Shall I talk about the top twenty 2017 tweets of President Trump? How about Alvin Kamara’s awesome Santa Cleats which have resulted in a fine by the NFL, delivered in an envelope to the New Orlean’s Saints running back? It looks like those 32 yards he ran for in the Christmas Eve game are going to be the most expensive of his career. Or maybe I should dive right in to Trump’s interview with the NYT in which he says that the Mueller probe:

… makes the country look bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position.

No? How about if instead I talk just for a moment about a wonderful, very talented, very hard-working artist who suddenly left us in September.

Tom Petty.

It was a warm snap, in I think December, in 1979, and I was jogging past the house where the cool people lived in college. The windows to Andy’s room were open and the thunder of Stan Lynch’s opening drum roll turned my head as the opening chords (F#minor, D, and E) of Refugee poured out the open window. I swiveled and kept jogging up the path, through the front door, and up the steps into Andy’s room, and we sat and listened to Tom and the Heartbreakers’ early masterpiece. More were to come of course, but this was the first time when it felt like they really could do anything they set their minds to.

Over the previous year, Andy had made me listen to their first two albums, as he would shake his head and say “I can’t believe they’re not huge!” So that mild December afternoon in 79 was like a confirmation of all the expectations that the few early TP fans in our circles had nourished.

By the time I belatedly saw their 2008 Super Bowl half-time show on Youtube, it was a year or two after the event. Sorry, I haven’t followed Super Bowls religiously for a long time. I watched the opening chords of American Girl and I started weeping. But they were tears of gratitude for all the wonderful music Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have given us. And just to remind everyone, Tom Petty was very much alive and kicking when I got mushy watching the halftime show on Youtube.

I’ll let music critics argue over who the greatest rock bands are. TP and the Heartbreakers were one of the best. Try playing Mike Campbell’s solo in American Girl. It was twenty years ahead of its time. It took punk, post-punk, 80’s big hair, grunge and post-grunge, for guitar solos to catch up to what he did back in 1976. Try playing the guitar-piano combination in the chorus of Here Comes My Girl. Fascinatingly, Tom said in the VHS series on great albums that you had to come from the South to play the riff that floats behind Petty’s vocals and Stan Lynch’s backup vocals.

Try playing that magic handful of chords that Tom plays in Learning to Fly. Try to get that beautiful ache in just your rythm guitar playing. Now try to do it on a Rickenbacker. Not easy, huh? Now sing please.

De Tocqueville writes about the optimism and confidence that he found that women in America were raised into. It’s there in the opening lines to Tom’s song American Girl:

Well she was an American girl, raised on promises

But that would be to ascribe political ends to Tom Petty’s music, which he would probably laugh at a little. I have no idea who he voted for. I don’t care who he voted for. I have no idea what he yelled at his screen when somebody said something on CNN, or MSNBC. Or Fox.

Maybe he read Faulkner. Maybe he had to read Carson McCullers’ a tree a rock a cloud in high school, the way I did. Maybe he was haunted by that story, the way I was. Likely not. Because he was someone who had his own stories to tell and who had the drive , talent and the need to tell them. And that drive and talent would produce a gem of an artist that could only have come from one country.

America and the world are better for Tom Petty’s music. Happy New Year.

The Hezbollah crime syndicate that was let off the hook by pressure and slow-walking or stonewalling by the Obama administration. At least until the Iran Deal was in place.

Next to nothing in mainstream media.

The evidence that is slowly accumulating on the very real possibility that the “insurance policy” FBI agent Peter Strzok mentioned in a text message to then FBI lawyer Lisa Page in a conversation about a meeting almost definitely held in Deputy Director McCabe’s office in the summer of 2016, was quite possibly the very Steele Dossier that they had started to receive at the FBI?

Mainstream media? Next to nothing.

The fact that the House Select Committee on Intelligence is demanding evidence from the FBI and the DOJ to clear up the role that various members of Mueller’s team have played? Now that’s big news. Why?

It’s the anti-Mueller feedback loop!

You guys decry Ben Rhodes for his echo chamber (that was Rhodes’ language by the way: he’s the one who coined the phrase)? Well we’re (CNN’s Brian Stelter to be specific) going to coin a phrase too! And we’ll get Perry Bacon Jr. to write about the evil plan in the wonkish fivethirtyeight’s blog. And use phrases like:

It’s not clear that the anti-Mueller campaign is coordinated, in the sense that Congressional Republicans, White House officals and Fox News executives sat in a room together and planned how to attack Mueller and his team.

Of course not Perry, you’ll just let that image sit uncomfortably in your readers mind as you inevitably make comparisons to Nixon’s attempts to discredit Watergate investigators, because it’s basically the same, right? Sorry this is way worse, right? Russia is involved!

