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Updated: 2017-01-18T04:05:50Z

 



Liberals Be Afraid – Trump’s Policies Might Work

2017-01-18T04:05:50Z

As the global elite – the wealthy, wonky mandarins of globalization – gather in Davos, that D.C. fortress of statistics and wrong-headed policy recipes, the IMF, delivered a stark warning on the effects of Trump’s incoming administration. Global growth estimates have been revised. Upward. As Merkel and Trump fire shots across each other’s bows, and […]

As the global elite – the wealthy, wonky mandarins of globalization – gather in Davos, that D.C. fortress of statistics and wrong-headed policy recipes, the IMF, delivered a stark warning on the effects of Trump’s incoming administration.

Global growth estimates have been revised. Upward.

As Merkel and Trump fire shots across each other’s bows, and prepare for what should be a pretty interesting sit down and chat session when they actually meet, there is a haunting, terrifying specter that is spreading across the winter sky. It has liberals truly scared, and desperately seeking a way to protect themselves. The issue at hand is:

What if Trump’s policies actually work, and produce tangible results?

No less a scrapper than historian Niall Ferguson, writing in The Times, has warned – since the election he has been repeating this – that Trump may prove to be a far more pragmatic, and far more successful president, than anyone could have imagined. More than they ever imagined, even inside the GOP itself, and down the halls of Congress. What if Trump gets it right on a number of issues?

  • On growth? Manufacturing will shrink to a rump of highly automated plants. Nothing you can do. Right?
  • On trade? Impossible! Right? Look at how mad China is! Right?
  • Russia? A disaster right? The intelligence community would like to help convince you of that. By any means necessary.
  • And you can’t succeed with most of the media dead set against you, can you? Not to mention Hollywood. Right?
  • Obamacare repeal and replace? A disaster that the GOP will end up owning! Right??

Trump has not spent one hour as president in the Oval Office yet, and he’s already had a profound effect on the rules of the game. There is no indication that he will be any different once actually in the Oval and behind his desk. With his iPhone in a place of privilege, ready to be grasped at a moment’s notice.

Ok, maybe the tweets will be less frequent. Maybe. Nobody. Not even Reince, Ivanka, and Jared, know for sure. There is geniune uncertainty as to Trump’s methods. And geniune optimism – as in putting your money where your mouth is – about the possible outcomes. After all, the Presidency of the United States is a pulpit, even if Obama and other recent administrations, have converted it into a decree/regulations- issuing office.

But Trump understands the bully pulpit in the marrow of his bones. He has already grabbed that pulpit out of Obama’s reluctant hands. He will now have, as of this Friday, the full stage that that pulpit stands on. And a shortened Inaugural Day means he can hardly wait to get to work. In fact, he’s been working overtime for 18 months. Nothing indicates that will change. Liberals, be afraid. Be very afraid.




How to Write Like a Dumb Russian Hacker

2017-01-13T21:45:33Z

How sloppy has America’s intelligence community gotten? It’s a valid question, and one that Masha Gessen – the Russian American journalist/activist – explores with a careful rigor in a NY Review of Books article. A rigor that one wishes was in the report the intel community delivered to Congress, Obama, Trump, and the waiting world […]How sloppy has America’s intelligence community gotten? It’s a valid question, and one that Masha Gessen – the Russian American journalist/activist – explores with a careful rigor in a NY Review of Books article. A rigor that one wishes was in the report the intel community delivered to Congress, Obama, Trump, and the waiting world last week. A report Gessen methodically picks apart. Unlike mainstream media outlets like the NYT who merely echoed its poorly supported conclusions. Masha Gessen is no fan of Trump, and yes she’s an avowed opponent of Putin and the authoritarian state he has built in Russia. But her concern is that in trying to paint Trump as a Kremlin pawn, which is basically what the report concludes even if it never directly states so, one risks getting the picture wrong. What she’s worried about, is Trump’s populist, nationalist, and conservative agenda, as a gay female writer who clearly is deeply invested in a very liberal view of America. But her attacks on the way the report is written, and how it presents its evidence should leave the higher ups in the intel community more than a little bashful. And the rest of us more than a little worried. Trust a Russian intellectual (you too Volokh) to be soviet-like in her rigorous approach to our sloppy semantics. Welcome to America Masha – even if you’ve been on this side of the pond for a while. But for all her fussy grammatical – and more importantly, logical – standards, Masha Gessen is absolutely right. Any report by America’s intelligence agencies that deals with something as important as Russian attempts to interfere in and degrade the electoral process should be judged by as rigorous a standard as possible. They should never be narratives. They should be concise and cohesive explanations of the available intelligence. Because in a narrative, the facts are bent to fit the story. In a report, the story presents the facts as best as is possible. Now contrast the circular logic and lack of compelling evidence in the intel community’s report on Russia, to the statements on the web of the so-called Shadow Brokers. They are almost certainly yet another Russian semi-official hacking group; perhaps peopled by some of the same hackers who make up Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. And they have demonstrated publicly that they are apparently capable of hacking NSA code. Code that is used to gather vital information on America’s enemies (and yes, allies as well). But The Shadow Brokers play a sort of cyber-goof role: we’re just a bunch of kids in some apartment building in St. Petersburgh or Moscow, trying to scam up some bitcoin. Like any honest-to-goodness darknet denizen. Here’s some of their online rhetoric as reported by The Daily Beast: The ShadowBrokers is dumb asses thinking found golden ticket sitting on server and just wanting cash out without dying or go to prison. Do the Russian intel services have manuals on how to write like a dumb Russian wannabe hacker? They may very well have such guidelines. More smoke blown straight in America’s face: we’re just a bunch of kids with a few laptops and we’ve hacked the NSA. It’s so blatant it’s almost pathetic. If it weren’t chipping away – bit by bit – at the credibility of America’s intel community, who have not done too much lately to cover themselves in glory. Should America support and appreciate the men and women who do the analytical and the field work that helps defend the nation? Obviously. But that does not preclude demanding they adhere to standards worthy of their task, rather [...]



Justice for the Emanuel Nine

2017-01-11T16:51:03Z

On the 10th day of the first month of 2017, 12 jurors returned a death sentence for Dylann Roof. Not one of them decided to spare the unrepentant killer who ended the lives of the Emanuel Nine. A librarian, a speech therapist, a state senator, heads of families, mothers of teenage children. If these people […]

On the 10th day of the first month of 2017, 12 jurors returned a death sentence for Dylann Roof. Not one of them decided to spare the unrepentant killer who ended the lives of the Emanuel Nine. A librarian, a speech therapist, a state senator, heads of families, mothers of teenage children.

If these people of faith; if these nine pillars of their community could have miraculously been raised from their graves to witness Tuesday’s sentencing by the jury, what would they have said? They may very well have said: spare his life. They may even have said: Lord forgive him, for he knows not what he has done.

But those 12 jurors sat in a courtroom, not in a church. And they were instructed to follow – to the best of their ability and according to the evidence presented – the law of the state of South Carolina and the federal law of the United States of America. And Dylann Roof was tried for a capital crime under both state and federal law. He will now be the first person to be put to death for a federal hate crime.

Was there ever any doubt that Roof knew exactly what he had done? Allowing him to plead temporary insanity, for example, would have moved the judicial system ever closer to declaring that anyone who murders is temporarily insane. And therefore not fully responsible for their acts. To excuse evil – true evil – by allowing such a defense would have set a horrifying precedent. Dylann Roof would have been fed, clothed, counseled and provided with shelter by the state for the rest of his life. Or – God forbid – for a number of years, and then released back into the community.

Think about it. Dylan Roof in 15 years giving his first interview as a freed prisoner. Because if you truly believe that he is in need of therapy rather than execution, you have to accept that image of his release, and what it would mean for justice for the Emanuel Nine. Because those nine victims were by all accounts pillars of their community. That means people who respect the law, who follow the law, who counsel and guide those who risk running afoul of the law: from a misdemeanor to more serious crimes.

So if the Emanuel Nine – somehow miraculously raised from their graves – might well have asked for forgiveness for Dylann Roof, they would surely have accepted the court’s ruling, as pillars of their community. And thus rendered unto the American Republic what is the Republic’s business. And unto the Lord their lives and prayers for forgiveness for an act most of us could never even imagine forgiving.




Imagine DNI Carly Fiorina Handling Spear Phishing

2017-01-10T20:10:26Z

The storm continues over Russia’s intentions. But no one, including the President-Elect, can seriously argue that Russian operatives were not involved in the DNC and Podesta hacks and subsequent leaks. What effect those leaks had on the voting public last November 8, however, can be debated. But now, there is apparently information about another recent […]

The storm continues over Russia’s intentions. But no one, including the President-Elect, can seriously argue that Russian operatives were not involved in the DNC and Podesta hacks and subsequent leaks. What effect those leaks had on the voting public last November 8, however, can be debated. But now, there is apparently information about another recent hack. This according to a story in the Washington Free Beacon by Bill Gertz.

Apparently, members of the National Security, Defense, and Foreign Policy areas of the government – along with members of associated think tanks – were subject to a spear phishing campaign, in the days immediately after the election last November. And any material gleaned from this new hack, likely by actors like Advanced Persistent Threat APT 29, and Advanced Persistent Threat APT 28 – known to most of us as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear – may be used to muddle, subvert, and confuse on issues Putin’s regime deems vital to Russia’s interests.

Think about that. An intelligence analyst, or national security official, or State Department official, gets an email offering something, or posing as an official email from another agency say, and clicks on it. Presto. Key communications between officials privy to sensitive negotiations/information on a number of topics, some classified perhaps, fall into Russian hands because some wonk in an office in the beltway got sucked in … by an email. And clicked the darn link. Great.

The New Cold Cyber War has as one of it’s key battlegrounds: the inbox of government bureaucrats and think tank policy experts.

