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.

 

High-Paying Annuities for the Liberal Political Portfolio

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

As the lines separating popular culture and politics continue to blur to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable, some things remain steadfast and predictable to liberal politicians and their mainstream media sycophants. The word “cliché” is too mild to describe them. These tenets are more than mere dogma; they have become credenda, beliefs so firmly and deeply held that they are accepted on faith, unquestioned by their proponents. They are high-yield political annuities, guaranteed to pay major partisan dividends year after year.

We’ll look at two of the best examples:

  1. Conservatives are Racist

This one is easy for liberals. A consistent tack for liberals is to simply point out that most conservatives come out against race-based quotas and initiatives (preferring qualification and opportunity), so conservatives must be pro-white/anti-minority. In today’s fast-paced media environment—where shallow messages can easily make lasting impressions on casually-attentive swing voters—neither historical accuracy nor the actual functional aspects of a particular policy seem to count for anything. It’s all about appearances, as filtered by the liberal media. The casually-attentive get their news and form their impressions through liberal sources like the NY Times, CNN, Comedy Central, The View and Good Morning America. These sources are only too happy to continue the “conservatives are racist” storyline, since these media sources are actively in favor of helping Democrats win elections. Damaging a Republican’s image among the undecided voter pool is perfectly in keeping with their overall intent.

Donald Trump didn’t initially use the words “white supremacists” when denouncing the recent violence in Charlottesville VA. That fed the liberal media-driven narrative of anti-minority bias by Republicans, much to the delight of every liberal newscaster, reporter and opportunistic Democratic politician. The amount of sanctimonious, self-righteous pap that flowed forth from liberal sources in the ensuing days was truly extraordinary.

Barack Obama didn’t use the words “Muslim terrorists” for the entire eight years of his administration, even as Muslim terrorists wantonly attacked and killed hundreds of innocent people all over the world. Neither the liberal media nor his Democratic political allies had any problem with that. To them, it was “just words,” and Obama not using those supposedly needlessly incendiary words was merely further proof of his sophistication at handling a delicate situation. He catches a total break, gets a complete pass. President Trump (or any Republican) is cut no slack whatsoever.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement of an America “….where our children are judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin” has been long forgotten by today’s liberal orthodoxy. Instead, the current liberal playbook demands total acceptance of the doctrine of white blame, that white American culture is responsible for all the race- and ethnically-based problems in society. For today’s Democrats, “White America” equals “conservative.” After Hurricane Katrina disastrously struck New Orleans in 2005, inflicting major damage on the predominantly-black 9th Ward of the city, President Bush was accused of “hating black people.” He was Republican. He was white. Therefore, he hated black people and by implication, their struggles and misfortunes were his fault. So it is again, now, with President Trump. He’s white. He’s Republican. Therefore, all race-based problems and conflicts are eventually deemed to be his fault.

How widely-known is it that southern Democrats blocked the 1964 Civil Rights bill and it was the overriding votes by Republicans that assured its passage? A Democratic-led filibuster prevented the bill from being voted on for over 60 days. Democratic Senator Richard Russell famously said,  “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our [Southern] states.” When the filibuster was finally broken, Republican Senate support for Civil Rights bill was 82%, while Democratic support was far lower, at 69%. That bit of factual, undeniable history is conveniently forgotten by today’s Democrats, although they do try to re-frame history by claiming that it was the Southern Democrats—from formerly Confederate states—who opposed the bill.

Democrats continually use the “conservatives are racist” storyline to their electoral benefit, even in the face of contradictory historical fact. Since the popular mainstream media favor the Democrats, this canard is a reliable influencer of the casually-attentive voter, a dependable political annuity for liberals time after time.

  1. 97% of Climate Scientists Believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming

This is a big one, a cornerstone of liberal doctrine. This is one that defines conservatives as being nothing more than anti-science troglodytes, willfully ignorant of unquestioned fact, naively beholden to the interests of profit-driven Big Business to the detriment of mankind. (Or is it personkind? Do we have to say personkind now?)

There is no single, overriding study that has produced the magical 97% figure so oft-cited by Global Warming hysterics, but the one that has garnered the most attention was published in 2013, based on research done between 1991 and 2011 by Australian scientist John Cook—author of the popular 2011 book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand. This is the famous study that touts some 12,000 published reports by ‘climate scientists’ and that the findings were in 97% agreement about man being the cause of rising global temperatures.

