February 18, 2017 – TOLD YOU SO – TWO

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

After our post on the Bureau of Labor Standard’s unemployment reports, a reader and good friend wrote; “You need more than what you wrote to credibly attack the BLS. Have you any thing more?” In fact there is much more but it is poorly organized and hard to understand. We have selected three items that address how the BLS reports are produced  

You will learn something about how the reports are created, and you will also learn the numbers are very easy to manipulate. The key thing to remember is the manipulation always favor one political party. It is important to know the labor reports are a product of 60,000 interviews conducted by the Census Bureau every month in contract for the Dept. of Labor. 

 

We have a NY Post article contemporaneous (November 18, 2012) to the 2012 ”miracle” when the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%. The article was titled Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report.

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. …

… I hope the next stop will be Congress, since manipulation of data like this not only gives voters the wrong impression of the economy but also leads lawmakers, the Federal Reserve and companies to make uninformed decisions.

To cite just one instance, the Fed is targeting the curtailment of its so-called quantitative easing money-printing/bond-buying fiasco to the unemployment rate for which Census provided the false information.

So falsifying this would, in essence, have dire consequences for the country.

  

 

On the same day as the NY Post article above and working with it, Zero Hedge’s Tyler Durden posted on the BLS report.

On Friday October 5, 2012, the BLS released what was arguably the most important report of Obama’s first term: the final jobs number, and unemployment rate before the November 2012 presidential election. As so many predicted, it “plunged” from 8.1% to 7.8% allowing the president to conduct countless teleprompted speeches praising the success of his economic recovery. It also served as the basis for the infamous Jack Welch tweet: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers” and prompted the pro-Obama media to quickly brand all those who questioned it as conspiracy theorists. …

  

 

Four years later in October 2016, Tyler Durden takes exception to the retiring president’s star turn on job creation. This suffers from the lack of an editor, but there are many nuggets of information here. However, you will come to understand why this was not included originally. 

Bismarck’s dictum “mankind should not see how laws and sausages are made” will ring true as you read this. But remember when we started we saw how the BLS produced reports that were always favoring the Democrat party.

… So, before President Obama takes his final victory lap with claims of creating the most robust employment recovery since the 1990’s, the data clearly suggests otherwise.

Of course, if you ask the 37% that are no longer counted as part of the labor force, they will tell you the same thing. …

 

 

In a similar vein, Matthew Continetti addresses the issue of who is going to run the government. He starts with Gen. Flynn’s troubles and then shows how, what some have called the ‘deep state,’ is trying to wrest control of the government from the people we elected.

… Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured. …

… The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class. …

February 12, 2017 – TOLD YOU SO

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

In a particularly prescient Pickings post (January 4, 2017) we suggested the least of President Trump’s problems would be hostile media. More danger would come from the federal bureaucracy which would obstruct him whenever possible. For example, we said, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would find a way to accomplish “the reappearance of the disappeared.” Here’s that from a month ago;

“The media will be the least of Trump’s problems. Wait until the federal bureaucrats get into action. They will be on President Trump’s agenda like white on rice. During the last eight years the Bureau of Labor Statistics statistically disappeared 15 million people. They have increased the number of people “not in the labor force” to 95 million from 80 million. This created favorable unemployment rates for the current administration. Pickerhead predicts the reappearance of the disappeared. … 

Guess what? The BLS started the very first month. Here’s a report from Washington Free Beacon;

The number of Americans not participating in the labor force declined to 94,366,000 in January, according to the latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More Americans joined the labor force this month, leading to an uptick in the labor force participation rate and a decline in the number of Americans who are out of the labor force.

The number of Americans not in the labor force hit a record-high of 95,102,000 in December. This month, that number declined by 736,000 individuals.

The bureau counts those not in the labor force as people who do not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks. … 

There is a website for the BLS. Exploring there produced a two interesting charts. The first is a monthly chart for 10 years of the raw numbers for those not in the labor force. It is below. The only one found is for the unadjusted numbers which show a drop of 368,000 not the 736,000 indicated by the Free Beacon above. Presumably the difference comes from seasonal adjustments, but that could not be confirmed. Spend a lot of time on the BLS site and your hair starts to hurt. Is BLS an acronym for bullshit? One thing that stands out in the numbers, is that the January report, the first in the Trump administration, was the first time in 7 years the ‘not in the labor force’ number dropped from December to January. Coincidence? 

The next chart is 10 years of the monthly unemployment rate we’re all familiar with. Something interesting is here. Going back six years of a settled economy we track the year-to-year drop in unemployment from October to October. In three of those years the drop averaged 1.23%. In the other three the drop averaged .63%. The years with the largest drop in unemployment rates were 2012, 2014, and 2016. Why October you ask? Because that’s the last report issued before nationwide elections. And what do the three best unemployment reporting years have in common? Why they’re election years dummy! Coincidence? 

Here’s another item, this from the chart of unemployment rates. In September 2012 the rate went through the 8% level to 7.8 which carried forward to October. In fact, the September rate was revised to that level in the October report, so the October report was the first to reach the magic 7 percent level. Trouble is, it was over done and the December rate moved up to 7.9% and January was 8.0%. Would you be surprised to learn that was the only time in the six years we’re covering there was a sustained (4 months) increase in the unemployment rate? But the job was done. A Democrat president was reelected. Coincidence?

 

Over the six years covered in the charts below, there were four anomalies. First was the large January 2017 decrease in citizens “not in the labor force.” Next, for the first time in seven years those not in the labor force decreased from December to January. Third we see the large drops in unemployment occurred in election years. And fourth, the rate of unemployment rose for only one four month period; the one following the reelection of a Democrat president. What are the chances that all four of those anomalies would benefit one political party? These are the people who lay in wait for Donald Trump. 

It was Mark Twain who popularized the phrase “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” which Twain attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister. From the January 4th post also; “Fooling with statistics is how you get a paragraph like this from Aaron MacLean of the Free Beacon.

… For years, Americans were told that after the financial panic in 2008, the president’s policies had put us on a steady course to a strong economy. But in much of the country, people looked around them and thought, That just doesn’t seem right. Especially in those parts of the country hit the hardest by the transition from the Industrial Era to the Information Age, people asked a number of questions. If the economy is doing so great, why are my adult children not moving out? If the unemployment rate is declining, why are so many prime-age males not working? And doesn’t it matter that the quality of jobs for non-college graduates is so obviously worse than it was a generation ago? Why, instead of working, are so many people dependent on public benefits and falling prey to addiction? …”

So out of nowhere, Trump is elected and the bien pensants on the coasts can’t understand why. It is partly because they believe the lies of simple servants and the subsequent applause of the media. The media, by the way, that should have been drilling into the numbers, but never has.

 

 

A broader look at federal bureaucrats written by Tevi Troy, was in Commentary. The title of his article is “Will There be an Internal Revolt Against Trump?” To which we ask, “Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear poop in the forest? etc. etc.

My first face-to-face encounter with the federal bureaucracy came on January 22, 2001. I was the deputy director of a “parachute team” for incoming president George W. Bush, and our job was to “secure the beachhead” at the Department of Labor on the first day of the new administration. (The political realm loves to borrow military metaphors.) That meant stopping the department from issuing guidance, rules, and statements that reflected the views of the departing Clinton administration. The most important tactical objective in this mission, we were told, was this: Secure the fax machine! (It was 2001, after all.) At that time, there was one specially designated fax machine used to send new regulatory language to the Federal Register, which publishes all newly minted regulations. There was a bureaucrat I’ll call Mitchell Sykes whose job it was to man that fax machine. We were to find Sykes and stop him from doing anything. …

 

… There were indications of bureaucratic resistance to the legitimately elected president during the transition period. In one Politico piece, career officials at HHS were disturbingly candid about their disdain for President-elect Trump, while at the same time protecting themselves in the veil of anonymity. One told reporter Dan Diamond that “it’s tough from the career staff side,” before asking, “Do you stay and try and be the internal saboteur?” Another called the Trump win “obviously shocking and upsetting,” a third “soul crushing.” One of the staffers quoted paid lip service to the fact that they “respect the need to have a peaceful transition of power,” but added that “it’s just frustrating to calmly hand over the keys when you know they’ll wreck the car.” Politico’s Blake Hounsell quoted one anonymous, presumably career, official lamenting the appointment of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the State Department: “I’ve been resisting the urge to drink since 7 a.m., when I read the news.” 

Diamond noted in his story that the older, more senior career HHS officials he spoke to were “more sanguine,” having seen transitions in the past. It’s possible, therefore, to say that the less judicious individuals were just venting and will come into line come the inauguration. But it’s also possible that these younger staffers may represent the new face of a more partisan career bureaucracy. First, the overtness of the career officials cited was alarming, especially given how careful they typically are. Second, Diamond points out that there are 1,000 HHS officials who “can trace their jobs back to Obamacare.” Presumably, these individuals will be most resistant to repealing and replacing Obamacare, the stated policy of the new president. And finally, the open speculation from a career official, even if anonymous, about serving as an “internal saboteur” should raise alarm bells among not only incoming political officials but also career employees, whose jobs are directly tied to their ability to work with, and generate the trust of, political appointees. …

  

Yes, we did find some humor.

February 8, 2017 SUPER – HEH!

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

A short post that grew out of the Super Bowl and the way it was reported.

