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Updated: 2017-07-25T14:10:35Z

 



Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Agreement a Huge Non-Event

2017-07-25T14:10:35Z

Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement a Huge Non-Event   ©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement has been cited by his critics as proof of his callous ignorance of critical environmental concerns in favor of his big-business colleagues and partisan […]Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement a Huge Non-Event   ©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.   President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement has been cited by his critics as proof of his callous ignorance of critical environmental concerns in favor of his big-business colleagues and partisan donors, and by implication, further proof of his generalized unsuitability to be President. The multi-national Paris Agreement is largely based two assumptions: Mankind will continue to rely on and overuse fossil fuels as the predominant energy source for transportation and heating, thus perpetuating the problem of anthropogenic Global Warming. The Paris Agreement is central to civilization’s ability to stop and reverse climate change before it reaches an irreversible “tipping point.” Both assumptions are demonstrably false; therefore, the entire basis for the Paris Agreement is, at best, embarrassingly naïve and, at worst, an outright fraud. Fossil fuels (oil, gasoline and natural gas) are currently the primary energy sources for heating and transportation, but our reliance on them for these purposes is already declining precipitously, independent of any international climate “agreement.” Use of alternative non-fossil fuels has increased dramatically from less than 5% before 1990 to over 13% in 2014 and may well increase somewhat in the future as their technology improves and their cost declines. However, so-called renewables are a dead end energy solution, whether their use is increasing or not. There is a practical upper limit as to what actual portion of the world’s total energy use renewables can provide, agreed upon by most objective energy analysts as being far less than a majority—or even a significant—percentage of the total. Absent their Government subsidies, it’s questionable if renewables would even be a factor at all. Far more important to the current energy picture in terms of reducing CO2-emitting fuels is the use of fracking (led by the United States) and the resultant mother lode of natural gas that’s been unlocked and has replaced “dirty” coal. CO2 emissions in the United States are already down to early 1990’s levels, primarily because of the increased natural gas supply made possible by fracking. The potential for natural gas to replace coal, and therefore reduce CO2 emissions, is even greater worldwide, since fracking has only just begun outside the United States. There is a great desire among most people to choose a “green” energy source when it is close in price to a polluting fuel and an even stronger desire among 1st-world economies to be free of the shackles and whims of politically-unstable OPEC-influenced world oil pricing. The Paris Agreement is not needed to increase non-fossil fuel demand nor is its presence the reason for the already-growing use of alternative fuels. These developments are taking place now, with or without Paris. The Agreement is a non-factor. The Paris Agreement itself is not a binding, enforceable international “treaty” of any kind. There are no penalties for non-compliance. The Agreement is strictly for show, a way for the major Western economies to make themselves feel good about leading by example and showing recalcitrant CO2 offenders like China and India that they too should take voluntary steps to reduce their environmentally-damaging emissions. For American politicians, the Agreement is a way to show their targeted environmental supporters that the Government is actively, tangibly doing something to combat climate change. The vote-influencing effect of the Agreement is probably i[...]



Sessions Vs Microsoft – Two Very Different Ways of Getting Justice

2017-07-21T20:56:49Z

Jeff Sessions might tough it out as AG, despite receiving fire from all sides: The left, especially the radical Southern Poverty Law Center, decry his supposed racism based on a biased interpretation of a decades-old comment that more than likely was innocent than revealing of any true prejudice. There’s also a rather silly and yes […]Jeff Sessions might tough it out as AG, despite receiving fire from all sides: The left, especially the radical Southern Poverty Law Center, decry his supposed racism based on a biased interpretation of a decades-old comment that more than likely was innocent than revealing of any true prejudice. There’s also a rather silly and yes somewhat untactful joke about the KKK and weed, attributed to Sessions as well. Limited government conservatives and libertarians (which should mean the same thing but doesn’t) are up in arms about Sessions apparent move to increase the power of civil forfeiture by local authorities, meaning that search and seizure will become even more unreasonable if Sessions gets his way on this one. The 4th amendment may very well be at stake here. Experts on drug policy disagree strongly with his revoking the easing of minimum sentencing guidelines for first time offenders, and his jail-em-all policy preferences on any drug offenses. And … President Trump is still really mad at Sessions for the AG’s recusal, which gave Deputy AG Rosenstein the reins, which led to Special Counsel Mueller. And Trump, of course, publicly dissed his AG for this in a recent interview with the NYTimes. Will Sessions finally resign? Will he join Spicer as a former Trump official? An AG is much much more than a spokesman, and it is a key position given the FBI’s investigation and the Russia probes in general. One in which process is godly, and in which the independence of the DOJ is a sacred torch. At least according to anonymous, partisan, leak-prone DOJ officials. But how much will the drama at DOJ matter? A lot? Yes and if Sessions does quit, it will cause a media storm filled with sturm und Drang. A passionate cry to the heavens about how America is drifting, divided and crumbling! Maybe. And it will make for lots and lots of hysterical headlines. But a more rational event is happening over at Microsoft. In a fascinating piece in The Daily Beast, (yes that hysterically anti-Trump webrag), Kevin Poulsen outlines Microsoft’s strategy against Fancy Bear, the notorious Russian hacking group with probable links to Russian intelligence and the Putin regime. And it’s both targeted, nerdy, and effective. Here’s how the Seattle Behemoth is fighting against Russian hacking: To do the dirty work of stealing documents and hacking emails, the malware used by Fancy Bear needs command-and-control servers that provide encrypted commands to the malware sitting on your laptop, or wherever. The servers – rented from providers around the world – are the spymasters if you will that give the instructions and receive the stolen documents. So what Microsoft’s teams of lawyers are doing is going to court to gain control of the domain names that route to the command-and-control servers. Domain names like: livemicrosoft[.]net or rsshotmail[.]com. They then divert traffic from the Russian servers to Microsofts own servers, cutting off the chain of communications that provide the backbone for these malware attacks. Not only that, Microsoft has run algorithms that predict likely new domain names that Fancy Bear operators might try next. And go to court to ensure that they are under Microsoft’s name. Thousands of them. So who needs the DOJ or the Russia Probes? Just let a team of Microsoft lawyers convince a few judges to let them have control over domain names that are being maliciously used by bad actors to harm America. Imagine. It’s January, 2025 and the President names his or her Deputy AG for Net Security: a former Microsoft programmer, who picked up a law degree in his spare time while working on the [...]



