The Grand Immigration Debate has begun, under a deadline that may not be deadline, and with several competing plans, some of which we don’t have all the details yet. And it all may be for naught in the end anyway, as anything that can muster 60 votes in the Senate (which means at least and likely more than 9 Democrat senators voting in favor) will have a hard time passing the House, which is whipping up its own plan at the same time.

Then there’s a couple of judges – U.S. District Court Judge Garaufis in Brooklyn and U.S. District Judge William Alsup in California – who have placed injunctions on President Trump’s executive order that ended Obama’s executive order that created D.A.C.A. With the Supreme Court about to rule this Friday on whether to directly hear the government’s appeal against the Alsup injunction; or to let the case percolate up through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Does that clear it all up? Let’s take a closer look. Here are some of the proposed plans:

  • The Secure and Succeed Act 2018, sponsored by Iowa’s Grassley and Arkansas’ Cotton. It’s a Four PIllar Plan: Pillar 1 Border Security with $25 billion for a “border wall system” (talk about covering all angles) and lots of specific security tightening measures, including enacating Kate’s Law; Pillar 2 ends chain migration; Pillar 3 cancels the Visa Lottery; and Pillar 4 provides a 10-12 year path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million Dreamers. Trump likes it seeing it’s close to what the White House has proposed.
  • The Senate Bi-partisan bill, sponsored by Collins and perhaps Jeff Flake and perhaps Tim Kaine and perhaps Don Rounds and who knows who else but not Lindsey Graham who will not support a “narrow” bill which means kicking out at least one or two of the GOP pillars in the Secure and Succeed Act.
  • Coons and McCain have a proposal that would give legal status to Dreamers without any money – at least not right away – for border security or wall construction. Not a serious contender at this point.
  • The Goodlatte bill in the House is Secure and Succeed plus. The plus being plans to force employers to ensure they hire legals through an E-Verify program as well as authorizing the Department of Justice to withhold grants from sanctuary cities. It would also include an agricultural guest worker program which people like Bernie Sanders liken to “slavery.”

Will Secure and Succeed pass the Senate? That’s a tough call and if it does it almost certainly will be watered down to get Democrat votes and reach 60 votes over all. And if the House Goodlatte bill passes (no Democrat will vote for it in the House so only 22 House Republicans can defect) that means a large gap between the Senate and the House on what kind of solution to the Dreamers and immigration they each see as viable. Immigration has been radicalized and weaponized by the left, and arguably by some on the alt-right side of things. It’s no longer about the laws on the books. It’s about painting the other side as racist or as un-American. This kind of debate cannot be done in a week, if ever.

Please Don’t Blame the Liberal

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Why is it that liberal politicians and liberal causes always seem to escape severe criticism and close scrutiny while their conservative counterparts are continually fighting off one allegation after another, no matter how fanciful and misleading those allegations might be? The standards to begin an investigation into rumored conservative wrongdoing appear to be essentially non-existent, while the requirement for serious media attention into liberal misdeeds must be something more ironclad than a non-Photoshopped image of a person standing over a body holding the dripping knife.

Some recent examples:

Uranium One

Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One mess seems pretty significant, doesn’t it? Supposedly, she facilitated the sale of some 20% of American uranium and mining rights (through a Canadian intermediary) to a Russian firm in exchange for three million dollars to be paid to the Clinton Foundation. If true, it looks to be a clear case of “pay-to-play” influence peddling, done while Hillary was still Secretary of State.

The United States imports more than 90% of its uranium, so it’s a rare commodity already. We produce very little ourselves. Why we would sell off such a significant portion of the material used to make nuclear bombs and nuclear reactors to our most dangerous worldwide strategic adversary defies even the smallest semblance of logic.

The details of the development of the entire transaction were provided in minute detail to three Congressional committees by an FBI informant who had followed the Russian and American players for several years. His account of what happened certainly has passed the threshold needed to take a closer look into the matter. The subject is deadly serious to our national security, as opposed to its being merely political rooting points. The details provided by the FBI informant are credible enough to take seriously. The American players involved are very high profile. It merits “investigation,” no? Investigation. Not pre-judgment, but certainly investigation.

Me too

Another pet liberal cause is the “Me Too” initiative, where women who’ve been subjected to past gender-related pressures and improper treatment have been encouraged to come forward with their stories under the #metoo hashtag, naming names and exposing these past offenses for all their inglorious unseemliness. That this long-term objectionable behavior is now coming to light is a very good thing. Gender-based oppression and discrimination has absolutely no place in civilized society and many of the actions that have been reported are far past “shameful.” They are intolerable and inexcusable.

However, as is often the case, liberal politicians and the liberal mainstream media pick and choose who to vilify and who to let off the hook. When California Democratic assemblywoman Christina Garcia—a central figure in the Me Too movement—was cited as accosting a male staffer, it went largely unreported. The liberal #metoo narrative is all about male mistreatment of women, not about inappropriate sexual pressures in general.

Bette Midler-Rand Paul Tweet

During the recent budget negotiation, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul objected to the budget proposal, threatening to derail the bi-partisan agreement and trigger another interminable Government shutdown. In the short time that the agreement was in question, entertainer Bette Midler (is she actually Joy Behar? Has anyone ever seen them in the same room at the same time?) tweeted, “Where is Rand Paul’s neighbor when we need him?”, a reference to the recent attack on Rand Paul by his neighbor. Apparently, Midler thinks Paul should have been attacked for opposing the budget agreement. A conservative never could’ve gotten away with “joking” about violence being committed against a liberal. But violence against a conservative? Don’t blame the liberal. The joke is sloughed off and quickly forgotten.

Liberals do and say things all day long that a conservative could never do, and the liberal mainstream media follows suit, ascribing crime-of-the-century seriousness to any conservative transgression—real or imagined—while poo-pooing away liberal missteps with only the slightest acknowledgement. Most liberal transgressions are covered by the liberal media in a bare-minimum fashion: Just enough so CNN or ABC can claim to have done their journalistic duty, while stopping far short of actually doing any damage or raising the issue’s visibility to the point where the casually-attentive news consumer might notice.

The preceding few examples are just the tip of the iceberg of conservative “crime” and liberal “innocence.” A concerted effort will easily identify dozens and dozens of additional examples. The issues will change tomorrow, and the examples of “never blame the liberal” will change accordingly. Yet one thing remains constant: Conservative politicians and causes are criticized and harangued to a far greater degree than liberal politicians and causes.

However, this is not an article on the fact that that happens. Instead, the real question is, of course, why? That the mainstream media is liberally-biased is a matter of record, well-known and not in question. Most of the editors and news managers are products of college journalism programs from ultra-liberal schools like Columbia or Harvard or Northwestern or Boston University, so the stream of liberal mainstream media gatekeepers is constant. That’s widely-accepted and it’s not going to change any time soon.

Is there a more fundamental reason why conservatives continually allow themselves to be made into punching bags for liberal politicians and liberal media bias? Keeping the boxing references, in boxing, effective, skilled aggression usually contributes to a winning effort. “Effective aggression” does not mean wild swinging, but rather an organized attack, where one boxer’s approach keys in on the other’s weaknesses and shortcomings. As the boxing cliché goes, “Don’t get beaten to the punch.” Strike first and strike effectively.

Liberals are quite good at this. They continually look for openings, for political weaknesses, then they strike and exploit those weaknesses, and whether or not the thrust of the liberals’ attack has anything to do with an important policy issue or not is immaterial. In contrast, conservatives unfailingly make the mistake of thinking that the merits of the issue at hand will carry the day and persuade the voters.

Here is a possible reason why liberals avoid blame and constantly have conservatives on the defensive. This explanation will no doubt be met with howls of protest by liberals, either because they disagree or recognize its utter truth and are too embarrassed to admit it:

Liberals look at everything in political terms. Everything is a political contest, a political situation, a public perception confrontation to be won or lost. Everything. Liberals orient all their activities and communications around that premise. An excellent example—absolute proof, really—is the way that liberals view the voters and how they craft their election strategy. Liberals look at the electorate as nothing more than a collection of sub-groups of special interests. If they can identify and satisfy the desires of those individual groups, then they win the election.

Liberal politicians don’t see a unified country with common interests; rather they see Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants (illegal and legal alike), gays, transgenders, women, Jews, environmentalists/Warmers, millennial college students, seniors, unionized workers and teachers, the pro-choicers, and welfare/food stamp recipients. Liberals endeavor to craft specific policies and entitlements for each group (funded mostly by taxing the underserving “rich”) and thus win those groups’ votes with Government-funded programs that benefit them directly.

Conservatives don’t think in such callous political terms. They tend not to promise specific groups an explicit “reward” for voting for them (there are a few exceptions, like the gun lobby, but very few). The basic conservative approach is to create policies that help the country as a whole. Theirs is the “rising tide lifts all boats” philosophy. A less-restrictive regulatory business climate that leads to more hiring helps everyone—black/white, male/female, straight/gay—but it doesn’t have the immediacy of being able to address group ‘x’ and say, “I’ve created this program just for you.”

