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Updated: 2017-03-29T23:25:37Z

 



How Democrats Want to Intimidate Nunes Off the Intel Committee

2017-03-29T23:25:37Z

This is Susan Hennessey, a former lawyers for the NSA, talking about classified information and leaks: The way the system works is that it is classified until there is an affirmative decision to declassify it. So a leak or public disclosure doesn’t declassify it, and it doesn’t allow people who are aware of it to […]

This is Susan Hennessey, a former lawyers for the NSA, talking about classified information and leaks:

The way the system works is that it is classified until there is an affirmative decision to declassify it. So a leak or public disclosure doesn’t declassify it, and it doesn’t allow people who are aware of it to then discuss it publicly.

This is Kafka, pure and simple. The context of Hennessey’s quote is Chairman Nunes and whether his acknowledgement in his press conference of the fact that there is a FISA surveillance warrant related to the documents he saw on the White House grounds, is itself an unauthorized release of classified information.

Get it? The administrative state, or the bureaucracy or whatever you want to call it, has been leaking without pause in what is most likely an attempt to frustrate, thwart and perhaps even destabilize the Trump administration. And Nunes mentions that there is a FISA warrant in existence somewhere out there, and he may now be subject to an investigation?

Another edifying quote from the story in The Daily Beast, (where else?):

The existence or non-existence of a FISA warrant is a classified fact.

This courtesy of Bradley Moss, a lawyer specializing in classification. The point isn’t that Chairman Nunes may have fumbled a fine point. That will surely come out, especially with a little help from Democrats under co-Chairman Schiff’s oh-so-benevolent guidance. Who now are likely to launch an ethics committee investigation.

And that’s the main point. Nunes is being intimidated by any lawyerly squeezing and media-shaming necessary in order to push him off the intelligence committee and let Schiff conduct a witch hunt of anyone in the Trump administration who may have talked to Russians. And protect the leakers in, around, and throughout the beltway bureaucracy.

How will the GOP fight back? Well, expect Nunes to hold his ground. With something less than full support from GOP senators like Graham and McCain, who have once again been quick to criticize where they see an opportunity to embarrass the president.

Of course, Graham and McCain might just be right. Maybe the House Intelligence Committee is now dysfunctional due in large part to partisan maneuvering. And in fact, the Senate Intelligence Committee has just announced that it has drawn up a list of 20 “people” – at least they didn’t say “suspects” – to be interviewed in the coming days. Senators Burr and Warner told the media they will go wherever the facts lead them. Side by side. Sturdy, dependable, senior and wise, and bipartisan. We hope.

While yet another House failure occurs. Is the House burning down? While the Senate takes up the task of governing?




Can Process Ever Bridge This Divide on Healthcare?

2017-03-28T00:14:20Z

Reconciliation. Senate Parliamentarian. The Byrd Rule. As President Trump has found out, process is a fetish in Washington D.C. And of course, now there are indignant howls from critics on the right about how process was botched by Ryan, Price, and The White House. You should have moved slower. You should have held more meetings. […]Reconciliation. Senate Parliamentarian. The Byrd Rule. As President Trump has found out, process is a fetish in Washington D.C. And of course, now there are indignant howls from critics on the right about how process was botched by Ryan, Price, and The White House. You should have moved slower. You should have held more meetings. You should have taken more notes. You should have especially taken notes when Freedom Caucus members of Congress talked at those theoretical meetings. You should have followed the norms of process! (apologies for the tautology). See what happens when you don’t spend at least a year?! Joe Klein at the Washington Examiner, for example, gazes back fondly at how the Obama administration handled and manipulated and fondled and rammed the Affordable Care Act through Congress with nary a GOP vote. Ramming slowly it seems is best when it comes to healthcare in America. Other critics are demanding that the process be more transparent next time. Transparent ramming. Done slowly. Now that’s process! Wonderful. Conservative critics are lambasting the Trump administration for not being more like the Obama administration when it comes to how they manage the legislative process for healthcare legislation. But here’s the problem. Or at least, here’s one of main questions that arise from the smoldering ashes of the GOP’s quick-march to the exits on AHCA: has the substance of healthcare policy become so divisive that no process in 21st century America can cover the enormous divide between a moderate GOP member of congress and a House Freedom Caucus member? Never mind Bernie supporters and their push for Canadian-style universal coverage. Everyone is very eager to remind poor President Trump how complex healthcare policy is. But why is that the case? Isn’t the complexity all about covering up the harsh trade-offs that must be made when any democratic legislature has to put together a broad healthcare plan? Cheap, available, good quality. You get 2 of 3 at best. But why tell voters that? Theoretical solutions flourish like so many weeds, each cultivated by an eager over-informed wonk who just knows she or he has the solution to all that ails America’s healthcare system. But every one of those individual theoretical solutions would have an impossible chance of ever being the basis of a successfully propagated piece of legislation, signed into law by the president. It’s about aggregating the trade-offs between competing players with conflicting interests. And that is becoming an almost impossible task. Yes, Obama managed to do it, but barely and with loads of goodwill. And he sank his own party as a result. Insurance companies vs. doctors vs. hospitals vs patients vs state governments vs House members vs Senators vs Senior administration officials vs HHS bureaucrats vs FDA vs big pharma vs large employers with benefit plans vs small to mid-size employers vs independent workers vs young people vs wealthier older people vs poorer older people vs veterans. Healthcare in America has become the planet’s most elaborate entitlement scheme, a jigsaw puzzle that’s always a few pieces short of being finished. Or falling apart. It could be – and is by some – viewed as catastrophe insurance. It could be – and is by some – viewed as a universal right. But maybe the only way to resolve it will be to devolve down to the state level. And let individual states internally fight and bargain to find their own solutions. But for now, don’t expect any big plans for a new health policy by the GOP. Too tough a puzzle to solve. For just about anyone. Let alone a bipartisan congressional comm[...]



Rare Political Self-Conversions

2017-03-28T13:18:52Z

Rare Political Self-Conversions   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   It’s been said that the American electorate can be divided into three roughly equal parts: 1/3 that pays virtually no attention to politics and policy, and if they vote, they either vote by habit or by whatever impression happened to catch their attention […]Rare Political Self-Conversions   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   It’s been said that the American electorate can be divided into three roughly equal parts: 1/3 that pays virtually no attention to politics and policy, and if they vote, they either vote by habit or by whatever impression happened to catch their attention 1/3 that are somewhat attentive, and have a rudimentary understanding of issues and the candidates’ stances 1/3 that are rabidly attentive and involved, active in supporting and campaigning for their chosen causes A strong case can be made that for the last two groups—the 2/3 that identify with a Party and an ideology—are very often are born into and grow up with a “baked in” voting ideology. It’s a rare occurrence that an individual makes a 180° ideological turn from their upbringing and converts to the “other side.” There are two demographic groups in particular that are reliable Democratic voters, mainly because of their upbringing and environment: Jews and African-Americans. For Jews, cultural/ethnic considerations play a large role in their liberalism. In his book “Why Are Jews Liberal?” author Norman Podhoretz posits that in the mid-20th Century, Jewish immigrants from Europe were drawn to American liberals, who had a kinder, more welcoming feel than the hard-hearted governments of Europe from which many Jews fled. This caused European Jews to identify with American liberals—Democrats—even though Jewish family tradition and culture is at least as close to modern-day Conservatism as it is to current Liberalism. The Conservative-leaning tenets of completing higher education and striving for significant achievement in respected, high-paying professional fields (law, medicine, finance, business, etc.) are staples of American Jewish life. Indeed, the humorous American Jewish clichés of, “You’ll go to college, you’ll get a good job, you’ll make us proud!” and “My son, the doctor!” are directly and accurately reflective of this. Yet the Jewish vote since 1960 has been reliably around 80% Democratic. The only exception is the outlier year of 1980, when Ronald Reagan beat the hapless Jimmy Carter. But even that year, Carter won the Jewish vote 45-39%. African-Americans tend to be an even more monolithic voting bloc than American Jews, siding somewhere around 90% with the Democrats. When President Obama ran in 2008, being the country’s first Black Presidential candidate, he garnered around 96% of the African-American vote. President Trump, having made a concerted effort to address that bloc with his now-famous “What have you got to lose?” line, managed to reduce that number by Hillary Clinton to about 88%, which is still an overwhelmingly lopsided figure. The reasons surrounding the African-American community’s current status in modern American culture are complicated, without question, and difficult to pin down to just a few obvious causes. The long-term systemic prejudice and discrimination that has operated to their detriment in all aspects of American society are well documented and need not be recounted here. The reaction to these wrongs has been the creation and implementation of numerous Government “solutions,” be it welfare, Affirmative Action, various tax and grant programs (ostensibly open to any group but in reality targeted to minorities), and the like. The efficacy of such programs and entitlements is not the issue here. However, it can be convincingly argued that the very existence of—and indeed, expansion of—Government handout programs has contributed to a motivation-reducing entitlement mentality among [...]



Obamacare – It’s Still Alive!!

2017-03-24T23:16:40Z

It’s still here. The Affordable Care Act has been taken off the operating table; Doctor Price and Doctor Ryan (yes only one of them is a real doctor) have taken off their scrubs and headed home after a presser or two. And The President did not look nearly as disappointed as the Speaker of the […]

It’s still here. The Affordable Care Act has been taken off the operating table; Doctor Price and Doctor Ryan (yes only one of them is a real doctor) have taken off their scrubs and headed home after a presser or two. And The President did not look nearly as disappointed as the Speaker of the House, after the vote was called off this Friday afternoon. By the President on advice of the Speaker. Or by the Speaker on advice of the President. Or something like that.

So as the patient with ACA on its hospital wrist band is suddenly given leave to head out the sliding doors pf the hospital and wander through the cities and towns of America, the question becomes: is it a zombie just waiting until its head explodes? And until it scatter its broken pieces around every state of the union? Or is it really kinda healthy and therefore there are many people glad that Obamacare is … still alive!!

President Trump did indeed state at various points during the electoral campaign that he thought perhaps the best thing would have been to let Obamacare collapse until there was no option left but to have a bipartisan bill that was able to clean up the mess of exiting insurance companies, skyrocketing premiums, and high deductibles. Now the president has had his wish come true.

