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Updated: 2017-12-08T13:34:26Z

 



I’ve Got Good News and……

2017-12-08T13:34:26Z

I’ve Got Good News and I’ve Got Bad News © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. There are lots of important stories in the news every day, but the truly fascinating thing is way that they’re covered and the positive/negative spin that’s assigned to the major political groups. Economic news is certainly a significant political […]I’ve Got Good News and I’ve Got Bad News © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. There are lots of important stories in the news every day, but the truly fascinating thing is way that they’re covered and the positive/negative spin that’s assigned to the major political groups. Economic news is certainly a significant political football. The party out of power generally hates it when things are going well in the economy. If the economy is good, there is a far greater likelihood that people have a job and are providing for their family or themselves. Pocketbook issues are by far the most important to the average voter; everything besides a job is merely a theoretical intellectual indulgence. If you’re paying your rent, buying clothes and food, making car payments, sending the kids to college and perhaps even saving a little for retirement, then all is right with the world. Only when those boxes are checked do people enjoy the luxury of worrying about things like global warming, gay/trans rights, Supreme Court rulings and whether or not we use military force to settle a conflict in some overseas backwater. Economic activity—whether it’s consumer spending by individuals or investment/capital outlays by major corporations—depends in large part on their perceptions and expectations of current and future economic conditions. If entities have reason to believe that economic conditions are solid and stable (and likely to stay good for the foreseeable future), then they spend and invest with confidence. Retail activity is high. Investment in equipment and systems increases. Home and car buying is strong. Factories are busy. Employment is high. It’s a matter of perception and expectations. Given the political importance of the economy, it’s little wonder that political combatants have such a strong vested interest in portraying the economy—good or bad—to their electoral benefit. All the participants play their role: the politicians themselves will criticize or praise cherry-picked aspects of the economy to their liking. Their media allies will support or oppose those positions as expected. There is a story—urban legend, its verity unprovable at this point in retrospect—from around 2006. A cable TV reporter was interviewing a Democratic operative (perhaps James Carville) about the upcoming Christmas shopping season. The reporter said, “Wouldn’t it be great for the country if we had strong holiday sales this year?” To which Carville replied in his distinctive Southern drawl, “I don’t cay-ahh what’s good for the country! I cay-ahh what’s good for the Democratic Party!” Whether or not it was specifically Carville in exactly 2006 is unimportant. The sentiment is unerringly accurate. This brings us to a major aspect of today’s economy and how the media and competing politicians react to it: the stock market. Competing political interests—which includes the media— will either extol or berate the markets’ performance, depending on how it serves their political purposes. When the markets weaken, the out-of-power party is very quick to point out the loss of wealth in the average person’s retirement account or the potential default on a life-long city worker’s pension and claim that the party holding office doesn’t care about the “little guy.” When the markets are strong, to the political benefit of the party in power, the opposition tends to either dismiss it as a fluke or, more often, they don’t talk about it at all. Such is certainly the case now. It’s quite normal and expected that Democratic politicians don’t talk about the stock markets’ excellent performance, since that would redound to the Republicans’ benefit. B[...]



​Alabama Dreaming – Roy Moore’s Race & Dreamers & Funding Government

2017-12-08T00:02:55Z

Any bill that funds the governments business requires 60 votes in the Senate. That means that 60 minus 52 = 8 Democratic Senators will need to sign on to any funding bill the GOP puts forward in the upper chamber. And, unfortunately, it’s wiser to write out the formula rather than say that 8 Democrats […]

Any bill that funds the governments business requires 60 votes in the Senate. That means that 60 minus 52 = 8 Democratic Senators will need to sign on to any funding bill the GOP puts forward in the upper chamber. And, unfortunately, it’s wiser to write out the formula rather than say that 8 Democrats will be needed with no further qualifications.

Why?

Because the GOP in the Senate has a hard time agreeing on anything. They miraculously managed to agree on tax reform – but we’ll see how the final bill is shaped by the time it leaves conference and heads to President Trump’s desk for signing.

So Republicans might need more than 8 Democrat senators in order to keep government open if, say, a Susan Collins objects to the demands that Dreamers – the children of illegals and many illegals themselves – not continue to be given the protection that the Obama administration handed them a couple of years ago. But of course, there is also plenty of disagreement on the Democrat side when it comes to how to respond to any funding bill the GOP put forward.

Will Senator Schumer bend to the will of the angry, activist wing of his party and demand that DACA be kept intact in exchange for keeping the government open? In other words: you want to keep government open? Open up the borders and keep them open! That seems to be where these negotiations are heading. DACA is essentially an entitlement – an entitlement to be above the law if you were brought to America illegally as a younger child or if you were born to illegals. And trying to curtail or roll back an entitlement – like Obamacare – has proved impossible at the federal level since LBJ’s Great Society in 1965 brought the modern welfare state into existence.

It’s almost a given that Schumer will take the activist side of the Democratic Party and ignore those senators who are facing re-election in Trump friendly states and whose voters have concerns about DACA. You can imagine Schumer’s and Pelosi’s soundbites: Republicans build walls and elect child molesters! Although the matter of Roy Moore’s election still has to be decided on December 12, but if another stopgap measure is passed and the government funding deadline moved out to December 22, then Chuck and Nancy will have about a week and a half to claim their party are the party of the pure having ejected Conyers and Franken. And then to demand DACA be maintained in exchange for the votes necessary to pass a funding bill.

Never mind that Conyers left with no admission of guilt and appointed his 27 year old son to take his place, and that Franken has barely apologized; why look at that Roy Moore! Imagine Schumer with his arm around a bright university student who happens to be a Dreamer solemnly denouncing the GOP for allowing a predator into their chambers. And no, Chuck will make sure he doesn’t squeeze any cheeks if the Dreamer happens to be cute. This is some of what Moore’s presumed election to the US Senate will bring.

There are never any peaceful moments in this administration. Not even at Christmas.




​Roy Moore’s Senate Race & The Professor Who Started a Firestorm

2017-12-06T02:42:23Z

Tuly Borland is an associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University, apparently located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a little south of Little Rock. Borland has caused a firestorm with an article in The Federalist entitled: Why Alabamians Should Vote for Roy Moore. It will likely infuriate you or just disgust you, or make you very uncomfortable. But […]Tuly Borland is an associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University, apparently located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a little south of Little Rock. Borland has caused a firestorm with an article in The Federalist entitled: Why Alabamians Should Vote for Roy Moore. It will likely infuriate you or just disgust you, or make you very uncomfortable. But if you’re a voter in Alabama, you may possibly agree with at least some of what the professor writes. Roy Moore is again leading, in perhaps a majority of polls, despite what seem to be very credible allegations that he molested and/or assaulted underage girls. His polling numbers are a fact and it’s (with uncertainty surrounding the exact level of voter support that Moore may or may not have) a fact that will likely impact the Senate, who may very well have to deal with an elected senator that they have from all sides denounced and demanded resign from the race, something Moore has refused to do. Needless to say, the firestorm has been mostly directed at The Federalist – especially publisher and commentator Ben Domenech – for publishing the article. From Salon to National Review, the denouncements have hailed forth like small artillery, raining down on Domenech and his staff. To his credit, Domenech has defended the reasons for publishing the article: an attempt to understand how in the world Moore could be anywhere close to Jones much less leading in many polls, after a series of sexual assault allegations. Domenech has stated clearly that he disagrees strongly with Borland’s arguments but he published his article precisely to try and gain insight into local voters’ reasons for still supporting Moore, much of which revolve around Doug Jones’ – Moore’s opponent – support for abortion. Does Borland’s article do that? That’s hard to tell, because all of us who are not from Alabama cannot presume to know the thought processes going on there. I won’t get into the details of Borland’s article, you can read it if you want, but David French’s response in National Review (Borland was in a way responding to an earlier French article) includes the following: I’m not urging any person to vote for Doug Jones. I would never vote for a pro-abortion politician. But if you believe this election will make any material difference in the prevalence or legality of abortion; then you need a civic education. In fact, it’s far more likely that electing a man like Moore will damage the pro-life cause. French advocates voting for third-party candidate, writing someone in, or staying at home. But never voting for someone who may turn out to be a sex-offender. It’s a powerful piece and concludes forcefully. I suggest reading it. It has been repeatedly said that issues like abortion are decided more on a pre-political, upstream, and cultural basis before they actually get to the courts. Domenech himself has also written that the GOP needs to collapse in order for new political alternatives to take it’s place. Moore’s election may be such a step towards the GOP’s coming collapse, as perhaps Trump’s election also was. In this context the just announced endorsement of Moore by the RNC and Trump’s recent endorsement go directly against the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s stance on Moore. Civil War in Alabama? And D.C? The Federalist is right that we can’t hide from the issues that Moore’s possible election raises, but perhaps the Federalist might have leavened their unquestionable courage with an editoria[...]



