My first question regarding the showdown at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is this:

If you are a CFPB staffer who quickly took Acting Director Mulvaney’s offer of a Dunkin’ Donut and trundled up to his office to partake, will you go on a Democrat black list? Will you find your career as a beltway bureaucrat from now on strangely stymied over and over again by the opaque, clutching hand of the administrative state of which you, until recently, were a proud member?

How does a CFRP staffer accept a donut from the man who called your beloved agency a “sick joke”? How ingratiatingly do you smile and how eagerly do you bite down on the proverbial apple, if you will allow the mixed (up) metaphor?

Because whether you like it or not, you treasonous muncher of sweets, you are and have been in the center of a grand struggle over what the administrative state’s reaches are or should be. And most likely you are perfectly aware of the struggle which has been waged since the CFPB was brought into existence in 2010.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild. She did the wonky academic groundwork as a Harvard Law professor, publishing her work around 2007, on the cusp of the financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession. Senator Warren – as an academic at Harvard, as a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel that was in charge of keeping track of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP), and as a senator, has been pushing for and getting increased regulation of the financial industry. It’s her goal and her baby.

Who has been fiercely critical of Mulvaney whose appointment as an Acting Director of the CFPB has been public news for a few weeks now – the White House knew that ex-CFRP Director Richard Cordray was going to pull a fast one at any time – and which spurned Cordray to do what he did last Friday?

Senator Warren.

Who did recently appointed Deputy Director Leandra English (until Friday she was Cordray’s Chief of Staff at the CFPB) go see on Monday, along with, naturally, Chuck Schumer?

Senator Warren.

The CFPB was put together in a way that was designed to make it as independent of any Congressional oversight as constitutionally possible. Did I say constitutionally? Sorry, sorry. There is at least one case winding it’s way upward that is based on the complaint that the CFPB is not constitutional, given the way it’s Director has broad sweeping powers not typical of an agency.

The specific issue is who has the authority to appoint an Acting Director at the CFPB. There is a conflict between Dodd-Frank and 1998’s Federal Vacancies Reform Act. But both White House counsel and the CFPB’s own legal counsel – General Counsel Mary McLeod – agree that the president has the authority and that the Vacancies Act takes precedence over Dodd-Frank, in this matter. McLeod has published a memo in which she considers the implications of both pieces of legislation and concludes that:

… the statutory language, legislative history, precedent from the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and case law all point to the conclusion that the President may use the Vacancies Reform Act to designate an acting official, even when there is a succession statute under which another official may serve as acting.

On the other hand, contrast General Counsel McLeod’s compelling clarity with Deputy Director (and supposedly Acting Director if you take the Democrat side in this) Leandra English’s lawsuit filed on Sunday:

Ms. English has a clear entitlement to the position of acting director of the CFPB.

Interesting. Leandra English is entitled not necessarily authorized to be Acting Director. Even her own damn lawyers know full well this a political move, not really a constitutional one, although they wish it were. In other words, English should be Acting Director because her heart is in the right place; seated beside her mentor and master Senator Warren.

Should the White House prevail in this appointment tussle over an acting director at an administrative agency, this will mark a key victory in their attempt to roll back the administrative state. This is about way more than donuts, and you know that, you white-mustachioed staffer. Welcome to the right side.

Donald Trump’s Crimes

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

President Trump is indisputably guilty of many crimes against the societal and political norms of this country. These crimes are profound and grievous and they shake the very foundations upon which acceptable Presidential behavior has always been based. His actions and demeanor are so abhorrent and antithetical to the fundamental Progressive doctrine espoused by the Democratic Party and their supporting liberal media that his very presence in the Oval Office is regarded by them as not merely an interim occupational tenure by the opposing party, but as proof of a moment of temporary national insanity from which we may never recover.  A closer look at the worst examples of Trump’s criminality will be instructive for what the country should be on guard for, should we want to avoid such behavior in the future.

Accusation: Denying a Female Access to the Highest Office

Verdict: Guilty

President Trump didn’t get the memo that 2016 was the Year of the First Female President. In a time period where same-sex/transgender rights, glass ceilings, Title IX and the well-publicized/amply documented Republican “War on Women” dominate the gender cultural landscape, Donald Trump had the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to disregard all those signs and campaign as if gender didn’t matter. He campaigned on what he’d do for the country and why America—and American workers—would benefit from a Trump presidency.

