Crush Your Enemies

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There’s a lifelong maxim that states that only the complete destruction of one’s enemies will suffice. Merely winning a particular battle is not enough. If they survive the defeat and can come back to fight another day, then the ultimate victory is not assured. In contrast, the contest still hangs in the balance and the outcome of any one battle may not be the overriding determinate of the final result.

This thought is summed up in the work “The 48 Laws of Power,” a best-selling 1998 book by American author Robert Greene. Law 15 states, “….a feared enemy must be crushed completely. If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out.  More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation. The enemy will recover and seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

The Democrats and their Liberal Media allies employ this strategy relentlessly, day after day, non-stop. Their total refusal to accept Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election is evident in the non-stop attacks—both policy-based and personally insulting—that they use against the President every single day. There is not a solitary news cycle or issue that the Democrats let pass without criticizing President Trump in their never-ending attempt to undermine his presidency and force him from office.

As a matter of fact, the Democrats and the liberal media exercise the 48 Laws on a continual basis. Whether it’s a conscious decision or simply undertaken automatically, they follow them religiously. The following Laws are definitely recognizable as integral to the Democrats’ playbook:

Law 11: “LEARN TO KEEP PEOPLE DEPENDENT ON YOU.” Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

Law 12: “USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM.” One sincere, honest move will cover dozens of dishonest ones and bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will.

Law 25: “RE-CREATE YOURSELF.” Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions—your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.

Law 33: “DISCOVER EACH MAN’S THUMBSCREW.” Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. Once found, it’s a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage.

Law 42: “STRIKE THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP WILL SCATTER.” Self-evident.

The Democrats follow these rules consistently. They never let up, not for even the briefest moment. Neither the Democratic Party nor the liberal media have accepted President Trump as the legitimately elected president for an instant. By refusing to recognize his election victory as valid, they have absolved themselves of any obligation or requirement to accord either Donald Trump or the office of president with the respect and deference that is ordinarily due. In their minds, his “illegitimacy” gives them free reign to bombard him with all manner of public disrespect, to disavow any policy or accomplishment of his as meaningless and to concoct an endless stream of fantastical so-called crimes and transgressions that require immediate investigation, with the thinly-veiled aim of ending his tenure.

First it was Russia, Russia, Russia!, “backed” by the phony-as-a-three-dollar-bill Steele dossier, the bogus Flynn/FBI investigation and the inventing of non-existent crimes out of thin air against Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and others. When that didn’t work after almost three years and the all-Democrat Mueller Report was shown to be baseless, the Democrats moved on to fabricate some sort of Ukrainian phone call delusion to charge President Trump with impeachment-worthy crimes.

The ink was barely dry on his acquittal when the Chinese coronavirus pandemic hit. Before anyone else even recognized it as a threat (NY mayor Bill DeBlasio and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were telling everyone to go out, visit the restaurants, live your life as normal, etc.), President Trump banned flights from China and Europe and closed our borders. While Dr. Fauci, CNN and MSNBC were busy saying that the coronavirus was not likely to become that big a deal, President Trump was way out in front.

But when one party—the Democrats—has the complete backing and cooperation of the mainstream media, the narrative becomes anything they want it to be. Very quickly, the pandemic became President Trump’s fault. He didn’t act fast enough. He didn’t take the proper steps. He let the situation get away from him, to the detriment of the health of the American public. The fact that President Trump closed down the country and established a Coronavirus Task Force while the Democrats were still looking for their next avenue of political attack following their just-failed impeachment fiasco didn’t matter to the liberal media.

The Democrats aren’t concerned with governing the country. They’re concerned with ousting President Trump. Predictably, all of the recent racial unrest triggered by the George Floyd situation is being laid at the feet of the President, as if Donald Trump—not the Democratic-run cities and Democratic-run police departments—caused it. No, the Dems and the liberal media make it seem as if President Trump actually approves of the racial strife on some level. Just as predictably, the President’s recent Law Enforcement Reform initiative is being discounted by the Democrats and the liberal media as being inadequate and too little, too late. Pelosi and Biden have been in office for close to a collective century, but the liberal mainstream media never press them on why they hadn’t addressed this issue before.

In the end, the upcoming election is not about Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden. The 2020 version of Biden is plainly afflicted by severe, paralyzing dementia, but even in his so-called “prime,” he had no particular vision or core convictions. This is an election either for Trump or against Trump. Biden’s presence is irrelevant.

The roughly 43% of the solid for-Trump vote and the approximately 45% of the always-anti-Trump vote are already baked into the election. The election will turn on that casually-attentive, somewhat-persuadable 12%. The Republicans will make their usual mistake of thinking that the merits of the issues–the facts on the ground, like how far back the economy/employment has come by November and whether or not the racial tension has smoothed out a bit—will carry the day.

The Democrats will instinctively operate on the correct presumption that it is their skill at employing the 48 Laws of Power approach to campaigning in addition to the facts on the ground that will win the day. President Trump’s team had better get up to speed quickly on waging effective trench warfare in 2020, or they will find themselves outflanked, out-maneuvered and out-gunned in the most crucial electoral battle of our lifetime.

The Magic of the Merlin

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The SpaceX Demo-2/Dragon spacecraft was successfully launched into space on Saturday May 30, 2020, marking the first-ever collaboration between NASA and a private entity, Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Falcon 9 booster was comprised of nine SpaceX Merlin rocket engines, which use RP-1 (refined petroleum) and liquid oxygen as propellants to develop the immense thrust necessary for a heavy space-bound launch vehicle.

All the news reports were dutifully filled with superlatives regarding this unprecedented public-private joint venture, and it was indeed a very significant accomplishment. It’s not often that the two normally-opposing spheres of industry come together in such a positive manner. It bodes well for future cooperative ventures, leveraging the best of both approaches.

But, lost in the deservedly congratulatory environment of this auspicious mission was a fascinating piece of trivia: The import and significance of the name “Merlin” as it applied to the Falcon’s engines.

The Merlin engine is well-known in historical aviation circles as the engine that powered the famous British Spitfire fighter plane and gave it such superlative performance. Manufactured by the famed Rolls-Royce company, the Merlin engine (named for a bird of prey, not the mythical wizard) was developed from an earlier Rolls-Royce engine, the Kestrel. (A purchased sample of the Kestrel, in one of history’s all-time great ironies, powered the first prototype of the German Messerschmitt BF-109 fighter plane, the Spitfire’s greatest WWII rival. Operational 109’s were powered by Daimler-Benz engines. Yes, that Benz.) Powering the front-line British fighter planes Hawker Hurricane and the Spitfire, the Merlin soon established a reputation for superb performance, reliability and the ability to sustain considerable battle damage and remain functional. Merlin-powered British fighters fought off German air force attacks in the summer of 1940 (after France had fallen to the Germans), saving Britain from German invasion and buying invaluable time until America entered the war in Europe on Britain’s side.

Once Japan had attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in December 1941, Germany and the U.S. declared war on each other virtually simultaneously. The U.S. was now involved in an all-out war on two fronts: The Pacific Theater and the European Theater. In late December 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill came to Washington DC to discuss the overall war strategy with American president Franklin Roosevelt. Here, in what was called “The Arcadia Conference,” it was decided to take a “Germany first” approach to the war. Winning in Europe would take a higher priority than defeating Japan in the Pacific.

Towards that end, the United States moved its strategic bombing 8th Air Force to England. The plan was for American heavy bombers to attack German industrial and production targets and cripple their war fighting capabilities. This proved to be far more difficult in practice than in theory. American B-17 and B-24 long-range bombers, in spite of their heavy defensive armament, proved incapable of adequately defending themselves against intercepting German fighter planes and in 1942 and especially 1943, American bomber losses were so heavy that the entire plan of carrying out daylight precision bombing raids came close to being scrapped altogether.

The problem was that American and British fighter plane escorts lacked the range to accompany the bombers all the way to targets deep inside Germany and back. The Allied fighters would have to turn back partway en route to the target, leaving the bombers to fend for themselves. That’s when the Germans would pounce and exact their grievous toll.

Around this time, a new American fighter plane had been developed, the P-51 Mustang. Its performance with its American Allison engine was mediocre at best, despite the plane’s great potential. Someone came up with the idea of fitting an English Merlin engine—the one that powered the outstanding Spitfire fighter plane—to the Mustang, just as a ‘what if.’

It was a match made in heaven. The Mustang’s advanced aerodynamic design and new “laminar flow” wing gave it terrific flying characteristics. With the smooth, powerful Merlin engine, the Mustang became a world-beater. Even better, because of the Mustang’s advanced design, its fuel efficiency exceeded all other fighter planes and it now had the range to fly and defend the bombers all the way to and from their targets, no matter how deep inside Germany.

But Britain lacked the industrial production capability to make enough Merlins for both its own use and the Americans. So the American Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit began making the Merlin under license for use in American Mustang fighters. Known as the “Packard-Merlin,” the American-built version actually incorporated a series of small but important modifications and improvements over the British version and many people considered the Packard variant to be superior. With the almost unlimited American factory capacity making both Mustang fighters and Packard-Merlin engines, the P-51 turned the air war over Europe from a costly exercise with an uncertain outcome into a smashingly successful endeavor. From the time of its combat debut in Feb 1944 through May 1944, rampaging Mustangs absolutely decimated the German Luftwaffe, clearing the skies of enemy aircraft and paving the way for a successful D-Day land invasion of mainland Europe, free from the threat of German air counterattack.

The British had heroically held off the Germans in 1940 with their Merlin-powered Hurricane and Spitfire fighter planes. Now in 1944, the American 8th Air Force took the offensive fight to Germany, breaking the back of the German air force on the strength of the Merlin-powered P-51 Mustang.

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P-51s of the 375th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force

Today, the SpaceX Falcon ushers in a new era of spaceflight, powered by its Merlin engines.

Is there any unequivocal proof that Elon Musk, the mercurial but undeniably brilliant owner and creative force behind both Tesla electric cars and SpaceX, deliberately chose the name “Merlin” for his rocket’s engines with full knowledge of the historical and performance pedigree of that engine’s brand?

Not that I know of. But Musk has a flare for the dramatic that is second to none. He is one of only a handful of business/industry entrepreneurs whose personal profile and presence transcends the business world and crosses over into popular culture. People like or dislike his companies and products in many cases based on their feelings about Musk as an individual. He’s that well-known and that visible.

The betting here is that Musk knows all about the Merlin engine’s history and its role in securing the world order as it exists today. Merlin is the perfect name—subtle, pithy and very much “inside baseball.”

Left and Right—Again and Always

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There are so many fundamental issues that serve as sharp lines of demarcation between left/Democratic thought and right/Republican thought. It’s been this way for years and those essential differences do indeed mark the boundary between liberal and conservative ideology:

  • Free-market capitalism vs. Government-controlled industries
  • Low taxation/personal freedom vs. confiscatory tax policy with high Government spending
  • Pro life vs. pro abortion
  • Strong military vs. anti-military
  • Desire to crack down on illegal immigration vs. open borders and unrestricted immigration
  • Merit-based admission and promotion vs. racial quotas and belief in social engineering
  • Goal of energy development/independence vs. stance that fossil fuels are inherently bad and harmful
  • Thought that climate variations are natural and not controllable by man vs. unwavering adherence to the doctrine of anthropogenic global warming

There are other issues that define the chasm between left and right as well. And in perfect candor, most average voters are some degree of purple between these red and blue extremes. It’s primarily the politicians and news media that are relatively monolithic in their philosophical beliefs. However, in an effort to whip up public sentiment and set the opposing side in as unflattering and negative a light as possible for purposes of partisan advantage, the left never fails to cast the important issues of the day as a choice between the correct/moral liberal side and the foolish/immoral conservative alternative.

So it is now, once again. The issue du jour is the re-opening of the economy after the country’s lockdown in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. We will leave aside for now the fact that the so-called pandemic never even came close to realizing the worst outcome in this country that many had predicted. The rate of infection and death rate have both been markedly lower than the early-on models predicted. In the country’s three hardest-hit areas—New York City, northern New Jersey and the Boston area—hospital capacity hasn’t even come close to being stretched to the breaking point. The US Navy ship Comfort just left NYC after barely being utilized at all and the field hospital set up in the Javits Center turned out to be totally unnecessary.

In Boston, the 1000-bed field hospital created at the Boston Convention Center was barely 20% utilized at its opening and the usage dropped to less than half of that shortly thereafter, as reported to me first-hand by the senior attending nurse.

The fact of the matter is that the coronavirus turned out to be a deadly disease that primarily affected the elderly (infection rates for those over 80 were many times higher than those even in their 60’s—see attached chart) and people with serious underlying conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The same can be said for any given year of the seasonal flu. And the country doesn’t shut down for the flu, nor is there any irrational, non-medically-legitimate frenzy over the wearing of facial coverings when driving alone in the car or walking outside in the breezy fresh air and sunshine.

Macintosh HD:Users:stevefeinstein:Desktop:COVID death by age.jpg

The virtually complete shutting down of our economy—questionable as it certainly looks in retrospect—has had its predictably calamitous effect on the economy and our daily social activity. Major industries have been decimated. Entertainment, cultural and sporting events have hit a brick wall. The population has had it now that they realize that so much of it was arbitrary and unwarranted. President Trump said he’ll leave the re-opening of the economy up to the governors of the respective states, as long as they do it with caution and common sense. And so, many states, in the face of declining new cases and the realization that their healthcare capacity is not threatened, have begun to relax their lockdowns and allow the re-emergence of private economic activity.

The subject of re-opening the states’ economies is now somehow deemed controversial, breaking down along party lines. Democrats and the liberal mainstream media criticize the re-openings, cautioning in a condescending manner that Republicans are more interested in re-opening the economy than they are concerned with the public good. High-profile public protests in Michigan and Massachusetts are being portrayed by the liberal media as coming from conservative hard-line Trump supporters, their actions characterized as out of step with the majority of the level-headed public. The battle lines are clearly drawn: Re-opening the economy is a Republican activity, reckless, dangerous, putting money ahead of humanity in classic uncaring conservative fashion. Remaining in lockdown until the landscape is totally safe, with no possible danger of a second wave, is the more compassionate, more sophisticated, more intellectual thing to do. Clearly, that’s the liberal position. (Interesting, isn’t it, that the original goal of the sequester was simply to “flatten the curve.” It was flattened weeks ago. Now the new goal—very conveniently unprovable—is to ensure that no new widespread re-infection resurfaces at any point in the future.)

