December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018. Happy New Year!

President Trump's message for 2018

President Trump is predicting a banner 2018:

There's no reason to think that he's going to be wrong. Economically at least the U.S, could conceivably see 4% GDP growth, more record stock market performance, even further jobs growth and even a lower than predicted deficit resulting from a booming economy. It likely will be a year of progress on the border wall, as well as perhaps the U.N. reacting not so negatively to everything America or Israel or else face a funding crisis. More conservative justices are likely to be appointed and government will likely to be trimmed further as far as the president is able to do so autonomously. ANWR drilling and the Obamacare mandate removal are two other victories for the president and for America. From an executive perspective, the president has actually seen a lot of success in 2017 and will likely continue to do so in 2018.

On further legislative victories, the path is a little more difficult. It's an election year and legislative candidates will need to spend time consolidating existing victories and touting that success. They will be reticent to try anything else new so close to an election - not because they don't want further victories but rather how those victories will be turned into horrendous losses by the media. A truly disproportionate swath of the electorate actually, and incorrectly think that the president's tax cuts are going to increase their taxes rather than reduce them. Once the evidence in the form of paychecks come in they will change their minds. But that takes time and after months of hearing how terrible it is going to be, a legislative victory in June might not be absorbed impartially by the electorate before November.

2018 promises to offer an historic opportunity for Republicans to consolidate their strength in the senate and hold congress, setting up 2019 for a huge opportunity to advance a conservative agenda. That requires 2018 to be a sales year. Republicans need to spend the year explaining why they have helped average Americans. The coming year will not be a Democrat wave election. But it does represent a risk for Republicans in that they could very well under-perform on the opportunity they have open to them. 2018 should be the year of President Trump the salesman. Based on his recent tweet, he gets that.  Let's hope Republicans follow suit.

THIS is Global Warming. No joke.

Explanations are at the ready for the recent cold, one scientist going so far as to say that global warming (a.k.a. climate change) will only be delayed by a possible mini-ice-age.  For real.

While this is a micro-level weather event, in a global warming scenario predicted by the likes of Al Gore, this is pretty much impossible:
A long-lived Arctic cold outbreak will remain entrenched across the Plains, Midwest, South and East through the first week of 2018, shattering more daily records and sending wind chills to dangerously cold levels.

The latest batch of Arctic air to arrive in the Lower 48 is gripping parts of the Midwest and East for New Year's weekend. This will be followed by another reinforcing shot of bitterly cold air during the latter half of the week ahead.
It's interesting that embedded within the findings of the mini-ice-age is the notion that no matter what the impact of human activity on global warming the sun always trumps us.

Sunday verse

December 30, 2017

Saturday Learning Series Bonus - Quantum Entanglement in layman's terms

It's science day it seems. Another Saturday Learning Series post today involving  an  explanation of the dilemma of quantum entanglement. Is it magic?

5 Predictions for 2018

1. A robust, and roaring economy:  2017 already set an amazing foundation for the American economy, and therefore the world economy.  That synergy, combined with a new tax bill about to be passed will produce record levels of stock market performance, very strong economic growth and improved personal financial positions for millions of Americans.

Via Fortune magazine:
Looking back on the past year, 2017 may have been the year that the Federal Reserve achieved its “full employment” mandate with the unemployment rate at just 4.1%, the lowest level since December 2000. However, it remains to be seen whether the Federal Reserve can also achieve its second mandate of “price stability.” With inflation up just 1.6% year-on-year, the rate remains below the Fed’s desired target of 2.0%. While the Federal Reserve is projecting three additional rate hikes next year, it will largely be dependent on whether the inflation rate meets expectations. If inflation falls short of the Fed’s stated goals, it’s possible that the hikes will occur at a slower pace than projected. Either way, the financials sector looks poised to eventually benefit from higher rates and less strict regulation.
2. Absolutely no tangible progress from the Mueller probe: Just that.

3. A strong Republican performance in the 2018 midterm elections: Assuming point one holds true, and point two holds true, and the unsustainable level of vitriol and seething anger from the left leading to a petering out of voter enthusiasm on the left, the Republicans will not only hold their ground in the Senate and Congress. They will make some progress and experience some level of gain. It's too early to tell how big that will be but it's even possible that some of the young, impressionable Sanders voters might actually flip over to president Trump's column, or at least sit the election out as they reconsider their entrenched positions.

4. Web dominance: As early as 2018, web commerce will drive a huge number of brick and mortar stores out of the economy. Amazon will begin it's true eclipse of WalMart. Adapt or die will take on a serious level of urgency for small mom and pop shops as well as the WalMarts of the world. Interestingly Amazon might be forced to address anti-competitive concerns by the federal government as early as 2018 as well. How it shakes out is something that will extend beyond 2018 however. It's not clear what

5. Continued Acceleration of Learning Computers:  Recently a neural network, self-learning computer program beat IBM's super-chess program, at chess.  Over 100 games it won 28 games, lost 3 and tied the rest.  It did this by teaching itself chess strategy (having been given only the rules) by playing against itself thousands of times.