During the campaign, he took full advantage of Clinton’s lack of qualifications. As I wrote back in June 2016,

So what exactly, besides her Democratic femaleness, is her candidacy based on? Hard to say. She has no real, tangible accomplishments to point to, either as Secretary of State or NY senator. There are no Clinton Acts. There are no Clinton Accords. She has no military service, no heroism under fire, no great business and/or managerial accomplishments, no outright high-level expertise in any technical or economic or social or scientific field. She’s never started a business or run anything or managed a great number of people or made difficult, fast-paced life-or-death decisions. She gives every impression of being situationally dishonest, opportunistic, loyal only to her own self-advancement.

Candidate Trump ignored the directive that in 2016, America will elect its first woman president. Guilty as charged.

Accusation: Recognizing the Average American’s Desire for Strong Borders and Strict Immigration Policy

Verdict: Guilty

Trump tapped into a strong national craving for a return to immigration fairness and verifiable national sovereignty. Americans are the world’s most generous and compassionate people. The degree to which we help others—whether it’s an international disaster or local charity—is well-documented. Our innate sense of altruism and human kindness is unprecedented. We fight wars to help others gain freedom without taking territory or materials in return. But Trump also recognized that Americans were tired of being taken unfair advantage of, especially with regard to illegal immigration. The financial and social stress placed on average law-abiding citizens to provide monetary benefits, educational opportunities and social privileges to people who broke our laws and came into the country illegally was simply wrong. Americans are eager to help the legitimately needy or those caught in dire circumstances not of their making. But Americans resent being played for fools.

The Big, Beautiful Trump Wall—whether one looks at it metaphorically or literally—was a recognition on his part of the concerns of the average citizen for their government to put the American citizens’ needs and concerns above those who break our laws and violate our sovereignty.

Accusation: Using the Military to Further America’s National Interests

Verdict: Guilty

Unlike the weak-willed Obama administration that drew lines in the sand which were then washed away by the shifting winds of liberal political expediency, Trump strongly punished the Assad regime in Syria with a blunt, untelegraphed cruise missile attack in retaliation for Assad’s repeated crimes against his own people, while simultaneously putting the world on notice that under a Trump administration, America will act forcefully and swiftly—without warning—to protect its vital interests. In a further show of our new-found military/national will, we have flown numerous B-1 Lancer supersonic bomber sorties over South Korea, and have an unprecedented three naval aircraft carrier groups off the Korean coast, demonstrating American military strength and national resolve in service to a critically-important foreign policy objective in a manner unheard of during the Obama years. Indeed, in the eyes of many, it was eight years of weak, inattentive behavior by President Obama that is a root cause of the ever-worsening North Korean nuclear situation.

Additional Crimes

There are certainly other strong examples of President Trump’s transgressions:

  • Being in favor of American fossil fuel development and reinstating the Keystone Pipeline
  • His desire to lower taxes on both individuals and businesses (doesn’t he understand that the successful are supposed to be “punished” with high taxes and their ill-gotten wealth should be redistributed to the favored Democratic victim group-du-jour?)
  • The elimination of many anti-business nanny-state regulations that were intended by Obama to buy the voting affections of various Green and “Social Justice” lobbying groups
  • And of course, Trump’s shamefully disrespectful, “unpresidential” treatment of the liberal mainstream media, as I’d previous outlined.

These multiple examples of guilty behavior are prime reasons that President Trump is spurned with such disdain in the rarefied, haute social orbits of the Progressive intelligentsia. As horrifying and unfathomable as it is to the hard-core Progressive faction, it was exactly such actions and proclamations by candidate Trump that won over the votes of previous Obama supporters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida and gave Trump his commanding, decisive 306-232 electoral-vote triumph. If the radical-left wing of the Democratic Party—whose thoughts and policies unquestionably represent the mainstream positions of their party these days, make no mistake—think that the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Bernie Sanders or former First Lady Michelle Obama are going to woo those decisive voters back into the touchy-feely, anti-business, globalist clutches of the Democratic Party in 2020, they may be in for a very rude awakening indeed.

Sometimes, crime pays.


Around the world, from Colombia to China, from Denmark to South Africa and from New Zealand to Uruguay to Canada, euthanasia, or Physician Assisted Suicide, is now legal. In America there are a handful of states as well, with Oregon as the first one to legalize assisted suicide.

Now the state of Victoria, in Australia, is joining the list. Here’s what former Ozzie Prime Minister Tony Abbot had to say:

Only a morally mixed-up society would approve suicide when it’s doctor assisted and doctors should not be expected to forsake their vocation … this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or who have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong …

Advocates of assisted suicide will say that there is no slippery slope and that a patient’s consent is always assured and carefully monitored and that assisted suicide will never lead to even darker avenues of eliminating suffering in all its forms by eliminating the sufferer.

