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Updated: 2017-06-26T18:09:13Z

 



Yes! You Should Think About the BCRA

2017-06-26T18:09:13Z

Oh joy oh joy! We get to talk about health care again. So. We now have the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act – that’s BCRA – and it’s a watering down or subsidizing up of the American Health Care Act – that’s AHCA – which itself was a clear start, but nothing more than a […]

Oh joy oh joy! We get to talk about health care again.

So. We now have the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act – that’s BCRA – and it’s a watering down or subsidizing up of the American Health Care Act – that’s AHCA – which itself was a clear start, but nothing more than a start, at partially dismantling the Affordable Care Act – or the ACA – which we all know is Obamacare.

Do you really want to go through all the changes in rather overwhelming detail? Read Christopher Jacobs’ review in The Federalist. If there ever was a healthcare policy wonk, he’s it.

Do you want to know what the “family glitch” is? Chris Jacobs helpfully explains it’s when members of a worker’s family do not qualify for subsidies if said worker qualifies for employer-based health insurance. Even if said worker’s employer-based health insurance does not cover his family members. Thus the glitch. Apparently the BCRA solves the AHCA’s family glitch problem. Did you know that the word glitch probably comes from German or Yiddish? And was first used to refer to engineering problems at Cape Kennedy around 1965? And yes, apparently the BCRA solves the family glitch problem.

Ah but it’s not just the family glitch that was solved. We also have Avik Roy cheering GOP Senators for diving into the details of the AHCA and like navy seals triumphantly emerging on the surface with the AHCA’s section 202 in hand. Section 202 of the AHCA you ask? It involves a transitional schedule of tax credits rather than the flat tax credit that kicks in regardless of income under Ryan’s AHCA, and that was meant only as a bridge between Obamacare and Ryancare. What did the Senators do? They made it permanent so that the tax credits in the BCRA now depend on income, rather than being flat. That means lower income workers get more subsidies for their health insurance compared to the House’s AHCA plan.

That means, according to Avik Roy, that low-income workers and near-elderly working poor will now be able to afford health insurance that they might not have been able to under the AHCA. That’s surely what President Trump meant when he said we need a plan that is less “mean” didn’t he? He knew all about section 202 of the AHCA, didn’t he? Didn’t we all?

Then again maybe we didn’t. Health care policy in America is fiendishly complex with conflicts between hospitals, patients, doctors, healthcare workers, insurance companies, employers, employees, independent workers, small business owners, local government, state government, and the federal government. And taxpayers of course, which is a term that covers several of the already mentioned groups. And all the other groups I surely forgot to mention.

No single plan can satisfy perhaps even a clear majority of these constituencies. But most of us don’t have the time, passion, or focus to clearly think through the countless trade offs that any health policy in America necessarily involves. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Health care is fundamental, and Obamacare is unsustainable without serious reform/replacing, or without way more taxes and subsidies. Those two truths mean everyone has to do a little research and decide what they think about healthcare policy. For their own and the country’s good. And yes, it’s a pain.




FANg’s Property Rights and Free Speech

2017-06-22T18:18:43Z

The Daily Beast lament that the Democrats have yet to “crack the code” for turning the resistance (to Trump of course) into political victory. What if they have the code but the code is wrong? The resistance will not accept the legitimacy of President Trump’s election. Whether they be DOJ officials or intel community analysts […]

The Daily Beast lament that the Democrats have yet to “crack the code” for turning the resistance (to Trump of course) into political victory. What if they have the code but the code is wrong?

The resistance will not accept the legitimacy of President Trump’s election. Whether they be DOJ officials or intel community analysts horrified by Trump’s aesthetics, or street level radicals, or Sleeping Giants.

Sleeping Giants? They’re a progressive group that target right-leaning sites and corporations and try to scare advertisers away with high pressure name and shame tactics. And it seems to work. Is this a case of business merely trying to make sure they understand their clients – and maximize profits by minimizing losses according to Warren of the Warren (Henry) Report? Clients who are now in the majority deeply concerned with gender-flexible pronouns and will boycott your company? Or are they being bullied into ridiculous stances?

In other words, even though the resistance and the radical cultural and political politics they espouse can’t seem to gain enough traction with voters, maybe they can achieve their goals through economic boycotts and produce a change in behavior of large corporations rather than a majority of voters. Which is a much larger group.

This is Ben Domenech’s fascinating thesis in a recent issue of The Transom. And it’s a very troubling look at the corporate concentration in the hands of companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and oh yes, Netflix. An overwhelming majority of advertising budgets get spent on these companies’ platforms. That means a key slice of speech in America is controlled by these four giants.

Wait a second. Hold on. Hold on. See where this is going? Because of the inherent networking effects that give successful technology platforms such dominance, they crowd out speech. That means we need government to break these companies up. So we can have free speech?? What strikes you as wrong with that statement?

In other words, can government create the conditions for a more diverse range of opinions in the world’s most powerful tech companies (and media companies because social media is really tech taking over media) by telling them and their shareholders what to do with their invested capital? Is speech, therefore, free? And can government mandate free speech?

Well yes, in a way. It’s called the constitution and especially the First Amendment. But that involves a warning not to prohibit, rather than to prohibit. Should the FANG gang (Facebook et al) be broken up into smaller pieces? You can argue that de-regulation of telecom in the 80’s helped pave the way for the 90’s boom and the explosion in communication technology that itself created the conditions for the FANG companies to thrive so wonderfully. But that was government getting out of the way, rather into the way.

But any attempt to do the same to the FANG gang should be viewed cautiously and with skepticism over what could result from government interference. If Google and Facebook and Apple want to honestly be companies with progressive and very liberal values then that’s their property right. Isn’t it?




Just Get Someone

2017-06-19T14:19:20Z

Just Get Someone © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   The November 2016 election of Donald Trump has so incensed the liberal mainstream media and the Democratic establishment that they’ve become virtually unhinged emotionally in their zeal to delegitimize and torpedo his presidency. Far from “coming together as one country after a hard-fought election […]Just Get Someone © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   The November 2016 election of Donald Trump has so incensed the liberal mainstream media and the Democratic establishment that they’ve become virtually unhinged emotionally in their zeal to delegitimize and torpedo his presidency. Far from “coming together as one country after a hard-fought election campaign,” the Democrats and their liberal media collaborators have embarked on a non-stop, all-out crusade to destroy the Trump administration, thereby somehow reversing and overturning last November’s election result. That is their objective, make no mistake: Disqualify, reverse and oust. The Democrats’ disqualification vehicle of choice is some vague, unspecified illegal connection that the Trump people had with Russian operatives before the election that enabled the Russians to manipulate the American voting process in a targeted manner to alter the vote, away from Hillary Clinton, and give it to Donald Trump. There are a lot of words and phrases being tossed around by hysterical, sanctimonious, hyperventilating sources, saying things like, “Trump colluded with Russia to influence our election!” “The Russians hacked our voting process!” “Clinton’s insider information was revealed by the Russians to Trump’s benefit!” Beyond these breathless, screeching headlines, there aren’t any real specifics of any kind. When the question is asked to define “influence,” or “hacked,” or “colluded,” the answers that come back are mostly along the lines of, “Well, you know! They did! Trump lied! Our democracy is at stake!” But exactly what was done, the actual methodology, where, the specific people involved, how many votes were altered, how many counties were illegally shifted from Clinton to Trump, how those counties added up to state wins for Trump instead of Clinton, none of that information is forthcoming. After seven months of non-stop Democratic investigation, none of those details are forthcoming. Absent any tangible, verifiable proof of Trump-caused election manipulation, we’ve now entered the next, highly-predictable phase: The Get Someone phase. The Democrats already “got” Michael Flynn, since Trump fired him early on for not being forthcoming about some foreign contacts and financial arrangements. The President fired him. He was criticized for it by the liberal media and the Democratic establishment. If he hadn’t fired him, he’d have been criticized for it by the liberal media and the Democratic establishment. But Flynn wasn’t high enough; he wasn’t a big enough scalp to satisfy the anti-Trump fervor. Besides, President Trump fired him; he didn’t defend him and try to keep him on. It’d be oh-so-much better if we could force the resignation of a truly high-level Administration official that the Administration is actively defending. The bigger the scalp an opposition party can claim, the more embarrassment and damage they can show the world they’ve inflicted on their enemies. When the embarrassment and damage reaches a critical tipping point, the media talk about it non-stop, night and day, and the issue manages to pierce through the fog of indifference that surrounds most casually-attentive, non-partisan-engaged swing voters. Here, the Democrats have a huge advantage. The sources from which those aforementioned “casually-attentive, non-partisan-engaged swing voters” get their news and form their opinions are overwhelmingly liberally-biased. Whether late night like Colbert or Kimmel, Comedy Central’s Daily Show, the network morning shows like GMA and Today that pe[...]



Will the White House Have to Wait Mueller Out?

2017-06-16T18:57:47Z

Over at thecipherbrief.com – the intel communityish newsletter with a heavyweight line up of expert contributors – John Sipher (no it’s not his site), a former CIA analyst, gleefully sets up a Catch-22 that many in the intel community hope leads to some way to impeach Trump. After outlining the difference between a counter-intelligence investigation, […]

Over at thecipherbrief.com – the intel communityish newsletter with a heavyweight line up of expert contributors – John Sipher (no it’s not his site), a former CIA analyst, gleefully sets up a Catch-22 that many in the intel community hope leads to some way to impeach Trump.

After outlining the difference between a counter-intelligence investigation, which is open-ended and does not rely on the same standards of evidence or legal proceedings that a criminal investigation does, and a criminal investigation where evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt is usually necessary, he tells those who are asking ‘where’s the evidence?’ to hush and sit patiently.

That’s because the FBI, in its counter-intelligence investigation, will take its sweet time in thoroughly combing through the evidence as Mueller’s prosecutors – among the best in the business apparently – set up endless interviews with whoever they feel will help move their investigation forward. Hopefully in their view means only one thing: towards a conviction. Even if it means one related to obstruction of justice and not collusion of any shape or form with Russian actors. But hey, that depends on what evidence they may theoretically turn up at some point during what may be a multi-year process. And until they do, it’s only a counter-intelligence investigation, which does not go by the same rules. Ha ha. Ha ha. No wonder John Sipher has such a big grin in his impressive photograph at cipherbrief.com.