 

 

Boston Globe had a Dewey Wins/Chicago Tribune moment and Howie Carr caught it.

NOT OVER TILL IT’S OVER: An early Super Bowl edition of yesterday’s Boston Globe hastily used the front-page headline, ‘A Bitter End,’ above, before the Patriots historic comeback.

There’s fake news and then there’s FAKE NEWS!

Today’s early edition Boston Globe made a historic blunder with its Super Bowl coverage, running the headline: A BITTER END.

Above it is “Super Bowl LI.” LI meaning “51” in Roman numerals, but now it has another meaning, wouldn’t you say? You can’t have a LIE without LI. 

These fake-news collectors’ items are on sale all over Florida. If you’re reading this in at least some parts of the SunshineState, you can probably still buy one at your local Publix supermarket. (Not in Palm Beach – my neighbor just bought all five copies for me.)

Given its squalid past as a purveyor of fake news, the Globe just began a new PR campaign about how “The truth matters.”

This morning the Globe’s Truth Matters campaign came to … A BITTER END. …

… The tradition continues.

Let me quote from the Globe’s truth-matters statement. The headline is: “Our mission. Why we do what we do.”

It begins: “The truth matters. At the end of the day it may be the only thing that matters.”

Which is why the Globe doesn’t – matter, that is.

What little remained of the Globe’s credibility has come to, dare I say it, an end, A BITTER END.

 

 

 

John Hinderaker has another feel good moment from the Super Bowl at the expense of a creepy lefty.

It wasn’t the Atlanta Falcons, or Matt Ryan, or Dan Quinn, or even the bettor who put down $1 million on the Falcons not long before game time. No, the Super Bowl’s biggest loser was Touré. If, like most people, you haven’t heard of Touré, he is a far-left commentator on MSNBC. Here, for your entertainment, are some of Touré’s tweets during the Super Bowl, in chronological order:

 

Trump is sinking the Pats the same way he’s sinking America.

— Touré (@Toure) February 6, 2017

 

With Gaga romping and the Pats getting killed it feels like the good guys are winning for once.

— Touré (@Toure) February 6, 2017

 

Tom Brady out there looking for help from the Electoral College. #SuperBowl

— TruthBeTold (@Big6domino) February 6, 2017

 

 

Yes, there’s some cartoons too and you’ll probably guess who is featured in a few.

February 5, 2017 – WAR IS POLITICS, BUT WITH HONOR

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

 

Our title for today’s post, War is Politics, but With Honor tweaks a phrase by Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general, in his 1832 book On War. Here’s how he wrote in the book. “We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means.” Here’s the variant translation that is most commonly used; “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.” 

So the long version of our title could be; “war is merely the continuation of politics, but conducted by honorable means.” An example of war making’s honorable means might be The Geneva Conventions. And conversely, it is obvious there is no Geneva Convention in our presently poisoned politics.  

Of course, what we want to explore today is the dishonorable conduct of America’s political left. Salon provides the first example of the left’s deplorable dishonorable acts reporting the Senate vote confirming Rex Tillerson’s appointment as Secretary of State.

… The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, on a largely party-line vote of 56-43. Three Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia — and independent Angus King of Maine joined Republicans in backing the choice. … 

… The Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s choice of John Kerry 94-3 and Hillary Clinton 94-2. President George W. Bush’s nominee Condoleezza Rice easily won confirmation 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed for the job by voice vote.

 

 

From Townhall we get the back story for another outrage; this time by the media.

They say that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has the chance to put its shoes on. In this case, a lie went viral, was one of the top stories on Reddit, and was used to slander a president before the truth came out.

The backstory: Mike Hager, a U.S. citizen, said that his mother was stuck in Iraq due to President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration and visa holders from certain countries. Hager claimed his mother, Naimma, who was very sick, was not allowed to travel to the U.S. on Friday despite having a green card. She then passed away in Iraq the next day. …

… As it turns out, the real reason why Hager’s mother wasn’t permitted to fly to the United States on Friday was because she had been dead for five days.

Hager’s Imam confirmed on Wednesday that the original story was not accurate and that Naimma had passed away on January 22. Fox 2 was able to confirm the date of death as well. …

  

 

From the Hill, Asra Nomani writes on the dishonorable events at UC Berkeley.

On Wednesday night, an Afghan-American software engineer and self-described “global geek girl” videotaped her friend Kiara Robles as a local TV reporter interviewed Robles about the raucous protests at University of California Berkeley that canceled a speech by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Robles wore the trademark red hat of the Trump presidential campaign, only with the message, “Make BitCoin Great Again,” her straight, long blond hair sweeping out from under the cap.

Suddenly, a masked attacker in a leather jacket lunged at Robles and doused her face in stinging pepper spray. “My friend was giving an interview when some coward peppersprayed her,” Robles’s friend wrote on Twitter, posting the video. She was maced, too. (She said the attacker was a woman.) …

… protesters slammed Robles and her friends against a barricade. Unable to breathe or see from the pepper spray, rioters surrounded her, some of her friends getting stomped on. “I thought I was going to die,” Robles, who is gay, told me. …

… In fact, while the Trump administration must of, course, lead from a place of compassion and moderation, intolerant tolerance-loving people are threatening the very safety of Americans, fomented by irresponsible Democratic Party leaders who refuse to accept the election results of 2016, (and) fear-mongering “social justice warriors” who behave as if they are on the set of the “Hunger Games,” … 

  

 

From Twitchy we learn the pepper spray trick was used at NYU too.

It wasn’t quite a repeat of the UC Berkeley riots Wednesday night, but so-called anti-fascist protesters clashed with police outside New YorkUniversity, where Gavin McInnes was invited to speak by the NYU College Republicans. McInnes confirmed other reports that he was pepper-sprayed at the event.

Thanks for asking if I’m OK guys. I was sprayed with pepper spray but being called a Nazi burned way more. 

 — Gavin McInnes (@Gavin_McInnes) February 3, 2017

There were reports of punches thrown by both protesters and supporters as well, but police were out in force.

  

 

A calmer look comes from Matthew Continetti.

“What happened to the honeymoon?” Charles Krauthammer asked last month. The opposition has long granted presidents time to form their administrations, to announce their signature initiatives. Donald Trump’s honeymoon lasted all of 10 days—from his surprise November 8 election to the rude treatment of his vice president at a performance of Hamilton on November 18. After that, divorce.

The same forces that opposed Trump during the Republican primary and general election are trying to break his presidency before it is a month old. At issue is the philosophy of nation-state populism that drove his insurgent campaign. It is so at variance with the ideologies of conservatism and liberalism predominant in the capital that Washington is experiencing something like an allergic reaction. Nation-state populism diverges from Beltway conservatism on trade, immigration, entitlements, and infrastructure, and from liberalism on sovereignty, nationalism, identity politics, and political correctness. Its combative style and heightened rhetoric offend the sensibilities of career-minded Washingtonians of both parties, who are schooled in deference, diplomacy, being nice to teacher, and the ancient arts of CYA.

The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. …

… So unlikely did the election of Donald Trump seem to Washington and its denizens that the reality of it still has not sunk in. All of the city’s worst traits—the self-regard, the group think, the obsessions with trivia, the worship of credentials, the virtue signaling, the imperiousness, the ignorance of perspectives and people from outside major metropolitan centers and college towns—not only persist. They have been magnified with Trump’s arrival. There is so much negative energy coursing through the city that circuits are overloaded. That the president still draws support from the coalition that brought him to office, that a fair number of people see his policies as commonsensical, seems not to affect any of Trump’s critics in the least. They will press on until Trump behaves like they want him to behave.

Which means the war between the president and the Washington establishment may last a very, very long time.

  

 

The women marching after the inaugural had some strange bedmaidens.

On “The First 100 Days” tonight, women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali reacted to a recently resurfaced tweet written by an organizer for last month’s Women’s March, which disparaged Ali and another activist.

Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association of New York, tweeted in 2011 that Ali and Brigitte Gabriel should be assaulted and that she wished she could remove their private parts because they “don’t deserve to be women.”

Ali, a victim of genital mutilation while living in Somalia, blasted Sarsour as a “fake feminist” who is not interested in universal human rights.

“She is a defender of Sharia law,” Ali said, “No principle degrades and dehumanizes women more than Sharia law.”

Ali said Sarsour hates her and Gabriel because they speak out against Sharia.

She suggested that instead of protesting in Washington, Sarsour should have organized a march for Yazidi women kidnapped by ISIS, “mass rape” incidents in Europe, or Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for “blasphemy.”

  

 

Piers Morgan, no friend of the GOP, has some interesting views of Trump in The Daily Mail, UK. 

… The popular global narrative just ten days into Donald Trump’s tenure as President of the United States of America is that he is a monster. But a new poll has revealed that 49% of Americans support Trump’s travel ban, as opposed to 41% who are against it

For example, there’s one video that’s gone viral of a large rally in Brighton, on the UK’s south coast, where thousands of people simply chant ‘Donald Trump, you’re a c**t!’ at the top of their voices.

This just about sums up the ridiculous Trump-bashing hysteria that has enveloped the world since his inauguration.

People are literally losing their minds over the mere thought of him sitting in the Oval Office.

A mental faculty failure that is driven, I fear, by sore loser syndrome. …

… A Reuters poll last night revealed that 49% of Americans support Trump’s travel ban, as opposed to 41% who are against it.