That's an impressive accomplishment and we won't see it out in the open but those sort of improvements will continue to accelerate throughout 2018.  McKinsey predicts millions of jobs will disappear over the next decade or so.  McKinsey's predictions should always be taken seriously.  In fact when combining the artificial intelligence self-learning technology combined with automation present an existential challenge to the continued economic growth point made in point one above.

While the economy is robust, there appears to be a fundamental shift in the need for labor.  While some are arguing for a guaranteed income the very notion seems Marxist, but even worse, implausible.  From where is that money supposed to come?  The argument over the next decade will become what to do with the growing millions of people who will not be able to find work.  That's the next big challenge to come.

Saturday Learning Series - Quantum Mechanics

End your year with some mind-bending physics: Quantum mechanics explained by Brian Greene.  Despite the complexity Brian Greene does a good job explaining it. Plus it's easier to understand than Trump Derangement Syndrome.

December 29, 2017

Friday Musical Interlude - Killing for Love remix

Jose Gonzalez' Killing For Love remixed. Just a catchy, anti-anger, anti-violence song.

December 28, 2017

Thursday Biden Bash - nope

I don't think this guy is going to be an issue for Republicans in 2020.  I'm pretty sure the Thursday Biden Bash will be demised for 2018.

December 27, 2017

China's failed lesson learned

Never trust the people to understand the situation and act accordingly.  So says communist China which has apparently started repeating the mistakes of it's past in a localized version of the one child only policy.
SHANGHAI, Dec 26 (Reuters) - China's financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage "big city disease", the cabinet has said.

The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai's masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved.

"By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometres," it said.
Controlled? That's the Orwellian dystopia that anti-establishment Americans realize America doesn't need.

December 26, 2017

Why the Trump administration is right about the U.N.

President Trump's administration has cut back on the disproportionate American share of funding the United Nations as a result, some say, of the U.N. condemnation of the U.S. decision to move it's embassy to Jerusalem.  The cutbacks are really more about wasteful spending.  The recriminations for the recent anti-American and anti-Israel vote are likely still to come.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration is right about the bias at the U.N. Here's why (watch the embedded video at the link if it does not load properly here).

Democrats, please nominate this guy for 2020

If the Democrats nominate Bill De Blasio for the presidential nominee for 2020, they guarantee their loss in the presidential race.  The only problem, a lot of Democrats realize it already.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to believe he is destined for great things. He even traveled to Iowa earlier this month, and although he's flatly denied that he is eyeing a run for president, the mayor has signaled in interviews that his sights are set on much more than just his city.

There's just one problem — many Democrats have no interest in seeing him run. "They think he's smug," Politico writes, adding: "The rap on de Blasio is that he likes to make a lot of noise but doesn't like to do a lot of work, that he has an oversize sense of his own importance."
Nevertheless he could do a lot of damage to other Democrats in the primaries and that in itself is worth the effort.

December 25, 2017

December 24, 2017

Sunday verse, Christmas edition extra

Sunday verse

Instead of a verse today, the movie The Birth of Jesus from 2015.

December 23, 2017

Saturday Learning Series Bonus - Unexplained space stuff

Stuff in space that we just can't explain.

Saturday Learning Series - Clinton Cash

This week a repeat from a previous Saturday Learning Series, but always worth a revisit, the documentary Clinton Cash.

December 22, 2017

Calling out the left with comedy

There are not a huge number of comedians turning the tables on the culture war overlords (i.e. the progressive left). Neel Kolhatkar is someone who does just that.

David Rubin, interviews him.  Here's my second Rubin Report post today, comedy versus the left.

Republican Like Me

Ken Stern (Former CEO of NPR) joined The Rubin Report this week, to talk about intolerance of viewpoints and lack of diversity of thought on the left, his journey from left to right, his evolution on the gun control debate, and more. David Rubin deserves credit for holding interviews like this on a pretty consistent basis.

Stern hasn't actually morphed into a Republican, but he's definitely moved away from the Democratic party and can see merit and flaws in both sides, as he says.  It's apparent when you look at his views on climate change, which are basically unchanged for example, that there's still liberalism in his make-up.  But there's progress and we should be happy that progress is actually possible. If an NPR guy can see points from the right, then we are not just banging our heads against the wall.

Friday Musical Interlude - Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas.

December 21, 2017

Breaking: Ambassador Nikki Haley crushes UN after atrocious vote

The UN today voted to condemn the U.S. for it's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Socialist Pope Decries Bureaucracy

The Guardian has this story:
Pope Francis has rebuked Vatican colleagues in a Christmas message, denouncing the “cancer” of cliques and how bureaucrats can become corrupted by ambition and vanity.

“Reforming Rome is like cleaning the Egyptian sphinxes with a toothbrush,” Francis told cardinals, bishops and priests who work for him on Thursday. “You need patience, dedication and delicacy.”

The pope acknowledged there were competent, loyal and even saintly people working in the Holy See. But others tasked with helping to reform the Vatican’s inefficient and outdated bureaucracy had shown themselves to be not up to the task.
Interesting. Donald Trump was sent to Washington to drain the swamp. Pope Francis dislikes president Trump (as a president at any rate). But now he's faced with his own bureaucratic resistance. I wonder if he sees the irony.