And that’s a Kafkaesque open-ended process that could take years to complete, and is and will continue to undermine Trump’s presidency, even if doesn’t lead to an impeachment. Why? Because we have an FBI counter-intelligence investigation against a sitting president’s associates, and perhaps even the president himself. An investigation that may have originally been set in motion by Christopher Steele’s absurd dossier. There are several factors one can point to or blame: a D.C. bureaucracy and especially intel community wary of candidate Trump and openly hostile to President Trump; a churlish delight on the part of Trump himself to provoke and gloat; a self-righteous FBI Director, James Comey, who got burned by his decisions regarding Hillary’s server and was perhaps eager to compensate by going the other way; a Democrat opposition that is being pushed by a base that is still hysterically furious that Trump actually won; and a media that is working hand in glove with any and all beltway leakers.

But how the Russia probe got started is unfortunately so much history now, and the question for the administration is how to get out of this mess? Fire Mueller and also fire Rosenstein, who seems to think only he can fire Mueller? Instruct Rosenstein to tighten up Mueller’s mandate? Actually listen to your legal advice?

Or wait it out and meanwhile try to focus on your agenda? And hope the media finally tires of the Russia headlines they publish nearly every day? In the end that may be all that’s left for Trump’s White House. If they can balance the waiting with at least some major bills like tax cuts and healthcare reform of some kind. Unfortunately that will also mean being very careful when interviewed by Mueller’s prosecutors. And that will be a herculean task. Are they up to it?




The Process Idol – a D.C. Tragedy

2017-06-15T17:44:48Z

Process where is they sting? Everywhere if you’re not careful. Ok, no that’s not a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. But it may just be that process – that idol worshipped in the halls of Congress and throughout the labyrinths of many a government department or intelligence agency – is in fact a jealous idol. […]Process where is they sting? Everywhere if you’re not careful. Ok, no that’s not a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. But it may just be that process – that idol worshipped in the halls of Congress and throughout the labyrinths of many a government department or intelligence agency – is in fact a jealous idol. One that consumes unexpected victims who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves about to be sacrificed to this jealous and capricious and all-consuming idol. First of all, we now have the question of Comey’s leaking to the NYT through a friend. That would be Daniel Richman, Columbia Law School professor who played the role of intermediary in getting a portion of Comey’s memo of his meeting with President Trump to the NYTimes in order to force the appointment of a special prosecutor. And it worked. But was Comey’s leak illegal? It is a reasonable question to ask, especially seeing that the Russia investigation is now morphing into a possible obstruction of justice investigation, which in fact is really a focused search for any way to end President Trump’s term in office as soon as is possible without resorting to literal assassination attempts. In other words, if we’re going to use process as a possible way to trap Trump or some of his current or former advisers or members of his cabinet into obstruction of justice charges, then isn’t it reasonable to ask if Comey’s leak is legal? That is, to ask if Comey was sufficiently respectful of the process idol? To assume you can appease the process idol with sacrifices of only one kind (GOP officials and/or Trump associates) is likely mistaken. Process once it gets going, can be a difficult idol to please. Secondly, the closeness between Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller should also be concerning. They are friends and former colleagues who are now going to be on opposite sides of the witness stand, if you will. In an investigation that is supposed to be about objective, neutral, expert leadership of an inquiry involving the President’s associates. And what may be the top witness is a veritable bro of the special counsel leading the investigation? A special counsel appointed in order to remove DOJ officials from directly leading the inquiry because of questions about partisanship? So, what will process bring us next? Is the president considering firing Special Counsel Mueller, as Newsmax Media CEO Chris Ruddy recently said on PBS? And was Ruddy’s leak meant to encourage or to discourage President Trump, with whom Ruddy has had a close friendship for some time? And yes, the president himself has done more than his share in unwittingly sparking this process into life, with his tweets. He tweeted, Comey got even angrier and leaked (although evidence suggests Comey was going to leak anyway once he was fired and the president’s tweets just gave him the perfect excuse). Acting AG Rosenstein pressed the panic button and appointed a special counsel who happened to be the ex-FBI director and good Comey friend, Robert Mueller. And now the president is apparently considering firing Mueller. And perhaps Rosenstein? And as an aside, Senator Feinstein has now considered the possibility of a probe into former AG Lynch’s suggesting to then Director Comey to call the Hillary email investigation a “matter” and not an “investigation.” Yes, Feinstein is a member fo the same political party as Lynch, but that isn’t stopping her from wanting in on the investigatory fun: an investigation to determine[...]



Leaks – or What Made Us Stop Watching Mulder and Scully?

2017-06-08T19:05:31Z

First it was class warfare. The first wave of marxism was all about eliminating private property rights and ownership in order to control the means of production and liberate the working class. By the latter half of the 20th century, the concept of liberation struggle (usually violent) was extended to gender, then race, then even […]First it was class warfare. The first wave of marxism was all about eliminating private property rights and ownership in order to control the means of production and liberate the working class. By the latter half of the 20th century, the concept of liberation struggle (usually violent) was extended to gender, then race, then even age, and finally an increasingly bewildering range of categories of being as witnessed by trans liberation. The last of which went from a fairly marginal cultural place seeing it involves an infinitesimal portion of any given population, straight into the courts and legislatures across the country with astonishing speed. But wait a second! That’s so old-school isn’t it really? There is only one true war of liberation that matters to the true cutting-edge freedom fighters of 2017. Information, flow freely across the globe! You have only your encrypted chains to lose! And unlike the narrow group of trans activists who have bludgeoned those who disagree with screeching name and shame tactics, the info-anarchists can come from anywhere: an Australian hacker-activist-possible abuser living in an embassy in London. An NSA subcontractor or two. A criminal group in the Ukraine or Russia or China or anywhere who pillage personal identity data to resell on the deep web. A top-level State Department Official who decides she really really doesn’t like President Trump’s latest tweet. A three-star General who wants his policies listened to a heck of a lot more by the White House. A journalist who loves a good scoop and righteously refuses to reveal sources even when lives are at stake because the integrity of the media is sacred as we all know. We’re not all Keynesians now. We’re all hackers now apparently. At least all of us who matter. Information wants to be free. Michael Moore has launched Trumpileaks and will take gossip/leaks/dangerous security information/anything from anywhere and anyone because the more information we all have, the better. And because maybe the leaks can help the Democrats take back the House and even the Senate and impeach Trump who we all know was put in the White House by the Russians. How do we know this? The leaks, follow the leaks. Go to the leaks and learn the truth! And now in what is akin to Trotsky getting a pick-axe plunged into his skull, Wikileaks Assange is blasting an unnamed journalist at The Intercept for bringing in the FBI to review a leak the online media site received in the mail. From who we now know to be the uniquely named Reality Winner. A young former Air Force veteran working as a … you guessed it, NSA subcontractor. How dare any journalist be concerned whether a law was broken!! Or whether lives may be put at risk!! We want to know!! All of us! Hackers have been counter-culture heroes of a sort for a few decades now. Nothing new there. But the view of hacking and leaking as a legitimate political policy tool is rather new. Michael Moore has apparently called upon “Patriotic Americans in Government, law enforcement, and the private sector … to blow the whistle in the name of protecting the United States of America from tyranny.” Or from the current democratically elected administration, in other words. The X-files, after sitting in our subconscious minds for a couple of decades, has borne fruit. No, I don’t mean the remake. I mean that Mulder (and Scully to a lesser extent) are our heroes nowadays. In a world filled with conspiracy theories – some of them maybe even possibly and partially true – only a hacker an[...]



Made out of Mettle?

2017-06-08T17:28:20Z

Made out of Mettle? © 2017, Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. I don’t know if it’s a male-female thing or not. Probably somewhat—I’d venture an off-the-cuff guess and say that nearly every guy thinks about this from time to time, but probably far fewer women give this any thought at all. Some do, no question, […]Made out of Mettle? © 2017, Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. I don’t know if it’s a male-female thing or not. Probably somewhat—I’d venture an off-the-cuff guess and say that nearly every guy thinks about this from time to time, but probably far fewer women give this any thought at all. Some do, no question, but less than half, I’d say. Now that my totally subjective, unfounded impressions are out of the way, let’s get down to the subject at hand. The thought that has continually crossed my mind from my late teens right through today is this: How would I fare in a life-or-death combat situation? Combat, where my own life depended on my own actions. Combat, where I could choose to put myself in danger in service to a greater good or play it safe, save myself, but come up short with regard to a good situational outcome. Note that I’m not talking about a deadly situation that involves protecting loved ones or a circumstance where self-preservation or self-defense is at play. In those cases, the survival-protective instinct takes over and most people will automatically do what they need to do to ensure the continued existence of their family or themselves. The combat-type situation I’m talking about is very different. This situation requires action on your part that puts you in potential life-threatening danger in order to complete a task for the benefit of others. Military combat, fire fighting, police work—these are the situations I’m referring to. These are the life tests that many people think about but may never know the answer to for sure. On some deep level, it matters, but for some, it’s easier to simply repress the question since the likelihood of a situational test presenting itself is almost nonexistent and if the person has even the slightest reason to doubt themselves, they’ll simply choose not to think about it. I had the opportunity recently to meet Chris “Tanto” Paranto, a U.S Ranger and Blackwater Security operative who defended the American Embassy in Libya on September 11, 2012 against a horde of attacking terrorists. The attack resulted in the deaths of American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, but the unbelievably courageous, heroic actions of Paranto, along with the few other American defenders, kept the attackers at bay long enough for twenty other Americans to escape to safety. This is not a political article. The circumstances that led to the terrorists’ attack, whether or not any American military assistance could have arrived in time, whether any after-action reports were politically-motivated or not, none of that is germane to this discussion. Enough has already been said on those topics. However, as Paranto spoke to us, I was struck by his commitment to the task at hand, the responsibility he felt to aid others in a larger cause beyond just himself as an individual and the humorous, ironic joy he and his compatriots experienced in their overwhelmingly dire situation. “You never think about dying,” he told us that night. “If you think about dying—about how you can avoid dying—you’re going to die. We simply did what we had to do, what the circumstances demanded of us. When we had time to think about things—which wasn’t often—we simply cracked each other up with off-the-wall jokes.” He continued, “We had a military scanner to monitor the U.S. communications taking place. Problem was, our scanner was about a minute or two delayed from real time, so it was useless. The scanner would say, ‘100’s of hostiles approaching from a mile away[...]