The fact is it’s far too early to tell despite Oregon’s handful of decades experience with this morbid use of science. But even if we can be sure that no one will needlessly die – which is an absurd belief to have; people are already needlessly dying as revealed by the very disturbing account from Holland of a 40-something married man with kids agreeing to euthanasia due to his depression and alcoholism – this assurance even if it were possible, does not take into account a basic fact.

When someone “assists” you in committing suicide, it’s no longer suicide, it’s murder. And the consent you give is essentially allowing someone else to take your life. It is now a very different matter, because it is no longer the case of a lone individual taking some deliberate physical action that results in their death. Someone else is intervening.

And not just someone else. The full force of the state is behind that physician administering the lethal drug. Now, physician assisted suicide advocates try to make the point that the patient “self-administers” the lethal drug. So apparently it’s no longer euthanasia. Sorry, that’s cutting it a little on the precious side. Who fills the syringe with the lethal drug? Who manufactures the lethal drug? Who transports it, stores it, assures it is of sufficient quality to do what it is designed to do? Who then brings the correct dosage to the area where the patient is to be killed? Who ensures that everything is in order before a patient – perhaps very ill and/or of advanced age – does the nominal final “administering” of the drug?

A whole process is now in place to ensure an efficient way to end a patient’s life. Much like the process to apply the death penalty to a criminal duly convicted of crimes that warrant such a penalty.

We despise pain in our post-modern society because we often don’t have the moral compass to accept and deal with pain. I have trouble even handling a headache without a little pain relief. Never mind broken ribs and weeks and weeks of every agonizing breath keeping you awake at night as in the case of Senator Rand Paul. Never mind the indescribable pain that a terminal cancer patient suffers. So if I were in their shoes, I may very well wish for a quick way out of that debilitating pain.

But by reducing pain and trying to make the world one big safe space – a futile effort even for Scandinavian countries who perhaps are the closest thing the world has to safe space on a big scale – we risk seeing human life, filled with pain and struggle, as itself being an unwanted intrusion. This of course is the view of radical ecologists and environmentalists. And we also no longer see struggle as really worth it. Too painful, too disappointing. Too dangerous. Too risky. We seem to need to reduce life to an omnipresent, suffocating array of rules and regulations to ensure that life is no longer tragic – or painful. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we’re heading.

So as we give thanks for the Puritan’s overwhelming courage in the face of severe winters and starvation and their faith in God and therefore in their own struggles; as we give thanks for the faith that underlay the genius of the founding fathers; as we give thanks for family, for mothers and fathers and sons and daughters; for friendships and for true love, how about we give thanks for life itself which we are blessed with. With all it’s imperfections and with all its pain.

Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authoritarian International is a term now being used to describe how China – and Russia – use their influence, and economic power in China’s case, to support other authoritarian regimes around the world, from Venezuela to Turkey, from the Philippines to Ethiopia. Many of these regimes may have had some form of communist or socialist government or may currently have some form as in Venezuela’s case, but the glue that holds them together is not really marxist economics and ideology but rather strongman rule. A rule that China abstains from condemning on the international stage and a rule which China along with Russia provide military and economic aide to as well as trade ties. Real Clear Politics has a great read on this by Richard Bernstein.

It’s a repudiation of the optimism of the 90’s where it was thought that economic freedom would lead naturally and inevitably, guided by the invisible hand of enlightened self-interest, towards political openness and eventually full democracy. Unfortunately that hasn’t worked out, especially in China’s case where strict one-party rule has accompanied astonishing growth. Yes, at some point the corruption and state-subsidized spending should produce the long-awaited downturn or even crash. But people have been predicting China’s economic collapse for about a decade now.

Which brings us to a rather ugly little episode being followed in the Washington Free Beacon concerning Chinese dissident billionaire Guo Wengui (who has been exposing the very corruption that is undercutting China’s economy) and an interview he gave some time ago to Voice of America’s Chinese language broadcasts. The live interview was cut off in mid stream by senior VOA management and the Chinese VOA journalists (who appear to have been working out of of NYC where Guo is currently living) were suspended and now they have been fired for “insubordination.”