The BCRA Is Dead – Long Live Single-Payer??

2017-07-19T18:34:28Z

What a shock. It looks like the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA, is about to be buried, along with the AHCA. Senator Mike Lee was signalling skepticism, and he has now come out against it. And so has Senatory Jerry Moran of Kansas. Both GOP of course. What Moran said was interesting: … if […]What a shock. It looks like the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA, is about to be buried, along with the AHCA. Senator Mike Lee was signalling skepticism, and he has now come out against it. And so has Senatory Jerry Moran of Kansas. Both GOP of course. What Moran said was interesting: … if we leave the federal government in control of everyday health care decisions, it is more likely that our health care system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase. Interesting because it may be that Senators Moran, Lee, Collins, and Rand and their no votes may help pave the way for that single-payer system to become reality. May, but we can’t really say for sure. That’s because either Obamacare remains in place largely untouched because GOP conservatives and moderates are far too apart on the complex trade-offs. Or – as Senator Moran seems to be suggesting and which may be the only alternative to Obamacare that is feasible – we will have a significant devolution of power back to the states as far as health care policy goes. Something that will take years of litigation that will end up – on multiple occasions more than likely – in the Supreme Court. And which will mean that health care will be provided in very different ways in Texas, for example, compared to California. For example. Actually, it’s not really the trade-offs that are that complex. It’s the endless policy iterations that are used to mask subsidies and taxes under complex legal language. Because the trade-offs boil down to that cliched but still-true trinity of what is achievable under America’s (and any) health care system. There are three basic truths: You can lower/raise premiums You can raise/lower deductibles (that is lower/raise the amount you pay out of pocket) You can raise/lower taxes/subsidies And you get to choose two out of those three. Doing all three is impossible. Yes you could keep taxes constant and increase the deficit with more government subsidized care and lower premiums. But even there you run up against fiscal constraints built into the budget process. Right now, polling suggests that a clear majority of Americans do not want a market based health care insurance system. The voters themselves basically hate the BCRA. And Senators will now feel even less obliged to risk their re-election prospects by voting yes, now that Collins, Rand, Lee, & Moran have come out against it. Voters are also mad at the higher Obamacare premiums that are the inevitable result of adverse selection: healthy younger voters staying away, and older sicker voters buying in to the ACA. And of course insurance companies are going broke under Obamacare’s rules and mandates. That’s not sustainable. You either repeal and replace the ACA, or at least dramatically reform it. But reforming Obamacare is running into resistance from hospital groups and insurers – the former because the hospital business is booming thanks to the ACA, the latter because of the subsidies the insurance industry receives under Obamacare. So even a reasonable but modest reform is impossible apparently. Or you increase government involvement: more taxes more regulations, more direct federal involvement in how your health care is provided. That means only one thing. Repeal and replace will likely fail. Obamacare will continue it’s zombie existence and it will be saved by the only way that a health care zombie plan can be saved. A government take over of healthcare in a process that will effectively become a single-payer system over the coming years. The only place left to fight it seems to be at the[...]



Get Used to Pronouncing Russian Names

2017-07-17T23:25:16Z

There is a way around so-called whataboutism. The pointing out of similar sins committed by Democrats as a response to charges that Trump’s team may have colluded with Russia. A charge that is far more weighty now than it was a week or two ago. And that way is to ensure that any and all […]There is a way around so-called whataboutism. The pointing out of similar sins committed by Democrats as a response to charges that Trump’s team may have colluded with Russia. A charge that is far more weighty now than it was a week or two ago. And that way is to ensure that any and all actors involved on both – or all – sides of the 2016 campaign are compelled to testify before Mueller’s team or either of the two Senate investigations, or the House investigation. That will mean a significant number of key players from Trump’s campaign team. Some are even suggesting that Brad Parscale and even the Mercers should be questioned. That is ridiculous by any standard. The Mercers did indeed fund – mostly through PAC’s – much of Cambridge Analytica’s data mining work for Ted Cruz and even Ben Carson, before the firm began doing work for the Trump campaign during the summer of 2016. To suggest that the Mercer’s are suddenly persons of interest – as some but only some have suggested – shows how partisan the Russia probes can still be. Unfortunately if any one of the committees decide to compel the Mercers to testify, then they will have to. That’s what happens when investigations reach a certain mass, and when there appears to be evidence of attempts at some sort of collusion with Russian actors. So we now have the media looking for and leaking information on who might somehow be involved in any aspect of any relationship that may have taken place between any possible Russian actor and anyone at all related to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Fair enough. Which means Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS’s co-founder should be compelled to do what he is apparently refusing to volunteer to do. Appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next July 19. Let’s not forget about Fusion GPS and their role in the Trump Dossier, which was another brazen attempt at Russian interference in the election and in the post-election period as well. Let’s hope that the various committees, and especially Mueller’s team are methodical and bi-partisan enough to call Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson and whoever else might be involved with the Trump Dossier. Which brings up an interesting point. When the Trump Dossier and Fusion GPS were first becoming publicly known news stories, there was a brief news item about how Fusion GPS was initially hired by GOP opponents of Trump. Actually, the news item was more specific than that. They named Senator John McCain as possibly one of the first to hire Fusion GPS, whose shoddy and almost certainly manipulated information – manipulated by Russian intel most likely – was then passed on to Democrats and was perhaps used by the FBI as a reason to open their probe, sometime in 2016, or perhaps earlier. Or did Senator McCain merely pass the Dossier to the FBI this past January and also perhaps help leak it? The media occasionally mentions that the dossier started out as GOP opposition research, but they don’t get specific on who the GOP opposition was who initially contracted GSP Fusion. Senator McCain would certainly have had a motivation or two to dig up dirt on Trump. Investigate it all. Methodically and thoroughly. The hacks on the DNC server – and the server itself should be investigated by Mueller’s team and not remain in the DNC headquarters. The hacks of Podesta’s emails. Hillary’s homebrew server. And absolutely any and everything relevant to anything that Trump’s campaign may have done with regard to Russia. All of it needs to be investigated. Not to excuse anybody, but to bring political, and [...]