Perception is Reality

2017-06-03T22:27:00Z

Perception Is Reality © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. “Perception is reality” is a truism in most areas of human experience, but perhaps more so in politics than any other realm. Zealots on all sides know that if they can create an enduring, indelible image—whether positive or negative—in the minds of the populace, that […]Perception Is Reality © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. “Perception is reality” is a truism in most areas of human experience, but perhaps more so in politics than any other realm. Zealots on all sides know that if they can create an enduring, indelible image—whether positive or negative—in the minds of the populace, that perception will supersede any inconvenient facts that are more reflective of the actual situation. Here are just a few wide-ranging examples from the past half-century: Perception: The Tet Offensive was a major defeat for the U.S. in Vietnam The Vietnam War was a conflict born of Cold War sensibilities and doctrines that said that the spread of communism anywhere in the world was an existential threat to the national security interests of the United States and therefore that threat should be stopped. Very generally speaking, that was the impetus for our taking the lead role in supporting South Vietnam resisting the aggression of Communist China-backed North Vietnam. U.S. involvement started in the early 1960’s under President Kennedy. Following Kennedy’s death in 1963, President Johnson greatly expanded the scale of America’s engagement, with hundreds of thousand of U.S. troops deployed. The war itself enjoyed reasonable public support since it appeared that we were making solid progress in weakening the opposing forces and diminishing the communist threat. That impression of U.S. progress was shattered in January 1968 when 85,000 communist fighters launched a multi-pronged offensive against several South Vietnamese cities and strongholds. The attack—which came to be known as the Tet Offensive, so named for the Vietnamese New Year holiday period—came as a great surprise to American military leadership, who’d previously thought the communist forces were incapable of mounting such an attack. In America, public opinion for the war turned sharply negative, since the perception was that the communists had scored a great victory and dealt a huge setback to our mission. Reality: The truth is that after a very brief interlude of initial enemy success, American and South Vietnamese forces inflicted very substantial casualties on the communist forces and quickly regained the initiative, taking back virtually all the territory that was briefly lost to the opposing side. Nonetheless, the perception of a great defeat for America persisted, reinforced by the U.S. news media, who began saying that they’d been mislead in the past by overly-optimistic Government reports on the war’s progress. Now, the “truth” was out for all to see: The U.S. Government couldn’t be trusted, the communists had achieved stunning, unexpected success on the battlefield and the war in Vietnam was going to slog on interminably at great cost and with no realistic prospect for clear-cut victory. Anti-war protests, draft card burning and draft-dodging escapes to Canada became the norm. A fissure in American society materialized that many say has since lead to countless debilitating intergenerational social conflicts, and that the country’s view of the mainstream media and the government’s honesty has been irrevocably damaged as a result. Perception: Robert Bork was racist and misogynist, and that’s why he was rejected for the Supreme Court Robert Bork was a highly-respected scholar and judge who was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987 by President Reagan to replace the retiring Lewis Powell. Powell was known as a moderate, a swing vote in closely-contested decis[...]



Andrew Cuomo Shows the Way Forward From Paris

2017-06-02T17:05:49Z

Yes it must be tres jolie to fly to Paris and save the world from a possible 1.8 C increase in temperature over a multi-decade period. And then indulge in some of the City of LIght’s notorious (and no doubt notoriously expensive) temptations. But we shouldn’t assume that climate lobbyists and experts are quite at […]

Yes it must be tres jolie to fly to Paris and save the world from a possible 1.8 C increase in temperature over a multi-decade period. And then indulge in some of the City of LIght’s notorious (and no doubt notoriously expensive) temptations. But we shouldn’t assume that climate lobbyists and experts are quite at the level of a Dominique Strauss-Kahn. They may even be rather self-righteous zealots, in their own way.

Here’s the thing though. The future of environmental guidelines, rules, regulations, laws, by-laws, penalties, and general brow-beating may not be determined in places like Paris or Washington going forward. At least not in America.

Andrew Cuomo has launched a pledge (to go along with a presidential bid most likely in oh say 2+ years) to unite Jerry Brown’s California and Washington State under a set of regulations that will promise substantial reductions in emissions over the coming years. They will be the Three Musketeers of Climate Change, clasping hands in a holy trinity in order to save the exiled Prince’s Clean Power Plan.

You know something Andrew? Go for it! If your voters in the good state of New York want to burden themselves with additional taxes and regulations in order to reduce emissions that may be contributing to a slight increase in temperature, then they have that constitutional right. As a proud state in the United States of America.

And if the voters of the good state of West Virginia for example see otherwise and plan to support America’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord, ca c’est parfait aussi. Sure, Senate ratification – something Obama skipped because it would have been voted down and something Trump could theoretically use to deep six the Paris Accord – is a constitutional guarantee that any treaty has to have broad support. But how about if environmental standards became mostly a state matter?

Yes, pollution flows across state lines, but imagine trying to establish the level of a fine based on scientific estimates of what level of pollutants are estimated to have moved from somewhere inland – like Ohio – to say New York. Breaking News! Pollutants are now over Newfoundland! Canada demands reparations! Ohio tells them to get lost! Also happening right now! Juarez and El Paso sue each other!

Environmentalists would have us feel guilty for drought in Somalia. And give 70% of what we have to cure the problem, and give a few private-client bankers in Zurich some new customers. Everything is connected. Especially in Zurich.

How about instead, every state in America decides it’s own level of environmental regulations? Gasps of horror and denouncements from progressives/environmentalists. You can’t do that! Well, Cuomo just did. Didn’t he?




NATO Heads of State Smirk in the Middle of a War

2017-06-01T16:12:55Z

Donald Rumsfeld was right. Europe is old. Perhaps not as old a culture as China’s, for example. But the continent is buried beneath its history, its wars, its dead. And that means all the ghosts that haunt Europe often cause European states individually and collectively to fight the last war. So the question is: is […]Donald Rumsfeld was right. Europe is old. Perhaps not as old a culture as China’s, for example. But the continent is buried beneath its history, its wars, its dead. And that means all the ghosts that haunt Europe often cause European states individually and collectively to fight the last war. So the question is: is Europe’s denial (not every country in Europe but a clear majority of Western European states) of the fact that they are at war with islamic terrorism a reflection of the fact that they’re still haunted by the Cold War? Or WW II? It may just be that is the earlier conflict that still defines European policy on all sorts of levels. Remember, while the Cold War divided Europe, it was largely fought by the Soviets and America. As well as China of course, with the Korean and Vietnam Wars and countless other so-called proxy wars following from that basic conflict. So the main axis of the conflict was Washington – Moscow. It was WW II, however, that was fought directly by the Europeans before America and the Soviets intervened or were pulled into the conflict by Nazi attacks. The EU exists to ensure that Germany – or Italy – will never be fascist again. That was the root cause of it’s founding. It’s raison d’etre. Think about it. The end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany were near-simultaneous events – as measured by the pace of history. When the Berlin Wall fell the Soviet Union was essentially finished, about to crumble from the unsustainable cost of it’s worldwide campaign to promote communism by any means necessary. And once Germany was reunited, a deep discomfort crept through the EU all the while optimism was officially pronounced. It’s as if Germany doesn’t even really trust itself, and needs hypocrisy and evasion to justify its progressive social policies on issues like immigration. Until those policies help create a crisis that includes an increased threat of terrorism within its borders. Like in France. Like in Belgium. Like in much of the founding members of the EU. And like in the UK. So we have had a rather forced and slightly desperate policy of multicultural inclusion in a continent drenched in prejudice and tradition and history, and so we naturally get multiculturalism in Europe done with a detached and hypocritical outlook. Imposed by the elites and by a fairly large percent of the population who support these progressive polices. Until now. You couldn’t, for example, talk about the challenges that large scale immigration produces or you were practically opening up the gates of Auschwitz. Until now, as Merkel’s government actually starts to quietly take up some of the oh-so-reviled policies on immigration that the far-right parties called for in their impressive but losing electoral battles. And in the UK, in the aftermath of the bombing of tweens, teens, and children at a pop concert in Manchester, we have the elites – the media, the politicians, the chattering class – instructing people on how to behave. Once again. To mourn, to light candles, to cry. But never to blame. Unless themselves and their culture. Never to anger. Never to rage. In a series of articles in the National Review, and in a very hard-hitting piece at spiked-online.com, the view is expressed that anger, rage, and a measured but deadly revenge are not things to be avoided at all cost. They are, in fact, the only response to what is the latest act o[...]



Never Mind Collusion – It’s Now About Process

2017-05-26T17:04:34Z

Ok, this is not good and is very troubling in fact. Byron York writing in the Washington Examiner a day or two ago, points out that the Russia Investigation is now a far more dangerous thing for President Trump. Never mind the surprisingly Reagan-like budget the White House has released. Never mind Trump’s speech in […]

Ok, this is not good and is very troubling in fact. Byron York writing in the Washington Examiner a day or two ago, points out that the Russia Investigation is now a far more dangerous thing for President Trump. Never mind the surprisingly Reagan-like budget the White House has released. Never mind Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia or his visits to Jerusalem and the Vatican. Never mind that Obamacare repeal is sloshing along in some form or other – at least theoretically – in committee rooms somewhere on the Hill. Never mind all that.

President Trump may now possibly be targeted only for obstruction of justice, without there being any underlying collusion or crime, in other words. Special counsel Bob Mueller apparently has been delegated powers by Deputy AG Rosenstein under 28 CFR 600 4(a) which give Special Counsel Mueller to investigate “crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation.” CFR being the Code of Federal Regulations and specifically the part of that code that deals with special counsels. And yes, that would include obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.

Never mind that President Trump may have been merely trying to jawbone himself a little slack. Never mind that the intent may not have been as clear as many are implying. Never mind that it was surely clumsy – to be charitable – of him to do so. Never mind that many of his advisers would have likely advised against that.

Never mind, because if Mueller decides to get medieval on the Russia Investigation’s posterior, then he will do just like Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did, and look for process crimes, if you will. And jail – or recommend impeachment perhaps in the president’s case – anyone who is judged to have committed them.

Isn’t it fitting? In a world where process is king, and relativism the reigning ideology (read Morrisey’s Facebook post about “violent extremists”); and relativism is one long apology for any terrorist act, especially from islamic terrorists, how could process errors not end up being a capital crime?