Please Director Clapper. Tell us it’s more than that. Please tell us that it does not boil down to one busy office worker with lots of emails in her inbox working through them as quickly as possible. And clicking that darn link. Of course, most of those who did the clicking last November are his’ers. Men. We like to rush through things. Like shopping, or email lists. And can get careless, and buy the wrong size. Or click the wrong link.

So, in fact, if there were more her’s in national security, defense, and state, would this sort of phishing campaigns have raised more alerts sooner? Would a little more cautious pragmatism have been in place? Yes, that’s terribly sexist. It’s true. So let’s take this all the way to the top.

She apparently is no longer in the running for DNI. But imagine she still is. And imagine she gets the job. And now … imagine her missives cracking down on what is truly – to quote the outgoing President – stupid stuff. Imagine Carly Fiorina as DNI. Do you feel safer?

With a mentally disturbed vet shooting up Fort Lauderdale’s airport, in the name of voices in his head urging him to kill for the sake of ISIS?

Would you feel safer with Carly as DNI?

I would.




James Clapper to Unleash the Public Report Next Week

2017-01-06T17:42:09Z

The Democrats used to insist, a few long weeks ago, that FBI Director Comey was the reason why Hillary lost the election. Now it seems they prefer to blame the Russian hack: a term which suggests that Russian intelligence operatives or associates directly hacked the elections in America on November 8, 2016. Which is completely […]

The Democrats used to insist, a few long weeks ago, that FBI Director Comey was the reason why Hillary lost the election. Now it seems they prefer to blame the Russian hack: a term which suggests that Russian intelligence operatives or associates directly hacked the elections in America on November 8, 2016. Which is completely false of course. There were leaks of DNC emails and there were leaks of John Podesta’s emails, and this may very well have been the work of hackers linked to Putin’s regime. Although the public has not been able to see the proof, despite the Intelligence Community insisting the proof is there, and also insisting that most of that proof will have to remain off limits to voters and curious citizens in general.

So, perhaps here’s a way to combine these two villains – Russian Intelligence, and the hard-working head of a major American, Domestic (mostly) Intelligence force that we know as the FBI. Get James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, to release a public version of the report and meet with Congress, Obama, and a day later, Trump.

In other words, let’s see if Clapper can de-legitimize Trump’s incoming administration, seeing we believe that Comey threw the election to Trump. Has there been a more politicized transition between administrations? Ever? With Obama signing as many executive orders as he can before his pen gets ripped out of his hands, and with what Democrats (and a few senators like Lindsey Graham) hope will be a disturbing and embarrassing probe of the hacks of the DNC and John Podesta, Trump’s honeymoon ended sometime in mid-November it now seems.

But here’s the thing: Trump loves a brawl. Trump loves to take on his critics, and does so on his terms. Yet somehow both Obama, and much of the media think that Trump can no longer benefit from his outsider, renegade tactics. Now that he is assuming power. What if they and the rest in government and industry and NGO’s who still suffer Trump Derangement Syndrome are wrong once again?

The briefings next week, and the whole Russian hack narrative, will surely test this thesis. And it may be that any new information that does come out could erode some of Trump and his administration’s political capital. But the assumption that the leaked emails changed the course of the election are just that: assumptions that have not been proven. And cannot practically be proven. You’d have to show how voters in the Blue-Wall states from Michigan down to Pennsylvania voted against Hillary and for Trump because of those leaked emails. And not because of Obama’s policies and how they impacted on those voters’ lives. Good luck with that.

But that won’t be the issue in these briefings. The point of the briefings will be to somehow show Putin’s fingerprints on these hacks. And that should not be nearly as difficult as proving that the hacks caused Hillary to lose the election to Trump.

Will Trump mostly ignore or downplay the briefings? Will he praise the intelligence work, while questioning some of the assumptions behind the Russia hack narrative? Or will he punch back? This skirmish could be a key for the President-Elect.




Obama Wants Democrats to Avoid Talking About Healthcare Policy

2017-01-06T17:41:06Z

By Tuesday, January 3, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi had already introduced a budget resolution aimed at resurrecting Congress’ previous attempt at repealing Obamacare. An attempt vetoed by Obama, of course, last year. A repeal bill is scheduled to be presented by January 27. That’s in a little over 3 weeks, which is at […]By Tuesday, January 3, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi had already introduced a budget resolution aimed at resurrecting Congress’ previous attempt at repealing Obamacare. An attempt vetoed by Obama, of course, last year. A repeal bill is scheduled to be presented by January 27. That’s in a little over 3 weeks, which is at the speed of light, as far as Congressional bill-making is concerned. On January 15, right in the middle of those two dates, Congressional Democrats are planning rallies against the repeal, to take place around the country apparently. And Wednesday, January 4th, Obama and Pence held dueling meetings in Congress to rally their respective teams around what will be the first big showdown of the 115th Congress, and President Trump’s new administration. Wedged in between these key dates, is a dusty little ceremony that will take place at the Western Side of the U.S. Capitol. One wonders whether angry protesters dressed as zombie patients will try to disrupt the proceedings along with all the other angry identity-politics groups that feel so offended that America did not vote as they saw fit. In other words, things are moving very fast with this new Congress and new administration. At least as far as repeal is concerned. Replacing Obamacare, however, is something that will likely be delayed by at least two years, if the rumblings coming from various legislators are any indication. Trump has made this issue his, but the GOP Congress has pushed repeal and replace for much longer. At the American Enterprise Institute, two healthcare policy wonks, Joseph Antros and James Capretta, have suggested slowing down. Both have been part of the federal healthcare bureaucracy, and their complaint seems to center around how ACA enrollees could be harmed by destabilizing Obamacare, through repeal and a delayed replacement of the ACA. They want to keep the exchanges viable by ensuring funding keeps flowing, and worry that absent the tax penalties meant to enforce compliance, the downward spiral of insurance companies withdrawing from the unprofitable plans, and healthy people staying away in greater numbers with no penalty for doing so, will mean less coverage, more expensive coverage, all for less people. So, this is different from what is already happening to Obamacare because … ? They make no mention of allowing competition across state lines for example. The view of Antos and Capretta is firmly from within the federally administered world of regulated healthcare. This is hardly out-of-the-box thinking. But they do make an interesting point. Because repeal will be done through the reconciliation process, it can only affect those parts of Obamacare that have to do with taxes and subsidies or credits. Not the regulations – the detailed requirements that will still be part of what remains of the ACA after repeal. So we will be left with rules that presume – as they put it – the subsidies and mandates (that the tax penalty enforces) without the money to back it up. That means insurance companies will find it even more expensive to remain within the ACA exchanges and will drop out at a faster rate. And what did Obama have to say to Congress on Wednesday? Avoid talking too much about policy. Talk about the impact on people’s lives. Healthcare is a minefield, it’s true. To score political points, you have to hide the true cost of any subsidized healthcare system – like ACA – and focus on the individual stories of those who gained coverage. Unfortunately, Obamacare is col[...]



Sneaking in Through the Back Door With Bob Goodlatte

2017-01-06T17:40:11Z

Oh Commonwealth of Virginia! What the heck is your problem? Is it that your valleys and hills enfold the nation’s capital, creating some of the wealthiest suburbs in America? And that proximity creates a sense of privilege? At least in those zip codes well within the beltway. First there’s Mcauliffe, your governor. A partisan with […]

Oh Commonwealth of Virginia! What the heck is your problem? Is it that your valleys and hills enfold the nation’s capital, creating some of the wealthiest suburbs in America? And that proximity creates a sense of privilege? At least in those zip codes well within the beltway. First there’s Mcauliffe, your governor. A partisan with little scruples some may say.

Now your elected GOP representative, Bob Goodlatte, tried to pull a fast one – along with most of the House GOP members it must be said – and gut the power of the Office of Congressional Ethics by bringing all the decision making back to where Bob and his cohorts felt it should belong. With them in the House Committee on Ethics, peopled by the same subjects who may from time to time come under the Ethics Office’s gaze.

Yes Representative Goodlatte, it is a pain when an anonymous charge brought by a crazed little NGO whispers its way into the Office of Congressional Ethics, and starts a process rolling in which you, the elected representative, do not have quite the same due process as you would as a citizen in a court of law. Yes, the process can and often will be partisan, and therefore political.

So what? You are not an ordinary citizen. You are a representative of your district and of America. You should have to face a higher level of scrutiny. And the timing … just awful, wasn’t it? Instead of the Army Corps of Engineers dutifully draining the swamp under the President-Elect’s mandate, you would instead have those Army Corps engineers feeding those submerged alligators who only pop up above the surface at feeding time. Yes, that would be you.

Your Speaker of the House told you: please don’t do it. Your House Majority Leader called an emergency meeting to scrap the plan to gut the ethics committee. And your President-Elect aimed his twitter bazooka right at you, Bob.

Do most of your colleagues, on both sides of the aisle by the way, want some sort of “reform” of the House Committee on Ethics? Absolutely, and there seems to be agreement that not now, maybe later, is the best plan. But all this does not go down well with the voting public. The House Committee on Ethics was the result of scandals on your side of the aisle, and voters don’t mind seeing you guys sweat from time to time.

So good for Trump that he went straight to his iPhone and tweeted loud and clear. Any change to the ethics committee should be done in broad daylight with lots of debate, all of it out in the open. Not snuck in through the back door.




The Emerging Spy Wars With Russia

2016-12-30T17:22:06Z

From CNN to FoxNews. From the New York Times to BBC World. Putin is everywhere. Yeltsin, no stranger to the world press, would have killed for this sort of publicity. And Gorbachev was on the front pages – if not the web pages; it was the late 80’s and early 90’s after all – usually […]

From CNN to FoxNews. From the New York Times to BBC World. Putin is everywhere. Yeltsin, no stranger to the world press, would have killed for this sort of publicity. And Gorbachev was on the front pages – if not the web pages; it was the late 80’s and early 90’s after all – usually for all the wrong reasons, from Putin’s perspective at least. Negotiating arms deals and presiding over the collapse of the Soviet Union, for example.