A few years ago, liberal comedian Bill Maher said it would be worth it to have a recession in order to get rid of President Trump. Now, brought on by the global fear engendered by China unleashing the Wuhan virus on the world—whether intentionally or by their own incompetence—we have a recession. The afterburner-boosted economy, which had been President Trump’s crowning achievement amongst a veritable cornucopia of worthy accomplishments—has now come to a crashing halt, from a source no one could have foreseen, in a manner no one thought possible.

It’s no wonder the Democrats and liberal media see the re-opening of the economy as a bad thing: the Democrats’ electoral fortunes are directly inversely related to the direction of the economy as November draws near. If we’re still languishing in recession, with the airlines, cruise lines, concerts and baseball season still shuttered and people still dependent on Government handouts in order to pay their rent, the Democrats win.

If the economy has regained its footing, has arisen from the mat, beaten the count and is up and punching back, then President Trump’s future looks good.

There is an old French saying that goes, Qui bénéficie?  Roughly translated, it means, “Who benefits from this?” The answer is clear.

Biden Might Actually Win

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

When you think of it, it’s nothing short of incredible that Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party. One might have thought that 2016 would have been Biden’s year (if he was ever going to have a time at bat), since Barack Obama’s two-term presidency had just ended and most vice-presidents who try for the top spot do so immediately following their boss’s departure. But, as is often the case in politics these days, party nominees can result from when the party decides that it’s someone’s “turn.” That was the case the last go-around: The Democrats decided that it was Hillary’s turn, after she dutifully lost to Obama in 2008 so the country could elect its first non-totally-white president. The election in 2016 was supposed to have been Hillary’s—the first woman president.

But it didn’t turn out that way. Hillary was revealed to be perhaps the most unlikeable, condescending, entitled and out-of-touch major party candidate in recent memory. Perhaps ever. Donald Trump tapped into an unfulfilled want in the electorate the way precious few supposedly well-seasoned, veteran politicians ever have: He recognized a widespread desire for a plain talking, honest, America-first leader. People wanted a president focused on real needs—jobs, lower taxes, a drastic reduction in nonsensical, unproductive political correctness, an end to expensive foreign excursions, a desire to expand American energy production and sever the destructive reliance on tenuous overseas oil suppliers and finally, someone who would put a halt to runaway illegal immigration with its tax-draining cost and social disruption.

President Trump spoke about all those things in plain language and punctuated it with his trademark motto, “Make America Great Again.” The liberal mainstream media went absolutely apoplectic, trying vainly to imbue the phrase with racist implications like “Make America White Again,” and other total nonsense. He meant nothing of the sort, of course. He meant exactly what he said. And indeed, the stampeding Trump economy that exploded under his leadership from January 2017 through February 2020 delivered the very best Black and Hispanic unemployment results in our history. The country was flourishing. Everyone was working. The stock market was at an all-time high. And make no mistake—the biggest beneficiaries of the high stock market were the millions and millions of Democratic public union members—the firefighters, the teachers, the state and municipal workers whose cushy life-long pensions and 100’s of accumulated unused sick days waiting to be cashed in were safely funded by the equities markets, without any danger of default or shortfalls. The very people who almost unanimously voted against President Trump and are his most vocal detractors are the ones whose retirements are safe and secure, thanks to his stock market. Consider the irony of that.

But then, without warning, China unleashed the coronavirus. We’ll let others debate whether it was a total accident from a random occurrence at a so-called “wet market” or whether it was a deliberate release of a bio-weapon made in some nefarious Chinese weapons lab or something somewhere in between those two vastly-separated extremes. It actually doesn’t matter.

The completely unforeseen coronavirus event has paralyzed the American economy and brought it to a screeching halt. Tens of millions of Americans are suddenly out of work and no resolution is in sight. When will things return to “normal?” How far and how quickly will things come back? No one knows. The pace, timing and scale of our economic re-opening is pure conjecture.

The virus has, however, completely re-shuffled the 2020 presidential race. It’s no longer a referendum on President Trump’s performance in office, on his handling of traditional issues like job creation, energy production, taxes, foreign relations or judicial appointments.

Instead, it is now a referendum on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Predictably, the liberal media shifted their former cries of Russia, Russia, Russia! to outbursts of Ventilators, Ventilators, Ventilators! President Trump handled that perfectly and the ventilator issue went away. Now it’s been replaced with Tests, Tests, Tests! Tomorrow it will be something else, possibly Open too soon, Open too soon, Open too soon! or Second wave, Second wave, Second wave! It will always be something and it will always have racial/discriminatory overtones.

Enter Joe Biden. Despite Hillary having lost in 2016 and the Democratic Party seemingly obsessed and totally committed to their identity politics narrative, somehow from an opening field filled with females and non-whites, they ended up with yet another old, straight white guy in Biden, a Washington DC insider, a multiple-time presidential candidate flop, someone with perhaps the most forgettable, inconsequential multi-decade Senatorial career in American political history. That he is certainly too old and well past the point where he’s mentally up to the task doesn’t even need to be mentioned.

Yet, incredibly, Biden might win. The impact of the over-the-top liberal media can’t be discounted. The Jim Acostas, Jonathan Karls and Maggie Habermans of the world do their best every day at the Coronavirus Task Force press briefings to trap the president and make him look bad with relentless ‘gotcha’ questions, despite how infantile and unintellectual it is. They’ve pushed the narrative that President Trump has been slow to respond to the pandemic and the more outlandish hosts on CNN and MSNBC have gone so far as to say that, “President Trump has blood on his hands” and “Americans are dying today because Donald Trump is President.” Utter nonsense, provably false. But the old cliché of, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes true in some peoples’ minds” is happening once again.

The polls show that Biden is competitive—even leading—in several crucial battleground states at this juncture. Real Clear Politics shows Biden with leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. Now, there is no question that Trump’s support in polls is and always will be understated by 5-10 points, due to a combination of polling/sampling bias and the reluctance of some Trump voters to admit to poll-takers—even under the shield of anonymity—to supporting President Trump. It is also true that April is a very long way off from November and at this point, the national liberal media has been largely successful in hiding Biden’s egregious mental lapses and unquestioned diminished capacity from the still-inattentive swath of undecided voters.

Yet with all that being said, the fact that old, Caucasian, barely-coherent Joe Biden is actually leading President Trump shows how politically fortunate the Chinese coronavirus has been for the Democrats’ electoral chances in November. Such are the ever-shifting vagaries of presidential politics.

What is it with the Democrats?

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

It is indeed a strange phenomenon: With the country—indeed, the world—embroiled in a health emergency of what could be epic proportions, the Democrats are unquestionably more fixated on bringing about Donald Trump’s political downfall than they are interested in defeating coronavirus threat.

Let’s be clear about this: Democrats are not likely rooting for more people to become deathly sick and die. But they are hoping for the Chinese coronavirus outbreak to recede into insignificance without a scintilla of political credit accruing to President Trump whatsoever. The Democrats want the virus danger to disappear independent of the President’s efforts, not because of them.

At the daily Coronavirus Task Force press briefings, Vice-President Mike Pence, Drs. Anthony Fauci, Debra Birx and FDA head Dr. Stephen Hahn (among others) all give detailed information about the current status of the outbreak, the direction and future tendency of the “curve,” progress on possible vaccines and current treatments. It’s a great briefing, full of up-to-the-minute information, the latest happenings and discoveries and the Administration’s latest medically-approved moves to counter the danger. It is so effective and non-partisan that hyper-anti-Trump sources like CNN and MSNBC have taken to cutting away from coverage, because the daily briefings cast President Trump in a positive, commanding light. CNN and MSNBC refuse to report on anything that reflects positively on the President. The liberal media reporters that are there, like the infamous Jim Acosta of CNN and Jonathan Karl of ABC, simply engage in aggressive, unfounded “gotcha” questioning, relentlessly attempting to make the President and his team look bad.

One of the widely-discussed treatments—one that has shown unequivocally promising results in anecdotal small-scale usage scenarios, is the drug Hydroxychloroquine, a long-standing drug that is an effective treatment for autoimmune diseases such as malaria and lupus. It is thought to be even more effective against the coronavirus when combined with Azithromycin. President Trump has touted its use and has encouraged doctors to administer it on a widespread basis, stating, “What have you got to lose? It’s a safe drug. It’s been around for 50 years. It’s never killed anybody. Let’s try it in conjunction with your doctor’s recommendation. Why not?”

The Washington Post and USA Today immediately pounced on him with headlines like, “Trump Pedals False Hope with Unproven Drug” and accusations that Trump was pushing “snake oil.” Hosts on CNN and MSNBC piled on the President, denouncing his support of giving the drug a chance and accusing him of playing doctor. The nightmare scenario for the Democrats and the liberal media is not that the virus will run out of control. No, their nightmare scenario is that the President will somehow get credit from the American people for providing reassuring, productive leadership and helping end the crisis. For liberals, their hope is that the danger passes, Trump is proven wrong on all counts and that the ultimate solution arises either from a well-known Democratic expert or totally independently of anything either President Trump or his Task Force have proffered.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a perfect example of these Democrats. Every day, Cuomo puts on a very high-profile public presentation on the status of the New York coronavirus situation. New York, especially New York City, is definitely the nation’s “hot spot” in terms of both the number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Cuomo, in his deliberately overly-dramatic, angry, inappropriately-flamboyant manner, preaches daily about NY’s need for tens of thousands of ventilators, millions of N95 medical-grade masks, thousands of additional hospital beds and the like. Wildly exaggerated demands, designed to be a requirement that no administration could ever completely fill, certainly not in the ridiculous timeframe demanded by Cuomo. It’s all designed to be one big “Ah ha!” against President Trump and the Republicans.

In fact, President Trump has marshaled the nation’s substantial manufacturing resources–partly by his own considerable powers of persuasion and partly by him invoking the Defense Production Act—to concentrate on the production of ventilators and PPE. We’ll be swimming in them all very soon. But any objective observer could plainly see the abject disappointment in Cuomo’s demeanor as he reported that the rate of new hospitalizations in New York had slowed and the state’s need for emergency medical equipment wasn’t going to be quite as great as it looked like it would be two weeks ago. Like all hyper-partisan Democrats, Cuomo was at least as interested in pinning damaging political blame on President Trump as he is interested in ending the suffering of his fellow New Yorkers. He could hardly grunt out the words that the NYC hospitals, did, in fact, have all the medical supplies and equipment they needed.

That the Democrats and the liberal media are demonstrably as interested in scoring political points against President Trump as they are in pulling together in a united effort as in such dire times as these is truly telling. As that brilliant Democratic intellectual Bill Maher said in an unintentionally prescient way a few years ago, “One way to get rid of Trump is a crashing economy…bring on the resession.” Maher’s words speak for Democrats today. The coronavirus has stalled the economy, at least for the moment. For the Democrats, that is good news, especially if enough Government assistance comes forth to keep people’s heads above water. Combine that with an end to the virus that can’t in any way be a result of any Republican idea or policy and you have the ideal Democratic scenario.

That is where we are now: One of our two major political parties (and the 45% of the electorate that blindly supports them, no matter what) is both pleased at the temporary economic slowdown and is openly rooting for the President and his staff to fail at rectifying the current hardships.

What is it with the Democrats?

Weekend at Bernie’s

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

How quickly the political winds can shift. A few weeks ago, all the talk was about the “unstoppable” Bernie Sanders, how this time there would be no Clinton machine working illicitly behind the scenes to rig the nomination process against him, how his minions had coalesced into an actual movement, grabbing onto a growing but underserved segment of the electorate, and how Democratic Party officials would bend over backwards to assure that he would not be “cheated” out of the nomination this time if he legitimately won the requisite delegates. Yes, 2020 was Bernie’s year, the year of socialism, the year America finally fulfilled what Bernie saw as its obligation to reward the underclass while concurrently punishing the upper class.

However, merely forgiving student debt, extending Medicare to all and eliminating national borders wouldn’t be enough. The ultimate satisfaction would only take place if actual financial pain was inflicted upon the wealthy. After years of watching the rich get richer, those saddled with student debt deserved a measure of schadenfreude along with their loan forgiveness. Higher income taxes. A special surtax. A wealth tax—a comeuppance for the crime of merely holding an unforgivable sum of money. It would feel so good knowing that their college loan payoff was directly infringing on the unjust indulgences of the upper crust.

But all of a sudden, potholes spontaneously appeared on the Road to the Nomination. All the so-called “moderates” dropped out and tossed their support and money behind ‘ol Joe Biden, the reasonable one, the non-extremist candidate, the direct link to the greatest Democratic president of all time. Super Tuesday turned into a disaster for Bernie. Biden rose from the dead. Bernie’s magic carriage split an axle and is stuck on the road, awaiting repairs, as ‘ol Joe rides by in slow motion on his donkey, tipping his hat as he goes. The contest for the nomination is very much in doubt and Bernie is looking at Joe’s donkey from behind.

Both Bernie and Joe are older guys. Age has always been a controversial topic when it comes to leadership. How old is too old? When does one’s mental capacity begin to decline? Obviously, it varies greatly from person to person. In politics, party is also a factor. The liberal media openly questioned President Reagan’s mental fitness for office because of his age even before he beat Carter in 1980 (Reagan was nearly 70 when he assumed office). Hillary Clinton would also have been nearly 70 upon entering office in 2017, yet her mental acuity at the same age as Reagan was never even questioned.

There is a world of difference between innocent ‘misspeaks’ or exaggerations and fundamentally losing one’s perception on reality. Trump exaggerates constantly. He goes for the dramatic impact of the moment. He undoubtedly knows he’s exaggerating or winging it, but it doesn’t matter. His overall point is crystal clear and everyone—supporters and detractors alike—knows exactly what he’s getting at. While his critics love to jump on whatever small detail inaccuracies he utters at that particular moment, after 3 ½ years of the Trump Presidency, what writer Salena Zito said during the 2016 campaign is truer now than ever: “Trump’s supporters take him seriously but not literally. His critics take him literally but not seriously.”