You didn’t file your IRA contributions on Form 5498?! You hear the sound of your front door being bashed in? That’s us! The IRS! Yes, we carry guns!

You didn’t provide a safe space you old white male academic for a transgendered, modern dance student? You will be hounded off campus and physically assaulted!

You suggest slowing down the rate of growth of entitlements in your budget plan Mr. President? Murderer!

So yes, it is fitting that an administrative state would find any hint of possible obstruction of justice to be the perfect excuse to lay the groundwork for charges against the president himself. And thus attempt to lay the groundwork for any attempts at impeachment.

And if Special Counsel Mueller doesn’t do precisely that, then he in turn will be attacked mercilessly by the administrative state and it’s allies in the media. Just watch.

So yes, the president is doing the right thing and lawyering up. Because it no longer matters if there ever was any collusion between any members of his campaign team and the Russians. Why? Process is our king and country.




The Great Bozeman Incident and Escalation in America

2017-05-25T18:10:13Z

What shall we call them? The Gianforte Tapes? Does that sound just a little Nixonian? For all you public-hearted Democrats like Connecticut’s Jim Himes. Democratic Representative of the people of the good state of Connecticut. Who has helpfully de-escalated a handbags incident in Bozeman between Gianforte and Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs. By saying that all […]

What shall we call them? The Gianforte Tapes? Does that sound just a little Nixonian? For all you public-hearted Democrats like Connecticut’s Jim Himes. Democratic Representative of the people of the good state of Connecticut. Who has helpfully de-escalated a handbags incident in Bozeman between Gianforte and Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs. By saying that all mean-hearted Republicans should have a moment of clarity over the incident. And just hand over, oh say, 25 or 30 seats in the House of Representatives to his party. Right now, in a mass special election. Why wait 18 months for the mid-terms?

Ok. So we have an audio. What will become a notorious audio. A skit on SNL, possibly this weekend? A symbol of a deeply divided nation. Which is the fault of the president of course. And a great excuse to paint the Montana special election as a turning point in Democrats’ fortunes at the congressional, state, and local level.

But what exactly happened in Bozeman?

Did Ben Jacobs walk in on an ongoing interview (with Fox News perhaps? A Fox crew was apparently in the room when the incident occurred)? Was it in fact a scuffle over a phone stuck in Gianforte’s face while the candidate was in the middle of giving or wrapping up another interview? A little guerilla journalism on the part of The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs? Or put another way, a little bit of rudeness and aggression on Jacob’s part?

I suppose we’ll find out, now that Gianfonte has been given a citation for a misdemeanor assault. The world – or at least a whole platoon of Ben Jacobs-like journalists will descend on Bozeman to cover this incident.

So. If you’re a conservative/libertarian speaker who is physically assaulted on campus, the media focuses on the perspective and excuses of the antifa or other radicals who did or provided the environment in which the assault occurred. If you’re a tired and fed up candidate who (wrongly) loses his temper over aggressive tactics by a journalist you deserve jail or a fine, or at least to lose the election. Or even better, to have your special election results – should for example Gianforte still win the election – nullified.

That really will be the question. If Gianforte wins, should his election be nullified? The fact that the question is even being asked about what was a little pushing, grabbing and shoving (called “horrifying” by the DailyKos – give me a break) is merely another escalation in the culture wars that have defined speech in America for nearly a generation now.




Never Reveal What a Russian Hacker Can’t Steal

2017-05-23T21:22:02Z

Have you heard of Automated Indicator Sharing capability? No? Well, rumors are that the Trump administration is hoping you get to find out a little more about this intel-sharing program run through the Department of Homeland Security. It apparently involves intelligence sharing between several intel actors in the international community. Does it include Russia? That […]Have you heard of Automated Indicator Sharing capability? No? Well, rumors are that the Trump administration is hoping you get to find out a little more about this intel-sharing program run through the Department of Homeland Security. It apparently involves intelligence sharing between several intel actors in the international community. Does it include Russia? That seems to be the question that President Trump would like asked of DHS. Perhaps as a pushback against the leaks that portrayed (rather accurately) the president as unwittingly sharing at least some classified information with top Russian officials. The way it works is companies provide information on hackers and potential vulnerabilities to DHS who then use the data to run super-duper-real-secret algorithms that analyze the data (which includes IP addresses) and thus create threat profiles that can be acted on before any planned hacks occur. As a former official (gee what previous administration might have he or she worked for? Bush 43?) stated: …there’s certain information out there that’s beneficial for everyone to have, like, ‘Hey, this Windows program has a bug.’ When we share cybersecurity information with the Russians, we’re protecting their systems, making sure that no one hijacks their planes and missiles. Ah. So in that case it’s cool to share, as long as you follow standard protocol. And yes, there is a logic there. You have to compartmentalize information and just give what you need to give. And no more. Fair enough. But guess what? There is a bug in a certain Windows program that’s been around for awhile. And boy did that little bug have consequences as the world has seen in the last few days. And who first found how to exploit that bug for their own intel gathering purposes? Who else but the NSA! Welcome to the worm-ridden world of SMB V.1, apparently a rather old bit of Microsoft code that lets users share files and other stuff. And which if you’re not still using Windows XP and have actually allowed Microsoft to update your operating system, is probably not on your laptop or other devices. But many people still love their XP and don’t like downloading every update from Microsoft. So we have a problem. What problem you say? Well, back around 2013 the NSA found out how vulnerable this bit of code – our SMB V.1 – could be and hijacked it to use to get inside the SWIFT banking system for transferring funds between banks. With a focus on the Middle East. Follow the money as they say. Unfortunately, the Shadow Brokers cyber criminal group released this flaw and other related tools in their notorious data dump a few months ago. And now we have the logical consequence of this meshing of private hackers and public spy agencies: WannaCry, the ransomeware that shut down Hospitals and Banks and Trains and PC’s on a couple of continents. And that seeks out and exploits that old bit of Microsoft code: SMB V.1; in order to search for and seal with an encrypting key any documents and other valuable files that your infected computer might contain. You get your files back if you deposit BitCoin at an address, with a conveniently located button on the screen that shows up on your infected machine. And it’s not impossible that WannaCry is being run by Russian hackers. So just one question f[...]



Ross Douthat Demands the 25th – Domenech Differs

2017-05-19T16:38:44Z

We’re back at the 25th amendment it seems. Thanks to the NYT’s Ross Douthat, who has followed up on fellow, so-called conservative David Brook’s assessment of President Trump as a child, with the only possible solution according to Douthat: remove President Trump from office by using the 25th amendment. The presidency has become too imperial […]We’re back at the 25th amendment it seems. Thanks to the NYT’s Ross Douthat, who has followed up on fellow, so-called conservative David Brook’s assessment of President Trump as a child, with the only possible solution according to Douthat: remove President Trump from office by using the 25th amendment. The presidency has become too imperial to be run by someone with the president’s character, according to Douthat. And he has plenty of proof he insists, from those who work in or near the White House. Interesting. Douthat receives a phone call or two, or calls someone in said position and hears them complain about their boss. Something that surely has been happening lately with increasing frequency. From that Douthat assembles a psychological profile, or polishes up Brooks and others caricatures of the president and uses it … as justification for an unprecedented use of a fairly recent amendment. All to remove the duly elected president. Has Douthat had a vacation from New York lately? In other words, intellectuals despise Trump’s characters, so off with the imperial president’s head. And Douthat is not alone, unfortunately, in this. The hounds from both sides of the aisle are already howling for blood, their appetites wetted by an increasing stream of leaks from the intel community. All that differs are the methods. An inquiry and then impeachment. Or … A special prosecutor and then impeachment. Or … A select committee that lasts until just before the midterms. Then Democrats retake the Senate and then impeachment. Or … Straight to the 25th after first trying to convince Trump’s own cabinet including the Vice President to declare their boss unfit to govern the country. Which is what the 25th amendment requires. Why unfit? Because maybe, perhaps, he unwittingly and clumsily gave out a few clues to the Russians. Yes, that was not a good move, but the 25th? Ben Domenech in his newsletter responds to Ross Douthat with a sternly ironic rebuke regarding frothing anti-Trump hysteria in the media. If such an attempt was made, Domenech points out, it would in fact truly be a virtual, political assassination. And one of the very man that heartland voters sick of coastal elites elected to the White House. Done by the elites to keep their grip on power. Why? Because Trump has such questionable character, as “everyone” from Park Slope to Beverly Hills knows. Not including points in between. As an antidote to this raving, rolling madness (with ex-Director Mueller now appointed as special “counsel” by DOJ’s deputy AG Rod Rosenstein) is a fascinating piece by Joel Kotkin and Michael Lind in New Geography about America’s heartland, or flyover country, or where “those” people live if you’re Ross Douthat. It provides compelling evidence that jobs and yes people are migrating back east or out west towards the Mississippi, if you will. To where companies – many of them manufacturing or industrial as well as the many companies that service or supply the supposedly vanishing manufacturing sector – are providing new jobs. Where taxes are lower and where homes are cheaper. And where it’s a good place to raise your kids. Could it be that as elites on the coasts are trying to find any non-violent way[...]



