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

Friday, June 30, 2017


Many people are fascinated by the game of Chess. The reason, I think, is simple—the game demands strategic thinking, often requires short term sacrifice to achieve longer term goals, and emphasizes the choice of effective tactics in the moment. Donald Trump would be a very bad Chess player.

Yesterday's twitter idiocy, in which he felt compelled to attack the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe is being rightly criticized as "thin-skinned," "unpresidental," "crass," "embarrassing," and much more. His few remaining defenders suggest that he's a guy who punches back when attacked. That's all true—but there is no effective defense for the indefensible. Even the most vicious fighters, if they're effective, consider their opponent, the strategy to be employed, and the consequences of throwing the punch.

Trump's twitter idiocy is not unique to this instance, and that's what is most troublesome. It shows a lack of impulse control and a dangerous lack of strategic thinking. Trump sabotages his wins—every time. He gives his many enemies a way to change the subject, to move away from any policy accomplishment and into a maelstrom of controversy of his own making. It gives the trained hamsters in the main stream media an opportunity to bury successes and emphasize Trump's crass behavior.

The funny thing is that despite the full bore attack of the four constituencies, Donald Trump had an opportunity to accomplish things that would make the United States a better place. Despite the whining of #Resistance and the obstruction of Democrats, he could have succeeded.

There is little question that Trump's self-sabotage will continue, that he cannot and will not master his own impulses, think strategically, and win despite the opposition of the four constituencies. That means he will fail as a president.

And when #Resistance celebrates the firestorm of criticism in the days ahead, when they revel in Trump's failures, when they call for his impeachment, they're actually celebrating the slow erosion of a once great country. Then again, maybe that's what at least some of them really wanted all along.


Glen Reynolds takes a somewhat lighter view when he tweets:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dishonest and Unwatchable

It began with bogus accusations that Donald Trump and members of his campaign staff "colluded" with the Russians to somehow win an election that almost every member of the four constituencies guaranteed he would lose. It's now more than obvious that the collusion accusations are, to quote a CNN staffer, "bulls**t." So now the trained hamster's meme has begun to shift. First, it morphed into an equally ridiculous accusation of 'obstruction of justice' centering on an FBI investigation, the then-head of which, admitted to leaking information to the NYT is an effort to get his friend and mentor, Robert Mueller, appointed as special counsel. That worked, but Mueller's objectivity has recently been called into question.

So over the last few days, members of the mainstream media have begun to whine that they are "under threat" by a president who fights back when "fake news" becomes the predominant form of communication espoused by outlets like CNN. The whiners have now jettisoned even the semblance of objectivity and revel in their blatant bias as a sign of some warped moral or political imperative.

It used to be that the mainstream media media was like a school yard bully, viciously attacking anything GOP and doing it with impunity. A GOP scandal got headlines for weeks on end. A Dem scandal was either buried or mentioned in passing, disappearing within hours or days. Context and accuracy ... forget that. Data was relevant only when it was damaging to GOP legislative efforts.

But today, things have changed and the school yard bully has encountered a target who not only fights back, but does so with a level on venom (and 'uncouthness,' if that's a word) that even surpasses that of the bully. The media bully doesn't like that, and the cycle of viciousness escalates.

Michael Goodwin comments:
In the sixth month of Donald Trump’s presidency, we are witnessing an unprecedented meltdown of much of the media. Standards have been tossed overboard in a frenzy to bring down the president.

Trump, like all presidents, deserves coverage that is skeptical and tough, but also fair. That’s not what he’s getting.

What started as bias against him has become a cancer that is consuming the best and brightest. In rough biblical justice, media attempts to destroy the president are boomeranging and leaving their reputations in tatters.

He accuses them of publishing fake news, and they respond with such blind hatred that they end up publishing fake news. That’ll show him.

CNN is suffering an especially bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, even trying to make a virtue of its hostility to the president. In doing so, executives conveniently confuse animus with professional skepticism, and cite growing audiences as proof of their good judgment.

The bottom line matters, and there is certainly an audience for hating Trump all the time. But facts and fairness separate major news organizations from any other business looking to make a buck, and a commitment to them creates credibility and public trust.

That’s how CNN sold itself for years — boring but trustworthy. Now it’s boring and untrustworthy.
I would add ... dishonest and unwatchable.


An intelligent counterpoint, offered by Chris Stirewalt, is well-worth considering:
... watching a politician throw away a good opportunity to enact policies important to his supporters for the sake of belittling a television personality is stunning [Stirewalt is referring to Trump's running battle with the MSNBC co-hosts of Morning Joe]. Blowing up a week of forward progress bought dearly by Georgia campaign volunteers, congressional aides and donors large and small is the height of solipsism.

Maybe we are wrong and many of those tens of millions of Trump voters want exactly this: Crude insults, misdirections, distractions and a pointless, endless war with the press. We tend to think not.

A cottage industry has sprouted up in Washington around the business of explaining why foolish things the president does are either secretly genius or perfectly defensible on the grounds of being better or only as bad as things Barack Obama did. Regardless of which political tribe to which you belong, this should stop at once.

Not only is it enabling the worse impulses of a president with obvious impulse control problems but it further suggests that nothing matters other than partisan victory. The president and the country deserve better than that.
It's also reasonable to argue that the country deserves better, more honest, and more accurate media coverage, but that's not gonna happen.

Stirewalt is correct. Donald Trump creates significant problems for himself; he makes dumb mistakes; he sabotages his policy efforts; he erodes his staff's ability to defend those policies. His style is—in a word—unpresidential and is worthy of criticism. But is is not, in and of itself, a reason for the four constituencies to conduct a slow motion coup.

If Trump is as bad as the four constituencies claim, he will be unseated in the 2020. But if he accomplishes even a small percentage of his policy goals, he may actually provide benefit to a country that sorely needs a strong economy, a more rational immigration policy, a less intrusive government, better healthcare that is based on pragmatic realities, not fantasy, and a stronger posture to face our international enemies. I suspect that the thing that frightens the four constituencies the most of the outside chance that Donald trump actually accomplishes those things.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone make plans that don't work out. Almost everyone spends money unnecessarily at one time or another. The key isn't to beat yourself up when you do these things. Rather, your job is to learn from them and try very hard not to repeat the same mistakes, the same plans, and the same spending errors.

For decades, IL was governed under the Blue Model. Sure there was an occasional GOP governor, but the State legislature was predictably and uniformly Democratic. It was the Democratic legislature where spending was initiated, budgets were established, and promises were made. Big state pensions, no problem. Bigger and bigger spending on everything from social programs to state universities—gotta do it. Larger and larger numbers of state employees—IL needed the "services."

Big state government and BIG concessions to public sector unions demanded ever B-I-G-G-E-R state spending. The problem was IL Democrats didn't learn from their mistakes, never modified their faulty plans, and never-ever considered reigning in their profligate spending until it was far too late. They raised taxes on "the rich," and when that money wasn't enough, on everyone else. What we're watching in IL today is the end game for the Blue Model. Liabilities are massive and revenues are shrinking; people and businesses are leaving, and IL is nearing bankruptcy.

Unpaid bills are approaching $16 billion (not to mention a $250 billion pension liability) and the state hasn't had a budget in over two years. Yet IL Democrats often lectured their opponents on the importance of the many entitlement and social programs they have created over the past 50 years. Those programs were designed to help a constituency the Dems claim to care about. And now, under their continuous governance those constituencies are left twisting in the wind as money runs out.

Shibani Mahtani and Douglas Belkin report on the crisis in IL:
Some social-services agencies have given up on receiving state funding. Others have closed entirely, leaving some rural communities without mental-health clinics, domestic-violence shelters and drug-treatment clinics, despite an opioid crisis gripping some towns downstate.

Illinois has lost more residents than any other American state for the third year in a row, with 90% of the state’s counties seeing a drop in population, shrinking the state’s tax base. In 2016, a net of 37,508 people left, according to census data, putting the population at its lowest in nearly a decade.

Illinois was one of just eight states in the country, and the only Midwestern one, to lose residents last year.

“It’s not just the budget crisis; it’s that people don’t have any confidence in what the state is going to do next,” says Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan Chicago-based government-watchdog group backed by business leaders. “There is fear of an enormous tax increase. The uncertainty is driving people from the state.”
At a national level the Democrats can't seem to fathom how they lost so many elections, including the recent presidential election. All they have to do is take an objective look at IL. It just might be that when voters in other states look at IL, they react by voicing no confidence in the Blue Model. And maybe, just maybe, that's because a significant number of voters believe that Democrats seem unable to learn from their mistakes and unwilling to face the harsh reality that their conceptualization of the Blue Model simply doesn't work.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Plot to Kill Millions

Heros of #Resistance—Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders Al Franken and Congresswoman Nancy Pelocy—have been experimenting with the meme that claims that the Republican modifications to Obamacare will "kill" large numbers of Americans. The implication is that the GOP is so crass that it simply doesn't care about the health of its fellow citizens and has implemented a program that will kill them.