​Of Donuts & The Battle Against The Administrative State

2017-11-29T23:14:19Z

My first question regarding the showdown at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is this: If you are a CFPB staffer who quickly took Acting Director Mulvaney’s offer of a Dunkin’ Donut and trundled up to his office to partake, will you go on a Democrat black list? Will you find your career as a beltway […]My first question regarding the showdown at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is this: If you are a CFPB staffer who quickly took Acting Director Mulvaney’s offer of a Dunkin’ Donut and trundled up to his office to partake, will you go on a Democrat black list? Will you find your career as a beltway bureaucrat from now on strangely stymied over and over again by the opaque, clutching hand of the administrative state of which you, until recently, were a proud member? How does a CFRP staffer accept a donut from the man who called your beloved agency a “sick joke”? How ingratiatingly do you smile and how eagerly do you bite down on the proverbial apple, if you will allow the mixed (up) metaphor? Because whether you like it or not, you treasonous muncher of sweets, you are and have been in the center of a grand struggle over what the administrative state’s reaches are or should be. And most likely you are perfectly aware of the struggle which has been waged since the CFPB was brought into existence in 2010. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild. She did the wonky academic groundwork as a Harvard Law professor, publishing her work around 2007, on the cusp of the financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession. Senator Warren – as an academic at Harvard, as a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel that was in charge of keeping track of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP), and as a senator, has been pushing for and getting increased regulation of the financial industry. It’s her goal and her baby. Who has been fiercely critical of Mulvaney whose appointment as an Acting Director of the CFPB has been public news for a few weeks now – the White House knew that ex-CFRP Director Richard Cordray was going to pull a fast one at any time – and which spurned Cordray to do what he did last Friday? Senator Warren. Who did recently appointed Deputy Director Leandra English (until Friday she was Cordray’s Chief of Staff at the CFPB) go see on Monday, along with, naturally, Chuck Schumer? Senator Warren. The CFPB was put together in a way that was designed to make it as independent of any Congressional oversight as constitutionally possible. Did I say constitutionally? Sorry, sorry. There is at least one case winding it’s way upward that is based on the complaint that the CFPB is not constitutional, given the way it’s Director has broad sweeping powers not typical of an agency. The specific issue is who has the authority to appoint an Acting Director at the CFPB. There is a conflict between Dodd-Frank and 1998’s Federal Vacancies Reform Act. But both White House counsel and the CFPB’s own legal counsel – General Counsel Mary McLeod – agree that the president has the authority and that the Vacancies Act takes precedence over Dodd-Frank, in this matter. McLeod has published a memo in which she considers the implications of both pieces of legislation and concludes that: … the statutory language, legislative history, precedent from the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and case law all point to the conclusion that the President may use the Vacancies Reform Act to designate an acting official, even when there is a succession statute under which another official may serve as acting. On the other hand, contrast General Counsel McLeod’s compelling clarity with Deputy Director (and supposedly Acting Director if you take the Democrat side in this) Leandra English’s lawsuit filed on Sunday: Ms. English has a clear entitlement to the position of ac[...]



Donald Trump’s Crimes

2017-11-29T15:59:21Z

Donald Trump’s Crimes © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. President Trump is indisputably guilty of many crimes against the societal and political norms of this country. These crimes are profound and grievous and they shake the very foundations upon which acceptable Presidential behavior has always been based. His actions and demeanor are so abhorrent […]Donald Trump’s Crimes © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. President Trump is indisputably guilty of many crimes against the societal and political norms of this country. These crimes are profound and grievous and they shake the very foundations upon which acceptable Presidential behavior has always been based. His actions and demeanor are so abhorrent and antithetical to the fundamental Progressive doctrine espoused by the Democratic Party and their supporting liberal media that his very presence in the Oval Office is regarded by them as not merely an interim occupational tenure by the opposing party, but as proof of a moment of temporary national insanity from which we may never recover.  A closer look at the worst examples of Trump’s criminality will be instructive for what the country should be on guard for, should we want to avoid such behavior in the future. Accusation: Denying a Female Access to the Highest Office Verdict: Guilty President Trump didn’t get the memo that 2016 was the Year of the First Female President. In a time period where same-sex/transgender rights, glass ceilings, Title IX and the well-publicized/amply documented Republican “War on Women” dominate the gender cultural landscape, Donald Trump had the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to disregard all those signs and campaign as if gender didn’t matter. He campaigned on what he’d do for the country and why America—and American workers—would benefit from a Trump presidency. During the campaign, he took full advantage of Clinton’s lack of qualifications. As I wrote back in June 2016, So what exactly, besides her Democratic femaleness, is her candidacy based on? Hard to say. She has no real, tangible accomplishments to point to, either as Secretary of State or NY senator. There are no Clinton Acts. There are no Clinton Accords. She has no military service, no heroism under fire, no great business and/or managerial accomplishments, no outright high-level expertise in any technical or economic or social or scientific field. She’s never started a business or run anything or managed a great number of people or made difficult, fast-paced life-or-death decisions. She gives every impression of being situationally dishonest, opportunistic, loyal only to her own self-advancement. Candidate Trump ignored the directive that in 2016, America will elect its first woman president. Guilty as charged. Accusation: Recognizing the Average American’s Desire for Strong Borders and Strict Immigration Policy Verdict: Guilty Trump tapped into a strong national craving for a return to immigration fairness and verifiable national sovereignty. Americans are the world’s most generous and compassionate people. The degree to which we help others—whether it’s an international disaster or local charity—is well-documented. Our innate sense of altruism and human kindness is unprecedented. We fight wars to help others gain freedom without taking territory or materials in return. But Trump also recognized that Americans were tired of being taken unfair advantage of, especially with regard to illegal immigration. The financial and social stress placed on average law-abiding citizens to provide monetary benefits, educational opportunities and social privileges to people who broke our laws and came into the country illegally was simply wrong. Americans are eager to help the legitimately needy or those caught in dire circumstances not of their making. But Americans resent being played for fools. The Big, Beautiful Trump Wall—whether one looks at it metaphorically or lite[...]



​Matters of Pain and of Thanksgiving

2017-11-24T16:46:13Z

Around the world, from Colombia to China, from Denmark to South Africa and from New Zealand to Uruguay to Canada, euthanasia, or Physician Assisted Suicide, is now legal. In America there are a handful of states as well, with Oregon as the first one to legalize assisted suicide. Now the state of Victoria, in Australia, […]Around the world, from Colombia to China, from Denmark to South Africa and from New Zealand to Uruguay to Canada, euthanasia, or Physician Assisted Suicide, is now legal. In America there are a handful of states as well, with Oregon as the first one to legalize assisted suicide. Now the state of Victoria, in Australia, is joining the list. Here’s what former Ozzie Prime Minister Tony Abbot had to say: Only a morally mixed-up society would approve suicide when it’s doctor assisted and doctors should not be expected to forsake their vocation … this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or who have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong … Advocates of assisted suicide will say that there is no slippery slope and that a patient’s consent is always assured and carefully monitored and that assisted suicide will never lead to even darker avenues of eliminating suffering in all its forms by eliminating the sufferer. The fact is it’s far too early to tell despite Oregon’s handful of decades experience with this morbid use of science. But even if we can be sure that no one will needlessly die – which is an absurd belief to have; people are already needlessly dying as revealed by the very disturbing account from Holland of a 40-something married man with kids agreeing to euthanasia due to his depression and alcoholism – this assurance even if it were possible, does not take into account a basic fact. When someone “assists” you in committing suicide, it’s no longer suicide, it’s murder. And the consent you give is essentially allowing someone else to take your life. It is now a very different matter, because it is no longer the case of a lone individual taking some deliberate physical action that results in their death. Someone else is intervening. And not just someone else. The full force of the state is behind that physician administering the lethal drug. Now, physician assisted suicide advocates try to make the point that the patient “self-administers” the lethal drug. So apparently it’s no longer euthanasia. Sorry, that’s cutting it a little on the precious side. Who fills the syringe with the lethal drug? Who manufactures the lethal drug? Who transports it, stores it, assures it is of sufficient quality to do what it is designed to do? Who then brings the correct dosage to the area where the patient is to be killed? Who ensures that everything is in order before a patient – perhaps very ill and/or of advanced age – does the nominal final “administering” of the drug? A whole process is now in place to ensure an efficient way to end a patient’s life. Much like the process to apply the death penalty to a criminal duly convicted of crimes that warrant such a penalty. We despise pain in our post-modern society because we often don’t have the moral compass to accept and deal with pain. I have trouble even handling a headache without a little pain relief. Never mind broken ribs and weeks and weeks of every agonizing breath keeping you awake at night as in the case of Senator Rand Paul. Never mind the indescribable pain that a terminal cancer patient suffers. So if I were in their shoes, I may very well wish for a quick way out of that debilitating pain. But by reducing pain and trying to make the world one big safe space – a futile effort even for Scandinavian countries who perhaps are the closest thing the world has to safe space on a big scale[...]



​Senator Franken and Ethical Wanking

2017-11-17T21:19:33Z

Louis CK liked (and surely still likes) to expose himself to women, often it would seem, with zero consent on the part of the unlucky and harassed co-workers. So did Harvey Weinstein. Remember Anthony “The Messenger” Weiner? He almost seems like a long lost innocent fool compared to what’s being brought to light every day, […]

Louis CK liked (and surely still likes) to expose himself to women, often it would seem, with zero consent on the part of the unlucky and harassed co-workers. So did Harvey Weinstein. Remember Anthony “The Messenger” Weiner? He almost seems like a long lost innocent fool compared to what’s being brought to light every day, lately courtesy of Roy Moore of course.

So, as far as Giant of the Senate Al Franken (I never really found him that funny years and years ago on SNL but maybe I missed some of his puns if you will) is concerned, does his requesting an ethics probe of himself over his own harassment of LeeAnn Tweeden qualify as ethical wanking? That’s getting so far out in front of the story that you’re naked.

It’s absurd and who knows how this will work out for Senator Franken or what other stories may emerge, but the underlying event – his groping of Tweeden on a USO tour with the excuse of “rehearsing” a kiss for a skit – is not funny. Nor is the foto that she produced. You can see it everywhere on the net. Look at the expression on Franken’s face. More creepy than funny.

About a decade or so back I recall Franken cracking a joke (was it on Conan O’Brien’s show?) about how a woman had to be at least as old as his daughter for him to stare at her backside. The audience laughed, I may have laughed a little. Never really was funny, especially if you’re being stalked by an older creep. Not at all funny now.

Scientology-worshiping actors. Film Producers. Bible-thumping Alabama politicians. Wheelchair-bound ex-presidents. Wall Street financiers. Ex presidents whose wives would have been president. IMF heads who were part of the D.C. and NYC sex-swapping scene – that case involving the very French Dominique Strauss-Kahn. There’s a long, long line up of women who have a story to tell. And they’re not being intimidated anymore. I feel sorry for a freshman who says a slightly tart comment on campus and ends up being hounded out of his chosen university. My heart goes out to the children whose fathers’ actions have disgraced their lives.

I do not feel sorry for Franken or Roy Moore, or any of the others being named.

So if Senator Franken wants to wank his way through a self-referential ethics probe by rending his garments and beating his chest, go for it Al. Maybe you’ll convince us you’re truly sorry. But I can only feel sorry for you.