A Left-Wing Activist Takes on Multiculturalism As an Absolute Good

2017-07-14T19:43:28Z

There’s a horrifying article in The National Interest by Cheryl Benard, herself a refugee activist and author who comes from a rather left-wing background, on the wave of brutal sexual assaults in Western Europe. An alarmingly high percentage of these assaults are committed by young male refugees from Afghanistan. Benard goes into a lot of […]There’s a horrifying article in The National Interest by Cheryl Benard, herself a refugee activist and author who comes from a rather left-wing background, on the wave of brutal sexual assaults in Western Europe. An alarmingly high percentage of these assaults are committed by young male refugees from Afghanistan. Benard goes into a lot of detail on specific assaults against all sorts of women in Austria, a country she apparently knows well. Women who were happily going about their business in shared public spaces in broad daylight usually, and who were assaulted usually by packs of young Afghan refugees. Many of them were mothers pushing prams. Yes pushing baby carriages in the broad sunlight in a park in Austria, for example. As an advocate for refugees, Benard is compelled to seek out an answer to this disturbing phenomenon. She methodically works through and dismisses the usual cliched reasons what we would howl in outrage if attempted as an excuse by a young white male in North America, for example: provocative behavior, cultural norms clashing, drunken mob behavior. She finds most of the excuses given in court by the perpetrators are manipulative attempts to play the judicial systems in countries like Austria, Germany, and Sweden. And they work, tragically. It is almost impossible to deport a refugee who happens to be a violent serial rapist, due to current European law. What Cheryl Benard is forced to conclude – in what she admits was a painful process – is that these young men have a violent contempt for Western values and understand perfectly that their savage assaults will never receive a retribution that is anywhere near as cruel and damaging as their violent sex crimes themselves. They will not be repaid in kind, and they full well know this. That means that there is no disincentive for them to change their behavior. And they see themselves as almost punishers of a decadent West – especially as punishers of happily fulfilled women going about their lives. A West that is doomed to collapse under the brutality of their assaults, in their sociopathic worldview. Further, more integrated Afghan refugees who have lived for years in Europe, most of them as successful and functional citizens, are not willing to be a bridge of communication that might allow them to give these young men an example of what they should aspire to. They either wash their hands of their more brutal compatriots or implicitly encourage their behavior. Women in Europe are thus exposed to a danger that had been apparently conquered and vanquished decades ago. Is it going to take years of take-back-the-night type of marches, to finally get legislators in Europe to admit that the violence against women is not coming from Lutheran preachers or aging Catholic priests laying on an altar in France with their throats slit, but from refugees from Afghan and other countries that treat their women abysmally? Diversity and multiculturalism have been claimed as an absolute good in and of itself by the cultural left (which is what the left is nowadays) for decades now. It’s time they rethink this so-called truth for it is a dangerous lie. There are values far more important than mere diversity for diversity’s sake. Read the constitution for a few very good examples of these values. So this truth of diversity unleavened by other redeeming values like freedom of speech and freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness, is indeed a dangerous lie, dangerous above all to women and children. Cheryl Benard’s article is a much needed start by the left. [...]