What’s in a Name? Business and Politics

2017-05-17T13:56:49Z

What’s in a Name? © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Naming. The final frontier. Either Marketing has identified a brilliant long-range strategic opening that will revolutionize everything or Sales has won their argument and we’ll be producing a “me-too” fast-tracked defensive response product to counter our biggest competitor’s latest gizmo. Either way, Industrial Design […]What’s in a Name? © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Naming. The final frontier. Either Marketing has identified a brilliant long-range strategic opening that will revolutionize everything or Sales has won their argument and we’ll be producing a “me-too” fast-tracked defensive response product to counter our biggest competitor’s latest gizmo. Either way, Industrial Design comes up with some pretty concepts of what it might look like, Engineering designs the actual thing so it will perform the way it needs to, and finally, Mechanical Engineering makes sure it all fits together and the factory can actually manufacture it. Marketing decides how much it will sell for (based on the material and labor cost and market conditions), Sales gives their forecasts (it would have been more but Marketing priced it a little too high), and Purchasing places the order with the overseas factory, telling them to put a ‘rush’ on it (as if that will really make a difference, as if every single customer they have doesn’t tell them to ‘rush’ everything). But….somewhere along the way, this gadget has to have a definite, hard-and-fast, unchangeable name. It’s got to be called something. Lots of things need to be molded or printed or created digitally: logo badges, names on the product’s chassis, boxes, user manuals (ok, no one reads them, but still), price lists, web pages, ads….lots of stuff. A name. We need a name. How do you name something? How important is the name? Does the name really affect the sales and market acceptance of a product one way or the other? Naming is a difficult thing. People have wildly differing views on the topic, based on their own experiences and their perception of their own expertise. Product naming falls into a few major categories, so we’ll look at each one. Bear in mind that everyone is a bloody expert on the subject, with ironclad, unimpeachable reasons, examples and logic as to why their thoughts and opinions are beyond any second-guessing whatsoever. Really. There are lots of very smart, insightful people involved in this, and none of them can possibly be wrong. It’s very important to understand that from the get-go. There’s only one certainty: Everyone thinks their own ideas about product naming are correct. Just roll with it. Here are the naming categories: Alpha/Numeric (Audi) A4 (Atlantic) IWTS-30 LCR (Sony) XBR-49X900E (Acoustic Research) AR-3 (Honda) CR-V This is the model number approach. The simple method is to use easily-remembered, short model numbers that can take on an identity of their own. Audi’s A4 is a perfect example. Acoustic Research, the famous stereo speaker company from the 1960’s-70’s, used their own company initials (“AR”) and a short model number. Audi and AR illustrate two different ways a company can go about creating model numbers: Either in ascending/descending order of price/performance (the Audi A3, A4, A5, A6 etc. go up in price/performance as the model number increases) or in time/sequential order: the AR-1 came out first, followed by the AR-2, AR-3, AR-4, etc. This was not a price or performance order: the AR-4 was the least expensive of them all, followed by the AR-2. If a product is truly excellent and garners great critical acclaim from rev[...]



What Was Revealed? What Should Be Asked?

2017-05-16T22:31:09Z

If there is indeed a very unfortunate ISIS double agent – perhaps in Jordan whose King received a phone call from the White House during the past day or so it is reported – who is being or has been tortured to death because of the latest leak about Trump and the Russian ambassador and […]If there is indeed a very unfortunate ISIS double agent – perhaps in Jordan whose King received a phone call from the White House during the past day or so it is reported – who is being or has been tortured to death because of the latest leak about Trump and the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, then whose fault is it? Let’s put it this way: is a Washington Post headline story the best way to protect intel sources in the Middle East? Ones that are involved in the islamic terrorist scene in places like Syria, Iraq or perhaps Jordan? It takes reading through quite a few paragraphs in said WaPo story to get to the following: Russia and the United States both regard the Islamic State as an enemy and share limited information about terrorist threats. But the two nations have competing agendas in Syria, where Moscow has deployed military assets and personnel to support President Bashar al-Assad. President Trump broke no law – he is allowed to share any information he deems vital to protecting America’s national security interests. What info did FDR share with Stalin during the later years of WW II for example? So the question is, in departing (perhaps) from standard protocol in these types of meetings did President Trump betray a naivety that undermines America’s crucial relationships in the international intelligence community? And almost as importantly: what has been gained in terms of America’s national interests by this attempt to humiliate and expose an apparent faux-pax by the president? Or is that (or those) double agent(s) in perhaps Jordan who may be hanging by his fingernails and about to be tortured to death, mere collateral damage in the war between D.C. bureaucrats in the intel community and the Trump administration, or even between the media and Trump himself? That depends on what your perspective is and what your goals are. Do you want to ensure robust relationships with allied intel communities? Then you deal with this fairly subtly. Yes, that means keeping things off the front page, for example. Do you want to find any possible means – short of a military coup or an assassination – to end Trump’s presidency ASAP? Then you leak, leak, and leak. And do it with a hysterically righteous sense of purpose, like a Soviet actor in The Battleship Potemkin. Ok, that’s a little exaggerated. Just like the media and Trump. Isn’t it? Look, if Trump did slip up because of a boast, and if he did so in front a couple of grinning Russian officials, whose minds are meanwhile working like Swiss watches lubricated by the finest Vodka you can buy in the West, then there’s a steep learning curve ahead for the president. (It’s actually a flat learning curve if you put time on the x-axis and knowledge gained on the y-axis but never mind, y’all know what I mean) This raises an important question: have these sorts of unintentional slip-ups always been an unfortunate part of top-level meetings between officials of rival or even allied countries? And is Trump getting a rougher ride precisely because of the media, bureaucratic, Democrat, and academic campaign to portray him as unfit to be Commander in Chief? Or was this truly a cringe-worthy event? Because of the partisan warfare swirling around the president, that’s a really tough que[...]



Trump’s Tweets on Comey and the Need for An Independent Investigation

2017-05-12T23:11:46Z

There are important reasons why Trump was elected President, that have to do with how the country deals with it’s rural and urban divides. Even as broad labels like rural and urban or coastal and heartland bely enormous diversity within even individual regions in America. These reasons may not matter much longer if President Trump […]There are important reasons why Trump was elected President, that have to do with how the country deals with it’s rural and urban divides. Even as broad labels like rural and urban or coastal and heartland bely enormous diversity within even individual regions in America. These reasons may not matter much longer if President Trump keeps using Twitter the way he has the last few days. Why fricking set up an institutional process (or at least claim to, to key journalists like Byron York and others) in order to determine that Comey should be fired, if Trump then tweets out contradicting reasons a few days later? Why carefully try to explain the president’s reasons or the administration’s reasons for the dismissal if the president himself both threatens to stop press briefings and to circumvent Spicer and his staff with printed handouts? It is precisely at key moments like this that the president needs to understand that business practices have to be applied to politics – especially presidential politics – with at least some regard for how Washington works on an institutional level and a cultural level. Yes, you want to drain the swamp. No, you don’t want to pump your basement full with swamp water because you thought you could avoid a mess by draining the growing swamp on the White House lawn that way. Trump has apparently threatened Comey with possible recordings, slapped down his communications staff, and is still furious at the media coverage, as if he actually expected his firing of Comey at this time to have resulted in a different sort of reaction from a media that is openly and hysterically critical of him. What was he thinking? And what truly sucks about all this is that there is still no real evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. Yes, Flynn and Carter Page, and Roger Stone, and Manafort have displayed questionable ethics at best. Yes, the investigation should continue. But no, it’s not a criminal investigation. It’s an open-ended intel investigation. That means spy v spy. That means that much of what might be evidence can be kept from public view due to it’s being classified information. At least in the intel community’s judgement. Thanks to Trump’s blunders, it now feels like a criminal investigation has been thwarted. It isn’t one and it hasn’t. The investigation will resume, with more intensity and more coverage, and more witnesses – even if they merely rehash the same evidence. President Trump has fanned the flames of the investigation and continues to do so, with the clumsy banning of the press from his meeting with Russian foreign officials. The Russian news agencies published their photos of what had apparently been agreed to as a private event. Great optics guys. And then the president later tweets out the White House photographer’s pics in an angry reaction to the obvious move that Putin pulled on him. Not good. Again, this is not Watergate, but President Trump is doing his best to behave as if he was Nixon, and as if it was. There needs to be a Congressional committee charged with investigating this – not a special prosecutor please – so that this can be openly investigated – to hell with classified concerns; Ame[...]



Comey, Putin, Fusion and Steele – Now That’s a Party!

2017-05-09T20:13:19Z

The Senate is not just the next pitstop for the TrumpHouseCare healthcare bill, now that it’s cleared the first hurdle. But there also is – among other things – that ongoing Russia investigation that seemed to be the only thing that mattered mere weeks ago. And a few days back. there was a very interesting […]

The Senate is not just the next pitstop for the TrumpHouseCare healthcare bill, now that it’s cleared the first hurdle. But there also is – among other things – that ongoing Russia investigation that seemed to be the only thing that mattered mere weeks ago. And a few days back. there was a very interesting exchange in the Senate Intelligence Committee between Senator Graham who is no friend of President Trump, and Director Comey. Comey had what seems a frustrating time at the hearing. His voice rose to a whiny, frustrated pitch while he used phrases like “mildly nauseous” to describe his feelings about Hillary’s email scandal and the election last fall.

But the nature of the exchange between Senator Graham and Director Comey involves quite interesting stuff.

As reported by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist, it seems there is a complaint lodged with the Department of Justice that claims that Fusion GPS, the notorious opp-shop firm that was hired to dig up dirt on Trump, and was paid in part at least by … the Russians?!

The essential point is that Fusion GPS is now alleged to have done work for Russia. And perhaps even that Russia helped pay for and officially contributed to the infamous Steele Dossier with it’s lurid and often or at least sometimes untrue and unchecked claims. Senator Graham phrased the question in a way that focuses on the fact that Russia was an active, immediate and complicit partner in opposition research which may have altered the course of the presidential elections in 2016.

But the next question that arises is … and the FBI? Comey stonewalled Graham and has been reluctant – to say the least – to provide any sort of meaningful information on the apparently ongoing Russia investigation at his agency. But if any of this is at least partially true then we have the following:

The U.S. intel community is a complicit partner with Putin’s regime in spreading kompromat on a candidate in an American presidential election. Kompromat which is of doubtful authenticity in at least several notable instances. What does that say about the intel community?

In other words, if this is true, is this a one-off nasty campaign against President (or candidate) Trump? Or has this type of operation been used by American intel community actors in other elections? Elections in America that is. The intel community’s job is to interfere elsewhere if the conditions warrant it. But doing so at home raises troubling questions.

And the media? Has there been any focus on this as of late? Perhaps an acerbic story or two in the Daily Beast about how the Senate Intelligence Committee has supposedly stalled the probe. But not much else. This should not be a partisan concern. This should be a broad concern. But of course it very much is partisan, and on both sides. But in the end, if Putin is capable of hacking Hillary’s campaign it should hardly be surprising that the ex-KGB officer would play both sides of the aisle, and hack Trump’s campaign. Just in case. Isn’t that what Soviet active measures were all about? Sorry, what they are all about.

FBI active measures? Couldn’t be, could it?