​China – Voice of America in Shackles

2017-11-15T22:12:04Z

Authoritarian International is a term now being used to describe how China – and Russia – use their influence, and economic power in China’s case, to support other authoritarian regimes around the world, from Venezuela to Turkey, from the Philippines to Ethiopia. Many of these regimes may have had some form of communist or socialist […]Authoritarian International is a term now being used to describe how China – and Russia – use their influence, and economic power in China’s case, to support other authoritarian regimes around the world, from Venezuela to Turkey, from the Philippines to Ethiopia. Many of these regimes may have had some form of communist or socialist government or may currently have some form as in Venezuela’s case, but the glue that holds them together is not really marxist economics and ideology but rather strongman rule. A rule that China abstains from condemning on the international stage and a rule which China along with Russia provide military and economic aide to as well as trade ties. Real Clear Politics has a great read on this by Richard Bernstein. It’s a repudiation of the optimism of the 90’s where it was thought that economic freedom would lead naturally and inevitably, guided by the invisible hand of enlightened self-interest, towards political openness and eventually full democracy. Unfortunately that hasn’t worked out, especially in China’s case where strict one-party rule has accompanied astonishing growth. Yes, at some point the corruption and state-subsidized spending should produce the long-awaited downturn or even crash. But people have been predicting China’s economic collapse for about a decade now. Which brings us to a rather ugly little episode being followed in the Washington Free Beacon concerning Chinese dissident billionaire Guo Wengui (who has been exposing the very corruption that is undercutting China’s economy) and an interview he gave some time ago to Voice of America’s Chinese language broadcasts. The live interview was cut off in mid stream by senior VOA management and the Chinese VOA journalists (who appear to have been working out of of NYC where Guo is currently living) were suspended and now they have been fired for “insubordination.” VOA Director Amanda Bennett refused to comment on the matter citing “privacy” concerns. Guess who Bennett is married to? Donald E. Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings which runs an educational publishing business which does a fair bit of business in … China. The fired Chinese VOA ex-employees also claim that VOA has hired James McGregor, a former journalist with close ties to Chinese Politburo heavyweight Wang Qishan. Look. Everyone and his brother, sister, aunt, and cousin have or are falling over each other to suck up to China and try to actually profit from doing business in that authoritarian state’s enormous consumer market. Some have even made money. But frickin’ Voice of America?! Do they have to join Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and all the rest in kneeling before the Grand Dragon? It appears that the key event at the start of the 90’s was actually not the fall of the Wall in Berlin. Rather it was a few months earlier in June of 1989 with the Tiananmen Square massacre by army units loyal to China’s ruling communist party, the cardboard mock ups of the Statue of Liberty and the candles crushed under the military might of authoritarianism. So China’s population made a deal with their leaders: they got stunning growth in exchange for the shackles on free expression that were firmly maintained, even as those shackles grew in the sophistication of their methodology. Those shackles now extend to Voice of America. Rex Tillerson, do you have anything to say? Apparently not. When pressed by S[...]



​What Kind of Man Will Roy Moore Turn Out to Be?

2017-11-10T19:44:20Z

From Alaska to Texas, they’re saying Roy step down. If the stories are even half-true. That is, GOP senators from across America are clearly demanding that Roy Moore step aside from his run to be elected in Jeff Sessions’ seat in Alabama, if the stories of sexual harassment are true. Roy Moore himself has produced […]

From Alaska to Texas, they’re saying Roy step down. If the stories are even half-true. That is, GOP senators from across America are clearly demanding that Roy Moore step aside from his run to be elected in Jeff Sessions’ seat in Alabama, if the stories of sexual harassment are true.

Roy Moore himself has produced a defiant email refusing to step down and essentially claiming that this is a political witch hunt courtesy of the Washington Post. Of course, that defiant email was a fund raising email sent to supporters. What will he be saying in a week’s time? What will he be saying tomorrow?

This all depends on the veracity of several women, starting with Leigh Corfman who has come forward to talk about some clearly abusive groping and fondling on the part of Moore in the late 70’s when she was barely a teenager. Right now one has to take her words very seriously. Yes, Roy Moore is innocent until proven guilty but if more women step forward with what appear to be legitimate claim, it seems impossible for him to continue. Even if the Corfman story is surely the result of frantic oppo research that could have been funded just as easily by Mitch McConnell’s backers as by Democrats.

Roy Moore was 32 when the incidents with Corfman took place in 1979. He was an assistant DA by then, 2 years out of law school and 5 years out of the military as a captain in the military police. Unfortunately, there have been times when such behavior – if it is indeed true – was disgustingly easy to get away with for even minor officials, as well as theatrical agents, film industry folks, managers, etc. etc. etc. Have been? It’s still happening, and there’s a flood of stories coming out about harassment which means those days finally seem to be coming to an end thanks to liberals turning on their own rich, powerful and lecherous icons like Weinstein.

It’s long past time that abusive or harassing behavior be called out and punished wherever and whenever it occurs. When it really occurs, that is. University campuses have been plagued by false accusations and kangaroo courts, but the way to solve that is by due process. Whether on the one hand it’s mattress girl’s victim, or whether on the other, it’s Roy Moore’s accusers or Kevin Spacey’s victims. Due process applied carefully but forcefully, where evidence is given without shame and considered without hysteria.

But of course we need to be sure Moore did indeed do what he has been accused of. Because that is impossible to do without a full trial, which means possibly years of lawyers battling it out in court in a he-said she-said situation, we therefore don’t have that sort of time. Moore has to be honest with himself and decide what kind of a man he wants to be, despite what kind of a man he may very well have been.

And finally, what if Moore refuses to step aside, the accusations remain but somehow he gets elected? Or, on the other hand, if he does step aside and his rushed replacement loses the election, or if Moore stays in the race and loses? Then we essentially have a split Senate.

In other words, is Roy Moore merely the byproduct of the messy dismembering of the GOP as we know it? In which case, politically, it doesn’t really matter what sort of a man he is.




​Texas Shooting – Should the 2nd Amendment be a Local or State Matter?

2017-11-08T21:37:56Z

Yes, the officials at Holloman Air Force Base made a grave error when they forgot to place Devin Patrick Kelly’s name and criminal history with the FBI’s database. How many files do they have responsibility for at that one base? How possible is it that hundreds of similar oversights are out there in cyber no […]

Yes, the officials at Holloman Air Force Base made a grave error when they forgot to place Devin Patrick Kelly’s name and criminal history with the FBI’s database. How many files do they have responsibility for at that one base? How possible is it that hundreds of similar oversights are out there in cyber no mans land waiting to be filed correctly? Hundreds? Thousands? This one was the wrong one to overlook. True. But if you rely on filing and data entry procedures to feel safe, you will be disappointed.

But at the same time, perhaps had they filed that data correctly, Kelly would have had a harder time purchasing weapons. Would he have bought weapons (perhaps even more powerful automatic weapons) on the black market instead? There is no way of knowing. Yes, you can point to statistics, but we are talking about individual, unique profiles if you will. On average, proper enforcement of a reasonable rule might help. On average.

Mass shooters are not average, however. That’s the whole point about them. So constructing a system of rules and regs designed to stop them will likely fail and cause a lot of problems and stress for law-abiding owners. And yes, a mass shooter – unlike Kelly – might be law-abiding until he (always a he) starts shooting. This is not like trying to lower the risk of car crash fatalities from DUI accidents.

So any rule or regulation or law should start from that premise. But even that would bring howls from those who want gun rights severely restricted.

So it seems that no shooting will bring some limited, reasonable compromise within the framework of the 2nd Amendment, precisely because the gulf is too wide between those who want to limit – if not outright ban – the overwhelming majority of gun ownership in America, and those who believe that any rule, regulation, or law will prove insufficient at stopping a massacre under certain conditions. And that an acceptance of the fact that there is evil in this world and that a faith strong enough to prevail despite such evil is all that matters.

In other words, there is no reasonable ground for compromise. If you try to gather up most people’s guns – the way they did in Australia – you would surely meet resistance of a very stubborn and yes, lethal kind. Because people truly believe in the power of the 2nd amendment as a way to securing their freedoms from the very government that the Constitution created.

So we have an impasse. As Ben Domenech put it in The Transom: one side says your laws are B.S. The other side says your faith is B.S. And the impasse deepens and hardens with every shooting.

Maybe gun rights should devolve completely to the state level. That’s already happened to a certain extent. Yes, local 2nd probably scares some in the beltway. As well as gun owners in liberal/progressive states. But is there any other way for America’s great variety of local communities and state governments to deal with how to best handle and defend against the possibility of a unique, one-in-tens-of-millions chance of a mass shooter?




How Will Non-Fossil-Fuel Cars Pay Their Way?

2017-11-07T16:50:40Z

How Will Non-Fossil-Fuel Cars Pay Their Way? © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Federal and state gasoline taxes provide a very substantial amount of revenue. In fiscal 2014, the Federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents/gallon delivered over $25 billion dollars to Federal coffers. State gasoline taxes vary from a low of 12.25 cents/gal in […]How Will Non-Fossil-Fuel Cars Pay Their Way? © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Federal and state gasoline taxes provide a very substantial amount of revenue. In fiscal 2014, the Federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents/gallon delivered over $25 billion dollars to Federal coffers. State gasoline taxes vary from a low of 12.25 cents/gal in AK to 43.88 cents/gal in NY and a whopping 58.20/gal in PA and are balanced as part of the overall state tax ‘pie’ against that state’s property, income, sales and excise taxes. Regardless, the states’ gasoline tax represents a substantial portion of every state budget. Revenues from these local fuel taxes are supposedly earmarked for road/bridge/infrastructure maintenance and improvements, although like all taxes—Federal or local— they simply go into the General Fund, to be dispersed as the Federal or local lawmakers see fit. No one likes paying taxes, but the gasoline tax was a relatively straightforward, uncomplicated affair from the time state gasoline tax was instituted in 1919 in Oregon and in the Federal 1932 Revenue Act right through the present day. Cars ran on gasoline; taxes were imposed on gasoline to bring in revenue. Unpopular, perhaps, but straightforward and understandable in its implementation. Now the United States is on the cusp of a revolutionary change in the means of personal and commercial ground-based transportation. In the near-term (25-50 years, at most, according to most experts), cars and trucks not powered by fossil fuels will become a very significant portion of the transportation fleet of the country. As that happens, the obvious, most oft-discussed effects will be a paradigm shift in the way the United States conducts its foreign policy (no longer beholden to unstable, hostile foreign entities simply as a way to preserve our unfettered access to their crude oil reserves) and the manner in which the absence of oil-derived environmental damage and pollution no longer affect domestic American environmental policies and historical political alliances to anywhere near the same degree as they do now. Less discussed—if discussed at all—is the dramatic structural change to the mechanism by which both Federal and state governments collect a very major portion of their respective revenue. With no change to the current system of tax collection, oil-based tax revenues will fall precipitously as fossil fuel-powered cars comprise an ever-smaller percentage of the nation’s fleet. One vague proposal afoot in some states is an unspecified “user” tax, a way of charging drivers for the miles they’ve actually driven, as opposed to the amount of fossil fuel they consume. Currently, drivers of fossil fuel cars subsidize the upkeep of roads and bridges completely for non-fossil-fuel drivers. Those cars use no gasoline; hence their drivers pay no gasoline tax and get a figurative “free ride.” But how would a miles-based user tax be implemented? Would it be a Federal tax, a State tax or some combination of both? How would the percentages/proportion of user tax vs. gasoline tax be determined? Ostensibly, the total tax on motor vehicles would need to be kept at least equal to what it is now, so states could develop a dependable budget with known revenue sources. What would be the timeframe for bringing mileage user taxes on line and could taxpayers be assured of a commensurate rolling back of gasoline taxes as non-fossil-fuel cars b[...]