Ooops. That darned fine print. If you read the study, it turns out that only 34% (4014) of the papers studied expressed any opinion about the cause of Global Warming. Of that 34%, 33% said, yes, man is the predominant cause. So 33 out of 34 delivers the much-prized “97%” you hear bandied about so often. 97% is indeed a far more impressive number than 33%, especially when there are conservatives that need to be criticized and exposed for being callously indifferent to the well-being of our precious, fragile planet.

Let it be stated in a most unequivocal manner that the verity of anthropogenic global warming is not being questioned here. It may be real, it may not be. There are indeed many studies supporting the hypothesis of anthropogenic warming. Choose your side. But what is undeniably real is the willfully disingenuous manipulation of research “statistics” for the purposes of political influence. That 97% figure in this particular study is a linchpin of the liberal argument that “conservatives are anti-environment.” It serves liberals well. It has likely become the most frequently-quoted number in the history of political debate. By any measure, the number “97%” delivers consistently rewarding political returns for the liberal side.

There are certainly other lucrative liberal clichés and mantras:

  • Conservatives give tax cuts to their rich donors
  • Conservatives side with Big Insurance against the ‘little guy’
  • Conservatives favor a military build-up over vital infrastructure improvements
  • Conservatives want to eliminate welfare and food stamps for the needy

Liberals use them all to their political advantage when the situation calls for it, buttressed by the ever-sympathetic mainstream media. But the two we’ve cited here—Conservatives are Racist and 97% of Climate Scientists—are their most steady, reliable political monetary devices. Those two generate guaranteed high returns, every time.

Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement a Huge Non-Event

 

©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement has been cited by his critics as proof of his callous ignorance of critical environmental concerns in favor of his big-business colleagues and partisan donors, and by implication, further proof of his generalized unsuitability to be President.

The multi-national Paris Agreement is largely based two assumptions:

  1. Mankind will continue to rely on and overuse fossil fuels as the predominant energy source for transportation and heating, thus perpetuating the problem of anthropogenic Global Warming.
  2. The Paris Agreement is central to civilization’s ability to stop and reverse climate change before it reaches an irreversible “tipping point.”

Both assumptions are demonstrably false; therefore, the entire basis for the Paris Agreement is, at best, embarrassingly naïve and, at worst, an outright fraud.

Fossil fuels (oil, gasoline and natural gas) are currently the primary energy sources for heating and transportation, but our reliance on them for these purposes is already declining precipitously, independent of any international climate “agreement.” Use of alternative non-fossil fuels has increased dramatically from less than 5% before 1990 to over 13% in 2014 and may well increase somewhat in the future as their technology improves and their cost declines. However, so-called renewables are a dead end energy solution, whether their use is increasing or not. There is a practical upper limit as to what actual portion of the world’s total energy use renewables can provide, agreed upon by most objective energy analysts as being far less than a majority—or even a significant—percentage of the total. Absent their Government subsidies, it’s questionable if renewables would even be a factor at all.

Far more important to the current energy picture in terms of reducing CO2-emitting fuels is the use of fracking (led by the United States) and the resultant mother lode of natural gas that’s been unlocked and has replaced “dirty” coal. CO2 emissions in the United States are already down to early 1990’s levels, primarily because of the increased natural gas supply made possible by fracking. The potential for natural gas to replace coal, and therefore reduce CO2 emissions, is even greater worldwide, since fracking has only just begun outside the United States.

There is a great desire among most people to choose a “green” energy source when it is close in price to a polluting fuel and an even stronger desire among 1st-world economies to be free of the shackles and whims of politically-unstable OPEC-influenced world oil pricing. The Paris Agreement is not needed to increase non-fossil fuel demand nor is its presence the reason for the already-growing use of alternative fuels. These developments are taking place now, with or without Paris. The Agreement is a non-factor.

The Paris Agreement itself is not a binding, enforceable international “treaty” of any kind. There are no penalties for non-compliance. The Agreement is strictly for show, a way for the major Western economies to make themselves feel good about leading by example and showing recalcitrant CO2 offenders like China and India that they too should take voluntary steps to reduce their environmentally-damaging emissions. For American politicians, the Agreement is a way to show their targeted environmental supporters that the Government is actively, tangibly doing something to combat climate change. The vote-influencing effect of the Agreement is probably its most substantive outcome.