The 2020 Democratic Bench

2017-05-08T12:38:18Z

The 2020 Democratic Bench © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. It’s never too early to speculate. The Democrats are fired up for the 2020 Presidential election in a way they haven’t been in years. The pall of Hillary Clinton’s loss to the supremely unqualified, fraudulent shell of a candidate that was and is Donald […]The 2020 Democratic Bench © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. It’s never too early to speculate. The Democrats are fired up for the 2020 Presidential election in a way they haven’t been in years. The pall of Hillary Clinton’s loss to the supremely unqualified, fraudulent shell of a candidate that was and is Donald Trump hangs over the party as a constant reminder of a nightmarish reality, brought about by an unimaginable string of unforced errors, miscalculations and unpreventable random outside events that conspired together to produce the greatest upset in American political history. Is it hyperbole to say that never in the history of Democratic politics has an election loomed larger and more important than 2020? There are three 70-something nationally-known potential 2020 Democratic candidates right now, but to any objective observer, they seem stale, predictable and shop worn. It’s unlikely that Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren could put together a support coalition across the generational boundaries that would prove strong and vital enough to constitute an actual winning majority. Are any of them a surprise in any way? Do any of them hold even one position on any issue that isn’t already known in advance by everyone? Do any of them inspire the undecideds or strike fear into our international adversaries? Warren, in particular, may not even live to fight until 2020. Although her national standing is quite high among the hard-core far-Left wing of her party, her personal shortcomings, shrill unlikeability and hypocrisy are becoming increasingly apparent even to her MA base. It’s widely felt that a strong MA Republican Senate candidate, with good funding and a sharp communications strategy, will give Warren a very difficult time indeed in 2018. From her living the lifestyle of a privileged 1%-er while railing against “the rich,” to the embarrassingly shallow understanding of foreign policy she demonstrates whenever she speaks at length on the subject, to her deception of her ethnic background as a “native American” that she used on her application to Harvard, she’s a “target-rich environment,” ripe pickings for a sharply-run opposition campaign. As Republican Charlie Baker’s overwhelming election to the Governorship showed, MA will elect a Republican if the Democrat is deemed personally unworthy, unknowledgeable or out of touch. Warren is arguably all three. As a MA resident, I can see that Warren’s 2018 Senate re-election is far from a sure thing. So if the 70+ sect is not properly equipped, who is? Where will the Dems turn? Two names jump out as possibilities: VA Governor Terry McAuliffe and MA Congressman Seth Moulton. There are others, no doubt, and some that no one has even thought of yet. But let’s look at these two for starters. Terry McAuliffe Currently the Governor of VA, McAuliffe is a long-time Democratic operative and high-profile figure in the Party. A prolific fundraiser and rabidly partisan but highly effective public speaker, McAuliffe was co-chair of President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, Democratic National Chairman from 2001 to 2005 and chair of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. He won the VA [...]



You Can’t Have It Both Ways

2017-05-05T17:38:22Z

You Can’t Have It Both Ways © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. It’s human nature: When Person A finally takes the action or adopts the position favored by Person B, the inclination is for Person B to continue to be dissatisfied with Person A and not give them any credit for their move. Person […]You Can’t Have It Both Ways © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. It’s human nature: When Person A finally takes the action or adopts the position favored by Person B, the inclination is for Person B to continue to be dissatisfied with Person A and not give them any credit for their move. Person B will very often change the basis on which the original issue was based in an attempt to preserve a legitimate reason to reject Person A’s action. To Person B, being able to reject Person A and disagree with them is more important than the actual issue itself. Such is definitely the case with Democrat politicians, activists and the liberal media regarding President Trump. An excellent example of this occurred in early April on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News when he was speaking to Democratic Congressman (CA) Brad Sherman. Carlson put forth the fact that Trump’s missile attack on Syria was unequivocally damaging to Putin’s ally Assad, thereby proving that President Trump was not “in the pocket” of Putin as so many Democrats have claimed. Carlson challenged Sherman to simply admit that. Sherman refused, aghast at the prospect of absolving Trump of his biggest “sin”: the Democrats’ contention that he colluded with Russia to sink Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Instead, Sherman was trying desperately to maintain that Trump is still “guilty” of some vague-but-grievous campaign violations, even though Sherman agreed with the missile strike. He was trying to have it both ways. Another perfect example of trying to have it both ways is when then-candidate Trump named Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager. The entire subject of women’s progress in the professional world, the “wage gap,” the Glass Ceiling, women entering previously male-only fields, etc. is a vital cornerstone of the Democratic platform. Add to that the Democrats gleefully revelling in their leaking of the 12-year-old Trump “grabbing” audiotape and it adds up to a very convenient narrative for them: “Trump disrespects women and his presidency will harm women’s standing in all aspects of American life.” But then Trump does something that doesn’t comport with his opponents’ preferred depiction of putative misogynist white male Republicans—he names a woman to mastermind his campaign. If a male Democrat had named a female campaign manager, he’d be hailed as a modern stereotype-breaker, a person who courageously breaks with outmoded, stubborn tradition and embraces the enlightened new way, seeks fresh perspectives, knows how to justly recognize the talents and insights that only a gender-balanced team can deliver and so on. Yet, for Democrats, the negative image of Trump as an old-time womanizer was just too juicy and appealing to let go of. So not only did they not give Trump “credit” for elevating a woman to a well-deserved critical position in his campaign, they employed the all-too-common device of changing the basis on which the original issue was based: they savaged Conway herself, calling into question her intellect and honesty. Since Trump’s election win, Conway has stayed on as a high-level advisor and the Democrats’ and liberal media hysterical criticism of Conway has co[...]



Do We Want a Bi-Coastal Media Bubble?

2017-05-03T23:26:55Z

Warren Henry makes a great point in his recent analysis of America’s infamous media bubble. No, there’s no quotes here around the phrase: media bubble. Because it is what it is. A big bi-coastal bubble. Here’s what Henry said in a newsletter a few days back: It’s worth noting that for many years, journalism was […]Warren Henry makes a great point in his recent analysis of America’s infamous media bubble. No, there’s no quotes here around the phrase: media bubble. Because it is what it is. A big bi-coastal bubble. Here’s what Henry said in a newsletter a few days back: It’s worth noting that for many years, journalism was considered a blue-collar job, one that could be done by ink-stained wretches without the artificial barriers of credentialing. It only became a gentrified, white-collar profession around the time people decided the job was more about being a paid left-leaning activist – “making the world a better place” in the post-Watergate argot. And since journalism became white-collar, these more-educated, often better-paid, white-collar journalists tend to go where the jobs in their industry are, on the two coasts of course. That’s a broad brush to paint an industry with, but it’s not an inaccurate statement when it comes to major, national coverage. Whatever the specific media might be. Maybe talk radio is a notable exception to the centralizing bi-coastal trend in media. But the trend is there nonetheless. And that means, again according to Warren Henry: The difference between those with a more globalist or nationalist viewpoint, between those with a conservative viewpoint or progressive viewpoint is both substantive and aesthetic, both economic and cultural. No kidding. The gap is real. People are self-sorting along the above-mentioned cultural and political divides, almost down to the neighborhood level. And perhaps as or even more importantly, they are self-sorting in terms of media consumption. No, I don’t want to follow MSNBC, or, no I don’t want to watch Fox News. I don’t care what they say anymore. But the division gets even more granular than that. In her already near-viral interview, Samantha Bee a few days ago basically admitted that she and her production crew make her shows for themselves and people like themselves. Is that who Obama was complaining about? Can this trend be modified? Does the general public – divided into cultural tribes – want it to be modified? Consider the NYT. A fricking cautious column by former Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens on how a modest, healthy skepticism towards any assertion by science – in this case, climate change – is a good thing, drew hysterical and angry denouncements by readers. Stephens didn’t even come close to saying climate change was fake or junk science. Just that science is not religion. It requires evidence and experiments that can be duplicated in controlled environments. Something hard if not impossible to do with climate. But even this modest column drew furious reactions from NYT subscribers and a movement to unsubscribe. Angry “loyalists” tweeted out how the NYT abandoned them. Scientists to the core, every screeching one of them. And this was due to the NYT’s editorial intent to reflect the reality of America under a Trump presidency. A reality they have been practically negating and heavily criticizing, until this timid attempt at some balance in their pages[...]



Close Call on NAFTA? or Hardball Tactics?

2017-05-01T23:03:59Z

Who called who? As attention focuses on Congress and President Trump getting a one week extension on funding signed before midnight on Friday, there was a supposedly very close call with NAFTA this week. President Trump had an executive order ready to be signed that would have withdrawn America from the trade agreement. But then […]

Who called who? As attention focuses on Congress and President Trump getting a one week extension on funding signed before midnight on Friday, there was a supposedly very close call with NAFTA this week. President Trump had an executive order ready to be signed that would have withdrawn America from the trade agreement. But then he got on the phone with Mexico’s President and Canada’s Prime Minister and they agreed to work things out.

How close did America come to withdrawing from NAFTA? And, would Congress have to vote on any withdrawal from NAFTA by America? Article 2205 of the agreement states:

A Party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other Parties. If a Party withdraws, the Agreement shall remain in force for the other Parties.

That sounds pretty clearcut, as well as being flexible and pragmatic. And it sure seems to give the president the power to withdraw. Writing in Atlantic however, Matt Ford quotes NAFTA wonk and advisor Jon Johnson as saying the use of the word may, means that a country is not bound to withdraw should, for example, President Trump have actually signed that executive order. And goes further to state that since Congress enacted NAFTA, it must have its say over any attempt by America to withdraw from NAFTA.

Sorry Jon Johnson, but that’s quibbling. Had Trump signed the withdrawal order, he would have put America at the doorstep and on the way out. He didn’t sign however, and it seems to be that the leaders of Canada and Mexico suddenly had an urge to dial up President Trump and see how he was doing.

Well maybe not quite. It was leaked and rumored and spread all over town that an executive order was being drafted and that it was a matter of days before it would get signed. And that seemed to work nicely. Senators spoke up against withdrawal. And suddenly Canada and Mexico were calling, and a deal to work on some sort of a deal to reform the trade agreement was reached.

Was this Pence reining in Bannon and Navarro? With Kushner telling his wife to call her boy pal in Ottawa and get him to call her father so that NAFTA would remain in place, maybe with a few changes? Frantic calls and who knows what the president will do next?

Or, was this a case of a White House that is coming together and figuring out who does what and when in order to achieve President Trump’s agenda?