Liberals think in definitive political terms: win the public perception battle right there and then, the one that’s happening that day. Master the 24-hour news cycle. Dominate that day’s headlines, the trending stories. Investigate your opponents, whether there’s evidence to justify an investigation or not. Make damning allegations, whether they’re accurate or not. Perpetuate negative stereotypes against the opposition party, in order to keep your special-interest groups loyal. Never concede even the slightest sliver of credit to the other side. Always cast everything they do as being hurtful to your constituency. Always remain blameless. If anything goes wrong, it’s the conservatives’ fault. Blame them.

Liberals do this as naturally as breathing. They’ve been conditioned and trained by 75 years of post-WWII pandering to special interests in the mass-media age as to how to win those perception battles. They win most of them. Conservatives—they of the ill-conceived, hopelessly naïve ‘the voters will see the merits of the issue’ bent—are clueless as to how to fight the liberals’ fight. Conservatives are always beaten to the punch, always late to answer the bell.

Generally, the only time a conservative wins a post-WWII presidential election is when the liberal is either patently unlikeable or such a buffoon that even liberal shenanigans can’t improve their image. However, even in defeat, it’s not the liberal’s fault. Their excuses are put forth repeatedly and forcefully, and enough of the electorate, the punditry and the media buy into it such that the liberals’ record of never being at fault continues virtually unblemished.

 

The “Real” Russia Collusion: Oil

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Russian collusion is indeed a major issue threatening the well-being of our country. It’s just not the Russia collusion that’s been bandied about in the news for over a year. No, it’s Russia colluding with OPEC to intentionally raise world crude oil pricing. That is a real threat to our economy and living standard, unlike that other, totally imaginary Russia collusion.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, crude oil prices have been on an upward tear for the better part of the last two years. From a low in the high-20’s/barrel range in February of 2016, WTI (West Texas Intermediate) closed at $65.45 on Friday Feb 2nd. Goldman Sachs goes so far as to say that North Sea Brent crude oil (the other benchmark oil besides WTI) will likely top $80 within six months.

WTI generally runs about 5% lower, so look for WTI to be around $76/bbl by the summer of 2018.

Before we look at why this is happening, it’s a good idea for a quick refresher on the four main drivers of crude oil/retail gasoline pricing. Why is oil and gasoline rising? What’s happened?  First, let’s dispense with any simplistic “the oil companies are conspiring to raise prices” nonsense.  That’s not what’s happening. Oil is a commodity, traded on the world market like any other commodity, such as gold, copper, natural gas, diamonds, etc. Oil is subject to market forces like every other commodity is.

There are four main factors that influence the price of crude oil-retail gasoline on the world market:

  1. World supply/demand
  2. Exploration/extraction activity and technology
  3. Refining/delivery capacity
  4. Geopolitical influences (Iran, North Korea, terrorism, etc.)

(There’s also a 5th factor: currency value, or the “exchange rate,” since oil is traded in dollars. However, this is normally a peripheral factor that only shades oil pricing a little bit one way or the other.)

Today’s situation is primarily one of tightening supply coupled with greater demand as the worldwide economy, led by the U.S., continues to improve. See #1 above. When the world was awash with over-abundant oil in 2015-6, with loaded tankers sitting by the dozens offshore, unable to unload their cargo for lack of empty storage facilities, it seemed as if low-priced crude oil and $1.899/gallon gasoline was a permanent fixture on the US economic landscape. Never again would we be beholden to the arbitrary whims and evil manipulations of greedy, anti-American, anti-Semitic Arab oil sheiks.

The over-supply of oil was primarily because of the shale oil boom (fracking) in the U.S. With newly-developed exploration and extraction techniques, America was finally able to tap the previously unreachable mother lode of crude oil trapped in the huge shale rock deposits in the western and southern parts of the continental U.S. With a huge influx of additional oil being delivered to the world market, supply exceeded demand and world pricing plummeted.

At first, OPEC was unsure how to respond. Initially, Saudi Arabia actually increased their oil production in an effort to lower world pricing even more and drive the U.S. shale producers out of business (since shale oil has a far higher cost of production than Saudi oil, which is easy to extract).

That didn’t work. Shale extraction technology got better and better and the Saudis were never able to force pricing down far enough to permanently hurt the American frackers.

So, they resorted to the tried-and-true economic dictum of supply and demand. Led by the Saudis, OPEC instituted strict oil production quotas to limit the amount of oil that they would supply to the market. Restricting supply would re-balance the market and bring world oil demand and supply back into equilibrium, thus raising prices as market forces began to have their normal effect.

However, Saudi Arabia is only one of the top three oil producers in the world. Although the combined oil output of the 14 OPEC member countries is certainly significant (over 40%), the other two top three countries are the U.S. and Russia, each of whose oil output is roughly equal to that of Saudi Arabia (OPEC’s largest member). The Saudis convinced Russia to voluntarily join them in their production quota. With all of OPEC now joined by another top-three producer—Russia—the world’s oil supply has come down considerably, much faster than anticipated. Pricing is on pace to more than triple from its 2016 low and the impact on our economy and spending sentiment will be significant.

Note that the recent rise in pricing has essentially nothing to do with reason #4—terrorism and geo-political tension. As of right now, there are no hostilities with North Kores to rattle the world commodity markets, Israel is not at war with anyone and since the institution of the Iranian nuclear deal a few years ago, Iran is once again supplying oil to the world market without any problem. So the terrorism front is quiet right now.

The rise in price is all pretty much #1—supply and demand, with supply being restricted by the OPEC-Russia agreement. That fact points out the truth that even though total US oil production exceeds 10m bpd, the U.S. alone can’t determine the ultimate price of oil on the world market. We can be an influential factor—larger now, to be sure, than 20 years ago before the shale boom—but the U.S. can’t control oil pricing by itself.

Nor does the potential of future alternative fuels have much influence on today’s pricing. Some industry observers have opined that EVs (electric vehicles) will reduce worldwide oil demand by the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s entire current oil production by 2040. But that, in reality, is just a random individual guess and such statements have no actual impact on today’s pricing.

Applying the rough approximate numerical multiplier of 4x to WTI crude to get U.S retail gasoline pricing, that means that U.S retail gasoline will be above the psychologically-important $3.00 mark (4 x 76 = $3.04) by this summer. People see the price of gasoline on the corner gas station every day as they leave the house. It’s like a daily “scoreboard” telling them whether they’re winning or losing their personal economic game. When Joe/Jane middle-class sees $2.27, they feel like they’re winning, like they can spend a little more somewhere else, like things are going in the right direction.

When they see gasoline rise very quickly, seemingly for no good reason, to $3.04—especially after a prolonged period well under $2.20—it’s a very negative sign. Maybe things are getting worse and I haven’t been paying attention. Maybe I should play things safe for a while, keep things close to the vest. Let’s cut down on dinners out and tell Johnny, sorry, no new sneakers just yet. Yeah, I know my brother Bill finally got a job again after two years, but let’s not get too carried away.

Rising oil pricing impacts everything at retail, in the construction and agriculture sectors and in manufacturing, because everything is delivered from the factory to the seller and from the seller to the end user by a transportation device that uses an oil-derived fuel. Milk, sushi, iPhones, lumber and fertilizer are all made and delivered with the assistance of oil-based products. Rising oil pricing also negatively impacts business and domestic heating and utility pricing. It’s like a tax that takes billions and billions of dollars out of the economy, wrecks the exuberant business outlook and shreds consumer confidence. Rapidly-rising oil pricing is a five-run uprising in the 9th inning of a game you were leading 8-1 after eight innings. Now you’ll just be happy to hang on for the win.

Consumer and business sentiment is central to the spending that drives our economy, the very backbone that supports it. Anything that puts a damper on that sentiment will drag down spending and hence drag down economic growth along with it.

Russian “collusion” is indeed a big threat to our country’s well-being: It’s the collusion between OPEC and Russia to restrict the world’s oil supply and drive up pricing. It’s working and the tangible, undeniable, clear-as-day proof is posted in big numbers on every street corner. Maybe the media should pay some attention to that.

 

Pieces of the Same Puzzle: SOTU, DACA, FBI

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

There are three issues swirling around in the news lately that may appear to be unrelated: The recently-delivered State of the Union (SOTU) address, the ongoing controversy over the DACA immigrants, and the about-to-be-released FBI memo regarding the basis of the FISA warrants in the Russia collusion investigation. They are not unrelated. Quite the opposite: They are all incredibly important pieces of the same puzzle. Let’s look at them individually and then put the pieces together into one big picture.

Piece 1—The State of the Union Address

President Trump, by all accounts, delivered a very direct, surprisingly inclusive, clearly-America-first State of the Union address last week. Polls indicate Republican and Independent approval of the speech in the 75-80% range and even Democratic voters gave him a mid-40% approval rating. On issue after issue, he pointed to clear evidence of the success of his policies and approaches, coupled with a clear vision for moving the country forward.