Keep it about process. Imply nefarious motives at every turn. And avoid actually talking about the evidence that Mueller’s team has so far failed to turn up, or at least disclose. And especially avoid talking about the evidence that Mueller’s team appears very much biased in favor of the Democrat Party establishment. Ignore further evidence like:

  • The Steele Dossier it turns out was opposition research paid for by the DNC and Hillary’s campaign and contracted out through Fusion GPS who likely helped leak details of its existence and then of its contents.
  • The evidence in the Dossier is often second or third hand heresay. Andrew McCarthy hi-lites this gem from the Dossier: Another source, apparently Russian, told Steele that an official “close to” Putin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov had confided to “a compatriot” that Igor Diveykin (of the “Internal Political Department” of Putin’s Presidential Administration) had also met with Page in Moscow.
  • And apparently Divekin at that supposed meeting had told Carter Page that Russia had kompromat (compromising material) on both Hillary and Trump so they should make a deal with Russia on sanctions.
  • Follow the bouncing ball: Igor tells a friend of Sergei that he talked to Carter Page. Sergei’s friend tells an unknown Russian. The unknown Russian tells another unknown Russian. Unknown Russian #2 tells Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy. Steele’s dossier then possibly becomes, in part at least, the basis for a FISA court order to surveille Carter Page – perhaps continuing into the transition period.
  • Nellie Ohr, wife of then DOJ associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr, was working for Fusion GPS as a Russia expert, probably on the opposition research being conducted on the Trump campaign. The Ohrs seemed to be friends with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
  • Did James Baker – FBI top lawyer who’s now been reassigned – lead Mother Jones reporter David Corn to the Steele Dossier?

But why talk about any of this? Stick to process. Talk about the anti-Mueller feedback loop and use the word “echo” in your reporting. Never mind careful attention to detail – like Andrew McCarthy at National Review; Byron York at the Washington Examiner; or Josh Meyer at Politico. Even if Meyer covered the Iran Deal rather than the Russia story. Woodward and Bernstein didn’t write a few hot stories about the Watergate investigation. They persistently and over many months wrote a series of detailed articles – with the help of their FBI source – that helped reveal the truth about Watergate.

Because the facts are still being revealed and because some of the key players involved are using stonewalling tactics or partisan posturing – on both sides – it will be a while before the final truth about the Russia story is revealed. But the partisan divide is so strong, that I doubt either side will agree with the other side when the evidence is completely revealed.

In other words, there may never be closure on this, because neither side wants it. Democrats pushed by their base seem to want nothing less than impeachment on the basis of character seeing no real evidence of collusion with Russia has as of yet been revealed.

Republicans are increasingly seeing the Russia story as a Democrat-Hillary scandal rather than as the feared Trump scandal. And they don’t yet want – in their majority at least – for President Trump to fire Mueller. Nixon analogies are inevitable on this point, (Nixon’s firing of key Watergate investigation officials backfired on him), even if these are two very different situations.

So the risk here is that a discredited or unfairly attacked (choose your side) Mueller probe will leak further details about it’s own problems along with further details that may or may not compromise former Trump campaign officials or even Trump administration officials. It will then become a zombie investigation, lacking real integrity but still alive and issuing subpoenas.

That’s a scary thought, but special counsels or special prosecutors in Washington D.C. may just no longer (or ever have been) be a viable way to run an investigation. There may not be any viable, trusted way of running any investigation, in many voters eyes. Because Mueller’s – or Comey’s – worth seems to depend on who he makes life miserable for.

And that is hardly justice.

 

Random Thoughts on Recent Happenings

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

No. 1—The Tax Bill

Buried away in a postage stamp-sized small parcel of this bill was the authorization to –finally!—open up the ANWR region for oil exploration. If you’ve paid attention to this issue over the last, oh, 30 years or so, I don’t have to explain that very tongue-in-cheek reference I made as to the size of the bill.

It’s not going to “ruin the environment.” The existing Alaskan Pipeline hasn’t disrupted your precious caribou nor has it besmirched the Alaskan countryside with all manner of nasty accidents. The irony is that we just may not really need ANWR’s oil at this point. When geological experts first predicted that the ANWR region like held a treasure-trove of billions of barrels of crude oil, fracking had not yet come of age. The world was still getting its oil the old-fashioned way: by drilling down for it, with conventional wells.

Fracking would come of age decades later, with horizontal as well as vertical drilling technology and the ability to drill several miles to reach the oil. Then, by injecting high-pressure water into the fissures of oil-soaked shale rock, the oil is released and able to be recovered. Not as easy and uncomplicated as those simple vertical wells in the Saudi desert, but we’ll take it. Shale fracking’s contribution to the world’s oil supply is directly responsible for the world-wide drop in oil prices that has made your gasoline $2.47/gal today, a far cry from the $4.08/gal you were paying in the pre-fracking days of 2008.

