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?

Who the hell is George Papadopoulos? We’re going to find out it seems. He’s someone who was associated with Trump’s campaign back in 2016, although he doesn’t appear to have been anything like a key player. What he did do, however, was apparently lie to the FBI in January of this year regarding his contacts with Russians or with those who had or have contacts with Russians who may themselves have had or who may have contacts with the Kremlin.

Apparently Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about his contacts with a professor. Who exactly this professor is remains unknown to us mere mortals. Is the professor American? Russian? According to The Washington Examiner he’s an “overseas” professor. Is there a sworn cabal of red-robed journalists who are forbidden to say the word “Russian”? Is he some other nationality? What is his (he seems to be a he but who can tell at this point?) field of expertise and how did this professor happen to have inside information on Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, specifically on the fact that the Russians had information on her emails, as seems to be suggested by the indictment of Manafort?

It’s this promise of information on Hillary’s emails that spurred Papadopoulos to set up or to try to set up meetings between Putin associates and Trump associates. Did he help set up the meeting between Donald Jr., Jared Kushner and Natalia Veselnitskaya? She being the Russian lawyer who was lobbying on behalf of Putin in order to get the Magnitsky Act overturned. A lobbying process that involved Fusion GPS of course, who by the way were initially hired by Paul Singer’s Washington Free Beacon. Is there anyone in Washington, London, Moscow or Caracas who hasn’t hired or worked with Fusion GPS? Just wondering …

So Papadopoulos has been talking to the FBI since at least early October, after having been arrested at Dulles International back in July of this year, and has subsequently pleaded guilty in what must have been some form of plea bargain. If he actually revealed some sort of provable connection between Russia and the Trump campaign then this will presumably come out. If not, then maybe he’s being squeezed to scare others into testifying. Remember it was the lie that jailed Scooter Libby, not anything he actually did or didn’t do.

The series of Russia probes may end up being a rolling series of dramatic announcements with no real compelling case for collusion on the part of Trump’s campaign. The Hillary dossier has now been pushed to the side of the stage, for example, by the indictment of Manafort and Gates. A new announcement will push Manafort and Gates to the sidelines at some point in the future one can fairly safely say. But this circus still has a ways to go.

Until and unless there is a clear decision one way or the other, however, and one that is based on a reasonable view of the evidence, these probes will only deepen the partisan divides across America. But at this point, there’s no turning back.

David French talks about the unbearable weight of grief combined with the sudden thrust into the public spotlight for Gold Star families – those who have lost to combat a son or daughter who were serving in the armed forces. And he rightly says that it is a shame to politicize such an event the way Congresswoman Wilson did in the case of Sergeant La David Johnson. And the way the president responded with a typical Twitter slug fest.

Allow to me to respectfully disagree with David French on certain aspects of what may very well turn out to be a symbolic turning point in not just how we view combat casualties, but how the war on terror itself is viewed.

In the first place it is more than reasonable to ask what the hell those marines were doing in Niger. The answer seems to be twofold.

  • Boko Haram – an Al Qaeda and/or ISIS affiliate – operates in Southern Niger and Northern Nigeria.
  • Nigeria is a major oil producer and should it’s corrupt democracy – with a history of authoritarian governments and military intervention something like various Latin American countries in past decades – fall to radical islamic terror groups like Boko Haram, then those groups will have their hands on at least part of Nigeria’s considerable oil wealth.

Does this mean that the Niger-Nigeria region is at risk of becoming another Syria within a few years? Or a few months? With French, American and possibly Russian forces competing for influence and territory through proxy forces or directly? So yes, it is more than reasonable to politicize Sgt. Johnson’s death. It’s how you politicize it that matters.

That’s why Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford’s press conference was so key. In marked contrast to Defense Secretary Mattis, he promised as much transparency as possible on why Sgt. Johnson and his cohorts – along with Nigerien (that means soldiers from Niger as opposed to Nigerian which of course means from Nigeria) army personnel – were there in Southern (or Southeastern) Niger. In other words, tax payers, voters, and yes Gold Star and other military families deserve to know if America is being pulled into another low-level war in West Africa. As well as more specific details on what went wrong in that ambush by Boko Haram terrorists.

This the key point. The sacred honor that is justly and righteously (in the true and virtuous sense of the word) bestowed on those men and women who give their lives for their nation does not mean that any questions on how and why and who and what Sgt. La David Johnson’s patrol was doing in Niger are somehow inappropriate. It is a great temptation to use that honor as a shield against civilian scrutiny.

Yes, it is a tricky balance. Debating in public the roles of intelligence assets on the ground in places like Niger and Afghanistan and elsewhere, for example, is often impossible for obvious reasons. But America’s military does not need to be stripped of its honor in order to be a little more forthcoming about its multiple engagements around the globe. And President Trump could be a little more creative and diplomatic when it comes to the impossible and thankless job of contacting Gold Star families. And that’s despite the fact that Democrats want to turn the Niger ambush into a Benghazi for the Trump administration. There are better ways to shame Congresswoman Wilson. Just ask your Chief of Staff, Mr. President.

And rather than just give a speech, perhaps George W. Bush could give the president a phone call and share some of the harsh attacks from Gold Star families that he himself had to deal with. It would be more than a gesture. It would be the right thing for Bush 43 to do, regardless of whether President Trump takes his advice or not.