VOA Director Amanda Bennett refused to comment on the matter citing “privacy” concerns. Guess who Bennett is married to? Donald E. Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings which runs an educational publishing business which does a fair bit of business in … China. The fired Chinese VOA ex-employees also claim that VOA has hired James McGregor, a former journalist with close ties to Chinese Politburo heavyweight Wang Qishan.

Look. Everyone and his brother, sister, aunt, and cousin have or are falling over each other to suck up to China and try to actually profit from doing business in that authoritarian state’s enormous consumer market. Some have even made money. But frickin’ Voice of America?! Do they have to join Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and all the rest in kneeling before the Grand Dragon?

It appears that the key event at the start of the 90’s was actually not the fall of the Wall in Berlin. Rather it was a few months earlier in June of 1989 with the Tiananmen Square massacre by army units loyal to China’s ruling communist party, the cardboard mock ups of the Statue of Liberty and the candles crushed under the military might of authoritarianism. So China’s population made a deal with their leaders: they got stunning growth in exchange for the shackles on free expression that were firmly maintained, even as those shackles grew in the sophistication of their methodology.

Those shackles now extend to Voice of America. Rex Tillerson, do you have anything to say? Apparently not. When pressed by Senator Rubio to explain a $4.5 million cut to the semi-official Radio Free Asia’s Mandarin language broadcast, Tillerson said:

I can confirm that to my knowledge, it had nothing to do with our relations with China.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Federal and state gasoline taxes provide a very substantial amount of revenue. In fiscal 2014, the Federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents/gallon delivered over $25 billion dollars to Federal coffers. State gasoline taxes vary from a low of 12.25 cents/gal in AK to 43.88 cents/gal in NY and a whopping 58.20/gal in PA and are balanced as part of the overall state tax ‘pie’ against that state’s property, income, sales and excise taxes. Regardless, the states’ gasoline tax represents a substantial portion of every state budget. Revenues from these local fuel taxes are supposedly earmarked for road/bridge/infrastructure maintenance and improvements, although like all taxes—Federal or local— they simply go into the General Fund, to be dispersed as the Federal or local lawmakers see fit.

No one likes paying taxes, but the gasoline tax was a relatively straightforward, uncomplicated affair from the time state gasoline tax was instituted in 1919 in Oregon and in the Federal 1932 Revenue Act right through the present day. Cars ran on gasoline; taxes were imposed on gasoline to bring in revenue. Unpopular, perhaps, but straightforward and understandable in its implementation.

Now the United States is on the cusp of a revolutionary change in the means of personal and commercial ground-based transportation. In the near-term (25-50 years, at most, according to most experts), cars and trucks not powered by fossil fuels will become a very significant portion of the transportation fleet of the country.

As that happens, the obvious, most oft-discussed effects will be a paradigm shift in the way the United States conducts its foreign policy (no longer beholden to unstable, hostile foreign entities simply as a way to preserve our unfettered access to their crude oil reserves) and the manner in which the absence of oil-derived environmental damage and pollution no longer affect domestic American environmental policies and historical political alliances to anywhere near the same degree as they do now.

Less discussed—if discussed at all—is the dramatic structural change to the mechanism by which both Federal and state governments collect a very major portion of their respective revenue. With no change to the current system of tax collection, oil-based tax revenues will fall precipitously as fossil fuel-powered cars comprise an ever-smaller percentage of the nation’s fleet.

One vague proposal afoot in some states is an unspecified “user” tax, a way of charging drivers for the miles they’ve actually driven, as opposed to the amount of fossil fuel they consume. Currently, drivers of fossil fuel cars subsidize the upkeep of roads and bridges completely for non-fossil-fuel drivers. Those cars use no gasoline; hence their drivers pay no gasoline tax and get a figurative “free ride.”

But how would a miles-based user tax be implemented? Would it be a Federal tax, a State tax or some combination of both? How would the percentages/proportion of user tax vs. gasoline tax be determined? Ostensibly, the total tax on motor vehicles would need to be kept at least equal to what it is now, so states could develop a dependable budget with known revenue sources. What would be the timeframe for bringing mileage user taxes on line and could taxpayers be assured of a commensurate rolling back of gasoline taxes as non-fossil-fuel cars began to dominate?

From a logistical/practical standpoint, how would a mileage user tax be implemented? Would it be similar to the current “Easy Pass” system whereby electronic sensors read a specific car’s transponder and assess the correct fee? Would road tolls be separate from electric fuel-based “road use” taxes or all rolled into one? Would a given car’s transponder indicate that it was a gasoline or non-fossil-fuel vehicle and the toll sensor would automatically dole out the correct fee? An extraordinary increase in the number and location of sensors would be required in order to capture the actual mileage driven by all drivers, even on back roads and side streets. One can only imagine the complexity of such widespread sensor deployment and the opportunity for fraud, unfairness and outright inaccuracy.