Warren used the phrase "blood money" to suggest that any savings associated with more responsible and less expensive healthcare legislation would lead to the death of Americans. On NBC's Meet the Press, a solemn Bernie Sanders stated:
I wish I didn’t have to say it. This is not me. This is study after study making this point. It is common sense. If you have cancer and your insurance is taken away from you, there is a likelihood you will die and certainly a likelihood that you will become much sicker than you are today. That’s the fact. Unpleasant, but it’s true.
A fact, huh? Study after study? Really?

Here's a study Bernie must have missed, as described by Max Bloom:
The only thing better than a natural experiment is a random experiment, where people are randomly distributed into groups that, in this case, either receive health insurance or don’t. Exactly this happened in Oregon in 2008, when the state randomly selected 30,000 from a waiting list of 90,000 low-income adults to participate in a limited expansion of Medicaid. In theory, this should have produced a perfect test of the effects of insurance on health-care outcomes — indeed, as Peter Suderman notes, a bevy of liberal writers touted an early analysis of the experiment as a conclusive vindication of the effects of health insurance. Until they saw the final data, that is. The Oregon study found that “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first two years.”
Sanders and his fellow Democrats trot out the statistic that 20 million additional citizens are insured under Obamacare. For a moment, let's discount the fact that Obamacare taxpayer subsidized coverage for non-Medicaid policies has huge deductibles (e.g., $6,000 to $8,000) that would discourage many doctor visits. Or that 5 million young people were coerced into coverage they didn't need or didn't want. Or that millions more waited until they got sick and then applied for coverage.

James Freeman writes:
... all of America has been participating in an experiment since 2010 to see if a federal effort to extend government-mandated insurance coverage to millions more people can improve our lives. Last year the Obama Administration bragged that 20 million adults had gained health insurance as a result of Mr. Obama’s so-called Affordable Care Act.

Given the Sanders logic, one might have expected to see a corresponding improvement in public health. But so far evidence that ObamaCare made us healthier has proven elusive, to say the least. In December the New York Times was among the many news outlets that had to share the embarrassing news:
American life expectancy is in decline for the first time since 1993, when H.I.V.-related deaths were at their peak. But this time, researchers can’t identify a single problem driving the drop, and are instead pointing to a number of factors, from heart disease to suicides, that have caused a greater number of deaths.

A study on mortality rates released on Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that Americans could expect to live for 78.8 years in 2015, a decrease of 0.1 from the year before. The overall death rate increased 1.2 percent — that’s about 86,212 more deaths than those recorded in 2014.

Dr. Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said in an interview that the decline was a “uniquely American phenomenon” in comparison with other developed countries, like Japan or Sweden.

“A 0.1 decrease is huge,” Dr. Muennig said. “Life expectancy increases, and that’s very consistent and predictable, so to see it decrease, that’s very alarming.”
Freeman goes on to outline the work of Nobel Prize winning economist, Angus Deaton, noting that:
Much of Mr. Deaton’s research over the years has examined the way that people around the world get healthier as they get wealthier. Republicans should note that expanding employment is a great way to improve wellness. This is of course the opposite of the agenda embedded in ObamaCare, which discouraged employment. It’s hard to tell if Mr. Sanders will regret raising the question of whether government insurance programs are the key to health and longevity. But it’s an argument he is not going to win.
So ... a real solution for better outcomes isn't government controlled healthcare. It a growing economy, more private sector jobs, and therefore, more wealth in the hands of the past poor. That, more than Obamacare or any GOP program will lead to the improved health for many more Americans.

But Lizzy and Bernie, Al and Nancy think there's a GOP plot to kill millions. And their solution to foil the plot—a government controlled healthcare system that will result in less wealth for everyone. Hmmm. Maybe they should talk with Dr. Muennig or Professor Deaton.

Monday, June 26, 2017


It's not difficult to understand Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Many progressives along with a significant number of elite Democrats and Republicans view themselves as cultured, civil, well-spoken, understanding, and otherwise, not crass. Donald Trump can be the opposite of all of those things, so ... TDS.

Roger Simon discusses TDS and refers to it as a "plague" that has infected four constituencies within our country and around the world. He believes, as I do, that TDS has more to do with Trump's crass style, his imprecise language, his counter-punching capabilities via Twitter and elsewhere than it does with his actions. But then again, most anti-Trumpers, including #Resistance et al, seem to care far more about words than they do actions. If that weren't the case—if actions really did matter—the members of the four constituencies would have been far more critical of the preceding administration.

Simon argues that Trump's actions are actually quite middle-of-the road:
All this is occurring although Trump, since taking office, has been, in his actions, a basically middle-of-the-road president, rather like, of all people, Bill Clinton after he made his accommodation with Gingrich. Of course, unlike Billy boy, he hasn't misbehaved, to my knowledge, in the Oval Office. More precisely, Trump governs slightly from the right as Clinton governed slightly from the left. The differences are not greater than we have seen many times before.
All of that is true, but it's Simon's take on the underlying reasons for TDS that are worth considering:
May I suggest that what we are witnessing in our culture (and outwardly across the globe, because willy-nilly the U.S. is still the leading factor) is a form of mass hysterical conformism. I emphasize the conformism because by nature most human beings are conformists — we want to get along.

My generation — I regret to say since I was part of this — was nurtured in a kind of counter-cultural conformity, everyone in tie-dye and smoking joints, thinking the same inchoate ideas. Peace and Love. Hey, hey, LBJ... You're part of the solution or you're part of the problem.... Power to the People. Right on! Tune in, turn on, drop out!

As we grew up — taking over media, entertainment, and the schools — we formed a new cohort that was as truly conformist (probably more) as the generations before us. That New Conformism (actually pretty old at this point) generated this New Plague — how could it not, even though Donald was (technically) one of them — with everyone against Trump no matter what, pass it on. Otherwise, you will be read out of the new version of the hipster Volvo-becoming-Tesla country club. Trump was too Rat Pack for us (too like our parents or what our parents thought was cool). We wanted a smooth, black dude or, failing that, a righteous Latina, whatever that was. These days not even the Dalai Lama is acceptable.

It was all image. Almost none of it was substance, although we wanted to pretend it was ...

Younger generations, of course, get this. They hear it in the schools and they watch it on television and it's shoveled at them on BuzzFeed and the like. They are given little chance to think for themselves. And if they do, they know the risks.

Meanwhile, the Plague keeps spreading. In the 1330s the "Black Death" took about a third of Europe. It's unlikely things would get that bad in this country on a personal level, but our democracy is already being littered with symbolic corpses, logical thought among the earliest and most consistent of victims.
As we watch otherwise well-educated and civil people try to defend the suggestion that Trump colluded with the Russians or somehow obstructed justice in an investigation of a non-crime with no damning evidence, perpetrated for partisan advantage by politicians (i.e., hypocrits) who were crushed in an election they were assured they would win, it does seem reasonable to conclude that "logical thought [is] among the earliest and most consistent of victims" of TDS.


In a brutally frank discussion of the progressives' "Reeeee" brigade—a group that practices TDS with the most enthusiasm—Sarah Hoyt writes:
... we get journalists corrupting their craft and honor to be part of secret lists that choose which news to cover and which to ignore. We get functionaries trying to subvert legal, fair elections. And we have the Reeeee brigade leading us through a slow motion Cultural Revolution.

I don’t know who coined “Reeeee” for the sound progressives make when in the middle of a scream fest about some – mostly imaginary and unintended – offense. I know that for several months now all my friends use it, usually when just having dealt with some idiot who keeps yammering on about moon ferrets (or patriarchy. Or white supremacy. All of which have the exact same degree of existence in modern America.)

... Their behavior is so insane, their on-command ability to jump on anyone or anything who deviates from the now-current party line so absolute, their arguments so ridiculous, it took me a while to realize what they’re doing is the equivalent of Mao’s brigades of aggressive young people fanning out to rural areas to teach the peasants how to think and what to do.
But its more than crazy behavior, it also this (again from Hoyt):
The problem with the latest trend of these feral children, their minds filled with academic lies, screaming about “racist, sexist, homophobes” and holding the past up to the standards of their present is not just that it’s annoying ...

No, the problem is that it makes many people afraid of opening books, of reading our past.

Western civilization is not – of course, being human – perfect. It has had its share of monsters and madmen. We were, after all, responsible for Marx, whose ideas have been a worse scourge in Africa than all the supposed greedy colonialists.

We are, however, simply put, the most successful human civilization ever. That is, if you judge success in terms of “fed the most people” and “lifted most of the world above the demands of immediate need”, to be able to create and think as never before. Other things we’ve done go a long way to eliminate the quotidian misery of disease and push back aging by decades.
It is fun to imagine the Reeeee brigade speaking "truth to power" in places like Venezuela or Cuba. Would they honestly prefer to live in those paragons of socialist achievement or in more brutal Islamic countries where hatred of everything Western is the currency of preference? And if the United States is soooo "racist, sexist, homophobic, partriarchal, Islamophobic, xenophobic, culturally appropriative, economically oppressive or rigged...," why is it that millions upon millions of the world's people want to immigrate here? Why is it that so few who do live here actually leave? The Reeeee brigade would prefer not to consider the answers to those questions.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Put Up

Way back in 2010, some of us warned that Obamacare legislation was architecturally flawed, that it wouldn't live up to its political hype, that it would cost much more than projected, that it would lead to higher healthcare costs and insurance policies that "covered" people, but provided them with little if any true health benefits. We were dismissed as uncaring and shortsighted. History has proven otherwise.

