The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump

Every four years, the United States of America makes a fundamental decision. Do we keep the governance model of the last 4 or 8 years, or do we make a change? The decision is based on many things, but the perception of the success of the governance model of the past president and his party and the emotion tied to that perception are dominant factors. Americans rejected the governance model of the past 8 years and decided to change direction.

Today, Donald Trump becomes President. I wish him well.

Trump's campaign message, "Make America Great Again," is like all such slogans. It elicits an emotional response but is extremely difficult to quantify. And unlike the past president, Trump will be forced to show quantifiable improvements in a number of important area or he will be deemed a failure.

Conservative writer Roger Kimball offers some advice for the Trump team as they take over the White House, recognizing that there will be an onslaught of negative media, Democrat demagoguery, and outrage from the usual social justice warriors. Kimball suggests quick and decisive moves. He writes:
The success of [Trump's] administration will depend on many things: luck, skill, effective alliances. But all will be for naught if he tarries. It's not just the first 100 days that will matter. It's the first week, nay, the first 48 hours. His team should come to town ready to undo, right now, today, every executive order promulgated by Obama. Every appointment that can be made should be made instantly, every nomination should be put forth and, so far as is humanly possible, fast-tracked. It should be a shock-and-awe performance. The media will howl. The political establishment will squeal. But they will have been rendered irrelevant before they knew what hit them. It will be a spectacle worth watching.
I think that position is a bit extreme. It's no longer about simply undoing the past governance model. Rather, it's about creating specific policy and taking specific actions that can and will undo the wreckage created by the past administration. In so doing, Trump must produce quantifiable results that all can see. Here a few random suggestions for early actions:
  • Meet with Democrat leaders and extend an open hand to work together on bipartisan efforts, but be very clear that the days of past administration are over. Suggest that meaningful negotiation is always an option, but if the Dems choose not to negotiate, or negotiate in bad faith, or continue to throw the never-ending tantrum that began on November 9th, the majority will go it alone.
  • Reverse the worst of the past administration's questionably legal "executive orders" on immigration, the environment, and energy. Do not replace them with other executive orders, but work with the GOP majority to pass meaningful legislation and do it quickly. Use the Reid Rule (see below), if applicable.
  • Begin a thorough examination of every regulation proposed by every government agency with the intent of removing those that increase costs beyond any reasonable benefits that might derive from them.
  • Begin the long and arduous process of Obamacare repeal and replacement but do not mire the new administration in a political swamp that has no good exit.
  • Make tangible efforts at improving border security and addressing the reality of an illegal immigrant population.
  • Announce that there is a clear intent to reduce the influence of government agencies and return control and taxpayer dollars to the states. Specific targets are the U.S Department of Education, the U.S Department of Energy, and the U.S Department of Commerce.
  • Investigate the IRS to determine why it has consistently targeted conservative groups.
  • Emphasize methods for better education in the inner city and pass legislation to make that happen.
  • Encourage the use the "Reid Rule." It was Democrat Senate leader, Harry Reid, who forced the so-called "nuclear option" that allowed a Dem majority to ram through legislation and candidates that they wanted, overriding the 60-vote rule that has been an historic protocol in the Senate. Like most Dems who backed the Reid Rule, he concluded that their party would always be in the majority and his unprecedented take-over would give the Dems significant political power. Heh. What goes around ... and all that. Since the Dems created this monstrosity, it's only appropriate that they suffer its consequences.
  • Propose a center-right jurist with impeccable credentials to fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme court. 
  • Do everything possible to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, including giving serious consideration to eliminating or consolidating entire federal departments.
  • Announce that funding for the UN will be cut significantly and immediately and work with Congress to determine the appropriate U.S. contribution going forward.
  • Announce that a new U.S. embassy will be built in Jerusalem and that U.S. funding for the palestinians will be dramatically reduced until they remove the clause in their constitution that denies Israel's right to exist.
  • Focus on actions that do not increase a national debt that is dangerously high.
  • In a major speech on global threat of Islamic terror, call on Islam to begin a reformation that rejects violent Islamists, hunts them down from within the Muslim community, and eradicates them.
I have no illusions that Donald Trump will accomplish all of these things, but he can try. He'll make mistakes and experience failures both large and small. He act like a boor more times than I'd like. He'll use and misuse Twitter and pick fights were he shouldn't. He will battle a blatantly biased media continuously and will give as well as he gets. He won't have Hollywood star power on his side—and that's a good thing.