The sacred honor of the military exists to defend freedom of the press and freedom of expression in all its unruly forms. Not the other way around. Even as this ideal is often compromised, it must remain as the guiding principal.

The wall may be coming after all. And it might be solar-powered, as the President has suggested since last summer. And according to an article in The Washington Examiner, prototypes of proposed border walls are being built at the border in the San Diego area. That would include solar panelling in at least some cases.

Unfortunately, the geeky radicals at Vox had to come up with a back of the envelope analysis of whether a border wall with extensive solar panelling could actually pay for itself. Their figures produce an estimate that a fully solar border wall could generate about $300 million annually which wouldn’t really cover the cost of construction (around $10 billion) depending on what time horizon you use to amortize it.

Fools! Don’t they realize the solution? Bring back Elon Musk!

Yes, that’s what President Trump needs to do to ensure the border wall is big, beautiful, and solar. Get Elon Musk to lobby for all sorts of grants and subsidies, money that is hidden far away from the appropriations process and it’s messy Congressional slugfests.

Drape the project in new-age technocratic, green-job-creating hyperbole. Let Musk announce to the world that what in fact President Trump is doing is building the world’s first ever eco-friendly service platform. A multifunctional high-tech platform that is powered by solar. Drones that recharge at Tesla Superchargers. Electric ATV’s that do the same. And all Customs and Border Patrol officials beyond the rank of a Deputy Assistant Commissioner get discounts on their Tesla’s that they drive to and from work. Solar powered e-bracelets as a complementary service to your e-Visa maybe?

And please. Don’t call it a border. Let Elon give a more appropriate name:

The Heliozon! The world’s first 21st century fully functional solar-powered service platform! This will be what the Panama Canal was to the 20th century. Which of course means that President Trump will not only have to sweet talk Elon back into his fold, he will have to make like Elon and work with the Chinese. Let China build, own, and operate a drone producing Fabrication Plant in Arizona. Think of the jobs. Bringing manufacturing back to America, and building the wall!

Or The President can insist that America has the legal, constitutional, moral, and political authority to control and manage its borders and that a wall along much of the southern border is a reasonable, if hardly cheap, solution to the problems of mass illegal immigration. Unfortunately that means he has to work with Congress.

Maybe hiring Elon would actually be easier.

Women being harassed is Hollywood.

Yes Debette Goldry (aka as the very talented and funny Kate McKinnon), it sure seems that way. For some time now. A Vanity Fair article from back in 2003 detailed the very disturbing, and hardly surprising story of Patricia Douglas who was raped by David Ross at a swanky bachelor’s party thrown by MGM apparently.

In 1937.

As the Vanity Fair article recycles through the media again after its initial publication in 2003, it is more than passing curious that the story of a plucky Irish American woman in her early 20’s who fought back and was destroyed by a judicial system in bed (sorry but what other metaphor is possible?) with Hollywood and worthy of a tinpot Latin America narco-dictatorship, aroused little commentary on how true Patricia’s story was in 2003, or 1983, or 1993, or 2013. For example.

All years in which Harvey Weinstein was harassing or assaulting, or possibly raping vulnerable women who were part – the lower part usually – of Hollywood’s structure. I forget who the actress was back in perhaps the 90’s who bluntly stated that the way to get cast in a role was to be someone who the producer or casting director, or whoever, wanted to have sex with. I think she may have used one verb, rather the cautious clause I just wrote.

Had she had to deal with Weinstein himself, or someone of similar predatory instincts? What do you think?

And yes, it is more than possible that as the floodgates open, President Trump may find himself once more in the path of an oncoming rush of women trying to revive possible sexual assault charges against a sitting president. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time.

But here’s the thing. Women being forced to, or intimidated into, or even willingly participating in sex with powerful politicians has been around in D.C. for a long, long, long time. Is it worse now? Perhaps, but it’s hard to tell, because of the legal clout a senator or governor or other powerful politician has at his disposal. It may be that these type of stories see daylight a little more quickly nowadays. Maybe.

So yes, Hillary is beyond hypocrisy on this one. Hands splayed girlishly on Weinstein’s fat chest at some do for the powerful, wealthy and connected. No surprise at that photo. And the West Coast righteous and their several day silence at Harvey’s scandal, Kimmel and the rest. Of course they’re hypocritical. If you’re not, it’s much harder for your predatory instincts and your righteousness to co-exist in Hollywood,

Hypocrisy shouldn’t be the main issue here. The issue should be how cute Harvey looks in an orange jump suit with El Lobo, the tattooed narco thug, eyeing him intensely before shower time.

Yes, that last comment is a bit much. Or should be. But that’s my point. In the culture wars of today, the eventual response to this scandal will be something like hysterically denying white males access to campuses, community centers, heck theatres on Broadway, and even schools where their own kids attend class, in order to root out the obvious cause of cases like Weinstein: white male power.

Instead, how about a justice system that handles sexual assault in all its forms in a reasonable, efficient way that does not make the life of a victim hell on wheels a second time during the trial process. That’s a tough ask with the power of trial lawyers. And on the other hand, how about a justice system that imposes a reasonable restraint on the crazed identity policies of campuses across America?