It’s different with Biden. His gaffs are far too numerous, far too serious. These are not the bleatings of an opportunistic politician caught up in the emotion of the moment, becoming a little tongue-tied while trying to make a dramatic point. Bernie Sanders may say the U.S. is an evil country, but we know that he’s just being deliberately overly theatrical. His words may be inappropriate, inaccurate and distasteful, but most people aren’t questioning Sanders’ actual mental health. They question his judgment and outlook, yes, but not his mental stability. In his late 70’s, Sanders gives every impression of being one sharp, cantankerous individual who is speaking and acting quite intentionally.

Biden’s behavior is agonizingly, painfully familiar to anyone who has a declining older parent or older friend. We all recognize the mannerisms, the fragile attempts at correction and rationalization and the uncomfortable, wan smiles as they try vainly to mask what is all too obvious: a diminished mental awareness and reduced capacity. You begin telling your mom, “Don’t give your Social Security number to anyone over the phone,” because you realize she is confused so easily. You tell your dad, “I’ll take Thursday off from work and go to the doctor’s with you,” because you know that he won’t understand everything, won’t hear everything, won’t ask the right questions and will likely forget the most important things right after he leaves. Your older parents are ok to still do their own grocery shopping or drive three miles for an early dinner at Cracker Barrell, but they can no longer process multi-faceted, complex information and they can’t make far-reaching, high-level decisions.

What if Joe Biden wins the nomination and then somehow defeats President Trump in November? Can he govern? Can he understand all the incredibly complex national security, defense, economic/financial and diplomatic issues facing him and then craft a coherent vision to move the country forward? Will there be—can there be—a compelling “Biden Doctrine” that confidently positions the United States in an advantageous stance relative to our greatest international, economic and military adversaries?

The thought among many is that a Biden presidency would be a shadow presidency because his lessened intellect and easily confused manner would render him incapable of satisfactorily meeting the demands of the office. The actual power and policy decisions would be generated from behind the scenes.  Unelected operatives and “advisors” would run the show, imposing their brand of governance and philosophy on the country. The 1989 movie “Weekend at Bernie’s” has become something of an icon in modern American popular culture, depicting an attempt to fool the outside world that a deceased insurance executive is still alive. The title of the movie is now a metaphor for any circumstance where a shallow figurehead is posited as an actual leader. The prospect of a Biden presidency is a truly frightening prospect for any level-headed voter. We’ve faced nothing like this before.

The Rise of Democratic Idiocracy

© 2020 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

As the 2020 campaign season heats up, the candidates are staking out their respective positions along the political continuum, looking to occupy precisely the right slot, the one that will appeal to a winning swath of voters come November.

President Trump has chosen his position: He’s taking the “Make actual day-to-day life better for people by strengthening the job market, reducing taxes, making energy more plentiful and affordable, reducing the negative economic impact and civil disruption caused by rampant illegal immigration, improving our national security by re-building our military and enhancing the country’s balance-of-trade situation by renegotiating failed agreements such as NAFTA” position.

It’s a strong position for him to take. He’s been remarkably successful at accomplishing these goals, to the tangible benefit of working American citizens across every demographic group there is—Men, women, old, young, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Euro/Caucasians, everyone. Despite the liberal mainstream media’s best efforts at constantly berating him and supporting the manic, obsessive attempts by elected Democrats to somehow reverse and nullify President Trump’s 2016 victory over the increasingly-pathetic Hillary Clinton, President Trump continues to make huge progress on a wide front of issues. In the privacy of their own thoughts, far away from the shrill obligatory denunciations they shout with such utter predictability day after day, Democrats must realize that under President Trump’s leadership, things are going very well in the country.

This realization creates a conundrum for Democrats: They must somehow convince an electorate that is working at well-paying jobs and pretty happy with the way things are going with most aspects of their lives that somehow they’re not really happy after all, and things aren’t as good as the reality of their own lives tells them it is.

So the Democrats have done something inventive and unique: They’ve created a new reality. They’ve created an idiocracy. The Pop Culture Dictionary defines idiocracy as “a society run or made up of idiots.” In this new Democratic world, the absurd is now the accepted norm, totally illogical thought becomes completely rational, scientific fact is discarded for the purpose of political expediency and historical fact is a tiresome inconvenience that can be ignored as needed.

Some examples:

Freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is clearly the Thought Leader of the current Democratic Party. Her almost daily pronouncements are laughably detached from any semblance of reality (“We only have 12 years left to correct Global Warming! This is our World War Two!”), yet her philosophies and utterances somehow serve as the guideposts for all the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates. She spouts all the usual clichés: capitalism is bad, America is evil and deeply flawed, only the wealthy are doing well, etc., but the Democratic candidates parrot every single one of them. They may put their own individual twists on them in order to distinguish themselves from one another, but the overriding “America is unfair, it’s racist, and a Republican-run America will ruin the world’s future with its greed unless we stop it” theme is common to all the contenders. Idiocy.

Bernie Sanders

When asked by Norah O’Donnell of CBS —as  friendly a liberal media TV interviewer as there could possibly be—what his universal Government-run health plan would cost, Sanders replied, “I don’t know, no one knows.” She was incredulous (which is kind of incredible in and of itself). He calls himself a “Democratic Socialist,” but is never asked to specifically explain exactly what that means, or what percentage “democratic” and “socialist” things are in his imaginary world. Like the cost of his healthcare plan, Bernie doesn’t know. His plans and thought processes are idiotic.

Joe Biden

Poor Joe. Is he even still in the race? He gives every indication of not knowing exactly what world he’s in from moment to moment. He lurches from so-called “moderate” to “Freebie-Joe” as the exigencies of the moment change. However, there is no question that Joe is trying desperately to find that magical thinnest sliver of unfulfilled need—which simply may not exist—in the minds of those critical swing voters so that he can come to their rescue. He’d have a better chance if he knew what state he was in. The term “idiot” comes to mind, which is perfect for the party that is frantically building an idiocracy as fast as it can.

Michael Bloomberg

Conveniently disavowing the conservative governing principles he embraced to great advantage while serving as Mayor of New York, Bloomberg has tried to fall right in line with current Democratic talking points. But an unexpected audio clip of him enthusiastically defending the effective ‘stop-and frisk’ practice some years ago has given lie to his credibility as a minority-loving candidate in the Democratic mold. His advertising theme is emblematic of the difficulties the Democrats face: ”Mike will get it done.” Get what done? Reduce unemployment, especially in the minority community? Increase wages? Reduce minority poverty and their need for food stamps? Make us energy independent, immune from world-wide oil shocks? To “Get it done,” Mike will have to create a new Bizzaro world, a world where everything is different. In the real world—the one where we all live—President Trump has already gotten it done. Sorry, Mike. See Joe Biden, above.

Nancy Pelosi

She rips up her copy of President Trump’s SOTU speech and it’s ok. Nary a comment of criticism from any Democratic politician or the liberal media. (One can only imagine the horrified outcry had a Paul Ryan done the same to President Obama.) This from a person who says she is Catholic and there is no hate in her heart for the president. For Pelosi and the idiocrats, it’s fine to invoke religion when rationalizing their preferred behavior, but when pinned down about the conflict between their support for abortion and Catholic values, Pelosi and her ilk quickly retreat to that tired argument of supporting established law vs. holding their own private personal opinion. ”Established law” can easily be changed by a vote of conscience, if it mattered to you. Sort of like the way the Jim Crow laws were changed. Got that, Nancy? So in the Democrats’ new reality, their idiocracy of anti-Trump, all the time, since Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats are such disingenuous hypocrites, she is reduced to uttering such nonsense as, “Hip, hip hooray, unemployment is down. What does that mean to me in my life?” That was in 2018 and Pelosi was referring to lagging wage growth. Now, of course, we enjoy very strong wage growth, and the strongest increases are at the lowest end of the wage scale, where Democrats have traditionally mined votes with their giveaway programs. Another issue whisked away from the Democrats and pocketed by President Trump.

President Trump has cut off the political escape routes for any rational election opponent: Minorities are doing better economically than at any time in our history, we’ve reduced carbon emissions more than any country on earth, wages for all are rising and we’re energy-independent. Every aspect of American life is getting better and better. The Democrats have no real openings. So they’re reduced to fabricating an idiocracy where their candidates recite total nonsense and they think we’ll fall for it.

Useful Idiots

By

Filed Under Congress, General, Trump on Nov 14 

Useful Idiots

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Although originally a term used to describe unwitting communist sympathizers, the term “useful idiot” has come to mean someone who is supposedly on one side of an issue but whose public statements do, in fact, assist the opposing side. They are referred to as useful idiots because their statements support and strengthen the opposition, but such statements do not confer any benefit or credit onto them. They are “useful” to the opposition, but “idiots” if they think there is some personal gain to be had.

In modern-day American politics, such useful idiots exist predominantly in the Republican ranks. There are many such idiots whose statements and votes aid Democratic positions, but do not result in any strengthening of their personal reputation or public perception whatsoever. Such idiots never seem to occur in Democratic ranks, assisting Republicans.  

There are many high-profile Republicans who are famous for their useful idiot status. One of the most recent and notable is Mitt Romney. Romney—the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee—is about as a high-profile Republican as there is. His continual anti-Trump outbursts and holier-than-thou high-minded pronunciations are pounced upon by liberal pundits as “proof” that even many life-long conservative Republicans are opposed to President Trump and recognize his threat to the norms and accepted conventions of our culture. The fact that Romney is actually a very soft conservative who brought Romneycare to MA before Obama even introduced Obamacare to the country is very conveniently ignored by the liberal media. They enjoy nothing more than using a putative “conservative’s” words to criticize President Trump.

When the President announced recently that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria, the ensuing Democratic criticism was immediate and predictable. But when many well-known Republicans like Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell joined that chorus, it was surprising. No parallel Democratic public criticism was heard when Barack Obama did something everyone regarded as ill-advised, such as when he allowed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad cross the “red line” without consequences or when he sent Iran 1.7 billion dollars in cash (piled high on pallets, mostly in foreign currency), coincidentally just as four American hostages were being released. No one believed the risible excuse given by the Obama administration that the cash payment was unrelated to the hostage release but was instead a settlement for a totally independent arbitration agreement stemming from 1979.

Consistent with Obama’s many other amazingly weak foreign policy actions, the cash to Iran maneuver was a straight up “cash for hostage” move, in direct contravention to long-standing American policy. Yet no Democrat came out publicly and criticized Obama. No high-profile Democrat said it was a betrayal of our values as a country or that it would grievously weaken our ability to conduct effective action in the future or that the President violated the law or anything of the sort. The public face of the Democrats was consistent and unbroken. No criticism. Nothing even remotely for the opposition to latch onto as “proof” of Obama’s misdoings.  Let’s give the Democrats their credit for knowing how to play effective hardball politics (including how to leverage the already-sympathetic liberal media for maximum benefit): Democrats do not waver. High-profile Democrats never stray from the party line.

But high-profile Republicans stray from conservative orthodoxy all the time, perhaps in some misguided desire to appear “reasonable.” Democrats never reach across the aisle, despite what some of them say during their campaign run-up to the election. Once in D.C, Democrats oppose Republican bills, proposals, policies and Supreme Court nominees with astonishing consistency. About the only time a Democrat will vote for a Republican position is when the matter was going to pass anyway, and the Democratic politician has been “authorized” by their Party leadership to vote the other way in consideration of protecting their electoral viability in their home district. In other words, Democrats vote Republican when it benefits the Democrat in future elections.

This useful idiot seems to exist only in Republican dugouts.  Only Republicans have to confirm their votes over and over again to be sure their members are checking the correct box.  The Senate is currently 53-47 Republican. (Two of the 47 are actually “Independents” who caucus with the Democrats.) Once the House passes Articles of Impeachment—and they will, even if they are reduced to charging President Trump for the crime of putting mayonnaise on a corned beef sandwich—and it goes to trial in the Senate, it will take 2/3 of the Senate to convict him. That means the Democrats will need 20 Republican votes to reach the requisite 67. The fact that pundits and the President himself will actually have to analyze the list of 53 Republican Senators and make sure they have 34 “safe” votes says everything about how many “idiots” there are in the Republican ranks and that the Democrats have none.

It all gets back to the notion of what these squishy Republicans were thinking when their public statements go against their party and their president. Are they thinking that they have such high ethical ideals that they simply have to publicly oppose President Trump?  Are they thinking that by demonstrating such even-handedness on the public stage, even the liberal national media and their home district swing voters will accord them a significant measure of additional credit, thus smoothing their personal path to re-election?

Are they thinking that President Trump is truly focused on changing the incestuous ways of insider lobbying and deal-making by which so many politicians derive personal financial gain, so they need to stop him before their gravy train ends? In politics, self-interest usually rules the day. Democrats already publicly oppose President Trump for all these reasons, but they have the convenient cover of “opposing his policies” when they do so.

Seemingly “disloyal” Republicans very likely fear that President Trump—beholden to no special interests, intent on draining the swamp and not using his elected office for self-enrichment as are the majority of other politicians of both parties—will put an end to their cushy financial ride and self-indulgent D.C lifestyle, their celebrity and personal power and their sure-fire path to a soft, luxurious retirement.

Or perhaps, they haven’t thought it through at all.  They’re just unthinkingly shooting from the hip, without regard for how their remarks will be received.

In which case, they are indeed idiots. Although how “useful” is certainly debatable.

Republicans Are in Danger, Not the Presidency

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Republicans, who are continually naïve and politically inept, have taken to saying recently that the Adam Schiff-led impeachment proceedings are dangerous to the country because they put the very institution of the Presidency at risk. Republicans’ reasoning goes something like this: Impeachment is supposed to be the Congressional remedy if the president commits “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Serious transgressions that put the country at risk: selling military secrets to an adversary for personal financial gain, being party to a premeditated murder or heinous felony, or perhaps some blatantly immoral behavior while in office that distracts the president from adequately discharging his responsibility to the country.

Obviously, according to current Republican thought, nothing like that even remotely applies to President Trump. He is guilty only of defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016 and also perhaps of exhibiting a rough, direct personal/verbal style along the way.