But this sort of thing – expelling spies – used to happen all the time. The differences between now and the Soviet-era spy expulsions seem to be twofold. First, the numbers of spies were usually far less than the football team’s worth of expulsions that Obama’s administration has enacted. And, more importantly, the rules of the game are unknown at this point. We don’t know how this will play out, because one fears that Putin will react in unpredictable ways, because he is not playing quite the same game as the Soviets used to.

And of course, we don’t know how Trump will react to the sanctions imposed by Obama in the final weeks of his presidency. Trump would like the Russian hacking of the elections to quietly fade away, but Obama has clearly been determined not to let that happen. What was an intelligence matter, and primarily a domestic and partisan electoral matter – seeing that the DNC and Hillary’s campaign chief were the main victims of the hacks – is now an international incident. For some the sanctions are too little too late. For others they are too loud and too public.

Jim Woolsey ex CIA, for example, on FoxNews complained that Obama should have retaliated quietly and forcefully – essentially keeping the matter an intelligence matter. He also complained that the United States of America did not send public condolences to Russia after the crash of it’s Tupolev airliner last week carrying the Red Army Choir on a mission to Syria. Which seems a little fussy and formal for 21st century politics. As if Woolsey really would like a return to the Soviet American spy game of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Right now that does not seem possible. This is a new game that Putin is defining, and America’s President-Elect will have to get up to speed very quickly on possible tactical and strategic responses available to the White House. Because a Russian reaction to Obama’s expulsions is coming, likely within a fairly short time frame. And it may not be tit-for-tat. This is just getting started. Putin is ruthless and unapologetic with his tactics, as the last 16 years of his running Russia prove. And this cyber/spy war will run both hot and cold, often at the same time. Time for a regular intel briefing, Mr. President-Elect. You have no choice now.




Obama Is the Chief Resister

2016-12-29T21:58:07Z

Of course Trump and Obama have had nice phone calls. Obama is the master needler: gracious in private, but in public his eyes glowing with a subtle malice, as his voice, oh-so-reasonable, explains to his uncomprehending students/media/opponents why they shouldn’t be enraged by his acts. Remember this past summer, when he strolled through the courtyard […]

Of course Trump and Obama have had nice phone calls. Obama is the master needler: gracious in private, but in public his eyes glowing with a subtle malice, as his voice, oh-so-reasonable, explains to his uncomprehending students/media/opponents why they shouldn’t be enraged by his acts. Remember this past summer, when he strolled through the courtyard of the White House with an earnestly confused Bernie Sanders who had just had his rebellion diffused by Obama, and still didn’t quite realize it? The smile on Obama’s face as he tried hard not to smirk?

Trump has to realize this, and surely does. Obama, gracious in private; disruptive, antagonistic and resentful in his public acts, is doing everything he can to hold on to the illusion that the changes he wrought by executive order can somehow be maintained in place by the right bureaucratic fiddling with the rules. You can’t change this. There’s no precedent, and no Supreme Court Challenge. It’ll take you years. Ha ha. Ha ha.

So yes, this transition is getting ugly and it has nothing to do with Trump’s brisk assembling of talented men and women for his cabinet. The contrast in style between the incoming administration and the outgoing one is as striking as the likely contrast with the substance of the incoming administration. Obama rules by fiat but lets others do the dirty work. Like Secretary Kerry who leaves behind a disastrous legacy, one that has Obama’s fingerprints all over it. If not his overt presence in these waning days.

Trump, on the other hand, seeks experience and pragmatism and does not shy away from possible controversy but rather takes a certain pleasure in diving head first into any controversy. And doing battle with it in a very public fashion. And usually winning. At least, so far.

What the President-Elect hopefully realizes is that the obnoxious Democrat resistance – call it an unwillingness to accept that Hillary and Obama’s party lost – will not start on January 20th. It has already started. In the White House in the latter half of November. Obama is leading the Democrat resistance. He just happens to be doing it from the White House. And one suspects he will continue to lead it on January 21st.




2016 – Losing a Duke and a Princess

2016-12-28T02:14:02Z

We lost a duke in January. Thin, white, and filled with energy and creation right down to his last days in New York City. We now lose a princess in December. Too warm to be truly caustic with her wit, too witty to be truly tragic in her struggles with her demons, and a fame […]

We lost a duke in January. Thin, white, and filled with energy and creation right down to his last days in New York City. We now lose a princess in December. Too warm to be truly caustic with her wit, too witty to be truly tragic in her struggles with her demons, and a fame that not even a Hollywood childhood could have prepared her for.

I wish I could say I was a Star Wars fan. I walked out on Star Wars in the summer of 1977, mostly because a few beers consumed prior to the screening presented me and my bladder with a choice: return from the washrooms to the theatre or walk from said washrooms, through the lobby, and outside to the sidewalk. I chose the latter, perhaps the worst choice of my life, unimpressed by the dialogue in the opening minutes.

Had I stayed and learned to love the characters and their action-hero dialogue, and the epic saga that would unfold film after film, I may have awakened my inner nerd. I would have switched from economics to computer science. In fact, a fellow camp counsellor from that very summer of 1977 would later that year, or sometime in 1978, rave about how her computer science professor had changed her life. Apparently showing her something “amazing” that computers could do. This was 1978, no smirking please.

I would have graduated – surely near the bottom of my class – around 1980. With my degree in computer science and several back-to-back viewings of The Empire Strikes Back lodged in my brain, I would have joined the world of software, in an age when a Merkle Tree would have been a well kept secret to all but the initiated. Ok, it still sort of is. And just as the PC was making it’s appearance on the desks of offices and homes across America and the world. A few years of frustrating work would have followed, and then sometime in the mid-80’s, after yet another viewing of Return of the Jedi, someone would have said: you have to go to Seattle. Or Silicon Valley. Where? Never mind.

By the time the prequel trilogy graced the waiting world in May, 1999, I would have had something to salve my despair at selling my stock options in 1996, rather than early 1999.

But no. I walked out of the original Star Wars in the last days of the summer of 77. And laid my inner nerd to rest. There would be no Seattle. Now or ever. But that great saga that George Lucas unleashed on a world that got what he was trying to do with film, right from that opening night in 1977, would arc it’s glorious storyline over decades, and would give the world Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, as well as Mark Hamill and the rest of the talented cast. Even if I still prefer Star Trek, in all its iterations.

It’s hard to say what additional contributions Carrie Fisher still had saved up to give to the rest of us, but they would have been substantial and amusing. But God’s Will has a way of having the last say. It’s been a long year. It’s been quite a year, and I’m showing my age. Happy New Year.




What Will Trump Do With the Resistance?

2016-12-24T02:09:08Z

Still stunned by Hillary’s loss of the 2016 election due to evil, archaic constructs like the Electoral College? Still in need of a safe space to spit and rage at all those bigoted fools who don’t agree with your hard-left, progressive vision of America? Take heart! Thou hast a lifeline to grab hold of and […]

Still stunned by Hillary’s loss of the 2016 election due to evil, archaic constructs like the Electoral College? Still in need of a safe space to spit and rage at all those bigoted fools who don’t agree with your hard-left, progressive vision of America?

Take heart! Thou hast a lifeline to grab hold of and lift ye up in this time of sorrow!

The Resistance is here! Hear ye! Hear ye!

From the downtrodden tenements of Columbia Heights, far from the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial (actually just a few miles away if you want to get picky about it), where resistance fighters gathered in the deepening gloom of late November to craft their rebellious pamphlet – Indivisible – and inspire and instruct fellow SJW’s/Former Congressional Aides/Big money donors, on how to disrupt and provoke any public act anywhere in the USA that might have the slightest tangential relationship to the incoming administration.

To the bowels of the White House itself where noble wonkacrats under Good King Obama in his reign’s final days are enacting as much executive orders as is humanly possible to throw tripwires across Trump’s path.

To the you-can’t-call-that-winter December coastlines of California where upstart rebels like Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and yes-he’s-still-alive Jerry Brown, link arms with Hollywood and Silicon Valley where oppressed souls rise from their knees to defy the new leader.

The resistance is here. In all it’s super-PAC, hundreds of millions of dollars raised, and wastefully spent, glory. And Ezra Levin is it’s poet laureate. Or Che Guevara? No no. Saul Alinsky. Jonathan Rauch maybe?

There will be no honeymoon for Trump’s administration. The SJW’s, progressives, and wealthy liberals will make sure of that. And they will have much of the media more than willing to help them spin their noble tales of obstruction and harassment.

Poor Donald Trump?

Uh, no. One imagines he will relish the confrontations. The question is: how will he use these coming scream-fests and protests, and legislative roadblocks, that will follow his Presidency’s every footstep? Because it seems unlikely that you can run an administration AND a never-ending campaign all at the same time. No one can do that without taking energy and focus away from the business of running the nation. But Trump is the kind of person who could just be capable of attempting such an endeavour.

That’s a big big risk to take on. And if Matthew Continetti is right, and Trump embodies the return of the street-corner conservative, (a demotic rather than ideological conservative, as he puts it), the President-Elect should be wary of using up too much political capital responding to the endless provocations that the so-called resistance will throw at his feet. Like red meat to a hungry predator. The pragmatic Trump is going to have to keep the Tweeting Trump in balance, and run the country.

Unless, somehow, Trump uses these provocations to build up his political capital with his supporters. And bulldoze his agenda right through the middle of the resistance. He can’t get away with that. Can he?? We’re not all THAT sick of progressives’ rants. Are we??