Tapping ANWR’s massive oil reserves will ensure American energy independence for decades to come—oil-based independence. It’s just that with the emergence of EVs like Tesla and the Chevy Bolt, gasoline (oil)-powered cars are on the decline. How long before oil-based transportation is no longer the dominant format? 20 years? 40 years? It’s coming, and fast, so ANWR looms as a less important piece of the American energy puzzle than seemed possible just 20 short years ago. Twenty years ago, no one could have predicted either fracking or EVs. That’s how fast things move.

No. 1a—The Tax Bill

All through its gestation, up to and including its no-Democrats passage, the bill was denounced by its political opponents with every tired, trite, incorrect reason that Democrats always use to criticize any Republican-sponsored tax-reduction bill: It will only benefit the ‘rich,’ the Republicans are doing this only to reward their fat-cat donors, the middle-class gets nothing, it’s a sham, etc., etc. We’ve heard it all before. The only thing more remarkable than the predictable inaccuracy of their criticism is the certainty that Democrats will gladly take the tax relief and pocket it to their own personal benefit. As they should. But wouldn’t we all be impressed to see some liberal business owner give back the 14% break they got from the Gov’t (from 35% down to 21%) on their corporate taxes? To quote every liberal when you back them into a logic-based corner from which there is no escape: “Well, that’s different…..”

No. 2—The Move to Recognize Jerusalem and Nikki Haley’s Shredding of the UN

U.S. Presidents from Clinton onwards have stated with unequivocal certainty that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and America will formally recognize that and move its embassy there. Except that no President, R or D, has had the nerve to actually do so. Don’t want to upset the Palestinians, since obviously the peace process is going so well, all the terror attacks against Israel have stopped and all the Arab/Palestinian organizations have decided to formally accept Israel’s right to exist.

So, Donald Trump announces that the U.S. will move its embassy to Jerusalem, in accordance with long-stated American policy. But because it’s Trump, the liberal media go wild with criticism and condemnation and American Jews—reflexively, incongruously liberal to the core—jump on the “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy let’s criticize Trump” bandwagon. Never mind that Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu applauded the move. American Jews are opposed, and to the liberal American media, that’s what counts.

The UN introduced a resolution denouncing Trump’s move and the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, declaring our recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to be “null and void.”

In response, Nikki Haley, our mince-no-words UN ambassador, said the U.S. will not forget who voted for the resolution. “We’ll be taking names and watching the votes.” The unmistakable implication, of course, was that since the U.S. alone provides over 20% of all UN funding and also props up the economies of dozens of countries around the world with our generous-to-a-fault foreign-aid programs, this aid should no longer be considered automatic in the future.

The American public is generally pretty annoyed by the one-sided way in which the UN takes advantage of America’s generosity and the way the UN has become little more than a self-congratulatory forum for anti-Israel, anti-capitalistic, pro-globalist, pro-socialist platforms. As an organization, the UN does essentially nothing to promote world peace, but it does spend a lot of time and effort promoting countries like Syria and Iran to seats on the Human Rights council.

Haley called them out. But because she’s from the Trump administration, 50% of the American public and 95% of the liberal media will criticize her statements—even though in the privacy of their own thoughts, virtually everyone agrees with her.

About a week ago, writing in National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy rose to the defense of his former profession as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York: a prosecutor in other words. His point was that political bias or passion cannot possibly be a reason for disqualifying a prosecutor or an agent of the FBI. It would set a dangerous precedent. That was on December 6, when his piece was published, and he was referring of course, to Peter Strzok the FBI agent who exchanged around 10,000 text messages with then FBI attorney Lisa Page, some of them very critical of Trump.

McCarthy said this:

Are we now saying that whether a prosecutor or agent is qualified to work on a political-corruption case depends on his or her party affiliation or political convictions? That would be a terrible mistake. It would do more to intrude politics into law enforcement than remove it.

Yes Andy, it sure would. And you suggested in the same article that we should wait to see more evidence. The facts please. Unfortunately, the facts are starting to suggest that it was precisely their political leanings and/or affiliations that seemed to matter whether they were picked to be part of Mueller’s team charged with investigating any possible Russia collusion. In other words, the political test was applied before the team even started. It was already baked into the very process of this increasingly dubious investigation.

Victor Davis Hanson sums up the accumulating evidence against Mueller’s team – One Mueller-Investigation Coincidence Too Many in National Review – and how each individual demonstration of bias, or outright opposition research in the case of Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie, is rationalized away, until the long trail of denial becomes too obvious to wish away or normalize. Like the case of Andrew Weissman – Mueller’s right-hand man in the investigating team – praising Acting AG Sally Yates’ refusal to implement President Trump’s travel ban. In other words, openly praising resistance-like actions that were clearly an act of insubordination as Yates disobeyed her constitutionally-mandated boss, President Trump.

But the fatal piece of evidence (we only have information on around 375 text messages out of a total of about 10,000) is a single text message that reads:

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. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40 …

Peter Strzok sent the text message to Lisa Page. “Andy” is likely Andrew McCabe, the 2nd in command at the FBI . “He” (as in “he gets elected”) could very well refer to Trump, at that time in the heat of the campaign against Hillary. Strzok had texted Page on August 15, 2016 with the message above. But what was Peter Strzok referring to when he wrote “It’s like an insurance policy”? What the hell is “It”?