Thursday Biden Bash - Maybe not necessary

There are so many Biden gaffes and foibles that I could run this feature until 2020 in an attempt to point out why he would make a terrible president.  I might not need to do so.  It seems many on the left have soured on good 'ol Joe already.

Take this Huffington Post sample from last month:
But 2020 may not be Biden’s year. While he is better than many other Democrats at offering up economic populism, there are other rising movements for which he isn’t well positioned to be the face of the party.

Clinton lost. And with her defeat went many people’s hope that the nation would finally have its first female president. Afterward, women ― some of whom had supported Clinton and some who did not ― launched a resistance movement to push back on Trump’s policies and get more politically engaged. Record numbers of women are now running for office.

The movement has extended beyond politics. Men in entertainment, media, business and other areas are finally being held accountable for sexist behavior. From former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to producer Harvey Weinstein to comedian Louis C.K., men are losing their jobs after years of having sexually harassed or assaulted women with impunity.

Biden is the wrong guy to bear the standard of any party purporting to speak for the victims of unaccountable power.
The article goes on to talk about Joe Biden's seemingly dismissive treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas SCOTUS hearings. Their point - he's not the right person to win on populism or with women. Possibly true. But if the left is pulling up stumps from camp Biden, then he might have already missed his window and the Thursday Biden Bash might not be necessary. Check back next Thursday and we'll see.

CNN admits Trump tax cuts will make a difference. They're not alone.

Some green shoots of media honesty are starting to appear.  No, the mainstream media has not done an about-face on president Trump.  And don't expect this to take hold more broadly.  But there are some admissions in mainstream media outlets that this tax bill is not so bad.

Via CNN, of all places, this;
Wells Fargo (WFC) and Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) said they plan to hike their company-wide minimum wages to $15 an hour. Other firms including Comcast (CCZ) and AT&T promised $1,000 bonuses.
And this one liner on Boeing via the presidential nemesis network;
The aerospace giant said it will spend $300 million on workers.
CNN is not alone though. Via CBS, this commentary;
...But not all party-line votes are created equal. Obamacare was a fundamental shift in how our government treated health care. It wasn't a debate over how high to set premiums. It was a clash between the fundamental values of the two parties: Collective action v. individual responsibility; government power v. personal choice. It's hard to compromise on core principles.

This tax bill? It's, well, just a tax bill. Yes, it cuts corporate tax rates to 21 percent, but you know who else proposed corporate tax cuts? President Obama. He wanted to cut them to 28 percent. Is that 7-percent gap between the Obama plan and the GOP really "a monstrosity and a danger to the country," as Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer claims? Then again, Mitch McConnell rejected Obama's tax plan, just the way Schumer rejected President Trump's. He said Obama's plan lacked "meaningful bipartisan input."

Like the Obamacare compromise, the GOP's tax bill does quite a few things Democrats usually support. It nearly doubles the standard deduction (from $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers and from $12,700 to $24,000 for joint filers)—which is what most low-income families use, rather than itemizing.
Yes this is coming from a conservative columnist, but the fact that it's even there is interesting. Reality could be starting to creep in and the mainstream media have realized that their rush to oppose anything Trump has possibly led them off a cliff.  Hot Air points out the Washington Post's uh-oh moment.

The realization will not fully set in until it's too late for them to recognize it's an issue for Democrats in 2018, and that's a good thing.

December 20, 2017

Tax Cuts And Jobs Act actually does help the middle class more than the wealthy

Now it's official, the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act is headed to president Trump for signing. The most important thing for Republicans to do is to sell the truth. The truth is important because it's way better for the middle class than it is for the wealthy - despite what the Democrats' and media narrative says about it. So says the federal government's Joint Committee on Taxation which published this:


Notice the rightmost column which shows the percentage tax change by income bracket?  Notice how the higher up the income ladder you get, the lower the tax rate cut gets?

That's the truth, not the popular narrative. 

Control the assumptions, control the outcome

Whether it relates to weather prediction models, polling questions or  even (perhaps especially) "non-partisan" assessments of government budgets, if you control the assumptions, you control the outcome.  Liberals get it, we don't.

I work extensively with statistical models in my day job.  Models can have very strong predictive power if they are created with proper diligence. That means that you must control the assumptions that go into them to avoid creating your own confirmation bias.  If you skew the input variables you skew the outcome accordingly.  For example if you treat a missing value in a row of data as a zero as opposed to ignoring the missing value, you are lowering your overall average and therefore skewing your outcome towards a lower value for that particular income.

Democrats have understood this for decades - controlling "non-partisan" groups in order to control the message that comes out of them to condemn every Republican bill (e.g. the recent tax cuts) and heap praise on every Democrat bill (e.g. Obamacare's fictitious budgetary cost reductions).  They have granted money extensively to scientists to predict weather calamity as a result of global warming, thus incenting them to find problems in order to secure more funding.  Intentionally done or not (it really is intentional), the results are skewed towards the desired outcome.