Did President Trump invest political capital in Ryan’s AHCA? Of course he did. Quite a lot. We’ll see exactly how much as the weeks and months pass and Congress and the White House move on to attempt tax reform and infrastructure spending. But the tax savings that would have, theoretically at least, been achieved with the AHCA will now not be there to fund a program of tax cuts.

Plus the wounds and scars of a failed attempt at passing a major piece of legistlation – how about just getting it out of one of the houses of Congress, never mind actually passing it – will also make cooperation between GOP members of Congress a lot more prickly as they try to pivot and “roll forward” in the optimistically steely words of Texas’ Kevin Brady.

But the really noteworthy aspect of this first major failure for the Trump Administration and the GOP Congress is that the president seems more than willing to work with Democrats. Once Obamacare becomes manifestly unsustainable, that is. He said as much in his brief press conference in the Oval Office, shortly after Speaker Ryan had given his.

Would Senator Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi, be interested in sitting down with President Trump? Right now, one doubts that very much. But it could happen. It depends on how much salt they decide to rub into the wounds. And how any attempt at a bipartisan reform of healthcare in America gets framed. Would it be fixing the flaws in Obamacare? A little nip and tuck here and there so the zombie looks nicer?

Or would it be a case of digging in that scalpel and going for the bone? Maybe some amputations. Artificial limbs. A new head. For example. Or how about burying the zombie once and for all? Sorry, Chuck and Nancy can’t do that. Can they? Neither can Colins and Murkowski. And it may be that a clear majority of voters want some sort of a healthcare entitlement zombie alive and walking the streets of America. As of now, they have their wish.




FBI Investigations: an Epic Battle to Shape Narratives

2017-03-23T18:16:27Z

Comey filled the Potomac riverbanks with fog. Now Devan Nunes has unleashed some rocking dry ice to really help clear things up. The GOP Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee held a press conference after briefing the White House (and not his colleagues in Congress) where he stated that “incidental” surveillance of Trump’s campaign team […]

Comey filled the Potomac riverbanks with fog. Now Devan Nunes has unleashed some rocking dry ice to really help clear things up. The GOP Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee held a press conference after briefing the White House (and not his colleagues in Congress) where he stated that “incidental” surveillance of Trump’s campaign team was collected in November, December and January. The investigation was a legal one (that surely means FISA approved) and targeted foreign nationals. But the investigation(s?) were not on Trump’s team’s possible coordination or collusion with Russian actors. He thinks at least.

The information was leaked to Nunes by intel operatives who were concerned that this information should be given to his committee. In other words, those rumors last summer of a war inside the FBI between senior leadership and lower to mid level officials might have just been accurate. This seems to be a pushback, perhaps from FBI officials (although it might have come from several possible agencies) against Comey’s penchant for secrecy.

Does this prove that President Trump was at least half-right when he tweeted about being spied on by Obama’s administration? Not really. This seems to be incidental data – but we’ll just have to take Nunes word for it right now – obtained by an investigation targeting other people. But it is hardly reassuring, for any of the actors involved: The FBI and the intel community at large, Trump’s associates like Manafort and Stone, and the president himself.

Watergate had one deep throat, who of course, we know now was a senior FBI official. We now have legions of deep throats leaking continuously.

Trump Towers (despite sounding like a cheesy mid-80’s soap, it’s more a post-modern free for all) has become an epic battle for the control of narratives. By powerful people/groups mostly in the government. Who all have a vested interest in this confusing affair. Is Director Comey brave and resolute? Or defiant, arrogant and controlling? Is Manafort an unlucky scapegoat in an attempt to impeach a populist president the elites hate? Or is he a dubious hustler who has been in the pay of oligarchs and autocrats? Does the president honestly (and disturbingly) admire Putin? Or are there further interests at play? For the most part, we don’t know.

While there is more evidence in Manafort’s case, there is still mostly suggestion and smoke and precious little light in this investigation. There is an attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare that is hanging in the balance. Tax cuts and regulatory peelback await. Infrastructure spending? Jobs and manufacturing? Jobs are happening of themselves. But it would sure help if a few policies to encourage spending and growth in America were put in place.

And oh yes, a Supreme Court nominee is likely to find the rest of his hearings much nastier than the opening salvos fired by Democrats. One of the more aggressive attacks by liberal Democrats is the claim that Russia stole the election and also that the GOP “stole” Garland’s seat. The first claim is false in almost any reasonable sense. The second claim also patently untrue. But who can tell with all this fog?

Expect Gorsuch to be asked more absurd questions about Russians and impeachment. And not just by people like Senator Graham.




Gorsuch Hearings Are About Partisan Baiting and Soundbite Fishing

2017-03-22T17:31:42Z

How far is Senator Schumer willing to push these hearings? As every response of Gorsuch, and the question that brought about Gorsuch’s response, is parsed and commented on, the main question is how politicized are the Democrats willing to make these hearings? Because much – if not almost all – of their questioning has been […]

How far is Senator Schumer willing to push these hearings? As every response of Gorsuch, and the question that brought about Gorsuch’s response, is parsed and commented on, the main question is how politicized are the Democrats willing to make these hearings?

Because much – if not almost all – of their questioning has been about the political consequences of applying the law in cases Judge Gorsuch as ruled on. Not whether the law was faithfully applied. The Kansas professor battling cancer for example. One can argue about how politicized confirmation hearings were in past times, but clearly Congress is reaching a new low water mark here.

And much of their base – the left that is – is demanding they do this. It’s not about Judge Gorsuch’s abilities as a judge, which have been roundly praised by almost anyone who has had dealings with the judge. No. It’s about his views – or the assumptions made about what his views are or might be – that matters.

Aren’t they just being honest? The Democrats that is. Of course he’s pro-life, pro-gun rights, favors religious freedom, and does not view business as guilty until proven innocent through the flaying purgatory of high taxes and detailed regulation. That’s why he was nominated. He’s a conservative who will – if and when appointed to the Supreme Court – take Scalia’s place on the bench and ensure America doesn’t have a liberal-leaning SCOTUS. That’s the whole point.

Isn’t it?

Not quite. Yes the administration wants a conservative justice. But you need both of those words. A conservative economist? A conservative talk-radio host? A conservative judge from the lower courts whose rulings have been conflicted and who has been accused of corruption or having submitted to influence-peddling? No one would suggest any of these examples are anything but ridiculous.

You need an eminently qualified jurist. That seems obvious, but when partisan litmus tests – like the ones Senator Schumer has been pushing for Congress to adopt – become the whole point of any hearing, then any nominees ability as a judge becomes secondary. A distant second.

Yes, what should matter is a judge’s philosophy. Her or his view of how the constitution should be read and the law applied, based on that philosophical view. But her or his ability to follow the law faithfully as a judge has to be front and center. Congress – especially these hearings – is more of a red-meat circus with lion tamers poking the animals in their eye. Like Senator Franken, defender of Colorado sheep and lame sarcasm.

So human-interest stores and partisan grilling that pretends to be lawyerly is what the hearings become. Somehow, Congress has to ensure that a qualified Supreme Court Justice emerges from all this partisan baiting, and soundbite fishing. It’s getting harder every time.




Is the Woman in Trump an Islamophobe?

2017-03-17T22:26:23Z

Unless District Judge Derrick Watson of Honolulu is a really, really fast judge when it comes to thinking on and writing up rulings, he had this one locked and loaded in his chamber for at least a week or so. Perhaps since the very day the revised executive order on the travel ban came out. […]

Unless District Judge Derrick Watson of Honolulu is a really, really fast judge when it comes to thinking on and writing up rulings, he had this one locked and loaded in his chamber for at least a week or so. Perhaps since the very day the revised executive order on the travel ban came out. That’s because his 43 page ruling was delivered about two hours after a request for a temporary restraining order by the State of Hawaii. Now that’s fast!

And rather than dithering on silly things like possible economic harm to the great state of Hawaii – although that was part of the request, naturally – he went straight to the heart of the matter. He doesn’t like what Trump said during the campaign about banning Muslim migrants to America. Religious animus. Get used to those two words. If Judge Watson and his colleagues in the 9th circuit and elsewhere have their way, religious animus and the Establishment Clause (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …) shall be the main litmus test for any policy that has anything to do with immigration.

Animus is defined as either:

  • hostility or ill-feeling OR
  • the motivation to do something

But don’t let’s stop there, please. According to Carl Jung’s analytical psychology:

The anima and animus can be identified as the totality of the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a man possesses, OR the masculine ones possessed by a woman …

There can therefore only be one conclusion if you follow Judge Watson’s logic – which is that Trump, while campaigning, had betrayed religious animus in both senses of the word towards Muslims everywhere on the planet and the travel ban must be stayed forever. And that conclusion is: the woman in Trump is an islamophobe.

Silly you say? Well yes, it kinda is. Isn’t it?

Because the notion that the revised travel ban is unconstitutional cannot stand on any true legal ground. So why bother? Go straight for Jung. Use psychology. Use media stories, headlines, and soundbites. Because that is the raw data that Judge Watson’s ruling is grounded on. Wallow in Trump’s animus. Maybe surf?

But leaving the waters of psychology and returning to the law, even a passionate Trump critic like David Frum – writing in The Atlantic – clearly recognizes that Judge Watson is essentially globalizing the First Amendment as Frum puts it. Provided that any religious group has adherents residing (legally?) in the U.S. then they are afforded constitutional protections. American constitutional rights.

But should this judicial overreach shock? Isn’t it merely identity politics celebrated by activist, progressive law making? Isn’t that what any progressive wants? The First Amendment everywhere? Or at least using the First Amendment as an excuse for identity politics: Trump white male bad; Unvetted Muslims in Syria good. Isn’t that what the U.N. – shameful hypocrites – claim they want? A district judge in Hawaii can save the world from President Trump!

Maybe not. This is headed to the Supreme Court. And in the end, this decision will be found wanting. Legally. Constitutionally. And psychologically.