But in the end, I think he has an opportunity to succeed in ways large and small. He has assembled an outstanding team, and if he listens to their counsel, he just might achieve more than most expect. Good luck to him and his administration.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Accordingly

I honestly thought that by now the hysteria over Donald Trump and his approaching presidency would have abated to at least some extend. Not. A. Chance. Congressional boycotts, street protests, and unhinged commentary are a sure thing for the foreseeable future, as the anti-Trump fervor continues.

At the core of it all is the ridiculous notion that somehow, after spending $1.2 billion (about twice what Trump spent), having the media, the current administration, and most Democrats (with the except of Bernie Sanders supporters) shilling for her for at least six months prior to the election, Hillary Clinton had the election "stolen" from her by any of a long list of culprits (e.g., Putin, Comey, fake news). But at the core of the hysteria over this is the prevailing narrative that Hillary Clinton would have made a better, more stabilizing president—that somehow the country and the world would have been better off under her leadership.

Daniel Henninger comments on this:
It is said that the Trump electorate wanted to blow up the status quo. And so it did. The passed-over truth, however, is that the most destabilizing force in our politics wasn’t Donald Trump. It was that political status quo.

The belief that Hillary Clinton would have produced a more reliable presidency is wrong. Mrs. Clinton represented an extension of the administrative state, the century-old idea that elites can devise public policies, administered by centralized public bureaucracies, that deliver the greatest good to the greatest number.

Future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, in a 2001 article titled “Presidential Administration,” justified what soon would become President Obama’s broad use of executive authority as promoting “the values of administrative accountability and effectiveness.” This has been the lodestar idea of governments here and in Europe since World War II.

Today, that administrative state, like an old dying star, is in destructive decay. Government failures are causing global political instability. This is the real legitimacy problem and is the reason many national populations are in revolt. Some call that populism. Others would call it a democratic awakening.
Big Intrusive Government (B.I.G.) fails in far more ways that it succeeds. It's enormously wasteful, breathtakingly incompetent, unreasonably slow to act, and in recent years, relentlessly intrusive, affecting the lives of both citizens and businesses in ways that are counterproductive and sometimes downright authoritarian.

The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the main stream media can't (or won't) understand this. They prefer to label those who pushed back and voted for Trump as "deplorables," when in fact, the vast majority of deplorables see the world far more clearly that the elites on the East and West coasts. The deplorables see failure after failure coming from government, inaction that would be unacceptable in the real world, incompetence that is startling, and worse, the simple reality that no one is held accountable. For example, the Obamacare website failed to launch for months, wasting hundred of millions of dollars in the process, and no one of any importance was fired. The IRS attacked small citizen groups, and no one—no one—is held to account and the main stream media largely avoided any independent investigation. Four men were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Benghazi, Libya and we got a long litany of lies, crafted by government agencies and operatives.

Sixty-two million deplorables in 30 states said "enough," and they focused their anger at Hillary Clinton. In an odd way Clinton was a victim of Democratic Party governance, a demonstrably failed approach that never made the lives of deplorables (and even the Democrat's own constituencies) no better, and in fact, often made them worse.

