wild card in all this is President Trump. He is unconventional, for certain. But what Kim has certainly factored into his consideration is that, thus far, the Trump administration has not deviated all that much from the past 25 years of US foreign policy, despite all the bluster.
Of course, the possibility of open conflict remains if Kim thinks he has no way out of the box he’s created – or if Trump decides that enough is enough and preemptively strikes. But I still don’t think that either will happen. I suspect that even as we bustle about our daily lives, backchannels are being opened and the first tentative steps towards negotiation are under way.
…but you are not guaranteed a job. You are not entitled to a job, and nobody owes you a job.
It’s almost funny. It is downright comical to watch fellow “conservatives” try to shame Alphabet into rehiring James Damore. Over the years, the sentiment annunciated at the beginning of this post was supposedly a bedrock principle. But, as with so many other supposedly conservative principles, the past 18 months has revealed that they were just talking points for many “conservatives.”
Look, here’s the deal. When you sign an employment contract (and I don’t care if you’re sweeping streets or writing code for one of the world’s largest companies), you agree to abide by your employers code of conduct. You can talk about liberty, and freedom, and all of those other things – but if you agree to work for someone, you are voluntarily agreeing to put curbs on those things.
My first “professional” job was as a QA engineer for Panasonic, more years ago than I care to remember. There was an official dress code: men were to wear a dark suit, white shirt and tie. At the time I accepted the job offer, I owned one suit. It was a very fashionable suit for the 1980’s, but it definitely wasn’t “dark” (think Miami Vice). So guess what I did? I went out and bought 3 navy blue suits and 5 white dress shirts. I wanted the job and understood that I needed to adhere to that dress code, even if it didn’t match my personal style.
I understand Mr. Damore has a problem with Alphabet’s diversity policy. I guess at this point, the entire world knows he does. I’ve disagreed with various company policies at some of the places I’ve worked, as well. There are three things that are perfectly acceptable, that you can do in that situation. You can keep quiet and soldier on. You can take your concerns through proper channels, generally by directing those concerns to a supervisor or the company HR department. Or you can quit and look for a different job.
I read the memo that landed James Damore in hot water. It is a well thought out, backed with research studies, cogent argument against Alphabet’s diversity policy. It is not a screed, as some liberal organizations declared it. Had he distributed it on Facebook, or as a private blog post, or any of the other ways a ten page article can be distributed, he probably would have avoided being fired (unless he represented himself as a Google employee). At that point, he is speaking as a private citizen and probably doing the public a great service. Given the recent hullabaloo around affirmative action and gender equality, we need more solid, fact based opinions from the proponents on both sides of the issue.
But he didn’t do those things. Instead, he typed it up as an internal memo and distributed it within Alphabet. That action, and that action alone, was grounds for termination. That he was making a political statement compounded the problem and forced management’s hand.
Let the Saga of James Damore be a cautionary tale to the Social Justice Warriors of the left and the Culture Warriors of the right. Unless you’re working as a political operative, don’t bring your politics into the workplace.
After all, you aren’t entitled to a job, either.