Democrats have stacked everything in their favor over decades of working their way into positions to do so - not just entertainment, journalism, government bureaucracy but also polling firms, lobbyists and even statistical modelling and supposedly non-partisan  organizations.  The trick in the latter is to find a gullible but well-intentioned Republican to co-found an organization or co-sponsor a bill in congress so the claim of non-partisan can be applied. Afterwards they ensure that they stack the top positions and teams involved with those who will find, or skew their findings to their own liberal liking.

This is an important lesson for conservatives.  It will take decades but we should be working towards undoing those decades of entrenching bias and deliberately skewed findings just as we should be working towards re-balancing journalism and entertainment and all the way down to the assumptions that go into models and forecasts.  It's not just a matter of voting for the right people and hoping for the best, or leaving it to them to do all the work. Progressives understand this and are fighting this way on all fronts, if conservatives do not fight with the same level of intensity, we are destined to lose despite being on the right side of the truth.

December 19, 2017

Manchin's deceit

Senator Joe Manchin's being disingenuous when he said president Trump had his support but blew it.  He's up for re-election in a red state (West Virginia) in 2018. 

Via Politico:
During the transition last year and several times since, Donald Trump repeatedly pushed Joe Manchin to switch parties and become a Republican, the West Virginia senator revealed in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast.

He said no—“I said, ‘You need more Democrats like me, you don’t need Republicans,’” Manchin explained.

So Trump asked Manchin to support repealing Obamacare, and then the Republican tax bill.

He said no to those, too.
Where's the proof Joe? All people have to look at are your own words and actions. You said you were onside for two different things, you rejected both. End of discussion.

Bloomberg belatedly recognizes Obama's alternative facts on Iran nuclear deal

Everyone with any modicum of intelligence knew that the Iran nuclear deal was horribly bad.  Everyone except president Obama and the mainstream media.  Bloomberg belatedly has figured out the truth; Obama's deal was a bad deal and the American people were being peddled a lie to sell a horrible, horrible deal.

It's not just bad, it's this bad:
When the Obama administration sold its Iran nuclear deal to Congress in 2015, one of its primary arguments was that the agreement was narrow. It lifted only nuclear sanctions. America, President Barack Obama told us, would remain a vigilant foe of Iran's regional predations through sanctions and other means.

Thanks to stunning new reporting from Politico's Josh Meyer, we can now assess these assertions and conclude that they are … well, "alternative facts."

Meyer reports that while the U.S. and other great powers were negotiating a deal to bring transparency to Iran's nuclear program, top officials in Obama's government dismantled a campaign, known as Operation Cassandra, intended to undermine Hezbollah's global drug trafficking and money laundering network.

A few months after the implementation of that bargain in January 2016, Operation Cassandra was ripped apart. Agents were reassigned. Leads and sources dried up. Bad guys got away.
The Politico story is so bad, that yesterday I linked to it but didn't comment because I could not believe how truly terrible it was.  It's getting harder to ignore though that this actually seems to have happened.

70 record Dow closes in one year under president Trump

The  Dow Jones Industrial average (DJIA) has closed 70 times at a record high in 2017, under president Trump - a record year after having risen from just under 20,000 in January to now on the edge of 25,000. A banner first year for the for the president on the stock market front, with a 25% DJIA rise. Impressive

President Trump himself had this to say, via Twitter;

Granted, even Trump himself said that the Dow is not the bellweather of the economy. But it most certainly an indicator as well as robust GDP growth and decades-low unemployment. Liberals will say it was a delayed reaction to president Obama's economy. President Obama had eight years to fix things, and they're willing to believe he fixed it in his ninth year. But they are right, it is a delayed reaction to Obama's economy; it's a realization that the Obama economic malaise is over. It's all good news.

Captured for posterity: "Non-partisan" assessment of the Trump tax plan

The Hill quotes a "non-partisan" organization that spells doom and gloom for the that will result from the Trump tax plan.  I'm capturing this from The Hill, because it will be proven wrong:
The GOP tax bill would cost significantly more if tax cuts that are temporary in the legislation are eventually made permanent, according to two new reports.

Most of the bill's changes for individuals sunsets in 2025, even as a cut to the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent is made permanent.

If future Congresses decide to extend the lower tax rates for individuals and families rather than allow them to expire, and also extends other temporary provisions, the bill will end up costing $2 trillion to $2.2 trillion, according to a report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan deficit hawk group.

Even accounting for economic growth, it predicts the bill would add $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion to the debt — bringing debt levels close to 100 percent of the nation's GDP.
Where to begin?  Cutting a budget does not COST anything.  It means collecting less tax  from consumers and producers.  It does not mean the government spends more money.  Quite the contrary, it SHOULD mean that the government is forced to spend less.  It costs the government revenue I supposed - but even that notion is wrong. As has been pointed out, lower taxes means more taxable activity and therefore more tax revenue, not less (see video at the bottom for details).

Most importantly the idea that it is a "Non-partisan" organization is laughable. The "Non-partisan" Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is headed by Maya MacGuineas, a walking establishment-liberal resume if ever there was one;
MacGuineas has run the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget since 2003, and works mainly on issues related to fiscal, tax, economic, and retirement policy. Senator Mark Warner called her "a trusted intermediary"[4] as she has worked with Democratic and Republican lawmakers.[5] She has also been called "an obsessively nonpartisan, data-driven, well-connected champion of...fiscal responsibility."[6]

She has also published a number of articles, including in The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Financial Times and the Los Angeles Times. Once dubbed "an anti-deficit warrior" by The Wall Street Journal[7] and "queen of the deficit scolds" by economist Paul Krugman,[8] MacGuineas has appeared on broadcast news and is often cited by the national press. She also is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal 'Think Tank' feature.