Republicans make two mistakes:

  1. They think that the fundamental/legal illegitimacy of the Democrats’ impeachment charges will eventually lead to them failing or being dropped and
  2. They think that by pursuing an impeachment based on political animus rather than legal solidity, the Democrats are paving the way for any future Congress—regardless of which party is in control—to initiate impeachment action against a future president strictly because of political hatred and jealousy, thus de-stabilizing our political system and putting the very institution of the Executive Office at risk.

The Republicans are wrong on both counts. First of all, the popular (and undeniably accurate) saying around Washington DC is that, “High crimes and misdemeanors are whatever the Congress say they are.” If a majority agrees with the charges, then they go forward. There is no outside legal governing body that authorizes or disallows it. There is no NFL ref who is going to throw a flag and have the play recalled. If a majority of Congress wants it, Congress gets it.

But in order for impeachment charges to have any chance, they must have a stamp of legitimacy from the popular media. If the major media “sanction” the impeachment effort as being at least worthy of investigation, it lives on. If the popular media dismiss such charges as being born strictly from political acrimony and bitterness, it has no legs to stand on and the ordinary casual political participant—upon whom any necessary broad-based popular support will eventually rest—remains uninterested and disengaged.

Democrats enjoy favorable media treatment that Republicans can never hope to duplicate in the current media environment. According to research by the Media Research Center, major media coverage of President Trump has been 90% negative. His positive accomplishments—including a great economy with 50-year low overall unemployment, the lowest-ever Black and Hispanic unemployment, record domestic energy production and near-complete freedom from global energy pricing pressures, a newly-strengthened military, solid job creation and rising wages, getting NATO to step up and pay their share—are continually ignored and suppressed by the liberal media. His so-called “crimes”—imaginary though they are—are brandished about by this same media like fait accomplis, as if they’re well-known, accepted fact.

No such reciprocal situation would ever exist for a Democrat President facing a Republican-majority Congress. These days, if a Republican Congress attempted to bring empty impeachment charges against a sitting Democratic president, the Republicans would be excoriated by the liberal mainstream media, which includes all the highly-influential social media platforms that truly drive public opinion among the critical Millennial and Gen X voting blocs. If the Democratic president happened to be a minority, a woman or a non-heterosexual, then the media would savage the “old, white, straight” Republican Congress to a degree never seen before in the modern media age. The liberal media would take advantage of the opportunity to fire broadsides of bias accusation against the Republican brand, with the intent of inflicting permanent damage to the conservative image. It would be a media feeding frenzy the likes of which American politics has never seen.

Perfect example: Just recently, Democratic Representative Katie Hill resigned after it was discovered she had conducted a bi-sexual 3-way affair with her husband and a female staffer. Yet the liberal media was wholly uninterested, save for a few quotes defending her right to a “private life” and saying that Republicans were trying to use Hill as a distraction from the impeachment investigation. If Hill were a Republican, it would be Mark Foley all over again.

In 2006, Republican Congressman Mark Foley (white, middle-aged) was accused of sending “inappropriate messages” to teenage Congressional pages and forced to resign. The Democrats and the liberal mainstream media pounced on this story, flogging Foley and the Republicans mercilessly with unrelenting public attacks, severely damaging the Republicans’ image and contributing in no small measure to the Democrats re-taking the House in 2006. Hill’s transgressions were far worse than Foley’s. While Foley was merely accused of sending suggestive messages, Hill actually admitted to having engaged in a 3-way affair (coined a “throuple”) with her husband and a female staffer. However, the entire Hill matter faded from the liberal media headlines in astonishingly quick time, with no lasting damage whatsoever to the Democrats.

Another excellent example: Early in 2019, Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was discovered to have worn blackface in a yearbook picture. Yet despite the offensive picture, there was no liberal media outcry for his ouster, and he didn’t step down, in stark contrast to how the situation would have developed and been resolved had Northam been a Republican.

These are ironclad examples of the media double standard that favors the Democrats and hurts Republicans. Republicans are absolutely delusional if they think that in this media environment an impeachment action by them against a Democratic president could possibly be presented as being legitimate.

The Presidency as an institution is not in any danger from the Democrats’ Trump impeachment efforts. It is the Republicans’ continued existence as a meaningful American political party that is in danger, as they face a potentially crushing defeat brought about by the Democrats’ vastly superior use of the liberal media to their advantage, their devastatingly effective use of street-fighting political tactics, and their remarkable ability to remain unified as a party. Meanwhile, the Republicans foolishly, stubbornly adhere to their self-imposed, stiff, restrictive obedience to a Marquis-de-Queensbury approach to a political life-or-death struggle. If the Democrats are successful in overturning the legitimate results of the 2016 election and they force President Trump from office, the Republicans will have only themselves to blame. If the Republicans fail to come together and stop this, they cannot be considered a viable, functioning political party.

Sink the Clinton

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

In early stages of World War II (1939-1945) in Europe, Germany, after invading Poland to its east in 1939, turned its attention westward and conquered the “Low Countries” (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) on its way to vanquishing France in spring 1940. With almost all of western Continental Europe now under German control, Britain alone stood against Germany.

America had not yet entered the war and wouldn’t until December 1941 when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The United States was, however, supplying Britain with a very significant amount of both war materials and domestic goods under the “Lend-Lease” program. These goods were sent by ship convoy to England across the Atlantic Ocean. German U-boat submarines extracted a huge toll on this vital shipping lifeline, but even though the losses were high, they were survivable, and these supply lines—critical to Britain’s very existence— persevered.

However, in May 1941, Germany introduced a new element into the North Atlantic equation that threatened to bring disaster to Britain. This element was the new German battleship Bismarck. It was a huge, state-of-the-art warship, equipped with the very latest long-range heavy cannon, new stereoscopic range-finders that promised unprecedented accuracy, then-new ship-based radar, and it boasted an intricate system of armor-plating and honey-combed water-tight compartments that rendered her virtually unsinkable.  If Bismarck broke out into the vast, indefensible shipping lanes of the North Atlantic, it could wreak catastrophic havoc with the war-sustaining convoys coming across the ocean

The very existence of Bismarck hung like a sinister shadow above the Allies’ war effort. In 1941, it was widely believed that this single weapon might determine the very course of the war in Europe. Where the entire Luftwaffe (German air force) had been unable to cripple Britain’s warfighting capability with their aerial assault in the summer of 1940 and bring her to the negotiating table, now—in the spring of 1941—a single warship was threatening to do that very thing. The allies, especially Britain, were horrified. The British rallied around a national cry of, “Sink the Bismarck!”

As the Bismarck and her companion, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, headed towards the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, they were intercepted by the British battleships Hood and Prince of Wales. Those two ships were all that stood between Britain’s invaluable but vulnerable shipping lanes and what they thought was national survival. In the next few minutes, perhaps the most famous and consequential surface engagement of all time occurred.  The big ships fired on each other, their 14- and 15-inch guns booming with unimaginable destructive potential. It was the naval equivalent of two fearless, big-punching heavyweight boxers standing toe-to-toe, trading lethal knockout blows.  Something had to give.

Hood—the pride of the British navy—was struck by a perfectly-aimed salvo from Bismarck and exploded violently, breaking in two and sinking with just three survivors out of a crew of more than 1400. Observers on the Prince of Wales were awestruck in disbelief and horror.  One officer is reported to have simply uttered, “Blimey.”

After barely ten minutes of fighting, “The Mighty Hood,” as she was known, was gone. But Prince of Wales, despite suffering significant damage herself from Bismarck’s guns, scored some telling blows of her own, such that Bismarck was forced to disengage and head to home for repair.

She never got there.

Thanks to the Royal Navy’s Herculean effort to track her down and the lucky breaks of war, the British managed to catch up to Bismarck, whose speed and mobility had been impacted by damage she suffered in the engagement with Hood and Prince of Wales. British carrier torpedo planes inflicted further damage and now Bismarck was a sitting duck as the superior British forces closed in on her. Led by the battleships King George V and Rodney, Bismarck was pounded into a non-functional hulk, slipping beneath the surface on May 27, 1941.

In both 2008 and 2016, Hillary Clinton was the modern-day political equivalent to the Bismarck of nearly 70 years ago. Like Bismarck, Clinton was widely-regarded as purpose-built to a deadly end: Highly-capable in the ruthless art of political war, evil-intentioned, single-minded, intent on disrupting civilized society with a full complement of destructive policies and above all, looking to entrench herself as the uncontested holder of power, reigning supreme above all others. Her political presence hung like a malevolent curse over American society. The specter of her being in office, free to run roughshod over our culture and economy with her destructive, corrupt policies was as horrifying to freedom-loving Americans today as the prospect of a Bismarck on the loose was in 1941, raiding the life-giving shipping lanes.

No one had the ability to truly defeat her. It can be very convincingly argued that her loss at the hands of Obama in 2008 was a demographic-based defeat, the result of a never-to-be-duplicated confluence of conditions and circumstances along with an overriding “It’s time” sentiment among the Democratic primary electorate.

She bided her time, the political equivalent of a battleship waiting in port before embarking on its next combat mission. She launched her mission for the 2016 campaign, confident of juicy pickings and easy conquests. Using every unfair advantage and dirty tactic, she enlisted Russian assistance in the form of that totally false “dossier” on Donald Trump, kept a blatantly illegal private e-mail server to hide and control all her illegal communications and activities, got the FBI and Justice Departments to look the other way and leave her alone, and she completely rigged the primary election process to slough off that pesky Bernie Sanders.

She seemed to have every advantage: The unstoppable, battle-hardened political machine, Justice and FBI so totally cowed by her—for reasons we will likely never know—that they gave her free reign, access to unlimited funds, notably from the craftily-hidden but undoubtedly corrupt Clinton Foundation and, of course, the liberal mainstream media relentlessly cheerleading on her behalf.

The Bismarck also seemed to be unbeatable in 1941. Yet its final undoing came at the hands of an embarrassingly obsolete weapon, one that no one could have predicted in advance would play the telling role that it did: The carrier-based Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber. This was a biplane aircraft that looked more like Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel WWI fighter plane than a sleek modern attack aircraft. Wobbling unsteadily towards the Bismarck at barely 100 MPH, the Swordfish flew so slowly that the Bismarck’s modern, sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons could not track their motion slowly enough to get an accurate bead on them and shoot them down. The Swordfish was too slow for the Bismarck to hit them accurately. Amazing.

And like Achilles and his vulnerable heel, so too was the Bismarck critically unprotected: Its rudder, which controlled its steering—was exposed and easy to damage. A Swordfish-launched torpedo struck the Bismarck in the rudder, leaving her impossible to steer. So ended her dash for safety and the British fleet caught her the next day and finished her off.

Hillary Clinton was well-prepared for political battle against any modern Republican opponent. Cruz, Rubio, Jeb Bush, whoever it was would have had the battle of their lifetime against Clinton and her political weapons. She was the Bismarck. It would take the unlikeliest of weapons to defeat her.

Donald Trump was that weapon. He was the Fairey Swordfish that Hillary couldn’t shoot down. Like the Swordfish, Trump may have appeared unsophisticated and easy to dismiss, but he found her weak spots and struck hard, with crippling effectiveness. To extend the analogy, her campaign sank in ignominious defeat.

Germany did build another battleship just like the Bismarck, called the Tirpitz. The Allies watched her like a hawk, wary of her every move. Now, as was the case with the Tirpitz, speculation is running rampant as to whether Hillary may put to sea once again in 2020, looking to engage President Trump in a return match. She and her acolytes still regard the President as easy pickings. “I’d be happy to beat him again,” she bleats.

But the Tirpitz never made a meaningful combat voyage. It spent pretty much its entire career in port. Its biggest contribution to the war was getting its adversaries to wonder what it might do and causing significant resources to be arrayed against it just in case. However, it never actually did anything. British Lancaster bombers finally blasted it into oblivion in November 1944, six months before the war in Europe ended. The betting here is that Hillary is more like the Tirpitz than the Bismarck—dangerous on paper, but unlikely to do anything impressive in real life.

My Dad Was Better Than John Kerry

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Former MA Senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is an accurate precursor for today’s 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. Unbearably self-absorbed and phony, Kerry’s military career of was rife with controversy, surrounded by justifiable doubt regarding the legitimacy of his having been awarded three Purple Heart medals within a very short time span.  For what amounted to surface scratches incurred on three separate occasions, Kerry gleefully accepted the same citation given to real heroes who lost a limb or suffered a disfiguring injury while saving their comrades on the battlefield. Kerry should have sloughed off the very idea of accepting those Purple Hearts for injuries no worse than a shaving cut. He didn’t miss a single day of service due to those injuries. Not a day.

Unfortunately, the military does not distinguish between severity of wounds when awarding the Purple Heart. Regardless of how true or fraudulent Kerry’s Purple Heart claims are, the fact is Kerry’s having accepted the medals devalued and disrespected the serious, life-threatening injuries suffered by real soldiers in actual combat.

Critics claim that Kerry was a conniving, disingenuous shill from Day One, who always had his eye on a future political career. His preening, insufferable anti-military 1971 testimony in front of the Senate, complete with his pretentiously affected pronunciation of “Jen-Gis Con,” is so laughably transparent as to be unbelievable. Yet this dishonest, put-on, all-for-show snake-oil salesman somehow managed to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2004. He began his acceptance speech by awkwardly saluting and squawking, “Reporting for Duty!” as if anyone in the known universe thought Kerry or any Democrat had the slightest allegiance to anything with any connection to America’s military. Since Jimmy Carter in 1976 and continuing right through today’s 2020 Democratic contenders, Democrats have been virulently anti-military, viewing its funding as robbing them of vote-bribing social program dollars and condescendingly regarding military people—from enlisted personnel all the way to senior command officers— as nothing more than unsophisticated war-mongering oafs, incapable of grasping the finer points of civilized society.

Today’s Democratic Party does not care about the good of the country as a whole, nor does any current Democratic presidential contender care about the military or understand much about its role. The Democrats are simply interested in winning elections and attaining power, not in furthering the best interests of the country. They look at the country as a big collection of special-interest groups, to be singled out as victims whose salvation shall be delivered for “free” by a Democratic-sponsored Government program. Women, blacks, Hispanics, people below the poverty line, LGBTQ, college students, seniors, and minimum-wage workers are all regarded by the Democrats as simply pieces of the electoral puzzle, to be won over with a taxpayer-funded program crafted just for them. Beneficiaries of such programs will vote for the Dems, while well-heeled liberals will assuage their personal guilt and bolster their self-esteem by voting in favor of them.