Another tough ask in today’s culture wars. Because cases of rape have now become another weapon to hurl at the other side.

Bedlam – a Seattle coffee shop – does not want you if you are pro-life. In fact, they will aggressively and abusively hurl insults at you as a form of defense apparently. That is certainly what happened last week when a group of pro-life activists decided to grab some java after putting up posters in the area.

The video of Bedlam owner Ben Borgman going postal and explicit on the group is viral by now and it is a little shocking, but not because it reveals anything surprising – gay sex is an issue that divides and divides deeply in the cultural wars in America and Europe and elsewhere. What is just a touch surprising is to see how it is used as an angry weapon to be thrown in the face of those who you disagree with.

But wait a second. The disagreement was over abortion, and specifically the use of graphic images of fetuses in the material the group was posting. This seems to have been their great sin, according to Borgman. And from this Borgman deduced that they were persons of faith who must oppose gay sex as sinful and gay marriage as wrong as well. So he went on a rant that ended up with him suggesting that he’d love to sodomize Jesus Christ. As well as denouncing the pro-lifers as being led by Satan.

Yes, it’s probably a logical deduction to make, that someone who is pro-life is likely not as tolerant of gay sex or gay marriage as someone who supports Planned Parenthood, for example. But all it takes nowadays is one trigger issue to divide you, in the eyes of the person shouting, on almost every other issue, right down to what neighborhood you choose to live in. And the rage that Bedlam owner Borgman displayed is one that is being directed at the very edifice of Western culture. You’re pro-life, therefore you must be an islamophobic, white supremacist who wants to kill immigrants. Because you put up a poster that (explicitly) denounces abortion as murder. And Columbus was a genocidal murderer while the Aztec culture was practically Buddhist. Jesus is hot and Che Guevara is a saint.

The polls of course show that dividing between so-called white patriarchal culture and everyone else gets a little tricky on issues precisely like abortion. Hispanics in America – many first or second generation immigrants – are more likely to be against many forms of abortion than a coffee shop owner in Seattle might be. But this isn’t how the culture wars work. They work by prying apart rather than finding common ground. As I keep saying, this comes from their roots in Marxist liberation theory, where revolution demands constant raw material in the form of customs, social norms and structures, laws and conventions, all as fodder to be hurled into the mouth of the insatiable behemoth of constant revolution.

So as the left and center celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ernesto Guevara Lynch de la Serna (known to us all as Che Guevara) the ghost of the revolutionary might take comfort that even if nowadays armed guerillas in Latin America are mostly drug smuggling killers, people can still work themselves into a rage over a poster of a fetus. And even if the fact is that if Che were brought back from his grave he’d be in North Korea or Afghanistan trying to kill Americans, a coffeeshop owner can feel proud that he signaled his vice in such a progressively virtuous manner by insulting people of faith.

Will Ben Borgman be summoned by the Washington State Human Rights Commission, as Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips was? Ah, but this is different. Borgman is a cultural warrior, defending a safe space for abortion-friendly non-homophobic, progressive, tax-raising Seattle denizens. And woe betide you if you dare cross into a self-selected neighborhood that does not hold your views. And yes, that works both ways nowadays.

This was another nasty skirmish in today’s cultural wars. Anyone who has any idea when all this might possibly de-escalate, please let the rest of us know.

From the WSJ’s article a couple of days ago we find out this:

Back a year or two ago, some idiot NSA subcontractor (or contractor) took home some key documents or took home a data stick or flash drive and worked on or viewed these documents on his home PC. That meant that the Kaspersky Labs antivirus software running on his machine or even embedded on his machine without his (or her) knowledge, went to work and found something.

What the Kaspersky Labs apparently found were hacking tools the NSA uses as part of it’s cyber surveillance. NSA’s core mission is signals intelligence after all. This raises more than a few problems:

  • Did the Kaspersky Labs software find malware which is indeed how some of NSA’s (perhaps a large part – who knows?) spyware apparently works. In other words, was the antivirus software merely doing it’s job? In which case it would have sent a report back to Kapersky Labs Head Office. In or near Moscow.
  • Who then within Russia’s intel services (the FSB and whoever else does this sort of thing in Russia) managed to access these NSA hacking tools (most likely some form of malware)? Was it an FSB mole discreetly working at Kaspersky, or does someone at FBS HQ merely call up the Russian company and request they hand over the information? Former American intel operators seem divided on this issue, as far as the quotes in Cipher’s recent story go.
  • Do Russia’s intel agencies piggyback Kaspersky’s software through a massive hacking breach? Most experts seem to think this is unlikely. That is, they are more willling to believe that Kaspersky is a willing (or forced) partner at some level – whether directly or through embedded Russian intel personnel. Many of Kaspersky’s employees are precisely former Russian intel people.
  • Who would now be willing to trust Kaspersky’s software on their company’s or institution’s or government agancy’s information systems? The solution that some beltway intel experts seem to be suggesting is that Kaspersky Labs move their base of operations out of Russia. A dramatic move that would seem to be just a touch tricky in Putin’s Russia. You can imagine Kaspersky himself suddenly falling victim to some strange disease and dying quickly on a hospital bed somewher in Western Europe if he was lucky. Or under even more unpleasant circumstances within Russia. Are they being forced to go to cyberwar for Putin just to keep the peace with the Kremlin?