Standing Tall in the Weeds of Healthcare

2017-03-16T21:22:21Z

If the GOP used to be divided between conservatives and moderates, but is now divided between libertarians and populists, then any legislation as important as the AHCA is next to impossible to achieve. Or at least very, very difficult. Democrats don’t even need to be part of this tower of babel. Although they can’t resist […]If the GOP used to be divided between conservatives and moderates, but is now divided between libertarians and populists, then any legislation as important as the AHCA is next to impossible to achieve. Or at least very, very difficult. Democrats don’t even need to be part of this tower of babel. Although they can’t resist joining in, naturally. Speaker Ryan’s AHCA will have to modified to have a reasonable chance of passing both Houses of Congress. But in which direction? President Trump – in other words – has to decide what philosophy he wants to support as he uses his executive weight to convince, persuade, and threaten enough House members and every single GOP senator to sign off on the bill. A GOP conservative perspective, make that a libertarian perspective, admits that more people will be uninsured as a result of repeal. But with taxes, mandates, penalties, regulations, and subsidies eliminated or drastically reduced, private market solutions will drive down premiums and force providers and insurers to create innovative solutions across state lines. And in the end, there may not be anywhere near the number of newly uninsured patients that CBO estimates predict there will be as result of repeal. A true populist – on the other hand – wants adequate, or better, coverage for just about everyone who is a legal resident of America. That is one tiny step from single-payer universal coverage. The means might differ, but the goals are the same as Bernie Sander’s vision of a socialized American healthcare system. How the heck do you bridge those two views? When they are essentially inside of the same party? Yes, that’s pushing the populist perspective of Trump Democrats, for example, who basically want Obamacare to be fixed and do not trust its top-heavy centralized system of mandates and penalties. But their views are a long, long way from Senators Paul, Cruz, and Lee. Who does President Trump listen to, as he decides how to push the as-yet-to-be amended version of Speaker Ryan’s AHCA through Congress? So far, he seems to be more concerned with getting Paul’s, Cruz’s, and Lee’s votes. Repeal as completely as possible now. And then replace with something as conservative, or libertarian, as possible in a month or two. Maybe. Perhaps. Could the president pivot towards a more populist healthcare proposal? Throughout his campaign, he was clear that he was no conservative when it comes to healthcare. His newfound sympathy for conservative/libertarian concerns is something fairly recent, and definitely post-election. Of course, being a businessman who worries about costs, it would have been fairly straightforward for members of his administration – once they moved into the White House – to lay out some of the unfunded liabilities associated with the ACA. as well as Medicaid and Medicare. That might have helped turn the president. With healthcare, especially this bill, once you get down in the policy weeds, it’s hard to ever come back up for air and a little perspective. The amount of commentary and policy ideas clash and conflict over differing perspectives on what healthcare insurance actually means. And then what to do, given your view of what health insurance is. In the end, President Trump will have to expend precious political capital – which he clearly has right now in greater amounts than many critics realize – on legislation which Democrats will try to hang around his presidency. Some want [...]



Landmines in Obamacare Replacement

2017-03-12T16:04:02Z

Landmines Abound for Republicans in Obamacare Replacement   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Now that Republicans control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, the process of Obamacare repeal and replacement has begun in earnest. Once the ACA is formally, officially repealed, the Republicans will “own” the healthcare issue and […]Landmines Abound for Republicans in Obamacare Replacement   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Now that Republicans control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, the process of Obamacare repeal and replacement has begun in earnest. Once the ACA is formally, officially repealed, the Republicans will “own” the healthcare issue and the pressure will be on for them to deliver something better than Obamacare. As the alternatives for a new Act fly back and forth, the obvious trap for Republicans is crafting a piece of health legislation that is actually better, not merely different. Wider coverage, easier access, more provider choices, lower costs, more provider accountability, less wasted mandated coverage (no maternity coverage for post-menopausal women, for example), no religious/moral/Government mandate conflicts, etc. The list of must-have items for a successful replacement plan is long. Crafting a plan that satisfies all those requirements is a monumental task and will likely take several iterations past this initial effort. However, regardless of the details of the actual replacement plan, gaining widespread public acceptance and overcoming structural anti-Republican bias is going to be at least as big a challenge as crafting the legislation itself. There are three essential public relations issues with the Republican alternative to Obamacare that are problematic, any one of which by itself could spell doom in terms of widespread public acceptance. All three together mean disaster. Obamacare is President Obama’s “signature domestic achievement” as they call it. It’s his crowning glory. Supporters claim it comes closer to providing universal health care than anything that has come before. it’s President Obama’s achievement. He personally gets the credit for it. His supporters and cheerleaders love this, and do not want his so-called legacy jeopardized by having it dismantled. To repeal it will leave millions without medical coverage in the immediate short term, and because of the potential administrative and logistical time lag before a replacement plan is in place, millions may fall through the cracks and be left without any workable, affordable coverage whatsoever. Republicans must deal with this quickly and effectively. The liberal mainstream media is virulently anti-Republican/anti-Trump and is loathe to run stories that cast either the President or Republicans in a good light. These media outlets include not only the traditional liberal media like the broadcast networks, major papers like the NY Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe, cable news like CNN, MSNBC, but also social media sources like Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which has been exposed for downplaying conservative stories, and the supposedly “neutral” Internet resources like Snopes, a “fact-finding” site which has been caught multiple times putting forth a liberally-sympathetic version of the facts and being very slow to change when the conservative-favoring side of the story proves to be true. Any proposed Republican alternative to Obamacare, regardless of its actual merits, will be dismissed by the liberal mainstream media as unacceptable, in order to preserve their pro-Obama narrative. The liberal media is always going to highlight and key in on any aspect of a new Republican plan that they deem inferior to the existing ACA, while ignoring any benefits or advantages. We’re already seeing headlines like, “Why Republi[...]



What Is America Doing in Syria Senator McCain?

2017-03-12T15:24:34Z

In a small Syrian city called Manbij, Syrian army personnel, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and Russian military men met. And danced. No, this is not a Monty Python video, but rather the latest chapter in the Syrian Civil War, and specifically the strange bedfellows that any alliance against ISIL seems to produce. Whatever the […]In a small Syrian city called Manbij, Syrian army personnel, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and Russian military men met. And danced. No, this is not a Monty Python video, but rather the latest chapter in the Syrian Civil War, and specifically the strange bedfellows that any alliance against ISIL seems to produce. Whatever the celebratory dancing meant – likely that the ISIL rump state seems to be collapsing in Syria as well as Iraq – the dancing will not go on forever. Or even more than a very short time. There are also at least two other major forces present in the town. American forces are now there to prevent Turkish forces – whose border is a short distance north of Manjib – from launching an assault on the Kurdish-led forces. America needs the Kurds to decisively crush the Islamic State in Iraq. But as Matthew Continetti points out: what does that imply about America’s policy towards an independent Kurdistan? Which would affect not only Turkey – which has suffered a lengthy terrorist campaign by Kurdish extremists – but also Syria, Iraq, which is in constant danger of fracturing into warring regions like Afghanistan, and God forbid, Iran. Kurdistan as the Balkans of the Middle East? You wish. The Balkans and their various wars are a cakewalk compared to the dangers surrounding any possible attempt at establishing an independent Kurdish state. What is America’s position? Secretary of State Tillerson will have to get back to us on that one. But maybe that’s asking the wrong person. FiveThirtyEight has a malicious but interesting analysis of the power centers in the White House. It counts 8 of them. Perhaps they go a little overboard, being a rather liberal, if reliably wonky and usually data-driven, political site. But there are clearly a number of decision-making foci, if you will, around the West Wing. And also in Congress. Which brings us to what the fivethirtyeight story labels as the McCain wing. Or the stand-up-and salute-em crowd. Senator McCain works with – in this view – Defense Secretary Mattis, DHS Secretary Kelly, and National Security Adviser McMaster in promoting, that means mostly talking up at conferences – a more robust defense posture on the part of America. Compared to the president’s nods towards a more neutral pragmatism. That also means putting boots on the ground in Iraq in the final takedown of ISIS. And it now seems to mean sending a military presence – on the ground and in the air – into Syria to keep Turks and Kurds from shooting at each other after ISIL has been defeated. Did Mattis lay out a detailed plan for the president on America’s presence in Manbij? Did it include dancing lessons for tank commanders? Did it – rather more seriously – include a little history on America’s presence in the Lebanese Civil War in the early 80’s? Which ended badly, as we all know. In other words, how much of the details does Defense Secretary Mattis get to keep to himself, and not trouble the president with, when it comes to placing American assets in the middle of the (winding down it is true) Syrian Civil War? Because if it blows up yet again in Syria or Iraq, President Trump can certainly fire Mattis, or Kelly, or McMaster. But he will own the tragedy. For all of us who bled with compassion at the sight of Alan Kurdi’s little lifeless body lapped by the waves, we must all remember [...]



Is TrumpCare Repeal? Reform? or Replace?

2017-03-09T02:39:05Z

The American Health Care Act – or ACHA; or TrumpCare if you must say it that way – takes a modest middle-of-the-road approach to reforming some aspects of Obamacare. It is therefore reviled by the left for cutting back subsidies slightly by replacing them with refundable tax credits. It is therefore reviled by the right […]The American Health Care Act – or ACHA; or TrumpCare if you must say it that way – takes a modest middle-of-the-road approach to reforming some aspects of Obamacare. It is therefore reviled by the left for cutting back subsidies slightly by replacing them with refundable tax credits. It is therefore reviled by the right for replacing subsidies with refundable tax credits rather than standard tax deductions. TrumpCare makes modest attempts to reign in some of the Medicaid expansion that has been a key driver of Obamacare’s expanded coverage. The freeze is delayed to 2020, and incentives are therefore given for people to sign up now before the freeze goes into effect. This angers conservatives. But it also angers progressives because the health care security (an oxymoron by most standards, and one which really means health care entitlements paid for by the government) of Obamacare has been replaced by something just slightly more market-oriented. And the toughest conundrum of them all: risk pooling. In other words, how in goodness name do you incentivize younger healthier people who are unwilling to take on Obamacare with all it’s conditions and mandates? Because if you don’t, you’re left with the older, sicker patients who drive up costs exponentially and push premiums skyward. In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman penned an attack article on TrumpCare where he focused on the 30% penalty the current GOP plan imposes if you go without health insurance for 2 months (as opposed to Obamacare’s mandate that penalized people without insurance in a slightly more severe fashion). He writes this about Trumpcare: If young people make that calculation en masse, the risk pool winds up confined to people who are older and sicker, premiums skyrocket, insurers flee and the whole thing collapses. Does this sound slightly familiar? As in exactly what has been happening with Obamacare? As in the key weakness of the ACA, a weakness which has been driving up premiums and causing the exchanges to collapse in state after state? This is partisan grenade throwing over relatively minor adjustments to health care policy. Vox, a progressive/radical beacon of activist muck racking journalism – for crying out loud – said this: A curious thing has happened to the Republican replacement plan as it evolved through multiple drafts; it has begun to look more and more like Obamacare itself. The bill keeps some key features of Obamacare, like giving more help to lower-income Americans, and the Medicaid expansion, in a scaled-back form. Is TrumpCare true repeal? No it is not. Senator Cruz has outlined in Politico a cohesive plan to use reconciliation to repeal most of Obamacare’s features and replace them with expanded HSA’s (which TrumpCare does do to an extent) and a nation-wide insurance market where lower income people can buy cheaper disaster insurance (high deductibles) and use their HSA money to pay for regular medical expenses. It is truly conservative and runs straight in the face of the progressive view that health care is an entitlement, not a service. TrumpCare tries to bridge the enormous gap between conservative plans like Senator Cruz’s, and progressive views that would really like a single-payer healthcare plan – like Canada has. And who view Obamacare as a minimum acceptable standard on the road to Canadian style socialized medicine. That means that TrumpCare i[...]