However, the Paris Agreement itself does nothing to actually reduce global warming. In words spoken on December 9, 2015 by our direct representative, the estimable then-Secretary of State John Kerry,

… The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what – that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.

If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions –- remember what I just said, all the industrial emissions went down to zero emissions -– it wouldn’t be enough, not when more than 65% of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.

The second assumption of the Paris Agreement—that the earth will soon reach an irreversible, disastrous tipping point if dramatic action to halt anthropogenic warming emissions is not taken immediately— is similarly flawed. To begin with, there is no scientific proof of that, nor is any “proof” possible. The notion of a tipping point is merely a totally unsubstantiated talking point that has entered the climate dialog in remarkable coincidence to the non-fulfilment of past years’ predictions of warming-induced calamity and devastation. Shorelines have not crept miles inland, wiping out cities, ports and civilization along the way. Manhattan is still not under water. Pestilence and disease are not on the rise. If the undefined notion of a “tipping point” is valid, it would appear that we we’re not even close to reaching it yet.

It would likely require a geologically-significant time frame for a tipping point to occur—probably on the order of several centuries. As the capabilities of low- and non-carbon-based energy sources increase and their cost continues to decline, it’s quite reasonable to predict that within a very short time—50 to 100 years—the portion of energy that the world derives from low- and non-CO2-emitting sources will be large enough to make the entire emissions-caused-warming issue moot. Recent studies suggest that battery pricing is declining more rapidly than previously thought, such that electric vehicles will dominate auto sales as soon as 2040, displacing an amount of oil usage equal to Saudi Arabia’s entire output. That will cause a paradigm shift in both the CO2 emissions and geo-political components like nothing before ever has. And Paris has nothing to do with it.

Therefore, President Trump was entirely correct to see the valueless proposition of the Paris Agreement to the United States. The Agreement calls upon developed countries to come to the financial aid of less developed nations in order to assist them in curbing their carbon emissions, but the Agreement itself has no emissions enforcement mechanisms and full compliance—a very iffy proposition at best—won’t make a dent in worldwide warming anyway. It’s a disingenuous sham, designed only to make a favorable visual impression on those who don’t pay close attention and it wilfully ignores the legitimately-questionable scientific basis for the entire warming argument, the rapid technologically- and market-driven advancement of alternative energy, and the very short geological time frame before which the entire anthropogenic emissions-caused climate change issue becomes totally irrelevant.

Good riddance.

 

 

 

 

I’m Wrong, You’re Wrong

©2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

The Democrats have a good thing going. It’s unclear exactly how they arranged it or why it is that no one has really noticed it before and called them out on it. But they are very clever and they deserve full credit for pulling it off. It’s just another piece of evidence that when it comes to hardball politics/media manipulation, there is only one team even playing the game, much less a contest of any sort being waged.

Their gambit? The Democrats have constructed a reality whereby they get to blame Republicans outright for any transgression they commit—real or contrived—whether it be some verbal or policy slight against a favored special-interest group, a tax advantage they give to their “wealthy donor” electoral base, an unfair reduction in rights and privileges to the deserving just for the fun of being mean-spirited, environmentally-damaging political decisions made out of ignorance or uncaring short-sightedness, or a disruptive, counter-productive introduction of religion and morals into the public discussion in a blatant, hypocritical violation of the doctrine of ‘separation of church and state.’

The Democrats actually go further than simply tying such actions to Republican politicians. In fact, they routinely tie calamitous events to Republicans in general, office holders and supporters alike, and blame Republicans for intentionally creating the circumstances that enabled the event to transpire in the first place. A perfect recent example of this was a few years ago when Sarah Palin—a favorite Democratic fall girl—produced a “map” identifying targeted Democratic Congressional seats, with a crosshair graphic on the seat. Democrats howled that Palin was advocating actual gun violence against those Democratic officeholders and claimed that her actions specifically contributed to gunman Jared Loughner’s actions when he shot AZ congresswoman Gabby Giffords along with several other people. That was ludicrous, since Loughner’s mental illness was well-documented and had nothing to do with Palin’s strategic electoral map. In fact, there’s not any evidence that Loughner even knew who Sarah Palin was.