Aleppo’s Ghosts – From Berlin to Ankara

2016-12-20T23:30:09Z

Thank goodness for German authorities. Having quickly stated that the crazed truck driver and his accomplice(s?) had engaged in an act of terrorism, the dork at BBC World covering the tragedy could safely quote them. Rather than actually state the obvious all by his lonesome, and say that by all accounts this was yet another […]Thank goodness for German authorities. Having quickly stated that the crazed truck driver and his accomplice(s?) had engaged in an act of terrorism, the dork at BBC World covering the tragedy could safely quote them. Rather than actually state the obvious all by his lonesome, and say that by all accounts this was yet another act of terrorism on European soil. Even the White House got in on the act. At least National Security Council spokesman Ned Price did, condemning “what appears to have been a terrorist attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin.” Will President Obama use similar language? If he does, it will surely be contained by qualifiers that scrupulously avoid using terms like radical islamic terrorism. Because if the culprits did not train in Syria or Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East – though they may well have – then of course how could it be radical islamic terrorism? It’s about the psychology of those poor misunderstood lone miscreants. Who, if they only had proper counseling and plenty of safe spaces, wouldn’t do things like slaughter innocent civilians precisely because they are innocent civilians, living in Western Europe. And more importantly, as the intelligence establishment has wisely pointed out, we don’t want to dwell too much on the radical islamic aspects of these attackers, because that would only encourage more of them. Which is a strategy that has obviously worked out well in places like Nice, and Berlin, and Paris. And Orlando. And in Ankara in a horrifying and surreal scene that almost looked like a crazed parody of the film I Shot Andy Warhol, a young Turkish riot policeman repeatedly shot the Russian Ambassador at a gallery where an exhibition of photography was taking place. He screamed the phrase Allahu akbar, and ranted about Russia’s role in Syria, especially Aleppo, as he was filmed by the many cameras already present, before being taken down by his colleagues in the Turkish police forces. The scene seemed reminiscent somehow of Sarajevo, in a horrifying way. The Sarajevo of June, 1914 that is. Even as Aleppo is starting to resemble Srebrenica and its massacre of Bosnian men and children in July of 1995. While both Turkish and Russian spokespeople immediately did their best to emphasize the recently improving relations between their nations, the Syrian Civil War has been a proxy war between Russia and Turkey, as much as it has also involved Iran and America. Russia and Turkey intend to proceed with a multilateral meeting on Syria, regardless of the shooting. And Putin knows his history, even if his perspective is a dangerously wounded one that grieves for the lost Soviet Empire, itself founded after the military failures of Czarist Russia’s role in WW I. With ironic echoes of ISIL and Al Qaida’s laments over the loss of the Ottoman Empire. A loss precipitated by, if not entirely caused by, that very shooting in Sarajevo over 100 years ago. What will Aleppo symbolize in 10 years? In 20 years? In 100 years? For Trump, it means an impossible choice between a well-armed adversary and a fanatical enemy sworn to the death. He would be wise to avoid Obama’s do-next-to-nothing red-lines policy. But any choice Trump makes will have costs. In blood and treasure. And even if there emerge choices which do not mean either cozying up to Putin, or soft-balling ISIL, or appeasing Iran, those are the risks Trump [...]



The Electors’ Song – a Reminder

2016-12-16T21:20:37Z

They’re stuffing your mailboxes Your inbox’s filled to the brim The phone won’t stop ringing Till they get ya to give in They’re threatening, begging, and pleading with you All them Liberals lining up In a Hollywood vi-de-o But you ain’t no civil servant The Party Picked you So do your darn job Or your […]

They’re stuffing your mailboxes
Your inbox’s filled to the brim
The phone won’t stop ringing
Till they get ya to give in
They’re threatening, begging, and pleading with you
All them Liberals lining up
In a Hollywood vi-de-o
But you ain’t no civil servant
The Party Picked you
So do your darn job
Or your Secretary’ll fire you

Ok. I’m not Bob Dylan. But it’s a valid question: who or what are America’s Electors? And while Martin Sheen and Larry Lessig surely have answers that dovetail nicely with their little fake rebellion inducing spasms (what is Lessig doing in Iceland by the way? Mining Bitcoin??), there is an actual, proven, system is place. And that system is based on each individual state. And each state writes the detailed rules and runs the show. It’s not Washington D.C.’s show. It’s not Hollywood’s show. It’s not Harvard’s (or George Mason’s) show.

It starts with the party machinery in each state and their selection of a slate of electors. And the buck, or the electoral vote, stops with the Secretary of State. In each State. Not in Foggy Bottom or anywhere else in D.C. Of course, the tiny rump of faithless electors and their enablers in academia and the media are now trying to shift the power away from local government and local party machinery to the courts. The initial results of their lawsuits have not been encouraging, thankfully.

Imagine if Hillary had won the election. Now, imagine that the Clinton Foundation has ties to Russia, that result in possible favoritism in a huge mining deal, involving uranium. Oh. Right. Imagine that Chris Suprun and a few others decide not to vote for Hillary (of course you would have to assume that Hillary wins the vote in Texas) due to her family’s dark connections to Russian business interests, and who knows what else? Hmmm. Martin Sheen? Larry Lessig? Where would be thy sting?

The Electoral College is not made of neutral, dispassionate arbiters of the swarming, unwashed masses of voters. It is partisan and run by the political parties. And it is structured in such a way as to deliberately give flyover country a say in who is President of America. And it works. And it will work, once again, on December 19.




Bad Security at DNC Does not Mean Trump Is Nixon

2016-12-14T21:43:31Z

Your face is lit by the glow of a laptop screen. The lines of code reflect across your glasses as the camera zooms in even closer, and your pupils narrow to two shining points of light. The tense preoccupation in your face morphs into astonished surprise, and then into hard-edged satisfaction, as you type code […]Your face is lit by the glow of a laptop screen. The lines of code reflect across your glasses as the camera zooms in even closer, and your pupils narrow to two shining points of light. The tense preoccupation in your face morphs into astonished surprise, and then into hard-edged satisfaction, as you type code furiously, triumphantly thwarting your nemesis. Who is located somewhere on the steppes of Russia. Uh, no. The Russia hack was more like a comedy of errors. All too human. All too avoidable, as what will surely be an oft-quoted NYT story, reveals. Really dumb stuff done by DNC staff, for example. Not to imply that really dumb stuff wasn’t perhaps done by some of the staff at the RNC. We just don’t have those details as of now. And not to mention all the really dumb stuff most of us do on our devices most every day. We just don’t happen to work at the DNC. The first dumb thing was not believe that an FBI agent who called the DNC warning them that their servers were likely compromised, was who he claimed to be. And not having a protocol in place to determine credible warnings from hoaxes. Especially ones that get you to click a button and re-type a new password, handing the cryptographic key to your email account to the hackers. Who happened to be Russian. Which is what a phishing email got Podesta, and/or his staff, to do. An aide to Podesta has stated that he meant to type illegitimate rather than legitimate when he forwarded the phishing email to his boss. Right. This all started to happen back in 2015, or perhaps earlier, which gave the hackers months to gather emails and then pass them on to Wikileaks presumably. To help us understand this story, the NYT also has a helpful photograph of the actual filing cabinet that was broken into in the Watergate burglary, next to a few slick little servers on a table. Like a museum presentation on break-ins in political campaigns. Woodward did in fact say, in late 2015, that the Hillary email server scandal reminded him of Watergate. Though one doubts he meant it in this way. But now we have the latest narrative presented to us by the NYT, suggesting that the Putin is in fact, G. Gordon Liddy. And that would make Trump … Nixon. Not Hillary as Nixon, but rather Trump. Perfect! Rather than being about Hillary Clinton’s private server and the misrepresentations she made to Congress, we now have Trump somehow connected to the Russian hack. The benefactor must be guilty, right? If only of benefiting. The fact that showing intention is almost impossible does not matter. Or even more importantly, showing that the Russian hack was what actually made voters in Michigan, say, angry at Obamacare and Hillary’s lack of empathy, switch their votes, is truly impossible and clearly wrong, does not matter either. Trump is Nixon is the latest counter-assault by Democrats still in angry denial. In fact, according to Carl Bernstein, Trump is worse than Nixon. Never mind Trump has not yet spent one hour as President of America. He’s worse, because Carl says so. So never mind cool movie scenes of white hat and black hat hackers engaged in brilliant tactics and counter-strategies. Sloppy security, on the most basic level, led to the DNC hacks. And sloppy – some would say illegal, use of private servers by Hillary, started this whole never-ending saga. [...]



What Tillerson’s Coming Nomination Battle Will Mean

2016-12-13T20:18:31Z

What had been a running subplot throughout the campaign is now front and center. It’s all about Russia. Russia’s relationship with the President-Elect. More specifically Putin’s relationship with Trump. And with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s surprise nominee for Secretary of State. It’s all about the Russian hack and how Trump opponents have now pinned their last […]What had been a running subplot throughout the campaign is now front and center. It’s all about Russia. Russia’s relationship with the President-Elect. More specifically Putin’s relationship with Trump. And with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s surprise nominee for Secretary of State. It’s all about the Russian hack and how Trump opponents have now pinned their last desperate hopes on using the hack to convince electors to vote against the President-Elect on December 19. It’s also about European allies – some a little more neutral in their allegiance to America than others – worrying about Russia’s aggressive moves in Eastern Europe and whether a the low-scale warfare between Russian and the Ukraine will flare up into all out combat. With dangerous consequences for Europe and NATO. Of course, Europe runs on Russian gas, so perhaps they will be somewhat cautious in their questioning of Rex Tillerson as Trump’s choice for State. In other words, Tillerson’s nomination hearings will almost certainly become a hearing on Russia and it’s relationship to the new administration. Already GOP Senators McCain, Graham, and Rubio have expressed concerns about both the Russian hack and over Tillerson as nominee for State. And 52 – 3 = 49. Democrats are preparing all out warfare on the Russia theme, and will do everything they can to undermine Trump. During the transition, and during the nomination hearings. Oddly perhaps, this puts the responsibility for managing this emerging conflict back on Putin himself and his regime in Moscow. Will he pull back on the constant low-scale attacks and bombardments in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine and on Cimea’s northern border? Will he merely pause long enough to provide just enough talking points in Washington to allow Tillerson’s nomination to survive what will be a tough hearing in Congress? But that’s assuming a whole host of objectives that Putin’s regime may or may not have. We honestly don’t know at this point exactly what those objectives are. And as a backdrop to this, we of course have the intelligence community accusing Moscow of targeting their hacks at Hillary’s campaign in order to get Trump elected. A tough one to prove – how do you prove intention on the part of operatives in, or associated with, the Kremlin? And what information are American intelligence operatives willing to release to prove their point? And not damage Washington’s intelligence infrastructure – especially it’s cyber capabilities? Because Democrats seem unwilling to accept that they lost the election on key issues, and on Hillary’s flaws as a candidate, they are now willing to sow disunity at a very crucial time in America’s electoral process – the transition. It is clear that many in government – from the CIA to the EPA – are Hillary supporters, and Obama fans. Tillerson’s nomination process may bring much of that latent hostility to the surface. Democrats will certainly do all they can to ensure this is the case. But at some point, they will have to come clean on whether they are defending America against Russia, or their own party against a President-Elect that beat them fair an[...]