​Islamophobia is Not The Problem in NYC

2017-11-03T20:09:49Z

New York City is gripped by an evil fear apparently. Their heroic mayor Bill de Blasio is doing his best to ensure that this evil does not overcome their virtuous defenses. But the evil is apparently not an Uzbek immigrant driving a truck into innocent pedestrians on the Lower East Side, while screaming “alluah akhbar” […]New York City is gripped by an evil fear apparently. Their heroic mayor Bill de Blasio is doing his best to ensure that this evil does not overcome their virtuous defenses. But the evil is apparently not an Uzbek immigrant driving a truck into innocent pedestrians on the Lower East Side, while screaming “alluah akhbar” out the window, just in case anyone on the planet could possibly ever be confused as to his motives for the terror attack. No. The evil apparently is islamophobia, which all New Yorkers must now be vigilant about. They must bond together against anyone demanding tighter immigration policies. They must not just bond together, they must seek out anyone who is saying anything they deem offensive. Nothing like a terrorist attack to bring out the thought police in full force on social media. Oh, by the way, extreme vetting is fine, according to Mayor de Blasio: But as he says: We support very thorough vetting – not of groups of people just because they belong to a group. Ok. So that condition would eliminate any process of rigorous vetting from discriminating against anyone based on what country they come from, or what religion they espouse. For example. Or even what terrorist group they belong to: ISIS, al Qaeda, etc. That’s a mighty big exemption that the mayor is demanding, isn’t it? But this is what happens when identity politics confronts the reality of extremism based on an ideology – or a virulent interpretation of what a specific faith – Islam – means, in this case. The sanctity of diversity must be maintained. Not necessarily the real diversity that has been flowing and pulsing through America’s daily life for many, many generations. No, this is about an official story, a narrative that must be maintained at all costs. With white-oppressor villains and a glorious rainbow of heroes on the other side, of course. Never mind that the gender-bending diversity of that rainbow gets you thrown off buildings in regions where Sayfullo Saipov’s worldview predominates. Never mind that this worldview is a threat to almost every corner of American political, intellectual, and cultural life. The narrative must be maintained at all costs. And the most vile of those costs is the death of innocent civilians, caught up by the murderous hatred of terrorism. So NYC Mayor de Blasio has to try and get out in front of President Trump’s demands for extreme vetting. We couldn’t possibly have someone denied entry to America because of their fanatical beliefs. That’s unconstitutional right? Wrong. The First Amendment and the rest of the constitution applies to American citizens and America herself, as universal as they should be. But those freedoms are not universal. Saipov’s Uzbekistan, for example, is an authoritarian state that denies it’s citizens the very freedoms that allowed him to plan and purchase and carry out the attack on American soil. So how to protect America from these kinds of attacks while respecting the constitution? It can be a tricky balance, but one in which careful vetting has a perfectly legitimate role. And that’s why extreme vetting is so important. Foreign terrorists are by law treated differently than American terrorists. And the first line of defense is making sure someone from abroad with a questionable background from a country with poor record-keeping, perhaps undercut by c[...]



​Who the Hell is George Papadopoulos and Why Does He Matter?

2017-10-31T18:32:00Z

Who the hell is George Papadopoulos? We’re going to find out it seems. He’s someone who was associated with Trump’s campaign back in 2016, although he doesn’t appear to have been anything like a key player. What he did do, however, was apparently lie to the FBI in January of this year regarding his contacts […]

Who the hell is George Papadopoulos? We’re going to find out it seems. He’s someone who was associated with Trump’s campaign back in 2016, although he doesn’t appear to have been anything like a key player. What he did do, however, was apparently lie to the FBI in January of this year regarding his contacts with Russians or with those who had or have contacts with Russians who may themselves have had or who may have contacts with the Kremlin.

Apparently Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about his contacts with a professor. Who exactly this professor is remains unknown to us mere mortals. Is the professor American? Russian? According to The Washington Examiner he’s an “overseas” professor. Is there a sworn cabal of red-robed journalists who are forbidden to say the word “Russian”? Is he some other nationality? What is his (he seems to be a he but who can tell at this point?) field of expertise and how did this professor happen to have inside information on Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, specifically on the fact that the Russians had information on her emails, as seems to be suggested by the indictment of Manafort?

It’s this promise of information on Hillary’s emails that spurred Papadopoulos to set up or to try to set up meetings between Putin associates and Trump associates. Did he help set up the meeting between Donald Jr., Jared Kushner and Natalia Veselnitskaya? She being the Russian lawyer who was lobbying on behalf of Putin in order to get the Magnitsky Act overturned. A lobbying process that involved Fusion GPS of course, who by the way were initially hired by Paul Singer’s Washington Free Beacon. Is there anyone in Washington, London, Moscow or Caracas who hasn’t hired or worked with Fusion GPS? Just wondering …

So Papadopoulos has been talking to the FBI since at least early October, after having been arrested at Dulles International back in July of this year, and has subsequently pleaded guilty in what must have been some form of plea bargain. If he actually revealed some sort of provable connection between Russia and the Trump campaign then this will presumably come out. If not, then maybe he’s being squeezed to scare others into testifying. Remember it was the lie that jailed Scooter Libby, not anything he actually did or didn’t do.

The series of Russia probes may end up being a rolling series of dramatic announcements with no real compelling case for collusion on the part of Trump’s campaign. The Hillary dossier has now been pushed to the side of the stage, for example, by the indictment of Manafort and Gates. A new announcement will push Manafort and Gates to the sidelines at some point in the future one can fairly safely say. But this circus still has a ways to go.

Until and unless there is a clear decision one way or the other, however, and one that is based on a reasonable view of the evidence, these probes will only deepen the partisan divides across America. But at this point, there’s no turning back.




​Sacred Military Honor is Not a Shield Against Civilian Scrutiny

2017-10-25T20:09:43Z

David French talks about the unbearable weight of grief combined with the sudden thrust into the public spotlight for Gold Star families – those who have lost to combat a son or daughter who were serving in the armed forces. And he rightly says that it is a shame to politicize such an event the […]David French talks about the unbearable weight of grief combined with the sudden thrust into the public spotlight for Gold Star families – those who have lost to combat a son or daughter who were serving in the armed forces. And he rightly says that it is a shame to politicize such an event the way Congresswoman Wilson did in the case of Sergeant La David Johnson. And the way the president responded with a typical Twitter slug fest. Allow to me to respectfully disagree with David French on certain aspects of what may very well turn out to be a symbolic turning point in not just how we view combat casualties, but how the war on terror itself is viewed. In the first place it is more than reasonable to ask what the hell those marines were doing in Niger. The answer seems to be twofold. Boko Haram – an Al Qaeda and/or ISIS affiliate – operates in Southern Niger and Northern Nigeria. Nigeria is a major oil producer and should it’s corrupt democracy – with a history of authoritarian governments and military intervention something like various Latin American countries in past decades – fall to radical islamic terror groups like Boko Haram, then those groups will have their hands on at least part of Nigeria’s considerable oil wealth. Does this mean that the Niger-Nigeria region is at risk of becoming another Syria within a few years? Or a few months? With French, American and possibly Russian forces competing for influence and territory through proxy forces or directly? So yes, it is more than reasonable to politicize Sgt. Johnson’s death. It’s how you politicize it that matters. That’s why Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford’s press conference was so key. In marked contrast to Defense Secretary Mattis, he promised as much transparency as possible on why Sgt. Johnson and his cohorts – along with Nigerien (that means soldiers from Niger as opposed to Nigerian which of course means from Nigeria) army personnel – were there in Southern (or Southeastern) Niger. In other words, tax payers, voters, and yes Gold Star and other military families deserve to know if America is being pulled into another low-level war in West Africa. As well as more specific details on what went wrong in that ambush by Boko Haram terrorists. This the key point. The sacred honor that is justly and righteously (in the true and virtuous sense of the word) bestowed on those men and women who give their lives for their nation does not mean that any questions on how and why and who and what Sgt. La David Johnson’s patrol was doing in Niger are somehow inappropriate. It is a great temptation to use that honor as a shield against civilian scrutiny. Yes, it is a tricky balance. Debating in public the roles of intelligence assets on the ground in places like Niger and Afghanistan and elsewhere, for example, is often impossible for obvious reasons. But America’s military does not need to be stripped of its honor in order to be a little more forthcoming about its multiple engagements around the globe. And President Trump could be a little more creative and diplomatic when it comes to the impossible and thankless job of contacting Gold Star families. And that’s despite the fact that Democrats want to turn the Niger ambush into a Benghazi for the Trump administration. There are better ways to shame Congresswo[...]