Now, as Obamacare moves ever-closer to collapse, it's original creators point a finger at anyone and anything but themselves and suggest that a few small tweaks can fix their masterwork. That's like suggesting that a collapsing house with a disintegrating foundation can be fixed with a coat of bright shiny paint.

Meanwhile, the GOP stumbles toward a solution with a proposed House bill that tried to thread the needle between moderate concerns for fairness and conservative concerns for fiscal responsibility. Not surprisingly, the creators of Obamacare were outraged at any suggestion that "repeal and replace" was on the table, suggesting that a paint brush and a can of paint was all that would be necessary. Now, the Senate has suggested a more palatable approach, still flawed, but far stronger that the House version.

By providing tax credits tied to age and income, the proposed Senate bill provides a means for coverage for low income people in their 50s and 60s. By allowing individual states to tailor medicaid coverage to the unique characteristics of their low income populations and by encouraging health care insurance competition, it has a chance, at least, to lower premiums.

Avik Roy goes into a few details:
Because the Senate bill’s tax credits are robustly means-tested and available to those below the poverty line, the bill is able to repeal Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion while offering higher-quality coverage to individuals who signed up for Medicaid under the expansion.

The reason that Medicaid’s health outcomes are so poor is because the outdated 1965 Medicaid law places a laundry list of constraints on states’ ability to manage their Medicaid programs. As a result, the main tool states have to keep Medicaid costs under control is to pay doctors and hospitals less and less each year for the same care. Hence, many doctors don’t take Medicaid, and Medicaid enrollees struggle to gain access to care ...

[Another] area where the Senate bill does extremely well is in giving states the latitude to come up with new ways to serve their needy populations with better results and lower costs.

We’ve talked already about the new flexibility that states will have with their Medicaid programs. They’ll have even more flexibility to open up their private insurance markets to innovation and competition, through a new set of “Section 1332” waivers in which the validity of the waiver applications will be assumed by the federal government so long as the plan doesn’t increase federal spending.

Furthermore, the bill offers states around $100 billion in stability and innovation grants that states can use to shore up their insurance markets, by providing extra assistance to the needy or the sick.
There are still some areas where the Senate bill can be improved, but characterizing it as "heartless" or "evil" as some Democrats have done is nonsense. An unhinged Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted: I’ve read the Republican 'health care' bill. This is blood money. They’re paying for tax cuts with American lives. The Dems really do have to get a grip—is Warren actually suggesting that the intent of GOP senators is to kill their fellow citizens? That trying to reduce the enormous expense associated with Obamacare is the equivalent of "blood money." And the Dems wonder why they keep losing elections.

What is "heartless" is to do nothing while Obamacare collapses. What is irresponsible is to snipe from the sidelines while refusing to participate in correcting a healthcare mess of the Dem's own making. The Dems act like a little child who uses crayon on the walls and windows of her room and then throws a tantrum while her parents try to clean up the mess. The parents shrug, recognizing that the child isn't able to act responsibly, but when the child criticizes the cleanup continuously ("you missed a spot, you're not doing what I want ..."), she does become rather irritating.

Any replacement of Obamacare will be a compromise—it will not be perfect. But defending the status quo is unacceptable.

The future of healthcare coverage is in the hands of the GOP. As Avik Roy writes:
... any Republican conservative in the Senate who is thinking of voting “no” on this bill [should be asked]: how many times in your life will you have the opportunity to vote for a bill that fundamentally transforms two entitlement programs? How often will you get to vote for a bill that cuts spending by hundreds of billions of dollars? How often will you get a chance to make a difference for millions of your constituents who are struggling under the weight of rising premiums and exploding deductibles?

As Sen. John Cornyn (R., Tex.) put it on Thursday, “it’s time to put up or shut up.”
The GOP has to "put up" a viable healthcare bill while at the same time the rest of the country has to "put up" with the Dems' whining criticism of their work.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Marketing Problem

Paul Waldman contends that "Democrats don't have a policy problem, they have a marketing problem." This echoes the tired meme often suggested by Barack Obama when he suffered an electoral or legislative setback—the Dems policies are sound, they just have a "messaging" problem.

In reality, exactly the opposite is true. The Dems' increasingly left-wing policies are now out of touch with the values held by a majority of Americans. That in itself might be something that could be surmounted with clever marketing. But when it's coupled with a condescending attitude that implies that anyone who disagrees with the progressive view of the world is too dumb or too deplorable to understand the nuances of the progressive agenda, the Dems lose one election after another.

Waldman inadvertently demonstrates this when he writes:
What Republicans do have is a small number of policy mantras they repeat endlessly, distillations of their ideas that are so simple even the most distracted and ignorant voter can understand them. Cut taxes. Get government off our backs. Traditional values. Strong defense. They're simple and repeatable, and they never change.
Yeah, those of us who are "distracted and ignorant" might scrinch our eyebrows and rev up our low IQs just enough so that we can understand the wisdom of these "mantras" — that government is far too big and intrusive, that taxes are far too high, that profligate government spending has lead to crippling national debt, that values are fluid over time and not to be defined by one group and imposed on another, that we live in a dangerous world and need a strong response to that danger. Waldman is either too ideological or too stupid to recognize that he demonstrates part of the Democrat problem with a simple phrase in a single sentence.

But he's on a roll, writing:
Americans like the particular things Democrats want to do: Raise the minimum wage, have strong worker protections, protect the safety net, address climate change, protect abortion rights, guarantee secure health coverage, make college more affordable, and so on. That isn't the problem. The problem is that they have to spend time explaining all those things, at the same moment they're fending off crude culture war attacks from their opponents.
Yeah, us "distracted and ignorant" voters have trouble understanding Waldman's checklist, so much so that our progressive betters have to "spend time explaining all those things" to us. Could it be that many Americans view a $15.00 per hour minimum wage for a teenager working in a fast food restaurant as an excessive and ill-advised way to accelerate automation and cause that same teenage to lose his job? Could it be that many Americans view the "safety net" as something that is necessary, but not something that should last forever or be handed down from one generation to the next? Could it be that the Democratic plan for "guarantee[d] secure health coverage" was disastrous in its implementation? Nah, it's just that us deplorables need more progressive guidance in these matters.

Waldman concludes with this:
I suspect that a lot of Democrats wish that politics didn't have to be so simple-minded, and you could persuade people to vote for you on the strength of your ideas, whether those ideas could fit on a bumper sticker or not. But unfortunately, that's not the world we live in. A party needs slogans and synopses and a snappy synthesis of its proposals.

Democrats don't need to worry about their agenda; what they need is a better way to sell it.
Since far too many Democrats work in the public sector, it may be that they've lost sight of a key tenet that all private sector salespeople understand: It's harder to "sell" something when your customer clearly doesn't like it and doesn't want it. Maybe, just maybe, that's the core problem that Dems face.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

No Questions

At a recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Ayann Hersi Ali, one of the world's most eloquent critics of Islamist ideology, along with Asra Nomani, another harsh critic of Islam's treatment of women, were invited to testify. Both are women of color, both are Muslims, and both have suffered from the on-going oppression and in the case of Ali, death threats that are part and parcel of any critique of Islam. There were four Democrat women senators on the committee California's Camilla Harris, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill. They are all champions of women's rights, ready to jump in whenever they see evidence of misogny in what they frequently characterize as a male dominated society. They are also senator's quick to grandstand in front of the camera, never failing to ask pointed questions, to pontificate, to speechify.

During the hearing, these four Democrat senators didn't ask a single question. Not one. They did this because as Senator McCaskell stated: "“Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule ... We should not focus on religion."

Ayann Hersi Ali and Asra Nomani have more moral authority, not to mention more intelligence tham all four of these senators combined. They write:
... when we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.
It is also breathtakingly hypocritical.

Progressives insist of defending the indefensible when it comes to Islam, draping their defense in the tortured notion that because Islam is (in part) a religion, it cannot be criticized. Of course, that didn't stop progressives from calling on all catholics (a religion, by the way) and the Vatican to put a halt to to the sexual assaults that pervaded the church decades ago.

For many Democrats and most progressives, leaping to the defense of Islam has become a reflex. It is a cliche to note that after every heinous Islamic terror attack, progressive leaders in the West warn us against "Islamophobia" It's almost as if they don't trust their own fellow countrymen to do the right thing and make a distinction between Islamic extremists and the broader Muslim community. It is nothing more than virtue signaling and a indication of a subtle contempt for their fellow citizens. It's one of many, many reasons why the Democrats are out of touch with their own country.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Deeper and Deeper

In the weeks leading up to the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, the trained hamsters in the main stream media sounded a lot like they did in the weeks leading up to last year's national election. The vote last November would be a slam dunk for Democrats, a clear signal the the general public rejected the notion that Barack Obama's legacy was one of failure and incompetence. The vote on Monday would be a clear indication that "college educated" voters rejected Donald Trump and his agenda. After all, all smart people are against Trump. Right?