Finally, there are two main questions aside from speculating on how the hack was done:

  • Why the ever fricking loving heck was Kaspersky Labs still being used on information systems belonging to government agencies – some of them intel agencies?? Why did it take so long and such a disastrous leak to force DHS’s hand and make them finally require government agencies to use a more trusted antivirus provider? The reply that Kasperky Labs antivirus software is good, is not a valid answer in this case.
  • If the NSA can’t control – and that would be with “extreme prejudice” to quote Apocalypse Now – their own contractors, how can America’s premier signals intelligence agency be truly effective? Yes, intel agents do occasionally ge turned for various motives, but this was different. A lapse in physical security (no way that contractor should have had those documents on his home PC) combined with a potentially dangerous backdoor, Kapsersky’s software, that intel experts had been worrying about for some time, to produce a disastrous breach. The only surprising thing is that it didn’t happen sooner. Assuming it didn’t and we don’t know about it.

This was a breach that had been just waiting to happen. Now the NSA has to clean up a mess that it’s sloppiness helped make.

So now we all know who Nick Ayers is, even if some GOP establishment types are asking the aggressively rhetorical question: “who the f#ck are you?” But that sneering dismissal barely masks a stunned concern over what the Vice President’s chief of staff told a group of Republican donors at a recent gathering. This is what Nick Ayers said:

If the GOP doesn’t get tax reform and perhaps an infrastructure bill of some sort done over the next few months then you should keep your wallets shut. Even better, go find a primary opponent and open your wallet for them. Better to have a Trump-GOP minority after 2018 than an establishment-GOP minority in Congress.

The crowd laughed and clapped apparently.

Look, the GOP and the Democrats are coming apart at the seams. Right now the focus is on the party in power, as is most understandable. But similar things are happening on the other side of the aisle, if a little more slowly and sporadically. Politically that is. Ideologically, the Democrats are as divided as the Republicans have ever been, but they’re better at avoiding the open display of division that Republicans have become known for. The wildfires have been at full blaze for a couple of years now, and don’t seem to be burning out. So the question is: can the GOP reform it’s way out of this? Or will the centuries old duopoly in American political parties finally crack open and give birth to a lasting third or even fourth party?

Or is this the latter stage of Trumpism’s takeover of the Republican party? Trumpism, not Trump himself, even if the two are mostly the same at this point. With Alabama as a warning that Trumpism may well outlast the man who brought it to the center stage of political life in America. If this is Trumpism’s takeover , then the next midterms become something rather different, as Ayers’ joke implies. It will be about building a base of populist/conservative (yes that’s an uneasy coalition at best) representatives and senators. Not necessarily about winning a bigger majority in the Senate or preserving a clear majority in the House. And like any civil war (fought within the cultural revolution that is even fracturing liberals from radicals on the other side) it may prove bloody. Especially in the Senate.

And exhausting for voters? For some perhaps. But for many – especially Trump’s base – the 2018 midterms will be seen as a chance to put meat on the bones of Trumpism by burning down anyone they feel is what I’ll call a TOOL – a Trumper Only On (E)Lection day. Feel free to come up with your own acronym, because RINO as a political term is becoming as endangered as it’s African cousin.

The president may very well have set in motion – or more accurately recognized and ridden – a trend which he can participate in and feed, but cannot control. That’s been the history of political parties in some sense. But America has been the great exception in this regard. The stability of the duopoly has been unprecedented in modern Western political history. That may be about to change. TOOLS beware!

Somewhere around half a million dollars. That seems to be the going price for ejection from either a Cabinet or Chief of Staff position if you’re GOP. Remember John Sununu – Bush 41’s White House Chief of Staff? Back in recession-wracked 1991, his jet travel to various locations – some of them resorts and once or twice apparently his dentist in Boston – eventually forced him to resign in December of that year. The total cost of his travel was apparently estimated at around $600,000.

And the cartoonists had a field day, as they say.

Tom Price is now history, being the first Trump Cabinet member to resign. The total cost – again we have to assume these estimates are reasonable calculations based on what a private, chartered flight would cost your average wealthy traveller – has been estimated at around $500,000 by Politico. Or at least Politico has reported that his private flights cost about half a million based on someone making a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation.

The president does care about costs and maybe there is something compelling about seeing a mid-six-figure number waved in front of you when you ask about the HHS Secretary’s flights. Especially when you’ve browbeat Boeing into shaving multimillion dollar amounts off the cost of Air Force One as proof of your business acumen.

Was it that figure that made Trump so angry?

Look, the president can’t fire Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the senate’s strikeout on repeal and replace. He can threaten to oppose his own senate leader in Kentucky’s next senate primary, but so far it hasn’t quite come to that. Not yet at least, not with McConnell himself.

Or he can take a the Secretary of Health and Human Services travel expense scandal and use it to get rid of the Secretary. Which is what the president did. Fine. But does the White House now have anybody lined up as replacement? Is Kelly handling the replacement process with the cool of a veteran commander under fire? It’s too early to tell who might be nominated but here’s a thought:

Replace a few key Assistant Secretaries inside HHS, under the Senate’s radar, and keep acting Secretary Don Wright busy with Price’s agenda of weakening the ACA from within by cutting back on marketing outreach and shortening the enrollment period, for example. And every now and then leak a few possible names that might be under consideration.