Keep Ben Rhodes on His Phone and Keep It in the Ground

2017-07-12T18:49:25Z

How long has Ben Rhodes known about the now infamous Donald Jr. emails, before he released them, or spoke of their contents, directly or through an intermediary, with the NY Times? Ok, that question involves a couple of assumptions, it’s true. First, Ben Rhodes is probably who has been coordinating leaks of damaging information over […]How long has Ben Rhodes known about the now infamous Donald Jr. emails, before he released them, or spoke of their contents, directly or through an intermediary, with the NY Times? Ok, that question involves a couple of assumptions, it’s true. First, Ben Rhodes is probably who has been coordinating leaks of damaging information over the last 6 or so months, with the collusion of former or current Intel, State and DOJ officials. He sets the schedule, if you will, releasing the information at what he feels – and he’s very very very good at this – will be the optimal moment to do maximum damage to Trump’s presidency. Second, Rhodes may very well have been the one who was given and thus had access to these emails. How? Well, the NSA might be a good place to start. Or as Tom Rogan in The Washington Examiner suggests, the British equivalent: the GCHQ, who were surely monitoring British go-between Rob Goldstone. Who knows? But it is reasonable to suspect this. Unfortunately, with the Trump administration it’s sometimes hard to know if the leaks are from #The Resistance, or internal. If any of the various investigations, especially Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, find sufficient evidence to lay charges – and they very well might as a result of these emails – this raises another interesting question: Are Bob Mueller and his top-notch legal team dependent, at least in part, on Ben Rhodes to gather crucial bits of evidence in the ongoing Russia probes? If so, that means that Ben Rhodes is even more powerful politically out of office than he was in office as Deputy National Security Advisor during Obama’s presidency. And is so at a crucial time in America’s political history. Which leads to the following question: When the heck will Ben Rhodes be asked to testify at one or more of the investigations into the Russia connection? Are people that scared of him? Or is he seen as a very useful behind-the-scenes player? Which is what he always has been. In other words, keep Ben where he can do the most damage: on his cellphone talking to the right people with the right dirt. At the right time. So, kudos to the GOP’s Rob DeSantis for actually saying the words: “Ben Rhodes.” Another unusual twist on Putin’s possible interference in America comes from The Daily Signal, who report on a letter from GOP congressmen Lamar Smith and Randy Weber to Secretary Mnuchin, in which they make the following claim: Putin is funding hard-left environmental groups in order to disrupt fracking in America, and therefore boost the value of Russian oil and gas deposits. And to therefore ensure the Europe remains beholden to Russia’s energy supplies, with all the concomitant geopolitical implications. This according to Smith and Weber. Is this possible? Is the “keep it in the ground” movement funded, in part at least, with money funneled from the Kremlin? It has been known for some time that Soviet activity was far more involved in America’s radical movements in the 60’s and 70’s, than generally had been supposed. Despite such claims of Soviet involvement being laughed off at the time by those on the left. So it is not impossible for Putin to have added some muscle to an environmental movement which would have engaged in some form of protest regardless, but may have been given more resources to do so. If Russia’s dirty tricks are everywhere in America, then they may be behind some of the anti-fossil fuel protests as well. This does not excuse Donal[...]



President Trump’s Speech in Warsaw

2017-07-07T16:29:19Z

Let The Daily Beast gleefully call President Trump a “snowflake” president for heading to Warsaw before attending the G20 Summit in Hamburg. A more reasoned analysis comes from a former Obama administration official – Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs in the former administration. She has this to say about the president’s […]

Let The Daily Beast gleefully call President Trump a “snowflake” president for heading to Warsaw before attending the G20 Summit in Hamburg. A more reasoned analysis comes from a former Obama administration official – Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs in the former administration. She has this to say about the president’s use of Poland as his first stop in this trip:

He is going to Poland to say ‘I favor this kind of Europe, as opposed to our more traditional allies in Europe.’ It was probably quite conscious to go there first to send a message about his priorities.

One can make the argument, as Douglas Murray does, that Western Europe is dying. Culturally, philosophically, politically. And yes it is aging demographically as well, at a rate much greater than America currently is. While Eastern Europe, having lived nearly two full generations under communist rule from Moscow, has a far different reading of the continent’s future. Unfortunately, it is true that many countries in the East of Europe tend to balance between former communist leaders and bureaucrats and xenophobic blood and soil nationalists. Exactly the way Western Europe did during the middle years of the 20th century.

Given this background, Trump’s following words from his speech in Warsaw have a double resonance:

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
__
This is both a challenge to Western Europe and a cautious call to arms to Eastern Europe. It will never be compared to JFK’s Berliner speech, but it was a sweeping declaration of intent on Trump’s part. You can parse it for it’s politically impolite reprimand of countries like Germany who belatedly have realized their disastrous move in unconditionally opening up their borders was unhelpful. You can sneer that it is an embrace of nationalism in countries like Poland and Hungary where they have resisted allowing any significant number of refugees in. But you cannot ignore it’s strong call to action against Russian threats.

So how do you square that with Trump still walking back his admission that Russia could indeed have interfered in America’s election? Yes, he’s fighting a battle against Democrats and much of media who have declared his presidency illegitimate from the day after the election last November. But there may be another reason. Perhaps he’s received intelligence about the matter and has been advised not to reveal how much is known on the part of America’s intel community about Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 elections, regardless of what specific purpose Putin’s cyber agents actually had.

Neither reason is good enough to not acknowledge an attempt, a dangerous attempt, by Russia to destabilize America. Yet both are good enough reasons to word carefully any acknowledgement on Trump’s part. The problem, of course, is that by the time he actually does do that, the president will face a tsunami of questions about whether is presidency is legitimate. And that, in part at least, is his fault.




The DNC Server Senators Want to Get Their Hands On

2017-07-06T17:01:43Z

As President Trump and Putin meet in Hamburg, Germany at the G-20 summit, and as President Trump continues to resist admitting that Russia may very well have interfered, or attempted to do so, in last year’s election and during much of the 2016 campaign, there is another question emerging. Why did the DNC refuse to […]

As President Trump and Putin meet in Hamburg, Germany at the G-20 summit, and as President Trump continues to resist admitting that Russia may very well have interfered, or attempted to do so, in last year’s election and during much of the 2016 campaign, there is another question emerging.

Why did the DNC refuse to let the FBI or DHS have a look at the server that was hacked to reveal Hillary’s emails? Instead the DNC turned to Crowdstrike back in 2016, to do an analysis of the server. And the DNC has still not allowed the Washington D.C. intel community to examine the server and make a determination on who did the hacking and what the object of the hack might have been.