His harshest critics, the ones who will never concede to him even the smallest smidgeon of credit, the ones to whom he is an “embarrassment,” an “aberration,” had their minds made up about his SOTU speech before he uttered even a single word. Their take on his dynamic, inspiring performance was—sadly, predictably— “Well, he did a pretty good job of reading a speech that someone else wrote, but in my mind, he doesn’t deserve credit for that.”

As if every president doesn’t “read a speech that someone else wrote.” The president may or may not actually write a majority (or any!) of the speech itself, but regardless, the speech is directly, accurately reflective of the president’s policies, plans and future strategies. The president edits, shapes, tweaks and ultimately approves the speech. The SOTU speech is the president’s speech, regardless of the actual authorship.

The written/spoken line, “We’re going to keep Guantanamo Bay open” was as indisputably Trump’s as “I’m going to close Guantanamo Bay” was Obama’s. Regardless of who originally wrote it, those lines represent each president’s intended policy and they each deserve the credit or criticism as appropriate. That’s the way it is with the entire SOTU speech…and with every speech given by any president, for that matter.

However, much to his opponents’ unending irritation, President Trump has an unambiguous, clear, and yes, inspiring manner of expression. He is capable of reaching and convincing a significant portion of the undecided “casually-attentive” voting bloc. That talent was clearly on display this past January 30th. The sophisticated liberal sect and their liberal media allies would never succumb to such a simplistic, transparent presentation. Instead, they purport to see right through his rhetoric, as if it was nothing more than the intentionally-misleading, disingenuous pap of an old-time snake-oil huckster.

Unfortunately for the Democrats in Congress and CNN/MSNBC, President Trump pointed to much success for which he can justifiably take credit:

  • Extremely low unemployment, especially among Blacks and Hispanics
  • Dramatic stock market gains, to the direct tangible benefit of individual investors, pension participants and educational savings account owners
  • The decimation of ISIS as a direct result of new military Rules of Engagement instituted under Trump
  • The personal and corporate tax cuts, resulting in immediately greater individual disposable income and greatly increased corporate investment and expansion.

Piece 2—The DACA Compromise

President Trump is on the cusp of pulling off a political coup by giving into a key Democratic demand—the acceptance of DACA. Not just the 800k actual DACA persons themselves, but 1.8 million, which includes giving unequivocal amnesty to extended family members of the so-called Dreamers. Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, fresh off his humiliation in the ill-fated Schumer Shutdown, is now in the uncomfortable position of having to take “yes” for an answer on the Dreamers in return for agreeing to funding the Wall, ending chain migration, instituting a merit-based immigration system and ending the visa lottery system. The American public favors all of these positions.

Trump has artfully maneuvered the Democrats into either accepting what the public views as a perfectly reasonable compromise to the hitherto vexing immigration conundrum, or, with a refusal to compromise, exposing what many feel is the real Democratic aim on immigration: to simply maximize the importation of future low-income/Government-dependent Democratic voters by turning a blind eye to illegal immigration.

President Trump’s strategy has yet to bear fruit and there is no guaranty that it will. The Democrats’ stubbornness and willingness to avoid working with President Trump is incredibly deeply-ingrained, bolstered by their never-lessening resentment over his having beaten the anointed Hillary and their certainty that their liberal media allies—no, stronger—accomplices will sway public opinion in their favor regardless of the Democrats’ actions.

Piece 3—The FBI Memo

The Democrats’ ace-in-the-hole is, of course, the Russia investigation. If the investigation can somehow uncover some conclusive, destructive evidence of Trump Administration’s legal wrongdoing, then the Democrats will have succeeded in dissembling and delegitimizing the Trump presidency and, as a bonus, ruining the Republican brand for several voting cycles to come. By which time, of course, all those extra imported Democratic voters will be securely in place, ensuring comfortable Democratic national electoral victories in perpetuity.

The Democrats’ real fear about the FBI memo being released is that it will show the FBI to have acted in a corrupt, overtly-partisan manner that tried to influence the 2016 election in Hillary’s favor. If that is shown to be true, it removes the legal basis for the investigation of Trump in the first place, exposing the Democrats’ blatantly political motives for the entire matter.

Without their “collusion” investigation, the Democrats are shorn of their ability to distract the public and thus it lays bare the fact that they are not cooperating with President Trump—purely for political reasons—on an immigration policy with which the public approves. Bolstered by the extremely strong public approval of his SOTU speech, President Trump’s DACA proposal is now much stronger than it would have been.

If the released FBI memo badly damages the Democrats’ anti-Trump activities, it sets in motion for them a nightmare domino scenario that will derail their efforts at unfairly manipulating public opinion and forces them to actually settle the immigration matter—something they are loathe to do. Absent their treasure-trove of illegal-immigrants-turned-future-Democratic-voters, the election process will return to something of a level playing field, issues-oriented contest. A nightmare indeed for the Democrats.

It all fits together so neatly. The completed puzzle presents a crystal-clear picture: For the Democrats, it’s all about collecting votes by any means possible and gaining power. Maximizing illegal immigration increases the number of future Democratic voters. Ruining Trump’s image with a ginned-up investigation wrecks the Republican brand and increases the number of future Democratic voters.  A strong Trump SOTU address coupled with his sane DACA proposal and the danger posed by the release of the FBI memo does not add up to a pretty picture for the Democrats.

 

Where were you on Sunday, May 25th, 1986? I wasn’t there, as in holding hands from one end of continental America to the other. I was somewhere else. But never mind. Hands Across America apparently linked around 6.5 million people from one coast to the other, raising money and awareness though for exactly what isn’t too clear all these years later. And it’s not quite clear that hands were linked all across every single yard. Also, people lined up 6 to 10 deep in cities that the route deliberately went through, following a zig zag pattern to be able to include populated metropolises.

So it’s hard to say how many people actually and truly linking hands it would take to cover every single yard of the southern border. How about 690,000? The original number of registered Dreamers if you will who signed up for DACA. It’s a long border isn’t it? From Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California it’s almost two thousand miles, all the way.

1,954 to be exact.

So how much is each Dreamer worth as a bargaining chip? That sounds a tad medieval doesn’t it, especially when you throw in language like chain migration. Gives Democrats like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris a chance to weep and grandstand and polish up there safe-space skills for 2020. But that’s exactly what’s going on right now with the White House’s release of a broad deal on immigration.

It’s what’s been haggled and negotiated over in explicit terms since the Trump administration announced early last September that it was letting DACA expire on March 5, 2018. How much will we give you for the wall Mr. President and how many Dreamers will you give us for our cherished amnesty? That’s the question that’s been coming from the Democrats, and from their GOP allies like Graham and Collins. Even if they don’t frame it that way.

And Trump has just given them his answer.

20 Billion for the wall + 5 billion for added non-wall border security including the border with Canada + 5 billion to hire additional border agents and immigration judges. That’s 30 billion in total. And let’s please not forget that Trump’s deal also means:

  • Ending the visa lottery
  • Restricting family immigration to members of the immediate family. No abuelas hombre.

But returning to the wall, let’s divide that 30 billion by not 690,000 but now by 1.1 million + 690,000 which adds up to almost 1.8 million registered and unregistered Dreamers. Which is Trump’s offer. That works out to a little over $16,700 of additional border security (wall and non-wall) per Dreamer. For a wall that will cost a little over $10 million per mile. Assuming these numbers are anywhere near actual costs. Ridiculous isn’t it?

Actually no it isn’t ridiculous. Not in the least bit.

This will help solve – and help further prevent – a decades if not generations old problem that has affected entitlement costs and the costs of other public goods in America, and has had some (perhaps a modest but a real one nonetheless) effect on wages, lowering them for working people in lower-skilled jobs. That’s going to save money, all the while giving up to 1.8 million children of illegals (many illegals themselves) amnesty and a path to citizenship.

Now the question is, what will the House think of this? Because with immigration hawks like Senators Cotton and Perdue commenting favorably on the deal, the Senate seems to be sold on this. House conservatives is another matter. This is amnesty, no doubt about it. Is what’s offered in return worth it to those like Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte who has offered a much tougher deal from the floor of the House? Does Trump’s plan offer enough enforcement, in other words?

And what about House Democrats, and immigration liberals in general? If they shout down this offer, then they really don’t want a deal, and President Trump will have helped make that fact very clear with this latest offer. Will they deal with Trump, then? An anonymous GOP campaign “operative” gave the Washington Examiner this quote:

Only Nixon could go to China. I think only Trump can do an immigration deal.

That’s awfully ambitious rhetoric, but if Trump pulls this off, that operative will possibly get away with such high-flying language. And Trump will have managed another coup.