MacGuineas also served on The Washington Post editorial board in the Spring of 2009, where she covered economic and fiscal policy and wrote extensively on the health care reform debate.

She was the Director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation—a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, DC.[9]

Before joining the New America Foundation,[10] MacGuineas worked at the Brookings Institution, the Concord Coalition, and on Wall Street. She has also advised numerous candidates for office from both parties, and works regularly with members of United States Congress on health, economic, tax, and budget policy.

MacGuineas served as a member of the Debt Reduction Task Force[11] at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Everything mentioned there except the debt reduction task force screams liberal, and indicates that anything to do with responsible budgeting is a cover for the liberal agenda.  She's obviously a progressive mole and has been given cover by her organizations seemingly centric title.

But she's not the only one.  The umbrella organization it operates under is rife with far left liberalism. If you follow the trail of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, besides being co-founded by a Republican, it seems to be housed at New America which is clearly, very liberal. Need I go on with the links? Disproving the absurdity of the non-partisan claim is just too easy.

So I'm not buying it.  I'm holding onto the quotes, so that 5 years down the road these people can be pounded with the truth and exposed for the political hacks they really are. 

December 18, 2017

National Review revisited?

Is William F. Buckley rolling over in his grave? I'm not sure, but I doubt he'd be as dismissive of the president as many of his successors.

I have not been back to National Review for well over a year now.  Ever since they climbed aboard the anti-Trump train and were ready to sabotage the nominee out of a supposed purist conservative view reeked of self-serving motivation, not mention stupidity.  No matter how bad they thought a Donald Trump presidency would be, surely at least four years of Hillary Clinton on the heels of an Obama second term would be be truly ruinous for America.

But I have to give the National Review credit.  I went back today and while it seems more split in it's anti-Trump stance, they do give proper voice to the tax reform heading through congress;
The final bill should increase investment, reduce the distortionary effect of tax breaks, and lighten the especially excessive burden that the federal government puts on parents. While the bill is nobody’s idea of perfection, it is nonetheless a solid accomplishment and we are glad that Congress is moving quickly to pass it.

Our 35 percent corporate tax rate has stayed in place for decades as our major trading partners cut their rates. The new tax rate of 21 percent should help us compete better for capital. Allowing businesses to write off the cost of investments more rapidly is another pro-growth win in the bill.
I'm not back to being a National Review regular reader just yet, but I'm willing to give them my eyeballs from time to time and see if they come back to Main Street a little.  After this at least, they've recaptured a sliver of my attention. 

President Trump will win re-election.

Despite the pack of partisan wolves attempting a take down of a duly elected sitting president, things are ticking along quite well for America in president Trump's first year.  The president has done a lot to ensure things will get better in America. President Trump's job approval ratings appear to be rising, despite the blind, bitter hysteria of the mainstream media. Take that George Will.

Meanwhile, what the hell was president Obama up to while in office when he let Hezbollah traffic drugs into America and allow hundreds of millions in money laundering?  That's the real treason.  All of this and Hillary Clinton's civil war will add up to a president Trump re-election and a decent 2018 for the GOP, assuming the tax reform bill gets signed in the next week or so.  Quote me on that.

I've shied away from political predictions in the past, but despite all the talk of a Democratic wave election in 2018, I'm not seeing it at all.  In fact, the Democrats' efforts to torpedo the president since before Day 1, combined with the Republicans' infighting in the senate has actually helped both the president and the GOP.

By delaying tax reform until the eve of 2018, the big rev-up of America's economic engine will happen just in time for the November midterms, instead of a year earlier and having perhaps become the new normal and therefore discounted by election night.  And if that's the case, and jobs and economic growth are in full swing, then a possible Republican expansion in the senate is not only still possible but even likely. And if that's the case imagine what becomes possible between 2018 and 2020 in terms of real reform.

December 17, 2017

Peggy Noonan makes the case for longer term thinking

Peggy Noonan is what you could consider a beltway conservative - old school, establishment-leaning and averse to radical moves to the right.  There's a case to be made that slow and steady is the way to go, regardless of what you think of president Trump. Peggy Noonan makes that case, in a pretty compelling way.  If you want conservative thinking to win out, you need to think about things from a longer term perspective - both looking backward, as well as looking forward. The long view matters.

Right, but also not.
From the perspective of looking backwards, what did president Reagan do right? He communicated intelligently and clearly, and consistently.  What did president Obama do wrong? He tried to move the country too far left, far faster than anyone thought possible.  Ultimately it backfired because the Democrats lost so much power during his presidency. That's not something we want to see under president Trump.  That means being more like Reagan, and less like Trump.