Both Senators Lindsey Graham and Kamala Harris – two rather unsimilar senators in terms of their politics – have publicly called for the DNC to allow further investigation of the Hillary server. And Crowdstrike itself is coming under increased scrutiny. One of its main investors is Warburg Pincus, run by Timothy Geithner, the ex Treasury Secretary of the Obama administration, and also a veteran of the Clinton administration. The DNC has been a client of Crowdstrike for a few years now, but they also have the National Republican Congressional Committee as clients as well. Crowdstrike is an insider, well-connected beltway firm in other words.

Will any of the Russia investigation committees get their hands on the famous DNC server? Will Mueller send in an armed squad of G-men to 430 South Capitol Street to confiscate the darn thing? And if they finally do, what will they find? That in the process of analyzing the server, Crowdstrike had to “bleach” it? As apparently happened with Hillary’s homebrew server?

Or are the Russia investigations too obsessed with forcing any Trump associates – current and former – into perjuring themselves during the investigative process, to even bother about the server? Will the server have it’s day in court? Will they actually wheel it in on a trolley and place it near the witnesses? Like a sacred monolith?

Or more to the point, will executives and analysts from Crowdstrike be called to testify before Congress? Along with independent experts who have been allowed to thoroughly examine the DNC server?




Healthcare – What GOP Senators Should Keep in Mind

2017-06-30T18:43:57Z

The BCRA is a modest reform of Obamacare that curtails the growth in Medicare spending over the next decade (assuming a future Democrat administration and Congress don’t cancel these modest attempts at slowing the rate of growth) and loosens the mandates, although it does keep a sort of penalty for going without insurance for several […]The BCRA is a modest reform of Obamacare that curtails the growth in Medicare spending over the next decade (assuming a future Democrat administration and Congress don’t cancel these modest attempts at slowing the rate of growth) and loosens the mandates, although it does keep a sort of penalty for going without insurance for several months. This is now painted as practically murder by progressives. And the CBO with their crystal ball predictions of 22 million losing their health insurance have also been a key factor influencing voters. It’s working. For Democrats. Look at how quiet GOP Senators are. They aren’t saying a thing, or they’re casting doubt, or they’re outright dismissing the bill. The latest polls showing the unpopularity of the proposed legislation have clearly influenced the GOP. And no amount of skillful process-managing can bridge the enormous ideological differences between GOP Senators. One “common-sense” euphemism after another about doing things right and getting it down and makings sure we nail it down, can’t change that fact. Maybe Charles Krauthammer is right. Maybe we are witnessing the slow death of the ideal of healthcare as a private insurance proposition and not as a social right that voters are entitled to. There is no real insurance in Obamacare, but rather the use of the existing insurance industry as a tottering scaffolding to drape subsidies, taxes, penalties, and mandates over the top of it’s creaking framework. Until it starts collapsing, in state after state because insurance companies are going broke following the ACA’s rules. Perhaps an idea like Universal Catastrophic Insurance, where voters have a guaranteed protection against major medical expenses but have to pay most of their monthly or weekly or daily medical expenses, could be a way out. Given how voters have reacted to current GOP efforts at merely reforming Obamacare, that’s unlikely however. What happens next? Can McConnell pull off a miracle? It’s looking very doubtful at this point. His final attempt at compromise between a Senator Lee and a Senator Collins, for example, might involve front-loading money to help lower-income workers with their health insurance and back-loading cutbacks (which are really just reductions in the rate of growth of Medicare). If this fails, then what? Does this mean that Obamacare is an established entitlement, and as such, will continue to expand and involve more and more government rules, regulations, taxes, fees, penalties, and on and on? And will this even be cheered on by a majority of voters? If so, then Elizabeth Warren is right. Voters really just want universal health coverage and it’s up to Democrats to sell them on the idea without all the half-truths and complex mechanisms inherent in the ACA. Imagine. President Warren meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister and the two of them heading up to Camp David to relax and have a long chat about government-owned-run-and-operated healthcare and how to finish the job. And finish off private health care in America. Yes that’s an over-the-top scenario. One that will hopefully never come close to happening. But healthcare in America is at a historical crossroads one feels, and it is not clear that private healthcare will predominate in America in the future. Senators should keep that in mind over the next few weeks. Especially GOP Senators. [...]