If Democrats Take the House, They’ll Impeach Trump

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Historically, the first mid-term elections in a new president’s first term result in major losses for the President’s party. The most famous recent example was in 1994, following the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. In spite of Clinton’s oratory skill, favorable media coverage and appealing looks/smooth demeanor, the 1994 mid-terms were a disaster for the Democrats.

Led by the “villainous, scary” Newt Gingrich, Republicans won 54 House seats. In what came to be called the “Republican Revolution,” they wrested Congressional control away from Democrats for the first time since 1952. Once in control, Gingrich instituted his Contract with America programs, a series of Congressional initiatives designed to implement what the Republicans felt was their electoral mandate from the populace. The liberal media hated Gingrich and the Republicans and resented their victory tremendously, ceaselessly deriding the Republican-controlled efforts and referring to it as the “Contract on America.”

Similarly, during Ronald Reagan’s first term in 1982, his Republican Party lost 27 Congressional seats, despite Reagan’s overwhelmingly lopsided presidential victory over the hapless Jimmy Carter just two short years prior. It appears that even popular presidents coming off strong wins are susceptible to profound Congressional losses in the first contest out of the gate.

The Republicans may well lose control of Congress in 2018 for the first time since 2006. This is significant, because one of the things a Congressional majority has the power to do is bring articles of impeachment against a sitting president.

In recent (post-World War II) history, this has only been done once, when the Republican House voted in 1998 to impeach President Clinton for his alleged lying under oath and obstruction of justice during the Monica Lewinsky matter. It certainly would also have happened during the President Nixon/Watergate affair in 1974, but President Nixon resigned before any formal charges were brought.

The standard for Congress to level charges against a sitting president are a clear and willful commission on the president’s part of “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the country, such that the rule of law, national security or the common good is grievously threatened. It’s an inexact standard, to be sure, subject to the political whims and mood of the controlling Congressional party.

To say that Democratic politicians in DC, Hillary’s 60+ million voters and the liberal mainstream media regard President Trump as an illegitimate president is an understatement. They have been complaining and protesting his presence in the Oval Office since day one, starting with their invention of “Crowdgate,” where they purported to show how much bigger President Obama’s Inauguration Day attendance was than President Trump’s. That day—Day One of his presidency—gave birth to liberal “fake news” coverage of his tenure in office, as the liberal cable stations shamelessly and disingenuously compared early morning photos of Trump’s crowd with peak afternoon pictures of Obama’s crowd.

So it has continued, unabated, non-stop for over a year. Each roughly-worded Trump Tweet, every criticism by him or his staff of the liberal media, every non-sugar-coated statement to the press, every matter where he calls it as most people think it (but politicians would never actually say it) is trumpeted by his political and media adversaries as yet more proof of his astonishing unsuitability for the Presidency.

“Had enough yet? What more do you want? See? This is unbelievable, isn’t it?”

The lowest possible, arbitrary, inexact standards of “high crimes and misdemeanors” to which the Democratically-controlled Congress can possibly stoop will undoubtedly be fulfilled very early on in the new Congressional year, as the Democrats rush to satisfy their highest priority—removing President Trump—to the complete and total exclusion of anything else the country needs to be done.

One can only imagine the breathless, frantic, grandstanding speeches and Floor declarations from the likes of Maxine Watters, John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi, Shelia Jackson Lee, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings as they compete for national liberal media adulation with one overwrought, hyperbolic performance after another.

Their impeachment effort will not be successful, of course. Once the Democratic House passes the Articles, it goes to the Senate for trial, where a super majority is required for a conviction leading to removal from office. This is a high threshold for passage, as it should be. In the face of actual “high crimes”—such as a president transferring military secrets to an adversary in exchange for personal financial gain—no doubt that threshold would be met.

But President Trump’s “crimes” are stylistic, not legally substantive. He does say things in a manner offensive to many and certainly well outside the bounds of historically-normal Presidential behavior. Yet the Russian “collusion” issue—the only controversy with any legal overtones whatsoever– is vaporware. There is no “there” there, not even with a fully-armed battalion of partisan Democratic investigators looking under every pebble for well over a year. In contrast, Hillary’s illicit e-mail server containing unauthorized classified material was tangibly illegal, yet she was not charged or prosecuted. In today’s political climate, the perception of criminal activity in DC is inextricably linked to party affiliation.

Trump’s supporters will point to his many actual policy successes, accomplished in only his first 12 months in office:

  • The appointment and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
  • Punishing Syria for their humanitarian crimes with a 59-cruise missile strike
  • Withdrawing from the disadvantageous Trans Pacific Partnership agreement
  • Withdrawing from the pointless, expensive, anti-American Paris climate accords
  • Approved Keystone Pipeline
  • Reducing/eliminating hundreds of Obama-era business regulations, leading to a surge in business sector confidence and hiring
  • Over one million new jobs added since he took office
  • S. unemployment at 17-year low due to expanding economy
  • Stock market at record highs, boosting individual retirement accounts and institutional pension solvency alike
  • Black unemployment at a 17-year low due to expanding economy
  • Hispanic unemployment at all-time low due to expanding economy
  • Food stamp usage at a 7-year low, due to expanding economy
  • Passed sweeping tax reduction, leading to many companies raising wages, distributing bonuses and making immediate plans for expansion and additional hiring
  • Opened previously restricted areas (like ANWR) to energy exploration

His opponents will argue that these are not pluses to be bragged about; rather they’re examples of bad policy decisions—calamitous, even— that will have far-reaching negative consequences for the country. That’s fair: disagreements over actions on major economic, foreign-policy and social issues are the lifeblood of a vibrant, working democracy. In fact, the out-of-office party always says that the opposing president’s decisions will permanently harm the country. That’s as predictable as the sunrise.

However, there is a major difference—an order-of-magnitude difference—between vociferously opposing the President on policy grounds on one hand and fabricating non-existent legal transgressions in order to justify the gratuitous political theater of groundless impeachment on the other.

If the “good of the country” is the Democrats’ goal, this won’t happen. If it does, it will tell us all we need to know.

Democrats Are All About Winning, Not Governing

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

It’s been said that we have two major governing parties in this country, the Democrats and the Republicans. Each party has a different, broad-based approach to managing the country: The Democrats believe that Government-created, taxpayer-funded programs—implemented from DC—are the best way to guide the country’s fortunes, while Republicans feel that market-based, individually-oriented solutions work to the best advantage of the nation.

That’s a 30,000-ft generalized look at things, but it is widely accepted as being true.

It’s not true. Just the opposite: It’s fundamentally false. The Democrats are primarily concerned with winning political battles first and governing the country to the population’s benefit second. A look at some of today’s higher-profile issues illustrates this quite clearly. And this is not a peculiarity limited only to present-day circumstances. The Democrats’ approach to both yesterday’s and tomorrow’s major issues are equally persuasive as to their “governing” priorities.

Today’s Issues:

DACA/Dreamers—The Democrats pose as if this is the big humanitarian issue of our time. “Through no fault of their own,” some 800,000 children were dragged across our border when their parents illegally immigrated to this country. The Dreamers, as they’re so amusingly called, should not only be afforded amnesty and forgiveness according to the Democrats and allowed to stay in this country, but they should also be allowed to bring in their relatives as well (so-called chain migration). But President Trump wants funding for his border wall, a central tenet of his campaign, as a condition to any compromise regarding the Dreamers.

The Democrats don’t really have humanitarian concerns and thus they have no incentive or inclination to compromise. Their primary motivations are growing their voting base with low-income Gov’t-dependent immigrants whose offspring will become automatic Democratic voters a few years from now and the desire to simply make President Trump look bad, as a typical “heartless, cold” Republican. Anything that reduces illegal immigration (the wall) or lessens the future pool of Democratic voters (deporting the Dreamers or ending chain migration) will be opposed by the Democrats with a vengeance. The “public good” has nothing to do with anything. A political win for the Democrats is all that matters.

Tax Reform—The Democrats don’t care about the actual financial benefits that lower corporate taxes will deliver to the economy (such as greater investment by companies in plants and equipment, leading directly to increased employment), nor do they care about how much the average middle-class family will benefit from their extra few hundred dollars of disposable income per month. Democrats just want to further the cliché of rich Republicans getting huge underserved tax breaks, while the average person suffers as a result. Democrats simply want to sully the Republicans’ image in the eyes of the casually-attentive voter.

Mueller/Collusion—The Democrats’ only goal here is to make Trump look bad, undermine his legitimacy as president, and keep his approval numbers low in advance of future elections. The Democrats have no actual interest in the impact or influence foreign entities may have had on our voting process or on our electoral system. If they did, they would be just as interested in the fact that Hillary Clinton maintained an illicit e-mail server that contained unauthorized classified information and was hacked by Russians. That is the very definition of reckless, illegal behavior by a candidate undermining the integrity of our election process.

But the Democrats aren’t interested in the “integrity of our election process.” They’re interested in a political win, not in serving the public good.