Because who in his or her right mind would want to be HHS Secretary right now?

You will be mercilessly grilled in your senate confirmation process by Democrat Senators who now have to deal with their own party’s embrace of single-payer health care. Should you make it through the confirmation process – which will be nasty and personal – you will then be hit on both sides from your fellow GOP members of congress who will feel you aren’t taking control and helping to lead the party on an issue over which the party is deeply divided and where a handful of senators can and will sabotage any effort at reform. Or you will be ignored and cast aside as irrelevant – a deputy manager whose job it is to patiently wait for legislation that never comes.

Who could ever want the job?

Unless you could find someone – say a doctor – who has political experience and lots of ambition. Even more than Doctor Price had. Who wanted to be President but who at best can capture barely a tiny sliver of GOP votes. Who’s the junior senator from the Majority Leader’s state.

Yes, Mr. President. Kill several birds with one rock. Propose Rand Paul – self-proclaimed genius on healthcare – as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Do it in a series of provocative tweets.

And then find someone to run for Rand Paul’s vacated seat. Hopefully someone that really annoys Mitch McConnell. No it will never happen. Yes, healthcare replace and repeal has become a bit of a joke hasn’t it? But imagine: Ron Paul as the new HHS Secretary. Worth a thought, or at least a laugh.

People in Silicon Valley get ready! Compliance is a coming!

From showboating Democrat senators, accusing Facebook of slow-walking the algorithms that Congress so desperately wants to see, specifically how they track ad-spending (which FB surely tracks very very carefully) to Twitter executives politely knocking on Congressional committee doors so they can be grilled mercilessly, the Russia Hunt continues. This time with Silicon Valley social media behemoths and sorta moths Facebook and Twitter in their sights.

So Russia or Russian-related groups (the evidence is second or third hand and rather scattered at this point) seem to have spent a fair bit of cash compared to you or me on ads in Facebook, but loose change compared to even local-race campaign budgets.

Did those ads – most of which did not mentions the president or either party (again this is all second or third hand stories about leaks about committee members options on ads that they may not have even seen yet) – influence voters in any statistically significant way? You can’t dismiss the possibility but it seems like hard evidence of Jared Kushner’s data operation’s alleged connection with Russian-sponsored actors is nowhere to be seen at this point. So now they have to haul Facebook and Twitter before Congress to make sure that FB and Twitter exec’s admit to knowing that Russia really spent far more on social media ads than the evidence suggests.

In other words, the targets keep changing when evidence is lacking but the investigation rolls on. Yes, that is in part how investigations should proceed, but it seems that Congress is moving towards some sort of compliance structure for social media companies when it comes to ad spending, specifically political ads. But how do you define a political ad in 2017? With identity politics labelling everything as political, and any opinion that doesn’t conform to radical theory as racist, then ANY ad is potentially political. Especially at election time.

Imagine Facebook now has to change their algorithms so that they can file quarterly (monthly maybe?) reports to some agency in the beltway, giving information on who spent what on which ads. Because Congress recognizes that standard campaing financing no longer works. Just ask Luther Strange and Mitch McConnell. And they’re furious about it. Social Media must pay for the changing habits of voters it seems.

And once compliance rules – detailed, ambiguous, and recondite – are in place, then you have a new industry for former Congressional aides! Social media compliance lobbyists!! Facebook might just be hiring a few very soon, if not yesterday. Twitter too. And whether Jared Kushner is an evil traitor, well we’ll just let that question hang for a while. Until some sort of evidence shows up.

Oh come on! Stop whining!

Yes, if President Trump hadn’t made those comments at the rally in Alabama last weekend then maybe Sunday would have been a fairly average NFL weekend. Leaving aside what is “average” nowadays in the NFL – Does average include Marcus Cooper’s bonehead soft shoe shuffle on the 1 yard line? Probably not – we were treated to a wave of kneel-down protests across the nation on game day.

All because of Trump according to both conservatives and left-wing activists and billionaire NFL owners. And millionaire players as well, let’s not forget.

Sorry, this is far more than just anger at the president himself, who of course loves to double down on any brawl anytime anywhere that he can somehow get into. That much is undeniable. But the politiciziing of sport is hardly a brand new phenomenon welling up out of nowhere because of one NYC developer and Reality Show owner-celebrity turned president. As important as the presidency is.

Most of you were likely not around in 1968. For example. A.most all of us, or most of us, were not around or very young in 1936 at the Olympics in Berlin where Jesse Owens rubbed Hitler’s crazed racist theories of uber whites into the dirt as he cleaned up the competition and had packs of young German girls squealing and demanding to be told where he was residing in the city. And yes, Owens faced incredible bigotry on both sides of the Atlantic. But in America he graduated from Ohio State and went on to fame, if not quite fortune.

LIke any restless trail blazer who has had his trail taken from him – Owen’s professional endorsements got him booted out of the then fully amateur track and field world which in turn KO’ed his endorsements – Owens tried his hand at a number of ventrues after working for the Ford Motor Company in their personnel division. Among them was owning a baseball franchise and sports promotion in general. He touched bottom pumping gas in the 60’s until he was made a goodwill ambassador around 1966.