Wrong ... and wrong again.

Ed Rogers comments on the special election:
The buzz in Washington surrounding the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District was all bad for the last couple of weeks. People had been bad-mouthing the Republican candidate, Karen Handel, they had been insulting the Republican National Committee’s competence and they had been dismissing any notion that Republicans could pull through to defeat the energized “resistance.” But the ashen, sour and dejected faces on CNN Tuesday night following Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff’s defeat made the last 10 days of Republicans’ worry and anxiety worthwhile. By any measure, the victory proves the Republican political machine is alive and working well.

Heading into Tuesday, Democrats were prepared to bask in their self-righteous glory and proclaim an outright victory in the wake of President Trump’s political decline. They wanted to claim a successful referendum on the Trump administration and the president’s “America First” policies. But with Handel comfortably pulling through to claim her seat, Democrats are left with nothing to show for their tens of millions of dollars and full-court press.
I suspect that dozens and dozens of left-leaning commentators had to hit the delete key for pre-written articles, blog posts and tweets that were set to bask in a Democrat victory in Georgia's 6th. Had the Democrat Jon Ossoff won, it would have been characterized as a major indicator of Trump's early demise, that #Resistance was a triumph, that impeachment was but one election away. But Ossoff lost (and by a relatively wide margin), so yawn, the special election meant nothing.

But the Democrats trained hamsters provided us with a comical tell. The following screen cap, provided courtesy of AnnAlthouse, tells us everything we need to know about media bias:

As someone who believes in a two-party system, maybe it's time for the Dems to use a little introspection, to stop lashing out, and to examine whether their long and now violent slide leftward is consistent with the broad mainstream of American thought. Maybe they should consider whether the unhinged #Resistance resonates with centrist voters in this country, whether open boarders are really as popular as they think, whether government control of healthcare is really a viable solution, whether jobs and tax reform and reducing the size of government might be just a little bit more important than bogus investigations of "Russian collusion" or ridiculous allegations of "obstruction of justice."

Nah, if that introspection were to occur, the answers it might yield are ones that Democrats and progressives don't want to hear. So they plod onward, digging their hole deeper and deeper by the month.


Richard Fernandez comments on the Dem's seemingly limitless obsession with the truly unhinged notion that Trump and company have colluded with the Russians. He writes:
One would have thought the shocking loss of Jon Osoff to Karen Handel in Georgia would have snapped the system out of it's coma. At least it should alert them to the dangers of being transfixed by their own narrative. After all, when you keep losing the chess game to an opponent believed by the media to have the IQ of an orangutan, it's got to be more than bad luck, perhaps caused by ignoring the objectively real in order to serve one's mental boxes.

Yet nothing happens. The destruction of future of the Democratic party which Ossoff was supposed to have been, left the progressives with Bernie Sanders again as the standard bearer of tomorrow. It illustrates how trapped the Left has become in its own paradigm. It is an in absurd condition. The obsession with Trump's very real shortcomings obscures the fact that the biggest crisis in American political life today is the that of the Democratic Party. It never really recovered from the Clintons or Obama and it never really came to terms with the economic collapse of the Blue Model.
The solution for the Dems is not MORE and BIGGER left-wing policies, more crazy conspiracies, and more outrage. It's new leadership, a new understanding of just how far outside the mainstream they have traveled, and even an attempt to work with the GOP to accomplish things that Americans actually care about. I know, I know ... it'll never happen, but it certainly would be refreshing.


When Donald Trump proposed that we put immigration on selected predominantly Muslim countries on 'pause,' he was branded a "racist," "a Nazi," and worse by virtually every Democrat and their supporters, along with their trained hamsters in the media. We were told that his proposal somehow conflicted with our "values," that we are a nation of immigrants, that it's very wrong because ... racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia. The courts seems to agree, using perceived intent, rather that clearly defined law and precedent to rule against him. The Supreme Court will weigh in soon.

So why not allow unconstrained immigration? After all, progressives dream of open borders in which the downtrodden across the world come to our shores for a better life. We did that in the past, didn't we?

Actually, we did not. Immigration has always been controlled, and entry to our country was always viewed as a privilege, not a right.

An experiment in quasi-open immigration is on-going in Europe. Douglas Murray discusses this when he writes:
Today the great migration [into Europe] is off the front pages. Yet it goes on. On an average weekend nearly 10,000 people arrive on Italian reception islands alone. Where do they go? What do they expect? And what do we expect of them?

To find the answer to these and other questions it is necessary to ask deeper questions. Why did Europe decide it could take in the poor and dispossessed of the world? Why did we decide that anybody in the world fleeing war, or just seeking a better life, could come to Europe and call it home?

The reasons lie partly in our history, not least in the overwhelming German guilt, which has spread across the Continent and affected even our cultural cousins in America and Australia. Egged on by those who wish us ill, we have fallen for the idea that we are uniquely guilty, uniquely to be punished, and uniquely in need of having our societies changed as a result ...

It is often argued that our societies are old, with a graying population, and so we need immigrants ...

When people point out the downsides of this approach—not least that more immigration from Muslim countries produces many problems, including terrorism—we get the final explanation. It doesn’t matter, we are told: Because of globalization this is inevitable and we can’t stop it anyway.

All these instincts, when put together, are the stuff of suicide. They spell out the self-annihilation of a culture as well as a continent. Conversations with European policy makers and politicians have made this abundantly clear to me. They tell me with fury that it “must” work. I suggest that with population change of this kind, at this speed, it may not work at all.
So as we watch a Europe beset by an immigrant population that stresses its social welfare system to the breaking point; often demands separatism, not assimilation; questions the laws of a free society and wants them replaced by the laws from their own culture (e.g., Sharia), and yes, foments a small percentage of extremists who encourage and/or commit terrorism, it's reasonable to ask whether the United States wants to go down the same path. Progressives (and some GOP elites) tell us we must, but 20 years ago, progressives also told us that socialist changes in Venezuela were a good thing, something to be celebrated. In that case, the result led to a failed country. It's reasonable to ask whether their current advice is sound.

Murray concludes his article with this:
The migration policies of the political and other elites of Europe suggest that they are suicidal. The interesting thing to watch in the years ahead will be whether the publics join them in that pact. I wouldn’t bet on it.
Trump is not wrong when he suggests that immigration into the United States be controlled and vetted. That is not anti-immigrant. It's simply common sense.

Going slow is a far better strategy than following the lead of the Europeans. I suspect that the vast majority of Americans support that view. The big question is whether the political elites will have us follow the "suicidal" path of Europe, with the same negative effects in the coming decades.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tick, Tick, Tick

We watched as neocons in George W. Bush's era convinced many of us that Saddam Hussein had to go, that Afghanistan—a country stuck in the tribalism of the Middle Ages—could become an actual democracy, that nation building was a real possibility across the Middle East. That did not work out well. We watched as progressives in Barack Obama's era supported a domestic policy that doubled the national debt and a foreign policy that gives new meaning to the word disastrous, creating among other things, a violence driven, Muslim migration that will permanently change the nature of European countries and their liberties. Now we watch as the elites on the Left, supported by their progressive base, and encouraged by the passive-aggressive behavior of the GOP elite conduct a slow motion coup attempt (based on non-existent evidence and pathetically weak accusations) to unseat an duly elected President of the United States. We observe political viciousness that is unprecedented in the modern era. And as a consequence, Washington is paralyzed, nothing gets accomplished, and the real problems that face this nation remain unresolved.

Richard Fernandez believes we're at a crossroads:
The poisonous atmosphere in today's politics illustrates how bitterly established interests will fight to protect their "gains". They will literally kill to preserve an agenda. For example GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot and seriously wounded by someone "distraught" over the recent Republican electoral victory ...

Expect more, not less of this. The natural impulse of a political system in institutional crisis is to dig in. Too many institutions in the West remain decades after their birth, frozen in the moment of their creation. NASA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the university system and the United Nations rule us from the past. Public life has become a museum of memes from which nothing can escape without a mummy hand dragging the fugitive back into the darkened interior. It is perhaps no coincidence the two most popular leaders of the Western left, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, might credibly impersonate Boris Karloff. They are here to lead us back to 1968.
It is this desperate grasp to maintain the status quo of power that has led us here. They (both the GOP and the Dems) appear to be incapable of compromise and uninterested in innovative thinking. They grasp at the past as the challenges of the future go unattended. A non-politician president is demonized and under siege, ensuring that any policy he might propose gets buried by the many factions that oppose him.

Fernandez continues:
The bureaucratic model needs to be replaced by the flash mob paradigm, where eternal bureaucracies give way to the task-oriented, time-limited endeavor. As one friend of mine put it, the most amazing thing about the cathedral builders is they disbanded themselves:

Imagine the modern world recast (but with modern technology) to the middle ages guild system. Deconstruct modern corporations. It's time for them to go. You want to build something? Issue a "casting call" via an app.