I can hardly wait to read Byron York’s next column on the matter. He’s been quietly and methodically piecing together the disparate strands of evidence that seems to suggest there may have been a plot from the time Trump was nominated to undermine him. A plot that may turn out to be the real collusion story. Because it sure seems that FBI Agent Peter Strzok was working out ways to make sure Trump would never be elected President of the United States.

But because it may very well involve the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice, working with the DNC, Hillary’s campaign and Fusion GPS; who were working with the Russians through Christopher Steele’s contacts in Moscow, the puzzle will be spread out all over the place in hard to reach places. Places that are protected by government secrecy clauses or by the arrogantly absurd insistence that they can’t reveal the information as successive FBI Directors have been doing, and as Jeff Session’s Department of Justice has been doing. Slow-walking or stone walling Congress.

In his December 6 article, Andrew McCarthy defended the character of prosecutors and agents in general, saying:

If an investigator knows he or she cannot be fair to a suspect, or that the investigator’s participation in the case would create a reasonable perception of bias, the investigator is obliged to recuse himself – and, failing that duty, the supervisor must disqualify the investigator.

And when the investigator knows he (and she in this case) cannot be fair, because the objective of the investigation is to produce a political outcome (the defeat of candidate Trump in the election)? The whole point seems to be not to be fair.

If half of this turns out to be true, it will be the FBI and the DOJ who have shredded their own ethics and credibility. From the inside. That will do enormous damage to America, but it may be unavoidable if we are to have an FBI and DOJ and intel community worthy of voters’ respect and worthy of a reasonable and workable degree of trust that voters place in them in order to see justice done.

Emotional vs. Logical Voting

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

There are often hard dividing lines between the reasons voters favor one party or candidate over another. One on hand, there are the concrete policy and philosophical reasons. Stances on issues such as abortion (euphemistically referred to as “choice”), gun control, illegal immigration, military spending, taxation, fossil fuel development vs. environmental considerations, and demographically-based hiring/admission issues are generally make-or-break factors in determining whether an informed voter does or does not support a particular candidate or party. It’s hard to vote against a strongly-held conviction.

On the other hand, many times people vote contrary to their basic convictions and beliefs simply because of emotional or egotistical conflicts. People often can’t bring themselves to vote for a candidate or party with whom they’ve had a long-standing emotional conflict or personal aversion. In particular, many seemingly intelligent, thoughtful people vote against their own interests when they support liberal Democratic candidates, contrary to the way they lead their own lives.

Granted, some percentage of Democratic voters are True Believers of liberal mantra, non-hypocritical followers of their chosen life philosophy. They walk their talk and for that, deserve a measure of unambiguous respect for their personal integrity.

However, many Democratic voters seem to vote more along emotional “rooting for a team” or “everyone I know has always voted this way” lines than by a purely logical analysis of which party platform most closely aligns with their life’s outlook. Many liberals simply find conservatives repulsive on an emotional/personal level and could never bring themselves to vote for them.

The Joy Behars of the world will never vote for the Donald Trumps of the world. The use of the name “Trump” here is merely a stereotype of the manner in which many liberals view many conservatives: middle-aged, white, male, cold-hearted, rough-edged, overly militaristic, still caught in the “old way” of thinking about women-minorities-gender issues, too pro-business, anti-environment, etc. Even if the Trumps were in virtually total agreement with all their positions, the Behars would then re-state their own positions so as to fabricate some technical difference between themselves and “Trump” and provide a publicly-defensible rationale to not support the conservative. The personal revulsion and loathing that a Behar feels for a Trump completely overrides any chance whatsoever of voting for a Trump under any circumstances for any reason. It’ll never happen, ever.

There are many basic beliefs that most people share that could be considered “conservative” in nature. These include:

  1. Hiring/advancement in professional endeavors or admission/attainment of scholastic grades should be based primarily on merit in most cases.

 

  1. Related to the above, as long as your company is abiding by Government-mandated minimum wage and employee safety requirements, you, as the owner, are free to offer whatever compensation and benefits you see fit. It’s your company.

 

  1. There needs to be a certain respect and decorum to public behavior, not “anything goes.” This is also known as the ‘7-80’ rule: If you’d cringe at your 7-yr old child or 80-yr old parent/grandparent hearing/seeing it, then the situation should be managed such that there is a reduced likelihood of that happening. You know these situations when you encounter them—don’t be obtuse.

 

  1. The populace should be orderly and law-abiding under normal circumstances and the presumption going in is that law enforcement/public safety personnel are there to assist and protect us, not oppress us.

 

  1. The country should have sufficient military forces to carry out its security obligations, without those activities being limited by the availability of forces or funding. The limit should be based on the appropriateness of such action as supported/denied by public and/or political will—not because we ‘don’t have it’ or ‘can’t afford it.’