President Trump is in many cases simply trying to undo the damage president Obama caused. But it's not so much 'the what' that Noonan takes issue with ultimately, it's 'the how'.  Her case, even as someone who hopes to see a dramatic change in Washington, is compelling. In fact, it's a case I've made myself in the past, albeit for Canada. Canada ultimately did not grow weary of conservatism but rather of a party that had been in power for 9 years and seemed boring, and without any compelling narrative or momentum.

Noonan's take is not so much about the pace of president Trump's agenda (it's been annoyingly slow after all), but rather the presentation.  Presentation she argues, is important.  We'd be remiss if we dismissed her point without pause to consider it.
In 2018, we have to do better, all of us. We need to improve. In the area of politics this means, in part: sober up, think about the long term, be aware of the impression you’re making, of what people will infer from your statements and actions. So much hinges on the coming year—who is in Congress and what they think they were sent there to do, the results of the Mueller investigation. If the latter finds crimes and the former goes Democratic there will be moves for impeachment in 2019. There will be international crises as always, but 2018 may produce one of unprecedented historical gravity in nuked-up North Korea.

...There is inspiration in the Alabama outcome. To see it in terms of the parties or Steve Bannon is to see it small. The headline to me: American political standards made a comeback. Roy Moore’s loss was not a setback for the GOP; it was a setback for freakishness.
She surmises;
Thirty-three states have U.S. Senate races next year. Primary voters should absorb what happened to Alabama Republicans after they picked Mr. Moore. They took it right in the face. They misjudged their neighbors. They were full of themselves. They rejected the sure victories offered by other contestants and chose a man whom others easily detected as not well-meaning. They weren’t practical or constructive and they didn’t think about the long term. They didn’t, for instance, take into account that there were independents in the state whose support could be gained with the fielding of a more serious Republican.
It's not a trivial point. In politics Vince Lombardi's borrowed point should be a mantra; "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." It comes back to Noonan's point, to get conservative goals accomplished, the GOP must live and thrive beyond just the Trump presidency. To do so, it must continue to win. Roy Moore can be a harbinger of an abrupt halt to the America first agenda, or it can serve as a warning that as conservatives, we need to be smarter about how we vote and whom we support.

To me, that doesn't mean Trump can't be Trump, but rather it should be a little more tempered and honed to be brought into play when necessary. Keep some of your powder dry mister president. As for other candidates, maybe don't be too Trump.  If Trump works for Trump, it doesn't mean that will work for someone else, just as the president Obama approach didn't work well for the Democrats in congress.  Instead Republicans should be themselves, and the best version of themselves.

It also doesn't mean abandoning our goals, only changing our tactics to achieving them. It means our candidates must be palatable to a larger group of voters than just ourselves. It's easier to hold a Republican's feet to the fire than a Democrat's, because a Democratic senator owes a Republican voter nothing whatsoever. Holding Roy Moore's feet to the fire now is pointless because he has no power - he lost. In some ways it means that as conservatives our job does not entail finding the most conservative candidate no matter how unpalatable they may be more broadly, voting for them and then going away until the next election. That approach has failed in Moore's case and in others since the Tea Party's rise. It means, as has often been said, nominating the most conservative, electable, Republican and then to keep the pressure on that they do not succumb to the unrelenting inside the beltway pressure to drift leftward. That means after the election, keeping that Republican representative on notice that we are always watching and will provide unrelenting pressure of our own to keep them on the right path.

Noonan's advice is debatable. After all, Republicans won several elections earlier in the year and Moore is the only real surprise upset of a Republican since president Trump's election. And she takes her conclusions a step too far in my opinion. But the argument is not without it's merits, and we would do well to heed it at least partially. My thinking is that we need pitbulls in congress and the senate, but we need them to be able to come across as Golden Retrievers in the media. Just like Reagan. That's because to affect real change, we need more Republicans in the congress and senate, not less.

Sunday verse

December 16, 2017

The Injustice Department

Via Politico a story on how those within the Justice Department discussed collusion against a Trump electoral victory. Both agents had been part of special counsel Muller's Russia probe, evidence again that highly partisan people are involved in a systemic anti-Trump agenda.
Two FBI agents assigned to the investigation into alleged collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia exchanged text messages referring to the future president as an "idiot," according to copies of messages turned over to Congress Tuesday night by the Justice Department...

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page in August 2016.

It’s unclear who Andy is, but other messages suggest he may be FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He recused himself from Clinton email-related issues one week before the presidential election, but Republican critics have said he should have done so sooner because of his wife’s campaign for the Virginia state senate was supported by Clinton allies...

Shortly after the election, Page suggested Trump might be brought down by scandal.

“Bought all the president’s men,” she wrote. “Figure I needed to brush up on watergate.”
The fact that they have been removed is of zero consolation to those of us who believe this probe is a government-run lynching of a sitting president. They are merely symptomatic of a larger problem and their removal does not address the underlying flaws with the investigation.

Saturday Learning Series - Palestinian Lie

A video from a few years back about the Palestinian Lie.

Paul Krugman's laughable election night economic forecast

NYT economist and blind political partisan Paul Krugman on election night 2016 predicted that the end was nigh for the world economy as a result of Trump's election. So wrong, so wrong.

Krugman's op ed that night included this gem;
It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover?