Government Shutdown—This is merely an opportunity for Democrats to make Republicans look bad, knowing that the liberal media will always cast any ‘shutdown’ as being completely the fault of Republicans, regardless of the actual circumstances. Although both sides are well aware that essential funding continues even during a so-called “shutdown,” Democrats will be quick to exploit an ignorant public with heart-wrenching advertisements of 90-year-old veterans on their once-in-a lifetime trip to DC being turned away from the WWII Memorial or a small-town Boy Scout troop being unable to enter a National Park. All intentionally orchestrated by Democrats, all to make Republicans look bad. The “win” is all-important after all, not the facts.

Those are just today’s high-profile topics. One of yesterday’s was Hurricane Katrina. The Democrats and the liberal media pounded President Bush incessantly for being insensitive to the plight of minorities for his supposed slow response to the crisis. The Democrats’ primary concern was winning the battle of public perception by making a Republican look bad.  They were successful. They “won.” President Bush’s presidency took a hit from which it never recovered, becoming yet another reason why a Republican Presidential win in 2008 was so unlikely, regardless of who the Democratic candidate was.

Tomorrow’s big issues may concern, as example, North Korea or Iran. Democrats will undoubtedly use those circumstances to pile on with very public criticism of President Trump’s handling of the situation. Far from the old dictum of “Politics stops at the water’s edge,” the Democrats will be more concerned with twisting a confrontation with North Korea or Iran into political advantage for themselves than they will be in helping forge a favorable bi-partisan outcome for the good of our country.

Is all this an incredibly cynical, somewhat tongue-in-cheek view of the two parties’ positions? Perhaps. And to be perfectly honest, the Republicans are far from lily-white (am I allowed to use that term anymore?) when it comes to maneuvering the political chess pieces to their advantage.

But to this observer, the Democrats are first and foremost about winning. For them, governing comes in second—and too often, it’s a distant second.

 

Sometimes Late is Worse Than Never

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

It seems like timing is everything in life. Job opportunities, investments, political initiatives, travel schedules, etc.—things can work out to maximum advantage or with disastrous results depending on a small shift in the timing of the event.

This is certainly true in business. Companies that have an innovative, exciting new product under development have to balance the need to announce its existence to the market on one hand with their ability to actually deliver the product in a reasonable time frame on the other hand.

Announcing an exciting new product that embodies a brand-new technology or that breaches a previously unreachable price barrier conveys undeniable market advantages to that company. The industry press writes about it and the company enjoys great publicity that shines not only on the new product, but brings great visibility and attention to the company’s other offerings as well. The competition scatters off in a frenzied attempt to match the new product, but since they usually have no idea exactly how the new technology actually works (only having read the press releases and trade write-ups), their efforts are unfocused, time-consuming and expensive.

All of this redounds to the benefit of the company that announces the cutting-edge new product. They have the spotlight. Their market attractiveness goes way up, since customers will want to be “on board” and “first in line” when the new widget is delivered.

Announcing a new product is a double-edged sword, however. Wait too long, and a competitor may beat you to the punch, robbing your forever of your day in the sun. Or even worse, if a company waits too long, the market conditions may shift away from the new product, rendering it irrelevant. If the company had made a more timely announcement, they could have moved the market’s expectations in their direction.

But do it too soon, and you risk burning your goodwill equity as customers and industry analysts alike get tired of waiting for an oft-delayed production date. The market will accept just so many delays and excuses before they write you off completely. The very worst thing that can happen to any company is when their much-ballyhooed invention is delivered to a “So what?” reaction instead of a “Yes! It’s here!” reaction.

Two excellent business examples come immediately to mind.

The first is the Tesla Model 3 electric car. Announced with great fanfare in the spring of 2016, it was going to be the first affordable electric car, suitable for the masses. At an expected price in the mid $30k range, it was no more expensive than a fully-equipped Honda Accord EX. Beautiful, fast and free of the chains of gasoline power, the Tesla Model 3 would be delivered in large quantities by the fall of 2017 and it would single-handedly usher in the era of the practical EV, ending forever the internal combustion engine’s monopoly on the personal automotive market.

It hasn’t worked out the way Tesla led us to believe it would. Maybe they knew all along that they would miss their large-quantity manufacturing dates as badly as they have, but they kept reassuring industry analysts all along that they’d meet them. Their early announcement has spurred rivals like General Motors to fast-track their Bolt competitor, which now (along with other challengers like the new Nissan Leaf) is poised to significantly reduce Tesla’s market impact with the Model 3. Tesla did enjoy the market advantages that accompany an early announcement of a game-changing new product (enhanced corporate publicity, greater attention on their existing products, even financial rewards in the form of advanced Model 3 deposits), but they are paying the penalty now of over-promising and under-delivering: increased skepticism on the part of both industry analysts and frustrated customers and the effective disappearance of their once huge EV technological/market lead.

The second great example of the perils of product announcement timing concerns a small company in the consumer loudspeaker business named Atlantic Technology. In the early 2000’s, the stereo speaker market was changing. The big, ugly freestanding speaker boxes that were everywhere in the 1970’s were no longer acceptable in the style-conscious 2000’s. Built-in speakers, known as “in-walls,” became more popular. These speakers—mounted flush in the wall or ceiling like a heating vent—were practically invisible. No ugly “wooden coffins” ruining the décor. Style-wise, they were the perfect answer.

From a sound quality standpoint however, in-walls were mostly terrible. The wooden box enclosure of those old-fashioned speakers was a major contributor to their great sound quality. Without getting overly technical, it’s critically important to the quality of sound reproduction to precisely control and optimize the amount of air behind a high-fidelity speaker. Simply cutting a hole in the wall’s sheetrock and mounting a speaker in there might get you some kind of sound, but it wouldn’t be true high-fidelity accurate sound.

Atlantic Technology came up with an incredibly clever and simple way to combine the best of both kinds of speakers: their speakers mounted in the wall, as easily and invisibly as conventional in-wall speakers. But…Atlantic perfected an “enclosure” behind the speakers that was an integral part of the in-wall speaker assembly. Instead of just cutting a hole in the wall and mounting a “naked” speaker—like everyone else was doing—Atlantic had an enclosure behind the speaker, sized perfectly to fit in the 3 ½-inch depth of the standard 2 x 4 studded wall. Atlantic’s speakers mounted as easily as anyone else’s and looked similarly invisible once in the wall. The difference was that the Atlantic Technology’s in-wall speakers sounded far, far better, because they had an optimum-sized enclosure behind the speaker, just like the best free-standing box speakers.

Unfortunately, Atlantic showed the new speakers in their very early prototype form at an industry trade show well over a year before they’d eventually go into production. From a manufacturing standpoint, it was a complicated product and there were a lot of time-consuming kinks that needed working out. Six months later, Atlantic showed them again at another industry event, accompanied by another round of press releases promising that “we’re really close now.” Six months later, they did it all again. When the speakers finally came out some 18 months after their initial public unveiling, the speaker market shrugged with bored indifference. Atlantic had cried wolf once too often. What should have been a smashing success that propelled a small company to a new higher level of market visibility and profitability was instead a drawn-out, cash-draining slog that nearly put the company out of business.

Any great new undertaking—whether it’s a new product, a life-changing medical procedure, even a highly anticipated political maneuver—is subject to the laws of optimum timing. It’s a delicate balancing act of predicting the market’s demand and readiness, assessing how far in front of your competitors you’ll be and a very realistic self-evaluation of your ability to deliver the promised entity within a timeframe that satisfies all these conflicting requirements.

Announce and promise too soon, and your target customers will tire quickly of your unfulfilled promises and missed deadlines, rendering your eventual delivery a ho-hum non-event. Wait too long to announce, and your competition may get there before you or you run the risk of introducing a product, service or legislation that no longer has real meaning and value to its original market. In business, economics, politics and many other human endeavors, timing is everything. Late is often worse than never.

 

Random Thoughts on Recent Happenings

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

No. 1—The Tax Bill

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

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

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

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

No. 1a—The Tax Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional vs. Logical Voting

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Which brings us back to the question—why?

 

There are four big reasons:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Warren.

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

Senator Warren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump’s Crimes

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

Accusation: Denying a Female Access to the Highest Office

Verdict: Guilty

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Guilty

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

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

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

Verdict: Guilty

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

Additional Crimes

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

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

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

Sometimes, crime pays.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electric Cars Will Revolutionize Politics, Too

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

Electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to have a major influence on the automotive market in the near-term future. We’re talking about pure electric vehicles, not stop-gap gasoline-battery “hybrids.” Like any paradigm-shifting technology, electric cars have started out with significant shortcomings. To date, they have been marked by exorbitantly high selling prices and driving ranges that are too short to be viable for daily, carefree use. But this is changing for the better, quite rapidly. Driven by the potential of huge market demand, R&D has dropped battery pricing very quickly and driving range is increasing to a point where EVs will soon be a workable alternative to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

In the opinion of many, the range needed for electric cars to be accepted by Joe/Jill Average Consumer without undue driving range anxiety is 350-400 miles. That’s a full work week’s driving with some safety margin built in, assuming an average 25-mile each way commute. That comes to 50 mi/day x 5 days = 250 miles. If you’re stuck in traffic because of an accident or unplanned construction, you still have 100-150 miles of ‘idle time’ safety margin. Looking at it another way, the drive from Boston to NYC is about 225 miles and LA to Las Vegas is about 260 miles, so a 350-400 mile range is just fine.