And in the UK, a YouGov poll today revealed 49% of Britons are in favour of President Trump’s state visit going ahead, compared to just 36% who are against it.

So despite all the howling, marches, social media onslaughts and foul-mouthed chants, more people in America and Britain appear to be behind Trump than against him. 

And as we saw with the US election and Brexit, these polls are probably understating that support.

Perhaps the reason for this is that the further away you get from the hysterical liberal elite conclaves of places like New York, Los Angeles and London, the more calmer common sense prevails.

Those people see a travel ban portrayed as a ‘racist Muslim ban’, then work out for themselves that 85% of the world’s Muslims aren’t actually banned, and shrug their shoulders.

They know President Obama had a shockingly poor record on admitting Syrian refugees, and let many of them die by not engaging with Assad when he crossed the fabled ‘red line’, so can’t get too worked up about Trump not letting any in.

They remember Bill Clinton had ‘sexual relations’ with interns inside the Oval Office, so can’t get too wildly outraged by Trump saying women throw themselves at celebrities either.

Just as they know Bill’s wife Hillary voted for war with anything that moved, so they rather like Trump not instantly nuking Russia but instead making friendly overtures to Putin.

And so on.

In short, they don’t over-react. …

  

 

Don Surber posts on Orrin Hatch becoming a Trumpster. How come? Because the Dems dishonorable deplorables disgust him.

… Hatch heads the finance committee which needed to vote on Steve Mnuchin before the Senate can vote to confirm him as Secretary of Treasury, and on Tom Price as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cheered on by a complacently liberal media, Democrats boycotted the meeting, in an effort to avoid confirmation. Committee rules require at least one Democrat be present before a vote occurs.

Hatch had his committee waive the rule.

“This is all approved by the Parliamentarian,” Hatch said. “I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been.”

He could have sent the Senate’s sergeant at arms to force Democrats to attend the hearing. He did not.

From CNN:

Hatch chuckled when confronted by questions from reporters about the little notice that the public received about Wednesday’s meeting. “You were scrambling? Well, you know, that’s neither here nor there,” he said.

The chairman also said that he had not yet spoken with the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, Wednesday morning. “I don’t feel a bit sorry for them,” Hatch said.

This is a refreshing new attitude, long overdue. …

January 27, 2017 – LOONEY LEFT

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

 

Watching the left go batty has been amazing; because it is so counter-productive. From the Federalist we have “The Crazy Left’s 4-Part Strategy to Ensure Trump’s Re-Election in 2020.” 

The first Trump administration has not yet even begun, and already people are planning to get him re-elected. I am not talking about Republican political strategists dreaming of the campaign ads to run starting in mid-2019. I am talking about seemingly the entire liberal political establishment, which is devoting itself wholesale to ensuring that the 2020 election is another victory for Donald Trump.

This is something of a surprise. After the humiliating defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, you would imagine liberals would learn to tell the difference between what works and what doesn’t. The paranoia, the sneering condescension, the celebrity-infused elitism, the relentless “othering” of tens upon tens of millions of Americans: this approach was a failure. Clinton lost the most winnable election in several generations.

So you might think that, in the run-up to the 2018 midterms and ultimately the 2020 presidential election, American progressives would try something different—anything different!

You would be wrong. Embarrassed, angry, and confused, the Left is simply doubling down on the behavior and the rhetoric that drove large numbers of Americans to vote for Trump in the first place. If you’re a liberal and you want to greatly increase Trump’s chances for re-election in 2020, here are four easy steps you can take to make that a reality. …

  

 

Ed Morrissey posts on The narcissistic petulance of “the resistance”

… Those weren’t protests — those were attempted revolutionary acts, which fits right into the hyperbolic and irresponsible language adopted by the very same people who lectured us on accepting the results of elections just three months earlier. As I write in a special column today for the New York Post, language matters — and in this case, it’s also very revealing:

That, however, was not what we saw on Inauguration Day. It didn’t start on Inauguration Day, either, or even on Inauguration Eve. This started immediately after the election, when those on the losing side of the election began dubbing themselves “The Resistance.”

This grandiose and pretentious appellation insults those who actually have to live under authoritarian regimes, including Cuba, whose oppressed no longer have the promise of expedited asylum if they manage to reach the United States, thanks to the outgoing president’s actions in the final hours of his term. …

… The “resistance” styles itself as anti-fascist, but they are the fascists. They don’t like the outcome of the election, and now they want to seize power by force and intimidation. And everyone who contributes to this hysteria and uses the hyperbolic language of revolution is adding to the environment in which these groups take action.

The American people spoke in this election, not just in the presidential race but at every level of governance, and they rejected Democrats and the Left. It happens; Republicans had the same experience in 2006 and 2008, and spent their time fitfully repositioning themselves to appeal to voters, at least in relation to Democrats. You’re not a “resistance,” you’re an opposition, and your arrogance and self-regard are at least part of the reason your side lost in November. Grow up, get real, and perhaps rethink the decisions to cling to the calcified leadership that led you into your political dead end.

  

 

Progs moved from the city to a rural Wisconsin county only to end up in a county that voted for Trump. A Hot Air post suggests their attitudes were partly the cause.

… “We have found a whole community here,” said Pat Carlson, Wally Zick’s wife, “of very like-minded—it’s going to sound elite—but bookish, artsy, I’d say compassionate … organic foodies, the whole nine yards. It’s all transplants. It’s mostly liberals.” As for this election, and the locals, she continued, “I think they thought the liberal elite was looking down on them, and I guess, in some ways, we were. Because we couldn’t believe anybody would vote for Trump.”

The piece offers as an example John Andrews, a former sheriff who was also the head of the Democratic Party in Pepin county. Now he’s a Republican:

“When the people came in—and the things that they were trying to push on the rest of us—that’s why I left,” Andrews added. “I didn’t want to deal with these people. I didn’t want to be a part of what they were a part of. You’re talking about people from the Cities who are very progressive. I call them tree-huggers, a bunch of tree-huggers. They referred to us, meaning the people who’ve lived here and worked here all our lives, as a bunch of hicks. They just think they’re a little bit better than everybody else, and that we’re not as smart.”

Carolyn Tyra, a 50ish Wal-Mart cashier, puts it more bluntly. She tells Politico, “they all think we’re stupid and the common blue-collar worker doesn’t want to be treated like we’re stupid.”

No doubt there are other factors involved, but author Michael Kruse makes a convincing case that the smug cultural superiority of progressives has a lot to do with Trump’s unexpected win in rural Wisconsin.

  

 

Kevin Williamson calls it an epidemic of “political diaper rash.” 

Donald J. Trump today is sworn in as president of these United States.

Break out the adult coloring books.

Funny word, “adult.” We use the word communicating “maturity” to describe the most immature forms of expression. “Adult entertainment” should mean Moby-Dick. But this is a time of childishness, which, in some ways, should give us hope: If the Democrats really thought President Trump were going to be some sort of Hitler figure, they’d be acting differently. They’d be stockpiling firearms and that freeze-dried apocalypse lasagna they’re always peddling on talk radio, or looking very closely at the real-estate listings in Zurich or Montreal. They would be acting like adults.

In reality, they are doing the opposite.

Gender-studies departments across the fruited plain are reminding Americans of how silly and meretricious gender-studies departments are, organizing anti-Trump rallies along notably juvenile lines, heavy on the stuffed animals, puppies to snuggle, Wubbies, and that hideously dispiriting sign of our times, the adult coloring book. Some of these events are being put on by publicly funded institutions, which is improper and undemocratic and in bad taste. The stewards of our institutions, including those such as cultural organizations that are formally private but sustained by public grants, ought to hold themselves to a higher standard than they do. They abuse the support that is given them and then wonder why it is that so many Americans seem to resent funding for arts and education.

The fact that the election of Donald Trump has sent a generation of Americans seeking their security blankets tells us a number of things. One, that these people are intellectually defective, but set that aside for now. It also tells us that progressives do not understand they are the Doctor Frankensteins in this monster story, demanding endless expansions of the state, pressing for the concentration of power in the executive agencies and nondemocratic institutions, and inventing new pretexts for political intrusions into private life — only to be horrified that the instrument they have created has been entrusted to the leadership of a man they despise. …

 

 

Steve Hayward posts on the “meltdown on the left.”

It is becoming apparent that Donald Trump’s accession to the presidency is causing a full scale nervous breakdown on the left. Where to begin? I was getting ready to observe that if the left continues at its current fevered pitch, many leftists will end up literally in padded cells (and I do mean “literally” literally here). But John Podhoretz beat me to it over at Commentary: …

… All of this shrieking by the left is having a predictable effect: his public approval ratings are rising—up to 57 percent in one new poll just out. Then there’s this:

Poll: Voters Like Trump’s ‘America First’ Address

By Jake Sherman

Dark. Negative. Divisive. That’s was the immediate narrative about President Donald Trump’s inaugural address.

But many Americans liked it.

Trump got relatively high marks on his Friday address, with 49 percent of those who watched or heard about the speech saying it was excellent or good, and just 39 percent rating it as only fair or poor. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed reacted positively to the “America First” message, the cornerstone of the Trump campaign and governing posture.

I’m starting to think Trump really is a one-person wrecking crew for the left delivered by divine Providence.

  

 

We close with a column by Matthew Continetti that contains this gem of a paragraph which ends with a discourse on “intersectionality.”