A Zombie Prosecutor, a Scandal Up From the Deep

2017-03-09T02:39:32Z

The Russia Scandal that President Trump brought back up from the deep with his now infamous tweets this past weekend has left his ship of state between two deadly shores, as Andrew McCarthy has pointed out: President Obama personally ordered (leaving aside the legal parsing of the term ordered and the chain of events that […]The Russia Scandal that President Trump brought back up from the deep with his now infamous tweets this past weekend has left his ship of state between two deadly shores, as Andrew McCarthy has pointed out: President Obama personally ordered (leaving aside the legal parsing of the term ordered and the chain of events that have to proceed according to FISA and involving the DOJ) a wiretap – including electronic surveillance – of candidate Trump last year. OR Trump’s team was knowingly and actively complicit with Putin’s regime in somehow undermining the American electoral process, including the elections themselves, in order to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and place a Kremlin ally in the White House. A reasonable person looking at the lack of evidence supporting either outrageously disturbing claim would say neither is true. A conspiracy buff feeding on the media frenzy would pause a moment from his (or less often, her) browsing of UFO websites and say: Yes! They’re both true! Awesome! When do the little green men appear?? But neither President Trump nor the media are in any mood to be reasonable with each other, nor with this scandal, which so far is not supported by any concrete evidence. And the Democrats who have all but said they will disrupt and even end the Trump administration’s term by any means possible, except hired guns triangulating at Mar-a-Lago, are also calling for a special prosecutor. Both Schumer and Pelosi agreed to let the special prosecutor legislation die in 1999, very conveniently for then President Bill Clinton. Now they want to bring it back, like a zombie from the grave, to ghoulishly pour over the scandal from the deep. And they will surely find a way to justify disarming any special prosecutor act once a Democrat is safely in the White House. Has Putin sent flowers to Schumer and Pelosi yet? And most every other player in Washington DC? Or is even he slightly troubled by what is starting to spin out of control? These are deadly serious accusations that in the end do merit a congressional investigation with some sort of credible neutral panel, as Carl Cannon has suggested. Good luck. Any investigating commission will have every member pulled and pried apart by the media or by Trump himself or by leaks even from the intelligence community who has a lot of skin in this dangerous game. Any commission’s credibility will inevitably be undermined by one or other powerful D.C. player. And the public will likely be as partisan as ever in judging any commission or any of its individual members. Cannon also suggests immunity for those investigated, because as he rightly says, the focus has to be on the integrity of America’s electoral process. Not whether contacts by former or current Trump associates might have been unseemly and therefore – in the logic of today’s divided, venal, and outraged environment – treasonous. Because there has so far been a lack of evidence supporting either of the two scenarios outlined above – as even articles in the NYtimes usually admit somewhere near the last paragraph – the truth is likely that FISA wiretaps may have been ordered but nothing suggesting a conspiracy has been found. And they likely had nothing to do with Trump himself. Or possibly nothing to do with his campaign, even if they did look at some former associates like Stone, Page, and Manafort. So[...]



Keeping GOp’s Health Plan under Wraps From Assassins

2017-03-04T00:11:18Z

One would assume that Senator Rand Paul is unable to take his gun collection into the halls of Congress. Without some sort of special permit and with all live ammunition carefully separated from chambers or clip-ons. Or maybe not at all, forget about it senator, keep them at home. So the image of Senator Rand […]

One would assume that Senator Rand Paul is unable to take his gun collection into the halls of Congress. Without some sort of special permit and with all live ammunition carefully separated from chambers or clip-ons. Or maybe not at all, forget about it senator, keep them at home.

So the image of Senator Rand Paul in hiding in some supply deposit on the Hill waiting for the GOP’s healthcare plan to come out of it’s locked down hiding place, and whisked down the hall on an open cart, quickly escorted to a conference room, so that he can unload a cartridge or two into it’s clean shiny font and splatter the proposals into oblivion is perhaps a little dramatic.

But make no mistake. The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal and Replace is under locked guard for fear of assassination. And that would include triangulation from Democrat Senators and House members as well.

Is this fair or reasonable?

The better question is should it even be? Well yes, perhaps it should, but we’re dealing with healthcare and we’re dealing with revamping or replacing or reforming a piece of legislation that impinges on voter’s and their families’ health. It’s healthcare. It is complicated. Always.

But here’s the problem. Between Senator Rand Paul’s and GOP House conservative members’ vision of health care in America – a robust one that hinges on responsibility and competition – and moderate GOP members’ as well as Democrats’ and state governments’ vision, there is an enormous gap. There will have to be trade-offs. There is no other way, especially with health care.

Is any sort of compromise possible? Feasible that is, when counting up votes on the Hill. Forget about Democrat support. Maybe a few senators up for re-election in 2018, can be shifted to vote yes. Maybe.

But unless the GOP itself can coalesce around a plan – one that by definition will have to compromise between conservatives and moderates in the party – there will be precious little achieved with Obamacare repeal. Maybe replace will be delayed. But that will mean no positive plan in place for the GOP to justify repealing Obamacare.

In other words, would it have been smarter to have let Obamacare collapse? State by state? Rather than replace it immediately? That, of course, would have meant turning back a key campaign promise. Not a possible route, given Trump’s brand is very much wrapped up with his being someone who actually does what he says.

And all this will have to be done with Democrats howling and screaming about how their wonderful ex-president’s plan has been discarded by cruel Republicans.

A compromise is coming. We just don’t know what the details will be. But it will be a costly one, unfortunately. It’s healthcare.




Trump’s Address Was not a Repudiation of His Inaugural Speech

2017-03-02T23:00:37Z

You can’t separate out the two speeches and say: this one good and virtuous, this one dark and divisive. The inaugural address being the dark and divisive speech, according to much of Washington and the media. President Trump’s address to Congress being the virtuous and good speech, grudgingly accorded so even by people like Van […]You can’t separate out the two speeches and say: this one good and virtuous, this one dark and divisive. The inaugural address being the dark and divisive speech, according to much of Washington and the media. President Trump’s address to Congress being the virtuous and good speech, grudgingly accorded so even by people like Van Jones. Who basically told Democrats to watch out. If Trump can do this then he will win. Again and again. The inaugural speech was Trump’s promise to his supporters to take on the establishment. It was dramatic, and it parts it was dark in its portrayal of America. But it was a concise and powerful call to action. And a shot across the bow to that very establishment. Who responded in every devious way possible with yet more attempts to undermine and even overthrow by any (legal one presumes) means possible, Trump’s nascent administration. President Trump’s address to Congress was the perfectly pitched acknowledgement that America’s government functions on the basis of the separation of powers. The address to Congress was not a contradiction or a denial of the inaugural speech. Precisely because Trump’s proposed reforms to the administrative state – that large and unaccountable bureaucracy that decides how voters’ lives are to be lived in the most painstakingly detailed and intrusive ways – would be a return to a true balance of power. Closer to that envisioned by the founding fathers. But Trump has taken on the establishment – even as he reached out in sober and occasionally gracious fashion to possible allies – and that means that most Democrats will oppose Trump on everything. They are now the real Never Trumpers. Not some of the writers at the Weekly Standard, or a few of those at RedState. For example. Democrat members of Congress’ partisanship – driven by fear of their own progressive base that howls continually over any perceived intrusion into their radical utopias – means they cannot clearly state that they support infrastructure spending, or defending workers from the presence of illegal migrants in the labor market, or encouraging US companies to invest at home. And must spin every Trump proposal as somehow racist and divisive. Will the Trump Resistance ever turn or soften? Will Democrat senators up for re-election in 2018 cede on some appointments or issues? They may have to – given that Lindsey Graham is turning out to be one of the biggest obstructions to Trump in the Senate. Almost as much as Chuck Schumer, but more flying low and spraying the occasional guided missiles, only when he finds it convenient. And other GOP senators are already slowing down and gumming up Trump’s attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare. So President Trump had to reach out, precisely because of the venue and the audience. And the nature of America’s Republican Constitution. And he did so with a skill that was shockingly admirable to his slightly stunned Democrat members. Recall Nancy Pelosi nervously chatting to her neighbor with a surprised look on her face. Who would have thought, right? But the president does not have a binary choice before him from now on. His allegiance to his base is the principal wellspring for his policy proposals. His geniune anger at the fate of the forgotten man helps drive his [...]



Uber Wanks – Bannon Stays on Message

2017-02-28T18:18:13Z

Rick Wilson – who learned nasty at the feet of Lee Atwater – was wrong. It’s not the alt-right supporters of Trump who are single men self-stimulating to anime porn. It’s the senior management at Uber. As lawsuits and insider stories emerge about an out-of-control culture at the oh-so disruptive ride-sharing company, should people be […]

Rick Wilson – who learned nasty at the feet of Lee Atwater – was wrong. It’s not the alt-right supporters of Trump who are single men self-stimulating to anime porn. It’s the senior management at Uber. As lawsuits and insider stories emerge about an out-of-control culture at the oh-so disruptive ride-sharing company, should people be surprised?

When leading-edge tech companies have a contempt for anyone who is not obsessive and high-IQ and ready to do anything to make an idea work, is the fact that west-coast techie males view most of us as surplus flesh really a shock? And with liberal and even most conservative media dutifully recording their every word as if it was truth and wisdom, is it any surprise that this media is blatantly hostile to anyone who believes manufacturing jobs can be recovered in America’s heartland/rustbelt? At least a reasonable percentage of them.