John Glenn and the Attack at OSU

2016-12-09T16:59:54Z

John Glenn would have likely been quietly resting in his condo in downtown Columbus, OH, when Abdul Arzak Ali Artan drove his Honda Civic into a crowd outside the Department of Materials Science and Engineering building on OSU’s sprawling campus, about 10 days ago. It’s hard to know whether he learned of the attack and […]

John Glenn would have likely been quietly resting in his condo in downtown Columbus, OH, when Abdul Arzak Ali Artan drove his Honda Civic into a crowd outside the Department of Materials Science and Engineering building on OSU’s sprawling campus, about 10 days ago. It’s hard to know whether he learned of the attack and what he might have thought, but it is a cruel irony that one of America’s greatest would be resting in well-deserved retirement so near to what was clearly an ISIL-inspired attack.

But don’t tell those students and faculty – including a professor from England who was struck by the vehicle and yet refused to consider it terrorism – at OSU who seem to view Artan as a poor, misguided, misunderstood refugee who had no other option than to express his rage at the lack of safe spaces for Muslims on campus and in America. And don’t tell those Black Lives Matter activists who have labeled the takedown of Artan by a police officer, who happened to be white and was fortunately nearby, as a racist attack.

This is what identity politics gets you when it is faced with islamic radical terrorism. A desperate need to look everywhere and anywhere for a reason – a deterministic structure that is, of course, oppressive in all sorts of micro ways – other than to look the clearly stated intentions of a radicalized lone wolf.

So no, we don’t know what John Glenn thoughts were as he rested in his condominium and perhaps the news reached him or he found out watching his television. Him having suffered a stroke a few years ago, makes it hard to say. But rather, let’s remember John Glenn’s famed “Gold Star Mothers” speech that he gave in the 70’s, in response to criticisms by his Democratic primary opponent, regarding his lack of experience in dealing with a payroll, as they ran for the nomination for Senator. Here’s what John Glenn said:

… look those men with mangled bodies in the eyes and tell them they didn’t hold a job. You go with me to any Gold Star mother and you look her in the eye and tell her that her son did not hold a job.

That moral clarity – backed up by a military and space career that only an actor like Ed Harris could hope to come close to faithfully portraying – is needed as OSU comes to terms with the attack on it’s students and staff and on America itself, perpetrated by Artan on November 28.

Senator Glenn died surrounded by family and friends at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center. He left his name and a legacy of inspiration through the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. America owes much to Senator Glenn. Ohio, perhaps more. OSU, in turn, should remember the values that drove a real hero like John Glenn, as they pay tribute to his astonishing life. And keep those values in mind as they reflect on the attack on November 28. An attack aimed at those very values that John Glenn embraced and lived to the fullest.




Mark Weston’s Great Tax Withholding Rebellion

2016-12-08T18:29:07Z

Mark Weston has a running grudge against the Electoral College, and is willing to do just about anything to dismantle it. But what he really has grudge against, is the fact that large swaths of America are conservative, not progressive. And what really bothers him, enough to write a book or two on the subject, […]

Mark Weston has a running grudge against the Electoral College, and is willing to do just about anything to dismantle it. But what he really has grudge against, is the fact that large swaths of America are conservative, not progressive. And what really bothers him, enough to write a book or two on the subject, is that it’s been Democratic presidential candidates who have lost elections in the last 16 years while winning more of the popular vote. He even rails against the constitution itself for having put in place a system that gives representation to the states through the electoral college.

Would he have done the same had Al Gore lost the popular vote but won the electoral college in 2000? Or Hillary in 2016?

So Weston, writing in Time magazine, suggests a new tactic that Democrat voters should use, the next time a GOP candidate takes the electoral college while failing to win the popular vote: a tax rebellion.

Weston suggests setting up an escrow account in a Canadian or British bank (this is not fiction folks – he really wrote this) where angry Democrat voters can send their federal taxes (state and local taxes should continue to be faithfully paid in Weston’s tax war on the GOP). Once true democracy is restored, by that he means using the popular vote to determine the president of America, then all those trillions can be remitted back to the IRS. In fact, merely the threat of doing this would push Congress and the Executive to reform the constitution, in Weston’s view.

Ok. So this is a taunting little pamphlet more than anything else. But he might just mean it, seeing he seems genuinely determined to do what he can to eliminate the electoral college. But this is not a tax rebellion properly speaking. A tax rebellion – like the Whiskey Rebellion in the early 1790’s – is a rebellion against a specific tax or against the tax system in general. Proposition 13 in California in 1978 was an angry pushback against rapidly escalating property taxes, for example.

What Mark Weston is proposing is to use the withholding of federal taxes to force the federal government to alter the constitution in a fundamental way. This is not a tax rebellion, this is blackmailing your way to radical constitutional reform. And if such an extreme idea (maybe he’ll say he was only joking, like the tech exec who threatened to assassinate Trump in a series of tweets) gains traction, it sets a dangerous precedent. Because it is more analogous to the Southern States’ secession in the years and months leading up to the Civil War, than a tax revolt. The tax part is just a way to gain leverage.

This is the man who claims to be speaking on behalf of a “moderate nation”, against the “second-place presidency” that a “hard-right” GOP imposes on America? What will his next idea be when the Great Tax Withholding Plan fails? Actual secession by the Northeast and West Coast? How about: “we lost, fair and square. Now let’s think about where we went wrong.”




What Is Sacred About the One China Policy?

2016-12-06T16:55:29Z

Taiwan – in the eyes of the foreign policy and diplomatic community – is a grenade with a pin in it. That pin, in their view, is the One China Policy. Not to be confused with the One China Principle. And don’t confuse the Republic of China – ROC to the in-crowd – with the […]

Taiwan – in the eyes of the foreign policy and diplomatic community – is a grenade with a pin in it. That pin, in their view, is the One China Policy. Not to be confused with the One China Principle. And don’t confuse the Republic of China – ROC to the in-crowd – with the People’s Republic of China. Or RPC. No prizes for guessing right on which one is Taiwan, and which one is China.

So to keep the pin firmly in place – and to continue selling billions and billions and billions and billions of raw materials to China; Australia, for example, does not recognize the ROC. Yes it gets a little hot in Alice Sprins in January, but all that wide open territory is just asking for prosperous Chinese citizens, tired of spending their billions and trillions of yuan in their overcrowded homeland, to come on down under. In huge numbers. Say like in Vancouver. And Australia – who actually control their borders with a points-based immigration system – want to avoid that. So they make sure they do not, ever, ever, make the communist leadership of the PRC mad.

America, one hopes, has a little more leverage to play with, and are not quite as ostrich-like in dealing with the communist giant of East Asia. But the One China Policy has been the sacred status quo in diplomatic circles for close to 40 years now. And while military support does flow to Taiwan – that would be the ROC – as a rule the One China policy and One China principle are firmly held to.

Until a brief phone call between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, and President-Elect Trump. Suddenly, with all the discretion of a provocative tweet, Trump has put the One China Policy under a shade of doubt. How dare he? Reunification is a given! And by reunification we mean, Beijing taking over control of Taiwan. The debate in the foreign policy and diplomatic communities is merely how to get there. Not whether China should ever get to Taipei.

China and Taiwan have endured a relationship surprisingly similar to North and South Korea. Each claims to be the sole ruler of China – although lately Taiwan has mostly ceded that claim and merely claimed the right to be the ruler of itself. The division is a reflection of the post-revolution status in 1949 in China, where Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated forces and supporters retreated to Taiwan. In large numbers, overwhelming the native Taiwanese.

In other words, there are divisions within Taiwan as well. And these divisions are what are bringing some of the recent tensions to the surface, as a growing independence movement in Taiwan is calling to break all links with China. But all this history and balkanization of local Taiwanese politics and how it affects relations across the Strait of Formosa ignores a simple fact: Taiwan is a democracy. China is a communist dictatorship. Trump reminded the world of that. Diplomats may raise their eyebrows in horror. But Trump merely stated the obvious. Whether this is the opening move in a shift in American strategy – and it seems that more than a little planning did go into that phone call – remains to be seen.




Elaine Chao – Unshackle America’s Shovels!

2016-12-02T20:23:36Z

George Will makes a good point in a National Review article on infrastructure spending. The money needs to be spent precisely in those areas where the regional economy is doing well. You get far more multiplier effects – hard not to sound Keynesian when talking infrastructure spending – when you upgrade bridges, ports, airports, and […]

George Will makes a good point in a National Review article on infrastructure spending. The money needs to be spent precisely in those areas where the regional economy is doing well. You get far more multiplier effects – hard not to sound Keynesian when talking infrastructure spending – when you upgrade bridges, ports, airports, and roads precisely in those areas where they are straining to keep up with the traffic. Boom town areas. Not areas where there is little economic activity. Where tax and regulatory reform might be better at attracting investment and jobs.