A Begging Wall and the Other Walls

2017-04-26T23:25:34Z

This is a tale of two (sets of) walls. One wall is begging for funds. The other walls are being firmed up, at least temporarily, by a San Francisco, (if not a 9th circuit), court decision. The same people who want to tear down the wall that is now begging for funds, are the ones […]This is a tale of two (sets of) walls. One wall is begging for funds. The other walls are being firmed up, at least temporarily, by a San Francisco, (if not a 9th circuit), court decision. The same people who want to tear down the wall that is now begging for funds, are the ones who cheer when the set of other walls gets buttressed by a judge’s decision. And yes, those who wish to strengthen the begging wall are the same people who would like the DOJ and the Trump administration in general to tear down the set of other walls. It’s an apt description to call the southern border the begging wall. People begging to get in is the image the other-wallers would like to project when the public thinks of illegal immigrants, sneaking or being smuggled across the southern border. And the other-wallers (like mayors in San Francisco and Los Angeles and let’s not forget Chicago, among other cities) love it that the begging-wallers have to hope that funds can be raised in Congress. A hope that is looking much less likely at mid-week with the stop-gap funding running out on Friday. It looks like the Trump administration has given up – for now at least – on getting what is a very low sum of money when considering federal budget numbers in the temporary budget deal, in order to shore up the southern border with things like fencing and additional border personnel. What’s left is talk that the GOP is trying to get a trade-off getting some additional money for border security (GOP members of Congress say it’s in there; Democrats say it isn’t) in exchange for keeping the subsidies to insurance companies for covering money-losing customers (the CSR or Cost-Sharing Reductions). So yet another feature of Obamacare is being accepted by Congress while what amounts to pennies on the dollar for some non-wall types of border security are ushered into the budget deal disguised with wigs and masks. Clearly the GOP could not get enough, or even any, moderate Democrat Senators to agree to funding for a border wall. I’m sorry, that would be moderate GOP senators as well. And a San Francisco federal court judge, William Orrick, has ruled that the loss of funds resulting from President Trump’s executive order would cause sanctuary cities “to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction.” So he did. Block the executive order that is. There will be an appeal, no doubt, but it is another (hopefully temporary) setback handed to the administration by the very liberal west coast circuit. So where the money counts in the budget and where the lower courts are concerned, identity politics rules uber alle. Perceived discrimination by American border patrol or customs officials matters more than upholding the laws of the country. Cutting off funds because of a lack of cooperation by local police with ICE officers is a major pecado in the eyes of progressive judges. So. The begging wall will go begging. The other (set-of) walls around sanctuary cities will stay in place or even be raised further by municipal policy and lower court decisions, until the higher courts decide at some point in the future. How dare conservatives a[...]



President Trump: Seriously vs. Literally

2017-04-26T12:41:04Z

  President Trump: Seriously vs. Literally   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   Some politicians are Charmers, like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and JFK. They have charisma, a personal attractiveness that makes them appealing to a wide swath of voters of all races, genders and ethnicities. Voters of their own party are absolutely […]  President Trump: Seriously vs. Literally   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   Some politicians are Charmers, like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and JFK. They have charisma, a personal attractiveness that makes them appealing to a wide swath of voters of all races, genders and ethnicities. Voters of their own party are absolutely sold; Independents are enthralled and interested, and even a fair number of the opposite party can see themselves voting for this candidate. Charmers are always Democrats, since by definition, no purveyor of hard-hearted, business-oriented Republican positions can “charm” anyone.   Then there are politicians who base their candidacies on a mastery of the issues, logic, and personal competence. Although these candidates can often come across as stiff, overly measured, too cautious and uninspiring, their appeal is that they appear know what’s going on, they understand the details and minutia and they not only make sure they cross the t’s and dot the i’s, they revel in it. Their competence and attention to the small stuff gives their supporters a tremendous level of confidence in them, a feeling that “things will be handled.”   Finally, there are the Tough Guys, the ones who won’t take any guff from anyone, who will never be taken advantage of, who will show everyone “who’s the boss.” The Chris Christies and Donald Trumps of the world fall into this category. This is a tricky category, because in order to be able to win the confidence of a majority of voters and prove to the always-skeptical liberal media that they are worthy, the Tough Guy candidate must establish their bona fides regarding their mastery of the issues and knowledge of details very quickly and definitively, or else they’ll be painted as being all-bluster-but-no-substance. In addition, tough can’t be perceived as cold or unsympathetic; in order to be successful, “tough” can only be relentless and uncompromising in getting things—the right things—done.   This brings us to the wildly disparate views of Donald Trump. Rarely have the supporters and detractors of a president been separated by so wide a gulf. His detractors think he’s patently unqualified and no amount or degree of favorable economic or foreign policy progress will ever convince them otherwise. To them, his personal transgressions alone disqualify him from even the most fleeting of serious consideration, and his subsequent daily demonstrations (to them) of his total lack of understanding of basic Presidential governing principles only adds to their absolute conviction of his embarrassing unfitness for office. The word that best describes their feeling is horrifying. If there is a stronger, more descriptive word, then they’ll use that.   His most ardent supporters think his approach and style are exactly what has been missing from the ultra-cautious, overly-soft, pathetically politically-correct governance we’ve suffered under for far too long. His supporters—remember, enough to have won the Electoral College [...]



A Job Suggestion for Jason Chaffetz

2017-04-22T00:23:07Z

Did we overlook the Oversight Committee when everyone was caught flat-footed in the kitchen having a cup of coffee when suddenly Jason Chaffetz decided to bail on a promising political career? Is that really what the Utah Republican’s surprise announcement is all about? The theory goes that Chaffetz – chairman of the House Committee on […]Did we overlook the Oversight Committee when everyone was caught flat-footed in the kitchen having a cup of coffee when suddenly Jason Chaffetz decided to bail on a promising political career? Is that really what the Utah Republican’s surprise announcement is all about? The theory goes that Chaffetz – chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – was all geared up to chair a long and continuing investigation of President Hillary Clinton’s various scandals. Especially the email scandal. In other words, Chaffetz was sure that Hillary would win, and he saw a great political future in Hillary’s victory. One where his chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee would give him a platform to launch any further political ambitions he may have had. So he made the wrong bet and saw his party’s own candidate win. Now what the heck was he going to do with all that research on Hillary? One anonymous Utah Republican told The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins that: Aside from Trump and Clinton, nobody’s fortunes changed more on presidential election night than Jason Chaffetz. You have to wonder if that anonymous quote comes from Evan McMullin, who is on record as considering helpfully whether he should be possibly stepping in to run for the apparently soon-to-be-empty seat. But if Chaffetz is indeed returning to the private sector here’s somewhere he might make some good money by filling in a suddenly slightly empty schedule: Fox News. Of course, it’s hard to see how Chaffetz could ever be as compelling a media figure as Bill O’Reilly has been for much of his career – even before he became a centerpiece of Fox’s strategy. And Chaffetz would have to have his own show and build his own brand. And his show would be all about: Hillary and her scandals. All that preparation could suddenly be put to good use without the bother of all those House rules, so to speak. Look. The First Amendment is the keystone of the constitution. But that means that everyone has a shot at being obnoxious – within some limits. That means that media companies that pulled their advertising dollars from O’Reilly’s show had and have every right to do so. Even if it makes people think they are rushing to judgement in order not to earn the wrath of pressure groups, like O’Reilly attorney Kasowitz is claiming. Kasowitz may be right. He is certainly at least half-right. And his job is to defend his client’s reputation against negative speech. But that negative speech has every right to express itself in various and sundry ways. Including the liberal groups who went after O’Reilly after the NYT story came out last month. But does Reilly’s reason for being let go have to do with free speech? Or bad behavior? He settled, so it can’t be litigated in a courtroom. Unless Kasowitz finds some way to sue someone for something. Which he probably will. Loud speech about facts which aren’t quite clear. More information will c[...]



Georgia’s 6th the Run-Off Election and Black Swans

2017-04-19T18:47:19Z

By the time Democrat hard-left progressive poster boy John Ossoff faces off against GOP contender Karen Handel – former Georgia Secretary of State – in a June 20 run-off election in Georgia’s 6th, a few things may or will have happened: Government will have been shut down – temporarily but how long is anyone’s guess […]By the time Democrat hard-left progressive poster boy John Ossoff faces off against GOP contender Karen Handel – former Georgia Secretary of State – in a June 20 run-off election in Georgia’s 6th, a few things may or will have happened: Government will have been shut down – temporarily but how long is anyone’s guess should that happen. It will likely be due to the president not renewing the so-called CRS which are subsidies to insurance companies under the ACA. Defunding Planned Parenthood might also be pointed at as the cause of a lack of an agreement. Government will not have been shut down, because Democrats and maybe a few Tuesday Group Republicans will have ensured that CRS – Cost-sharing reductions – remain in place. Those much-loved subsidies to insurers under Obamacare that subsidize their money-losing policies. The Supreme Court, with Justice Gorsuch in Scalia’s old seat may, by June 20 although it’s not likely, have ruled on religious freedom, in Missouri’s Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Pauley case. Which has to do with paving school playgrounds. Which has to due with government handouts for doing things like paving a school playground with suitable, even ecologically friendly, surfaces. Ok, it actually involves recycled rubber tires in order to make playgrounds safer. How friendly recycled rubber is to your kid’s health is another matter. And it involves state funds, and who gets that bag of goodies: public schools AND religious organizations. Or just secular state institutions. Oh, the new governor of Missouri ruled that religious institutions CAN get that bag of goodies. So the suit is moot in a local, immediate political sense. But not in a broader political sense seeing other states have similar programs with possible lawsuits arising from one side or the other. America fought a short war with North Korea and Seoul was spared the horrible damage through quick decisive action by America and its allies in the Pacific region. Kim-Jong Un was hanged upside down by his own people. Like in Romania. And Italy, a ways back. America is fighting a war with North Korea and things are out of control with millions dying in Seoul and elsewhere. Nuclear weapons have been used by both sides. China is on … wait for it …. red alert but has not undertaken any direct military action. Yet. Russia invades Estonia. NATO declares war. Swedish leaders blame Western islamophobia for the Russian invasion, then hide in bunkers that last saw a fresh coat of paint in 1986. Russia hacks Estonia – again. Julian Assange through Wikileaks raises suspicions about possible fascist ties to the Estonian government. So there will be plenty of fodder – not to mention other possible black swan events – for Handel and Ossoff to debate in the run up to the June 20 run off election in Georgia’s 6th. If things get really crazy elsewhere, we may not even pay much attention to the run off when it comes. Let’s hope we do. [...]