Electric Cars Will Revolutionize Politics, Too

2017-10-25T18:27:40Z

Electric Cars Will Revolutionize Politics, Too © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   Electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to have a major influence on the automotive market in the near-term future. We’re talking about pure electric vehicles, not stop-gap gasoline-battery “hybrids.” Like any paradigm-shifting technology, electric cars have started out with significant shortcomings. To […]Electric Cars Will Revolutionize Politics, Too © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   Electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to have a major influence on the automotive market in the near-term future. We’re talking about pure electric vehicles, not stop-gap gasoline-battery “hybrids.” Like any paradigm-shifting technology, electric cars have started out with significant shortcomings. To date, they have been marked by exorbitantly high selling prices and driving ranges that are too short to be viable for daily, carefree use. But this is changing for the better, quite rapidly. Driven by the potential of huge market demand, R&D has dropped battery pricing very quickly and driving range is increasing to a point where EVs will soon be a workable alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. In the opinion of many, the range needed for electric cars to be accepted by Joe/Jill Average Consumer without undue driving range anxiety is 350-400 miles. That’s a full work week’s driving with some safety margin built in, assuming an average 25-mile each way commute. That comes to 50 mi/day x 5 days = 250 miles. If you’re stuck in traffic because of an accident or unplanned construction, you still have 100-150 miles of ‘idle time’ safety margin. Looking at it another way, the drive from Boston to NYC is about 225 miles and LA to Las Vegas is about 260 miles, so a 350-400 mile range is just fine. Electric cars are getting really close. This recent article (Aug 2017) from Ward’s Automotive thinks by 2022, in about 5 very short years, they will be fully viable. Let’s paint that as overly optimistic and say 10 years. That’s still essentially immediate. We all remember ten short years ago—2007—like it was yesterday. In the near term, the uncertainty/incompleteness of a nationwide charging station infrastructure will limit EV use to around town/commuter use, and restrict their use for cross-country treks and inter-state car-based vacations. In the early stages of widespread EV market penetration, it’s likely that two-car households will have one EV for short-range trips (where at-home, overnight recharging is possible) and one ICE vehicle for longer-range trips where the absolutely certain availability of remote refueling is a requirement. For anyone under 65 or so, there’s a very good chance they will own an EV in their lifetime. For people simply going to work, an EV would be fine. They’d drive it every day and recharge it at home overnight one night a week. The idea of a remote “charging station” wouldn’t even enter the picture for them—and I suspect that’s the way a lot of people would use EVs early on. Other than the inability of the Liberal/Green sect to be emotionally/intellectually capable of taking “yes” for an answer (reducing the oil companies’ stranglehold on their current dominant energy-providing position will rob the Green lobby of their most prized bogeyman), there is not really any net downside to anyone to the EV revolution. It’s not a perfect solution, but the prospects are quite good for a very solid Won-Lost record in upcoming seasons. Far more upside than down. While there can be no disagreement th[...]



​The Radioactive Uranium One Story That Won’t Go Away

2017-10-24T21:08:23Z

The only way the Fusion GPS story really takes over the mainstream media is if the mainstream media turns on itself. After recycling Fusion GPS’ smear stories, large media organizations and key journalists within those organizations will have to come clean about how the game worked with Glenn Simpson’s dirty tricks squad. About how they […]The only way the Fusion GPS story really takes over the mainstream media is if the mainstream media turns on itself. After recycling Fusion GPS’ smear stories, large media organizations and key journalists within those organizations will have to come clean about how the game worked with Glenn Simpson’s dirty tricks squad. About how they could never reveal that their anonymous sources were in fact a paid communications shop that used incredibly sleazy tactics to turn a story in favor of a client. Clients like the Kremlin or corrupt Venezuelan oil industry contractors. Among others who remain, for now, in the shadows. The Hill has been at the front of some of this latest change in the reporting on Glenn Simpson and GPS. One can’t really say that The Washington Post or CNN have been as equally rigorous in covering this side of the Russia story as they are in obsessively covering how much Russia spent on Facebook ads. But as we segue towards less of a Trump-Russia scandal and towards more of a Russia-on-its-own scandal, most mainstream media are not really coming out and saying that the evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin is not really there, regardless of what Adam Schiff likes to imply. And that the real evidence is in fact pointing exactly the other way: Towards Hillary’s campaign, and the Obama administration’s knowledge of an FBI investigation into bribes, kickbacks, and money laundering by Kremlin associates; all tied to the sale to Russia of a key stake in Canadian-owned uranium mining company, Uranium One. The story of Uranium One runs through Kazakhstan and involves Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra a Clintons donor who managed to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help out his operation in Kazakhstan which around 2010 was being squeezed by Putin who wanted control. Giustra had leveraged uranium mining rights he had managed to previously extract from Kazakhstan’s leadership into a 3.5 billion mining company with operations in South Africa, Central Asia and North America. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton had benefited from Giustra’s donations so it was natural they’d come to his aid now. A deal was worked out needless to say, and much of the background sleaze surrounding the deal would have remained under wraps with Obama’s FBI and DOJ dutifully keeping mum about ongoing FBI investigations into Vadim Mikerin’s racket to bring American companies into the now Russian-owned Uranium One’s fold. But by 2014, with Putin’s Crimea grab and his slow-burn war with Ukraine in its opening phases, Vadim Mikerin was finally arrested but was able to plea bargain down to one single money laundering charge. Read Andrew McCarthy’s piece on this in the National Review, to get a veteran prosecutor’s view on how ridiculous a travesty of justice this was. The story was reported on, but nothing like the Trump Russia story. Well now the Uranium One story is back, and it may have assumed too much critical mass to be able to be wished away by ex Obama officials, especially those at State. Of course, if things get too uncomfortable, and if the real Russian collusion turns out to have been with Obama and Hillary Democrats and not Trump’s campaign team, per[...]



​So Now The Senate Will Debate Tax Reform? Really?

2017-10-20T20:43:53Z

Should one be grateful for Senator Thad Cochran’s return to the upper chamber after his recent health issues? The senator was apparently rather confused when reporters asked him a few simple questions in the halls of Congress, one of which supposedly was where the Senate chambers were located. No matter. His aides whisked him away, […]

Should one be grateful for Senator Thad Cochran’s return to the upper chamber after his recent health issues? The senator was apparently rather confused when reporters asked him a few simple questions in the halls of Congress, one of which supposedly was where the Senate chambers were located. No matter. His aides whisked him away, although it’s hard to imagine the verb ‘whisking’ applying to a 79-year old man recovering from health problems.

On that frail mind and body depended yesterday’s budget vote that now paves the way for tax reform. One that may very well fail, but at least has a chance to be voted on in the Senate without needing Democrat support. But the Senate shall make its own rules, and that’s how the future of tax reform hangs on the vote of someone who should be in bed, being attended to by his nurses.

Should we be angry at Kentucky’s Senator Paul, for being ideological instead of pragmatic on such an important issue for Americans and the economy? Perhaps, but his condition to get to a yes vote was pretty simple: keep to your own spending caps. A solitary voice saying you have to control spending to make any tax cut truly effective in terms of its longer term impact on the American economy. But that would require a simple commitment to not raise spending. Or at least by not too much. And even that slight nod towards the other side of fiscal discipline – spending restraint – is seen as disruptive by the media and by the Republican party. Easier to talk about cutting taxes by closing loopholes – unless the loopholes are deemed to important to key constituencies to be able to close.

So Rand is a disruptive radical for insisting on spending caps. And if you want to close all those loopholes in the tax system you need to realize this:

Some loopholes are apparently Too Big To Close (TBTC if you like). Look at the mortgage interest deduction. Consider high-tax states like New York and California and the angry reaction of those states’ GOP Members of Congress to plans to eliminate deduction of state and local taxes. How dare they? Every loophole has an army of lawyers/lobbyists defending it’s purpose, and the longer the loophole has been around the deeper it’s roots on K Street.

Does this sound like a Senate that’s ready to tackle substantial tax reform?




​Want that Wall Mr. President? Hire Elon Musk!

2017-10-19T23:41:47Z

The wall may be coming after all. And it might be solar-powered, as the President has suggested since last summer. And according to an article in The Washington Examiner, prototypes of proposed border walls are being built at the border in the San Diego area. That would include solar panelling in at least some cases. […]

The wall may be coming after all. And it might be solar-powered, as the President has suggested since last summer. And according to an article in The Washington Examiner, prototypes of proposed border walls are being built at the border in the San Diego area. That would include solar panelling in at least some cases.

Unfortunately, the geeky radicals at Vox had to come up with a back of the envelope analysis of whether a border wall with extensive solar panelling could actually pay for itself. Their figures produce an estimate that a fully solar border wall could generate about $300 million annually which wouldn’t really cover the cost of construction (around $10 billion) depending on what time horizon you use to amortize it.

Fools! Don’t they realize the solution? Bring back Elon Musk!

Yes, that’s what President Trump needs to do to ensure the border wall is big, beautiful, and solar. Get Elon Musk to lobby for all sorts of grants and subsidies, money that is hidden far away from the appropriations process and it’s messy Congressional slugfests.

Drape the project in new-age technocratic, green-job-creating hyperbole. Let Musk announce to the world that what in fact President Trump is doing is building the world’s first ever eco-friendly service platform. A multifunctional high-tech platform that is powered by solar. Drones that recharge at Tesla Superchargers. Electric ATV’s that do the same. And all Customs and Border Patrol officials beyond the rank of a Deputy Assistant Commissioner get discounts on their Tesla’s that they drive to and from work. Solar powered e-bracelets as a complementary service to your e-Visa maybe?

And please. Don’t call it a border. Let Elon give a more appropriate name:

The Heliozon! The world’s first 21st century fully functional solar-powered service platform! This will be what the Panama Canal was to the 20th century. Which of course means that President Trump will not only have to sweet talk Elon back into his fold, he will have to make like Elon and work with the Chinese. Let China build, own, and operate a drone producing Fabrication Plant in Arizona. Think of the jobs. Bringing manufacturing back to America, and building the wall!

Or The President can insist that America has the legal, constitutional, moral, and political authority to control and manage its borders and that a wall along much of the southern border is a reasonable, if hardly cheap, solution to the problems of mass illegal immigration. Unfortunately that means he has to work with Congress.

Maybe hiring Elon would actually be easier.




​Weinstein is a Sexual Predator – What a Shock!