Which brings us to 1968 and the Mexico City Olympics. And the raised fists on the podium by sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Here’s what Owens apparently told them:

“The only time the black fist has significance is when there’s money inside. That’s where the power lies.”

He changed his mind and by 1972 he said:

“Any black man who wasn’t a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward.”

And by 1980, he had yet another take on politics in sports when he tried to convince President Carter (Owens had less than a year to live by then) that the Olympics should be beyond politics and America should not boycott the Moscow Games.

Trump threw a match on a tinder dry stack of firewood that’s built up over generations and that was burning itself out but still had plenty of fuel left to burn. Precisely because the left’s long march through the institutions is now comming to an end. By that I mean that the radicalized norms drilled into millenials by aging left wing professors is now a movement marching off the campuses and into the streets. And everything is fair game for their identity politics dogma of race and victimhood. All very real issues, but hardly advanced by taking a knee because the knee taking is symbolic. It is a symbolic assault on the very conception of what being patriotic in America means. And is being accompanied by attempts to use the judiciary to radically change how life in America is to be lived.

This wasn’t going to burn out and fade away (apologies to Neil Young for mixing his metaphors). All it needed was angry tweet or two to reignite.

​The Graham-Cassidy reform-and-perhaps-replace-but-not-really-repeal plan has earned praise from a fair amount of analysts on rightish side of center, and it does indeed use a vigorous federalism as it’s guiding principle, kicking the debate down to the individual state level.

This is really chasing the emerging reality. Texas already delivers health care in ways that are different from New York or California. Graham-Cassidy would give states more room to work out their own solutions by block-granting money that would have gone to Medicaid expansion or premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. You want single-payer and high taxes? Move to California. You want affordable premiums and higher-deductible plans that mean you pay more for day to day health care but you’re covered for the larger expenses you may face? But lower taxes and more jobs? Move to Texas.

Their plan is a reasonable solution to what is becoming an unbridgeable gap between Democrats who now increasingly pledge their allegiance to single-payer systems (until they find out what rationing is like when it comes to healhcare) and Republicans who want real choice and real competition in the health insurance market.

Ah, the health INSURANCE market. Yes, insurance industry lobbyists have been a constraint on innovation you might say. But, health CARE is so much more than just insurance premiums. That is not a clarion call for big spending, by the way. It’s merely to point out that a major factor in increasing premiums is often lost in the current debate:

Hospitals in America are producing very high-cost products and services and are a supported by powerful lobbyists that do their share of whispering and bending ears to ensure that innovative competitive solutions do not threaten their cozy, coast-to-coast oligopoly.

One reason for this is the employer-based plans where customers don’t see the true cost and thus the true price of the health services they select. So the big and fat and getting fatter hospital networks can keep raising prices far beyond what almost any other industry is able to get away with. And if money from employer-based plans is not enough to cover the increases, why there’s always the federal government.

So let’s hope that if Graham-Cassidy can get passed into law – and it perhaps just might – then the next step would be to look at freeing up healthcare in America from the welter of self-serving regulations that keep competitors at bay. And maybe the state level is indeed the best place to attempt those types of innovations

​It seems we were all hasty, according to Byron York. In a cautionary tale, he gives a warning well worth listening to in his recent piece in The Washington Examiner. Despite the AP headlines about an imminent deal between the White House and Pelosi, Schumer & Aides Inc. it may be that the tweeting was hasty, as tweeting is wont to be.

Here’s the statement or note Pelosi passed to her Democrat colleagues in Congress the morning after the infamous dinner:

“We agreed to a plan to work out an agreement to protect our nation’s DREAMERS from deportation.”

Ok. So they agreed to a plan to work out an agreement. That’s at least 3 degrees of separation from an actual, bona fide, signed in soya sauce on a linen napkin agreement.

You agree. To a plan. To work out. An agreement. To protect. DREAMERS from deportation.

Pelosi, Schumer & Aides Inc. couldn’t have covered their alleyways any better. But neither AP, nor NeverTrump’ers, nor Angry Trump supporters, nor the rest of us, got that detail right. The point being that the suspicion that a deal with Democrats on anything on the part of the president, might be possible after the initial pivot is what triggered much of this reaction.

Here’s the thing. Trump doesn’t need to stop tweeting. That’s impossible. He needs to have someone helping him to get out in front with his tweeting. You do dinner with Nancy and Chuck, you have a few options on what you tweet. And you tweet before they do. Or you put up with their tweets. Rather than chase their tweets from behind, like a angry Top Gun chasing a Chinese surface to air missile, which is what President Trump was forced to do.

So after the big UN week in Manhattan. And after the speculation about whether UN Ambassador Haley is already gunning for Tillerson’s job at State. And after Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico and the island territory demands billions more in aid. After all that, we will still have the White House and Congress with a packed agenda this fall. And both sides of the aisle matter in whatever deals get done and whatever bills get passed. Even if it’s to ignore one side or the other on any specific issue.