Yet when it serves their PR purposes, Democratic politicians—secure in their confidence that the liberal media will back their play every step of the way—feel free to conflate long-understood clichés and figures of speech with the literal meaning of that phrase when the literal meaning serves their political agenda. “In the crosshairs,” of course, is just an ages-old colloquialism for a matter to which one is turning one’s full attention and effort. You have to be a truly special kind of partisan to think you could convince others otherwise. But to the Democrats’ everlasting credit, they continually put it out there, knowing that the charge on Page One is seen by everyone, but the correction on page 12 four days later goes by virtually unnoticed.

Conversely, when a Democratic politician or a Democratic supporter is unavoidably trapped into acknowledging some inexcusable misconduct, abdication of responsibility, obvious lie, or insulting, insensitive speech, the typical Democratic response (assuming that a liberal media-backed outright denial of reality is not an option) involves some grudging admission of a temporary lapse in their usually impeccable judgement, followed by the inevitable dragging of Republicans along to share their guilt.

Here are some quintessential Democratic responses to flagrant Democratic misstatements and actions:

  • Both sides need to tone down the rhetoric.
  • There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides.
  • This situation requires immediate, focused bi-partisan attention.
  • Both sides are guilty of overreaction.
  • Both sides need to focus on what’s important and turn down the vitriol.

These kinds of Democratic proclamations are all-to-familiar to anyone paying any semblance of attention to the news. The recent revelation that President Obama knew months before the 2016 election that Russia was attempting to influence the U.S, election but that the Obama administration actively and intentionally decided against taking any action to thwart Russian interference has been greeted by the liberal media with bare-minimal (if any) coverage. When one Democratic lawmaker (Adam Schiff of CA) said, “I think the [Obama] administration needed to call out Russia earlier, needed to act to deter and punish Russia earlier, and that was a very serious mistake,” he was very quick to add, “I have to contest what President Trump is saying, because for Donald Trump who openly egged on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and celebrated every release of stolen documents—to criticize Obama is now a bit like someone knowingly receiving stolen property blaming the police for not stopping the theft.”

Perfectly scripted, right from the Democratic playbook: If you have to acknowledge an error on your side and there’s no possibility of denial, then bring the Republicans along for the ride on the Blame Train and imply that they’re at least as much at fault, even if you have to contort the facts in order to do so.

Schiff’s statement of Trump having “openly egged on the Russians” during the election campaign is an outright falsehood. As we said, “Charge on Page One. Correction to follow four days later—maybe—on page 12.” That’s no small semantic error: Trump may have cheered on Julian Assange’s announcements of more damaging DNC e-mails to come, but he didn’t know, nor did anyone else at the time, that the Russians may have been behind them (It’s still in question, an unsettled matter.) Replacing Assange with the Russians is willfully disingenuous on Schiff’s part. Skillful also, knowing he won’t be called out on it in a major public forum.

Another current example is CBS Evening News’ correspondent Scott Pelley’s astonishing utterance that the shooting of Republican congressman Steve Scalise by Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson may have been “to some degree self-inflicted.” In the Democrats’ world, no bad action can possibly be completely the fault of a Democratic politician or avowed Democratic supporter, lest that action cast the Democrats or their positions in a bad light. On the contrary, when a Democrat acts badly, it must be at least partially the Republicans’ fault, as this example proves once again.

It’s a good system that the Democrats have worked out for themselves: When they’re right, they take all the credit. When they’re wrong, they only get half—maybe less—of the blame. We’d all like to live in that world.

 

 

 

Just Get Someone

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

The November 2016 election of Donald Trump has so incensed the liberal mainstream media and the Democratic establishment that they’ve become virtually unhinged emotionally in their zeal to delegitimize and torpedo his presidency. Far from “coming together as one country after a hard-fought election campaign,” the Democrats and their liberal media collaborators have embarked on a non-stop, all-out crusade to destroy the Trump administration, thereby somehow reversing and overturning last November’s election result. That is their objective, make no mistake: Disqualify, reverse and oust.