2017-10-17T22:21:58Z

Women being harassed is Hollywood. Yes Debette Goldry (aka as the very talented and funny Kate McKinnon), it sure seems that way. For some time now. A Vanity Fair article from back in 2003 detailed the very disturbing, and hardly surprising story of Patricia Douglas who was raped by David Ross at a swanky bachelor’s party thrown by MGM […]Women being harassed is Hollywood. Yes Debette Goldry (aka as the very talented and funny Kate McKinnon), it sure seems that way. For some time now. A Vanity Fair article from back in 2003 detailed the very disturbing, and hardly surprising story of Patricia Douglas who was raped by David Ross at a swanky bachelor’s party thrown by MGM apparently. In 1937. As the Vanity Fair article recycles through the media again after its initial publication in 2003, it is more than passing curious that the story of a plucky Irish American woman in her early 20’s who fought back and was destroyed by a judicial system in bed (sorry but what other metaphor is possible?) with Hollywood and worthy of a tinpot Latin America narco-dictatorship, aroused little commentary on how true Patricia’s story was in 2003, or 1983, or 1993, or 2013. For example. All years in which Harvey Weinstein was harassing or assaulting, or possibly raping vulnerable women who were part – the lower part usually – of Hollywood’s structure. I forget who the actress was back in perhaps the 90’s who bluntly stated that the way to get cast in a role was to be someone who the producer or casting director, or whoever, wanted to have sex with. I think she may have used one verb, rather the cautious clause I just wrote. Had she had to deal with Weinstein himself, or someone of similar predatory instincts? What do you think? And yes, it is more than possible that as the floodgates open, President Trump may find himself once more in the path of an oncoming rush of women trying to revive possible sexual assault charges against a sitting president. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time. But here’s the thing. Women being forced to, or intimidated into, or even willingly participating in sex with powerful politicians has been around in D.C. for a long, long, long time. Is it worse now? Perhaps, but it’s hard to tell, because of the legal clout a senator or governor or other powerful politician has at his disposal. It may be that these type of stories see daylight a little more quickly nowadays. Maybe. So yes, Hillary is beyond hypocrisy on this one. Hands splayed girlishly on Weinstein’s fat chest at some do for the powerful, wealthy and connected. No surprise at that photo. And the West Coast righteous and their several day silence at Harvey’s scandal, Kimmel and the rest. Of course they’re hypocritical. If you’re not, it’s much harder for your predatory instincts and your righteousness to co-exist in Hollywood, Hypocrisy shouldn’t be the main issue here. The issue should be how cute Harvey looks in an orange jump suit with El Lobo, the tattooed narco thug, eyeing him intensely before shower time. Yes, that last comment is a bit much. Or should be. But that’s my point. In the culture wars of today, the eventual response to this scandal will be something like hysterically denying white males access to campuses, community centers, heck theatres on Broadway, and even schools where their own kids attend class, in order to root out the obvious cause of cases like Weinstein: white male power. Instead, how about a justice system that handles sex[...]



​How About Che Guevara, Ben Borgman? Was he Hot Too?

2017-10-13T19:23:06Z

Bedlam – a Seattle coffee shop – does not want you if you are pro-life. In fact, they will aggressively and abusively hurl insults at you as a form of defense apparently. That is certainly what happened last week when a group of pro-life activists decided to grab some java after putting up posters in […]Bedlam – a Seattle coffee shop – does not want you if you are pro-life. In fact, they will aggressively and abusively hurl insults at you as a form of defense apparently. That is certainly what happened last week when a group of pro-life activists decided to grab some java after putting up posters in the area. The video of Bedlam owner Ben Borgman going postal and explicit on the group is viral by now and it is a little shocking, but not because it reveals anything surprising – gay sex is an issue that divides and divides deeply in the cultural wars in America and Europe and elsewhere. What is just a touch surprising is to see how it is used as an angry weapon to be thrown in the face of those who you disagree with. But wait a second. The disagreement was over abortion, and specifically the use of graphic images of fetuses in the material the group was posting. This seems to have been their great sin, according to Borgman. And from this Borgman deduced that they were persons of faith who must oppose gay sex as sinful and gay marriage as wrong as well. So he went on a rant that ended up with him suggesting that he’d love to sodomize Jesus Christ. As well as denouncing the pro-lifers as being led by Satan. Yes, it’s probably a logical deduction to make, that someone who is pro-life is likely not as tolerant of gay sex or gay marriage as someone who supports Planned Parenthood, for example. But all it takes nowadays is one trigger issue to divide you, in the eyes of the person shouting, on almost every other issue, right down to what neighborhood you choose to live in. And the rage that Bedlam owner Borgman displayed is one that is being directed at the very edifice of Western culture. You’re pro-life, therefore you must be an islamophobic, white supremacist who wants to kill immigrants. Because you put up a poster that (explicitly) denounces abortion as murder. And Columbus was a genocidal murderer while the Aztec culture was practically Buddhist. Jesus is hot and Che Guevara is a saint. The polls of course show that dividing between so-called white patriarchal culture and everyone else gets a little tricky on issues precisely like abortion. Hispanics in America – many first or second generation immigrants – are more likely to be against many forms of abortion than a coffee shop owner in Seattle might be. But this isn’t how the culture wars work. They work by prying apart rather than finding common ground. As I keep saying, this comes from their roots in Marxist liberation theory, where revolution demands constant raw material in the form of customs, social norms and structures, laws and conventions, all as fodder to be hurled into the mouth of the insatiable behemoth of constant revolution. So as the left and center celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ernesto Guevara Lynch de la Serna (known to us all as Che Guevara) the ghost of the revolutionary might take comfort that even if nowadays armed guerillas in Latin America are mostly drug smuggling killers, people can still work themselves into a rage over a poster of a fetus. And even if the fact is that if Che were brought back from his grave he’d be in North Korea or Afghanistan trying to[...]



​The Idiot Contractor & Kaspersky Labs’ War and Peace

2017-10-11T23:26:25Z

From the WSJ’s article a couple of days ago we find out this: Back a year or two ago, some idiot NSA subcontractor (or contractor) took home some key documents or took home a data stick or flash drive and worked on or viewed these documents on his home PC. That meant that the Kaspersky […]From the WSJ’s article a couple of days ago we find out this: Back a year or two ago, some idiot NSA subcontractor (or contractor) took home some key documents or took home a data stick or flash drive and worked on or viewed these documents on his home PC. That meant that the Kaspersky Labs antivirus software running on his machine or even embedded on his machine without his (or her) knowledge, went to work and found something. What the Kaspersky Labs apparently found were hacking tools the NSA uses as part of it’s cyber surveillance. NSA’s core mission is signals intelligence after all. This raises more than a few problems: Did the Kaspersky Labs software find malware which is indeed how some of NSA’s (perhaps a large part – who knows?) spyware apparently works. In other words, was the antivirus software merely doing it’s job? In which case it would have sent a report back to Kapersky Labs Head Office. In or near Moscow. Who then within Russia’s intel services (the FSB and whoever else does this sort of thing in Russia) managed to access these NSA hacking tools (most likely some form of malware)? Was it an FSB mole discreetly working at Kaspersky, or does someone at FBS HQ merely call up the Russian company and request they hand over the information? Former American intel operators seem divided on this issue, as far as the quotes in Cipher’s recent story go. Do Russia’s intel agencies piggyback Kaspersky’s software through a massive hacking breach? Most experts seem to think this is unlikely. That is, they are more willling to believe that Kaspersky is a willing (or forced) partner at some level – whether directly or through embedded Russian intel personnel. Many of Kaspersky’s employees are precisely former Russian intel people. Who would now be willing to trust Kaspersky’s software on their company’s or institution’s or government agancy’s information systems? The solution that some beltway intel experts seem to be suggesting is that Kaspersky Labs move their base of operations out of Russia. A dramatic move that would seem to be just a touch tricky in Putin’s Russia. You can imagine Kaspersky himself suddenly falling victim to some strange disease and dying quickly on a hospital bed somewher in Western Europe if he was lucky. Or under even more unpleasant circumstances within Russia. Are they being forced to go to cyberwar for Putin just to keep the peace with the Kremlin? Finally, there are two main questions aside from speculating on how the hack was done: Why the ever fricking loving heck was Kaspersky Labs still being used on information systems belonging to government agencies – some of them intel agencies?? Why did it take so long and such a disastrous leak to force DHS’s hand and make them finally require government agencies to use a more trusted antivirus provider? The reply that Kasperky Labs antivirus software is good, is not a valid answer in this case. If the NSA can’t control – and that would be with “extreme prejudice” to quote Apocalypse Now – their own contractors, how can America’s premier signals intelligence agency [...]



​RINO’s are Nearly Extinct – TOOL’s Beware!

2017-10-06T00:17:56Z

So now we all know who Nick Ayers is, even if some GOP establishment types are asking the aggressively rhetorical question: “who the f#ck are you?” But that sneering dismissal barely masks a stunned concern over what the Vice President’s chief of staff told a group of Republican donors at a recent gathering. This is […]So now we all know who Nick Ayers is, even if some GOP establishment types are asking the aggressively rhetorical question: “who the f#ck are you?” But that sneering dismissal barely masks a stunned concern over what the Vice President’s chief of staff told a group of Republican donors at a recent gathering. This is what Nick Ayers said: If the GOP doesn’t get tax reform and perhaps an infrastructure bill of some sort done over the next few months then you should keep your wallets shut. Even better, go find a primary opponent and open your wallet for them. Better to have a Trump-GOP minority after 2018 than an establishment-GOP minority in Congress. The crowd laughed and clapped apparently. Look, the GOP and the Democrats are coming apart at the seams. Right now the focus is on the party in power, as is most understandable. But similar things are happening on the other side of the aisle, if a little more slowly and sporadically. Politically that is. Ideologically, the Democrats are as divided as the Republicans have ever been, but they’re better at avoiding the open display of division that Republicans have become known for. The wildfires have been at full blaze for a couple of years now, and don’t seem to be burning out. So the question is: can the GOP reform it’s way out of this? Or will the centuries old duopoly in American political parties finally crack open and give birth to a lasting third or even fourth party? Or is this the latter stage of Trumpism’s takeover of the Republican party? Trumpism, not Trump himself, even if the two are mostly the same at this point. With Alabama as a warning that Trumpism may well outlast the man who brought it to the center stage of political life in America. If this is Trumpism’s takeover , then the next midterms become something rather different, as Ayers’ joke implies. It will be about building a base of populist/conservative (yes that’s an uneasy coalition at best) representatives and senators. Not necessarily about winning a bigger majority in the Senate or preserving a clear majority in the House. And like any civil war (fought within the cultural revolution that is even fracturing liberals from radicals on the other side) it may prove bloody. Especially in the Senate. And exhausting for voters? For some perhaps. But for many – especially Trump’s base – the 2018 midterms will be seen as a chance to put meat on the bones of Trumpism by burning down anyone they feel is what I’ll call a TOOL – a Trumper Only On (E)Lection day. Feel free to come up with your own acronym, because RINO as a political term is becoming as endangered as it’s African cousin. The president may very well have set in motion – or more accurately recognized and ridden – a trend which he can participate in and feed, but cannot control. That’s been the history of political parties in some sense. But America has been the great exception in this regard. The stability of the duopoly has been unprecedented in modern Western political history. That may be about to change. TOOLS beware! [...]