 

  1. Environmental considerations should reflect a sane, rational balance between preserving our surroundings and contributing to a comfortable life. The two are not mutually exclusive. Most would agree that the decision to not divert river water for crop irrigation in CA—thereby putting life-long farmers out of business, eliminating employment for thousands of workers and curtailing the nation’s food supply for the sake of protecting the snail darter—does not constitute a “sane, rational” balance.

 

  1. The Federal Government should not impose arbitrary limits on personal success or the attainment of personal wealth, regardless of the lawfully-compliant manner by which that success or wealth is attained. It’s no one’s business but your own.

 

  1. The Federal Government should not impose limits on or restrict the ownership of acceptable (non-automatic) firearms for sporting or defensive use among citizens who have demonstrated that they meet specified legal background and mental stability requirements.

 

  1. Government should have an even-handed approach to the public display/practice of religion. One of this country’s founding tenets was the freedom of religious expression, which also includes the freedom of no expression and non-belief. But there is no implicit freedom from expression or from non-expression. As long as both sides are reasonable, non-intrusive and non-coercive in their activities, the public expression/non-expression of religion is fully protected.

 

There are many more, but in the interests of space and time, we’ll limit the list to the ones above. Yet even though many Democrats agree with these, they vote against them—and therefore against their own interests and beliefs in the process.

 

Which brings us back to the question—why?

 

There are four big reasons:

  1. The Democrats are their “team,” win or lose. Like watching the Red Sox struggle through their 1918-2004 86 years of futility, a life-long supporter of a particular political party is unlikely to break a long-standing emotional tie with that party. There are regional, cultural and personal things in play and maybe other factors as well. An “oh-so-sophisticated” secular Democratic Northeasterner, for example, may well feel an instinctive aversion to the clichéd image of a Southern-drawled bible-belt Evangelist, even if many of their overriding beliefs and philosophies overlap. Imprecise emotional reasons may be very difficult to identify and even harder to admit, but they are certainly a major causal factor. Donald Trumps’ raw-edged, too-direct personality rubs demure, elite coastal Liberals the wrong way, even if deep down in the private, never-admitted, nether regions of their own thoughts, they agree with many of his policy approaches.

 

  1. The abortion factor. Regardless of how many “subordinate” issues and philosophies a liberal might have in common with a conservative, no economic or employment or educational or national security issue will ever overcome a liberal’s strongly-held support-to-their-dying-day allegiance to abortion. To a liberal who supports anytime/anywhere/any reason abortion (which is not all liberals, but many of them), this issue supersedes all. Their personal sense of conscience or morality is outweighed and easily rationalized away by the degree of public humiliation or financial/societal hardship they’d suffer because of an “inconvenient” pregnancy. This humiliation and sense of inconvenience/interruption can and does affect Democrats at every stage in life—the single person of child-bearing age for any of several quite obvious reasons, a couple (whether married or not), the parent or grandparent or family friend or aunt/uncles, etc. who’d be ashamed or humiliated or embarrassed at this young person’s “predicament,” and how it reflected back on/impacted them.

 

Better to just “get rid of the problem” before anyone finds out, before it costs us real long-term money and before it upsets the applecart of our lives. No one needs to know and then we can just go on as if nothing happened. No one will be the wiser. Die-hard abortion advocates can and do make that trade every day—no other considerations, moral or otherwise, ever enter their thoughts. This is not a discussion about the pros and cons of abortion; it’s simply an observation of how that issue influences a liberal’s vote.

 

  1. The “But that’s the way my family has always voted” reason. This is peripherally related to 1., but is not the same. Whereas 1. is a regional/cultural/geographic thing (“I’ll never align myself with those redneck Southern hicks”), this one is more ethnic than regional. It’s especially true among Jewish voters, who tend to vote liberal/Democrat, regardless of where they live geographically. Jewish = Democrat, 85% of the time. “My family has always voted that way and I just can’t make my hand reach for the R lever. It feels disloyal, as if my grandmother is looking down from heaven and wincing.”

 

But Gram, the Republicans have a better foreign policy for Israel these days, and….

Ahh, Lester, policy-schmalicy, you know better……..

 

Ask a Jew to betray his late Grandmother’s expectations and memory. Can’t be done.

 

  1. The “Do as I say, but I’ve already got mine so it doesn’t apply to me” reason. For those of you old enough to remember politics in the 1960’s, this was known as the Limousine Liberal. People like Al Gore or Barbara Streisand preaching about climate/environmental issues, while they lead wildly excessive energy-wasteful lives are the modern-day examples of that.

 

A lifelong Democratic friend of mine who lives in CT—an individual entrepreneur whose own intrepid ambition and intelligence has netted him a well-deserved personal fortune (he’s sure happy about “reason g” above!)—says, “Sure, I’m happy to pay higher taxes, I can afford it. They should raise the taxes on everyone so there’s more to spread around.” Really? He might not feel so agreeable about higher taxes being the cure-all if he was not so well off. But since higher taxation won’t negatively impact him, he’s all too eager to impose it on others.