Electric cars are getting really close. This recent article (Aug 2017) from Ward’s Automotive

thinks by 2022, in about 5 very short years, they will be fully viable. Let’s paint that as overly optimistic and say 10 years. That’s still essentially immediate. We all remember ten short years ago—2007—like it was yesterday.

In the near term, the uncertainty/incompleteness of a nationwide charging station infrastructure will limit EV use to around town/commuter use, and restrict their use for cross-country treks and inter-state car-based vacations. In the early stages of widespread EV market penetration, it’s likely that two-car households will have one EV for short-range trips (where at-home, overnight recharging is possible) and one ICE vehicle for longer-range trips where the absolutely certain availability of remote refueling is a requirement.

For anyone under 65 or so, there’s a very good chance they will own an EV in their lifetime. For people simply going to work, an EV would be fine. They’d drive it every day and recharge it at home overnight one night a week. The idea of a remote “charging station” wouldn’t even enter the picture for them—and I suspect that’s the way a lot of people would use EVs early on.

Other than the inability of the Liberal/Green sect to be emotionally/intellectually capable of taking “yes” for an answer (reducing the oil companies’ stranglehold on their current dominant energy-providing position will rob the Green lobby of their most prized bogeyman), there is not really any net downside to anyone to the EV revolution. It’s not a perfect solution, but the prospects are quite good for a very solid Won-Lost record in upcoming seasons. Far more upside than down.

While there can be no disagreement that ICE cars are getting remarkably clean and efficient (the 2018 Accord—a full-sized, 5-passenger car—gets the remarkable mileage of 30/38 city/hwy and accelerates 0-60 in around 7 seconds!), the emotional/political tide of the younger buying generations is against them, and the thrust of that tide is inexorable. Much like scenario where the early flat-screen TVs had pictures that were inferior to the day’s best CRTs, the flat-screens took over anyway. The emotional pivot-point for EVs has been reached and the days of the 100% market dominance of the ICE are numbered.

Although much attention and publicity has been showered on the flamboyant, attention-seeking CEO/Founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, “Tesla” as a company is simply not part of this calculus. They’ve assumed the lead role and paved the way in people’s minds to the realistic possibility of actually owning an EV, and that’s a worthy contribution, but focusing on one man or one company misses the forest for the trees. Tesla’s eventual profitability or total demise is a minor aspect–very minor–of this story.

This is the story: EVs—from whatever sources—are coming in big numbers. Will it be 2022 like Ward’s says? 2030? 2040? Who knows. But with their lower maintenance and the fewer moving parts of electric drive vs. internal combustion engines, EVs are particularly well-suited to the coming expansion of driverless car-for-hire fleets, when individual car ownership is no longer the accepted business model that it is today. Make no mistake—a large, fancy, status-laden car or SUV is not the material goal for Millennials that it was for Baby Boomers and to a somewhat lesser—but still meaningful—degree for Gen X-ers. Today’s 27-year-old simply has other material/social things on their mind besides a Cadillac XTS or a BMW 7 Series. For many Millennials, a car is simply a “transportation appliance,” carrying no more emotional or egotistical importance to them than a lightbulb. It simply does a job they need done, whether that job is providing light or getting from Point A to Point B.

The flat screen TV vs. CRT analogy is essentially spot-on accurate. EVs may not be as “good” yet as ICE cars—just as early flat screens weren’t as good as CRTs—but the genie is out of the bottle and people will want a car free of petro-politics and petro-pollution. The supposed advantages of EVs in the consumer’s mind (whether totally accurate at this point or not) are just too appealing and therefore, the market is headed electric.

Here’s the political impact that EVs will have: When EVs become a significant portion of the on-the-road fleet, oil will be displaced as a primary land-based transportation fuel. OPEC will not be anything close to being as major a factor on the world stage as they are today, from either an economic or political standpoint. There will not be anywhere near as many millions of polluting ICE cars on the road. “Warming” will cease to be a dominant, divisive issue since car-produced CO2 pollution will decline precipitously. Foreign policy based on oil and access to foreign-held oil reserves will end. “Drilling” and “spills” as political/economic/environmental wedge issues will disappear.

The EV vs. ICE analysis is a complex subject, with emotions, false perceptions, and the Government’s thumb on the scale (in favor of EVs to the detriment of oil-based transportation) all playing a part.  But once there is widespread EV market penetration, be that in 5, 10, or 30+ years, the social/political issues of climate change, foreign policy strategy and alliances, environmental stewardship, and social/economic buying patterns/marketing/ownership will change in a big way. Forever.

Liberal Outrage Is All About Getting Votes

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The Vegas shooting has brought the topic of gun control front and center once again. Within mere hours after the event took place, countless liberal politicians and celebrities were prattling on in their best sanctimoniously outraged voices about the evil of guns and the need for more gun control laws. We need to do “something,” they said. Disgraced former NBC anchorperson Tom Brokaw said, “It’s time for a national dialogue on guns,” and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel opined that the “GOP should be praying to G-d for forgiveness” (at the 4:59 mark) for basing their national policy on the wants and needs of the NRA.

There were lots of vague statements from these same liberal sources about the U.S. having more mass shootings than other countries, with the thinly-veiled implication that they are all the fault of white male conservatives. (Historical facts need not apply. Disregard the Asian Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, or the Muslim shooters at Fort Hood [Nidal Hasan], San Bernardino [Syed Rizwan Farook] or the Orlando nightclub [Omar Mateen]. We have a political narrative to put forth here and we’re not about to let any random facts stand in our way.)

There is also widespread liberal praise for the gun buy-back programs that have supposedly been effected in Britain and Australia. The lower proportional numbers of mass gun violence in these countries is presented by the anti-gun lobby as an evidentiary component of the value of having an unarmed civil populace. It’s a risibly-simplistic, unprovable causality, but it’s unquestionably a convenient statistic for them, to be sure.

No one—absolutely no one—is saying or implying that any normal, rational person doesn’t and shouldn’t feel genuine sorrow and compassion for the victims of gun violence. But…as Rahm Emanuel once said in his early days in the Obama administration, “[Liberals should] Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Indeed, they never do. The entire liberal community—the liberal mainstream media, politicians and celebrities—has been quick to paint this as just the latest in a string of disastrous shootings brought about by conservatives’ unwarranted, blind, inhumane support of the NRA-led gun-owner’s lobby. The liberal message is clear: Don’t vote for them! Conservatives support policies that kill your children.

When pressed for details to define the “something” that must be done, liberal pundits and politicians come up heavy on clichéd platitudes but very short on specifics. Private ownership of fully automatic weapons is illegal, as is the conversion of a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic version. So, the weapons that the Vegas gunman used were already illegal. A new law would not have prevented Stephen Paddock’s action. He was not on any Federal, State or Local watchlist or database. He had no history of mental illness nor any noteworthy criminal background or prior convictions. He had no known association with terror groups, nor any documented travel to terror hotspots. Paddock didn’t espouse allegiance or belong to any extremist organizations. There were no missed red flags. His inner thoughts are apparently to blame, and it doesn’t appear that there is a specific law or pre-emptive action that is opposed by conservatives that could have prevented it.

So what, specifically, should be done? Liberals usually only say “something,” but then they cover up their lack of specific proposals by implying that conservatives are fine with occasional mass shootings, because they (conservatives) consider such shootings to be the “price of freedom.” Yet when asked to recommend actual new laws and policies that would have prevented this—or any other—mass shooting and to specify how the new law would have done so, liberals get often just get mad at the questioner and resort to the “something” line. Or is it the “now’s the time” line? Or the “we’ve had enough” line?

Nonetheless, while the entire country mourns the senseless loss of life and is justifiably angered by the heinous actions of a madman, half the country—the liberal half—is concurrently scheming and strategizing to co-opt a national tragedy and turn it into political advantage by explicitly blaming conservatives for creating the circumstances and conditions that enabled the event to take place.

Brokaw, Kimmel, Chuck Todd, Hillary, Bernie, Chris Matthews, Chris Cuomo, Whoopie, Ellen. All the usual liberal talking heads are seemingly more concerned with pinning fault on conservatives—thus rendering them unworthy of election by any intelligent, lucid, humane individual—then they are understanding the motives and reasons for the crime itself.

This is yet another example of liberals’ mastery of media manipulation when it comes to influencing public opinion. It may be distasteful to attempt to ply a domestic tragedy into tactical political leverage, but the liberal side knows its strengths. They know they’ll be afforded cover by the mainstream media when they use a grievous national heartbreak and attempt to court naked political advantage.