Liberal Outrage Is All About Getting Votes

2017-10-05T13:26:26Z

Liberal Outrage Is All About Getting Votes © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. The Vegas shooting has brought the topic of gun control front and center once again. Within mere hours after the event took place, countless liberal politicians and celebrities were prattling on in their best sanctimoniously outraged voices about the evil of […]Liberal Outrage Is All About Getting Votes © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. The Vegas shooting has brought the topic of gun control front and center once again. Within mere hours after the event took place, countless liberal politicians and celebrities were prattling on in their best sanctimoniously outraged voices about the evil of guns and the need for more gun control laws. We need to do “something,” they said. Disgraced former NBC anchorperson Tom Brokaw said, “It’s time for a national dialogue on guns,” and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel opined that the “GOP should be praying to G-d for forgiveness” (at the 4:59 mark) for basing their national policy on the wants and needs of the NRA. There were lots of vague statements from these same liberal sources about the U.S. having more mass shootings than other countries, with the thinly-veiled implication that they are all the fault of white male conservatives. (Historical facts need not apply. Disregard the Asian Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, or the Muslim shooters at Fort Hood [Nidal Hasan], San Bernardino [Syed Rizwan Farook] or the Orlando nightclub [Omar Mateen]. We have a political narrative to put forth here and we’re not about to let any random facts stand in our way.) There is also widespread liberal praise for the gun buy-back programs that have supposedly been effected in Britain and Australia. The lower proportional numbers of mass gun violence in these countries is presented by the anti-gun lobby as an evidentiary component of the value of having an unarmed civil populace. It’s a risibly-simplistic, unprovable causality, but it’s unquestionably a convenient statistic for them, to be sure. No one—absolutely no one—is saying or implying that any normal, rational person doesn’t and shouldn’t feel genuine sorrow and compassion for the victims of gun violence. But…as Rahm Emanuel once said in his early days in the Obama administration, “[Liberals should] Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Indeed, they never do. The entire liberal community—the liberal mainstream media, politicians and celebrities—has been quick to paint this as just the latest in a string of disastrous shootings brought about by conservatives’ unwarranted, blind, inhumane support of the NRA-led gun-owner’s lobby. The liberal message is clear: Don’t vote for them! Conservatives support policies that kill your children. When pressed for details to define the “something” that must be done, liberal pundits and politicians come up heavy on clichéd platitudes but very short on specifics. Private ownership of fully automatic weapons is illegal, as is the conversion of a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic version. So, the weapons that the Vegas gunman used were already illegal. A new law would not have prevented Stephen Paddock’s action. He was not on any Federal, State or Local watchlist or database. He had no history of mental illness nor any noteworthy criminal background or prior convictions. He had no known association with terror groups, nor any documented travel to terror hotspo[...]



​An Evil Genius Plan for New HHS Nominee

2017-10-04T19:51:01Z

Somewhere around half a million dollars. That seems to be the going price for ejection from either a Cabinet or Chief of Staff position if you’re GOP. Remember John Sununu – Bush 41’s White House Chief of Staff? Back in recession-wracked 1991, his jet travel to various locations – some of them resorts and once […]Somewhere around half a million dollars. That seems to be the going price for ejection from either a Cabinet or Chief of Staff position if you’re GOP. Remember John Sununu – Bush 41’s White House Chief of Staff? Back in recession-wracked 1991, his jet travel to various locations – some of them resorts and once or twice apparently his dentist in Boston – eventually forced him to resign in December of that year. The total cost of his travel was apparently estimated at around $600,000. And the cartoonists had a field day, as they say. Tom Price is now history, being the first Trump Cabinet member to resign. The total cost – again we have to assume these estimates are reasonable calculations based on what a private, chartered flight would cost your average wealthy traveller – has been estimated at around $500,000 by Politico. Or at least Politico has reported that his private flights cost about half a million based on someone making a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation. The president does care about costs and maybe there is something compelling about seeing a mid-six-figure number waved in front of you when you ask about the HHS Secretary’s flights. Especially when you’ve browbeat Boeing into shaving multimillion dollar amounts off the cost of Air Force One as proof of your business acumen. Was it that figure that made Trump so angry? Look, the president can’t fire Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the senate’s strikeout on repeal and replace. He can threaten to oppose his own senate leader in Kentucky’s next senate primary, but so far it hasn’t quite come to that. Not yet at least, not with McConnell himself. Or he can take a the Secretary of Health and Human Services travel expense scandal and use it to get rid of the Secretary. Which is what the president did. Fine. But does the White House now have anybody lined up as replacement? Is Kelly handling the replacement process with the cool of a veteran commander under fire? It’s too early to tell who might be nominated but here’s a thought: Replace a few key Assistant Secretaries inside HHS, under the Senate’s radar, and keep acting Secretary Don Wright busy with Price’s agenda of weakening the ACA from within by cutting back on marketing outreach and shortening the enrollment period, for example. And every now and then leak a few possible names that might be under consideration. Because who in his or her right mind would want to be HHS Secretary right now? You will be mercilessly grilled in your senate confirmation process by Democrat Senators who now have to deal with their own party’s embrace of single-payer health care. Should you make it through the confirmation process – which will be nasty and personal – you will then be hit on both sides from your fellow GOP members of congress who will feel you aren’t taking control and helping to lead the party on an issue over which the party is deeply divided and where a handful of senators can and will sabotage any effort at reform. Or you wil[...]



​Social Media Will Soon Have to Comply With D.C.

2017-09-29T20:28:21Z

People in Silicon Valley get ready! Compliance is a coming! From showboating Democrat senators, accusing Facebook of slow-walking the algorithms that Congress so desperately wants to see, specifically how they track ad-spending (which FB surely tracks very very carefully) to Twitter executives politely knocking on Congressional committee doors so they can be grilled mercilessly, the […]

People in Silicon Valley get ready! Compliance is a coming!

From showboating Democrat senators, accusing Facebook of slow-walking the algorithms that Congress so desperately wants to see, specifically how they track ad-spending (which FB surely tracks very very carefully) to Twitter executives politely knocking on Congressional committee doors so they can be grilled mercilessly, the Russia Hunt continues. This time with Silicon Valley social media behemoths and sorta moths Facebook and Twitter in their sights.

So Russia or Russian-related groups (the evidence is second or third hand and rather scattered at this point) seem to have spent a fair bit of cash compared to you or me on ads in Facebook, but loose change compared to even local-race campaign budgets.

Did those ads – most of which did not mentions the president or either party (again this is all second or third hand stories about leaks about committee members options on ads that they may not have even seen yet) – influence voters in any statistically significant way? You can’t dismiss the possibility but it seems like hard evidence of Jared Kushner’s data operation’s alleged connection with Russian-sponsored actors is nowhere to be seen at this point. So now they have to haul Facebook and Twitter before Congress to make sure that FB and Twitter exec’s admit to knowing that Russia really spent far more on social media ads than the evidence suggests.

In other words, the targets keep changing when evidence is lacking but the investigation rolls on. Yes, that is in part how investigations should proceed, but it seems that Congress is moving towards some sort of compliance structure for social media companies when it comes to ad spending, specifically political ads. But how do you define a political ad in 2017? With identity politics labelling everything as political, and any opinion that doesn’t conform to radical theory as racist, then ANY ad is potentially political. Especially at election time.

Imagine Facebook now has to change their algorithms so that they can file quarterly (monthly maybe?) reports to some agency in the beltway, giving information on who spent what on which ads. Because Congress recognizes that standard campaing financing no longer works. Just ask Luther Strange and Mitch McConnell. And they’re furious about it. Social Media must pay for the changing habits of voters it seems.

And once compliance rules – detailed, ambiguous, and recondite – are in place, then you have a new industry for former Congressional aides! Social media compliance lobbyists!! Facebook might just be hiring a few very soon, if not yesterday. Twitter too. And whether Jared Kushner is an evil traitor, well we’ll just let that question hang for a while. Until some sort of evidence shows up.




​Taking a Knee Is Not Really About Trump

2017-09-27T21:32:13Z

Oh come on! Stop whining! Yes, if President Trump hadn’t made those comments at the rally in Alabama last weekend then maybe Sunday would have been a fairly average NFL weekend. Leaving aside what is “average” nowadays in the NFL – Does average include Marcus Cooper’s bonehead soft shoe shuffle on the 1 yard line? […]Oh come on! Stop whining! Yes, if President Trump hadn’t made those comments at the rally in Alabama last weekend then maybe Sunday would have been a fairly average NFL weekend. Leaving aside what is “average” nowadays in the NFL – Does average include Marcus Cooper’s bonehead soft shoe shuffle on the 1 yard line? Probably not – we were treated to a wave of kneel-down protests across the nation on game day. All because of Trump according to both conservatives and left-wing activists and billionaire NFL owners. And millionaire players as well, let’s not forget. Sorry, this is far more than just anger at the president himself, who of course loves to double down on any brawl anytime anywhere that he can somehow get into. That much is undeniable. But the politiciziing of sport is hardly a brand new phenomenon welling up out of nowhere because of one NYC developer and Reality Show owner-celebrity turned president. As important as the presidency is. Most of you were likely not around in 1968. For example. A.most all of us, or most of us, were not around or very young in 1936 at the Olympics in Berlin where Jesse Owens rubbed Hitler’s crazed racist theories of uber whites into the dirt as he cleaned up the competition and had packs of young German girls squealing and demanding to be told where he was residing in the city. And yes, Owens faced incredible bigotry on both sides of the Atlantic. But in America he graduated from Ohio State and went on to fame, if not quite fortune. LIke any restless trail blazer who has had his trail taken from him – Owen’s professional endorsements got him booted out of the then fully amateur track and field world which in turn KO’ed his endorsements – Owens tried his hand at a number of ventrues after working for the Ford Motor Company in their personnel division. Among them was owning a baseball franchise and sports promotion in general. He touched bottom pumping gas in the 60’s until he was made a goodwill ambassador around 1966. Which brings us to 1968 and the Mexico City Olympics. And the raised fists on the podium by sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Here’s what Owens apparently told them: “The only time the black fist has significance is when there’s money inside. That’s where the power lies.” He changed his mind and by 1972 he said: “Any black man who wasn’t a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward.” And by 1980, he had yet another take on politics in sports when he tried to convince President Carter (Owens had less than a year to live by then) that the Olympics should be beyond politics and America should not boycott the Moscow Games. Trump threw a match on a tinder dry stack of firewood that’s built up over generations and that was burning itself out but still had plenty of fuel left to burn. Precisely because the left’s long march through the institutions is now comming to an end. By that I mean that the radicalized norms[...]