… The splintering of the Democrats is rather something to behold. I giggle when I consider the reaction of “real people” to the DNC candidates’ forum the other day. There could be no better display of just how far to the left the party is moving. First the location of the forum was changed after the Washington Free Beacon reported on the anti-Israel activism of its original host. Then the festivities opened with a performance by a slam poet that left our correspondent in a state of delirium. The first candidate to speak, a white lady from Idaho, said her job would be to “shut other white people down.” The evening will be remembered for laundering the word “intersectionality,” a piece of jargon originating in departments of comparative literature and gender studies, into American political discourse. Do not ask me what it means. “We did a poor job of communicating intersectionality,” one candidate said. “I’m a walking intersectionality,” said another. Millions of Americans have dropped out of the workforce, families struggle with addiction, crime is rising, and how do the men and women and non-binaries running for DNC chair respond? “Let them eat intersectionality!” …

January 23, 2017 – TRUMP AND HIS SPEECH

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

Some of our regulars are enthusiastic about Trump. Others are not so sanguine. Among the enthusiasts was Jesse Jackson. Yes, you read that right. No, he’s not one of the regulars, but if he keeps talking sense he will make the cut.  A news story from Atlanta Journal-Constitution recounts an interview with Jackson. Under the rubric of “man bites dog” we’ll make that the lede today. 

… “The speech was full of hope and inclusion and he reached out to cities in a way they’ve not been reached out to for a long time,” (Jackson) said. …

… Jackson pointed to Trump’s low approval ratings and issued a challenge.

“What does a man with so much power do? Grace can expand your power. Arrogance can diminish it. I hope he’ll have the grace and commitment to put all of us under one big tent.”

 

 

In “Tale of Two Speeches,” Roger Kimball writes on reactions to Trump’s speech. Kimball’s piece is long so we have abridged. Follow the link to read it all.

… Friday afternoon, I wrote a brief piece about the inauguration for the Financial Times,UK (requires registration) in which I described Trump’s address as “gracious but plain-speaking.” My, how the readers of the FT disliked that!

To be fair, the legacy media in America hated Trump’s speech, too, as did — and this is the more interesting thing — the anti-Trump Right.  The Chicago Tribune described the speech as “raw, angry and aggrieved,” “pugnacious in tone, pitch black in its color.” OK, par for the course. But Andrew Ferguson, writing in The Wall Street Journal, said that “the candidate who campaigned as a sociopath shows signs he may yet govern as one.” (“Sociopath”? Caligula was a sociopath. Donald Trump?) Sure, Chris “Old Reliable” Matthews, ready as ever with the Godwin Expedient, described the speech as “Hiterlian.” But just about every mainstream outlet from The Weekly Standard on down referred to the speech as “dark.” I was a bit taken aback to hear a politically mature friend describe the speech as “disgusting,” “nasty,” “borderline un-American” and then go on, listing Godwinwards, to invoke “beer halls” (you know what that means!) in connection with the speech.

I said that Trump’s speech was gracious.  Here’s how he began:

“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.”

“Raw”? “Angry”? “Nasty”? “Disgusting”? …

 … Trump began with a few general observations:

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.”

Which of those statements do you find “Dark”? “Nasty”? “Aggrieved?” “Disgusting”? Or, more to the point, which do you find untrue? …

… As he neared his conclusion, his tone became hortatory: “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.” And then came this dollop of poetry:

“It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.”

“Raw”? “Dark?” …

  

 

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit sees many things he likes. Among them;

… The appointments. The appointment of retired Marine general James Mattis as secretary of Defense all by itself represents a major step toward turning our military back into warriors, as opposed to the social justice warriors they were being turned into under the Obama administration. Mattis, of course, has gotten bipartisan support, but many other appointments also look good. I originally thought (and said) that Rex Tillerson was a bad pick for secretary of State, but hearing him talk since then I feel pretty good about it. Sessions wouldn’t have been my first choice for attorney general (I don’t like his record on the drug war or civil forfeiture), but otherwise he’s a solid guy and even many of the Democrats attacking him now were happy to work with him over decades in the Senate. …

  

 

David Goldman as Spengler has a look at Trump.

… Most of all Trump wants to protect Americans from globalization, and rightly so. At the peak of its technological dominance in the decade after the Cold War, when America fielded the technologies that made the modern economy, America opened its gates to China (allowing it into the World Trade Organization) and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement. This occurred during the Clinton Administration at the peak of America’s investment boom in technology. We invented semiconductors, lasers, optical networks, sensors, displays, virtually the whole of the modern economy.

But America was too complacent. Its share of global high technology exports (as defined by the World Bank) fell from 18% to 7% between 1999 and 2014, while China’s share soared from 3% to 26%. (Europe remained steady at around 30%). China used every lever of industrial policy, including state subsidies, loans from state-owned entities, and so forth, to create employment in tech industries. That is the Asian industrial model, and in many cases it works. It is hardly fair to expect America to play by free market rules while its competitors indulge in aggressive mercantilism. …

… The problem is how to protect Americans. The global supply chain is so closely integrated that it is hard to discourage some imports without doing real damage to American industries. The border tax proposed by House Republicans would prevent corporations from deducting imported inputs as costs for tax purposes. For industries like oil refining, that would create enormous distortions, while providing windfalls elsewhere. My own preference would be to use selected tariffs for products that benefit from government subsidies overseas, which is entirely permissible under World Trade Organization rules.

Ultimately, no government can protect American workers unless productivity growth resumes. American productivity growth has fallen to zero for the first time since the stagflation of the 1970s. Without productivity growth, American living standards will fall, irrespective of whether the government pursues protection or free trade. I have argued elsewhere in this publication that reviving military and aerospace R&D is the key to productivity growth.

Donald Trump could be a character in a Frank Capra film or a Sinclair Lewis novel. He is our generation’s incarnation of Bunyan’s pilgrim. I do not mean that as praise (I never liked Bunyan, as it happens). That simply is the kind of people we Americans are, or rather the sort of people we have become at two and a half centuries’ distance from our Revolution. We never have succeeded in training an elite. Whenever an American elite finds itself in power it chokes on its own arrogance. I cheered Mr. Trump to victory in the last election out of disgust for the do-gooders and world-fixers of both the Republican and Democratic mainstreams. Now I wish him good luck. He’ll need all the luck he can get.

  

 

A WSJ OpEd author writes about coming out the second time.

Since Election Day, I’ve mentioned to friends my hope that America and its people are in better shape four years from now than they are today. Everyone I’ve shared this with has rebuked me and asked if I voted for Donald Trump. So far I’ve given evasive answers, saying something like I respect the election results and agree with President Obama that the “peaceful transfer of power” is a “hallmark of our democracy.”

This makes me feel the same way I did for most of my life as I hid my sexual orientation. Born in the 1950s, I began having gay relationships at 25 but remained closeted. I hated lying to people, but in the 1980s and ’90s I feared that coming out would estrange me from family and damage my career.

Similarly, I now find creative ways to avoid answering whether I voted for Donald Trump. …

  

 

And Andrew Ferguson, also in WSJ, shows less enthusiasm.

… Unfortunately, the candidate who campaigned as a sociopath shows signs he may yet govern as one. His refusal to submit to daily intelligence briefings on grounds that he’s “a smart person” suggests the presidency will pump Mr. Trump’s already world-class ego into something even more obtrusive, more dangerous. His childish tweets continue unabated and, what’s worse, no one close to him has the nerve to tell him to put a sock in it. His overpromising grows daily more extravagant (“health insurance for everybody . . . with lower numbers, much lower deductibles”), and in this he rivals President Obama, who once pledged to stop the rise of the oceans.

After the past 18 months, only an idiot would bet against Donald Trump. He has banged his way from one unlikely triumph to another. Now, with the stakes much higher, the conservatism of Trump’s cabinet may save him. If, over the next few years, parents begin to feel they’ve regained control of their children’s schools, if wages start to rise and business owners feel liberated from the dead hand of overregulation, if the military recovers its strength and self-confidence—then Mr. Trump’s ignorance and vulgarity won’t matter. He’ll lay claim to the unlikeliest triumph of all: a successful presidency.

 

 

Yuval Levin writes on the inaugural speech.

Being a sucker for civic rituals, I’ve attended every presidential inauguration since Clinton’s second in 1997. Regardless of my opinion of the person being inaugurated—when I have voted for him and when I have not—I’ve stood in the rain or the cold and relished the opportunity to observe the ceremony and hear what the new or returning chief executive has to say. …

… Observing these ceremonies every four years is a reminder that the presidency is for the most part a pre-defined role in a larger political drama—a niche that can be occupied by different people with different goals and characters, and used by them to their different ends while largely keeping its shape. That shape has itself changed over time, of course, mostly expanding in our living memory. But the office has grown through use (and over-use) and every president has run to fill the role. The inaugural ceremony helps to highlight this: It is essentially the same every time, with a different glutton for punishment taking the same oath as all who came before, and setting out to occupy the same position in the same system. 

But Trump’s way of speaking about his vision and intentions suggests his case will be different. He did not really run to occupy the presidency as it exists, and does not seem to think of himself as stepping now into a role he is obliged to carry out. He ran to disrupt a broken system, and to be himself but with more power and authority. He is our president, but he has not taken on the job with any clear sense of the presidency as a distinct function and office which he should now stretch and bend to embody.