Given this background then, Steve Bannon’s (who by Rick Wilson’s reckoning should have been handing out bags of Cheetos at CPAC) appearance was a refreshing glass of water in the face of those who harbor deep hostility towards the president and his administration.

In a sit-down (somehow called a speech by much of the media) Bannon explained the basic structure of the New Nationalism (to use Matthew Continetti’s and Rich Lowry’s terminology). He was articulate, affable, and soft-spoken. No horns on his head – as Charles Krauthammer pointed out. And this clear statement of policy and philosophy:

…that we’re a nation with an economy, not an economy just in some global marketplace with open borders, but we are a nation with a culture and a reason for being …

What strikes you as more reasonable: that statement by Bannon, or the invective from both the left and the alt-right? Now Bannon, through his association with Breitbart, has been associated with unsavory characters. Some of those associations may not be fair, but Bannon’s delight in provoking – as a tactic in his war on the establishment – is in part to blame.

No better way then to put daylight between the dark prince reputation – as portrayed by writers like the insufferable Richard Wolffe of the Guardian – than a clear concise presentation of the philosophy emerging behind Trump’s Nationalism.

Because, as Continetti points out, unlike Reagan who had decades of intellectual capital formation, if you will, before finally storming the walls of DC, Trump has stormed the walls with a far more incipient philosophy. Steve Bannon will be one of the men whose job it is to put meat on the bones. And he is being and will be pilloried for so doing. But now is the time for explaining the reasons behind the actions Trump’s team is taking. Not provoking needlessly. Because confrontation aplenty is already awaiting at every step this administration takes. No need to inflame it any further than absolutely necessary, to get the message across.

Bannon’s CPAC appearance was a good start.




Global Warming Is Irrelevant

2017-02-26T16:28:51Z

Global Warming Is Irrelevant © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   There is probably no subject (outside of abortion) that has engendered more passion for a longer period of time—decades now—than Global Warming. Here are some of the issues and talking points: Settled Science or Junk Science Warmest Year on Record vs. hiding faulty […]Global Warming Is Irrelevant © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   There is probably no subject (outside of abortion) that has engendered more passion for a longer period of time—decades now—than Global Warming. Here are some of the issues and talking points: Settled Science or Junk Science Warmest Year on Record vs. hiding faulty or contradictory evidence The threat of actually jailing Deniers (they even have a name, complete with a capital letter) International conferences and accords New regulations for businesses and equipment Complicated Carbon Trading schemes Dramatic declarations by politicians of Warming being a greater threat than ISIS Photographic “evidence” of impending doom and impact on nature/wildlife The routine, unquestioned conflation of daily weather events and long-term climate change All of these are examples of the highly-charged, deeply-held views on the subject. I recognize and appreciate the intensity and vehemence with which the respective parties hold to their positions. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s simply concede that anthropogenic Global Warming is real, not just a coincidental occurrence of cyclical climate patterns on earth and the relationship of those patterns to solar activity and the like. Let’s take the “Is man-caused Global Warming real?” question off the table and admit its existence. However, even if there is certainty regarding the reality of man-caused Global Warming, it probably doesn’t matter. Here’s why: The very same profit-driven capitalistic Western businesspeople who seem to stoke the ire of the Warmists so intensely are the ones who are well on their way to ending Warming—and long before it becomes any kind of permanent threat to mankind’s well-being. Fossil-based fuels are simultaneously the most economically-efficient source of energy and the most politically-troublesome and ecologically-controversial source of energy. Historic relationships between nations, current foreign policy and military decisions, ecological impacts, everything is tied up in a convoluted, indecipherable cause-and-effect Gordian Knot because of fossil fuels. Yet it is the popularly-maligned free-market capitalistic system, with its unsavory profits, rewards and unapologetic income inequality, that is the key driver to finding the eventual solution to our reliance on ecologically-detrimental carbon-based fuels. A veritable free-market fortune awaits the individual or company that delivers the first viable alternative energy system, one that is easily deployable on a mass scale across large geographic areas. That promise of capitalistic reward has many companies feverishly pursuing different solutions. The potential of virtually unlimited free-market profits and a superior competitive market position are spurring private for-profit companies to find a viable alternative to carbon fuels. That’s undeniably true, and it’s happening primarily here in the U.S., primarily because of our freest-of-all-markets system. An example is Lockheed Martin Corporation and their work in developing a new compact fusion reactor. L-M says a reactor small enough to fit on the back of a truck could produce 100 megawatts of electricity—enough to power a small city, without any carbon emissions. L-M esti[...]



Why CPAC Matters and Yiannopoulos Doesn’t

2017-02-24T23:49:51Z

Milo Yiannopoulos is a little less fabulous in these final days of February. And the storm that has – for now at least – sunk the British-Greek provocateur, is one that should be the kind that sink careers. Or even end up with jail time, if more than words are involved. Because it dealt with […]Milo Yiannopoulos is a little less fabulous in these final days of February. And the storm that has – for now at least – sunk the British-Greek provocateur, is one that should be the kind that sink careers. Or even end up with jail time, if more than words are involved. Because it dealt with underage sex. Whether Yiannopoulos claims that a 13 year old boy having sex with a man in his mid-20’s is consensual – as he does – or not. It is pedophilia, as degrading and evil a crime as there is. And Yiannopoulos himself, as he seems to admit, seems to have been a victim of abuse as a young teenager. Even as he rails against pedophilia. Yes, that involves children, Milo. But drawing a clear line between pedophilia and underage sex involving young teenagers is the first step towards attempting to normalize the former and promote the latter. So, Matt Schlapp’s invitation to Yiannopoulos to attend CPAC was a bad mistake. While the First Amendment gives Yiannopoulos the right to say what he says, it does not by any means give CPAC the obligation to extend yet another platform for Yiannopoulos to parade on. And no, it’s not very productive to call out the left’s hypocrisy on this. They are right to denounce Yiannopoulos for his dangerous, careless speech. But don’t stop there. Please. Keep heading west, all of you denouncing Yiannopoulos, Especially left-wing critics who at least claim to be aghast. Keep heading west, until you hit Hollywood and Vine. Or more precisely, some fabulous sprawling home in Encino. For example. But don’t stop at the scandals over male teenage actor/models being manipulated and abused by Hollywood power brokers, who happen to be gay. Go right back in time to Hollywood’s earliest years. And look for it. The first casting couch. Well before talkies. As the silent-film era unspooled it’s reels of film and created cinema’s first golden era, there it was. Repeated across Hollywood. The casting couch. Many, many, many of them. For every tantalizing scene – from it’s earliest suggestive modes that draw easy smiles from today’s sophisticates right through to increasingly explicit scenes that now blur the lines between pornography and so-called love scenes – for every one of those there likely is a woman. She’s young, she may be in the scene. Or perhaps auditioned for it. Or perhaps is merely part of the crew, or someone who is looking to break out in La La Land. And she’s had to endure abuse, in the face of a culture that relativizes intimacy until it’s merely a matrix of perversities that one can pick and choose from. And how dare you judge an S&M inter-generational sex fan! Pornography is indeed the wallpaper in our society, and our culture is now dangerously close to normalizing pedophilia. And entertainment media – whether in Hollywood, or in Manhattan advertising media, or in Europe and elsewhere – is leading the way. Did the founders of America imagine such possibilities? We can only guess, but it is our duty to exercise our First Amendment rights and choose better ideas and thinkers in places like CPAC. It’s not enough that Yiannopoulos made the left really mad. Sometimes violently so. Rather, CPAC can go back to offering plenty of [...]



Saving America From Regulatory Dark Matter

2017-02-24T19:23:33Z

Have you heard of regulatory dark matter? Sub-rosa regulations? As in secret? Are you the owner of a small business, for example, who has received a threatening letter from a federal agency or a branch thereof that you’ve never heard of, and been forced to settle under the implicit or explicit threat of penalties? Then […]

Have you heard of regulatory dark matter? Sub-rosa regulations? As in secret?

Are you the owner of a small business, for example, who has received a threatening letter from a federal agency or a branch thereof that you’ve never heard of, and been forced to settle under the implicit or explicit threat of penalties? Then you have had a close encounter with regulatory dark matter. They say it is not very pleasant.

Here’s another way to think of how widespread federal agencies are. No one in Washington D.C. – and that means members of agencies or government departments that register these agencies and release reports on this – can say with any exact certainty how many there are. And they are operating beyond the control of Congress, or sometimes even of the rule-making process at the agencies themselves. Here’s Robert Rogowski from a few years back:

An impressive underground regulatory structure thrives on investigations, inquiries, threatened legal actions, and negotiated settlements … Many of the most questionable regulatory actions are imposed in this way, most of which escape the scrutiny of the public, Congress, and even the regulatory watchdogs in the executive branch.

Congress has handed authority over much of the daily rules that govern everyone’s daily lives to an extortion racket run by unaccountable bureaucrats who most people even in D.C. don’t even know exist. Until they send you a threatening letter.

Congress, and the Executive, and the Courts, all need to take back power from what has become the 4th branch of government. The Regulatory State.

The Courts, unfortunately have made it very hard to fire federal agency heads or employees thanks, in part, to a 1935 Supreme Court decision involving FDR and a Federal Trade Commissioner, William Humphrey, who was insufficiently enamored of the New Deal. FDR wanted to fire Humphrey, who insisted on showing up to work regardless of the fact that FDR had told him in writing that he was fired. FDR lost the case. And by ruling the Federal Trade Commission was a quasi-legislative body, the Supreme Court made it all but impossible to fire heads of agencies who refuse to carry out the president’s policies.

To combat regulatory dark matter, and plainly visible regulations as well, changing civil service laws is another route. But that means getting Congress to pass a series of laws or one big bill, that will provoke the army of bureaucrats and their allies in the mainstream media. And these enraged and privileged elite won’t have far to go to assemble on The Mall, for example.

But maybe that’s what is needed. A Million Well-Paid-Wonk(ette) March on Washington. Let them emerge from the shadows of regulatory dark matter. Let them walk in the sunlight and demand to America’s taxpayers – especially those who face economic uncertainty and anxiety on a daily basis for much of their lives – that they deserve their privileges. That they are a breed apart. A nobility who merit favors paid for by the rest of us.

And then let Congress see if they have the mettle – or cojones – to do the right thing and reform civil service laws.