...If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never...

Now comes the mother of all adverse effects — and what it brings with it is a regime that will be ignorant of economic policy and hostile to any effort to make it work. Effective fiscal support for the Fed? Not a chance. In fact, you can bet that the Fed will lose its independence, and be bullied by cranks.

So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.
Even though I despised president Obama's disastrous economic policy positions, I knew America would survive them for four years, and then begrudgingly eight years. Krugman is so enlightened, he's beyond rational thought.

And today? The DOW is at record highs in response to the tax bill supported by the president. That's not the be-all-end-all of economic success, but it is certainly an important indicator of how the economy is performing.

It's Freedom of association, stupid

YouGov has a poll out indicating that Americans are 'torn' between religious freedom and something they refer to as marriage equality.  It's rife with flaws. First and foremost, this is not a matter of polling, it's a Constitutional matter.  Additionally, polling should never trump common sense even though public opinion often runs counter to basic intuitive logic. That's a formula for mob rule which runs counter to democratic principals (the latter point is a debate for another day).

Here's some of the YouGov findings;
The Supreme Court is wrestling with balancing religious freedom and equal rights in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, deciding whether a baker’s First Amendment religious protections permit him to violate Colorado anti-discrimination regulations and refuse to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Americans are torn, too. But on balance, they seem to come down on the side of religion...

But the more important distinction, perhaps, may be that a plurality sees a violation of the First Amendments religious freedom protections if someone were to be required to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. That is particularly true for Republicans, 74% of whom say this would violate First Amendment religious freedom. 47% of independents also agree, as do one in five Democrats.
While there appears to be a general support for the law, there is a freedom of religion implication that people are not comfortable with embedded in the law. I haven't heard anyone argue this point however; there is also a freedom of association violation within the law.

The Constitution protects both rights, though with association the protection is implicit not explicit;
Clearly, the First Amendment protects the individual rights to freely exercise one’s religion, speak freely, publish freely, peaceably assemble, and petition the government. Technically, the freedom of association is not mentioned. It is sometimes subsumed under the freedom of assembly but usually by limiting it to things such as trade unions and collective bargaining.

Legally, the freedom of association is considered to be a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. In the Supreme Court case of N.A.A.C.P. v. Alabama(1958), a unanimous Court ruled that the NAACP did not have to reveal to the Alabama attorney general the names and addresses of the NAACP members in the state because it would violate the NAACP members’ freedom of association. Writing for the Court, Justice John Marshall Harlan II said in the decision that
immunity from state scrutiny of membership lists … is here so related to the right of members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment. [Alabama] has fallen short of showing a controlling justification for the deterrent effect on the free enjoyment of the right to associate which disclosure of membership lists is likely to have….
Freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the “liberty” ensured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The thing is, if freedom of association is protected, does it not extend to commerce?  Am I not entitled to decide with whom I want to conduct business?  I don't want to engage in commerce with the mafia, can a court order compel me to do so?  If I choose to turn down business I am using my freedom to exclude association with certain people.  Clearly that's a tenuous argument or it would have successfully been put forward before now.  I'm just not sure why there isn't a valid case to be made for the idea.

December 15, 2017

Friday Musical Interlude - The End

In response to Newt Gingrich's dread that the GOP is about to collapse in 2018, today's feature Friday Musical Interlude is The Doors' The End from 1967.

December 13, 2017

Democrat wins in Alabama: This is a real problem

Last night Republican candidate Roy Moore lost the race for the Alabama senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. A Democrat won in Alabama. Time to panic. Well...maybe not. But there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

First, let's get a few things straight (which will be clarified later);
(1) This is not a sea change repudiation of president Trump.
(2) This was a self-inflicted wound by the GOP.
(3)  The Democrats are often a shrewd and always ruthless political machine ready to pounce on any opportunity, or to manufacture one as needed.

What happened? 

Voters in Alabama did not like Roy Moore enough to elect him to the senate.  Roy Moore was not an ideal candidate; the Establishment did not want Moore as their first second or third choice. The Tea Party/#MAGA faction did not want Moore as their first choice either. As a result of a battle between Luther Strange (the establishment's choice) and Mo Brooks (the populist choice). The primary tanked the chances of Brooks after the establishment went all in for Strange, going so far as to enlist president Trump to endorse him during the primary race.

When it came down to Strange and Moore, the people spoke - the establishment has failed Main Street America for decades, so Moore was their reluctant choice over another establishment vessel during the runoff election.  President Trump was dealt a bad hand, forced to endorse Moore in an effort to maintain a 2 seat advantage in the senate. 

The Democrats pounced, digging up either real or fictitious dirt on Moore related to allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior towards women from decades ago that mysteriously arose 30 days before the general election.

The result was a lot of Republicans stayed home and the depressed vote, along with an energized Democrat base was enough for a slim win for the Democrats in the state, and so too the senate.

This was all avoidable. The Republican civil war should be resolved as quickly as possible. The Establishment and the populist/Tea Party/#MAGA faction will have to learn to compromise with each other or else this ridiculous, unneeded loss will be repeated again and again.  The Democrats' civil war might be simmering as well but at the end of the day they fall in line with whomever the winner turns out to be.  And while that sort of toe-the-line mentality is not conducive to the healthy debate of ideas, given the state of affairs within the party,  maybe that's the truce that is necessary.