What about the relationship between Federal and state “user” fees? Right now, gasoline has a very specific, easily-determined amount of Federal and state taxation: 18.4 cents/gal Federal and whatever amount that particular State charges its motorists. Would a mileage-based user fee work the same way?

Other questions remain: If each state and the federal Government implemented the sensors at a different pace—complete coverage in some states, spotty in others, a highly likely scenario in the short run—how could there be an accurate fee assessment from one state to another as motorists embark on inter-state excursions? If sensor-based fees are tied into credit or debit cards, and are not cash-based, how does such a system allow for delinquent payers, poor credit, and individuals who eschew the use of credit/debit cards altogether?

This entire situation poses huge legislative challenges, many of which are simply unknowable in advance. If a per-mile use tax is deemed to be the way to go, design and installation of that sensor network needs to be put into place now, as opposed to waiting until non-fossil-fuel cars become numerically significant. Given our government’s propensity for being after-the-fact reactive instead of proactively preventative, the probability is extremely high that a huge bureaucratic revenue boondoggle awaits, one that will make the otherwise agreeable transition to non-fossil-fuel-powered transportation quite painful indeed. One thing is for sure: The gasoline tax is soon going to be the wrong way to raise revenue for infrastructure maintenance.

New York City is gripped by an evil fear apparently. Their heroic mayor Bill de Blasio is doing his best to ensure that this evil does not overcome their virtuous defenses. But the evil is apparently not an Uzbek immigrant driving a truck into innocent pedestrians on the Lower East Side, while screaming “alluah akhbar” out the window, just in case anyone on the planet could possibly ever be confused as to his motives for the terror attack.

No. The evil apparently is islamophobia, which all New Yorkers must now be vigilant about. They must bond together against anyone demanding tighter immigration policies. They must not just bond together, they must seek out anyone who is saying anything they deem offensive. Nothing like a terrorist attack to bring out the thought police in full force on social media. Oh, by the way, extreme vetting is fine, according to Mayor de Blasio: But as he says:

We support very thorough vetting – not of groups of people just because they belong to a group.

Ok. So that condition would eliminate any process of rigorous vetting from discriminating against anyone based on what country they come from, or what religion they espouse. For example. Or even what terrorist group they belong to: ISIS, al Qaeda, etc. That’s a mighty big exemption that the mayor is demanding, isn’t it?

But this is what happens when identity politics confronts the reality of extremism based on an ideology – or a virulent interpretation of what a specific faith – Islam – means, in this case. The sanctity of diversity must be maintained. Not necessarily the real diversity that has been flowing and pulsing through America’s daily life for many, many generations. No, this is about an official story, a narrative that must be maintained at all costs. With white-oppressor villains and a glorious rainbow of heroes on the other side, of course. Never mind that the gender-bending diversity of that rainbow gets you thrown off buildings in regions where Sayfullo Saipov’s worldview predominates. Never mind that this worldview is a threat to almost every corner of American political, intellectual, and cultural life. The narrative must be maintained at all costs.

And the most vile of those costs is the death of innocent civilians, caught up by the murderous hatred of terrorism. So NYC Mayor de Blasio has to try and get out in front of President Trump’s demands for extreme vetting. We couldn’t possibly have someone denied entry to America because of their fanatical beliefs. That’s unconstitutional right?

Wrong. The First Amendment and the rest of the constitution applies to American citizens and America herself, as universal as they should be. But those freedoms are not universal. Saipov’s Uzbekistan, for example, is an authoritarian state that denies it’s citizens the very freedoms that allowed him to plan and purchase and carry out the attack on American soil. So how to protect America from these kinds of attacks while respecting the constitution? It can be a tricky balance, but one in which careful vetting has a perfectly legitimate role.

And that’s why extreme vetting is so important. Foreign terrorists are by law treated differently than American terrorists. And the first line of defense is making sure someone from abroad with a questionable background from a country with poor record-keeping, perhaps undercut by corruption, is made to jump through a lot of hoops before gaining his or her first crucial right: the right to legally live and work and study in America.

Islamophobia already has a whole array of institutions lined up to guard against it in Western Democracies and especially in America. How about half of that zeal being put into being reasonably prudent about who is being let into the country?