The Democrats’ disqualification vehicle of choice is some vague, unspecified illegal connection that the Trump people had with Russian operatives before the election that enabled the Russians to manipulate the American voting process in a targeted manner to alter the vote, away from Hillary Clinton, and give it to Donald Trump.

There are a lot of words and phrases being tossed around by hysterical, sanctimonious, hyperventilating sources, saying things like, “Trump colluded with Russia to influence our election!” “The Russians hacked our voting process!” “Clinton’s insider information was revealed by the Russians to Trump’s benefit!”

Beyond these breathless, screeching headlines, there aren’t any real specifics of any kind. When the question is asked to define “influence,” or “hacked,” or “colluded,” the answers that come back are mostly along the lines of, “Well, you know! They did! Trump lied! Our democracy is at stake!” But exactly what was done, the actual methodology, where, the specific people involved, how many votes were altered, how many counties were illegally shifted from Clinton to Trump, how those counties added up to state wins for Trump instead of Clinton, none of that information is forthcoming. After seven months of non-stop Democratic investigation, none of those details are forthcoming.

Absent any tangible, verifiable proof of Trump-caused election manipulation, we’ve now entered the next, highly-predictable phase: The Get Someone phase. The Democrats already “got” Michael Flynn, since Trump fired him early on for not being forthcoming about some foreign contacts and financial arrangements. The President fired him. He was criticized for it by the liberal media and the Democratic establishment. If he hadn’t fired him, he’d have been criticized for it by the liberal media and the Democratic establishment.

But Flynn wasn’t high enough; he wasn’t a big enough scalp to satisfy the anti-Trump fervor. Besides, President Trump fired him; he didn’t defend him and try to keep him on. It’d be oh-so-much better if we could force the resignation of a truly high-level Administration official that the Administration is actively defending. The bigger the scalp an opposition party can claim, the more embarrassment and damage they can show the world they’ve inflicted on their enemies. When the embarrassment and damage reaches a critical tipping point, the media talk about it non-stop, night and day, and the issue manages to pierce through the fog of indifference that surrounds most casually-attentive, non-partisan-engaged swing voters.

Here, the Democrats have a huge advantage. The sources from which those aforementioned “casually-attentive, non-partisan-engaged swing voters” get their news and form their opinions are overwhelmingly liberally-biased. Whether late night like Colbert or Kimmel, Comedy Central’s Daily Show, the network morning shows like GMA and Today that people watch while dressing or having a quick breakfast, and of course, CNN and the NY Times, these are all Democratic-sympathetic sources. The common default mode among them all is Positive Democrat, anti-Trump. Operating under the reasonable 40-20-40 rule that says 40% will always vote Dem no matter what and 40% will always vote Repub no matter what, the fact that the 20% swing segment gets their impressions and forms their opinions from overwhelmingly liberal sources means that there is a very high likelihood that the majority of the 20%-ers will swing Dem once the liberal media start harping on something “important” day after day after day.

The Democrats’ goal with non-stop hearings, investigations, panels and Special Counsels is to break through from being unidentifiable background white noise to being something important and significant that will become the overriding issue on peoples’ minds every day.

If the Democrats can get someone of high standing, anyone, and force that individual to resign or be fired in disgrace—casting a huge negative pall on Trump’s presidency—then the Democrats will consider themselves successful. That’s the end-game here.

Although Republicans may try to run some offense of their own in reverse (for instance, trying to subpoena former Obama administration officials over their role in supposed questionable activities or unethical behavior), history shows us that Republicans are astonishingly bad at playing hardball partisan games of this sort. When they do manage to get a witness before a Congressional panel, they never seem to have prepared the questioning strategy needed for unequivocal success. Instead they meander around with peripheral questions, grandstand for personal gain, or—incredibly—they fail to hold together as a party and some “flexible, high-minded” Republicans actually undercut their own party’s efforts in order to try to seem “reasonable” to the general public. That never works, of course. The liberal media never give any Republicans credit for being “reasonable;” all that happens is that those misguided Republicans sabotage their own party’s chances for success.

For the Democrats, the goal is get someone. Anyone. Call for endless panels, hearings and investigations. Hold press conferences. Show off for the cameras. Ignite the passions of the hosts at CNN and MSNBC. Provide humorous fodder for the Daily Show, Saturday Night Live and Stephen Colbert at the Republicans’ expense. Try to make Trump and his administration look like buffoonish lying thieves and use the overwhelmingly liberal media to influence the 20%-undecideds.