This has not been easy to accept, and so we have tended implicitly to wait for the moment when Trump would put aside his childish antics and step up into the role. Or else we have inclined to think about the prospects for Trump’s presidency in terms of whether he would be too strong or too weak a president. But this is probably the wrong way to think about what Trump is doing. He is not filling the role in a certain way. He is playing a different role. He is being himself. 

This suggests a different way to think about the challenges and opportunities the Trump presidency may pose. Trump seems inclined to leave largely unfilled the part traditionally played by the president in our system while playing another part formed around the peculiar contours of his bombastic, combative, and at times surely disordered personality. That means that Trump’s team, the Congress, the courts, and the public will need to confront the implications of both the absence of a more traditional president and the presence of a different and unfamiliar kind of figure at the heart of the constitutional order. These are two distinct problems. …

January 18, 2017 – LETHAL LEGACY

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

The inauguration means it’s time to consider the outgoing president’s legacy. Since he’s made it plain he intends to hang around and harry and harass his successor, we hope to see many Trump tweets the on the former’s lethal legacy.

 

“Lethal legacy” is a good kill shot like “Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” or “Crooked Hillary” and it has an additional admirable alliterative advantage. How was it lethal? Let us count the ways.

 

Lethal to the 50% of young black Americans who don’t have work. And in a similar vein, lethal to the job prospects of 15 million Americans who have dropped out of the workforce. Lethal to the countless thousands of businesses that did not get started. Lethal to millions who liked their doctors. Lethal to efforts to control illegal immigration. Lethal to many school voucher programs. Lethal to the private enterprises of for-profit education. Lethal to the U. S. credit rating. Lethal to coal mining and fossil fuel industries. Lethal to our constitutional tradition of separation of powers. And most wonderfully, lethal to the electoral prospects of a thousand Dem candidates.

 

And in foreign affairs, lethal to hundreds of thousand Syrian citizens. Lethal to Israel, our strongest and most democratic ally in the Mid-East and thus lethal to the Mid-East peace process. Lethal to the aspirations of millions in the Iranian ”Green revolution.” Lethal to prospects for Libya becoming a peaceful country. Etc., etc., etc. . . . . .

 

We’ll let some of our best friends flesh out the details of the legacy of this disastrous Dem demagogue. First up is Streetwise Professor, Craig Pirrong. It was almost a century ago a Dem administration sponsored and passed the 20th amendment. Craig Pirrong celebrates.

The 20th Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1933, moved inauguration day from March 4 to January 20. And thank God for that, for imagine what Obama could do in those extra six weeks.

He’s already done enough, believe me. The most egregious was the failure to veto a UN resolution targeting Israeli settlements. Indeed, it has been plausibly pled that the administration was instrumental in pushing forward the resolution, though it has implausibly denied this.

There is a colorable case against the settlements. Be that as it may, Obama’s actions were low and destructive, …

… Moreover, it is clear that Obama was driven more by personal peevishness and dislike for Netanyahu, rather than higher motives. …

… Apparently not realizing that the 2016 election (not just for president, but for the House, the Senate, and state offices) was largely a repudiation of him and his presidency, Obama stated presumptuously that he would have been able to defeat Trump and win a third term.

Obama says he will take some time to “be quiet for a while” to “still myself” and “find my center.” Take your time! As much time as you like!

Looking at the bright side, Obama says he is going to dedicate himself to rebuilding the Democratic Party. Given that he’s the one that singlehandedly led it to the brink of catastrophe, this is great news. Sort of like having someone you don’t really like hire the Three Stooges to fix his plumbing.

The 20th Amendment was adopted because a lame duck Hoover administration was unable to respond decisively to the economic crisis that gripped the country in early-1933. The amendment was intended to prevent the government being hamstrung for months in a future crisis occurring during a transition to a new administration. But in retrospect, the real virtue of the 20th is not that it accelerates the ability of an incoming president to deal with crisis: it is that it limits the time that a departing president has to wreak havoc. This is especially important when the departing president is preternaturally vain and narcissistic (even by comparison with other politicians, who are only naturally vain and narcissistic), when he is unconstrained by accepted norms and traditions, and when there is no political cost to be paid for indulging his peeves and pursuing his vendettas. One shudders to think what Obama would have done with an extra six weeks to act with no means of holding him to account.

Cromwell’s parting words to the Rump Parliament are apposite here: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.” Fortunately, the 20th Amendment ensures that Obama will go sooner than he would have without it. And thank God for that.

 

 

Conrad Black with lots more.

Like most people, I had hoped for the customary settling down after the very tumultuous and nasty election. We have been denied that, not by the candidates, who have been dignified, but by the outgoing administration. I have written here and elsewhere before that this has been the most incompetent administration since James Buchanan brought on the Civil War, but I had not realized how the immunity to severe criticism afforded President Obama, because of his pigmentation, had been allowed to disguise how inept this administration has been, how authoritarian and sleazy, and how the president’s demiurgic (godlike) vanity has gone almost unnoticed as the toadies and bootlickers like Tom Friedman and David Remnick went into overdrive.

Only now, when, instead of simply expressing solidarity with his party’s narrowly or even questionably defeated nominee, as Dwight Eisenhower did with Richard Nixon in 1960 and Lyndon Johnson did with Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (and even Bill Clinton slightly managed with Al Gore in 2000), President Obama has disparaged Hillary Clinton. He said the election was “about my legacy,” and that he would have won had he been allowed constitutionally to seek a third term, and for good measure he has incited the inference that the election was determined by unspecified illegal computer-hacking by the Russian government.

The president is correct that the largest issue in the election was the Obama legacy: the 125 percent increase in federal debt while the national work force shrank by 10 percent, the shameful Iran nuclear and sanctions giveaway, the shambles of the “red line” and other flip-flops and miscues all over foreign policy, the haughty disparagement of large sections of the electorate (in which he was almost outdone by Mrs. Clinton), the immigration policy of proudly admitting to the U.S. whomever might be seized by the ambition to enter, and the slavish adherence to the most alarmist versions of the faddish climate apocalypse, whatever the cost in American jobs and the current-account deficit, and without waiting for evidence adequate to justify radical measures. The president has had a whim of iron, informed by bygone reflexively socialistic pieties, and while he has not been popular and the majority has thought throughout his administration that the fundamental direction of the country was mistaken, about half the people either like him as a public personality or are afraid, because he is not white, to admit that they don’t.

He may be, as he often seems, a charming man, but when he has gone and the issue of race is not much involved in assessing his performance, he will be seen to have failed as president, 

 

And Andrew Malcolm, a voice from our past, stirred himself from his retirement.

“You better stop stealing money from your mother’s purse, young man, or I will punish you late this year or perhaps sometime in 2018,” said no parent who was serious about punishment.

Yet that’s pretty much what President Obama did with his old-fashioned expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over alleged political hacking by Moscow interests going back 18 months.

​A very strange retro-response from a president​ who mocked Mitt Romney for suggesting in 2012 that Russia was America’s worst strategic threat. Obama said: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” …

Since Obama vowed to run a smooth presidential transition, what’s the real point of picking a tardy diplomatic scuffle with Putin? What’s the real point of setting Israel (and the annoying Netanyahu) adrift at the United Nations now?

Why issue all these offshore drilling bans and new federal regulations? Why commute more federal prison sentences than a dozen past presidents combined? Why keep releasing Guantanamo terrorists when so many return to their homicidal careers?

Might it be to plant political IEDs for his annoying successor, …

 

Michael Barone writes on government by “faculty lounge.”

… In my view, Obama owed his election and reelection to the feeling — widely shared by Americans, including many who didn’t vote for him — that it would be a good thing for Americans to elect a black president.

What they didn’t expect, but got, was a president who governed according to the playbook of campus liberals, imposing — or attempting to impose — policies that he believed would be good for people, whether they knew it or not.

This was governance that was both inattentive to detail and law and out of touch with how policies affect people’s lives. That is why so many of these policies seem headed for the ash heap of history. 

 

Victor Davis Hanson writes on the “legacy of deceit” and asks why it was necessary.  

… Why does the Obama administration contort reality and mask the consequences of its initiatives?

Two reasons come to mind. One, Obama advanced an agenda to the left of that shared by most past presidents. Obamacare, the Benghazi catastrophe, the Iran deal, his strange stance toward radical Islam, and the Bergdahl swap were unpopular measures that required politically-driven recalibrations to escape American scrutiny.

Second, Obama’s team believes that the goals of fairness and egalitarianism more than justify the means of dissimulation by more sophisticated elites. Thus Gruber (“the stupidity of the American voter”) and Rhodes (“They literally know nothing”) employ deception on our behalf. Central to this worldview is that the American people are naive and easily manipulated, and thus need to be brought up to speed by a paternal administration that knows what is best for its vulnerable and clueless citizenry.

Such condescension is also why the administration never believes it has done anything wrong by hiding the facts of these controversies. Its players believe that because they did it all for us, the ensuing distasteful means will be forgotten once we finally progress enough to appreciate their enlightened ends.

  

The deceit Victor Hanson writes about above is the largest part of the scandals of this administration. So writes Kevin Williamson

The lame-duck columns have been nearly unanimous on the point: Barack Obama is remarkable among recent presidents for having been utterly untouched by scandal, personal or political.