"If you wanted to build a cathedral you sent out messengers far and wide: "Five year project. Room and board and competitive pay. Looking for masons, wood workers, a master builder, etc. References from your local guild required. Bring your own tools. Show up from June 15th to June 30th and we'll hire the best"

Flash mob for building a cathedral.

No Cathedral building corporation, Inc. [and certainly, no government agency]
Our modern institutions will never self-disband; that's the problem. They have become historical projects, ends in themselves, destined to fulfill some idealized future that was new in 1917. They are condemned, like Sisyphus to roll the same old rock up the same old Hill with the same old result. Of the two roads along the razor's edge our world finds itself choosing, the institutions in crisis can't pick the path to prosperity and potential. That's not in their repertoire.
Outside the two coasts, the people have sensed all of this for many years. It wasn't just Bush or Obama, although the abject failures of the latter president did create a tipping point. It wasn't just Hillary Clinton's blatant dishonesty and corrupt behavior that lost her the presidency everyone expected her to win. It was a pervading sense that no career politician coming out of either party had a clue and that words, not actions, were all that we could expect. They're all clowns.

Fernandez quotes Glen Reynolds who writes:
Watching the ongoing clown show in Washington, Americans can be forgiven for asking themselves, “Why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our nation and our lives?” ...

... the prerogative powers once exercised by English kings, until they were circumscribed after a resulting civil war, have now been reinvented and lodged in administrative agencies, even though the United States Constitution was drafted specifically to prevent just such abuses. But today, the laws that actually affect people and businesses are seldom written by Congress; instead they are created by administrative agencies through a process of “informal rulemaking,” a process whose chief virtue is that it’s easy for the rulers to engage in, and hard for the ruled to observe or influence.
As Fernandez notes, the clowns have a very limited repertoire—one that leads us into the past, not the future. For just a moment, we should all take a deep breath and ponder that reality. The clock is running and when the alarm finally goes off, it may be too late. Tick, tick, tick.

Monday, June 19, 2017


In what may be an unintentional, but nonetheless devastating critique of the blue model for state governance, Natasha Korecki of Politico discusses the slow motion train wreck that is Illinois. She writes:
Illinois has compiled $14.6 billion in unpaid bills. It’s running a deficit of $6 billion, and its pension liability has soared to $130 billion [some reports have this number much, much higher].

That’s not the worst of it. The state’s nearly two-year failure to pass a budget has sent its bond ratings careening toward junk level, downgraded a staggering eight notches below most other states.

With university enrollments plummeting, large-scale social service agencies shuttering and the Chicago Public Schools forced to borrow just to stay open through the end of this school year, Illinois is beginning to devolve into something like a banana republic — and it’s about to have the most expensive election the state has ever seen.
Exactly how does a state recover from a $130 billion pension liability? A liability that occurred because criminally (IMO) irresponsible state politicians acceded to the demands of public sector unions (who traded unrealistic pension payouts for votes). And after acceding to those demands, those same politicians refused to fund their pension liability, using the money for projects (giveaways?) that would garner additional votes.

CBS Money Watch is reporting that bankruptcy is being considered:
A financial crunch is spiraling into a serious problem for Illinois lawmakers, prompting some observers to wonder if the state might make history by becoming the first to go bankrupt. At the moment, it's impossible for a state to file for bankruptcy protection, which is only afforded to counties and municipalities like Detroit.

Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection could be extended to states if Congress took up the issue, although Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell noted in an article last year that he believed the precedents are iffy for extending the option to states. Nevertheless, Illinois is in a serious financial pickle, which is why radical options such as bankruptcy are being floated as potential solutions.

I suspect that last year IL lawmakers were comfortable in their assumption that Clinton and the Dems would be in charge of Washington when crunch time came. A bailout or special legislation allowing the state to avoid it obligations (to vendors, to bond holders, and to its citizens) were likely. But the current administration and congress make that highly unlikely. The proverbial can has reacted the end of the road.

On top of their pension problem, Illinois hasn't passed a state budget in two years—it's GOP governor at loggerheads with the Democratic State legislature. The state ranked worst among all states in the tax burden it places on its citizens with an effective rate of 14.76 percent. To put this is real numbers, IL removes $8,011 of spendable income from the median household income (over and above the federal tax burden).

I have to wonder what the most progressive members of the State legislature might recommend to solve this problem, particularly as some of them lobby for universal healthcare at a statewide level. Would it be yet another tax increase on "the rich.?" Those numbers don't add up, but in a blue state, that "solution" does have an appeal.

There's only one problem—the "rich"—that means people earning upward of $77,000 per year—are leaving the state. This wealth flight is supported by copious government data and is occurring not just in IL but in other blue states with above average tax burdens.

Politicians think that voting at the polls is the most important indicator of public acceptance of their policies. I disagree. Voting with their feet seems to be the best and most effective way for taxpayers to avoid irresponsible governance and ineffective leadership.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Three Days In

The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media were eerily quiet when a rabid leftist conducted a mass shooting attack targeting GOP congressmen and staff two days ago. The Democrats' words of condemnation, concern, and reconciliation lasted all of 36 hours, but now, they and their trained hamsters in the media have circled the wagons, suggesting that any claim that the viciousness of the #Resistance had anything to do with the attack is just playing politics.

The Associated Press (AP) is representative, publishing a piece titled "Dems bridle as some in GOP blame shooting on the left," where they write:
WASHINGTON (AP) — It didn’t take long for Washington’s post-shooting talk of unity to begin fraying.

As a top Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, lay in critical condition at a local hospital Thursday, some Republicans on the far right suggested that vitriolic rhetoric on the left could be to blame for the attack that put him there.

“How dare they say such a thing? How dare they?” retorted Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, pointing to a year of venomous attacks by Republicans including President Donald Trump.
Okay, then. As I predicted in earlier posts, the concern about unhinged actions on the part of the #Resistance didn't last 72 hours. No surprise.

John Hinderacker comments:
Anyone who thinks we have just undergone a year of “venomous attacks” by Republicans is living in an alternative universe. But hold that thought for now.
“The center of America is disappearing, and the violence is incited by the leading cultural voices of the Left,” GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa said over Twitter.

Republican Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania rose on the House floor to issue a call to “replace the hateful rhetoric and resistance with respect,” a comment seemingly aimed at an anti-Trump “Resist” movement.
Those are mild comments; milder than I would make. It is fair to say that violence has been incited by the leading cultural voices of the Left, who every evening on television call President Trump a Nazi, a fascist, a racist, a misogynist and a traitor; who denounce him in similar terms in every entertainment awards show; who were calling for his impeachment before he was inaugurated; who condone rioters who, wearing black masks, smash store windows with bricks and assault Republicans; who make it impossible for a conservative to give a speech on a college campus; who say, every day, that Republicans are trying to make everyone sick and destroy the planet; who display the president’s severed head as a trophy and enact his assassination in Central Park; and so on ad infinitum.
Just under the surface, the #Resistance movement has a patina of violence. Progressives who have associated with #Resistance live a fantasy that they're freedom fighters who are resisting the demonic forces of those who might have a different view of the world. After all, resistance fighters had every right to kill Nazis, right? And Trump is a Nazi, right? So ...

Again, Hinderacker comments:
What do the Democrats mean by “Resistance”? Obviously, they mean to evoke the resistance against Nazi Germany by the French and others. Seriously? Are they completely demented? Perhaps they are. But the French Resistance, the Norwegian Resistance, et al., didn’t rely on pamphlets and op-eds. They used firearms. Is it really a surprise that one avid Democrat took up arms to Resist on his party’s behalf? And how likely is it that more Democrats will Resist with firearms?

There is more to the AP story, but it isn’t worth much more attention. There is this:
For their part, some Republicans seem taken aback by an intensity on the left that threatens to overwhelm them in the 2018 midterm elections. Tired of being in a defensive crouch as Trump comes under attack from Democrats and the media for breeching political norms, some jumped at the opportunity to turn the tables and contend that Democrats, too, are part of the problem.
Got that? Black-masked rioters throwing rocks through bank windows and college rioters assaulting conservative speakers and students constitute “intensity on the left.” The Republicans, meanwhile, are just concerned about re-election, and are “jumping at the opportunity” to “turn the tables” and “contend that the Democrats, too”–too!!–“are part of the problem.”

The Associated Press, having set forth the position of the Democratic Party, retires for the evening, but will be back to do battle on behalf of liberalism tomorrow.
This recent incident and the Dems' current reaction to it are just another example of the Law of Holes. Whether the Dems realize it or not, they're in a deep hole and they absolutely insist on digging deeper.


The Washington elites on both the Democrat and GOP side told us that special counsel Robert Mueller was beyond reproach—a man of impeccable ethics and significant legal and investigative experience. He'd be unbiased, they told us. He'd get the job done effectively and quietly, we were informed. He'd accuse the guilty once clear and irrefutable evidence was found and exonerate the innocent. He was above reproach—a Mr. Smith-goes-to-Washington type, it was claimed. Really?