Getting someone of significance—holding a scalp up high for all to see (metaphorically, of course)—accomplishes that goal.

Follow the Votes

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

There’s an old cliché that applies to many situations: “Follow the money.” This means, of course, that many actions, statements and rationalizations are best understood when the observer realizes that the initiator has their own financial self-interests at heart as they undertake various acts and then attempt to explain them.

In the current political environment, there is a close corollary to Follow the Money: Follow the Votes. Many issues cause politicians and activists on both sides to engage in logic-defying, contradictory actions and statements in their transparent attempt to convince voters.

Global Warming is certainly a prime example of this. Whether it’s Barbara Streisand maintaining her famously lavish, energy-intensive homestead, or Leonardo DiCaprio flying in an “eyebrow artist” 7500 miles from Australia to make himself look pretty for his Oscars attendance or Global Warming Champions Al Gore and Robert Kennedy Jr. famously taking fuel-gulping/pollution-spewing private jets to various events, the degree of hypocritical actions and statements in support of pet political causes is nothing short of incredible.

The hilariously-but-tragically labeled subject of “choice” is another perfect case. The apparent utter disregard for human decency and compassion that leads supposedly “Catholic” Democratic politicians like John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi to support unrestricted late-term abortion—essentially the birth of a full-term child who is then mercilessly killed upon delivery, just seconds before qualifying as a legal “life”—is a horrifyingly excellent illustration of “Follow the Votes.” We must have choice, after all, and we must capture the voters who support that.

However, as spot-on as the above examples are, there is one subject that defines Follow the Votes better than any other. That issue is immigration. Specifically it is the leniency towards illegal immigration espoused by Democrats.

By current estimates, there are somewhere around 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Most have come through our southern border from Mexico and other Latin countries. U.S. southern border security is less than Berlin Wall-esque tight, to put it mildly. Republicans and Democrats alike decry our immigration system as “broken” and constantly cite the need for some vague, sweeping “comprehensive immigration reform,” the details of which are frustratingly never delineated in an actual bill.

The crux of the illegal immigration issue is the fact that children born to illegal immigrants residing in the United States automatically become U.S. citizens, with all the rights and privileges that that status confers—including the right to vote. Democrats’ vehement defense of sanctuary cities, their oh-so-concerned, outraged protests over Republicans’ supposed desire to wantonly deport illegals and cold-heartedly break up families, the Dems’ dramatic assertions that illegals “play an indispensable role in our economy, pay taxes and do jobs that Americans won’t do,” it all amounts to nothing more than a disingenuous smokescreen in an effort to obscure their actual intent: to grow the ranks of future Democratic voters.

Latinos are the fastest-growing American demographic group and the prediction that the United States will become a “majority minority” country within a generation is based in large part on the growth of the Latino segment. Democrats can read predictive demographic trends as well—or better than—Republicans and have therefore oriented their illegal immigration strategy accordingly, realizing full well that illegal immigrants are low-income people whose families will be in need of Democratic-sponsored entitlement programs. The citizen offspring of illegal immigrants will be guaranteed reliable Democratic voters.

This brings us to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which is offered as the rationale for why children of illegals become U.S. citizens. When the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868, its primary intent was to ensure that newly-freed slaves were accorded full citizenship and rights under the Constitution. It is the famous opening clause,

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

that is cited as the primary reason for the U.S.-born offspring of illegal immigrants being accorded full citizenship.

Some Constitutional scholars assert that illegal immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Rather, they are subject to the jurisdiction of their native country, since they have entered the United States illegally without any formally-recognized renunciation of allegiance to their own country, and therefore the “jurisdiction” reasoning of the 14th Amendment does not apply to them.

Nonetheless, in 1982, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr.—a staunchly liberal justice who supported abortion rights and opposed the death penalty—made a ruling that read, “…no plausible distinction with respect to the 14th Amendment ‘jurisdiction’ can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful.”