So spare me the handwringing about the "fear" that pervades the progressive community as Trump is sworn in. An honest assessment of the last eight years (and more) uncovers failed policies and bad decisions that many feared would continue and expand under a Clinton presidency. The deplorables wanted that to stop, and they voted accordingly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rip van Winkle

To say that the main stream media and Donald Trump will have an adversarial relationship doesn't even begin to explain the venomous reporting that has become a daily occurrence, even before Trump is inaugurated as president. And when Trump "counter-punches" in ways that are sometimes justified and in other ways, thin-skinned, the media becomes instantly offended and defensive. They'd like to be seen as victims, attacked by the soon-to-be-president, but in reality, the vast majority of MSM reporters are (in the words of Instapundit's Glen Reynolds) "Democratic operatives with by-lines."

There are rumors that Trump intends to open the White House media to many others outside the MSM. In years past, that might have been a problem, but I think it's a master stroke. The MSM is among the least trusted of all American institutions—condemnation they richly deserve after many decades of blatant partisanship and journalistic malfeasance (culminating in the latest BuzzFeed debacle that was reported gleefully by MSM sources, even as they covered themselves by suggesting that the source was "unverified."

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez provides an almost perfect visual description of the MSM:


After eight years of sycophantic coverage of the Obama administration the media has rediscovery its adversarial role. Their coverage of Obama wallpapered his administration's many bad decisions, blatant dishonesty, major scandals, and dangerous foreign policy. The Rip van Winkles of the MSM have awoken to challenge the new President who doesn't meet their political proclivities. But like the fictional van Winkle, the MSM have slept through the last near-decade and is no longer in touch with the American people.

UPDATE-1:
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The bias of the MSM feeds on the unhinged positions taken by people who they otherwise elevate. Consider Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters who suggested on MSNBC, after agreeing that Trump is "illegitimate," that a congressional investigation of Trump (remember, he isn't yet the President) be conducted and that "impeachment" would be appropriate should the "investigation" come up with sufficient cause. Here's Waters in her own words:
“If we discover that Donald Trump or his advocates played a role to help provide strategy — if they’re the ones who came up with ‘Crooked Hillary,’ if they’re the ones who came up with, ‘she’s ill, something’s wrong with her energy,’ and the way that he basically described her during the campaign — I think that is something that would put the question squarely on the table whether or not he should be impeached.”
It's funny that Waters doesn't seem at all concerned over the many, many "opposition research' leaks emanating from the Clinton campaign.  Or that the media used incessantly in a failed attempt to demonize and delegitimize Trump. Or that the cries of "Trump violence" were part of the media narrative for months, when we later learned that operatives close to the Clinton campaign hired paid agitators to disrupt Trump events in an effort to get a violent response.  Or the simple reality that the media never once investigated the source of the violence.

Nah, Waters and some other Democrats use two sets of rules—one for Democrats and another for anyone from the GOP. She and the trained hamsters in the MSM are partisan shills—nothing more. Her comments should embarrass every Democrat that actually wants to learn from Clinton's upset loss and rebuild the party.

UPDATE-2
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John Kass provides a comical metaphor that seems to capture the outright hysteria of many within the mainstream media, the Hollywood Glitterati, among most social justice warriors, and more than a few progressives in the run-up to the Trump inauguration. He writes:
It's as if some evil zookeeper has released a boa constrictor into the friendly meerkat exhibit when the cute little mammals were sleeping.

And all we hear are pitiful, high-pitched meerkat shrieks and then, those tiny paws frantically scratching upon the glass.


And for those of us who have calmly accepted the election and inauguration of more than one President we didn't like, we look on as the Meerkats shreek ... and boycott ... and demonstrate ... and condemn ... and name call ... and hyperventilate. In the end, their behavior is nothing short of pathetic, and you know what, it'll hurt them far more than it'll help them. That's okay. After this national tantrum, they all deserve to be scorned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fear

At last count, 36 Democrat Congress members have decided to boycott the inauguration of Donald Trump. Tens of thousands of women and an untold number of social justice warriors will be in Washington to express their displeasure. All of these people have the absolute right to peacefully protest in whatever manner they choose.