After a month on the job, we learn that:
  • Mueller and James Comey are great friends and have had a mentoring relationship for many years. No possible pro-Comey bias there, right?
  • Mueller has appointed members to his investigative staff of attorneys who were significant Democratic contributors during the last presidential campaign. I'm sure they'll be unbiased, just like the judges who were appointed by Democrats and ruled against Donald Trump 's immigration orders with flimsy or non-existent legal precedent. No conflict there, right?
  • Or more recently, who leaked the investigative inner workings of Mueller's staff to WaPO and the NYT, suggesting (in the true tradition of Joe McCarthy) that both Trump and Jared Kushner are under investigation? Is that the quiet and unbiased approach we were assured would be conducted?
I guess in Washington, DC, all of that doesn't matter. After all, the ongoing soft coup must proceed and who better to lead the way than a man with impeccable ethics. Just sayin'

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Intensity and Amplification

There has always been an edge to political discourse in the United States. The suggestion by either side that the other is somehow ill-equipped to govern, is proposing policies that will hurt the nation, or is making claims for or against some issue that are blatantly dishonest. That was the old normal.

With the election of Donald Trump, political discourse has increased in both intensity and amplification. The left-side of the political spectrum was shocked that their slam-dunk candidate lost. That in itself, created an intense reaction, but it was amplified by the victor, a man whose imprecise language, sometimes outrageous pronouncements, and politically incorrect positions outraged his opponents. And as intensity grew, so did amplification by a main stream media that was unabashedly anti-Trump, removing all semblance of objectivity and feeding unhinged and untrue story lines that caused still further intensity. It became a classic feedback loop.

A manifestation of all of this occurred yesterday, when a mentally unstable person with unquestionable leftist affinity could take the intensity no more and acted out in a violence attack against members of the GOP congressional delegation.

Daniel Henninger comments on all of this:
Donald Trump’s election has caused psychological unhingement in much of the population. But the Trump phenomenon only accelerated forces that were plummeting in this direction before the 2016 election.

Social media—a permanent marinade for the human brain—is causing a vast, mysterious transformation of how people process experience, and maybe someday a future B.F. Skinner will explain what it has done to us.

Impossible to miss, though, is how jacked up emotional intensity has become in American politics. The campaign rallies of both Mr. Trump and Bernie Sanders often sat on the edge of violence. Reporters describe political town hall meetings as full of “angry” voters. Shouting down the opposition in these forums or on campus has been virtually internalized as standard behavior. Refusal to reason is the new normal. And then the unreason is euphemized as free speech.

Explaining away these impulses as a routine turn of the populist political cycle is insufficient. Something more permanent is happening ...

We negotiate much of daily life now in tense, parallel universes: One is overflowing with individual political and social behavior that is deviant—flights from the norm—at a time when broader norms of political and social behavior are enforced with a vengeance. Today you can get shamed, sued or fired for almost any conceivable offense.

In reaction, millions of people—including the president—seem to regard social media as a kind of wildlife refuge, where they can run naked against society’s dammed-up personal and political opinions.
Henninger may be on to something when he suggests that "broader norms of political and social behavior are enforced with a vengeance." Slowly and inexorably, political correctness has limited the ability to express true feeling about everything from gender dynamics to race to the proper use of pronouns.

The Left is trapped in a web of PC rules that can become suffocating. There are those who yearn to escape the trap but also avoid the group shaming that occurs if they utter something politically incorrect. So they pick a convenient target—one not protected by PC rules of engagement, and they attack with surprising intensity. Trump and his supporters are that target. On the right, the same thing happens, but in this case, the attack is (at least today) directed at the attackers on the left.

You would think that yesterday's act of "political terrorism" (I think that term is extreme, but it is being bandied about) might cause both sides to turn down the volume, focusing on political difference, rather than personal attacks.

Sadly, I don't think that will happen. My guess is that by tomorrow or the next day, the intensity will be rejoined and the amplification will continue.

And by the way, if the #Resistance gets its wish and Trump is removed from office, the thing they can't seem to process is that another form of intensity and a frightening level of amplification will follow. None of that can be good.


It's taken less than 24 hours for the trained hamster in the mainstream media to circle the wagons to rebut allegations that a true progressive somehow perpetrated a mass shooting aimed specifically at those with who he disagreed politically. James Freeman writes:
A violent assault can leave far more than mere physical scars. And it appears that Wednesday’s attack on Republican lawmakers and their associates has proven to be particularly traumatic for the editorial page staff of the New York Times [and many other left-leaning media sources]. Symptoms exhibited by the afflicted Timesfolk include the making of assertions that have not been established as facts and a refusal to accept those that have.

To be sure, the last 24 hours have been highly stressful for progressive leftists. Creating conditions of extreme psychological discomfort are the published writings of suspected shooter James T. Hodgkinson. Among the revelations is that Hodgkinson appears to have accepted as fact virtually the entirety of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ over-the-top rhetoric about U.S. political and economic systems.

Perhaps as a coping mechanism, the New York Times now editorializes that Hodgkinson “was surely deranged, and his derangement had found its fuel in politics.” One can argue that anyone who seeks to assassinate politicians is by definition deranged. Some people might even argue that Hodgkinson’s proposal to lift marginal tax rates to “70% or more” was insane. But Hodgkinson’s mental condition has not been established.
Hodgkinson was very likely deranged, but what was the catalyst that drove him to try to commit mass murder? The left is making much of the Gabrielle Giffords mass murder in which an apolitical nut-case gunned down the Congresswoman along with six others. They were quick to grasp the flimiest of threats, accusing their demon de jour, Sarah Palin, of placing targeting gunsites on a web page that identified congressional districts that were in play. Their claims that Palin, along with other Republicans created a climate of violence were, shall we say, tenuous at best. But the media amplified their argument and it became conventional wisdom.

Freeman continues:
Because Sarah Palin is a well-known former politician, she’s in a category of people who face enormously high legal barriers to winning libel cases. This is as it should be. We want a vibrant free press to vigorously hold politicians to account and when people step into the political arena they understand that rough treatment from the media is part of the gig. But if Mrs. Palin were just another private citizen, she would sue the New York Times and she would win. As this column’s most celebrated alumnus noted in 2011, politicians of both parties were publishing similar maps about each other. And despite the New York Times’ fondest desires, it turned out Loughner wasn’t a conservative at all but a babbler of nonsense who adopted a mish-mash of views from both the left and the right and whose tastes in literature ran the gamut from Ayn Rand to Karl Marx.

If the Times followed its own unfair standards, it would now be blaming Mr. Sanders, not dredging up long-discredited smears against Mrs. Palin. But correcting the Times’ journalistic flaws can wait. The first priority must be treating the victims on its editorial page.
Sadly, we'll be back to the new normal in 24 hours. You know, the one where the unhinged Left demonizes its opponents with a level of viciousness that could very well drive other deranged followers to acts of violence. But then again, the rules for public discourse and political criticism are different for #Resistance because they reside on a higher moral plane than the rest of us.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


This morning, gunfire wounded five during a GOP softball practice in Alexandria, VA. The perpetrator has yet to be named but there are eyewitness reports via NBC that quote him as saying he wanted to "kill as many Republicans as possible." The gunman is unquestionably mentally unstable and his motivation and political affiliation (if any) have yet to be determined.

Now think back to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford and the Democrat claims that it was all because the GOP had created a climate of violence and hate. She was targeted because she was a Democrat. For weeks, the Dem's trained hamsters in the media milked that meme. To some extent, they still do.

Today, the #Resistance and their supporters in the media, the arts and entertainment are quite comfortable depicting Trump's severed head (Kathy Griffith) or his violent assassination (a play in NYC) or his plane on fire and crashing (a viral tweet accompanied by much praise). Dems continuously and hyperbolically suggest that any attempt to replace a collapsing Obamacare system will result in people's deaths (e.g., Jimmy Kimmel), or that budget cuts that facilitate tax reform will cause children to starve. They repeatedly project the calumny that Trump and his administration are colluding with the Russians and that's why Hillary Clinton lost. It goes on and on ... an attempt to "energize" the Dem base by demonizing the Dem opposition.

Hmmmm. I wonder if the Dems will have a Gabby Gifford moment and reject the "climate of violence and hate" that they have fostered?


There will, of course, be the pro forma condemnation of the gunman. There will, of course, be calls for gun control.

But will the attack on a GOP baseball practice be a warning that the unhinged rhetoric coming from Democrat party leaders, along with the #Resistance is fomenting violence against American citizens who disagree with the Leftist worldview? Will the media begin a drumbeat against such rhetoric? Will party leaders publicly ask their supporters to reduce the volume just a bit? Will congressional committees that have asked the same question 50 different ways and have yet to discover any evidence of collusion or any rational basis for obstruction of justice, say enough is enough? Will Democrat State AGs pull back their specious lawsuits that attack Trump using the Emoluments clause?

I wouldn't bet on it.