This addendum by Brennan is widely regarded as the modern-day legal justification for the citizenship of children born to illegal immigrants. No argument is being made here as to the logic or defensibility of Brennan’s 1982 ruling. But that ruling has given rise to a concerted Democratic political strategy spanning the last 35 years: Maximize—by any means needed, by any remotely-plausible argument, by demonization as inhumane anyone who opposes it—the presence of illegal immigrants in the U.S. so that they have as many citizen children as possible to swing the future voting pendulum permanently in favor of the Democrats.

Follow the votes. Every Democratic position, utterance and policy proposal regarding illegal immigration is geared towards that goal.

 

 

Rare Political Self-Conversions

 

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

It’s been said that the American electorate can be divided into three roughly equal parts:

  • 1/3 that pays virtually no attention to politics and policy, and if they vote, they either vote by habit or by whatever impression happened to catch their attention
  • 1/3 that are somewhat attentive, and have a rudimentary understanding of issues and the candidates’ stances
  • 1/3 that are rabidly attentive and involved, active in supporting and campaigning for their chosen causes

A strong case can be made that for the last two groups—the 2/3 that identify with a Party and an ideology—are very often are born into and grow up with a “baked in” voting ideology. It’s a rare occurrence that an individual makes a 180° ideological turn from their upbringing and converts to the “other side.”

There are two demographic groups in particular that are reliable Democratic voters, mainly because of their upbringing and environment: Jews and African-Americans.

For Jews, cultural/ethnic considerations play a large role in their liberalism. In his book “Why Are Jews Liberal?” author Norman Podhoretz posits that in the mid-20th Century, Jewish immigrants from Europe were drawn to American liberals, who had a kinder, more welcoming feel than the hard-hearted governments of Europe from which many Jews fled. This caused European Jews to identify with American liberals—Democrats—even though Jewish family tradition and culture is at least as close to modern-day Conservatism as it is to current Liberalism. The Conservative-leaning tenets of completing higher education and striving for significant achievement in respected, high-paying professional fields (law, medicine, finance, business, etc.) are staples of American Jewish life. Indeed, the humorous American Jewish clichés of, “You’ll go to college, you’ll get a good job, you’ll make us proud!” and “My son, the doctor!” are directly and accurately reflective of this.

Yet the Jewish vote since 1960 has been reliably around 80% Democratic. The only exception is the outlier year of 1980, when Ronald Reagan beat the hapless Jimmy Carter. But even that year, Carter won the Jewish vote 45-39%.

African-Americans tend to be an even more monolithic voting bloc than American Jews, siding somewhere around 90% with the Democrats. When President Obama ran in 2008, being the country’s first Black Presidential candidate, he garnered around 96% of the African-American vote. President Trump, having made a concerted effort to address that bloc with his now-famous “What have you got to lose?” line, managed to reduce that number by Hillary Clinton to about 88%, which is still an overwhelmingly lopsided figure.

The reasons surrounding the African-American community’s current status in modern American culture are complicated, without question, and difficult to pin down to just a few obvious causes. The long-term systemic prejudice and discrimination that has operated to their detriment in all aspects of American society are well documented and need not be recounted here. The reaction to these wrongs has been the creation and implementation of numerous Government “solutions,” be it welfare, Affirmative Action, various tax and grant programs (ostensibly open to any group but in reality targeted to minorities), and the like. The efficacy of such programs and entitlements is not the issue here. However, it can be convincingly argued that the very existence of—and indeed, expansion of—Government handout programs has contributed to a motivation-reducing entitlement mentality among the very groups such programs are intended to help.

Democratic politicians know that the African-American community has become dependent on these Democratic-sponsored assistance programs. The more cynical observer will unabashedly call it vote buying. But as someone once said, “No one will ever vote to end their own entitlements.”

If liberal doctrine is to offer tax-funded Government programs and financial assistance as the answer to society’s shortcomings and Conservative doctrine is to offer “opportunity to all” via the more difficult path of personal initiative and self-reliance, then it’s fascinating that some African-Americans—born and raised in an environment and culture that teaches them to play the victim, waiting for the inevitable, deserved Government payout—become Conservatives.