I’m wrong, you’re wrong

2017-06-29T12:45:08Z

I’m Wrong, You’re Wrong ©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. The Democrats have a good thing going. It’s unclear exactly how they arranged it or why it is that no one has really noticed it before and called them out on it. But they are very clever and they deserve full credit for pulling it […]I’m Wrong, You’re Wrong ©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. The Democrats have a good thing going. It’s unclear exactly how they arranged it or why it is that no one has really noticed it before and called them out on it. But they are very clever and they deserve full credit for pulling it off. It’s just another piece of evidence that when it comes to hardball politics/media manipulation, there is only one team even playing the game, much less a contest of any sort being waged. Their gambit? The Democrats have constructed a reality whereby they get to blame Republicans outright for any transgression they commit—real or contrived—whether it be some verbal or policy slight against a favored special-interest group, a tax advantage they give to their “wealthy donor” electoral base, an unfair reduction in rights and privileges to the deserving just for the fun of being mean-spirited, environmentally-damaging political decisions made out of ignorance or uncaring short-sightedness, or a disruptive, counter-productive introduction of religion and morals into the public discussion in a blatant, hypocritical violation of the doctrine of ‘separation of church and state.’ The Democrats actually go further than simply tying such actions to Republican politicians. In fact, they routinely tie calamitous events to Republicans in general, office holders and supporters alike, and blame Republicans for intentionally creating the circumstances that enabled the event to transpire in the first place. A perfect recent example of this was a few years ago when Sarah Palin—a favorite Democratic fall girl—produced a “map” identifying targeted Democratic Congressional seats, with a crosshair graphic on the seat. Democrats howled that Palin was advocating actual gun violence against those Democratic officeholders and claimed that her actions specifically contributed to gunman Jared Loughner’s actions when he shot AZ congresswoman Gabby Giffords along with several other people. That was ludicrous, since Loughner’s mental illness was well-documented and had nothing to do with Palin’s strategic electoral map. In fact, there’s not any evidence that Loughner even knew who Sarah Palin was. Yet when it serves their PR purposes, Democratic politicians—secure in their confidence that the liberal media will back their play every step of the way—feel free to conflate long-understood clichés and figures of speech with the literal meaning of that phrase when the literal meaning serves their political agenda. “In the crosshairs,” of course, is just an ages-old colloquialism for a matter to which one is turning one’s full attention and effort. You have to be a truly special kind of partisan to think you could convince others otherwise. But to the Democrats’ everlasting credit, they continually put it out there, knowing that the charge on Page One is seen by everyone, but the correction on page 12 four days later goes by virtually unnoticed. Conversely, when a Democratic politician or a Democratic supporter is unavoidably trapped into acknowledging some inexcusable misconduct, abdication of responsibility, obvious lie, or insulting, insensitive speech, the typical Democratic response (assuming that a liberal media-backed outright denial of reality is not an option) involves some grudging admission of a temporary lapse in their usually impeccable judgement, followed by the inevitable dragging of Republicans along to share their guilt. Here are some quintessen[...]



Yes! You Should Think About the BCRA

2017-06-26T18:09:13Z

Oh joy oh joy! We get to talk about health care again. So. We now have the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act – that’s BCRA – and it’s a watering down or subsidizing up of the American Health Care Act – that’s AHCA – which itself was a clear start, but nothing more than a […]Oh joy oh joy! We get to talk about health care again. So. We now have the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act – that’s BCRA – and it’s a watering down or subsidizing up of the American Health Care Act – that’s AHCA – which itself was a clear start, but nothing more than a start, at partially dismantling the Affordable Care Act – or the ACA – which we all know is Obamacare. Do you really want to go through all the changes in rather overwhelming detail? Read Christopher Jacobs’ review in The Federalist. If there ever was a healthcare policy wonk, he’s it. Do you want to know what the “family glitch” is? Chris Jacobs helpfully explains it’s when members of a worker’s family do not qualify for subsidies if said worker qualifies for employer-based health insurance. Even if said worker’s employer-based health insurance does not cover his family members. Thus the glitch. Apparently the BCRA solves the AHCA’s family glitch problem. Did you know that the word glitch probably comes from German or Yiddish? And was first used to refer to engineering problems at Cape Kennedy around 1965? And yes, apparently the BCRA solves the family glitch problem. Ah but it’s not just the family glitch that was solved. We also have Avik Roy cheering GOP Senators for diving into the details of the AHCA and like navy seals triumphantly emerging on the surface with the AHCA’s section 202 in hand. Section 202 of the AHCA you ask? It involves a transitional schedule of tax credits rather than the flat tax credit that kicks in regardless of income under Ryan’s AHCA, and that was meant only as a bridge between Obamacare and Ryancare. What did the Senators do? They made it permanent so that the tax credits in the BCRA now depend on income, rather than being flat. That means lower income workers get more subsidies for their health insurance compared to the House’s AHCA plan. That means, according to Avik Roy, that low-income workers and near-elderly working poor will now be able to afford health insurance that they might not have been able to under the AHCA. That’s surely what President Trump meant when he said we need a plan that is less “mean” didn’t he? He knew all about section 202 of the AHCA, didn’t he? Didn’t we all? Then again maybe we didn’t. Health care policy in America is fiendishly complex with conflicts between hospitals, patients, doctors, healthcare workers, insurance companies, employers, employees, independent workers, small business owners, local government, state government, and the federal government. And taxpayers of course, which is a term that covers several of the already mentioned groups. And all the other groups I surely forgot to mention. No single plan can satisfy perhaps even a clear majority of these constituencies. But most of us don’t have the time, passion, or focus to clearly think through the countless trade offs that any health policy in America necessarily involves. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Health care is fundamental, and Obamacare is unsustainable without serious reform/replacing, or without way more taxes and subsidies. Those two truths mean everyone has to do a little research and decide what they think about healthcare policy. For their own and the country’s good. And yes, it’s a pain. [...]



FANg’s Property Rights and Free Speech

2017-06-22T18:18:43Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Just Get Someone

2017-06-19T14:19:20Z

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



Will the White House Have to Wait Mueller Out?