The personal can be conceded: There is no serious allegation that President Obama suffered from the liberated appetites of a Bill Clinton, and the White House interns have by all accounts gone unmolested. But this is hardly remarkable: There were no such allegations about George W. Bush, either, or about George H. W. Bush, or about Ronald Reagan, or Jimmy Carter. Richard Nixon’s name is a byword for scandal, but not scandal of that sort. Nixon’s shocking personal perversion was his taste for cottage cheese with ketchup.

So, three cheers for Barack Obama’s manful efforts to live up to the standard of Gerald Ford. Well done.

The political issue is a different question entirely.

Not only was the Obama administration marked by scandal of the most serious sort — perverting the machinery of the state for political ends — it was on that front, which is the most important one, the most scandal-scarred administration in modern presidential history.

For your consideration: …

  

And from John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist.

… If Obama’s domestic legacy is evanescent, his enduring legacy will be in foreign policy. In 2008, Obama promised to “restore our moral standing” in the world, by which he meant that America would retreat from the international stage to “focus on nation-building here at home.”

In practice, that meant abandoning the Middle East and allowing ISIS to rise from the ashes of Iraq. Obama was elected on nothing so much as a desire among Americans to be done with that part of the world, and Obama had an idea how to do it: elevate Iran as a regional hegemon to replace America.

That’s why he pursued the Iran nuclear deal. The price he was willing to pay is that the regime in Tehran could have nuclear weapons within the next decade, if not sooner. The mullahs know this, and it has emboldened them. (Just this week, Iranian naval vessels made a simulated attack run at a U.S. destroyer, which opened fire in response.)

The story is much the same all over the world: American retreat is emboldening our adversaries. Russian aggression has grown to the point that Moscow launched an “active measures” campaign to disrupt our presidential election, even as it pursues revanchist aims in Eastern Europe and an irregular military conflict in Ukraine that has left more than 10,000 dead. Nearly a half-million have perished in Syria’s civil war, thanks in large part to Obama’s refusal to intervene. Iraq, left to its own devices when Obama pulled out American troops in 2011, has proven unable to defeat ISIS. An irredentist China is installing military bases on man-made islands in the South China Sea, forcing a strategic realignment along the Asia Pacific.

All of which to say, on the eve of Obama’s departure from office the world is more unstable, and a major conflict more likely, than at any time since the Cold War. This was not inevitable; it was the result of conscious choices by Obama and his inner circle. In assessing his likely place in American history, it calls to mind James Buchanan, perhaps our worst president ever. …

  

YES! We have many great cartoons today.

 

January 16, 2017 – CLIMATE

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

While our attention was on the election and its aftermath, Scott Adams of the Dilbert Blog has posted some items on climate. His posts during the campaign season presented an iconoclastic view of the proceedings that proved to be obdurately prescient. His attention to the climate controversy is welcome. His first post on the subject was December 5th.

Before I start, let me say as clearly as possible that I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change. If science says something is true – according to most scientists, and consistent with the scientific method – I accept their verdict. 

I realize that science can change its mind, of course. Saying something is “true” in a scientific sense always leaves open the option of later reassessing that view if new evidence comes to light. Something can be “true” according to science while simultaneously being completely wrong. Science allows that odd situation to exist, at least temporarily, while we crawl toward truth.

So when I say I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change, I’m endorsing the scientific consensus for the same reason I endorsed Hillary Clinton for the first part of the election – as a strategy to protect myself. I endorse the scientific consensus on climate change to protect my career and reputation. To do otherwise would be dumb, at least in my situation. …

… You probably are not a scientist, and that means you can’t independently evaluate any of the climate science claims. You didn’t do the data collection or the experiments yourself. You could try to assess the credibility of the scientists using your common sense and experience, but let’s face it – you aren’t good at that. So what do you do?

You probably default to trusting whatever the majority of scientists tell you. And the majority says climate science is real and we need to do something about it. But how reliable are experts, even when they are mostly on the same side?

Ask the majority of polling experts who said Trump had only a 2% chance of becoming president. Ask the experts who said the government’s historical “food pyramid” was good science. Ask the experts who used to say marijuana was a gateway drug. Ask the experts who used to say sexual orientation is just a choice. Ask the experts who said alcoholism is a moral failure and not a matter of genetics. …

… As I said above, I accept the consensus of climate science experts when they say that climate science is real and accurate. But I do that to protect my reputation and my income. I have no way to evaluate the work of scientists.

If you ask me how scared I am of climate changes ruining the planet, I have to say it is near the bottom of my worries. If science is right, and the danger is real, we’ll find ways to scrub the atmosphere as needed. We always find ways to avoid slow-moving dangers. And if the risk of climate change isn’t real, I will say I knew it all along because climate science matches all of the criteria for a mass hallucination by experts.

  

 

His next post we link to was December 19th.

I often hear from people who are on one side or the other on the topic of climate change. And I think I spotted a new cognitive phenomenon that might not have a name.* I’ll call it cognitive blindness, defined as the inability to see the strong form of the other side of a debate. 

The setup for cognitive blindness looks like this:

1. An issue has the public divided into two sides.

2. You read an article that agrees with your side and provides solid evidence to support it. That article mentions the argument on the other side in summary form but dismisses it as unworthy of consideration.

3. You remember (falsely) having seen both sides of the argument. What you really saw was one side of the argument plus a misleading summary of the other side.

4. When someone sends you links to better arguments on the other side you skip them because you think you already know what they will say, and you assume it must be nonsense. For all practical purposes you are blind to the other argument. It isn’t that you disagree with the strong form of the argument on the other side so much as you don’t know it exists no matter how many times it is put right in front of you. …

… Given the wildly different assessments of climate change risks within the non-scientist community, perhaps we need some sort of insurance/betting market. That would allow the climate science alarmists to buy “insurance” from the climate science skeptics. That way if the climate goes bad at least the alarmists will have extra cash to build their underground homes. And that cash will come out of the pockets of the science-deniers. Sweet!

But if the deniers are right, and they want to be rewarded by the alarmists for their rightness, the insurance/betting market would make that possible.

It would also be fascinating to see where the public put the betting odds for climate science. Would people expose themselves to both sides of the debate before betting?

  

 

Then Scott Adams/Dilbert posted on the CO2/warming arguments. Chicken/egg or Egg/chicken?

… Remember how I taught you that Trump’s linguistic kill shots had a special quality that allowed them to strengthen over time thanks to confirmation bias? Every time Ted Cruz said something that didn’t pass the fact-checking you remembered his Lyin’ Ted nickname. And every time someone accused Clinton of crooked dealings you were reminded of her Crooked Hillary nickname. Climate change has the same dynamic. Every time it snows the non-scientists of the world look out the window and experience confirmation bias that global “warming” isn’t happening. Sure, it’s usually called climate “change” now, and most people know that. But to the under-informed that change in preferred wording just looks suspicious.

Climate scientists might be right that CO2 will cause catastrophic warming. And fear is a great persuader. But this particular fear is a bit abstract. It isn’t like a nuclear bomb that can kill us all instantly. Climate worries are in the unpredictable future and won’t affect everyone the same way. Persuasion-wise, the climate scientists only have facts and prediction models to make their case. And what are the weakest forms of persuasion known to humankind? – Facts and prediction models.

And how are climate scientists trying to solve this problem? Mostly by providing more facts and more prediction models. And by demonizing the critics. The net effect of all that is to systematically reduce their own credibility over time, even if they are right about everything.

I think you see the problem.

  

 

A less theoretical and more down to earth approach comes from James Delingpole in The Spectator, UK.

… he (Trump) was never the GOP establishment’s preferred candidate, which means he has the attitude, the independence and the leeway to be much more radical — and effective — than any of his rivals would have dared to be.

Nowhere will this become more evident than in the fields of energy and climate change. It’s true that there were other climate–sceptical presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio among them, but it’s unlikely that when push came to shove any Republican other than Trump would have had the will to take on the powerful and entrenched green establishment once in office.

Partly it’s down to temperament: Trump relishes confrontation and, unlike most conservative politicians, feels under no pressure to moderate his position on the environment lest he be perceived as nasty or uncaring. Partly it’s because as a property developer he has much personal experience of the way environmental red tape impedes business. Partly, as one admiring DC insider explained to me, it’s because he’s the first US president since Reagan who doesn’t identify with the ‘bicoastal urban elite’. …

… Take NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: both have been caught red-handed doctoring raw data to make 20th-century global warming look more dramatic, for reasons which probably have more to do with ideology than science. Trump simply won’t tolerate this. NASA will likely be returned to its day job of exploring space, while NOAA and its climate data will be put in the hands of a sceptical scientist: someone, perhaps, like John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who has long infuriated warmists by noting that the satellite records show much less warming than the (-rather patchy) surface temperature records do.

Until now, green propagandists have been able to point to their tame scientists at NASA, NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Science and Technology and so on, and say: ‘Look. All the experts agree…’ With this option off the table the repercussions will be enormous. I’d go so far as to say it’s the beginning of the end of the Green Blob.

Yes, I appreciate some of your squeamishness about Trump, and if you’re on the greenie liberal left or part of the smug elite whose nose was put out so badly by Brexit, then you’ve good reason to be terrified. Not otherwise, though. He’s going to be great.

  

 

What might a presidency unencumbered by Beltway orthodoxy look like? We reach deep in our files from an article in the October 5, 1999 WSJ by Ken Adelman who told how the uninhibited Reagan acted at the beginning of his administration.