The truce is vital given that we know how Democrats will take any issue no matter how small or untrue or true it might be, and try to turn it to their political advantage. And they frequently do so quite effectively. This is the real problem.  The GOP may be a big tent, or want to be, and that's a good thing - as long as there is no fighting inside the tent.

December 11, 2017

If you can't win in the court of public opinion...blow something up?

President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He won the election, he represents America in terms of foreign affairs. Some people just cannot handle those facts.  Their solution? Kill people (or try to kill people);
(CNN) An explosion Monday morning at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan is, in the words of Police Commissioner James O'Neill, a "terror-related incident."

The explosion happened on a walkway below ground near 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. The suspect, Akayed Ullah, and three other people were injured.

...Recent Israeli actions in Gaza compelled Ullah to carry out the attack, a law enforcement source said. The suspect was upset, in his words, with the "incursion into Gaza," the source said, but did not elaborate on what incursion he may have been alluding to. Israel launched airstrikes this weekend against what it said were Hamas targets in Gaza after several rockets were fired out of Gaza towards Israel. This came amid widespread protests over President Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Terrorism to promote peace.  If that's all you have got, you have no argument, and you are losing.  Clearly you do not support a peace process either if your solution to a position you do not like, is to respond with violence.

Violence and terrorism have always been the response of groups like Hezbollah, and the PLO and ISIS and even domestic terrorists. This is why they do not deserve a seat at the table because they are talking peace while acting and supporting violence.  Peace cannot ever be had when it is achieved entirely at the expense of one side's well-being.  If you can't compromise, you cannot negotiate peace in good faith.  Period.

However, while there will undoubtedly be violent responses to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, this isn't exactly one of those situations. Notice that CNN throws president Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem into the mix? The connection at this point, is spurious at best and deliberately misleading at worst. The rest of the CNN story regarding motivation, is clearly about Israel and Gaza. CNN is still agenda-molding their stories to suit their own narrative.

December 10, 2017

December 8, 2017

Friday Musical Interlude - For Al Franken

Sweet Sisters version of the Ray Charles staple, Hit The Road Jack.

December 7, 2017

Buh Bye, Franken

Today Al Franken has proffered his resignation from the senate, while taking a swipe at president Trump and also Alabama senate Republican candidate Roy Moore. Yawn.  You were never nearly as enlightened and brilliant as you thought Al. Go away.  You're not a martyr, you're not a genius and you are not relevant politically. You never were. Take refuge in your comedic history instead of your comedic stance on issues.

I for one am ignoring your jabs as you leave, because I really don't care about what you think.  Your party's agenda has been a poison to America and that's more important than you, or Moore or anything else at this point in history.

Oh Jerusalem

The media is once again apoplectic over something president Trump has done.  He's declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That's something previous presidents have promised but not delivered.  Yet the media claim this upends the peace process.

They are referring  to same peace process that has seen no lasting peace in the region really since 1947. How this supposedly derails it when it's been off the rails since forever, isn't clear to me.

They are referring to the change as 'radical' even though it pales in comparison to president Obama's recognition  and attempt to normalize relations with the brutal, communist, dictatorial regime in Cuba.  A change which garnered if anything, praise in the mainstream media.

Israel has always treated Jerusalem as its capital.  Many in the Middle East view Israel as the enemy and used the peace process as a way to stymie anything to do with the nation's interest.  This changes nothing other than letting Israel know that America stands beside its ally.  Pretending to be a neutral peace broker was always a farce.  No country is truly neutral. Yes Switzerland, I'm looking at you.

December 3, 2017

December 2, 2017

I don't think Mitch McConnell gets it

First let me give GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell credit, he got an imperfect but good tax bill passed through the senate. That's no small tax given the slim majority of Republicans and the rogue elements within the party who are more liberal than conservative and a series of failures on Obamacare.  So good job Mitch.


That Obamacare thing got even slightly more irksome after the win because despite the fact that the tax bill removes the healthcare mandate, perhaps choking Obamacare off for good (and how did McConnell get McCain's support on that?), McConnell still had to put his foot in it afterwards;
“Just what the country needs to get growing again,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview after a final burst of negotiation closed in on a nearly $1.5 trillion package that impacts the breadth of American society.

He shrugged off polls finding scant public enthusiasm for the measure, saying the legislation would prove its worth. “Big bills are rarely popular,” he said. “You remember how unpopular ‘Obamacare’ was when it passed?”
That last part sure sounds like someone who has come to terms with Obamacare as being palatable now. So despite the senate victory, I don't think he really gets it. 

Well, maybe he gets some of it:
Back home in Kentucky just hours after the Senate narrowly pushed through the nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill, McConnell predicted that the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system in decades would generate more than enough economic growth to prevent the burgeoning deficits being forecast.

“I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral,” he told reporters. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”
That's true, as this video points out.

But that whole Obamacare comment...Mitch might be so out of touch as to have to go. After the win we should give him a chance to clarify, but the implication of him not getting that is scary.
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