2017-06-16T18:57:47Z

Over at thecipherbrief.com – the intel communityish newsletter with a heavyweight line up of expert contributors – John Sipher (no it’s not his site), a former CIA analyst, gleefully sets up a Catch-22 that many in the intel community hope leads to some way to impeach Trump. After outlining the difference between a counter-intelligence investigation, […]Over at thecipherbrief.com – the intel communityish newsletter with a heavyweight line up of expert contributors – John Sipher (no it’s not his site), a former CIA analyst, gleefully sets up a Catch-22 that many in the intel community hope leads to some way to impeach Trump. After outlining the difference between a counter-intelligence investigation, which is open-ended and does not rely on the same standards of evidence or legal proceedings that a criminal investigation does, and a criminal investigation where evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt is usually necessary, he tells those who are asking ‘where’s the evidence?’ to hush and sit patiently. That’s because the FBI, in its counter-intelligence investigation, will take its sweet time in thoroughly combing through the evidence as Mueller’s prosecutors – among the best in the business apparently – set up endless interviews with whoever they feel will help move their investigation forward. Hopefully in their view means only one thing: towards a conviction. Even if it means one related to obstruction of justice and not collusion of any shape or form with Russian actors. But hey, that depends on what evidence they may theoretically turn up at some point during what may be a multi-year process. And until they do, it’s only a counter-intelligence investigation, which does not go by the same rules. Ha ha. Ha ha. No wonder John Sipher has such a big grin in his impressive photograph at cipherbrief.com. And that’s a Kafkaesque open-ended process that could take years to complete, and is and will continue to undermine Trump’s presidency, even if doesn’t lead to an impeachment. Why? Because we have an FBI counter-intelligence investigation against a sitting president’s associates, and perhaps even the president himself. An investigation that may have originally been set in motion by Christopher Steele’s absurd dossier. There are several factors one can point to or blame: a D.C. bureaucracy and especially intel community wary of candidate Trump and openly hostile to President Trump; a churlish delight on the part of Trump himself to provoke and gloat; a self-righteous FBI Director, James Comey, who got burned by his decisions regarding Hillary’s server and was perhaps eager to compensate by going the other way; a Democrat opposition that is being pushed by a base that is still hysterically furious that Trump actually won; and a media that is working hand in glove with any and all beltway leakers. But how the Russia probe got started is unfortunately so much history now, and the question for the administration is how to get out of this mess? Fire Mueller and also fire Rosenstein, who seems to think only he can fire Mueller? Instruct Rosenstein to tighten up Mueller’s mandate? Actually listen to your legal advice? Or wait it out and meanwhile try to focus on your agenda? And hope the media finally tires of the Russia headlines they publish nearly every day? In the end that may be all that’s left for Trump’s White House. If they can balance the waiting with at least some major bills like tax cuts and healthcare reform of some kind. Unfortunately that will also mean being very careful when interviewed by Mueller’s prosecu[...]



The Process Idol – a D.C. Tragedy

2017-06-15T17:44:48Z

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



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

2017-06-08T19:05:31Z

First it was class warfare. The first wave of marxism was all about eliminating private property rights and ownership in order to control the means of production and liberate the working class. By the latter half of the 20th century, the concept of liberation struggle (usually violent) was extended to gender, then race, then even […]First it was class warfare. The first wave of marxism was all about eliminating private property rights and ownership in order to control the means of production and liberate the working class. By the latter half of the 20th century, the concept of liberation struggle (usually violent) was extended to gender, then race, then even age, and finally an increasingly bewildering range of categories of being as witnessed by trans liberation. The last of which went from a fairly marginal cultural place seeing it involves an infinitesimal portion of any given population, straight into the courts and legislatures across the country with astonishing speed. But wait a second! That’s so old-school isn’t it really? There is only one true war of liberation that matters to the true cutting-edge freedom fighters of 2017. Information, flow freely across the globe! You have only your encrypted chains to lose! And unlike the narrow group of trans activists who have bludgeoned those who disagree with screeching name and shame tactics, the info-anarchists can come from anywhere: an Australian hacker-activist-possible abuser living in an embassy in London. An NSA subcontractor or two. A criminal group in the Ukraine or Russia or China or anywhere who pillage personal identity data to resell on the deep web. A top-level State Department Official who decides she really really doesn’t like President Trump’s latest tweet. A three-star General who wants his policies listened to a heck of a lot more by the White House. A journalist who loves a good scoop and righteously refuses to reveal sources even when lives are at stake because the integrity of the media is sacred as we all know. We’re not all Keynesians now. We’re all hackers now apparently. At least all of us who matter. Information wants to be free. Michael Moore has launched Trumpileaks and will take gossip/leaks/dangerous security information/anything from anywhere and anyone because the more information we all have, the better. And because maybe the leaks can help the Democrats take back the House and even the Senate and impeach Trump who we all know was put in the White House by the Russians. How do we know this? The leaks, follow the leaks. Go to the leaks and learn the truth! And now in what is akin to Trotsky getting a pick-axe plunged into his skull, Wikileaks Assange is blasting an unnamed journalist at The Intercept for bringing in the FBI to review a leak the online media site received in the mail. From who we now know to be the uniquely named Reality Winner. A young former Air Force veteran working as a … you guessed it, NSA subcontractor. How dare any journalist be concerned whether a law was broken!! Or whether lives may be put at risk!! We want to know!! All of us! Hackers have been counter-culture heroes of a sort for a few decades now. Nothing new there. But the view of hacking and leaking as a legitimate political policy tool is rather new. Michael Moore has apparently called upon “Patriotic Americans in Government, law enforcement, and the private sector … to blow the whistle in the name of protecting the United States of America from tyranny.” Or from the current democratically elected administration, in other words. The X-files, after sitting in our subconscious minds for a c[...]



Made out of Mettle?