Political Deception on R v W

2017-02-19T15:29:26Z

Big Deception on Both Sides of Roe v. Wade   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All Rights Reserved.   There are lots of practical and philosophical differences between the two major political parties in America. Some are real differences, some are more perceived than real and some are just clichés that one side likes to perpetuate […]Big Deception on Both Sides of Roe v. Wade   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All Rights Reserved.   There are lots of practical and philosophical differences between the two major political parties in America. Some are real differences, some are more perceived than real and some are just clichés that one side likes to perpetuate to the detriment of the other:   Taxes Free-market capitalism vs. Gov’t-controlled safety net Affirmative Action Immigration Policy Health Care Foreign policy/use of military force Education Woman’s/minorities/sexual orientation rights/pay inequality Law enforcement/legal issues Energy policy/Environmental/Climate Change issues Media coverage   Those are the broad categories on which most elections are based, and at least within some limited range, negotiation/compromise between the two parties is theoretically possible, and actually happens from time to time. However, there is one topic that is not on the list above, because compromise hasn’t been possible to this point: Abortion. Abortion is the Democratic Party’s Line in the Sand. The abortion constituency is a—no, the—major voting bloc for the Democrats. It cuts across all ethnic, racial, age, gender/orientation and economic lines in a way that no other important Democratic issue does. Liberals of every stripe are in favor of it, although perhaps for wildly different reasons. Nonetheless, they all arrive at this same destination, even though it’s often by dramatically different routes. The unquestioned availability of abortion is the common denominator of all Liberal voters. Some Democrats may be more business-oriented and like low taxes and limited restrictive regulations; some may be low-income/minority but have high-achievement children, so Affirmative Action is their thing. Some may perceive a wage gap or gender/orientation discrimination or feel strongly that we shouldn’t drill into the earth and strip Her bounty just to turn on the lights. And so on. The common thread among them all: The continued legal availability of abortion. Many voters—too many—base their Presidential vote on this issue of so-called “choice,” mistakenly believing that the party of the President determines the availability and legality of abortion. For the Democrats, a Presidential Supreme Court appointment means only one thing: the preservation of Roe v Wade, which Democrats feel preserves unfettered access to abortion. This issue, more than welfare, affirmative action, higher taxes on the rich, stiffer environmental regulations, relaxed immigration rules or gay rights, is the cornerstone of the Democratic platform. Strip away everything else, and the Democrats know that their core constituency will always vote for them as long as they can deliver the abortion issue. They may euphemistically shroud the issue with phrases like “women’s health,” or “choice,” etc., but it all means the same thing: the Democrats are the Party of Abortion. To justify it, they use the scare tactic of saying they will fight to “keep abortion safe and legal,” implying if the Republicans win the Presidency and appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, abortion will suddenly become unsafe and illegal. This is a perfe[...]



Susan Collins, Andy Puzder, Elon Musk, and Regaining Dignity

2017-02-16T21:19:33Z

While Kelly Ayotte is helping Neil Gorsuch to walk the halls of Congress and meet and greet senators, Susan Collins is suddenly becoming a royal pain in the backside for this administration. The moderate Maine GOP senator has been on the no side for 2 Cabinet choices. Her no vote did not manage to prevent […]While Kelly Ayotte is helping Neil Gorsuch to walk the halls of Congress and meet and greet senators, Susan Collins is suddenly becoming a royal pain in the backside for this administration. The moderate Maine GOP senator has been on the no side for 2 Cabinet choices. Her no vote did not manage to prevent Betsy DeVos from being successfully nominated to Secretary of Education. But she was also part of the GOP four (along with Alaska’s Murkowski who also opposed DeVos, South Carolina’s Tim Scott, and Georgia’s Johnny Isakson) that have effectively forced Andy Puzder to withdraw his nomination for Secretary of Labor. The optics on Puzder weren’t worth going to battle over for the administration, even though it adds up to a rough couple of days for the administration. Now Senator Collins is indicating that she will also give a thumbs down on EPA nominee Scott Pruitt. Do the current storms battering the White House mean she is suddenly emboldened? Or would she have voted this way, regardless? And is she as bound to labor unions in general as she clearly is to the teacher’s unions? She may be, but her opposition on Puzder is perhaps a little more understandable than her no vote on DeVos. Especially from the perspective of the White House. That’s because under-employed and unemployed, and not-even-looking-anymore, white males with high school or less were and are a key part of Trump’s supporters. And in a world that fetishizes disruption and ignores marginalized workers, any doubts about a potential Secretary of Labor resonate a lot more strongly than they might have in the mid-90’s, for example. In a world where Elon Musk – at a World Government Summit in Dubai no less – pronounces that we must Borg ourselves or be incinerated. In a world where if you drive a truck or taxi, you are probably old and need to die anyway to make room for progress. Where anyone with an IQ less than 120 – never mind 100 – needs to get an implant. In this type of world, it matters what type of signals you send to working men and women, and to those who would like to work, and especially to those who have given up trying to obtain work. But that does not mean continuing to feed the welfare monster that might write checks to the marginalized, but has not been truly successful at helping them regain a productive and satisfying life. Arthur C. Brooks has just published a wonderful article on not just what to do to help those who are in poverty and marginalized, but why we do it. The what is a fairly pragmatic but rather inclusive list of conservative common sense proposals: from welfare reform, to lowering taxes to encourage job creation, to giving parents options when seeking schooling for their children. But the overarching theme has to be one of giving people back purpose. As Brooks so clearly points out: The most compelling reason for tax reform and further welfare reform is to create more opportunities for people at the periphery of society. A conservative reform agenda needs to be proclaimed and seen as inclusive and positive, and not punitive, because the media will paint any reform of the welfare state as punitive. Before the facts are even allowed to roll[...]



The White House Needs a Clear Chain of Command

2017-02-15T21:18:33Z

It’s not even 4 weeks into it’s mandate yet, and the Trump administration is besieged on almost all sides by forces bent on discrediting and even, in some cases one suspects, displacing it from power. The so-called resistance is coming from many angles: Obama’s PAC Organizing for America morphed into Organizing for Action in 2013 […]It’s not even 4 weeks into it’s mandate yet, and the Trump administration is besieged on almost all sides by forces bent on discrediting and even, in some cases one suspects, displacing it from power. The so-called resistance is coming from many angles: Obama’s PAC Organizing for America morphed into Organizing for Action in 2013 and is now one of the central organizing forces behind many of the protests against the executive order on immigration. Among others. Remember that executive order? Already almost lost in the battle smoke around General Flynn’s scandal. There’s still a judiciary hard at work, however, trying to block the president’s authority over aliens ability to enter America when national security issues are at stake. And Congressional Democrats are war-painting their faces with any media-scented blood that the Flynn affair has spilled. Graham and McCain, along with Roy Blunt, also want in on the fun that any Congressional investigation can provide. The media is howling at the scent of prey. CNN asks when Trump knew what. Politico has lusty headlines celebrating the “chaos in Trump World.” Even at Fox News, Shepard Smith provides skeptical if not outright hostile coverage of the latest scandals and missteps. And Charles Krauthammer has worried that Flynn lied possibly to cover up something other than the phone call with Ambassador Kislyak. And current and former bureaucrats at State and in the intel community are leaking left and right to try and ensure that the administration is crippled by a need to fight fires rather than promote and execute it’s agenda. And that includes the FBI and the infamous, leaked transcript of the phone call. What the fricking heck – to use a few euphemisms – should the Trump administration do? Here’s a suggestion. Get rid of the multiple power centers in the White House. As Paul Ryan asked a committee of Bannon, Conway, Priebus, Jared Kushner, and Stephen Miller at a meeting in January on tax policy: who’s in charge? The Clinton administration had a chaotic start in 93, 94 and they faced nothing like this administration does. Leon Panetta had to come in and bring some order. President Trump needs to get rid of the current structure and bring in a little vertical authority – as in a clear and tightly controlled chain of command. Or he will find the current battles he is facing nearly impossible to overcome. Is that possible in 2017? And with the current people in the White House? Yes it is. The American public – unlike all the other power centers in D.C. that are lined up against him – believe that President Trump is a politician who keeps his word. 62% of respondents to a recent Galllup survey said so. Only 53% of respondents actually believe he can affect change, however. Is that why he’s so hated in Washington? He actually means to do what he says? Mr. President you have nearly the entire apparatus of government and the media trying to sink your ship of state. It’s time for a little law and order on the bridge. A clear chain of command. Start with that, and your battles will become f[...]



A New World Order With No Borders

2017-02-14T22:20:27Z

Immigration law is coming to get you, and bring you back to America. Even if you’re an alien with no visa and no permanent legal status as a lawful resident of America. It might not happen tomorrow, but if people like George Mason law professor Ilya Somin, and others, have their way, this strange day […]Immigration law is coming to get you, and bring you back to America. Even if you’re an alien with no visa and no permanent legal status as a lawful resident of America. It might not happen tomorrow, but if people like George Mason law professor Ilya Somin, and others, have their way, this strange day is coming sometime fairly soon. It revolves around what some in the legal world call the Plenary Power Doctrine, which basically says that congressional immigration classifications are immune from judicial review – to use Gabriel Chin’s language from his essay on the subject. In other words, rights are denied to some potential immigrants, that would be deemed unconstitutional were they denied in a domestic context (basically to American citizens), rather than being applied to immigration. To Chin himself, and to Ilya Somin, this is a bad thing. Consider what Somin says: I would consider that the plenary power doctrine is ultimately indefensible and should be overruled by the Supreme Court. And this: There would be no need to explicitly limit some rights to citizens if there were a general presumption that non-citizens are excluded. And for goodness sake don’t you mention the Preamble and “posterity” as meaning American citizens! To Ilya Somin there should be no: …ignoring the rights and welfare of potential migrants in making decisions on immigration policy. __ And to justify this, Somin massages the meaning of the word “posterity” to support what he’s aiming for: the U.S. Constitution being legally applicable to anyone on the planet. And thus immigration policy legally bound to consider the rights and welfare of any potential immigrant to America. Yes, you can find that last quote at openborders.info in case you’re wondering what type of world Somin is advocating for. In other words, the open borders movement has attached itself to Trump’s executive order like a school of starving remoras and are dying to suck the life out of any attempt to restrict any type of immigration to America – or anywhere else one would imagine. But it’s America and its constitution that their lips are firmly attached to right now. With these sorts of undertows swirling around the 9th circuit court of appeal’s decision to maintain Judge Robart’s ruling at least for now, and possibly forever, one wonders if an ambitious power grab by the left coast circuit will team up with the open borders activists and try to shred any control over immigration that the executive – and even Congress – currently have. This is about a new world order, in which an unchecked judiciary extends its tentacles across the globe to ensure the unimpeded movement of all people across suddenly meaningless borders. Something that does not generally displease financial markets – until some of those people murder and set bombs off. Or fly airplanes into buildings. What the administration is trying to do is prevent that. And any outlandish campaign comments by Trump were in that vein. They were about security for America and its citizens and residents. But those statements were not policy, they w[...]