It is, however, quite ironic that this same cohort condemned Donald Trump before the election (you know, the election that Hillary Clinton was a lock to win) when he suggested that he might not accept the election result (if there were irregularities at polling places). Trump was "attacking the constitution," an "enemy of Democracy," a "sore loser," among the many epithets thrown at him at the time. The Democrats trained hamsters in the media spent hours discussing Trump's reticence to accept the results of his upcoming loss, parroting the aforementioned accusations. I guess those same accusations don't apply when you're a Democrat with social justice on your side.

Bobby Jindal, a conservative with who I disagree on a number of social issues, used the obvious "little league" metaphor to describe the reaction of Democrats to trump's victory:
Like so many parents, we want our kids to learn the value of hard work, striving, discipline, teamwork, and winning and losing graciously. I welcome the competition, and smiled inwardly when my kids kept score even when the adults tried to discourage them from doing so. My kids have shed tears in the face of hard defeats, and worn proudly their unwashed winning jerseys. Simple experiences, like learning not to blame the referees or make excuses, will serve our children well as they mature and enter the real world.

The growing sense of entitlement and victimization evident in our society makes me wonder if our political leaders ever learned these lessons. I am not simply condemning partisanship or suggesting we all holds hands and sing “Kumbaya.” While I would like to see less name-calling and more cooperation in the political arena, I also believe that substantive disagreements over consequential issues can and should arouse passionate debate. What worries me is that the Left seems determined not just to win, but to also delegitimize their opponents.
There's little question that some of Trump's problems are self-imposed—he is far too think-skinned, often coarse and overly simplistic, and certainly not presidential in the way most people have come to expect. He reacts to criticism when it might be best to let it pass, making a little story into a needlessly big one. He uses a communication medium (Twitter) that is not amenable to explication or subtlety, forcing people to overly interpret his tweets (usually to his disadvantage). He is different and not always in a good way.

But having said all of that, he deserves a chance to succeed, just like Barack Obama—an inexperienced back-bench politician with a collection of ideological associations that were questionable at best—was given in 2008. No Republican Congress member publicly boycotted Obama's inauguration although many had serious concerns about the man. No elected official at the federal level called his victory "illegitimate." There were no mass demonstrations on or immediately after inauguration day, even though millions of citizens were less than thrilled with Obama's world view.

Jindal comments further:
It is hard to find common ground, while recognizing real differences, if one is quick to condemn any who disagree as racists, sexists, or otherwise immoral. Those terms rightfully carry a powerful punch, but risk losing some of their impact if used promiscuously. I believe one of the reasons for the populist surge that powered Trump’s candidacy is the frustration many decent, middle class Americans feel as academic, political, and cultural elites sneer at their practices and experiences.

While conservatives have been busy running and building things in the market, liberals have done a good job at capturing the academic, entertainment, and media citadels that together define so much of our popular culture. (I am reminded of the students that once derided my classmates and me as “doers, not thinkers.” We regarded the epithet as a compliment.) University faculty, Hollywood stars, and reporters are so much more likely to be liberal, that it is noteworthy to find the conservative exceptions. However, supposedly conservative-leaning institutions, e.g. the military and the business world, do not exist entirely apart from the popular culture and are therefore not immune from these liberal influences.
And that may be at the crux of all of this. Conservatives cannot help but be exposed to liberal thought. Whether it's TV, the movies, most national publications (paper or digital), almost all celebrities who are given a national voice (think Meryl Streep). Progressives, on the other hand, can easily avoid being confronted with conservative thought or argument by simply avoiding the relatively few national media outlets that offer a conservative view. Maybe that's why many progressives have reacted so emotionally to the Trump win.

Even more interesting, Donald Trump is hardly a classic conservative. He's a coarse man, but a moderate politician. In that moderation, he just might be able to accomplish a few things that will benefit the country—improved health care, a more robust economy, far-better border control, less intrusive and job-killing regulation, and just possibly, a more competent and efficient government. He deserves a chance to try.