The military doesn’t fit into this plan. Military funding does not alleviate the suffering of a special-interest group in a vote-winning manner. Foreign policy success does not convince the 25-year-old with $72k outstanding in college loans to vote for you. F-35s may unerringly destroy their targets in hostile airspace but they will never shatter that supposed “glass ceiling.”

The John Kerry Democrats exploit their military service (if they even serve at all) as nothing more than a political checklist, while demeaning and devaluing the very institution they’re using to further their own personal fortunes. It’s quite a contrast to the way the Greatest Generation served their country. Very few, if any, soldiers serving in combat in WWII publicly identified themselves as Democrats or Republicans, as liberals or conservatives. They were simply Americans, united by a common goal, loyal to the country and to each other.

So it was with my dad. He served in the 338th Field Artillery Battalion in Italy. My dad was an FO (forward observer). The FOs would go to the front lines and find a suitable hiding place. There, they’d use their binoculars to observe how and where their cannon fire was landing, and they’d radio corrective instructions back to the battery.

338th Field Artillery Battalion Insignia

Obviously, the Germans hated the FOs, since they were the ones responsible for directing lethal fire down on them. One day, the Germans spotted my dad’s small group, holed up in a small abandoned house on a hill. No one knows for sure what gave their position away—perhaps it was a glint of sunlight reflecting off a binocular lens. But whatever it was, the Germans spotted them and brought their own 88mm guns to bear on the house. The Germans leveled it, with many American casualties. My dad was struck in the head by a falling beam. The survivors managed to get back to base and my dad was sent to the backlines for emergency surgery, which included the placement of a steel plate in his head.

Want to know what my dad’s most urgent request was following surgery? He wanted to know how soon he could rejoin his buddies at “B Battery.” That was not an uncommon request. U.S. soldiers had an extremely strong sense of commitment and devotion to each other and to their mission. Soldiers would routinely lie about their condition, telling the medical staff they were better than they really were, in an effort to get back to the “boys.” After the war, my dad returned home, got a degree in Civil Engineering under the GI Bill, earned a modest, respectable blue-collar salary in the construction industry and raised his family. He never spoke of the war, he never boasted about his bravery under fire, nor did he ever try to leverage his near-death Purple Heart experience for any kind of personal gain. Like millions of other WWII vets, he was simply a quiet, class guy who did his job and expected no special treatment.

John Kerry accepted three Purple Hearts for wounds no worse than falling off a bike and skinning your knee, all with the duplicitous intent of parlaying a blatantly false, inflated record of military “heroism” into a lucrative future political position. Kerry is the prototypical modern Democratic politician who is all about themselves, all about looking for electoral advantage regardless of the truth, all about Party before Country. Whether it’s favorable international trade deals, treaties/agreements between adversarial nations (like the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris Climate Accords, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty, etc.), border security or anything else, President Trump uses just one benchmark to determine whether the U.S. will continue or withdraw from an existing agreement or enter into a new agreement: Will it benefit America?

Today’s Democrats employ Kerry-like reasoning in every move they make, in every vote they take, with every press conference or interview they give: “How will this benefit my personal power ambitions?” If the truth and the country have to suffer in subservience to personal and Party ambition, so be it.

My dad was better than that. Much better.

Conventional Retirement Wisdom is Wrong!

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There’s an awful lot of retirement information and advice floating around out there. If you use a computer during your work day and have a look at any of the popular business websites (like MarketWatch, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, CNBC, etc.)  from your laptop, they all have articles on retirement strategies, reports of how many Americans are or aren’t saving enough for retirement, commentaries on the best places to retire, sponsored ads with “retirement savings” calculators showing you how much you need to put away to reach some arbitrary nest-egg savings goal, and so on. It’s dizzying.

For the average private-sector worker who is not independently wealthy, Social Security is a major component of their overall retirement income picture.  Estimates are that Social Security will constitute from 33-50% of the retirement income for most middle-class working Americans. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to make the assumption that Social Security remains solvent for the foreseeable future, for the scope of this discussion. That may be an erroneous assumption, but by all accounts, Social Security, as presently structured and funded, is 100% good through around 2030, so this article concerns retirees within that time horizon.

The issues regarding extending the solvent date of Social Security are a combination of inexorable demographics (the ratio of workers currently funding SS to workers claiming it is around 2 ½:1, compared to a ratio of more than 10:1 in the 1950’s) and political will. Social Security can be made solvent by either raising or removing the income cap to which the tax applies ($132,900 in 2019) or increasing the percentage of the tax itself, or some combination of the two. Politicians will have to come to grips with this soon, regardless of the “third-rail” aspect of the matter.

In the meantime, the facet of Social Security that seems to garner the most attention from financial retirement “experts” is when: when is the best time to take one’s Social Security payment? As most people know, a person may begin to take Social Security at age 62 (early retirement). At some point a few years after that (a sliding scale, depending on the person’s year of birth) there is their full-retirement age (FRA). For Baby Boomers retiring now, their FRA is 66. For every year that the retiree delays claiming SS past age 62, their payment will increase by about 8%/year and continue until age 70. That’s when a retiree’s SS payment will be maximized.

During “early retirement” (age 62-65), the amount of money that a person may earn as regular working wages is limited before those wages are counted against one’s SS payment. For example, from age 62-64, a person may earn $17,600 without any effect on their SS payment. Every two dollars earned above that amount reduces a person’s SS payment by $1.

So, let’s use a typical (but hypothetical) example to illustrate what happens. Let’s say a 62-year-old person—an accountant at a downtown firm—earns $70,000 a year. They’ve had a good career and they’re looking to collect at 62 but they want to keep working. Their Social Security income—based on their personal earning history–will likely be somewhere around $2200/month, or $26,400/year. If they were to continue working at $70,000/year while collecting SS, they would collect nothing. Nothing.

Here’s why:

$70,000 salary – $17,600 Social Security exclusion = $52,400. At the 2:1 reduction, that will eliminate $26,200 of that person’s Social Security payment—virtually all that they were scheduled to receive in the first place.

Therefore, the experts are quick to tell us, if you delay collecting until your FRA, then your payment will increase by nearly 8%/year and your lifetime total income lines will “cross” at around age 78. You’ll collect more over your lifetime if you delay the date at which you start taking Social Security. In addition, there is no earned wage “exclusion” limit at one’s FRA—no matter how much you earn, those earnings will not affect or reduce your Social Security payments.

This is why the conventional wisdom tells us, “Don’t take your Social Security until 66. Even better, don’t take it until 70. You’ll receive much more over your lifetime that way.”

That thinking is wrong. Back-loading one’s Social Security payments—especially starting them as late as age 70—is exactly the wrong approach for the average middle-class working person (the person earning between, say $50-60k/year and around $120k/year).

There is one thing that none of the so-called experts and financial websites ever take into account when recommending a Social Security timetable. Unfortunately, it is the critical thing, the only thing that really matters at all in the final analysis of retirement planning.

When recommending that retirees delay Social Security until 66 or 70 based strictly on the lifetime “numbers,” the experts fail to take into account this all-important consideration: Quality-of-life. It’s an indisputable and inescapable fact that as we age, our health deteriorates and our energy level diminishes. Our motivation to travel, our desire to learn and accomplish new things, our willingness and zest for socializing with others, all of that is far lower at age 75-80+ than it is from 65-70. It makes no sense—none—to optimize one’s retirement income for a time when it is of far less actual value to people. What good is having more money available to travel at 83 when your arthritis is so advanced that you can hardly travel into the kitchen without your walker?

Fortunately, there is an excellent solution. Remember the income exclusion amounts we spoke of earlier? From age 62-64, the income exclusion was only $17,600/year before it began to reduce a person’s SS payments.

But there is a little-known and inexplicably glossed over fact of the Social Security income exclusion and it is this: during the calendar year when a person goes from age 65 to 66 (their full retirement age), that income exclusion amount rises from $17,600 to $46,900! This has absolutely huge implications for SS planning.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that a person turns 66 (their FRA) in July and they earn a nice middle-manager salary of $85,000. Certainly, that’s a common situation that describes millions upon millions of workers. That person could begin taking their Social Security payments a full six months before their FRA while continuing to work and earning their full salary, without any reduction in their SS payments. In July of that year, they turn 66 and there is no income exclusion, so they can work earn and collect SS at the same time or they can retire.

But for the six months prior to their FRA, that person is collecting a very substantial portion of the full-retirement SS payment (age 65 payments are over 92% of the age 66 FRA payment) and they’re earning their full salary as well. That’s the key: by timing one’s SS collection to a $46,900 block of time before your FRA (in this example, six months), you come out well ahead by virtue of this “double-dipping.” Most importantly, it gives the person a truly meaningful, substantial retirement income when they can make the best use of it and need it most—in their mid-late 60’s.

This six months’ worth of “extra” Social Security collection for those six months prior to FRA more than makes up for delaying SS collection until FRA or later.

If this person’s SS payment at age 65 is, say, $2300/month, then for those six months they will have collected $13,800 in “extra” SS payments—while still collecting their full salary. They have that extra money in their pocket at age 65. An 8% increase at age 66 from $2300 to $2484/month is $2208 more per year. It will take that person over six years to make up that difference (13,800/2208 = 6.25 years) had they waited. Instead, they have the extra money when they are most able to make the best use of it and enjoy it: from age 66 to 72. If they continue working past their FRA, they will be even further ahead, since there is no income exclusion at one’s FRA.

Taking into account the Quality of Life consideration, it makes the most sense for a healthy individual to front-load the Social Security component of their retirement plan by taking SS for a $46,900 block of time prior to reaching their FRA in that calendar year. Such a strategy balances the conflicting but highly-desirable objectives of early retirement age vs. maximizing lifetime earnings in the most advantageous manner.

Do the Democrats Have an Issue?

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The poor Democrats: As the Russia Collusion/Mueller Investigation issue disappeared into nothingness like so much skywriting wisping away into the winds, so to did the sure-fire issue with which the Dems thought the White House would automatically be theirs in 2020. The candidate themself was irrelevant, an afterthought. We have it in the bag, the Dems thought. It’s just a matter of to which person we bestow the privilege of the Presidency this time around. Let’s pick a good one: A woman. No, a woman of color. No, a gay. No, an Hispanic. Perhaps an American Indian.

But that slam-dunk Russia issue is gone. Gerry Nadler and Adam Schiff are still flailing about, trying to collect their “undeniable” Russian collusion evidence and convince the rest of the Democratic caucus to initiate impeachment proceedings.

It looks doubtful that that’s going to come to pass. So the “President’s a crook” angle apparently is not going to deliver a greased downhill slide into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the Democrats. It appears—at this juncture, at least—that the Democrats will actually have to come up with a convincing policy platform in order to win the White House. They’ll have to identify substantive issues of actual importance and persuade enough Undecideds that the Democratic Party will improve their lives and make the country safer and more prosperous.

What are their issues? What are the candidates putting forth thus far? Do any of them seem like game-changers, the lynchpin to electoral victory?

One policy they’ve all put forth, in one form or another, is a single-payer Government-run healthcare system, sometimes referred to as Medicare for All. Almost all the Dems propose the elimination of the private insurance industry in favor of a European-styled system. After all, healthcare is a “right,” not a “privilege.”

Ahh, but the devil is in the details—how, in actuality, do we get rid of the insurance industry? What happens to those millions of workers? How do we set up the Federal Healthcare bureaucracy?  How long will that take? Medicare currently covers 80% of the Part B expenses–where will other the 20% come from that is currently funded by private insurance programs? Or will this new Medicare-for-All now cover all 100%? Has that been figured into the cost estimates? No Democratic candidate ever says. They probably haven’t thought it through that far, they probably don’t even know. Getting rid of the private insurance industry is a pipedream, a hollow talking point. It will simply never happen. Never, and the Dems know it.

Free college tuition and forgiveness of student debt is also a popular talking point for many of the Dems. Some candidates want to cancel student debt altogether. There’s never a mention of actual details, however. Debt for private universities or just public ones? Sanders and others say that tuition should be free to public college, but they never specify which debt they’re going to forgive. What about students who’ve recently paid back their loans? Do they get reimbursed? Is there a look-back period, a sliding scale of partial reimbursement? Who will pay the financial institutions the money that they’re owed if the loans are forgiven? No one ever says. That’s because it’s just a talking point, a lie.

Another one is reparations for slavery as punishment for “white privilege.” This one is especially rich with bogusity, even by present-day Democratic standards. How will this be determined? Will everyone’s ethnic background be researched and by whom? Do reparations apply only to those of actual African heritage? What about dark-skinned persons from, say, South America or the Caribbean? Do they qualify? What will happen with people of mixed heritage? Barack Obama and Halle Berry, to use two well-known examples, are progeny of mixed white-black parentage. Would they be qualified for just 50% of the award? If ever there was an intentionally disingenuous, empty-headed policy proposal, this is it.

The Democrats want to rescind the tax cut and they all brag that they’ll do it on their “first day.” As was the case when President George W. Bush cut taxes, the Democrats automatically yell, “Tax cuts for the rich!” whenever there is a tax cut. It’s a risible claim. Ask any middle-class blue-collar worker earning $60,000 a year if they want to give back their $130/month tax cut to the Government. “Sure, I don’t need it, I don’t like getting my monthly gasoline essentially for ‘free.’ You can keep your $130, as long as I have the satisfaction of knowing that Mitt Romney’s taxes are going up too.” It’s not that Joe Average wants Ronmey’s taxes to go up. Mr. Average doesn’t care about Romney, he only cares about himself and his family. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden—and the others—are the ones who will take personal pleasure in raising taxes on the Mitt Romneys of the world.

The list goes on—The Green new Deal, open borders and the decriminalization of illegal entry into the country, free health care for illegal immigrants. LGBTQ issues taken to bizarre extremes, such as males being allowed to unfairly compete as females in sports and men who “identify as women” being allowed in women’s and girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms.