Will also makes this point: aside from being intelligent about where to spend the money – always hard to do when each member of Congress wants as much spending as possible in their district, regardless of whether the local economy really needs it – that the regulatory process in 21st century America is an overwhelming burden. You’d think with improvements in construction technology that it would be far quicker to build things in today’s world than 70 or 80 years ago. Forget about it. The regulatory process is endless and an army of stakeholders is waiting to derail, or delay, or detour, any major project that comes under consideration and reaches the active planning stage.

In other words, what Washington needs is to drain the stakeholder swamp, and then you can build that dam a heck of a lot quicker. Just in case it does rain in the future and the swamp fills up again. This will take someone with both a tough disposition and an ability to work with Congress. Elaine Chao – you have, not a battle on your hands, but rather a multi-year war, with just about every entrenched interest in America lining up to stop you or to change your course. Yes, a little pillow talk with your husband, who happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, will help – and surely has helped in years past and years present – but you will be in the spotlight like never before.

She just might be up for the challenge, but it may be best to keep expectations cautiously optimistic at best. If Elaine Chao can reform the approval process for large projects – in as much as a Cabinet Secretary can influence local rules, aside from whatever changes she can push for at the federal level – that would be a major step forward. Because until the burden of a crushing regulatory process is lifted, no project will ever truly be shovel-ready in America.




L’affair Romney: Did Kellyanne Conway Underestimate Trump?

2016-11-30T23:00:05Z

It would be silly to speculate on the menu, but one can’t help but wonder about the details of Trump and Romney’s private dinner – on Tuesday evening – with their wives accompanying them. Will it be a formal if intimate setting, with aides just out of earshot? Like a dinner between two heads of […]

It would be silly to speculate on the menu, but one can’t help but wonder about the details of Trump and Romney’s private dinner – on Tuesday evening – with their wives accompanying them. Will it be a formal if intimate setting, with aides just out of earshot? Like a dinner between two heads of state perhaps. Or will it be more informal with lots of time for serious talk on how Romney sees America’s role in the world, and how he senses his possible role as Secretary of State would play out in a Trump administration?

The ongoing battle within the Trump camp over this still-surprising rapprochement spilled out into the big wide open this weekend with Kellyanne Conway going public (or rogue according to those unpleased with the ferocity of her attacks) with her harsh criticisms of Romney. And of Trump, by implication. She practically accused Trump of betraying his loyal base of supporters by even considering Mitt Romney for the position. And looking fabulous, she posed for pictures down in the lobby of Trump Tower a day later. One wonders if she actually had an appointment with the folks upstairs. Trump’s answer to all this – including Gingrich’s criticism – was a private dinner with Mitt along with their wives.

As well, the media speculation is that Trump is perhaps letting Romney dangle and die from a thousand cuts. Keep your enemy close until he stops breathing; or something like that.

What if Trump is serious? What if he actually feels that Romney would make a good Secretary of State? Let’s remember something about the President Elect. He might be bombastic, theatrical, and volatile at times. But he is tough. And determined. What he has achieved was not believed possible by anyone, perhaps at times not even himself. But as Byron York stated clearly in a article a short while ago, he never gave up. In the face of the most negative media campaign against a presidential candidate in perhaps the last century or so.

To support his focus, Trump has chosen wisely. Jared Kushner is now recognized as the wonder kid who put together a game-changing data operation with near real-time feedback to guide the campaign in it’s final weeks. What was Trump doing in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin fer goodness sake? We all asked. He was winning the election, helped by Jared’s genius. And it was Trump that pulled Kushner into his campaign and brought out the best in his son-in-law.

Mike Pence turned out to be a great pick for Trump at VP, and has been recognized as such. And yes, Kellyanne Conway helped steer his campaign through some of its most difficult moments. Perhaps she is right about Romney. Or perhaps her time with Trump is winding down and Romney will indeed be the next Secretary of State. Perhaps Conway made the fatal mistake of thinking she could somehow pressure Trump. She should know: you underestimate Trump at your own peril.




Cuba and America – Before and After Castro

2016-11-29T21:16:25Z

In all the articles and editorials commenting on Fidel Castro’s death and his unfortunate legacy with regard to Cuba, precious little has been written about the island’s history before, well before, Castro rode a battered truck into Havana in early 1959. Cuba did not suddenly become a problem, previously unimagined and ignored, when Castro and […]In all the articles and editorials commenting on Fidel Castro’s death and his unfortunate legacy with regard to Cuba, precious little has been written about the island’s history before, well before, Castro rode a battered truck into Havana in early 1959. Cuba did not suddenly become a problem, previously unimagined and ignored, when Castro and Ernesto Guevara and their crazed communist cadre of scruffy revolutionaries toppled the Batista regime. Cuba has been in America’s imagination and her history for almost as long as America has been a republic. Consider: a plot to invade Cuba hatched in New Orleans with American mercenaries and angry Cubans. And the promise of economic payoffs should they dismantle the burdensome state apparatus of tariffs and controls. A determined Cuban- Venezuelan who despised the island’s regime tried to enlist American military expertise to lead his expedition. The Cuban-Venezuelan? Narciso Lopez, a veteran of the wars of independence. The American experts? Jefferson Davis and Colonel Robert E. Lee. The year? 1849. Davis passed the request on to Lee, who wisely rejected participating in the expedition. Veterans of the American Mexican war had apparently signed up. But President Taylor scuttled the expedition, concerned about violating neutrality laws. You think the Bay of Pigs was an improvised out-of-the-blue idea quickly cobbled together by military and intelligence and Cuban exiles who were determined to stop the emerging communist regime in Cuba? It was one more chapter in a long, colorful, and sometimes violent history. One soaked in intrigue as well. Lopez was a wealthy planter, and a frustrated member of what were called the annexationists: Cuban planters who saw a bright future for Cuba as an addition to America. One that would fit with the Southern plantation economy. Yes, slavery was at the heart of their system, and their vision of Cuba’s future within America. Cuba might have been purchased, might have been fought for with the support of part of Cuba’s elite. It did not happen, as much from constant changes in American foreign policy as from resistance from Spain – an impoverished, faded, ghost of an empire by this point. You think Castro was just an idiotic showman when he booked a hotel room in Harlem in the early 60’s? Yes he was a showman, yes he could be a dangerous idiot, and a cunning traitor (just ask, if you could, Ochoa: executed for carrying out Castro’s orders in running the drug trade in Cuba). But Castro was playing media theatrics with the issue of race in America. And how it relates to Cuba’s history. He played America. He played Cuba. He played Europe and the Third World. And it worked. Tragically for Cuba, especially Afro-Cubans who were – and are – often at the lower end of the economic scale. Which is saying something in a failed economy like Cuba’s. So don’t expect a final, closing chapter in Cuba, now that Fidel is dead. Raul Catro is handing off a communist regime to the next generation of communist bureaucrats and military power brokers on the island. And it is likely this next ca[...]



Progressives in Angry Denial

2016-11-25T20:16:00Z

Was the Turkey well-dressed? As in all that delicious, chopped and diced and spiced stuff that gets stuffed inside the ceased-to-be, expired, late fowl that can provide leftovers for nearly a week. Because if you thought that now America could – in the spirit of that thanksgiving that has been the nation’s legacy and lodestone […]

Was the Turkey well-dressed? As in all that delicious, chopped and diced and spiced stuff that gets stuffed inside the ceased-to-be, expired, late fowl that can provide leftovers for nearly a week. Because if you thought that now America could – in the spirit of that thanksgiving that has been the nation’s legacy and lodestone for almost as long as it has been a nation – get down to the business of transition, think again.

Yes, Trump is moving ahead with his cabinet and doing so in a remarkably ordered and brisk fashion. But you’d never know if you read the headlines. Or even worse, actually read the articles. The progressive and liberal elites, and their msm spokespeople/storytellers went from shock and anger in the immediate aftermath of the election, straight to … angry protest. And active opposition on multiple fronts. For example:

Jill Stein has apparently raised about 5 million dollars to fund a recount effort in Wisconsin, Michigan, and of course, Pennsylvania. The electoral tampering charges have proven to be false. So now she is spearheading an effort to move to a recounting of every vote. In the hope that maybe the good citizens of those three states were careless in their handling of their electoral duties. Like Hillary was with classified material.

And over in the House, ranking Democrat E. E. Cummings has already lodged several requests for investigations that he wants to GOP Congress to undertake. For example, Cummings has demanded that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Vice President-Elect Pence turn over any documents relating to Jared Kushner’s security clearance. And E.E. is just getting warmed up. There’s also requests for investigations into shadowy Russian connections and Trump’s far-flung business interests and how they could present conflict of interests.

Over at U.S. News and World Report, Robert Schlesinger is in full-on raging mode, denouncing what he angrily calls a Faustian bargain between Congressional Republicans and Trump’s so-called “horror show” team. This is someone who is enraged that the American voter did not produce the result he deemed appropriate. Lots of hissing and spitting about the popular vote, not just in relation to Hillary, but also in relation to the Senate. Schlesinger would re-write the constitution to ensure popular vote predominates at every electoral level. He would by executive order or any other means ensure that their creed – Demographics is Destiny – is willed into electoral existence. No. Check that. Furious Progressives like Robert Schlesinger and Jill Stein and E.E. Cummings are furious because they can’t re-write the constitution. Because to them the constitution is merely a living document that has to be continually updated until every last word of wisdom forged by the old white males who gave the 13 colonies an enduring and flourishing form of government, has been written out of existence.




Will President Trump Get to Keep His Business Empire?