Many Democrats talk about a climate of "fear" that has pervaded the land now that Trump will be president. At first, I thought that talk was overwrought, but in thinking about it, it might just be accurate. After all of the demonization, all of the protest, all of the talk of illegitimacy, the real "fear" among Democrats is that Trump might just succeed at accomplishing a few things that make our lives a little better.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Transformation

As Donald Trump prepares for his inauguration, the Democrats seem mired with excuses for their loss. At the same time, they revel in claims of illegitimacy concerning the new Trump administration. More than a few of my Democrat friends have lamented the DNC's treatment of Bernie Sanders (exposed by the "Russian hacks of the DNC). They argue that Sanders would have "easily" beaten Trump in a head to head matchup. Maybe they're right, and maybe they're not, but they really should be careful what they wish for.

It seems that the majority of Democrats feel quite strongly that the party needs to become more progressive, i.e., that it needs to move even further to the left. After all, many Dems think that their losses in recent elections occurred, not because they have been too moderate, but because their candidates were not left-wing enough. Hence, Bernie Sanders and his shrill compatriot, Elizabeth Warren, and their push toward a socialist version of the USA. Sort of like the late Hugo Chavez and his socialist version of Venezuela.

It's worth taking a fresh look at South America's socialist paradise, so we all fully understand what could happen if Sanders and Warren somehow prevail in their attempted take-over of the Democratic Party. Thor Halvorssen reports:
Venezuela is no longer a country with a government, institutions and a civil society. It’s a geographic area terrorized by a criminal enterprise that pretends to govern, with a civil society made up of two sets of people: accomplices and victims.

More than 30 million of the latter.

The Hugo Chavez-led looting spree began in 2000. By “looting,” I mean fraudulent government contracts, a celebration of bribery, phantom payrolls across all government ministries, bogus government-grant programs, the sacking of Venezuela’s gold reserves and a massive currency-exchange scam.

More than $1 trillion has disappeared — some of it wasted on social programs that produced nothing — and a staggering amount has ended up in bank accounts in Andorra, Panama, New York, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

And the pillaging has turned Venezuela into a dystopian landscape. There are shortages of every imaginable foodstuff and basic necessity; diseases once thought eradicated are back with a vengeance; and a crime wave that has given Caracas the highest murder rate in the world.
To be honest, it's hard to imagine a Sanders/Warren party take-over of the Democratic party resulting in the chaos that now reigns in Venezuela, but then again, I'm certain that the left wing Glitterati who lionized Chavez and the many Democrats who enjoyed his venomous criticism of George W. Bush never thought that Chavez' socialist experiment would cause Venezuela (a country rich in oil) to become the equivalent of a failed state.

I know, I know, if you listen to Bernie or Liz, it's all because the socialist experiment in Venezuela wasn't properly conducted, just like every other failed socialist experiment of the past century. I'm sure they have the proper solution and their transformation of America will go very well. After all, that's what Chavez believed and look how his transformation turned out.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Something Else

In the view of many progressives, the FBI's Jim Comey went from good guy to bad guy to good guy and back to bad guy all in a period that spanned no more than six months. His public disclosure of the findings of an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's "extremely careless" use of a private email server is now excuse #101 for why Hillary lost the election. Although some Dem's give lip service to problems with the Clinton's campaign, and an even smaller number suggest (quietly) that some of Barack Obama's failures were the underlying cause for Clinton upset defeat, the majority insist it was nefarious outside forces (e.g., "fake news," the FBI, the Russians) that brought down Hillary.

Of course, it painfully obvious that if Clinton never violated State Department ethics guidelines and rejected the use of a private email server (the questionably legal use of a private server was unprecedented, despite the obfuscation that was part and parcel of Clinton's public statements), she never would have been under investigation in the first place and the FBI never would have conducted any investigation to begin with. But ... never mind.