Such is the Democratic platform for 2020. Nothing the Democrats are proposing so far is grounded in even the slimmest notion of feasibility or reality. None of their latest proposals can or will ever happen. They’re all just empty promises of free giveaways, made to ignorant, greedy voters, the “low information” voters. Eliminating the insurance industry, free college tuition, reparations, the Green New Deal, none of those will ever happen, ever. The Democrats are not running on any legitimate policy proposals—nothing about finding and producing new energy, nothing about keeping the country safer, no actual ideas to help grow the economy and raise employment, nothing at all about meeting any international challenges in Iran, the Middle East, Russia or elsewhere.

Instead, now that the “Russia-Russia-Russia!” issue is gone, the Democrats have taken to promising anything, saying anything—no matter how outlandish—in order to win back their voters and defeat President Trump.

Any voter with even half a brain can see right through this. And therein lies the danger for President Trump.

Don’t Fight the Other Guy’s Fight

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There’s an old axiom in boxing that says you’ll never win if you fight the other guy’s fight. If he’s a slick boxer, you should try to pressure him, break his rhythm, force him to get into a punch-for-punch shootout.

Conversely if your opponent is a brawler, you should use fluid side-to-side movement and long, quick jabs to keep him at bay and prevent him from getting close. There’s a more colloquial expression for all of this: “Don’t hook with a hooker.”

Politics is no different. The winning side is the side that is most successful at framing the argument in terms more advantageous to their favored positions, the side that can convincingly present the talking points that play to their strengths while minimizing the amount of time and conversation spent in areas not to their liking. There are clichés that apply: Democrats don’t talk about building up the country’s military strength. Republicans would rather avoid the topic of race-based quota admissions.

Unless there is some immediate, unusual pressing emergency that forces an unwelcome issue to the fore, most of the time the candidate or party spokesperson can side-step it and not be forced into an uncomfortable defensive position.

There are times when talking about a “bad” issue are unavoidable: when cornered by a hostile media reporter during a press conference or interview, when a private citizen (a non-plant) manages to formulate an intelligent, informed question at a town hall, or during a debate when the opponent brings up a topic he/she thinks is going to make the other person look bad by forcing them to talk about what they don’t want to talk about.

What would be really effective would be if that candidate or spokesperson could turn their supposed weakness into a major strength. That would require that the opposition’s position/talking point was thoroughly analyzed, vetted, prodded and poked in advance, behind the scenes. Give it real thought, play Devil’s Advocate with it, defend it, role play with it, learn it backwards and forwards. The absolute worst thing to do is exactly what most politicians do now: merely dismiss it with a derisive wave of the hand, perhaps accompanied by a trite, sarcastic cliché.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s look at one issue. Democrats love this one. They get great mileage out of it. The “mushy middle” of inattentive, low Information voters is persuadable, being particularly susceptible to a message that is phrased simply and casts them—the voter—as a victim. When someone is told they’re a victim and I, your humble Public Servant, will come to your rescue, it can be quite compelling indeed. Elections are often won or lost by the effectiveness of messaging to this bloc.

The issue? Income Inequality. Message: Republican Fat Cats are overpaid. The implication: If the Fat Cats were paid less, that leftover money would somehow magically make its way directly into your pocket. Income Inequality is the source of all your ills. Greedy conservatives are unfairly given the money that should rightfully go to you.

That’s the Dems’ message. “Billionaires are immoral.” They push it hard and often. Republicans, to date, have had no effective counter to it. Nothing short, pithy and memorable. Nothing that is so true and unarguable that it shuts up the Democratic speaker—whether it’s a candidate, a party spokesperson or a liberal media talking head—and puts them into a state of open-mouthed shock, unable to speak.

“Conservative CEOs rake in millions of dollars in pay and stock options, bonuses, profit-sharing, etc., but the rank-and-file earns only $50k/year, 1/50th the CEO’s pay. All Republican policies are aimed at making the CEO even richer. Republicans love Income Inequality.”

The entire notion of “income inequality” is a farce, a non-issue, all-appearance/no-substance. When Republicans attempt to answer it, they’re doomed. They’re playing the Democrats’ game.

Ok, here’s the scenario: Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden or whomever is the Democratic Flavor of the Month is going on and on about income inequality, how it’s worse than ever, how it hurts the ‘little guy,’ and what they say drips with the implication that if rich conservatives are paid less, then poor derserving liberals and swing voters will somehow get more money.  “How,” precisely, they get that money is never explained, but no matter. The liberal moderator eats it up and throws one softball after another for the Democrat to hit out of the park.

Usually, the poor, communications-challenged Republican is clueless how to respond, and more often than not, follows their Democratic opponent and the liberal moderator down the one-way no-escape rabbit hole. They get humiliated, tagged—again!—with the “Republicans are heartless” label. The cliché is confirmed once more.

Not this time. This time the Republican has something up his/her sleeve. It’s called “Easily-Understood Logic,” that most rare of conservative communications commodities.

“So, Senator Harris, you’re not rich, right? But you live a fairly decent life.; Your family has enough to eat, you pay the electric bill and you generally have no real complaints. Is that a fair characterization?”

She nervously agrees, fearful that something is coming.

“And your next-door neighbor on your street, they’re in roughly the same boat, right? Not outright rich, but no actual complaints. Things are fine. Is that right?”

Again, Harris nervously agrees, knowing that something is coming.

And here it is: “Now, Senator Harris, let’s suppose that tomorrow, your next-door neighbor hits the lottery for $500 million and all of a sudden they’re incredibly rich. Yesterday, Senator Harris, you and your neighbor were in the same financial boat. There was perfect income equality. Today, they’re totally rich and you’re not. Complete income inequality. Tell us, Senator Harris, exactly how does your neighbor’s new-found wealth prevent you and your family from living a perfectly nice life?”

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. People’s income and financial status are independent of each other. It’s not a zero-sum game: One person’s income doesn’t go down just because another’s goes up. The economic pie is continually expanding. It’s not finite, where the size of one person’s “slice” directly impacts the size of someone else’s “slice.” GDP in America has more than doubled since 1999. The pie is expanding. There’s more than enough for everyone.

The term “income inequality” needs to be called out by Republicans for what it is: a totally inaccurate, pejorative term invented by liberals, designed to make conservatives look bad to the liberal media and to inattentive, low-information swing voters. The correct term is “income sufficiency.” As long as someone has an income sufficient to provide for their needs, that’s all that matters.

Let your next-door neighbor hit the lottery. Let Tim Cook or Warren Buffet make another few million today. Their income is not what is holding anyone back. There may be other things—structural or not—that cause any given individual to not enjoy income sufficiency, but the financial success of another person isn’t one of them.

Of all the rhetorical scams perpetrated by the Democrats, “income inequality” is among the worst. Republicans need to stop chasing that phony slickster around the ring, swinging and missing at a non-existent opponent.

Not Enough Fraziers

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

A lot of conversation these days is concerned with the degradation of American culture and society. There is a widespread feeling that too many people in this country no longer exhibit the enviable traits of hard work and self-sacrifice as a means to personal advancement, that respect for elders and traditional institutions is diminishing to an alarming degree and that an acknowledgement and appreciation of our country’s history as it pertains to the economic and societal advantages and opportunities that are afforded to the vast majority of the population is vanishing altogether.

A generation-by-generation analysis might shed interesting light on how and why the country seems to be where it is today.

Greatest Generation—this is the World War II generation. For men, many of them were in the armed forces, fighting all over the world. Although the modern conflicts from Vietnam onwards—fought in the television era—have received the most immediate daily coverage, the scale of casualties and the size and scope of the battles in WWII remain unsurpassed. On D-Day June 6th 1944, 2500 American soldiers died on the beaches of Normandy. The Pacific Island campaigns of Iwo Jima and Okinawa cost nearly 120,000 American dead and wounded in battles that lasted a combined total of mere months. As a matter of fact, Americans casualties in the Pacific occurred at the rate of more than 7000 per week, a number that is simply incomprehensible to the current American public, used to double-digit deaths per week during the war in Iraq.

The conditions in WWII were brutal, from the suffocating tropic heat of the Pacific jungles to the incredibly harsh European winters to the scorching heat of the African desert. The medical care/technology was primitive compared to today. Communications with family members at home were virtually non-existent, in stark contrast to the e-mail, texting and Skype that connects today’s soldiers to their domestic life.

For Greatest Generation women, it meant working in factories, suffering through food and supply shortages and rationing while struggling to maintain some semblance of family life and raise their children without their spouse.

The entire country sacrificed for the bigger national good, unquestioningly and unhesitatingly. When the war was over, the men simply came home, reunited with their families and they resumed a normal, unassuming life, raising their children, buying homes and living their lives. They saved the world from tyranny and bought a Ford. They didn’t ask for adulation or attention. They asked for a mortgage. The Greatest Generation, indeed.

Baby Boomers—born between 1946-1964, the children of the Greatest Generation—seem to be split into two distinct halves. A sizable segment espouses their predecessors’ traditional family and religious values and work ethic, while another segment of Baby Boomers is far more materialistic, self-absorbed and status conscious. Many of the Greatest Generation struggled through the Great Depression of 1929-1939 and vowed that “our kids would never suffer like this.” As a result, as they became financially successful following WWII, many of these Greatest parents over-indulged their Boomer children with all manner of material excess, expensive schools and societal privilege. That segment of Baby Boomers has been brought up to regard that level of extravagance to be “normal,” and they’ve passed those distorted values onto their children. The contention here is that the split between the two factions of Boomers is quite stark and definite. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground.

Generation X—a relatively small segment, born from roughly 1965-1980—is somewhat overlooked by demographers and sociologists, but as a group, X-ers appear to exhibit pretty solid values and a strong work ethic. Yes, they grew up as technology transitioned from 1940’s-1980’s wired telephones, snail mail and and over-the-air radio/TV to 1990’s-2000’s cell phones, cable TV and e-mail and thus they have a different expectation of convenience and normalcy compared to Boomers and Greatests, but as a group, X-ers have not called undue negative attention onto themselves. Given that they are the offspring of Boomers—half of whom in my view exhibit truly problematic ideals and conduct—it’s a bit of a mystery why Generation X has largely escaped the severe criticism that falls onto their younger cousins, the Millennial Generation.

Millennials, born from the early 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are criticized with the broad brush of cliché and generalization. But like most clichés and generalizations, these criticisms spring from at least partial truth. Specifically, Millennials are accused of:

  • Being given too much too soon
  • Having an unrealistic sense of entitlement, an inflated, distorted sense of their own self-worth
  • Wanting work and pay advancements way out of proportion to their achievements and qualifications—experience and seniority are not concepts they feel apply to them
  • Technological advancements and conveniences have eliminated their capacity for patience and restraint
  • Having little humility or respect for traditional institutions or the older generations
  • Feeling that the normal rules of waiting one’s turn don’t apply to them

While these are indeed generalizations and there are no doubt some fine young people in that age group, far too many Millennials are the perfect embodiment of these clichés. There are a lot of flashy young hotshots who believe they’re worth the big dollar payday right out of the gate and not enough of the nose-to-the-grindstone, self-effacing types willing to put in the no-excuses hard work in order to get the gold.

In short, the Millennial Generation appears to be woefully short of Joe Fraziers.

Joe Frazier was an American professional boxer in the 1960’s and 70’s. Fighting in the heavyweight division, Frazier was champion from 1970-1973. He’s best remembered for his epic battles with Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. His trilogy against Ali is regarded as perhaps the most bitterly-contested rivalry in all of sports, not just boxing. Frazier was small for a heavyweight and usually gave away 10-20 pounds in weight and several inches in height and reach to his opponents. But he made up for it with an amazing fighting spirit and a refuse-to-quit attitude. Yet despite his in-ring ferocity, Frazier was known for his friendly, easy-going nature and his personal generosity.

Regardless of the opponent, whether he won or lost (he won most of the time, but not every time), Frazier’s style and approach was characterized by his incredible toughness, a willingness to take a punch in order to deliver one and a determination and courage under fire that has virtually never been equalled in the annals of boxing.

A bloodied but undaunted Joe Frazier presses the action against Muhammad Ali

The Greatest generation was dominated by Joe Fraziers, people who refused to quit until they reached their goals, regardless of the obstacles in front of them. A sizable portion of Baby Boomers—the ones who built business, legal, entertainment and medical enterprises of the highest order by the dint of their own indomitable will and perseverance—were straight from the Frazier mold. Millennials? Less so, unfortunately.

Modern America—all generations—would benefit greatly by emulating Frazier’s quiet determination, kindness and class and his utter refusal to take a backwards step in the face of adversity.

AOC is the Democrats’ Voice

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Let’s give credit where credit is due: Has there ever been a freshman Congressperson who has made anywhere near as much of a national impact in so short a period of time as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? She’s only been in office for a few months, yet it seems as if she’s in the news every day. Her commentary and progressive vision have certainly taken the Democratic Party by storm and she is the unquestioned de-facto leading speaker for her side. She’s also a media darling—on both sides—because of her fearless, flamboyant, often outrageous statements. She’s definitely newsworthy.

AOC, as she’s amusingly known, has made an astonishingly high number of notable proclamations and policy proposals in rapid succession. No subject is off-limits; there is no area of national importance where she hasn’t weighed in. She has an opinion about everything and is only too eager to share it. Significantly, she obviously feels that her take on the various subjects is important and worthy of serious consideration. Some would say she thinks her opinions should be accepted as gospel-like fact and carried out in their entirety.

Some of her more pointed declarations:

The Green New Deal:

‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.’

‘Like, this is the war, this is our World War II.’

 ‘Today is the day that we choose to assert ourselves as a global leader in transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy and charting that path.’

‘I’m the boss, I’m trying. If you’re trying, you’ve got all the power, you’re driving the agenda, you’re doing all this stuff.’

Medicare for all:

‘’The United States should be a nation that allows improved and expanded Medicare for all.

Blocking Amazon’s New York City headquarters:

Anything is possible. Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.’

 Abolishing ICE:

‘An agency like ICE, which repeatedly and systematically violates human rights, does not deserve a dime.’

The most meaningful aspect of AOC’s flamboyant presence on the national stage is not her never-ending stream of continually outlandish opinions on any number of important issues, which is certainly impressive enough. Instead, it’s the supportive, almost giddy coverage afforded to her by an incredibly sympathetic liberal media, as they use her nearly-baseless pontifications to promote their own favored viewpoints, but without having to present AOC’s opinion as their own. They get to present it as “news”—something a high-profile politician said today—and thus attempt to pre-empt any direct criticism of that media outlet taking sides.