… The first epiphany came early in his administration, when we gathered in a formal National Security Council meeting in the Cabinet Room. Secretary of State Alexander Haig opened by lamenting that the Law of the Sea Treaty was something we didn’t like but had to accept, since it had emerged over the previous decade through a 150-nation negotiation. Mr. Haig then proceeded to recite 13 or so options for modifying the treaty–some with several suboptions.

Such detail, to put it mildly, was not the president’s strong suit. He looked increasingly puzzled and finally interrupted. “Uh, Al,” he asked quietly, “isn’t this what the whole thing was all about?”

“Huh?” The secretary of state couldn’t fathom what the president meant. None of us could. So Mr. Haig asked him.

Well, Mr. Reagan shrugged, wasn’t not going along with something that is “really stupid” just because 150 nations had done so what the whole thing was all about–our running, our winning, our governing? A stunned Mr. Haig folded up his briefing book and promised to find out how to stop the treaty altogether.

That set the tone for the first Reagan administration. …

  

 

Dems continue to beclown themselves over climate. The latest was a rising star in the party, Kamala Harris, who looked the fool when questioning designated CIA chief. Here’s PJ Media;

This is why the Democrats can’t have nice things like the White House, Congress, most state houses or state legislatures. California’s new senator grilled CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo about climate change (as well as gay marriage), illustrating just how out of sync with reality Democrats’ priorities are when it comes to national security.

 

More from Ed Morrissey at HotAir.

Confirmation hearings often reveal more about the panelists than they do about the nominee, and that’s certainly the case in the exchange that took place between Mike Pompeo and newly installed Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Donald Trump nominated Pompeo for director of the CIA, a role for which his years as chair of the House Intelligence Committee have prepared him, including an understanding of the role intelligence services play. Harris seems to have a strange set of priorities for intelligence operations, and her obsession with climate change leaves Pompeo almost laughing in bemusement. …

… Bear in mind that this followed Harris questioning Pompeo on LGBT policy, and you get a sense of the silliness on display:

HARRIS: CIA Director Brennan, who spent a 25-year career at the CIA as an analyst, senior manager, and station chief in the field, has said that when, quote, “CIA analysts look for deeper causes of rising instability in the world,” one of the causes those CIA analysts see as the — is the impact of climate change. Do you have any reason to doubt the assessment of these CIA analysts?

POMPEO: Senator Harris, I haven’t had a chance to read those materials with respect to climate change. I do know the agency’s role there. Its role is to collect foreign intelligence, to understand threats to the world. That would certainly include threats from poor governance, regional instability, threats from all sources, and deliver that information to policymakers. And to the extent that changes in climatic activity are part of that, we’ll deliver that information to you all and the president.

That was Pompeo’s attempt to acknowledge her concern at climate change while politely reminding her that it’s not the CIA’s primary focus, or even secondary focus. (If it has been in the past, perhaps that’s why we missed the real nature of the “Arab Spring,” the rise of ISIS, and Russia’s determination to team up with Iran to keep Bashar al-Assad in power.) Harris didn’t take the hint, however, which forced Pompeo to become a little more blunt: …

 

 

January 15, 2017 – FOREIGN POLICY

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

We take this occasion to examine some of the issues facing Donald Trump when he turns away from domestic concerns. Using Henry Kissinger’s ideas about foreign policy, historian Niall Ferguson applies some structure to how we might view the world and our position in it. 

… Let us begin with the geopolitical landscape that Trump inherits from his predecessor. In his most recent book World Order (2014), Kissinger argues that the world is in a parlous condition verging on international anarchy. This is not only because of shifts in the material balance of power from West to East, but also because the legitimacy of the postwar world order is being challenged. Four competing visions of world order—the European-Westphalian, the Islamic, the Chinese, and the American—are each in varying stages of metamorphosis, if not decay. Consequently, real legitimacy inheres broadly in none of these visions. The emergent properties of the new world disorder are the formation of “regional blocs” with incompatible worldviews.1 These, he fears, are likely to rub up against one another in a way that escalates: “A struggle between regions could be even more destructive than the struggle between nations has been.”2

Contrary to those who claim the world has transcended any prospect of major systemic war, Kissinger argues that the contemporary global context is highly flammable. There is a profound tension between economic globalization and the political persistence of the nation-state, which the 2008 financial crisis laid bare. Second, we are acquiescing in the proliferation of nuclear weapons far beyond the Cold War “club.” We also have the new realm of cyberwarfare, a novel version of Hobbes’s “state of nature.” 3 Here and in his recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, as well as in private conversations with his biographer,4 Kissinger has outlined four scenarios he regards as the most likely catalysts for a large-scale conflict: …

… Donald Trump therefore enters the Oval Office with an underestimated advantage. Obama’s foreign policy has been a failure, most obviously in the Middle East, where the smoldering ruin that is Syria—not to mention Iraq and Libya—attests to the fundamental naivety of his approach, dating all the way back to the 2009 Cairo speech. The President came to believe he had an ingenious strategy to establish geopolitical balance between Sunni and Shi’a. But by treating America’s Arab friends with open disdain, while cutting a nuclear deal with Iran that has left Tehran free to wage proxy wars across the region, Obama has achieved not peace but a fractal geometry of conflict and a frightening, possibly nuclear, arms race. At the same time, he has allowed Russia to become a major player in the Middle East for the first time since Kissinger squeezed the Soviets out of Egypt in the 1972-79 period. The death toll in the Syrian war now approaches half a million; who knows how much higher it will rise between now and Inauguration Day?

Meanwhile, global terrorism has surged under Obama. …

… The “Obama Doctrine” has failed in Europe, too, where English voters opted to leave the EU in defiance of the President’s threats, and where the German leadership he recently praised has delivered, first, an unnecessarily protracted financial crisis in the European periphery and, second, a disastrous influx to the core of migrants, some but not all of them refugees from a region that Europe had intervened in just enough to exacerbate its instability. The President has also failed in eastern Europe, where not only has Ukraine been invaded and Crimea annexed, but also Hungary and now Poland have opted to deviate sharply from the President’s liberal “arc of history.” Finally, his foreign policy has failed in Asia, where little remains of the much-vaunted pivot. “If you look at how we’ve operated in the South China Sea,” the President boasted in an interview published in March, “we have been able to mobilize most of Asia to isolate China in ways that have surprised China, frankly, and have very much served our interest in strengthening our alliances.”11 The new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, apparently did not receive this memorandum. In October he went to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to announce his “separation from the United States.”

All of this means that merely by changing Obama’s foreign policy President Trump is likely to achieve at least some success. The question is, how exactly should he go about this change? …

… who should serve as Donald Trump’s strategic role model? Although his name did not come up in Kissinger’s interview with Goldberg, there is an obvious answer, clearly articulated in the former Secretary of State’s classic work of synthesis, Diplomacy. That answer is Theodore Roosevelt, the antithesis of Woodrow Wilson, Kissinger’s bête noire.

“Roosevelt,” wrote Kissinger, “started from the premise that the United States was a power like any other, not a singular incarnation of virtue. If its interests collided with those of other countries, America had the obligation to draw on its strength to prevail.”13 Roosevelt did not build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, but he did formulate the “Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the right of the United States to exercise “however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of . . . wrong-doing or impotence . . . an international police power” in Latin America and the Caribbean. That principle became the basis for interventions in Haiti, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba—and for the acquisition of the territory on which the Panama Canal was constructed: one of the great infrastructure projects of the early 1900s.

Moreover, Roosevelt was dismissive of liberal designs such as multilateral disarmament and collective security, enthusiasms not only of Woodrow Wilson but of the three-times-defeated Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan: …

… He called for legislation to exclude and deport anarchists—legislation duly passed by Congress and signed into law in March 1903. Today, for anarchism read radical Islam.

In a speech he gave in St. Louis in May 1916, Roosevelt summed up his views on immigration in language that resonates today, a century later. “If the American has the right stuff in him, I care not a snap of my fingers whether he is Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant,” he declared. “But unless the immigrant becomes in good faith an American and nothing else, then he is out of place in this country, and the sooner he leaves the better.” The target of Roosevelt’s rhetoric was the wartime habit of accentuating the identities and supposedly divided loyalties of “Irish-Americans” and “German-Americans.” The context was different, but the issue is as relevant today, when Islamists assert that American Muslims owe a higher loyalty to their religion, if not to the caliphate.23 “Our duty,” Roosevelt said,

… is to the United States. This duty should constrain us . . . to treat the other nations primarily according to the way such treatment serves American interests. . . . The attempt to keep . . . a half citizenship, with a divided loyalty, split between devotion to the land in which they were born and which their children are to dwell, and the land from which their fathers came . . . is certain to breed a spirit of bitterness and prejudice and dislike between great bodies of our citizens.24 …

If it is this spirit that animates the Trump Administration, then its new order will not be so new, nor altogether so bad as many fear.

  

 

Bret Stephens asks important questions about the “two state solution.”

… Would a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, easing the military burdens on the former and encouraging the latter to address their internal discontents.

Today the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the existence of a Jewish state. As for the rest of the neighborhood, Israel has diplomatic relations with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, and has reached pragmatic accommodations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

What about the interests of Palestinians? Aren’t they entitled to a state?

Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans—all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood?