President Trump needs to weaponize his tweeting impulses. No he hasn’t done that yet. They have been more like loose ordinance so far, causing smoke and debris to scatter around. He needs instead to target his tweets like well-aimed missiles, aimed straight at the narrative media groups like AP or Democrat Senators construct on a daily basis.

​It won’t be single-payer! It won’t be single-payer!

Sorry for shouting at Senator Sanders out here on the sidewalk. Here’s what I mean.

Like in the case of gay marriage or de facto open borders, the Democratic Party is shifting hard to the left on health care, and dragging some moderate or RINO Republicans with them.

Yes, this has to do with Bernie Sander’s surprisingly successful campaign, which ignited millennial interest and brought Scandinavian-style socialism to the doorstep of American politics in a way that previous hard left groups were unable to do. And attitudes are shifting. Whether attitudes are following or leading Sanders’ efforts to introduce single-payer health care in America is something that perhaps the wonks at 538.com can figure out.

But today we hear about Sanders’ plan. And here’s why it will never be truly single-payer.

To achieve single-payer it’s not Trump supporters whose corpses you will have to bulldoze out of the way. They tend to be open to entitlement goodies including government healthcare which in America mostly means Medicare.

It’s the wealthy and solidly upper middle class blue voters in places like NYC and San Francisco that will never, ever, ever give up their employer-based health insurance. To let go of a system that allows them a wealth of choices with regards to their daily health care needs and that their employer mostly foots the bill for, is asking far too much of righteous, well-paid lawyers, accountants, techies, and managerial level workers. They won’t do it, and people like Pelosi and Schumer know this perfectly well because they feel exactly the same way, because that’s also who they are.

So, if over the next few years single-payer becomes a real possibility, how do you preserve employer-based insurance and how the heck do you pay for single-payer? Goodbye corporate tax-cuts? Goodbye tax cuts period, is more like it.

And what model does America look to to consider ideas for Medicare-for-all-except-us-wealthy-liberals?

Here’s a suggestion that President Trump can use in his bargaining with Canada over the northern neighbor’s terms for a revamped NAFTA:

You want to preserve some form of NAFTA up in Canada, on which your wealth greatly depends? You get to send us a committee describing how your single-payer system works. Wait. Wait. Don’t smile. AND. We get to set up employer-based insurance policies for all of you (fairly) wealthy, liberal Canadians. Think of it this way:

Ivanka gets photo ops with their Prime Minister. Smiliing about her universal daycare policy with a rainbow of adorable little kids scattered around them on the White House lawn.

Jared gets photo ops with the CEO’s of Unitedhealth, Wellpoint Inc., Kaiser Foundation Group, Humana, and Aetna. In Ottawa. Smiling next to whoever is in charge of leading Canada’s brave new revamping of it’s creaking government healthcare system.

So Medicare for all can smooth Canadian feathers by asking for their wisdom on how to let government run health care. And American enterprise can uproot Canada’s government monopoly on healthcare and give Canadians something magical … choice of healthcare plans. All in exchange for preserving some form of NAFTA.

And Senator Sanders? He gets to work away in committees on the Hill, arguing over how much to raise taxes on wealthy liberals to pay for his scheme. Unfortunately those raised taxes won’t just be on wealthy liberals, will they?

​”It comes from a recognition that the country largely hates the GOP.”

Who said that and why?

Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist and The Transom newsletter. Not a Democrat. Possibly populist leaning in some areas. Accused visciously by NeverTrumpers of being racist in the aftermath of Charlottesville because he said the same as what about 2/3’s of America thinks about pulling down statues across the country. And which he has been saying for years.

Just to be clear about who it is who wrote those words above.

Why those words? Because it seems that Trump Triangulation is a real – if uncertain – possibility. Yes, after his ambush of Ryan and McConnell on Wednesday, the president has the possibility of focusing on issues like infrastructure and trade and NOT on small government. And yes, the GOP is even lower in the polls than the president. Whether Trump has the discipline to triangulate between Democrats and moderate Republicans remains to be seen.

But it’s about more than discipline. Trump seems to need a policy framework. Bannon is gone and Jared and Ivanka are hardly going to provide him with a populist but centrist style of nationalism. And his increasingly establishment qua military White House is hardly the kind to provide him with a recognizable, independent view of America’s and the World’s political issues.

But the question is: does the lack of a consistent policy framework really matter? To his base, the president is a man of character – THEIR kind of character. They don’t need policy frameworks. They are more concerned about results. But the president needs more than his base and thus triangulation.

Here’s where a fascinating article in American Affairs written by Rob Ford’s ex Chief of Staff, G. Mark Towhey, is so relevant. Yes, THAT Rob Ford – Toronto’s ex-mayor.

Here’s the gist of it. A growing number of people are results oriented (a majority has arguably always been) and not ideologically oriented. Think of it this way:

Imagine on the x-axis (horizontal) of a graph you have ideology – to the left is the Left. To the right is … you, guessed it! The Right. Now look at the y-axis. Towards the top of the graph along that vertical line are the ideologically inclined. Towards the bottom of that line are the pragmatists. Now imagine all sorts of little dots scattered around all 4 quadrants of the graph. Upper Right Hand are Right Wing Ideologues. Lower Left Hand quadrant are Left Wing Pragmatists. I will assume you are more than capable of filling in the remaining two quadrants.