Has the rise of the AOC phenomenon caused Nancy Pelosi’s standing as the Democratic Speaker of the House—the supposed official “leader” of the Democratic House majority—to be diminished or threatened? Is there friction or conflict between them? Are AOC’s almost-daily pronunciations causing a rift in the Democratic Party between the new ultra-progressive wing and the older, more-traditional liberal faction?

Probably not.

Unbeknown to her, AOC’s newness and youth are being deftly exploited by Democratic Party veterans. They simply run her extreme radical progressive ideas up the flagpole to gauge public reaction. If her ideas seem too extreme, the Pelois and Hoyers of the world can distance themselves from them and reassure the swing/independent electorate that AOC is full of youthful exuberance and unrealistic ideological enthusiasm, but she doesn’t speak for the heart and soul of the real Democratic Party.

Pelosi will attempt to subtly put forth the notion that her party—the real Democrats—love their country, embrace the capitalistic American Dream where anyone can become a success, and fully support a clean environment with commensurate sensitivity to business and jobs. However, they are more compassionate, inclusive and aware of the needs of individual groups (like women, minorities, LGBTQ, etc.) than those hard-hearted, inflexible, further-right-than-ever Republicans. “Don’t worry—you can still advance your career and live a very nice life; we’re just going to make sure everyone has healthcare, breathes clean air, pays their fair share of taxes and that there’s common-sense diversity in the workplace and in our schools. That’s reasonable enough for you to vote for us, right?” That is Pelosi‘s and her ‘traditional wing’ Democrats’ implied stance. Whether it’s believable or not is another matter, but that’s their line, their distinction from the AOC wing.

But…if a radical idea posed by AOC seems to have legs and takes hold, then the Pelosi faction will be quick to glom onto it and claim it as their own. This way, they can have it both ways: Let AOC put everything out there. If a proposal or stance is so extreme that the mid-line swing voters reject it, then Pelosi will dismiss it as AOC’s naïve inexperience getting the best of her. If an idea from AOC seems to fire the public’s imagination and appears to become mainstream thought, then the traditional Pelosi wing can adopt it as if they were in favor of it all along.

AOC is the perfect trial horse, a no-lose proposition for traditional Democrats who are too cautious to propose liberally-adventurous, ground-breaking ideas of their own. They will willingly let AOC charge into the machine-gun fire of public opinion and take whatever hits come her way, but they will happily go along for the credit ride if any of AOC’s ideas strike a favorable chord.

For seasoned political observers, the most entertaining aspect of this entire scenario is that AOC has absolutely no idea that she’s being used by her own party. That’s how seriously she takes herself.

It’s Not About the Money

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There are probably few endeavors where human nature, psychology and communication strategy play as critical a role as politics. Whether or not a politician knows how to play the media (including the relative effectiveness of the various media vehicles), understands how their audience will react to their communication, is at ease with the subtleties and complexities of massaging and customizing a well-crafted message, all of these are central to determining if a given politician will be successful at being well-received and covered favorably.

Like him or hate him, President Trump has proven to be extremely adept at doing the one thing that all politicians hope to do: get his message out in a clear and unfettered manner, so that his audience knows exactly how he stands on a given issue or policy. He Tweets his messages daily directly to his audience, circumventing the distorting filter of the hopelessly biased liberal media, leaving them to comment and criticize him after the fact, once President Trump has already made his stance clearly and definitively known.

Another thing that President Trump does in marked contrast to virtually every major national politician who has preceded him in the last several decades is that he actually says what he means. He doesn’t couch his comments in trick phrases, codespeak and slippery euphemisms.

The Democrats are absolute masters of trick phrases, codespeak and slippery euphemisms. Being attuned to satisfying so many special-interest groups, the Dems have perfected the art of communicating in a deceptive manner, designed to deliver the message that their targeted audience wants to hear, whether or not the Democratic politician actually means it. That “targeted audience” might be a desired voting bloc (women, minorities, LGBTQ, immigrants, Millennials, etc.) or it could be a media outlet from whom that politician is hoping for favorable coverage (CNN, MSNBC, NYTimes, WaPo, Facebook, etc.). Either way, Democratic language is invariably intentionally-crafted and pre-planned to yield maximum positive political benefit.

Let’s look at some of these Democratic phrases—

“It’s not a partisan issue.”

When you hear this one, your antennae should spring to attention. This means one thing and one thing only: It is a partisan issue and the Republicans are wrong. It’s a cover phrase that then gives the Democratic talker free reign to criticize Republicans for any and all reasons under the sun while maintaining the appearance of ‘balance’ and non-partisanship.

“We can all agree on this.”

This is code for, ‘If you don’t agree with the Democratic position on this issue, you’re a prejudiced, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-LGBTQ self-absorbed ignorant religious conservative zealot concerned only with your fat-cat donors.’

“It’s not about the money.”

It’s precisely about the money.

“We want a fair and open process.”

Translation: ‘We’re pretty sure this investigation is going to go our way and show the Republicans to be at fault for some grievous, Constitutional-level crime so please don’t interfere with it in any way, no matter how blatantly corrupt and unfair the investigation process is.’

“I don’t think we should go down that path [Trump impeachment].”

What this actually means is, ‘I’m praying—like our entire Party is—that we’ll uncover a raft of undeniable, unequivocal crimes so heinous that we won’t even have to go through the bother of initiating the impeachment process in the first place. Instead, we’ll go straight to resignation, ideally being led out of office in handcuffs.’

You have a right to be believed. We’re with you.”

This really means than even the slightest whiff of questionable behavior on the part of a Republican male towards a woman should be assumed to be the Crime of the Century but blatantly worse, seemingly inexcusable acts by a Democratic male are to be forgiven or ignored, because ‘we need to understand the context.’

“It’s a manufactured crisis.”

This is a good one. Whenever Republicans bring up a legitimate issue, Democrats dismiss its importance, especially if they (the Democrats) do not want to address it or have no solution for it. The border wall is the latest example of that. National security, drugs and violent illegal immigrants pouring in through a porous border certainly comprise a real issue, but the Dems—looking to cultivate votes—do not want to address the problem. They also want to deny President Trump a political “win,” by depriving him of the opportunity to say he fulfilled his campaign promise and built the wall.

An ancillary benefit to the Dems of claiming this is a “manufactured crisis” is that it deflects attention away from their own manufactured crises (like the Mueller investigation, which has been exposed as nothing more than an empty distraction fabricated by petulant, detached-from-reality Democratic partisans emotionally incapable of accepting the stark finality of the 2016 election) and enables them to play offense and keep the political pressure on Republicans.

This is the language of today’s Democratic politicians. Their liberal media allies eat this up and cut them all the slack they need, never drilling down past the surface clichés or holding them to account in any meaningful way. 

In all candor, some Republican politicians employ the same type of slick codespeak, but they do not enjoy anywhere near the same degree of political cover from the popular media as do the Dems. Therefore, it’s not as effective when a Republican does it. 

Refreshingly, President Trump Says What He Means

However, unlike the Democrats, President Trump does not speak in slippery euphemisms. He says what he means:

“I will build a wall to keep out the drugs and violent criminals.”

“Europe is a mess—weak economy, weak military.”

“We’re going to have great trade deals for this country, unlike what we’ve had in the past.”

“The days of China ripping us off are over.”

“A country without borders is not a country.”

“When you look at your 401k, it’s a beautiful thing.”

People may disagree with the actual substance of his comments. People may dislike the style in which his comments are delivered.

But President Trump communicates in a manner unlike any politician before him: Direct. Unequivocal. Unambiguous. That, we really all can agree on.

Danger Abounds for 2020 Democratic Presidential Contenders

© 2019 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

Conventional wisdom posits that in the presidential primary season, the contenders focus most of their attention and efforts on the more extreme wing of their party, the thought being that these rabid partisans—be they extreme-left or extreme-right—dominate the primary voting turnout and thus play a decisive role in determining their party’s eventual nominee.

On the Democratic side, the first set of putative nominees (typified by Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro and the presumptive entry of Bernie Sanders) has obviously been influenced by the strain of über-liberal AOC-like thought, as they engage in a race to out-liberal each other, with their proposed Government giveaways reaching new heights. Astonishingly enough, Ocasio-Cortez’ undeservedly-hyped, bereft-of-specifics Green New Deal (along with Sanders’ 2016 tenets) has served as the blueprint for every Democratic contender’s platform. For them, no amount of Government-provided largess is too much or too unrealistic. Indeed, they present the notions of taxpayer-funded healthcare, free tuition, student loan forgiveness, guaranteed employment and income, guaranteed affordable housing, and unrestricted immigration as if they are perfectly normal, to-be-expected obligations of American government.

The liberal media—eager for political-presidential news of any kind and especially stories of the ‘we really, really hate Trump’ variety—is inclined to give these early declarees an unprecedented amount of coverage, since covering them and their hyperbolic anti-Trump rants gives the liberal networks the opportunity to present an almost unlimited amount of over-the-top anti-Trump stories under the guise of legitimate news: “We’re simply covering what Corey Booker said.” That Corey Booker’s opinion of President Trump is in ironclad lockstep agreement with CNN’s editorial stance is merely a happy coincidence.

The risk that all these early announcers face is overexposure and too-soon critical evaluation of their proposals. The danger for these early-announced Democratic contenders is threefold:

  1. Sameness and lack of individual identity and uniqueness. What is the difference between Harris, Warren, Sanders and Booker and their wildly anti-capitalist, pro-Socialist, ‘free everything for everyone” proposals? How is Harriscare different and better than Berniecare or Elizabethcare?
  2. Damaging early policy evaluation. Trump beat Hillary in large part by winning the votes of previously Democratic blue-collar voters in PA, OH, MI, FL and WI. The middle of the Democratic voting bloc doesn’t agree with all the radical positions espoused by this first wave of contenders. The longer these positions are exposed to the harsh sunlight of analysis, the more likely that a greater number of “ordinary” Democratic voters will reject them. Maybe the rabid extreme Progressive primary voters won’t, but the casual rank-and-file Democrat—the “Trump” Democrat—likely will. Polls will sour. Publicity will turn negative. That new shine will lose some of its luster.
  3. For a politician, being in the public eye for too long can be hazardous. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” as the old saying goes. Perhaps Warren’s caustic, screechy voice will wear thin after several months on center stage. Perhaps Bernie’s advanced age will suddenly become frighteningly apparent and unacceptable to Millennial Progressives, and he goes from “cool old guy” to “Who are you kidding, Grandpa?” in the blink of an eye. Perhaps some embarrassing and undeniable blemish from Harris’ or Booker’s past emerges and there’s no explaining it away. The longer the at-bat, the greater the chance of a swinging strike three.

All this leaves an opening for the Second Wave, a slightly more moderate brand of presidential contender. Seth Molton, Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe, John Hickenlooper or someone else. Possibly more palatable to a wider swath of voters. While they are just as capable of spouting anti-Trump do-goodism, give-stuff-away-free policies as the Early Contenders, they’d have an ability to speak to the Ohio/PA/MI blue-collar Democratic voter that went for Trump in 2016—and make a convincing case—in a way that the pro-Green New Deal Harris, Booker and Warren never could. Can any of the Second Wave do it? While it’s probably easier and more convincing in a general election campaign for a relatively moderate centrist Democrat to spout ultra-left positions than it is for a super-progressive to attempt to convince the middle of the voting populace of their moderate positions, this Second Wave would suffer from being behind the curve in terms of fundraising, name recognition (except for Biden), organization/logistics and they all run the risk of appearing opportunistic and insincere.

Staking out such a far-Left position may help the Democrats in the primaries but may well prove to be a handicap in the general election. Remember, the Democrats have moved much farther Left than the Republicans have moved Right. A very strong case can be made that Republicans have not moved Right at all since 1960, but compared to a 1960 JFK Democrat, today’s Progressives are unrecognizable. Points of fact:

  1. The words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” from Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech seem laughable, utterly impossible, by today’s Democratic standards.
  2. Today’s Democrats no longer propose great national scientific or military initiatives like the Moon Landing or closing the Missile Gap, undertaken under a Democratic Administration strictly for the country’s benefit as a whole. In contrast, modern Democrats craft their policy proposals in response to the needs of special interest groups (women, minorities, immigrants, LGTB, etc.), for the purpose of buying that group’s votes with a taxpayer-funded program. As predictable as day turns into night, if there’s a perceived issue affecting a demographic group, the automatic current-day Democratic response is to invent a new Government program to “cure” it and raise taxes to pay for it.
  3. Republican positions of limited taxation, necessary-but-reasonable business and environmental regulations, a strong military, support for law and order, favoring the philosophy of giving all groups equal opportunities vs. trying to artificially fabricate equal outcomes—these are unchanged from 60 years ago. It is the Democrats who’ve moved so far Left they’ve had to change their name to Progressive. Republican governing ideals are essentially unchanged.

Pointing this out infuriates today’s Democrats, but it’s a matter of easily-observable fact, not opinion. The 2020 Democratic GND platform may appeal to effete coastal elitists who live in their unsullied theoretical world, but Joe and Jane registered Democrat factory worker/shelf stocker/middle manager isn’t going to buy into it. If Booker-Harris-Warren don’t float their boat, is Biden too old? McAuliffe too used-car-salesmanish? Molten too opportunistic? Hickenlooper too strange?

The economy is doing very well, and peoples’ kids are getting good jobs and supporting themselves. Stocks are way up vs. the Obama years, recent volatility notwithstanding. Europe has finally been told to ante up for its NATO defense. We’re producing a lot of oil and natural gas and everyone is really happy about it (whether they admit it out loud or not). The liberal media have finally met their match, and again, an awful lot of people like it. It is very easy and defensible to say that President Trump’s “official” approval numbers are understated by 5-10%, at least, by all those liberal-leaning polls with their liberal-leaning methods and overly-liberal sample compositions. Every poll that has President Trump at 45% is likely 55% in the privacy of the voting booth.

That is how and why President Trump beat HRC so handily in 2016 and why the polls were so wrong. Democrats may think that President Trump is easy pickings in 2020 and all they have to do is promise a lot of free stuff and repeat the words “Fair share!” over and over again.