2016-11-23T22:50:12Z

Have you considered the emoluments clause of the constitution lately? Because it seems that those worried about, or angry about, Trump’s business interests are now fixated on this obscure corner of America’s supreme law. While experts argue over whether it even applies to the office of the president, it does provide ammunition for opposing legislators, […]

Have you considered the emoluments clause of the constitution lately? Because it seems that those worried about, or angry about, Trump’s business interests are now fixated on this obscure corner of America’s supreme law. While experts argue over whether it even applies to the office of the president, it does provide ammunition for opposing legislators, and potentially even members of the GOP, to argue that President-Elect Trump should liquidate his business holdings and place the proceeds in a blind trust. Blind as in no Ivanka, Eric, or Donald Jr. running things.

The President-Elect has a different view of the matter, based on the legal advice he has received, and feels he can still be owner of his business empire even as he becomes America’s 45th President. How he would achieve an arm’s length relationship in that case remains to be seen.

To know who’s legally right, you would seem to need to mount a legal challenge that ends up in the Supreme Court. But does, for example, a competitor company have legal standing to sue the Trump enterprises due to the undue influence and favor the Trump group of companies could receive with Trump swearing the oath in about 50 days? Ask the experts, seems to be the answer, an answer that no one really has at this point.

The reason that the emoluments clause may have teeth in this matter is the far-flung nature of the President-Elect’s business empire. From Russia to India, to South America, and elsewhere, he has real estate holdings or other ventures. And in the very Trump Tower he has ICBC – the enormous Chinese mega-state-bank – as a tenant. Does rent or profit his companies receive from foreign companies, governments, or institutions count as emoluments? It does seem to be the case. Again, ask the legal and accounting experts. Who are still trying to figure it out.

Politically, this will be an albatross weighing on the new administration. And even assuming Trump decides to somehow liquidate his holdings and place the proceeds in a blind trust, the act of doing so would be a multi-year process involving jurisdictions around the world. Either way, Democrats and other opponents of Trump’s newly elected administration would have field day picking apart the details. Or even demanding – should he not divest – that Congress begin an impeachment process. This course of action was recommended in the NYT article by none other than Bush 43’s former ethics counselor, Richard Painter.

One suspects that Trump feels he has a legal basis, as President-Elect and soon to be President of America, to hold onto to his business empire. That means battling opponents in Congress and the beltway establishment and the media over potential conflicts of interest. This is not a good way to begin draining the swamp, but we are in unchartered territory. And Trump’s battles over his relationship to his business holdings will define a new set of precedents. One way or another.




The Shareef at Justice Don’t Like It

2016-11-23T03:40:37Z

Quite a few years ago now, in the middle of Reagan’s first term with a recession hanging over the economy, there was a band that came out with a protest song. The kind of song that would have got them shamed and denounced and possibly even paying a fine. Had they written and performed their […]Quite a few years ago now, in the middle of Reagan’s first term with a recession hanging over the economy, there was a band that came out with a protest song. The kind of song that would have got them shamed and denounced and possibly even paying a fine. Had they written and performed their song under the reign of Obama’s Justice Department. Yes, we’re talking about The Clash’s Rock the Casbah, and that old, rather deceased, white male, (may he rest in peace), Joe Strummer and the rest of his bandmates. Because with radicals in Justice like Vanita Gupta – Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Civil Rights Division – the band would have been promptly slapped with a restraining order and fined, for having discriminated against Muslims around the world. And certainly would have been pilloried everywhere from Vox to CNBC. Not to mention by fellow Brit John Oliver. Who surely boogied to the song in his younger more innocent days. Ok, seeing he was 5 when the song came out, maybe not. But his left-leaning parents surely did. So please do not be surprised that The Department of Justice, led by Assistant AG Gupta, have slapped a 10K fine on the Denver Sheriff Department, for having the brazenly incorrect manners to actually require that an applicant for the position of Sheriff in the State of Colorado, be an American citizen. What were they thinking? Don’t they understand this administration’s immigration policy? Apparently, the Sheriff’s Department in Denver violated the Immigration and Nationality Act. And they now will be forced to go back through their applications to find anyone who is not an American citizen and re-consider them for the position. They will also have to go through training to make sure they are in compliance with the Act’s anti-discrimination provisions. As Gupta herself said this is to: … help ensure that the Denver Sheriff’s Department hires the best and most qualified individuals to protect and serve. __ And if the Denver Sheriff’s Department dares reject an application, for example, from a young Muslim male who recently arrived to America as a refugee, they will surely be named and shamed and fined. This is what happens when you place radicals in key positions in Justice. Gupta cut her teeth in the ACLU, and it was her division that sued North Carolina’s so-called transgender bathroom law. She is an advocate of “constitutional policing” which handicaps police forces around the country by practically requiring an ACLU lawyer to ride shotgun with them when they respond to a call. Obama knew perfectly well who he was getting when he appointed Gupta to her current job back in 2014. This result was inevitable with people like her at Justice. And this sort of crazed entrenched radicalism at Justice is why Jeff Sessions confirmation will be contested by almost any trick the Democrats and their progressive allies can find. The administration and it’s radical bureaucrats are terrified that Sessions would actually restore balance to Justice. With Deputy AG’s like Gupt[...]



Earmarks: Congress Wants to Dam the Swamp

2016-11-18T19:40:10Z

Speaker Ryan, heeding voter anger, postponed a vote – a secret ballot – in the House of Representatives on earmarks. And yes, he used the phrase “drain the swamp” when he managed to convince his colleagues to at least hold off on the vote. But that didn’t stop Florida’s Tom Rooney – one of the […]

Speaker Ryan, heeding voter anger, postponed a vote – a secret ballot – in the House of Representatives on earmarks. And yes, he used the phrase “drain the swamp” when he managed to convince his colleagues to at least hold off on the vote. But that didn’t stop Florida’s Tom Rooney – one of the 3 sponsors of the proposal – to let people know what this vote was about.

The Army Corps of Engineers. Or Corps of Engineers, for those on the righteous side of the sandbanks, dams, and newly-designated swampland on your aunt’s 80 acres of farmland. Tom Rooney is sick of being ignored by the CoE. Who respond to a chain of command that ends up in the White House. Not Congress. And Tom Rooney would like to get a dam built on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. Yes, the huge inland lake that sits at the heart of Florida’s Everglades and demarcates the western border of the 17th congressional district that Rooney represents.

In the 1920’s the Army Corps of Engineers built dikes around Lake Okeechobee, after devastating flooding in the wake of two hurricanes. More devastating flooding occurred in the late 40’s. These were the latest in a long string of projects, including canals, meant to … drain the swamp and create agricultural land – mostly sugar – in South Central Florida. Sometime in the 70’s, resistance grew and by 2000 legislation has been in place to restore the Everglades to its former glory. If you are environmentally inclined that is, and regard swampland with a propensity to flood as glorious. As a libertarian eco-activist might say: South Florida wants to be a swamp.

Not on my watch, says Tom Rooney. You see, to get the Corps of Engineers to built that dam that his constituents apparently want, he claims he needs earmarks. Earmarks targeted at the Army Corps of Engineers. These earmarks would have the USACE directly responding to Congressional spending authority. Because right now, you have to go through the Assistant Secretary of Army (Civil Works), run by Jo-Ellen Darcy, an Obama appointee who has lengthy experience in land and water management, including a stint in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. One suspects she doesn’t eagerly answer her phone when Tom Rooney tries to call her.

So who decides how wet South Central Florida should be? The President and his hand-picked appointees? Or Congress? It’s a fascinating battle, but one cannot help but feel that the law of unintended consequences will inevitably apply if Congress even brings back a more limited, and transparent version of earmarks. And then expands earmarks, just a touch. And just a touch more. This battle is not over.




Earmarks and the Secret House Vote

2016-11-18T19:41:07Z

The bridge to nowhere would have been splendid. Hundreds of millions of dollars to build an enormous bridge to a tiny island off Alaska’s coast. Where, thankfully, a ferry instead continues to provide good service at a very reasonable cost. Because the infamous bridge to nowhere did not get built. Not yet at least. But […]

The bridge to nowhere would have been splendid. Hundreds of millions of dollars to build an enormous bridge to a tiny island off Alaska’s coast. Where, thankfully, a ferry instead continues to provide good service at a very reasonable cost. Because the infamous bridge to nowhere did not get built. Not yet at least. But this is what earmarks get you. Cozy, corrupt relations between beltway lobbyists, members of Congress, local politicians, and favored contractors. That’s the whole point of earmarks.

And now 3 GOP members of Congress want to start peeling back the restrictions on earmarks that have been in place since 2010. John Culberson of Texas’ 7th congressional district. Mike Rogers of Alabama’s 3rd congressional district. And Tom Rooney, of Florida’s 17th district. The vote is secret and conservative GOP members of the House are trying to make sure the nays win.

Do these three, and others who will vote in favor of easing restrictions and allowing earmarks to return to the floor of the House – not to mention the Senate – even care about the recent election? Do they even care about voter anger at beltway politicking?

There’s another name worth remembering: Jason Grumet, President and founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center, or BPC. He has recently written in the Washington Post in favor of earmarks as a way to entice members of Congress to vote the tough issues. As well, the BPC like to hold what they call Bridge-Builder-Breakfasts. There’s nothing like the promise of targeted pork spending to bring people across party lines to sit down for a little coffee and deal making. And the Bipartisan Policy Center is dedicated to “principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation, and respectful dialogue.”

Did they hold a Bridge-Builder-Breakfast with Alaska’s Ted Stevens and chat about his bridge to nowhere? What does reasoned negotiations mean? You block my earmark and I will vote against every bill you or anyone in either party bring to the floor until I die of a heart attack or get voted out? And perhaps respectful dialogue is code for: how dare you talk to the media before you clear it with me!

That’s the thing. If people like Jason Grumet get their way, and earmarks are brought back to get the logs rolling again on Capitol Hill, then the tough votes tend not to get taken. They often don’t even make it to the floor. But there’s also another implication. Infrastructure spending will likely be a big budget item in the coming years. Lots of it. And how all that money is allocated will depend in part on how this secret House vote goes. If earmarks are slowly allowed back on the floor of the House, then Trump’s presidency won’t be about draining the swamp. It will be about building an enormous and expensive bridge over the swamp.