The shooter, James Hodgkinson, who was killed by security police, was decidedly rabid left-wing. The reason I mention that is that Democrats always seem to note a decidedly right-wing shooter when he kills others. But in reality, ideology takes a back seat to insanity. John Hinderacker comments:
As a general rule, it is foolish to pay attention to a “shooter’s” purported ideology. Most of them are just nuts. Maybe that is the case here too, although Mr. Hodgkinson (age 66) is not a typical, 20s-loner mass murderer. But for what it’s worth, Mr. Hodgkinson apparently is, or was until today, a perfect exemplar of liberalism; of progressivism; of the Democratic Party. Maybe that will prove relevant, maybe not. But it certainly bears mentioning.
The big questions for Democrats, progressives, and #Resistance are the ones I posed in the main body of this post. There is unquestionably a line that has been crossed—civility of any kind has disappeared replaced by spittle covered viciousness. That can be interpreted by mentally unstable people (and yes progressives, there are as many left-wing crazies as their are right-wing crazies) as a call to violent action. Ironically, the left and their trained hamsters in the media accused Trump himself of fostering violence and now—that's exactly what left-wing viciousness may be doing.

Donald Trump may be a coarse buffoon, who is prone to imprecise speech and self-inflicted damage from ill-advised tweets. But he was elected fairly and overwhelmingly (please, spare me talk about a majority vote, those are not the rules) and he is not the demonic presence that Dems and their cohorts would have us believe.

It's long past time for progressives to look inward and better understand whey their message has been rejected by this country. Stop the viciousness and with it, the violence.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


In an excellent discussion (read the whole thing) of the lengths to which the four anti-Trump constituencies have gone in their effort to destroy Donald Trump, Roger Kimball cites Niccolo Machiavelli:
In his Discourses on the first 10 books of Livy’s history of Rome, Machiavelli distinguishes between public “accusation” (la accuse), which he thinks is a healthy thing for a free republic, and “calumny” (la calunnie), which he castigates in the harshest terms.

The difference between the two turns on the above-board and public nature of the former, in contrast to the rumored-filled innuendo and envy that fuel the latter. “Accusation,” that is to to say, is based on witnesses and publicly available evidence, “calumny” on lies, half truths, and gossip. “[C]alumnies,” Machiavelli wrote, “have need neither of witnesses nor of any other specific corroboration to prove them, so that everyone can be calumniated by everyone.”

“Accusation” in Machiavelli’s sense is healthy because it acts as a check against corruption in a republic. It helps keep public officials honest. “Smith pilfered money from the public fisc. Jones and Sterling saw him do it.”

Calumny is destructive partly because it operates behind the backs of those it attacks, partly because it has in mind not the good of the republic but the advancement of those fomenting the attacks. Hence calumniators should be “punished harshly.” “How detestable calumnies are in free cities,” Machiavelli wrote: “to repress them one should not spare any order that may suit the purpose.”

The IRS scandal that occurred during the Obama administration is an example of justifiable accusation. Clear evidence indicated that the IRS was weaponized against Obama opponents. Specific groups were named, specific metrics were offered, and specific actions were documented. But the Obama administration and the IRS lied. They began by claiming that it didn't happen, then that a small group in Cincinnati was to blame, then when it did come back to Washington, the whole sordid affarir was an honest mistake. When an IRS executive involved (the infamous Lois Lerner) took the 5th in Congressional testimony, accusations, as Machiavelli notes "act[ed] as a check against corruption in a republic." Sadly, the Democrats circled the wagons, the media decided to look the other way, the IRS stonewalled requests for information, and the "check against corruption" died with a whimper—no indictments, no reforms, no nothing.

Kimball does an excellent job of discussing calumny:
As is becoming increasingly, almost embarrassingly clear, a large portion of the anti-Trump brigade is engaged in what Machiavelli called “calumny,” essentially baseless attacks against his character and behavior whose end is not the good of the republic but the destruction of Donald Trump, on the one hand, and the advancement of his attackers, on the other. The good of the republic, though sometimes appealed to as a pretext, is actually nowhere in sight.

One frequent sign that the attacks against Trump are not public “accusations” in Machiavelli’s sense but rather “calumny” is the locution “Sources say . . .” Sometimes this is emended to “Sources in the White House” [or State Department, Department of Justice, etc.], but the source is never named.

The entire “Trump-has-ties-to-Russia” meme was a fabrication of this sort. As has been endlessly rehearsed by critics of the anti-Trump phalanx, the whole story was built around anonymously sourced leaks that have been shown to be nothing but a tissue of desperate fantasy. Just one example: back on March 3, Democratic Senator Chris Coons excitedly announced that there were “transcripts” suggesting that “Russian intelligence and Senior Russian leaders, including Vladimir Putin . . . were colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence our election.” “Collusion at the highest levels,” Kemo Sabe! Two days later, Coons was walking that back: “I have no hard evidence of collusion,” he admitted. “No hard evidence”: that is wretched weenie speak for “I have no evidence at all, I just repeated a salacious rumor because it was damaging to someone I loathe and because it might help me in my grubby effort to clamber up the political ladder.”

You saw the same pattern everywhere on the Left. Screaming mendacity followed by half-hearted, mumbling semi-correction.
The calumny that Kimball describes has occurred for so so many months and and with such blatant and unapologetic intensity that it has become the new normal. It is very difficult to combat and extremely destructive of public trust in governance and the media.

In the end, I hope that the truth, not innuendo, half-truths and outright lies, will win out. As Machiavelli noted (per Kimball): "However Deceived in Generalities, Men Are Not Deceived in Particulars."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Scandal Porn

It's always instructive to read editorial opinion outside of the usual suspects at the NYT, WaPo, and WSJ. The editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal comment on last week's Comey testimony, the desperate efforts of #Resistance to find some shred of evidence of "collusion" and "obstruction of justice," even as a growing body of evidence and testimony points in the opposite direction. They write:
Last week’s congressional testimony by James Comey was thinly veiled scandal porn, the driving force in today’s Washington. The former FBI director made clear his distrust of Mr. Trump and said the president publicly lied about the reasons for his dismissal. That generated the expected headlines, but to what end? The Trump-Russia collusion brouhaha has now morphed into a feeding frenzy regarding obstruction of justice. But if Mr. Comey believed Mr. Trump had broken the law by pressuring the bureau, why didn’t he raise any concerns with the attorney general? Why didn’t he push back? Why didn’t he resign?

He offered no plausible explanation — and, in fact, told the Senate committee that nothing the president did had impeded the FBI’s probe. He also confirmed Mr. Trump’s assertion that the president was never a target of any investigation. As far as obstruction is concerned, as much as CNN hopes to hang the Watergate tag on the Trump administration, this remains a rallying cry in search of evidence.

As noted attorney Alan Dershowitz, no fan of the president, put it last week, while Mr. Comey’s testimony “may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.”
Scandal porn—what an apt description of the unhinged behavior of the four constituencies that want to see Trump gone. The central porn stars are the Democrats, who will do anything to satisfy the fantasies of their progressive base, titillating them with baseless allegations and stimulating them with unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo. The mainstream media sits behind the camera, salivating as it records the scandal porn, never letting on that the orgasms are fake. And finally, the Republican elites who profess to abhor porn, but secretly take a peak now and then, enjoying what they see just a little too much.

But Donald Trump is also a supporting actor in the scandal porn. Again from the LVRJ:
Make no mistake: Donald Trump tries the patience of even his most ardent defenders. A dose of discipline and humility would go a long way toward helping him survive the cresting onslaught. Mr. Trump instinctively seems to relish controversy, pouring kerosene on the embers to admire the flames. Instead of letting Democrats wear themselves out as they scurry from rat hole to rat hole in search the next indignation, Mr. Trump takes to social media and stokes the blaze. Following Mr. Comey’s appearance on Capitol Hill, the president unleashed a taunting tweet calling him a liar and a “leaker.”

It’s true that Mr. Trump didn’t beat Hillary Clinton by heeding traditional political advice. He doubtless attributes his rise to the Oval Office in part to his Twitter savvy and his ability to manipulate and frustrate the press, meaning he’s unlikely to change his unconventional behavior in that regard. The problem is, he’s no longer campaigning. The distractions in which he revels severely limit his ability to fulfill the promises that resonated with red state voters.
And therein lies the rub. Over 60 million U.S citizens voted for Trump, not scandal porn. They wanted a change; they wanted to see someone talk straight about everything from the economy to the threat of Islamic terrorism; they recognized that Washington, DC is a fetid swamp and they wanted to see it drained (sadly, that's also a fantasy), and they wanted a leader who did put their own country first.

If Trump remains a scandal porn actor, he'll accomplish little—and that's too bad. Because when you cut through the dumb tweets, the obnoxious bluster, the outrageous and ill-advised statements, Donald Trump has some solid ideas which would help this country regain its footing after eight disastrous years under Democrat rule.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Comey Testimony

With great fanfare, James Comey testifies today before a Senate committee using his own memos, written after meetings had occurred as "evidence" of supposed wrong-doing by Donald Trump. Needless to say, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media accept these memos as if they were delivered from on high. They, along with other members of the four constituencies, will cluck their tongues, frown in deep concern, and declare that Trump obstructed justice (he obviously did not—the Russian investigation proceeds without a hitch). Regardless of the facts, testimony and common sense, four constituencies are undeterred in their slow motion coup attempt.