It seems as if Hillary's action to circumvent FOIA requests and otherwise conduct, shall we say, off-the-books communication don't seem to matter.

The trained hamsters at the New York Times seem use the new FBI inspector general's inquiry as some kind of bizzaro vindication for Clinton:
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general said Thursday that he would open a broad investigation into how the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, handled the case over Hillary Clinton’s emails, including his decision to discuss it at a news conference and to disclose 11 days before the election that he had new information that could lead him to reopen it.

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, will not look into the decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton or her aides. But he will review actions Mr. Comey took that Mrs. Clinton and many of her supporters believe cost her the election.
Hmmm. The inspector general isn't looking into the extremely controversial decision not to prosecute. What a shock! After all, Clinton's potential national security violations don't matter, but her election loss—that's something else entirely.





Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tilt

After Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton in November, the media appeared to be reflective. After all, their anti-Trump bias was so obvious and so blatant, some believed that a significant percentage of pro-Trump voters cast their ballots not so much for the man, but as a "giant F.U." to the media. I think there's some truth to that. There were long faces among many in the main stream media as they tried to "understand" what happened, but all of that lasted for about a minute.

Glen Reynolds of Instapundit likes to say that the main stream media is actually a collection of "Democratic operatives with bylines." Nothing could be closer to the truth. Regular readers of this blog know that I refer to many within the main stream media as "trained hamsters," doing the bidding of their Democrat overlords while they run endlessly and mindlessly on a rotating wheel of pro-Democrat, anti-GOP stories, getting nowhere and benefiting no one.

There is nothing in the "news" that has happened in the last few weeks to indicate that the media has changed it ways. First, the crazy obsession with a "hacked" election—a not so subtle suggestion that Donald Trump's presidency is illegitimate. And now, the equally crazy allegations of sexual escapades (again in Russia!) intended to sully Trump's character.

Daniel Henninger
comments:
A standard journalistic defense for publishing, or reporting on, the sort of thing BuzzFeed put on the web Tuesday night about Donald Trump’s alleged compromise by the Russians is that “the people” ultimately will sort it all out. You could say the same thing about tornadoes.

Conventional wisdom after the election held that the media had been chastened by its coverage of the campaign, that it had learned to be more careful about separating facts from the media bubble.

The past week’s news, if one still can call it that, was bookended by two Trump files. The first was the intelligence community report that Russia’s hack of the presidential election favored Mr. Trump. The second was a salacious opposition-research file on Mr. Trump published by BuzzFeed, which says it is about “trending buzz.” Below the site’s Trump-in-Russia stories Wednesday sat, “Lauren Conrad Just Posted The Most Adorable Photo Of Her Baby Bump.”

No one has learned anything.
In actuality, there is nothing shocking about the media circus that will be an on-going part of Donald Trump's presidency. Whether it's a talking head suggesting that Trump's offer to donate any profits from his Washington hotel to the U.S. Treasury is somehow a nefarious plot to enrich the billionaire even further, or the Buzzfeed attempt at character assassination, what the "deplorables" see is the Left and their trained media hamsters in a deep hole in which they continue to dig.

In a way, it all goes back to the Boy Who Cried Wolf fable. The media has manufactured, exaggerated, and otherwise spun so much vicious, anti-Trump garbage, that even if there is a true scandal, it will be discounted by millions. And yet, other millions have decided that Trump is the devil and that his destruction by any means is justified.

Henninger offers a word of warning:
When people played on real pinball machines, everyone knew that if you banged on the machine too hard, it would lock up. It would “tilt.” Because so many once-respected institutions are behaving so badly, the American system is getting close to tilt.
The Left and their trained hamsters have no fear of banging on the machine. It's what they do. In fact, now that the electorate has removed them from power at virtually every level, a tilt is exactly what they now want. They may very well get it.