Sanctuary Cities and the Constitution

2016-11-16T00:07:54Z

Apparently there are over 30 so-called sanctuary cities in America, where police forces are instructed to refuse to ascertain the legal status of anyone they detain whom they might otherwise suspect to be an illegal immigrant. It started in 1979 in Los Angeles with an internal police department policy. Now the current chief of police […]Apparently there are over 30 so-called sanctuary cities in America, where police forces are instructed to refuse to ascertain the legal status of anyone they detain whom they might otherwise suspect to be an illegal immigrant. It started in 1979 in Los Angeles with an internal police department policy. Now the current chief of police of LAPD, Charlie Beck, has proudly stated he will be upholding this decades old policy, and so the LAPD will continue to refuse to cooperate with the ICE when they arrest someone suspected of being in the country illegally. LA mayor Garcetti practically encouraged political violence if on the first day of the Trump presidency “we see something that is hostile to our people … we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out.” Unadulterated tribalism, and secession from the rule of law. San Francisco – it goes without saying – has announced similar sorts of things. As has Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Trump’s home town of New York. Surely there are a few more sanctuary cities that will aggressively confront President Trump, even on his first day in office. Or at least state that that is their intention. That is a problem with state rights, and by extension, local rights. You can’t be sure what any given state or city will do with greater autonomy. So are sanctuary cities within their rights to be defying the rule of law? Specifically immigration law in America? If they are, then immigration law is no longer a national prerogative. It becomes a state right, not a federal one. One can hardly imagine that federal immigration authorities will agree to this. And it goes without saying that Trump will certainly be willing and eager to take on sanctuary cities. But are the funding penalties, taking away federal funds from defiant sanctuary cities, the only route available to President-elect Trump? Ultimately this should end up in the courts. Although at it’s most basic level, it is about the fundamental structure of America itself. Because if sanctuary cities increase in number and aggressively defy current immigration law, then the law no longer applies in major urban centers around the country. And federal law on immigration is no longer an effective reality. So that, de facto, you no longer have a unified republic, but rather large swaths of America surrounding city-states. We’re already moving in that direction, and this election can be seen as an angry rebellion against the emergence of privileged, wealthy city states on either coast. Because once you have sanctuary cities in terms of immigration policy, why not in terms of drug policy, of abortion rights and health care policy, and on and on. Oh. It sort of is that way already. And yes, the 10th amendment – in its clarity, brevity, and breadth – does allow for much of this, at least at the state level, if not the municipal level. But if the 50 states are to continue to be united in a free flow of people, ideas, and capital, then immigration[...]



Three Speeches in Ten Hours

2016-11-09T21:40:58Z

There were three key speeches in the past 10 hours. First Trump’s speech was honestly and graciously inclusive in a way that surprised many. There was no gloating, and only some celebration, mostly in recognizing the movement he has led, and those who worked hard to help his astonishing victory take place. Including a big […]

There were three key speeches in the past 10 hours. First Trump’s speech was honestly and graciously inclusive in a way that surprised many. There was no gloating, and only some celebration, mostly in recognizing the movement he has led, and those who worked hard to help his astonishing victory take place. Including a big shout out to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman who has had a very interesting and supremely tough year as head of a party that is still facing deep divisions. And it was considerate and respectful of Hillary Clinton as a major political figure, paying tribute to her service to America.

This is astonishing if you think back only a few days ago, or a few weeks ago. But it did not seem false, it felt genuine and displayed an honest generosity. Trump knows full well he’s been in a bare knuckle brawl with his opponent. She ran a very negative campaign that focused on Trump’s past transgressions, while Trump essentially painted her as a corrupt icon of the status quo. How could he mean it, when he praised her service to the country? Because he understands the importance of a peaceful transition. Whether he would have been as gracious had he lost, is now irrelevant.

This Wednesday morning, Clinton then gave her speech, and revealed both emotion and toughness. It was perhaps her best speech of the campaign, which is a tragic irony all of itself. Suddenly, in that speech, Clinton seemed more trustworthy than she has this whole election cycle. As to what her future will be, that will play out in the months ahead. But she nor Bill are now no longer among the leadership of the Democratic Party.

That is Obama’s role, precisely the man who has presided over the electoral destruction of his own party. A very long way from the control of both houses of Congress and the White House, that they obtained in 2008. Obama’s speech came a short while after Clinton’s. It was professorial and affable. The rejection of his agenda that this loss implies was buried under carefully inclusive language. His defining of what America is about – especially through it’s unbroken peaceful transition of power – seemed a way to try and rescue what he now fears may be lost. It seemed more a lecture than a speech, even as it played the notes of unity and purpose at the root of American Democracy. Obama’s legacy will have plenty of time to be judged. This was perhaps a moment for a more focused set of words.




Swooning Markets and America’s Voters

2016-11-07T23:47:04Z

Markets discount what’s to come. People put their mouths, or fingers to the keyboard, in support of where their money is. And there is nothing like the threat of losing money – or making money, although the fear of losing money is apparently more powerful as a motivator for us frail human beings – to […]Markets discount what’s to come. People put their mouths, or fingers to the keyboard, in support of where their money is. And there is nothing like the threat of losing money – or making money, although the fear of losing money is apparently more powerful as a motivator for us frail human beings – to focus the mind, and force a decision. Given the information you have available. The S&P has been down for about 3 months now. And there has been a 9-day consecutive losing streak for the index as of Friday November 3rd. That means a lack of optimism on the economy. And even the possibility of a recession. But it is also a clear indication of nervousness on Wall Street over a the very real possibility of a Trump victory. Why? You would think Wall Street would welcome Trump’s promised tax reforms – lowering corporate and income tax rates – as well as his promise to cut regulations and support conventional energy production. It seems, however, that the compliance daemons who work and plan their corporations routes through the mazes of regulations and taxes are not happy. Could it be that big finance fears reform? Yes, fear of uncertainty is the standard answer for the political element to the market swoon, and there is something to that. But Trump has been for more granular on his economic policy proposals than he has on his foreign policy proposals, for example. Why such fear of his presidency? Especially when economically, most of his policies are business friendly. Oh yes. Trade. And perhaps a drying up of international flows of capital as a result of showdowns with China or even Europe over trade rules. To say nothing of NAFTA. Trump threatens to re-write the rules on trade, and just the threat of that – regardless of how much he could do, or would even want to do, as Chief Executive – is also enough to worry markets. And is it also that Wall Street – as in the movers and shakers who live and work in NYC and surrounding areas – know and dislike Trump? Is it also personal on a scale we haven’t seen before – especially for a pro-business GOP candidate? That seems a little petty perhaps. They are all about the money, after all. But what is undeniable is that Hillary has courted Wall Street shamelessly. As a candidate, and previously as a Senator. And through her and Bill’s web of charitable companies, as a Secretary of State. The compliance class, whether at an investment bank or at the EPA, consider Hillary their ally and friend. All this may have something to do with the swooning markets. But in the end, markets are about the money and the economy. And it seems that the markets have had enough of Obama’s slow-growth, high-tax, big-regulation economy. Markets are predicting a significant downturn in the economy. And something over 85% of the time that that has happened, the incumbent party has lost the general election. So maybe markets are indeed nervous about a Tru[...]



Has America Given Up on the Future?

2016-11-04T19:58:16Z

America has had a baby boomer in the White House since January 1993, when Bill Clinton was sworn in. And now America is about to get another baby boomer – whether Hillary or Trump – when the swearing in takes place next inauguration day, Friday, January 20, 2017. Unless an Electoral College tie forces a […]America has had a baby boomer in the White House since January 1993, when Bill Clinton was sworn in. And now America is about to get another baby boomer – whether Hillary or Trump – when the swearing in takes place next inauguration day, Friday, January 20, 2017. Unless an Electoral College tie forces a House vote with a surprise choice, one that makes it past any legal challenges. Before a 4-4 Supreme Court. As aging boomers are wont to do, their focus has been mostly about preserving the status quo in Hillary’s case, or returning to an America the very same boomers grew up in in Trump’s case. One that afforded them unimagined opportunities, or at the very least, a reasonably stable work environment. Even for high school graduates. In a recent article, Michael Brendan Dougherty claims very convincingly that America has given up on the future. It seems a strange thing to say in a world of technological disruption and global trade deals, but there is something very real and unsettling in what he postulates. For example: Our politics have ceded the future to the markets and Silicon Valley. The question of social organization, presumably, has been mostly solved by the wonks … The global elite is converging on economic integration, low trade barriers, universal benefits, light regulation, and the cultivation of a global class of politicians and plutocrats who socialize and groom each other and their children for continued benevolent rule. In other words, the shenanigans at the Clinton group of charities is business as usual for them and they only regret that hacked emails and stubborn FBI investigators – and idiotic separated-husband-failed-mayoral-candidate-schlemiels as well – are to blame for these minor ethical matters coming to the public’s attention. And while Dougherty’s attacks on Trump are understandable – he’s appealing to a time we can’t get back – there is something Dougherty does not say about Trump which nonetheless flows directly from the quote above. Although Trump does come from the economic elites, he does not fit easily or well with the typical model of a Davos Man or Woman. And he is the one candidate willing to take the elites on, precisely because he understands them. And they him of course. Bloomberg’s attack on Trump at the Democratic convention last summer was exactly the response you’d expect from someone angry that a candidate is not in line with the established global order. And they have piled on to Trump, helped mightily by Trump’s joyful disregard of politically correct discourse. So Trump can claim outsider status and postulate himself as the agent of change. At least, that is Trump’s great promise to his supporters. It’s what Gingrich praised in him in his final and defiantly ringing endorsement of Trump in the media late this week. Never mind that Trump’s children fit perfectly in Do[...]