Whether it’s skirting environmental requirements and personal responsibility because of special privilege or getting their child into a favored school because the strings they can pull circumvent the usual affirmative-action quotas that apply to everyone else, or having personal bodyguards “packing heat” while they look to diminish others’ gun rights, it all falls under the umbrella of “Liberal Positions I’ll Support as Long as They Don’t Apply to or Negatively Impact Me.”

All four sections above are powerful and real reasons why many liberals will never vote conservative in spite of their de-facto support of many conservative positions. Emotionally/egotistically hamstrung Democratic voters will never admit to agreeing with anything conservative (“I don’t care what his positions are, I just don’t like him—he’s so…so… creepy) and will never have the emotional courage or intellectual honesty to change their “automatic Democrat” voting stance, even in the face of unequivocal factual information.

Actually, to a die-hard liberal Democrat, no facts are “unequivocal.” They’re all comfortably “relative,” subject to denial-on-a-whim, outright rejection and convenient re-interpretation, all for the purpose of fitting into a pre-determined liberal Democratic voting rationalization.

Yes Roy, God is in control. If I may quote the good book:

A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Good Lord directeth his steps

Proverbs 16:9

Many of those telling you to fight on can quote the Bible with far more facility than a rather unchurched conservative like me, admittedly. And there is an abundance of quotes therein. And many of them that support you are understandably alarmed by Doug Jones’ view on a woman’s right to abortion. But having Doug Jones as Alabama’s next junior senator will not change Roe v. Wade one iota.

Yes, the Senate advises and consents to SCOTUS appointments; but having you, Roy, in the Senate wouldn’t have necessarily made it any easier for President Trump to get anything done, including appointing another Justice should someone like Ginsburg or Kennedy finally retire. The Supreme Court of the United States will, perhaps, take on Roe v. Wade at some point in the future. Perhaps. Perhaps not, or not for a long while yet. On the other hand, any investigation into Planned Parenthood’s resale of baby parts is a far more important battle for pro-life proponents at this point in time. And that does not require Roy Moore in the Senate.

Because the battle for life is cultural above all, and how that pre-political culture works its way into the judicial decision making process. Did I say pre-political? Sorry. The pre-anything is political in today’s fevered progressive/radical worldview. So the battle is literally in the streets and homes, not in the court room. In other words, until life is truly valued in a clear majority of society at large, it will be next to impossible to overturn what is considered settled law by many in the judiciary and also considered settled law by a slim but solid majority in the Supreme Court.

President Trump kept his distance from you then winked at you across the poker table during the last hand, and put all his chips on you. He lost. You lost. Now the Democrats are quickly filling in the details on the jackpot narrative they will steamroll through and over and around mainstream media.

  • First step: Expel Franken and Conyers and proudly contrast yourself with the Republicans.
  • Second step: Paint the GOP as the party of sexual abusers, precisely because of your example Roy. Although Congress and state and local legislatures are likely filled with examples from both sides of the aisle. We’ll see about that.
  • Third step: Make sure the media revisits Trump’s own accusers from last year’s presidential campaign.
  • Fourth step: Have over 50 female members of the House Democratic Caucus demand an investigation into accusations of harrassment or abuse by President Trump from years gone by.
  • Fifth step: If the Russia probe fizzles even on its obstruction of justice charges against Flynn and potentially President Trump, use the newly commissioned sexual abuse probe to try and impeach Trump. Strike while the iron of outrage is melting hot.
  • Sixth step: Accuse now-President Pence of being oppressive in his views towards women because he’s a practising Christian who doesn’t party without his wife. And who’s idea of a party is likely a quiet get together with his family.
  • Seventh step: Get Hillary to shut up and shame America into electing Kamala Harris in 2020.

Long term strategies seem impossible in the current political climate but that’s more a reflection of the daily outrage/controversy that’s keeping profits nicely plump at large media groups. But longer-term strategies are being planned and will at least be attempted. You can bet the Democratic war rooms are basically working on something like the list above.

So do you concede or don’t you Roy? The twenty odd thousand write-in votes are almost identical to Doug Jones’ margin of victory. Perhaps the election will be clearer once the write-in votes are all counted. If the write-in votes narrow the margin enough to bring it to 0.5% then it seems your state’s electoral laws will allow a recount. I will assume that any concession speech from you, Roy, will have to wait. But keep in mind a proverb or two. You might need to reflect on them fairly soon.

I’ve Got Good News and I’ve Got Bad News

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There are lots of important stories in the news every day, but the truly fascinating thing is way that they’re covered and the positive/negative spin that’s assigned to the major political groups.