​Graham-Cassidy – A Stately Solution to Collapsing ACA?

2017-09-22T19:21:47Z

​The Graham-Cassidy reform-and-perhaps-replace-but-not-really-repeal plan has earned praise from a fair amount of analysts on rightish side of center, and it does indeed use a vigorous federalism as it’s guiding principle, kicking the debate down to the individual state level. This is really chasing the emerging reality. Texas already delivers health care in ways that are […]

​The Graham-Cassidy reform-and-perhaps-replace-but-not-really-repeal plan has earned praise from a fair amount of analysts on rightish side of center, and it does indeed use a vigorous federalism as it’s guiding principle, kicking the debate down to the individual state level.

This is really chasing the emerging reality. Texas already delivers health care in ways that are different from New York or California. Graham-Cassidy would give states more room to work out their own solutions by block-granting money that would have gone to Medicaid expansion or premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. You want single-payer and high taxes? Move to California. You want affordable premiums and higher-deductible plans that mean you pay more for day to day health care but you’re covered for the larger expenses you may face? But lower taxes and more jobs? Move to Texas.

Their plan is a reasonable solution to what is becoming an unbridgeable gap between Democrats who now increasingly pledge their allegiance to single-payer systems (until they find out what rationing is like when it comes to healhcare) and Republicans who want real choice and real competition in the health insurance market.

Ah, the health INSURANCE market. Yes, insurance industry lobbyists have been a constraint on innovation you might say. But, health CARE is so much more than just insurance premiums. That is not a clarion call for big spending, by the way. It’s merely to point out that a major factor in increasing premiums is often lost in the current debate:

Hospitals in America are producing very high-cost products and services and are a supported by powerful lobbyists that do their share of whispering and bending ears to ensure that innovative competitive solutions do not threaten their cozy, coast-to-coast oligopoly.

One reason for this is the employer-based plans where customers don’t see the true cost and thus the true price of the health services they select. So the big and fat and getting fatter hospital networks can keep raising prices far beyond what almost any other industry is able to get away with. And if money from employer-based plans is not enough to cover the increases, why there’s always the federal government.

So let’s hope that if Graham-Cassidy can get passed into law – and it perhaps just might – then the next step would be to look at freeing up healthcare in America from the welter of self-serving regulations that keep competitors at bay. And maybe the state level is indeed the best place to attempt those types of innovations




​President Trump Needs to Weaponize His Tweets

2017-09-19T21:50:47Z

​It seems we were all hasty, according to Byron York. In a cautionary tale, he gives a warning well worth listening to in his recent piece in The Washington Examiner. Despite the AP headlines about an imminent deal between the White House and Pelosi, Schumer & Aides Inc. it may be that the tweeting was […]

​It seems we were all hasty, according to Byron York. In a cautionary tale, he gives a warning well worth listening to in his recent piece in The Washington Examiner. Despite the AP headlines about an imminent deal between the White House and Pelosi, Schumer & Aides Inc. it may be that the tweeting was hasty, as tweeting is wont to be.

Here’s the statement or note Pelosi passed to her Democrat colleagues in Congress the morning after the infamous dinner:

“We agreed to a plan to work out an agreement to protect our nation’s DREAMERS from deportation.”

Ok. So they agreed to a plan to work out an agreement. That’s at least 3 degrees of separation from an actual, bona fide, signed in soya sauce on a linen napkin agreement.

You agree. To a plan. To work out. An agreement. To protect. DREAMERS from deportation.

Pelosi, Schumer & Aides Inc. couldn’t have covered their alleyways any better. But neither AP, nor NeverTrump’ers, nor Angry Trump supporters, nor the rest of us, got that detail right. The point being that the suspicion that a deal with Democrats on anything on the part of the president, might be possible after the initial pivot is what triggered much of this reaction.

Here’s the thing. Trump doesn’t need to stop tweeting. That’s impossible. He needs to have someone helping him to get out in front with his tweeting. You do dinner with Nancy and Chuck, you have a few options on what you tweet. And you tweet before they do. Or you put up with their tweets. Rather than chase their tweets from behind, like a angry Top Gun chasing a Chinese surface to air missile, which is what President Trump was forced to do.

So after the big UN week in Manhattan. And after the speculation about whether UN Ambassador Haley is already gunning for Tillerson’s job at State. And after Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico and the island territory demands billions more in aid. After all that, we will still have the White House and Congress with a packed agenda this fall. And both sides of the aisle matter in whatever deals get done and whatever bills get passed. Even if it’s to ignore one side or the other on any specific issue.

President Trump needs to weaponize his tweeting impulses. No he hasn’t done that yet. They have been more like loose ordinance so far, causing smoke and debris to scatter around. He needs instead to target his tweets like well-aimed missiles, aimed straight at the narrative media groups like AP or Democrat Senators construct on a daily basis.




Should the Constitution be a Living Document?

2017-09-19T17:48:53Z

Should the Constitution be a Living Document? © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Although President Kennedy’s inaugural speech in January 1961 is more famous (“Ask not what your country can do for you….”), President Eisenhower’s farewell speech from January 1961 contained many themes and ideas that could still be thought of as being quite […]Should the Constitution be a Living Document? © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Although President Kennedy’s inaugural speech in January 1961 is more famous (“Ask not what your country can do for you….”), President Eisenhower’s farewell speech from January 1961 contained many themes and ideas that could still be thought of as being quite relevant, even today. Excerpts follow: Throughout America’s adventure in free government, such basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among nations. Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle – with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment. Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties: - A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses - Development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill - A dramatic expansion in basic and applied research  These and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel. Although Eisenhower was obviously referring to Soviet-backed communism with his use of the phrase “hostile ideology global in scope, ruthless in purpose, insidious in method,” that phrase could just as easily refer to current Islamic terrorism or Iranian/North Korean nuclear adventurism. Additionally, his opining that there might be a great, overreaching hope of a “miraculous solution” to the problems facing the country is evidence of the tempting thought that pursuing successful Government-sponsored outcomes—no matter how questionable their chances for success—was just as prevalent 55+ years ago as it is today. All of which brings up the question of how useful are older documents and thoughts—past speeches, old papers, even the Constitution—in providing useful, relevant guidance and example to current situations? Many conservatives are quick to state that the Constitution remains perfectly relevant, that the principles laid out by the Founding Fathers are timelessly brilliant and insightful, and that the basic rights and guidelines establ[...]



Global Warming: The Classic Liberal vs. Conservative Argument

2017-09-14T15:33:51Z

Global Warming: The Classic Liberal vs. Conservative Argument   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Here is the classic Liberal vs. Conservative Global Warming argument. I started it off with this shot across the bow: “Global Warming is an irrelevant non-issue. One can believe the Warming alarmists at face value or believe it to be […]Global Warming: The Classic Liberal vs. Conservative Argument   © 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Here is the classic Liberal vs. Conservative Global Warming argument. I started it off with this shot across the bow: “Global Warming is an irrelevant non-issue. One can believe the Warming alarmists at face value or believe it to be a made-up bunch of politically-driven junk science as you want. But the fact remains that long before any man-caused “warming” has a permanent negative impact on the world. we’ll be well on our way to using non-CO2-producing energy on a large enough scale that any minuscule amount of “warming” or “higher sea levels” that have occurred in the next few decades will stop and be reversed. The anti-business, anti-conservative, anti-Western crowd is going to have to fabricate a new boogeyman, because “warming” isn’t it. By the way, the non-CO2-producing energy that solves and eliminates the threat of “warming” is being discovered and developed by conservative Western businessmen. Deliciously ironic, no?” To which my liberal friend replied: “For an ‘irrelevant non-issue,’ you’ve written thousands of words on the topic over the years!  Something doesn’t quite compute.   I know of no evidence supporting your “global warming reversal” conclusion, but I hope you’re right. Also, what’s “deliciously ironic” about a businessperson, regardless of political affiliation, doing a 180 when there’s a buck to be made?  It’s the oldest game in the book! Thanks.” I replied— “It’s Irrelevant in terms of the actuality of it happening, not irrelevant in terms of how significant and emotional a topic it is to many. The actuality of Global Warming’s long-term permanent negative effects is irrelevant. All the worst-case studies—if you even can believe them at all—say things like, ‘By the end of the century….’ or, ‘In the next few hundred years….’ etc. The Big Cure of non-CO2-emitting energy is coming fast, real fast. A major chunk of car fuel will be non-CO2 within 10-30 years. There are dozens of new technologies or refined existing technologies that are coming on-line in the next few decades and will be deployed/distributed on a widespread enough basis to displace a big portion of fossil fuels and their greenhouse gas emissions. As I said in a recent article, it’s estimated that electric cars alone will replace the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s entire oil output by 2040. That’s 23 measly years from now. 2040 is pretty far away from ‘next century,’ no? The Warming ‘problem’ goes away, for good, very soon. That’s the absolute definition of ‘irrelevant in actuality.’ Not irrelevant emotionally, however. The Warmers/NY Times/CNN/anti-conservatives love this topic and try to hang every weat[...]