2017-06-08T17:28:20Z

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



Perception is Reality

2017-06-03T22:27:00Z

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



Andrew Cuomo Shows the Way Forward From Paris

2017-06-02T17:05:49Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




NATO Heads of State Smirk in the Middle of a War

2017-06-01T16:12:55Z

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



Never Mind Collusion – It’s Now About Process

2017-05-26T17:04:34Z

Ok, this is not good and is very troubling in fact. Byron York writing in the Washington Examiner a day or two ago, points out that the Russia Investigation is now a far more dangerous thing for President Trump. Never mind the surprisingly Reagan-like budget the White House has released. Never mind Trump’s speech in […]Ok, this is not good and is very troubling in fact. Byron York writing in the Washington Examiner a day or two ago, points out that the Russia Investigation is now a far more dangerous thing for President Trump. Never mind the surprisingly Reagan-like budget the White House has released. Never mind Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia or his visits to Jerusalem and the Vatican. Never mind that Obamacare repeal is sloshing along in some form or other – at least theoretically – in committee rooms somewhere on the Hill. Never mind all that. President Trump may now possibly be targeted only for obstruction of justice, without there being any underlying collusion or crime, in other words. Special counsel Bob Mueller apparently has been delegated powers by Deputy AG Rosenstein under 28 CFR 600 4(a) which give Special Counsel Mueller to investigate “crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation.” CFR being the Code of Federal Regulations and specifically the part of that code that deals with special counsels. And yes, that would include obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. Never mind that President Trump may have been merely trying to jawbone himself a little slack. Never mind that the intent may not have been as clear as many are implying. Never mind that it was surely clumsy – to be charitable – of him to do so. Never mind that many of his advisers would have likely advised against that. Never mind, because if Mueller decides to get medieval on the Russia Investigation’s posterior, then he will do just like Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did, and look for process crimes, if you will. And jail – or recommend impeachment perhaps in the president’s case – anyone who is judged to have committed them. Isn’t it fitting? In a world where process is king, and relativism the reigning ideology (read Morrisey’s Facebook post about “violent extremists”); and relativism is one long apology for any terrorist act, especially from islamic terrorists, how could process errors not end up being a capital crime? You didn’t file your IRA contributions on Form 5498?! You hear the sound of your front door being bashed in? That’s us! The IRS! Yes, we carry guns! You didn’t provide a safe space you old white male academic for a transgendered, modern dance student? You will be hounded off campus and physically assaulted! You suggest slowing down the rate of growth of entitlements in your budget plan Mr. President? Murderer! So yes, it is fitting that an administrative state would find any hint of possible obstruction of justice to be the perfect excuse to lay the groundwork for charges against the president himself. And thus attempt to lay the groundwork for any attempts at impeachment. And if Special Counsel Mueller doesn’t do precisely that, then he in turn will be attacked mercilessly by the administrative state and it’s allies in the media. Just watch. So yes, the president is doing the right thing and lawyering up. Because it no longer matters if there ever was any collusion between any memb[...]



The Great Bozeman Incident and Escalation in America

2017-05-25T18:10:13Z

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

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

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

But what exactly happened in Bozeman?

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

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

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

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




Never Reveal What a Russian Hacker Can’t Steal

2017-05-23T21:22:02Z

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



Ross Douthat Demands the 25th – Domenech Differs

2017-05-19T16:38:44Z

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



What’s in a Name? Business and Politics

2017-05-17T13:56:49Z

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



What Was Revealed? What Should Be Asked?

2017-05-16T22:31:09Z

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



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

2017-05-12T23:11:46Z

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



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

2017-05-09T20:13:19Z

The Senate is not just the next pitstop for the TrumpHouseCare healthcare bill, now that it’s cleared the first hurdle. But there also is – among other things – that ongoing Russia investigation that seemed to be the only thing that mattered mere weeks ago. And a few days back. there was a very interesting […]The Senate is not just the next pitstop for the TrumpHouseCare healthcare bill, now that it’s cleared the first hurdle. But there also is – among other things – that ongoing Russia investigation that seemed to be the only thing that mattered mere weeks ago. And a few days back. there was a very interesting exchange in the Senate Intelligence Committee between Senator Graham who is no friend of President Trump, and Director Comey. Comey had what seems a frustrating time at the hearing. His voice rose to a whiny, frustrated pitch while he used phrases like “mildly nauseous” to describe his feelings about Hillary’s email scandal and the election last fall. But the nature of the exchange between Senator Graham and Director Comey involves quite interesting stuff. As reported by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist, it seems there is a complaint lodged with the Department of Justice that claims that Fusion GPS, the notorious opp-shop firm that was hired to dig up dirt on Trump, and was paid in part at least by … the Russians?! The essential point is that Fusion GPS is now alleged to have done work for Russia. And perhaps even that Russia helped pay for and officially contributed to the infamous Steele Dossier with it’s lurid and often or at least sometimes untrue and unchecked claims. Senator Graham phrased the question in a way that focuses on the fact that Russia was an active, immediate and complicit partner in opposition research which may have altered the course of the presidential elections in 2016. But the next question that arises is … and the FBI? Comey stonewalled Graham and has been reluctant – to say the least – to provide any sort of meaningful information on the apparently ongoing Russia investigation at his agency. But if any of this is at least partially true then we have the following: The U.S. intel community is a complicit partner with Putin’s regime in spreading kompromat on a candidate in an American presidential election. Kompromat which is of doubtful authenticity in at least several notable instances. What does that say about the intel community? In other words, if this is true, is this a one-off nasty campaign against President (or candidate) Trump? Or has this type of operation been used by American intel community actors in other elections? Elections in America that is. The intel community’s job is to interfere elsewhere if the conditions warrant it. But doing so at home raises troubling questions. And the media? Has there been any focus on this as of late? Perhaps an acerbic story or two in the Daily Beast about how the Senate Intelligence Committee has supposedly stalled the probe. But not much else. This should not be a partisan concern. This should be a broad concern. But of course it very much is partisan, and on both sides. But in the end, if Putin is capable of hacking Hillary’s campaign it should hardly be surprising that the ex-KGB officer would play both s[...]



The 2020 Democratic Bench

2017-05-08T12:38:18Z

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



You Can’t Have It Both Ways

2017-05-05T17:38:22Z

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