Economic news is certainly a significant political football. The party out of power generally hates it when things are going well in the economy. If the economy is good, there is a far greater likelihood that people have a job and are providing for their family or themselves. Pocketbook issues are by far the most important to the average voter; everything besides a job is merely a theoretical intellectual indulgence. If you’re paying your rent, buying clothes and food, making car payments, sending the kids to college and perhaps even saving a little for retirement, then all is right with the world. Only when those boxes are checked do people enjoy the luxury of worrying about things like global warming, gay/trans rights, Supreme Court rulings and whether or not we use military force to settle a conflict in some overseas backwater.

Economic activity—whether it’s consumer spending by individuals or investment/capital outlays by major corporations—depends in large part on their perceptions and expectations of current and future economic conditions. If entities have reason to believe that economic conditions are solid and stable (and likely to stay good for the foreseeable future), then they spend and invest with confidence. Retail activity is high. Investment in equipment and systems increases. Home and car buying is strong. Factories are busy. Employment is high. It’s a matter of perception and expectations.

Given the political importance of the economy, it’s little wonder that political combatants have such a strong vested interest in portraying the economy—good or bad—to their electoral benefit. All the participants play their role: the politicians themselves will criticize or praise cherry-picked aspects of the economy to their liking. Their media allies will support or oppose those positions as expected.

There is a story—urban legend, its verity unprovable at this point in retrospect—from around 2006. A cable TV reporter was interviewing a Democratic operative (perhaps James Carville) about the upcoming Christmas shopping season. The reporter said, “Wouldn’t it be great for the country if we had strong holiday sales this year?”

To which Carville replied in his distinctive Southern drawl, “I don’t cay-ahh what’s good for the country! I cay-ahh what’s good for the Democratic Party!” Whether or not it was specifically Carville in exactly 2006 is unimportant. The sentiment is unerringly accurate.

This brings us to a major aspect of today’s economy and how the media and competing politicians react to it: the stock market.

Competing political interests—which includes the media— will either extol or berate the markets’ performance, depending on how it serves their political purposes. When the markets weaken, the out-of-power party is very quick to point out the loss of wealth in the average person’s retirement account or the potential default on a life-long city worker’s pension and claim that the party holding office doesn’t care about the “little guy.” When the markets are strong, to the political benefit of the party in power, the opposition tends to either dismiss it as a fluke or, more often, they don’t talk about it at all.

Such is certainly the case now. It’s quite normal and expected that Democratic politicians don’t talk about the stock markets’ excellent performance, since that would redound to the Republicans’ benefit. But the mainstream liberal media are irresponsibly silent on the matter, since the economy—which includes the markets—is a topic that occupies the most important spot in the minds of the average voter. “Irresponsibly” silent, but not “unintentionally” silent. The liberal media’s silence on the stock market is very intentional.

In January 2012 the DJIA was 12,720 and the S&P500 (a broader index of the entire market) was 1315. When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, those figures were 19,827 and 2271 respectively. Today (Dec 4, 2017), they are 24,290 and 2639, an average increase of 92% since January 2012. Incredibly impressive—nearly double in less than six years. Granted, no president is totally responsible for the performance of the market or the economy as a whole, but the market does take its cues from the president’s policies and approach. The business community—including the market—loves certainty and low costs of doing business. When an administration throws unpredictable, inexplicable, politically-motivated regulations and higher taxes in the path of companies, those companies hunker down and play things close to the vest, frightened and unsure of what’s coming next. Hiring and capital investment slows to the bare minimum. This administration, in contrast, has earned the confidence of the business community by rolling back punitive regulations and lowering taxes in a common-sense fashion and it shows in the markets’ performance and the GDP’s growth (finally, consistently above 3%, something that eluded the anti-business Obama administration)..

The current market is definitely gratifying and reassuring to 46-year-old Joe Average who has a retirement 401k with his employer of 17 years. It’s also a brow-wiping “Whew!” to institutional investors whose job it is to keep millions of dollars’ worth of State and Municipal pension funds stable and solvent. This market performance is flat-out good news to anyone who has any financial involvement at all in the markets—which is virtually everyone who has investments or a retirement plan of any kind.

Yet the major liberal media virtually ignore this aspect of the economy (along with the closely-related aspects of strong job creation and low unemployment), simply and transparently because it benefits the Republicans. When the market pendulum swings the other way—and it will, without question—all of a sudden, the markets’ negative performance under a supposed business expert Republican president will be front and center in their news reporting. Right now, the economy—the most important issue to virtually every voter, without a doubt—is doing well, so Democrats and their allies don’t want to touch it. Better for them to obsess over “collusion” or the First Lady’s heels or trying to blame every shooting in America on Republicans.

It’s a nice racket the liberal media have carved out for themselves: Cover only good news for Democrats and only bad news for Republicans.

Any bill that funds the governments business requires 60 votes in the Senate. That means that 60 minus 52 = 8 Democratic Senators will need to sign on to any funding bill the GOP puts forward in the upper chamber. And, unfortunately, it’s wiser to write out the formula rather than say that 8 Democrats will be needed with no further qualifications.