Why Doolittle Matters After 75 Years

2017-04-19T17:25:19Z

Why the Doolittle Raid Still Matters 75 Years Later © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All Rights Reserved. History is always relevant if we’re willing to learn from it. A good example is the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo Japan on April 18th, 1942. By way of quick background, the United States was forced into World War II […]Why the Doolittle Raid Still Matters 75 Years Later © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All Rights Reserved. History is always relevant if we’re willing to learn from it. A good example is the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo Japan on April 18th, 1942. By way of quick background, the United States was forced into World War II after the surprise Japanese attack on our naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Japan had been aggressively moving against other countries in the Pacific realm for several years, taking territory and raw materials to satisfy its expansionist aims. The Japanese correctly saw the US Pacific Fleet, stationed at Pearl, as the biggest threat to their continued activities and so devised a plan to mount a surprise attack on December 7, 1941 against our forces. The surprise worked. The attack sank or disabled eight of the nine battleships in the Fleet (only the USS Pennsylvania, in dry dock, escaped major damage), destroyed dozens of aircraft on the ground and killed over 2300 US military and civilian personnel, all for the loss of only 29 Japanese aircraft. The following day, December 8th 1941, the Japanese attacked our main air base in the western Pacific, Clark Field in the Philippines, destroying dozens of US fighters and bombers on the ground, effectively neutralizing our military strength in that region. Therefore, in less than two days, the Japanese dealt the US military two huge defeats, setting the stage for the fall of the Philippines and leaving the entire Pacific essentially unprotected from Japanese attack. What is less known but unquestionably just as significant as the dual attacks on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field is the Japanese sinking of the British battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales in the South China Sea, just three days after Pearl Harbor, on December 10 1941. The British had dispatched significant naval forces to protect their interests in the Pacific, especially then-colony Singapore, from Japanese aggression. Britain, although a small country in terms of land mass and population, had long been among the world’s pre-eminent naval powers. From Admiral Nelson’s many decisive victories in the late 1700’s-early 1800’s (culminating with his defeat of Napoleon’s fleet off of Trafalgar in 1805) to Admiral Jellicoe’s leading the British Grand Fleet in all-out battleship warfare against the German’s High Seas Fleet at Jutland in 1916 to the powerful mastery of the seas enjoyed by the Royal Navy right through the beginning of World War II, British naval tradition was a source of national pride and identity, very much part of the fabric of their culture. Only seven months prior (in May 1941), Prince of Wales had played a central role in one of the greatest wartime triumphs ever achieved by Britain: the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck. The Bismarck—a fast, modern, heavily-armed ship—was intended to be a North Atlantic commerce and cargo ship raider. If it managed to break out into the vast undefended expanse of the North Atlantic, it would be free to extract potentially cripp[...]



What Do Kansas’ 4th and Georgia’s 6th Special Elections Mean?

2017-04-14T17:28:18Z

It’s all over for the GOP. 2018 will be a disaster. We’ll lose the House. Why? Kansas. Kansas will lose us the House? No, Estes! Estes or Kansas? Estes is in Kansas! And he, what? Lost an election? No, he won the election. And that’s why we’ll lose the House? Yes. Because Estes won. By […]

It’s all over for the GOP. 2018 will be a disaster. We’ll lose the House. Why? Kansas. Kansas will lose us the House? No, Estes! Estes or Kansas? Estes is in Kansas! And he, what? Lost an election? No, he won the election. And that’s why we’ll lose the House? Yes. Because Estes won. By only a 7% margin.

Methinks they worry too much. Or doth cheer a little too lustily in the case of Democrats.

Ron Estes won a special election in Kansas’ deep Red 4th District, because former seat holder Mike Pompeo is now at the CIA giving Julian Assange some double-barrelled criticism. The race was unexpectedly close and support was required from the White House and Senator Ted Cruz, no less. The former State Treasurer beat back a challenge by Democratic candidate James Thompson by margin of 53% to 46%.

So what does this mean? Can we extrapolate all sorts of grand trends from this one election? Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende cautions from reading too much into this special election. Local factors on the ground, like Governor Sam Brownback’s low approval ratings and Thompson’s relatively conservative stance on issues like 2nd amendment rights, were important in squeezing the margin. However, Trende also warns that if President Trump’s ratings remain relatively low going in to the midterm elections in about 18 months, then that could be a problem in terms of the GOP holding on to the House.

So Speaker Paul Ryan has Georgia on his minds now. And has apparently helped raise $22 million. The problem is, the GOP field is almost as crowded as the presidential primaries in the fall of 2015. The seat formerly held by Tom Price now at Health and Human Services, will be contested with all the candidates on one ballot and a runoff between 1st and 2nd place, if no one gets to 50%.

At last count, 11 Republicans and 5 Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring. That’s a lot of hats. Right now the media is all hot and bothered over liberal Jon Ossoff, born and raised in the 6th district. He attended Georgetown and LSE, and was an aide to Hank Johnson, who represents Georgia’s 4th district. A perfect young progressive wonk (he’s 30) and a native son.

Money is being spent on ads, and early turnout is high. Will Ossoff pull off an upset in another red district? If he does, you can be sure that the media’s joyful lamentations over the demise of the GOP will be deafening. Will it, however, signal a wave of House seats being flipped to Democrats in 2018? The mid-terms are 19 months away. That’s several life times in politics. We’ll just have to see.




How Real Is the Bannon-Kushner Battle?

2017-04-11T23:34:48Z

It’s time to take a closer look at Jared Kushner. Not just the photos of him that lately have shown him as a gaunt and alert presence – a little like a tall, much better looking Nosferatu, gazing darkly at some perhaps unsuspecting target. The problem is, this liberal, New York, (yes he’s from New […]It’s time to take a closer look at Jared Kushner. Not just the photos of him that lately have shown him as a gaunt and alert presence – a little like a tall, much better looking Nosferatu, gazing darkly at some perhaps unsuspecting target. The problem is, this liberal, New York, (yes he’s from New Jersey but he’s New York), Democrat is gaining power by the day if not the hour in President Trump’s White House. And the president trusts Jared it seems, as much as he does Steve Bannon. And not only that, Jared has shown an uncanny ability to emerge relatively unscathed during these stormy early days and weeks. Somehow deflecting attention away from himself by being impressively agile and discreet during the epic battles on healthcare, the immigration executive order, and the Russia investigation. Jared Kushner is very un-Nunes and un-Bannon let’s just say. Until now perhaps. Yes, call the plumbers, the White House is leaking again. The point being that someone inside is leaking to the press about an apparent slug-fest between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. And it’s no surprise that there may be some open conflict between the scrappy, elder Irish populist and the young, urbane and seemingly ruthless liberal. The policy direction of the White House is at stake. Who does Trump trust just that little bit extra? No, the question should be this: what are Trump’s core political beliefs? And while any healthy does of skepticism regarding anyone’s core beliefs in Washington D.C. might lead one to dismiss the question, that would be a little too cynical. President Trump is … the president. Of America. There’s nowhere he can hide his opinions and beliefs. Nor is he inclined to. And his core beliefs matter. And that’s where most of the criticism from the right focused their contempt for Trump’s candidacy on. He’s a Democrat. He’s a New York Liberal. He’s not one of us. He can’t be trusted. While the left attacked him lustily on the very grounds he was claiming: nationalist populism and a sort-of America First recycling of earlier movements. Even as they shared a sort of disbelief with the right at his rise through the primaries and the election itself. At this point, Trump has assembled an impressive and mostly conservative cabinet and group of advisers. With Bannon as a fire-breathing populist apparently in various key positions. Until his demotion this week at the National Security Council. Right at the same time as Kushner seems ascendent in the Trump White House. Has Kushner carefully cultivated relationships with officials and cabinet members as he studiously avoided the limelight? We don’t really know. Is he advising the president to move left on healthcare and work with Democrats? We can’t really tell. Is he helping shape policy in the Middle East, in places like Syria? We have no idea if he travelled there to be a faithful observer for President [...]



Follow the Votes

2017-04-13T23:49:48Z

Follow the Votes © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   There’s an old cliché that applies to many situations: “Follow the money.” This means, of course, that many actions, statements and rationalizations are best understood when the observer realizes that the initiator has their own financial self-interests at heart as they undertake various acts […]Follow the Votes © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   There’s an old cliché that applies to many situations: “Follow the money.” This means, of course, that many actions, statements and rationalizations are best understood when the observer realizes that the initiator has their own financial self-interests at heart as they undertake various acts and then attempt to explain them. In the current political environment, there is a close corollary to Follow the Money: Follow the Votes. Many issues cause politicians and activists on both sides to engage in logic-defying, contradictory actions and statements in their transparent attempt to convince voters. Global Warming is certainly a prime example of this. Whether it’s Barbara Streisand maintaining her famously lavish, energy-intensive homestead, or Leonardo DiCaprio flying in an “eyebrow artist” 7500 miles from Australia to make himself look pretty for his Oscars attendance or Global Warming Champions Al Gore and Robert Kennedy Jr. famously taking fuel-gulping/pollution-spewing private jets to various events, the degree of hypocritical actions and statements in support of pet political causes is nothing short of incredible. The hilariously-but-tragically labeled subject of “choice” is another perfect case. The apparent utter disregard for human decency and compassion that leads supposedly “Catholic” Democratic politicians like John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi to support unrestricted late-term abortion—essentially the birth of a full-term child who is then mercilessly killed upon delivery, just seconds before qualifying as a legal “life”—is a horrifyingly excellent illustration of “Follow the Votes.” We must have choice, after all, and we must capture the voters who support that. However, as spot-on as the above examples are, there is one subject that defines Follow the Votes better than any other. That issue is immigration. Specifically it is the leniency towards illegal immigration espoused by Democrats. By current estimates, there are somewhere around 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Most have come through our southern border from Mexico and other Latin countries. U.S. southern border security is less than Berlin Wall-esque tight, to put it mildly. Republicans and Democrats alike decry our immigration system as “broken” and constantly cite the need for some vague, sweeping “comprehensive immigration reform,” the details of which are frustratingly never delineated in an actual bill. The crux of the illegal immigration issue is the fact that children born to illegal immigrants residing in the United States automatically become U.S. citizens, with all the rights and privileges that that status confers—including the right to vote. Democrats’ vehement defense of sanctuary cities, their oh-so-concerned, outraged protests over Republicans’ supposed desire[...]