It may not work. Many people will be repulsed by liberals taking blatant advantage of an appalling occurrence. But in some instances, with some people, it will work. Liberals are gambling they’ll win more supporters by blaming conservatives than they’ll lose from appearing crass and distasteful. For liberals, it’s always about the votes.

 

 

Should the Constitution be a Living Document?

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Although President Kennedy’s inaugural speech in January 1961 is more famous (“Ask not what your country can do for you….”), President Eisenhower’s farewell speech from January 1961 contained many themes and ideas that could still be thought of as being quite relevant, even today.

Excerpts follow:

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, such basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among nations.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle – with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties:

- A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses

- Development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill

- A dramatic expansion in basic and applied research

 These and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

Although Eisenhower was obviously referring to Soviet-backed communism with his use of the phrase “hostile ideology global in scope, ruthless in purpose, insidious in method,” that phrase could just as easily refer to current Islamic terrorism or Iranian/North Korean nuclear adventurism.

Additionally, his opining that there might be a great, overreaching hope of a “miraculous solution” to the problems facing the country is evidence of the tempting thought that pursuing successful Government-sponsored outcomes—no matter how questionable their chances for success—was just as prevalent 55+ years ago as it is today.

All of which brings up the question of how useful are older documents and thoughts—past speeches, old papers, even the Constitution—in providing useful, relevant guidance and example to current situations?

Many conservatives are quick to state that the Constitution remains perfectly relevant, that the principles laid out by the Founding Fathers are timelessly brilliant and insightful, and that the basic rights and guidelines established by the Constitution and its amendments are still applicable today, even to situations not specifically envisioned by the Framers.

Similarly, many liberals are of a different mindset completely, thinking that while the Constitution and other older documents and speeches are interesting and worthy of academic study, they can’t necessarily be taken in their totality as serious guides for today’s actions. Those who question the Constitution’s modern-day relevance often cite that although it may be a useful teacher for presenting issues and philosophies that were in effect at the time of its enactment (late 1700’s), the pace of change in society continues to accelerate, sometimes so fast that the Constitution—while perhaps worthy of review and contemplation as an historical document—is simply not equal to the task of providing a useful legal roadmap, or in too many instances, of providing any substantive guidance to modern culture and law at all.

Inherent in modern-day liberals’ dismissal of the notion of the “wisdom of the Founding Fathers” is their (liberals’) feeling that the societal norms that were in effect at the time of the Constitution’s authorship (such as widespread slave ownership, rampant sexism by current-day standards— exemplified by the lack of women’s voting rights and their not being allowed to hold elective office–along with profound gender, racial and ethnic inequality in professional and educational opportunities, etc.) render invalid any legally-binding positions offered by the Founders.

In a fascinating question-and-answer event in 2005 between Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer, the question was broached as to when and how the concept of a “living” Constitution came to be. Scalia opined that the Court first began employing relativism to a significant degree starting around 1945, right after World War II. As Scalia says,

“…the Court adopted the notion that the Constitution is not static. It doesn’t mean what the people voted for when it was ratified. Rather, it changes from era to era to comport with—and this is a quote from our cases, “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” I detest that phrase, because I’m afraid that societies don’t always mature. Sometimes they rot. What makes you think that human history is one upwardly inclined plane: every day, in every way, we get better and better? It seems to me that the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to prevent change, not to foster change and have it written into a Constitution.”

Expanding on Scalia’s worry that “societies don’t necessarily mature,” there is ample evidence on both sides of that argument. Advanced technology has certainly made many facets of current American life better than our forbearers could have envisioned in their wildest dreams. But while professional, societal (choice of housing location, religious freedom, recreational associations, etc.) and educational equality and opportunity have improved immeasurably in the United States since the late 1700’s, many aspects of American society have demonstrably not “evolved and progressed.” The unquestioned rise in public coarseness and vulgarity, the frighteningly high percentage of out-of-wedlock births, the precipitous decline in formal religious practice and the resultantly concomitant drop-off in the practice of ethical, compassionate behavior towards one’s neighbors, co-workers and schoolmates, the rise in addictive drug use, the truly horrifying increase in personal violence and sexual assaults, the indifference to the environment, the valuing of material acquisition over personal integrity and kindness, these are all unequivocal indications of a society that is not evolving and progressing. Technological advancement does not equate to societal evolution.

So, the question remains: Are we a society that is guided by timeless, unique, permanent principles of basic rights as put forth by the Founding Fathers, or are our founding and guiding documents “living” documents whose meaning should change as dictated by current circumstance and outside consensus?

The Constitution has proven uniquely prescient and durable in its ability to anticipate and provide a bedrock for our legal guidelines. Although some may say the question of living vs. static unfairly characterizes things as being an either/or situation, others will be just as quick to point out that evolving standards and ‘living’ documents add up to no standards at all.

Global Warming: The Classic Liberal vs. Conservative Argument

 

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Here is the classic Liberal vs. Conservative Global Warming argument. I started it off with this shot across the bow:

“Global Warming is an irrelevant non-issue. One can believe the Warming alarmists at face value or believe it to be a made-up bunch of politically-driven junk science as you want.

But the fact remains that long before any man-caused “warming” has a permanent negative impact on the world. we’ll be well on our way to using non-CO2-producing energy on a large enough scale that any minuscule amount of “warming” or “higher sea levels” that have occurred in the next few decades will stop and be reversed.

The anti-business, anti-conservative, anti-Western crowd is going to have to fabricate a new boogeyman, because “warming” isn’t it. By the way, the non-CO2-producing energy that solves and eliminates the threat of “warming” is being discovered and developed by conservative Western businessmen. Deliciously ironic, no?”

To which my liberal friend replied:

“For an ‘irrelevant non-issue,’ you’ve written thousands of words on the topic over the years!  Something doesn’t quite compute.  

I know of no evidence supporting your “global warming reversal” conclusion, but I hope you’re right.

Also, what’s “deliciously ironic” about a businessperson, regardless of political affiliation, doing a 180 when there’s a buck to be made?  It’s the oldest game in the book! Thanks.”

I replied—

“It’s Irrelevant in terms of the actuality of it happening, not irrelevant in terms of how significant and emotional a topic it is to many.

The actuality of Global Warming’s long-term permanent negative effects is irrelevant. All the worst-case studies—if you even can believe them at all—say things like, ‘By the end of the century….’ or, ‘In the next few hundred years….’ etc. The Big Cure of non-CO2-emitting energy is coming fast, real fast. A major chunk of car fuel will be non-CO2 within 10-30 years. There are dozens of new technologies or refined existing technologies that are coming on-line in the next few decades and will be deployed/distributed on a widespread enough basis to displace a big portion of fossil fuels and their greenhouse gas emissions. As I said in a recent article, it’s estimated that electric cars alone will replace the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s entire oil output by 2040. That’s 23 measly years from now.

2040 is pretty far away from ‘next century,’ no? The Warming ‘problem’ goes away, for good, very soon. That’s the absolute definition of ‘irrelevant in actuality.’

Not irrelevant emotionally, however. The Warmers/NY Times/CNN/anti-conservatives love this topic and try to hang every weather-related calamity that happens on conservatives. It’s just that all their dire predictions have failed to come true. Manhattan is not under water like they said in 2008 it would be by 2015, they have no explanation for the 20-year ‘pause’ in the rise in global temperatures, the supposed rise in temps was going to give rise to a wave of pests and bugs that would decimate our food production but that hasn’t happened, the polar bears were going extinct but in fact, their numbers have increased, and the numerous scandals and faulty/fraudulent data put forth by the IPCC is truly staggering. The liberal press covers none of this, of course, but the facts are the facts. Still, I’m not disputing the existence of anthropogenic warming, nor protesting your right to believe it. Knock yourself out. It’s merely irrelevant.

To answer your doubt about my ‘it will reverse’ assertion: When it rains for 3 days straight, the ground is soaked. When it stops raining, the situation reverses and the ground reverts to being dry. When it’s really, really cold, ice forms and precipitation takes the form of snow, not rain. When the situation reverses and it becomes warm again, it doesn’t continue to snow. It rains. But ok, just for the sake of this conversation, let’s posit two things:

  1. Measurable, actual warming has occurred thus far.
  2. When the warming stops, the thus-far effects will not

Well, as we’ve seen from the missed predictions of disaster and the fraudulent data (not all of it has been fraudulent, but a significant amount has been, enough to cast doubt on the ‘unquestionable objectivity’ of the IPCC) that’s been foisted upon us for 15 years, the actual effects of warming have been extremely moderate to date, so moderate that even if those effects were cemented in place for all time, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of negatively impacting anyone’s life here on earth.