Conservative blogger "Neo-Neocon" asks a set of quite reasonable question that should have been asked—and answered— by the vaunted "journalists" at the NYT and WaPo after they posted stories about these memos a few months ago. They weren't asked then, but they should be asked right now. Here are the questions:
Since most or all of this is based on memos rather than transcripts or recordings, and those memos have been read to the reporters over the phone [presented to the committees in open session] without being seen, how does that work? Is this unprecedented in terms of constituting the basis of a major news story by a supposedly reputable periodical? Do “officials” write these memos—supposedly containing direct quotes—from memory? Even if the person is trying to get it right (and we have no idea whether that’s the case here, or whether the person is lying through his/her teeth), when you’re dealing with a memo written after the fact, how can it be verified? Should anyone rely on memory for something as slippery as a quote? I certainly wouldn’t trust that process, even if things are being recalled in good faith, and of course we have no way to evaluate whether this memo was originally written in good faith.

Was the person reading the memo the same person who wrote the memo? How is the newspaper purporting to authenticate the memo without seeing it (for that matter, how would they authenticate such a thing even if they did see it?) Is it just that they implicitly trust their informant? And if so, why would they? With the publication of information from an anonymous informant, they are asking us to trust them, the media (and why should we?) and an unnamed informant to deliver the truth.
Whenever a government official testified in a manner that indicated that Trump, although possibly ham-handed in his meetings with them, did NOT obstruct justice or materially interfere with their work, the four constituencies refuse to accept that testimony, hoping that a smoking gun will appear out of the ether. This comment from Jonathan Tobin:
Is President Trump guilty of obstruction of justice? Not if you take the nation’s three top security officials and former FBI Director James Comey at their word — something Senate Democrats refuse to do.

The headlines about Comey’s opening statement, which he’ll give in person [today] but which was released Wednesday afternoon, focus on his claim that Trump asked him to “let it go” with respect to a criminal probe of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lies about his conversations with the Russians.

But the very same opening statement indicates that even now, after he has been fired by Trump, Comey is still unwilling to assert that he took anything Trump said as an effort to hinder “the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.”

Much the same was heard from National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers and Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe when they testified Wednesday. Though all rightly refused to discuss confidential conversations about classified subjects and ongoing investigations with the president in a public forum, all three are on record as saying Trump hasn’t tried to undermine their work.
But the four constituencies are obsessed with undoing Trump, despite growing evidence that he did nothing wrong. And for those who argue that he demanded loyalty from government official. Do they honestly believe that past presidents didn't do the same thing? The only difference is that those presidents weren't the targets of a soft coup in which every leak, regardless of its veracity, makes the front pages and headlines the evening newscast.

The general public understands all of this and for the most part is tuning it all out.


Roger Simon comments on the on-going Comey Testimony:
... what's really going on here? "Fear and loathing," as the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would say, mixed with envy, contempt and the unbridled lust for power. The actors, bad ones in this instance, known as U.S. senators, are grandstanding for the most obvious of reasons -- to prevent Trump from governing and getting any of his programs enacted. This is particularly true of the Democrats who are out to get the president at any cost, even when he is advocating for things that they might have, or indeed have, advocated for themselves on numerous occasions. That's how corrupt they are. But it's worse, because the Democratic scandals like the seemingly swept-under-the-rug misuse of the IRS by the Obama administration are far more dangerous to our republic, not to mention criminal, than any of this who-said-what-to-whom silliness. That any Republicans are going along with this absurd dog-and-pony show is in itself mindboggling. But they are. (This should not be forgotten.)

Almost everyone knows this whole investigation is a fraud -- that if there were a Trump-Russia connection of any substance it would have been uncovered months ago -- but they continue and continue... by any means necessary.

So what you are watching in the Senate hearings on Thursday -- if you are watching (and I'm not sure you should) -- amidst the unending parsing of words, repetition of questions asked a hundred times before, and tedious media recaps of information readily available last August is an absolute waste of U.S. taxpayer time and money. Every second spent on this interminable nonsense is a second that could be spent infinitely more productively solving one of the nation's and the world's increasingly serious problems.
Critical thinking is in short supply. Everything Trump has been leaked by anti_Trump forces in the government. For god's sake, they leaked the fact that he demanded two soft drinks when his dinner guests got one! And that was a BIG story.

Can any rational person believe that if there was evidence of collusion or obstruction or whatever, it would have been leaked to the NYT of WaPo or CNN, or ABC or any other anti-Trump media organization long before now. There's only one reason why there have been no substantive "smoking gun" leaks. Because there is no evidence of wrong-doing -- none.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


It is just me, or is all the outrage coming from the Left getting just a bit tedious?

Doesn't matter the subject — the budget, the Russians, Trump's staff (with particular emphasis recently on Jared Kushner), climate change, Trump's tweets, James Comey, women's issues, tax reform, NATO, immigration, entitlements, Islamophobia, and, of course, healthcare. It's wall-to-wall outrage with "activists" staging demonstrations that are often as destructive as they are ridiculous, and the #Resistance is doing everything possible to shout down elected representatives at town hall meetings while suggesting that an elected president be impeached because ... Trump.

Following the age-old wisdom of the parable about the boy who cried wolf, when it's OUTRAGE all of the time, it's outrage none of the time.

Progressives' shock at losing a 'gimme' election has gone through five stages: sadness, disbelief, anger, viciousness, and now, outrage. In many cases, the Democratic base is suffering from all five stages at once. You'll note that appropriate stages like acceptance, self-reflection, and cooperation (where appropriate) simply aren't part of the process. So, it's outrage, 24-7.

But maybe there more to the outrage than that. Most progressives align themselves with other elite progressives in politics, the media, and the arts, and all lay claim to a special morality that allows them to propose progressive solutions to the problems we face.* When others question the wisdom or practicality of those solutions, the elites and their followers tend to lash out, demonizing the person who has the temerity to question their positions. Richard Fernandez addresses this when he writes:
... elites are on the defensive because their stock of knowledge, so useful in the past, is now ineffectual against the present chaos. This helplessness has the effect of lowering their status, as with a priesthood faced with the manifest futility of their rites. Legitimacy is based on working magic, and the wizardry is faltering.
Hence, the outrage. Their "magic" and "wizardry" are under attack and they really don't like it.

Here's the problem for progressives elites. The country rejected their policies after eight years of experiencing them. During that time they lost close to 1,000 elections at the federal, state and local levels—1000! That simple fact contains a deep message, but it also requires critical thinking to decode it. It demands analysis, adaptation, realism (the rejection of fantasy thinking), and finally, humility. Those four characteristics appear to be in short supply among the outraged.

There's something called the Law of Holes. Wikipedia defines in in the following manner:
The first law of holes, or the law of holes, is an adage which states that "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging". Meaning that if in an untenable position, it is best to stop carrying on and exacerbating the situation.
It's possible that progressives have never heard of the Law of Holes, and if they have, reject it because they truly believe that they have a monopoly on what is moral and right. So, they keep digging, getting more outraged over issues both little and big.

Here's the thing. Most people are no longer listening as the shrill voices of the outraged echo off the walls of a hole that keeps getting deeper.


In an fascinating exploration of some of the comments made by progressive opinion leaders who now argue that liberal "condescension" toward the "deplorables" is doing the Democratic party no good, William McGurn (read the whole thing) provides example after example of the advice progressive writers are giving to other progressives. To wit, this question from a writer at Slate who was interviewing Joan C. Willams (an lawyer and activist who "has worked her whole adult life on gender bias") on the topic of liberal condescension. The interviewer asks:
“What attitude should we be taking toward people who voted for a racist buffoon who is scamming them?”
You just can't make this stuff up!

McGurn comments:
Ms. Williams, a University of California law professor who has written a new book on the white working class, generously avoids telling her interviewer he is a perfect instance of the problem. But the larger progressive dilemma here is that contempt is baked into the identity politics that defines today’s Democratic Party.

When Mrs. Clinton labeled Trump voters deplorable (“racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it”) she was simply following identity politics to its logical conclusion. Because identity politics transforms those on the other side of the argument—i.e., Americans who are pro-life, who respect the military, who may work in the coal industry—from political opponents into oppressors.
The hole gets deeper every day.


* It would be unfair to omit the fact that there are many conservative elites who think that their positions are also unassailable. The neocons sold us on the notion that we could democratize the Islamic states of the Middle East—purple thumbs and all. That has not worked out well. They were dead wrong. Now they are horrified by the election of Donald Trump, sniffing at his tweets, encouraging and sometimes contributing to the soft coup attempt that is ongoing, and smirking as he struggles to govern. Funny though that their governance, although certainly more effective than the brand offered by the previous administration, was still flawed in a variety of fundamental ways.