Why?

Because the GOP in the Senate has a hard time agreeing on anything. They miraculously managed to agree on tax reform – but we’ll see how the final bill is shaped by the time it leaves conference and heads to President Trump’s desk for signing.

So Republicans might need more than 8 Democrat senators in order to keep government open if, say, a Susan Collins objects to the demands that Dreamers – the children of illegals and many illegals themselves – not continue to be given the protection that the Obama administration handed them a couple of years ago. But of course, there is also plenty of disagreement on the Democrat side when it comes to how to respond to any funding bill the GOP put forward.

Will Senator Schumer bend to the will of the angry, activist wing of his party and demand that DACA be kept intact in exchange for keeping the government open? In other words: you want to keep government open? Open up the borders and keep them open! That seems to be where these negotiations are heading. DACA is essentially an entitlement – an entitlement to be above the law if you were brought to America illegally as a younger child or if you were born to illegals. And trying to curtail or roll back an entitlement – like Obamacare – has proved impossible at the federal level since LBJ’s Great Society in 1965 brought the modern welfare state into existence.

It’s almost a given that Schumer will take the activist side of the Democratic Party and ignore those senators who are facing re-election in Trump friendly states and whose voters have concerns about DACA. You can imagine Schumer’s and Pelosi’s soundbites: Republicans build walls and elect child molesters! Although the matter of Roy Moore’s election still has to be decided on December 12, but if another stopgap measure is passed and the government funding deadline moved out to December 22, then Chuck and Nancy will have about a week and a half to claim their party are the party of the pure having ejected Conyers and Franken. And then to demand DACA be maintained in exchange for the votes necessary to pass a funding bill.

Never mind that Conyers left with no admission of guilt and appointed his 27 year old son to take his place, and that Franken has barely apologized; why look at that Roy Moore! Imagine Schumer with his arm around a bright university student who happens to be a Dreamer solemnly denouncing the GOP for allowing a predator into their chambers. And no, Chuck will make sure he doesn’t squeeze any cheeks if the Dreamer happens to be cute. This is some of what Moore’s presumed election to the US Senate will bring.

There are never any peaceful moments in this administration. Not even at Christmas.

Tuly Borland is an associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University, apparently located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a little south of Little Rock. Borland has caused a firestorm with an article in The Federalist entitled: Why Alabamians Should Vote for Roy Moore. It will likely infuriate you or just disgust you, or make you very uncomfortable. But if you’re a voter in Alabama, you may possibly agree with at least some of what the professor writes.

Roy Moore is again leading, in perhaps a majority of polls, despite what seem to be very credible allegations that he molested and/or assaulted underage girls. His polling numbers are a fact and it’s (with uncertainty surrounding the exact level of voter support that Moore may or may not have) a fact that will likely impact the Senate, who may very well have to deal with an elected senator that they have from all sides denounced and demanded resign from the race, something Moore has refused to do.

Needless to say, the firestorm has been mostly directed at The Federalist – especially publisher and commentator Ben Domenech – for publishing the article. From Salon to National Review, the denouncements have hailed forth like small artillery, raining down on Domenech and his staff. To his credit, Domenech has defended the reasons for publishing the article: an attempt to understand how in the world Moore could be anywhere close to Jones much less leading in many polls, after a series of sexual assault allegations.

Domenech has stated clearly that he disagrees strongly with Borland’s arguments but he published his article precisely to try and gain insight into local voters’ reasons for still supporting Moore, much of which revolve around Doug Jones’ – Moore’s opponent – support for abortion.

Does Borland’s article do that? That’s hard to tell, because all of us who are not from Alabama cannot presume to know the thought processes going on there. I won’t get into the details of Borland’s article, you can read it if you want, but David French’s response in National Review (Borland was in a way responding to an earlier French article) includes the following:

I’m not urging any person to vote for Doug Jones. I would never vote for a pro-abortion politician. But if you believe this election will make any material difference in the prevalence or legality of abortion; then you need a civic education. In fact, it’s far more likely that electing a man like Moore will damage the pro-life cause.

French advocates voting for third-party candidate, writing someone in, or staying at home. But never voting for someone who may turn out to be a sex-offender. It’s a powerful piece and concludes forcefully. I suggest reading it.

It has been repeatedly said that issues like abortion are decided more on a pre-political, upstream, and cultural basis before they actually get to the courts. Domenech himself has also written that the GOP needs to collapse in order for new political alternatives to take it’s place. Moore’s election may be such a step towards the GOP’s coming collapse, as perhaps Trump’s election also was. In this context the just announced endorsement of Moore by the RNC and Trump’s recent endorsement go directly against the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s stance on Moore. Civil War in Alabama? And D.C?

The Federalist is right that we can’t hide from the issues that Moore’s possible election raises, but perhaps the Federalist might have leavened their unquestionable courage with an editorial disclaimer prefacing Borland’s article. Anxious for the fray indeed.