Now … draw a long elongated stretched-out circle at the bottom of the graph that gathers in tiny dots on a portion of the Left and much of the Right side, but both sides being pragmatists who want results in their daily lives and don’t give much thought to ideology. You’ve just corralled Trump’s base. Congratulations!

While we raise a storm about a few hundred fascist Neo Nazi’s in Virginia, the real Trump supporters are not about those sort of positions. Does anger at America’s changing and uncertain economic and social fabric matter to them? Of course it does. Are there a small, bigoted minority who want to use Trump to push their agenda? Of course there are. Should Trump have been a little clearer after Charlottesville (and I don’t mean about statues)? Of course he should have.

But if Trump can somehow expand that circle and stretch it out to the left (think of ex Obama voters who voted for him) by achieving measurable, concrete results (no he hasn’t done much yet thanks to Congress mostly; but yes there have been shifts due to executive orders undoing some of Obama’s orders) then triangulation could really work for Trump.

And Towhey’s model also explains the behavior of Trump-supporting evangelicals. They know full well of Trump’s behavior, but they feel his methods – his lack of politically correct hostility – will give them breathing room to live and worship as Christians in America. They are pragmatic when it comes to Trump in order to live as their faith prescribes. That is, they play the top and the bottom of the y-axis.

In other words, behind the theatrical tweets, the president might just prove much more of a centrist pragmatist than either Republicans or Democrats or most of the media give him credit for.

Oh yes. There’s Trump’s policy framework, by the way. A centrist pragmatist who uses populism to keep his base fired up. But who needs to triangulate to get things done. It’s about the y-axis stupid!

​Let’s say that climate alarmists are mostly right and that their meteorological models are reasonably accurate and that after Irma another huge storm hits the Gulf or East coast. So that 3 large storms hit the USA including Harvey in a matter of weeks.

Would the Senate use Irma and Benjy (the name of our theoretical third storm) as excuses to pass otherwise controversial or at least debatable legislation? Amost certainly yes.

Because that’s what they’re doing with Harvey. The Senate has just attached an increase to the debt ceiling to the House bill providing aid for Texas, an aid package that passed in days if not hours in the lower chamber. You want to provide an aid package for Harvey’s victims? Raise the debt limit please. It is thought that the amended bill will be approved anyway by House Republicans when it lands back on their front porch in a day or two.

But it doesn’t stop there. Democrats are insisting that action on DACA accompany any relief package for Texas. You can imagine the language:

The administration will tear these hard-working young Americans from their homes and dump them in countries they don’t know where life is hard and often dangerous!

Democrats can’t stop the aid package, but they sure can ride it for all it’s worth.

In other words an opportunity for avoiding debate on the debt ceiling increase in the case of Senate Republicans, or an oppotunity for provoking partisan name-calling rather than real constructive debate on the part of Democrats in both houses, is what a devastating storm has provided for them.

Now imagine that Congress gets to work – grumpily, divisively, and chaotically – on some sort of revised DACA that deals with these 800,000 young residents who were brought to the counrty illegally. Imagine Hurricaine Irma is as bad as the predictions are saying it will be and that, say, South Florida is hit as hard as Texas, with perhaps more lasting damage because … well they’re not quite Texas and they might not quite have the engineering in place to handle Irma. But then again, South Florida knows hurricanes like almost no other place in America.

More tragic photos. Young kids clinging to parents. Boats with grim looking first responders. Cuban Americans helping elderly retirees from say NYC. Stories of heroic efforts by young Americans who just happen to be DACA beneficiaries.

How does Senator Cotton shoehorn his RAISE Act into the DACA reform process now? He has to give way and live to fight another day, most likely. And that would hold – in this theoretical – for any modest enforcement of immigration law presented as a quid pro quo for giving DACA beneficiaries permanent residence.

Finally, imagine Huricane Benjy (our theoretical third storm) hits the mid-Atlantic seaboard during a mild spell in late October and the photos are of the Potomac overflowing and Trump fleeing in a helicopter to his golf course in New Jersey. Finally after a few days, he tours the still-wrecked Mar a Lago (thanks to Irma) and rambles about how:

A lot of good people … you should them, they’re just great. I mean they are so strong …. this is a disaster … we’re going to get together and solve this, they’re such good people. We have to fix this …

And the president – helped by Ivanka and Jared – proclaims climate change to be the greatest threat ever to mankind and promises a 2 trillion infrastructure bill to build dams, highways, bridges, and everything else under the sun.

And the bill passes both houses with LOTS of pork handed out across the land, as Time Magazine runs a cover of the president looking worried but almost statesmanlike with a title something like:

Trump Turns Against his Deniers.

Doesn’t it seem that Congress loves a good disaster? That every perceived or (in the case of Harvey and most likely Irma) very real disaster is an opportunity that can’t be left to waste. If you’ll forgive the metaphor if you’re shoveling out wet drywall from your home in Houston.

When you paint the world in apocalyptic terms – as climate change narratives tend to do – then a complete lack of deliberation is one consequence – whether untintended or intended. Suddenly we’re all Noah, and everyone’s got climate change religion and a monstrous mega-Ark made by the government is our only last living hope.

Yes, Congress loves a good disaster.