If so, what gives Palestinians the preferential claim? Have they waited longer than the Kurds? No: Kurdish national claims stretch for centuries, not decades. Have they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media. Have they been persecuted more harshly than the Rohingya? Not even close.

Set the comparisons aside. Would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people?

That’s a more subjective judgment. But a telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the PalestinianCenter for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state. …

January 11, 2017 – GONNA BE FUN

Click on WORD or PDF for full content

WORD

PDF

Watching Kellyanne Conway duke it out with Chris Cuomo on CNN last Friday morning, it became clear the start of the Trump presidency will be fun. If they don’t stumble too much, the fun could last a long time. Watching people who’s ideas we detest going batty is worth the price of admission.

Here’s an article in Media-ite on the Conway/Cuomo rumble.   And you can watch it here.

In a meaty interview that raged on for the better part of twenty minutes this morning, CNN New Day anchor Chris Cuomo sparred with Kellyanne Conway of the Trump campaign on a wide variety of controversies, foremost of which has been the President-elect’s willingness to seemingly discredit our own intelligence community. …

… At one point, when the New Day anchor alleged that Trump was “sheltering Russia,” Conway defiantly shot back, “Don’t you say that again.”

The best part of the hit (in my estimation, anyway) comes when Cuomo repeatedly tried to bait Conway into simply including Russia among those foreign entities that should not hack or interfere with the United States. She refused to name the country on its own, saying instead we reject interference, “by anyone. By anyone. By anyone, Chris, by anyone. By anyone.”

At the conclusion of the interview, Alisyn Camerota quipped, “That was a calorie burner.” Watch above via CNN.

And the morning after Meryl Streep lectured the deplorables, Conway laid into the actress. Story from The Daily Mail.

Incoming White House advisor Kellyanne Conway has joined President-elect Donald Trump‘s counterattack on Meryl Streep by arguing that if the actress was such an advocate for the disabled, she should have stood up for the special needs man subjected to Torture in video posted on Facebook.

Streep caused a sensation on the airwaves an online when she delivered a blistering speech against Trump while accepting an award at the Golden Globes Sunday night, where she slammed Trump for mocking New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in 2015 at a campaign rally. …

… Conway was having none of it in appearance Monday morning on ‘Fox and Friends,’ and joined President-elect Trump in hitting back at Streep.

‘I’m glad Meryl Streep has such a passion for the disabled because I didn’t hear her weigh in or I didn’t even hear her use her platform last night … to give the shoutout to the mentally challenged boy who last week was tortured live on Facebook for half an hour, by four young African-American adults who were screaming racial and anti-Trump expletives and forcing him to put his head in toilet water,’ she said.

‘So I’d like to hear from her today, if she wants to come and continue her platform on behalf of the disabled,’ Conway continued. …

 

It’s nice to see our folks pushing back and refusing to accept the premises of the left. And it is interesting to see how Trump has set the public face of his administration. Steve Bannon has disappeared as completely as the 15 million people who have given up and left the labor force. It has been left to Conway to be the fighting public face for the time being. In November 2015 we passed along a Bloomberg/Business Week profile of Bannon that is worth looking at again. Here’s the link.

 

A Salena Zito profile on Conway is here. Zito, by the way, is the pundit who, in a September profile of Trump said; “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally”.

Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway’s life has come full circle.

The little girl from Atco, N.J., raised in a collaborative effort by her mother, a grandmother and two aunts, all living under the same roof, now has her mother living in her home, helping her and her husband with their four children.

“Funny how that happened,” she says of her mother moving in after she became Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign manager in August. “It is the way I was raised and, honestly, it really has been amazing.” …

… Conway, the first female campaign manager to win a presidential election, will become “counselor to the president” on Jan. 20, the day Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

Unsurprisingly, she is beaming.

“You want to hear about destiny? I was born Jan. 20, 1967. I will turn 50 years old on Inauguration Day, the day he is sworn in as president,” she says, deadpanning, “Honestly, I think my family is very relieved that they don’t have to think of a party idea.”

It’s a long way from her working-class upbringing in New Jersey’s “Blueberry Capital of the World.”

Yet she remains deeply connected to the blue-collar roots of an Italian family of four women who brought her up on limited financial means and a sense of boundless opportunity.

The Blueberry Princess

 

Conway’s unconventional childhood household “doted on me with everything that is important — love, attention, prayerfulness, patriotism, the value of being more of a giver rather than a taker,” she says.

That last trait sometimes made her a self-denying person early in her career: “Now it makes me have a much more grateful heart in a generous way.”

Her father left when she was around 2 years old; there was no alimony or child support so, at age 26 and with only a high school education, her mother “had to figure it out.”

“So we were middle class, maybe? Somedays I wonder. But it was a wonderful childhood, filled with family and cousins, great story-tellers and a lot of food because, in an Italian family, food is love.” …

… During our hours-long interview, Conway receives many, many texts. It seems likely that a lot of people are trying to contact her, given her position in the transition organization and her frequent appearances on TV news programs.

But actually, the texts are from one person, her daughter Claudia, who really, really wants to get in touch.

Finally, Conway pauses the interview and makes a call to answer her daughter’s question about choir practice at St. Mary’s, then proceeds to send several texts at lightning speed.

“That is the 12-year-old, the headstrong one,” she explains. “You know, when you are a pollster and you get 75 percent agreement on anything, you are thrilled. But when you are a mother, you need 100 percent agreement.”

Claudia, it appears, is the family holdout about moving to Washington. …

 

 

Not afraid to fight back himself, Trump called Schumer the Dems “head clown”. Matthew Continetti wrote on the theme.

Democrats have been in power for so long that they’ve forgotten how to oppose. Their party has been on a roll since 2005 when the botched Social Security reform, the slow bleed of the Iraq war, and Hurricane Katrina sent the Bush administration into a tailspin. The Democrats won the Congress the following year and the White House two years after that. And while they lost the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, Democrats still had the advantage of retaining the White House, a president seemingly immune from criticism, the courts, the bureaucracy, and large portions of the media. The correlation of forces in Washington has weighed heavily in favor of the Democrats for a decade.

No longer. …

… Yes, the first duty of the opposition is to oppose. And I don’t expect the Democrats to roll over for Trump. But I am surprised by their hysterics, and by their race to see who can be the most obnoxious to the new president. They seem to have been caught off guard, to say the least, by their situation. Take for example their willingness to stand on a podium beside a sign that reads, “Make America Sick Again.” By embracing this message, such as it is, the Democrats associated not Trump but themselves with illness. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

It takes time to adjust. The Democrats may be counting on inertia and the media to slow the Republicans down and force them into a defensive crouch. Worked in the past. But here’s the thing about Trump: He doesn’t play defense.

Jeff Jacoby writes on the gurus who got it wrong last year.

2016! Was there ever such a year for making donkeys out of seers? A whole column could be filled with nothing but the names of sages and savants, supposedly adept in the ways of politics, who confidently assured everyone that Donald J. Trump couldn’t possibly win the Republican presidential nomination, let alone be elected president of the United States.

“If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong,” wrote Larry Sabato, whose highly regarded website at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is called Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Peering into his crystal ball on Nov. 7, he saw Hillary Clinton poised to harvest 322 votes in the Electoral College, handily defeating Trump in the next day’s election.

Countless experts made similar predictions. “GOP insiders: Trump can’t win,” read a Politico headline last summer.

 

Turns out the GOP folks have been doing some homework on how to bring the bureaucrats to heel. Story from WaPo.

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to propose amending an appropriations bill to single out a government employee or cut a specific program.

The use of the rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment. At the same time, opponents and supporters agree that the work of 2.1 million civil servants, designed to be insulated from politics, is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.

The revival of the Holman Rule was the brainchild of Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), who is intent on increasing the powers of individual members of Congress to reassign workers as policy demands. …

… Democrats and federal employee unions say the provision, which one called the “Armageddon Rule,” could prove alarming to the federal workforce because it comes in combination with President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the Washington bureaucracy, his call for a freeze on government hiring and his nomination of Cabinet secretaries who in some cases seem to be at odds with the mission of the agencies they would lead.

“This is part of a very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now,” said Maureen Gilman, legislative director for the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees. …

TaxProf writes on what that rule could have meant to the loathsome Lois Lerner.

… The rule would let lawmakers target civil servants who abuse their posts but still have union protections. The rule could, for instance, have been used on former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, locus of the IRS’ intimidation scandal.

While Lerner faced minimal consequences for her wide-ranging role in the scandal — she refused to reveal much of anything to congressional investigators — The Weekly Standard pointed out that she received $129,000 in bonuses and a yearly pension that could top $100,000.

 

Fun everywhere as The Free Beacon reports on the breakdown of Castro’s death jeep.

… While the media will most likely gloss over Castro’s atrocities in Cuba and reflect on his life in a positive light, it is important that people around the world know the truth and learn about the real hero of 2016: Castro’s death jeep.

“Hundreds of thousands of people lined the route, with some traveling long distances and many hours for a glimpse of the modest convoy and the small, flag-draped wooden box containing Mr. Castro’s ashes, which sat in a glass case on a trailer hitched to a military jeep,” The New York Times reported.

On the eighth day of Cuba bidding their goodbyes to Castro, the military jeep that was carrying Castro’s ashes broke down. As a result, Cuban soldiers had no choice but to push the jeep down the road near Moncada Fort in Santiago, Cuba as mourners lined the streets on both sides to take pictures of the jeep as it passed. …