In fact, Democrats are in for one very difficult uphill slog in 2020, and baring some unforeseen random outside factor, they probably will not reach the top.

The Court’s One-Way Drift

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Brett Kavanaugh is still waiting to be appointed to the Supreme Court after perhaps the most contentious, histrionic, uncontrolled Senate hearings ever held for a Supreme Court nominee. Arguably not since Robert Bork’s Senate confirmation hearings in 1987 has a nominee faced questioning as politically-charged as this. The questioning was routinely interrupted by outside hecklers and protesters, often so disruptive that the proceedings had to stop momentarily. That some of these protesters were rumored to be paid Democratic political plants—unproven but certainly plausible given the rancorous state of our political discourse and the critically-pivotal nature of this appointment in the Democrats’ eyes—demonstrates the extreme lengths Kavanaugh’s opponents were willing to go to in order to thwart his confirmation to the Court.

Wannabe 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls like Senator Kamala Harris of CA and Senator Corey Booker of NJ assumed the starring adversarial roles and between them, managed to raise political grandstanding to new heights of ambitious, ego-fueled absurdity. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever see an exhibition that even comes close to matching Booker’s risibly inane “I am Spartacus” statement in our lifetime. Very doubtful.

Then Senator Diane Feinstein produced the 11th-hour, 59th-minute “letter,” the vague, inexact, bereft-of-specific-detail ace-in-the-hole penned by one Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleging some unspecified sexual impropriety committed by Kavanaugh against her during their high school days, some 30-odd years ago. Time? Location? Witnesses? Actual details? Real evidence? Please. Unnecessary luxuries in the must-automatically-believe #metoo era. Charges by a Democratic pro-abortion activist against a conservative middle-aged white male are more than enough, thank you, and no further discussion will be allowed. Even by Teddy Kennedy’s lofty behavioral standards in the 1987 Robert Bork confirmation hearings, Feinstein’s last-minute maneuver ranks as one of the most incredible political stunts of all time. Hats off.

The ironic aspect of all the hoopla surrounding Kavanaugh’s appointment is that the issue that Democrats care about the most—abortion (more than free college, the environment, gender rights/identity, Government handout programs/socialized medicine, diversity, open borders, the glass ceiling, or any other)—is not in danger of being “outlawed” by the Supreme Court. In the highly unlikely event that a direct ruling on Roe vs. Wade should even come before the Court, the Supreme Court will not “make abortion illegal” regardless of how it rules. if the Supreme Court ever overturned it, Roe v Wade would simply revert to the states. Realistically, the chances of a significant number of states (or even any of them) banning abortion outright are essentially zero. All this crazed protest by progressives about Kavanaugh’s position on an issue that even he has referred to as “settled law” betrays the astonishingly ignorant, disingenuous nature of the Democrats’ position with regard to any Supreme nominee by a Republican president.

But in any event the Democrats probably needn’t worry, if history from the past 30-40 years is any indication. For whatever reason, supposedly conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices have consistently shown a marked tendency to become more and more liberal the longer they’re on the Court. The opposite is not true—liberal justices rarely, if ever, vote in a conspicuously conservative direction on contentious issues. Like the Democratic Party as a whole, liberal justices are quite good at holding their ranks. Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotamoyor, Elena Kagen—none of them breaks liberal ranks on the high-profile Left vs. Right rulings. None of them is considered a “swing” vote. Ever. To the Left, the concepts of “open mindedness,” “tolerance” and “intellectual curiosity” only apply when a conservative justice agrees with the liberal stance, because it never happens the other way around. There is no mystery, no question as to how the liberal contingent is going to vote, every single time.

The same is not true of the so-called “conservative” justices. While Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch are seemingly reliable conservatives, the “swing vote” is always an erstwhile conservative. Sandra Day O’Connor was an uncertain vote before every big case. She was appointed by President Reagan in 1981 and thought to be a definite conservative-leaning judge prior to her appointment. David Souter, named by President Bush I in 1990, definitely ended up being a huge disappointment to conservatives. He regularly strayed from conservative orthodoxy in his voting record and sided with the Court’s liberal faction more often than not. Anthony Kennedy—the judge named in wake of Robert Bork’s arbitrarily politically-charged rejection—came to be known as the “swing vote”—a term not even in existence before him. Kennedy earned the lasting ire of conservatives because in many cases he wrote that the precedent of foreign law could and should be taken into account when deciding American legal issues. Traditionalists were outraged, feeling that the U.S. Constitution and American case law history should be the basis for making domestic legal rulings, and what France did or didn’t do 50 years ago should have no bearing.

However, there is no question that both the biggest surprise and biggest conservative disappointment in recent times came from none other than Bush II appointee Chief Justice John Roberts, in his stunning deciding vote to uphold the legitimacy of Obamacare in 2012, when he sided with the liberal justices to retain the individual mandate. His reasoning was that the penalty for non-compliance amounted to a tax and that “the Constitution permits such a tax.” Therefore, according to Roberts, it met the rules of accepted Constitutionality. Conservatives were certain that the ACA’s individual mandate clause would be shot down by the Supreme Court, starting a death spiral that would spell the end to the controversial measure.

But to everyone’s amazement, Roberts upheld the law with his deciding and hotly-debated vote, sending shudders of despair through conservative ranks, not only over the specifics of Obamacare’s survival but also for conservatives’ realization that Roberts was not going to be the dependable Right vote that they thought he’d be.

Kennedy, O’Connor, Souter and Roberts—all were justices initially thought to be conservative, but whose actual Supreme Court careers ended up being largely moderate-to-liberal. The Supreme “drift” is always in the conservative-to-liberal direction. Kavanaugh, whose practical, grounded opinion history and easy-going persona suggest that he was never an extreme Scalia-type conservative to begin with, seems primed for that same leftward drift.

The outcome of Kavanaugh’s confirmation has not been determined as of this writing. But having already scored their transparent-but-predictable grandstanding points and Republican brand-damaging objectives, one can assume that behind closed doors out of the public’s eye, Senators Feinstein, Harris, Booker and the entire liberal mainstream media machine are actually breathing pretty easy these days. Rejection = outright Democratic victory. Confirmation = likely long-term Democratic victory.

 

 

 

 

Could the Me 262 Have Turned the War in Germany’s Favor?

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The outcome of World War II still has a tremendous impact on the political and economic relationships in effect throughout the world. The events that occurred nearly 80 years ago resonate with a profound relevance that persists even to this day.

In the European Theater of World War II (September 1939-May 1945), the British and American allies mounted an intense aerial bombing campaign against German military and industrial targets beginning in the latter stages of 1942. The scope and intensity of the Allied campaign really picked up steam in 1943, as the Americans and British both ramped up their bomber production into high gear. The British concentrated on a night wide-area “carpet bombing” strategy, while the Americans (aided by their use of the precision Norden bomb sight) conducted a daylight campaign intended to be more exacting and surgical in nature. Churchill was moved to say, “We shall bomb those b*st*rds around the clock! We shall never let them sleep!”

The daylight campaign held the most danger for the attackers of the two strategies by far, since no fighter escort aircraft existed in 1943 with the range necessary to accompany and protect the American B-24 and B-17 bombers from German interceptor aircraft all the way to and from their targets deep inside Germany. Unprotected and in plain daylight view of German fighters, American bombers took a tremendous beating during this time frame. A prime example was the October 14, 1943 raid on the Schweinfurt ball bearings factory, which came to be known as Black Thursday. German fighter planes extracted the astonishing toll of sixty 4-engined B-17’s shot down out of the attacking force of 291 bombers. Each American plane carried a crew of ten, so the loss of life was quite significant. Dozens more American bombers were damaged and never flew again after limping their way home to England.

During this time period, American P-47 Thunderbolt and British Spitfire fighter planes only had the range to escort the bombers partway to target and again on their last leg home. The Germans simply waited for the Allied fighters to turn for home and then they pounced on the unprotected bombers.

But in early 1944, the Americans introduced a new version of their P-51 Mustang fighter with an American-built version of the famous British Merlin engine. The new model (the P-51B or C, depending on where it was built) had incredibly high performance—even better than the famous German Me 109 and FW 190 fighters—and most importantly, it now had the range to accompany and protect the bombers all the way to and from the most distant targets in Germany. So from 1944 onwards, the air war in the skies above Europe were characterized by furious fighter-to-fighter dogfights, as German fighter planes tried to break through American fighter escort cover and get to the American bombers.

The Americans held tremendous numerical and logistical advantages in this contest. First of all, there was a huge and unending supply of well-trained American pilots to fill their ranks. Germany, by contrast, had been at war for two full years longer than America and had a smaller population pool upon which to draw for pilots. Furthermore, Germany itself was under constant attack—unlike the United States—and was also involved in a resources-killing front in the East against the Russians.

This all added up to a European air war of frightening attrition, where losses on both sides were high. It was a situation that spelled eventual, inescapable doom for the Germans, since their supply of experienced, well-trained pilots dwindled precipitously in the face of unending months of costly air combat against the Americans.

Because of the pressure of constant attacks, by 1944 the Germans could hardly afford to interrupt their fighter production lines in order to switch over to new, improved types and they could barely afford the time to adequately train new pilots. Therefore, the older Me 109 fighter (a veteran of the Spanish Civil War in the mid-1930’s!) continued to be built in huge numbers (1944 was actually the peak of German fighter production) and soldiered on long after it had passed its peak effectiveness. Meanwhile, new fighters never made it to front-line service in numbers meaningful enough to make an impact.

But…what if a truly superior German fighter had been available in significant quantity in the 1943 and early 1944 timeframe, before German industry was under such stress from Allied bombing and before the ranks of experienced German pilots became decimated by years of unending combat? Would that have altered the course of the air war over Europe? Such a scenario was, in fact, within the Germans’ grasp.

That aircraft was the Messerschmitt Me 262. Widely recognized as the world’s first operational jet fighter, the Me 262 was a twin-engined, single-seat interceptor possessing extremely high performance—over 540 mph. To put its performance into context, in the 1943-44 time period (when the 262 was essentially ready for active deployment), the fastest conventional piston-engined Allied fighters of the day (the British Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX and American P-47B Thunderbolt) had top speeds of barely higher than 400 mph. Even the new Merlin-engined Mustang of 1944 was only a little faster, at around 430 mph. That extreme margin of ascendancy over an adversary is rarely achieved during wartime and would have given the Germans an incredible edge over the Allies.

Interestingly, the 262’s toughest opponent proved to be the rancorous bureaucratic infighting at the highest levels of German command. Incensed at the Allies’ bombing attacks on Germany and furious over the generally negative turn of the war’s direction against Germany, Hitler wanted the 262—designed to be a fast, high-altitude interceptor, optimized for the role of bomber destroyer—to be converted into a fast, low-altitude ground attack aircraft, to strike targets in England. Although theoretically it could have been reasonably successful performing that task, the 262 did not have the load-carrying capacity to be a truly impactful bomber and pressing it into such a role just squandered most of its aerial performance premium.

So intense was the controversy inside Germany over the 262’s mission, that at one point, Hitler absolutely forbade any mention of the 262 as a fighter!

Bomber versions of the 262 were made and pressed into service. Developmental issues with the then-new jet engines affected production, so the absolute number of aircraft completed was limited. Bombing success with the 262 was disappointing and the damage inflicted by their use as a bomber was negligible.

However, the scale and damage of the Allies’ bombing attacks continued to rise and countering these attacks soon became the overriding concern of the German war effort in the West. By the time the decision to allow the 262’s use as an interceptor was made in 1945, Germany was already suffering from severe material and fuel shortages. Franz Stigler, a 262 pilot, recounts in the book A Higher Call by Adam Makos that in 1945, that the metal used in 262 production was so poor (quality raw materials were simply too difficult to obtain by that point in sufficient quantity) that the pilots had to exercise undue care so as not to over-stress the 262’s engines or else they’d self-destruct. Excessive ground maintenance was also required just to keep them flying. If Germany had made final development, mass production and deployment of the Me 262 a priority in late 1943—certainly well within their capabilities—then neither situation would have existed since they would have been manufactured with better materials.

Had large-scale 262 production commenced in late 1943, the front-line German interceptor units would have been equipped with the new jets in time to counter the Americans’ introduction of the P-51B into its long-range escort role.

Once the P-51B was active, the intense fighter-vs. fighter combat that took place between the German Me 109’s and FW 190’s and the American fighters would have been largely avoided by the Germans. The 262’s great speed and new tactics they devised would have enabled the Germans to avoid much fighter vs. fighter combat and their aircraft losses—and most importantly, pilot losses—would have been dramatically lessened. American bomber losses would have been far higher, especially since the bombers’ defensive machine gun turrets had difficulty accurately tracking the 262’s great speed and getting a bead on them for firing.

The resulting lower German losses of both planes and pilots would have had a negative ripple effect for the Allies in all aspects of the war. The destructive impact on German industrial and equipment production by the Allied bombing campaign would not have been as effective as it was. Since the Allies would not have had complete air superiority, the D-Day land invasion of mainland Europe would likely have been postponed well past the actual June 6, 1944 date. If the Me 262 was the main interceptor in the West, then greater quantities of the FW 190—a far better piston-engined fighter than the Me 109—could have been sent to the Eastern front for the fight against Russia. With a higher number of better, more experienced German pilots available on all fronts, the Germans would have put up far tougher resistance and for the Allies, achieving final victory would have been costlier and taken longer.

In the end, America’s far higher industrial production capability and fuel supply, unhindered by enemy bombing attacks, would have prevailed, regardless of the performance of any one aircraft on either side. America would eventually have simply overwhelmed Germany with the with sheer numbers of armaments it delivered to the battlefield. But the Germans’ misdirected production and deployment decisions concerning this one aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me-262, can quite plausibly be said to have profoundly affected both the duration and cost of World War II—the results of which still define the majority of international relationships and boundaries that exist in the world today.

Sources

Famous Fighters of the Second World War, Green, William, Doubleday, 1960

Hitler’s Luftwaffe, Gunston, Bill, Crescent, 1977

A Higher Call, Makos, Adam, Berkley, 2012

The First and the Last, Galland, Adolph, Metheun, 1955

Airwar, Jablonski, Edward, Doubleday, 1971