What Washington State’s Lawsuit Is Really About

2017-02-09T22:36:35Z

Guess what? It’s all about the money. Washington State AG Bob Ferguson might have preached about his state’s lawsuit against President Trump’s executive order on immigration being about defending the constitution. And the separation of powers. But the basis for his Washington’s lawsuit against Trump is really about damages to the state government coffers. Let […]Guess what? It’s all about the money. Washington State AG Bob Ferguson might have preached about his state’s lawsuit against President Trump’s executive order on immigration being about defending the constitution. And the separation of powers. But the basis for his Washington’s lawsuit against Trump is really about damages to the state government coffers. Let Ilya Somin go on about Trump’s campaign statements on Muslim immigration. And let the liberal judges in the 9th circuit decide that newspaper articles on a candidate’s pronouncements are important facts in deciding if the president overstepped his authority granted to him by Congress by 1952’s Immigration and Nationality Act. But behind this grandstanding and the feisty protests by the advocates of diversity over any other consideration, lies the economic reality that the state of Washington is worried about. Microsoft loves – really really loves – H1B visas and the ability to use them to import cheaper tech workers to write the code that keeps the billions and billions flowing. All at a cheaper cost than if a larger percentage of Americans were hired. Many of these workers come from Muslim-majority countries. Or countries – like India – that have substantial Muslim populations. Amazon loves those visas too. Boeing sells lots of planes to Muslim countries, and has a juicy deal with Iran, for example. And international students who pay several times the tuition fees that in-state students do, add millions and millions to the coffers of universities and colleges in the state of Washington, and elsewhere of course. And anything like a presidential executive order that could potentially be seen in a bad light by Muslim interest groups would tarnish the state’s globalist brand. And cut into their revenues. But it gets even more interesting. Arkansas’ Senator Tom Cotton and Georgia’s Senator David Perdue have put together what they call the RAISE Act. That would stand for: Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment. And yes, it does foresee limiting legal immigration, as well as combating illegal immigration. That puts the two GOP senators in direct philosophical and economic conflict with Washington State AG Ferguson and the economic interests of Silicon Valley in general. In other words, underneath the cries of racism and prejudice – themselves a theatrical over reaction to a focused vetting scheme – are worries that those who profit from today’s globalized world will see their revenue streams dry up as a result of any substantial change in immigration policy. Of course, aside from Trump’s executive order winning a battle in the 9th circuit and possibly going all the way to the Supreme Court; a substantial change in immigration policy would also require that someone like Mitch McConnell not let Cotton and Perdue’s RAISE Act die a noble death in some senate committee. The odds are, however, that McConnell will indeed let the RAISE Act wither and die in the dark corridors o[...]



Did DHS Leak FBI Terrorism Reports to the Daily Beast?

2017-02-07T23:24:18Z

The feisty little glowheads at The Daily Beast must be soaring and swooning like fireflies on a warm August night. Thanks to some unnamed official at an undisclosed but perhaps deducible agency, the hard left media outlet now can share with a salivating public, confidential data on the security of both of America’s borders. The […]The feisty little glowheads at The Daily Beast must be soaring and swooning like fireflies on a warm August night. Thanks to some unnamed official at an undisclosed but perhaps deducible agency, the hard left media outlet now can share with a salivating public, confidential data on the security of both of America’s borders. The one with Mexico. And the one with Canada. According to leaked FBI Monthly Domestic Encounter reports from 2014 through 2016, the northern border is far more active in terms of encounters with known or suspected terrorists. People on DHS or FBI watchlists, in other words. Far more have been occuring in states like New York and Michigan than in Texas, for example. Wonderful! Now terrorists have a heads up and know that America will start shifting its attention – thanks to the media onslaught which will now follow – from the southern border, and focus more resources and talent on the northern border. Perfect. Could you copy the FBI reports directly to ISIS next time, please? So that their media analysts don’t have to waste time pouring over sites like The Daily Beast? Does it matter that America’s border with Canada extends over 5,000 miles, while Mexico’s extends for slightly less than 2,000 miles? Of course it does. Every and any relevant factor that impinges on the security of America’s borders should and surely does matter to the men and women charged with securing and patrolling those borders. And to every agency dealing with the security of citizens across the nation: from first responders to wonky analysts burrowed in basement offices somewhere in the beltway. Does it affect the numbers, the fact that the total number of illegal border crossings is far less at the northern border? And that the relationship between American officials and their Canadian counterparts is generally quite good? Yes, but perhaps the time has indeed come to devote adequate resources to staffing and equiping any and all agencies that work the northern shift, so to speak. But that decision, especially the nitty gritty in the weeds numbers that The Daily Beast has gloatingly released, should be a discrete – but always decisive – policy question that is debated out of the limelight. Does the press have a right – even a duty – to question officialdom on what the heck they are doing at both land borders? Yes, of course. Should they leak valuable information? Sorry, but that seems a step too far. The Daily Beast quotes an unnamed DHS official as well as Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters. Michigan is the site of a large number of encounters with potential watchlisted suspects. North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp gets in a plug for more resources for border agents and equipment in her state as well (a most reasonable request, but that’s not the point). And U.S. Border Patrol chief Agent Aaron Heitke – who’s basically in charge of the Great Plains area – pushes back against the Texas Department of Public Safety report that highlighted worries about terrorists being smuggled in[...]



Fear Your High School Yearbook

2017-02-03T21:27:48Z

We had our high school yearbook photographs taken on the stone front steps. In winter as I recall. My pants were checkered and slightly flared and my shirt had a big collar. It was the mid-70’s ok? And I take full responsibility for my sartorial choices. What I take no responsibility for, however, is the […]We had our high school yearbook photographs taken on the stone front steps. In winter as I recall. My pants were checkered and slightly flared and my shirt had a big collar. It was the mid-70’s ok? And I take full responsibility for my sartorial choices. What I take no responsibility for, however, is the JFK quote the yearbook editor gratuitously snuck in and that made me look like an even bigger dork than the one I surely was. The in-jokes and snide little digs were, and still are, a part of the joys of the mostly thankless job of assembling a yearbook. Could something like a high school yearbook caption, therefore, ever be considered legitimate material for judging the character of a government appointee? Much less, revealing of the character of a Supreme Court nominee? When the caption in question had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with one of those in-jokes that populate most high school year books? When the progressive and activist world is in a screaming, hysterical rebellion against the duly elected President. When media is a partisan echo chamber that goes above and beyond its call to dig up the dirt on those in power. When a former official at Defense, and current law professor at Georgetown, suggests options for cutting short President Trump’s first term in office in Foreign Policy. Including a possible coup by the military who would theoretically refuse to carry out orders and defy the White House. When disobedience by the deep state bureaucracy is public and shamelessly partisan. When all of this is true. Then the answer, predictably and appallingly, is yes. Neil Gorsuch apparently has a caption in his high school yearbook that includes a reference to a “Fascism Forever Club” that never existed -according to teachers and students who were at Gorsuch’s private school – and was an ironic reference to his conservative outlook and how it conflicted with much of the liberal views espoused at the school. Never mind. The Daily Mail dug it up and it is now being shouted out loud and proud throughout social media. And this is just getting started. Judge Gorsuch will have to answer question after question from Democrat lawmakers in his hearing, about how he was not a fascist in high school. That’s the level that discourse has descended to. Yes, the previous campaign had a lot to do with a nastier discourse. On the part of both Hillary’s and Trump’s campaign teams. But this is different. This is the left unwilling to give any legitimacy to a duly elected administration. It will be tempting for GOP senators – like maybe Ted Cruz – to fight fire with fire and go looking for silly yearbook captions on the part of Democrat members of the Senate committee. Gorsuch himself, however, would be best advised to try and rise above the fray as he patiently responds to the most provocative and muck-racking falsehoods the media can find. Once you use a weapon in Washington, it is then seen laying there for all sides to use, as they see fit. From now on, a high school yearbook will potentially b[...]



David Frum and the End of America

2017-02-02T18:16:19Z

In the middle of David Frum’s Phillip Roth-like portrait in The Atlantic of a dark and authoritarian America under Trump, his contempt for a central tenet of America’s republican system of government slips through. He compares the consequences of a loss of confidence in Britain on the part of the Prime Minister by her or […]In the middle of David Frum’s Phillip Roth-like portrait in The Atlantic of a dark and authoritarian America under Trump, his contempt for a central tenet of America’s republican system of government slips through. He compares the consequences of a loss of confidence in Britain on the part of the Prime Minister by her or his own party (the her is a better pronoun seeing May is a her and Thatcher, one heck of a her, had to resign in the early 90’s due to a lack of confidence if not an outright vote by her own party’s members) to the ability of the president to remain in office despite a lack of confidence by members of Congress of his own party. Yes Mr. Frum, an impeachment proceedings in Congress is a far more difficult thing to achieve than a non-confidence vote in Britain. Or in Canada, a country you know all too well. But your fear that the opposing ambitions that the framers constructed with the separation of powers, over 200 years ago, will crumble because of your accusations of an impending kleptocracy engineered by Trump seem just a tad, hysterical? You, David Frum, are ascribing to the very liberal (to not say extreme left) view that Trump is indeed an evil genius. One who will single handedly dismantle nearly two and a half centuries of the world’s most successful republic. One that allows a nerdish little mensch from Toronto like you, David Frum, to ascend and rub elbows with and advise the president of that republic, based on your merits and hard work. Once again, you are a living breathing example of the wonders of America, David Frum, even as you declare those very wonders to be close to expiring. But of course, you are not merely saying that Trump is an evil genius. You are also saying that America, or that part of America that is not loudly denouncing every move Trump makes, is dumb and thus is being hoodwinked by Trump. Or agree with his authoritarian plans. As the progressive elites and radical activists engage in the most vile public shaming of anyone who doesn’t despise Trump’s administration, you insist that a small minority of racist trolls (which they certainly are) are the only ones poisoning public discourse. Not the crazed left. Less than two weeks into the new administration, and you foresee – like Phillip Roth in his novel – a grand plot against America. The GOP senate majority will cautiously acquiesce. The balance of power between professionalism and partisanship in the civl service “will shift.” Will? How about already has?? In Obama’s DoJ? In State? In the intel community? Ah, but Fox News is a Trump propaganda machine. Look at poor Megyn Kelly! Presidential pardons will be forthcoming for his children. This is a Hollywood script, David Frum. You need to get a concept fleshed out with a script writer and raise some interest and money, in Los Angeles. Although one suspects many a script writer and producer are already hard at work imagining some dark Trump dystopia, to soon appear on Netflix and elsewhere. Perh[...]