And don’t you love how the liberal snoberati live such hysterically hypocritical lives, as they luxuriate in their 3000 sq. ft. air-conditioned homes with multiple big-screen TVs, driving their gasoline-powered vehicles (maybe even SUVs!) and buying all manner of the latest gadgets and fashions, while jetting off on vacation on polluting 737s owned by big corporations. I have yet to encounter a liberal in my life who walks the energy/warming walk, but they sure do love to talk the talk. Talk is cheap.

So, have I written a lot about it? Yup, I have. I have the ability to put forth exceptionally well-worded arguments that infuriate the other side and are close to being unarguable. It’s kind of like rubbing a Yankees fan’s nose in the memory of them being up 3 games to none vs. the Red Sox in 2004 and us coming back to humiliate them, 4 games to 3. It never gets old and I never get tired of doing it.

As for the irony, I think you misinterpret where the irony is. Warmers hate conservative (read: Republican) businessmen, because they (the Warmers) think that conservative businessmen (yes, men) are the cause of all the warming problems because of their ruthless pursuit of immoral profits while willfully ignoring the harm they’re inflicting on the environment.

The irony comes from the fact that it is the very pursuit of these horrible, immoral profits that is producing the cure for Warming. The Warmers’ sworn enemy is solving the problem. Ironic indeed.

My gut feel is that the Warmers would rather some permanent harmful effects be inflicted on the earth than have to admit that 1) Warming was never that big a deal in the first place and 2) Conservative Republicans solved it.

I am 97% sure I’m correct about everything.”

This was a fun dialogue.

 

Accusation on Page 1; Retraction on Page 27

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Liberals have mastered most aspects of manipulating an already-sympathetic mainstream media to their advantage, but there is perhaps no liberal skill more highly developed and accomplished than this one: their ability to exploit virtually any situation or occurrence to their political advantage by making an outrageously inaccurate accusatory statement about conservatives. Liberals feel no compunction about making the accusation on Page 1. The retraction—if it ever happens at all—is buried deep on page 27, seen by no one.

It seems that almost every single headline or trending story on the figurative front page (printed, digital or broadcast) of the liberal mainstream media (the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, CBS/NBC/ABC News, Facebook, Good Morning America, The View, etc.) falls into one of the categories below. The particulars may change depending on what the circumstances of the day might be, but the general themes below remain constant and reliable, and can be adapted to the President, another officeholder or any high-profile conservative as needed:

  • Conservatives only want tax breaks so their wealthy donors can give them more money.
  • Every natural disaster (hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc.) is further evidence of the harm caused by Global Warming, the existence of which conservatives continue to deny—even in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus. In other words, natural disasters are the fault of conservatives.
  • Conservatives are anti-women, proven by their desire to defund Planned Parenthood and their unwillingness to address gender-based wage inequality.
  • Conservatives are anti-Hispanic, proven by their irrational obsession with immigration and their desire to keep Hispanics out of the country.
  • Conservatives have little regard for the environment and will willingly let environmental protections slide if doing so means that their big business cronies will prosper.
  • Conservatives care more about Wall Street than Main Street and always prefer policies that favor the high-end financial class to the detriment of the ‘average guy.’
  • Conservatives are war-mongers and always favor a big military buildup, with lots of fancy weapons to make themselves feel powerful.
  • Conservatives applaud police brutality against the poor and downtrodden, especially against minorities.
  • Conservatives want to perpetuate a climate of discrimination and oppression against blacks, and therefore favor limiting or eliminating Government-mandated race-based admission and hiring programs.
  • Conservatives are morally inferior to liberals, as evidenced by their admiration of Southern Civil War symbols, their acceptance of hate groups and their intolerance of same-sex marriage/gender-identity issues. It has nothing to do with conservatives’ religious beliefs (religious beliefs are an anachronistic irrelevancy anyway) and everything to do with conservatives’ moral shortcomings and lack of intellectual sophistication.
  • Conservatives are heartless and cold, since they want to repeal and replace Obamacare, even if that means pulling healthcare away from the previously uninsured, resulting in the death of thousands. Conservatives want to hurt the elderly by ending Medicaid, in order to divert those funds to other wealthy conservative interests.
  • Conservatives are self-centered, short-sighted and fundamentally dishonest, while liberals are selfless, far-seeing and primarily concerned only with the greater good.

Liberals know all this quite well. They know how the game is played and they know how to get around the rules. All of the above anti-conservative clichés can be convincingly, factually refuted, but the explanations are long and tedious, well past the attention span of the average person.

Liberals also know the “40-20-40 Rule,” which is this: About 40% of voters will always vote for the liberal candidate, even if there is a verified, un-Photoshopped picture of the liberal standing over a body with a dripping knife. That die-hard 40% always goes liberal and nothing will budge them.

There is roughly an equivalent 40% amount who will always vote conservative. That leaves the 20% undecided/swing voting bloc. Some in that central 20% group are thoughtful, well-informed voters who simply have no automatic pre-determined allegiance to an arbitrary party. But many in that 20% group are what could be characterized as “casually-attentive.” These are people who do end up making the effort to vote, but they pay little attention to policy or issue specifics throughout the long haul of the campaign process, instead making up their mind very late and being easily influenced by popular soundbites/headlines and trending social media stories.

Only three times since JFK was elected in 1960 (which can quite reasonably be thought of as the first presidential election held under the influence of the modern media age) has the popular vote percentage margin been in double digits: 1964 (Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater), 1972 (Richard Nixon over George McGovern) and 1984 (Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale). All of the other elections have had popular vote margins in the single-digit range, even the “historic” election of Barack Obama in 2008 (+7.27%) and the “landslide” victory of Reagan over the woefully inept Jimmy Carter in 1980 (+9.74%).

Yes, it’s true that we use the Electoral College system to determine the winner of our presidential elections, in order to rightfully prevent an unrepresentative, overwhelmingly large and lopsided voting group (such as California) from having a disproportionate influence over the rest of the country. It is further true that if the candidates were aiming to maximize their national popular vote totals instead of looking to win individual states, then the candidates would campaign and spend their time and money quite differently than they do now. A concerted effort by a Republican presidential candidate in California would very likely turn out a far higher total of Republican votes and would therefore significantly reduce the Democrat’s numerical margin of victory. But that is not how the election is structured, so under our current Electoral College system, the Democratic candidate collects a statistically-aberrant portion of California’s votes, throwing the national popular vote totals into misleading disarray.

If the 40-20-40 Rule strikes you as reasonable, it’s easy to see how the mainstream media can influence that center 20% group with their quick hits, trending stories and clichéd soundbites/headlines. Even under the Electoral College system, that 20% group is crucial. The single-digit closeness of the so-called “battleground states” (WI, NC, NH, NV, MI, PA, OH, FL, CO, etc.) that determine the eventual winner is proof of that. Page 1 accusations are central to liberals’ electoral strategy, a critical component to their game plan. Unfortunately for conservatives, they don’t even seem to understand that a game is being played, much less how to win it.

 

 

​In America Free Speech can be expensive. What the Founding Fathers rightly put in the First Amendment – freedom of expression – has changed in its details over the past two hundred odd years. But that doesn’t change the essential and vital necessity of their understanding of freedom of thought and expression contained in those 45 words.

So while media pundits and internet trolls rage over freedom of expression in events like Charlottesville, and while the ACLU flogs itself for defending the rights of white supremacists to march, there is another battle going on in Washington. This one is a little more under the radar, but it is fascinating and reveals the true workings of the separation of powers as envisioned and constructed by the framers of the constitution.

It’s about the Johnson Amendment – named after then Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson who proposed the amendment to the tax code. Essentially what the 1954 ruling does is force certain charitable organizations – including religious ones – to choose:

You can be tax-exempt. OR
You can engage in political speech.

But you can’t do both.

Last May, the president signed The Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, which promises to fight for freedom of religious expression. In other words, clergy who promote or criticize political candidates or officials will not have their tax-exempt status removed by the IRS.

But an executive order is not a law, and the Johnson Amendment is. So the DOJ is caught between being asked not to enforce a law that many DOJ officials clearly agree with, and being asked to reveal how and who at the IRS threatened or slowed down the applications for tax-exempt status on the part of conservative organizations and charities. The DOJ is apparently a hotbed of progressive, Obama-appointed wonks, so no surprise that they’re slow-walking the IRS probe.

And taxes are with us through death. So no surprise there either. But think about this:

The IRS controls freedom from taxation. And freedom of political expression, or at least effective political expression. Because to be effective you need to reach people, and that means buying media time. And that is expensive.

Thanks to the Johnson Amendment, among other causes, the IRS controls your freedom of speech. That’s some powerful reach they have. Even more effective than terrorizing taxpayers by breaking down their doors at dawn.

So getting Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment (unlikely to happen anytime soon unfortunately) isn’t just about allowing clergy to openly express political views and preferences for candidates and policies. It’s about deciding who has to pay for their free speech.

And it’s the progressives ensconced at DOJ that are the gatekeepers of this legislative and philosophical struggle.