Is Jerry Brown Dreaming of California’s Secession?

2017-02-02T04:28:44Z

Did you know that 65% of Californians want an end to sanctuary cities? Sorry, that’s incorrect. 65% of Hispanic Californians want an end to sanctuary cities. 70% of Independents, 73% of Democrats, and 82% of Republicans in California all agree. Come on, this must have been a USC/LA Times poll, right? The one that actually […]

Did you know that 65% of Californians want an end to sanctuary cities? Sorry, that’s incorrect. 65% of Hispanic Californians want an end to sanctuary cities. 70% of Independents, 73% of Democrats, and 82% of Republicans in California all agree.

Come on, this must have been a USC/LA Times poll, right? The one that actually got the election right. Uh, no. Sorry. The poll in question was done by IGS/UC Berkeley. That’s the University of California at Berkeley. A rather unconservative campus over the last 50-odd years. Again, sorry.

So how do the elected representatives of the people of California respond to this groundswell of criticism at the practice of sanctuary cities in their state? By introducing a bill, the California Values Act, courtesy of State Senate President Kevin de Leon, that purports to essentially make California a Sanctuary State.

Governor Jerry Brown is all for the idea, needless to say. He picked State AG Becerra to head a lawsuit against Trump’s sanctuary cities order, should it ban funding to California as a result of their refusal to cooperate with immigration authorities. There are also moves to set up state-funded legal counsel for illegals in California.

So, if this escalates – and with a hyper-partisan environment where Whoopi Goldberg can compare the Trump administration to the Taliban on The View, escalation is almost inevitable at this point – where will this all end up? If Trump indeed continues to attempt to enforce immigration law across the country, and states like California reject and resist those attempts in order to devise their own contradictory legislative and security framework, is secession next?

Before Governor Jerry Brown and his righteous claque of progressive lawbreakers stand before the cameras in Sacramento and declare a new republic is to be born, they might want to ask a few people who might have an interest in that outcome: the 40 million residents of the Golden State. Who in their overwhelming majorities have shown that they feel that sanctuary cities – not to mention sanctuary states – are a bad thing.

So before virtual or near secession of states like California occurs, and before the war of words raging across America becomes even more vile in its confrontational hysterics, realize that even in California – that means the whole damn state not just greater LA and the Bay area – voters can reach the point where they say: enough. Stop. Now.

Anyone remember Proposition 13? That, would be a very good thing to keep in mind.




Science and the March of Life

2017-01-28T00:30:54Z

To the Facebook group that claims 150,000 members and is planning a Science March on Washington, in defense of Climate Change views, for sometime this spring: there already is a science march. It’s happening today, Friday January 27, 2017. It’s called the March for Life. As science and technology are able to present ever better […]To the Facebook group that claims 150,000 members and is planning a Science March on Washington, in defense of Climate Change views, for sometime this spring: there already is a science march. It’s happening today, Friday January 27, 2017. It’s called the March for Life. As science and technology are able to present ever better data on the fetus and developing child in the womb, it is now rationally impossible to deny that it is a human life that sits in its mother’s womb. And not an entity, to be deprived of its life in the event that others, including its mother, decide it is unwanted. Yes, faith and the belief that life is a precious gift, infuse many of those at the March of Life with a purpose and passion. But science makes clear the cost of the choice to abort. There may be conditions where that cost is justified, but to avoid or shout away the cost is a game that an increasing number of people in America and around the world reject. Do not expect the same media coverage of the March for Life, as that for the Women’s March on Washington. It will be brief and critical and contextualized to imply that those marching for the rights of the unborn are a crazed fringe. They are not. And they are winning converts to what should be, and once was, a founding principle of human rights. But the founding fathers lived in a world in which medical technology, technology that makes abortion easier and far less dangerous for the mother, was generations away from existing. A world in which the decision to end a baby’s life was a dark and shameful secret. And relatively rare, feminist revisions of history notwithstanding. The world has changed dramatically since the late 18th century, but God-given inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness have not, and should not. Despite the attempts to portray an unborn child as an entity and not a life. Maybe Roe v Wade will remain settled law. It does not appear likely that the Supreme Court will overturn that decision any time soon. Even with a conservative justice or two arriving at the bench to replace Scalia, and possibly Ginsburg in the next year or two. But Pro-life forces can still and are still winning battles every year in order to restrict abortion and not allow full and immediate access to anyone who wishes so. Part of that battle is using science to show that it is a human being in the womb. And thus make clear the costs of an abortion to those who may be unsure or who support Pro-choice views. Not in the harsh and confrontational style that has been used (understandably), but in a way that illuminates the unborn and the God-given life they possess. The models of anthropogenic induced climate change are complex and depend on assumptions that can be debated. That there is climate change is like saying the sun rises and sets. The question is what are the measurable effects of human-caused change, and how much is climate changing? There is debate on these matters, [...]



Mary Tyler Moore’s Legacy Belongs to All of Us

2017-01-26T18:38:21Z

I remember Mary Tyler Moore looking anxious and very nervous at the Oscars in 81, where she had been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Redford’s Ordinary People. She had lost her son the previous October, just as she achieved a milestone with that film. One more milestone in an already incredible […]

I remember Mary Tyler Moore looking anxious and very nervous at the Oscars in 81, where she had been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Redford’s Ordinary People. She had lost her son the previous October, just as she achieved a milestone with that film. One more milestone in an already incredible career. But at the Oscars she looked wonderfully human and vulnerable. Almost embarrassingly so for those of us who had imbibed her as a sort of comical super woman whose sly comedy made us all feel complicit, if undeservedly so.

Who really was Mary Tyler Moore? Who knows exactly. Perhaps her closest friends and loved ones. We, all of us who grew up with her, think we do. We assume we do. She was part of our lives because of how innovative and captivating her characters – her creations – were. With her passing she will be claimed by everyone from Tina Fey and Jennifer Aniston to Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer. Feminist icon for a changing America. America’s sweetheart single working girl. All of the above.

Had she passed away last week, what would have been said at the Women’s March on Washington? How she changed the narrative of prime time television? How she kicked at the glass ceiling while beaming out that heart warming smile? Yes, but Mary Tyler Moore was also one very very successful entrepreneur. Her and husband Grant Tinker’s production company were responsible for some of the biggest shows in the 70’s and into the 80’s. The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, St. Elsewhere, and Hill Street Blues, among others. All MTM production gems.

So Mary Tyler Moore’s legacy will be fought over and re-defined as a weapon in the latest round of culture wars, in which the Women’s March on Washington is the latest battle. Her memory will be staked and claimed by feminists of all stripes, academics and cultural historians, and journalists and celebrities, and the rest of us. But that legacy belongs to all of us. To anyone who spent a perfect little while sitting in front of a bulky old-fashioned TV, laughing at her wonderful cast and their innovative and charming, and sometimes edgy, brand of comedy.




Trump’s Team Face Masks Main Stream Media

2017-01-24T17:51:35Z

How dare White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer go to the New York Post for the first question? When the big networks were all primed to discuss the weekend skirmish over crowd size, and Sean Spicer’s loyal defense on Saturday of a clearly annoyed President Trump. And then pick on the Christian Broadcasting Network for […]How dare White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer go to the New York Post for the first question? When the big networks were all primed to discuss the weekend skirmish over crowd size, and Sean Spicer’s loyal defense on Saturday of a clearly annoyed President Trump. And then pick on the Christian Broadcasting Network for the next question? Then Univision and Fox Business. You would think the major networks would finally be called on. No. It was the Urban Radio Network. And finally, the Associated Press, who by tradition get the first question in any White House briefing of the media. Not anymore. So while the president got down to a brisk – to not say full steam ahead – pace in his first full working day on the job, there was no chance for mainstream media to bear down on some of the weekend’s silliness. Or inappropriateness. Or fighting over a molehill, as the Washington Examiner put it. Look, Obama had bigger crowds at both his inaugurals. There is no disputing that for anyone who watched the proceedings live on TV, with the endless helicopter shots of the Mall. Whether more people watched through various forms of live streaming on social media as well as more standard media is something to be decided once all the available data is in. But why stake a battle, or a bloody skirmish, on the issue? Remember, aside from the symbolic importance of Obama’s inauguration, there is also another simple reason why it is always much easier for a progressive like Obama to fill the mall in Washington D.C. The nation’s capital, and surrounding suburbs, are a hotbed of progressive wonks and supporters. OF COURSE they’re gonna fill the mall when someone like Barack Obama is inaugurated. Yes, some came from a long way away. Most didn’t. But President Trump is still Donald Trump, and so his speech at the CIA on Saturday delved into the media’s relationship with Trump. It didn’t have to. He clearly had a supportive audience at Langely who hooted and cheered his arrival, and seemed genuinely pleased to have him come to speak before them. Unlike the retiring top brass across the intel community. Who are still at it, leaking about what appear to be routine phone calls between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador. But the Trump Train does not slow down. So Sean Spicer did an end run around much of the mainstream media. This a disturbing precedent if you have a staff of dozens dedicated to covering The White House. Of course, mainstream media correspondents can insist on making the story about how they were left out of the story. And they have much of the print media more than willing to echo their frustrations, as is already the case with Spicer’s presser. But it almost feels like a media version of the Quarterback face masking the DB. Like Aaron Rogers on Sunday, ripping Alford’s helmet off. He can’t do that! He’s the one who gets face masked. Not the d[...]