That African-American group—Liberal-born, waiting-for-the-handout—who become Conservative and eschew Government largess in favor of self-made gains, is a uniquely compelling group. They have traveled the farthest ideological distance of any voter, a full about-face journey from one extreme of the ideological spectrum to the other extreme. In making that long, emotionally-unsettling, restless journey—often as a young adult—they see things along the way that challenge and threaten the very truths they were brought up to believe. It takes an incredible degree of self-confident open-mindedness and intellectual courage to accept contradictory external evidence and allow it to change one’s philosophical allegiance.

Likewise for the small number of American Jews, born into inordinately liberal households, who nonetheless become conservative. Like their African-American counterparts, they voluntarily undertake an emotionally- and intellectually-arduous quest and manage to counteract their inherited political/social teachings in order to arrive at a philosophical destination diametrically opposed to the one in which they grew up.

African-American conservatives like Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, John McWhorter and Ben Carson, along with American Jewish conservatives like Charles Krauthammer, Mark Levin, David Horowitz, Dennis Prager, William Kristol and Ben Stein among thousands of others, have a clarity of conservative thought and expression—evidenced in their writings and speeches—that has unquestionably been brought about by the egotistically-challenging, eye-opening travails of their own personal ideological journey.

To put it simply, those African-Americans and Jews who have self-converted from Liberal to Conservative have developed an amazingly clear and effective way of explaining exactly why they now favor the conservative position.

There has unquestionably been some self-conversion the other way, from Conservative to Liberal. Media Matters founder David Brock went from right-leaning investigative journalist to loyal Clinton devotee in the late 1990’s. NY Times columnist David Brooks has, according to many, made a definite transition from “token NY Times Conservative” to “garden-variety Liberal.” However, most Conservative-to-Liberal self-conversions appear to be individual occurrences, not an outright rejection of the one-sided structural circumstances into which they were born and raised.

Indeed, for many born-and-raised Liberals, being Liberal comes easy and is never even given a second thought. For those individuals that undertake the arduous, voluntary journey from born-Liberalism to self-discovered Conservatism, it is an eye-opening trek that imprints on their consciousness an incredibly deeply-held conviction of their newly-discovered philosophical stance. With that conviction comes the ability to express and advocate on behalf of the Conservative cause in a persuasive manner that few people on either side of the political spectrum can match. The actual process of becoming “self-coverted” makes for extraordinarily impressive spokespeople.

 

 

Landmines Abound for Republicans in Obamacare Replacement

 

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

Now that Republicans control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, the process of Obamacare repeal and replacement has begun in earnest. Once the ACA is formally, officially repealed, the Republicans will “own” the healthcare issue and the pressure will be on for them to deliver something better than Obamacare.

As the alternatives for a new Act fly back and forth, the obvious trap for Republicans is crafting a piece of health legislation that is actually better, not merely different. Wider coverage, easier access, more provider choices, lower costs, more provider accountability, less wasted mandated coverage (no maternity coverage for post-menopausal women, for example), no religious/moral/Government mandate conflicts, etc.

The list of must-have items for a successful replacement plan is long. Crafting a plan that satisfies all those requirements is a monumental task and will likely take several iterations past this initial effort.

However, regardless of the details of the actual replacement plan, gaining widespread public acceptance and overcoming structural anti-Republican bias is going to be at least as big a challenge as crafting the legislation itself.

There are three essential public relations issues with the Republican alternative to Obamacare that are problematic, any one of which by itself could spell doom in terms of widespread public acceptance. All three together mean disaster.

  1. Obamacare is President Obama’s “signature domestic achievement” as they call it. It’s his crowning glory. Supporters claim it comes closer to providing universal health care than anything that has come before. it’s President Obama’s achievement. He personally gets the credit for it. His supporters and cheerleaders love this, and do not want his so-called legacy jeopardized by having it dismantled. To repeal it will leave millions without medical coverage in the immediate short term, and because of the potential administrative and logistical time lag before a replacement plan is in place, millions may fall through the cracks and be left without any workable, affordable coverage whatsoever. Republicans must deal with this quickly and effectively.
  1. The liberal mainstream media is virulently anti-Republican/anti-Trump and is loathe to run stories that cast either the President or Republicans in a good light. These media outlets include not only the traditional liberal media like the broadcast networks, major papers like the NY Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe, cable news like CNN, MSNBC, but also social media sources like Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which has been exposed for downplaying conservative stories, and the supposedly “neutral” Internet resources like Snopes, a “fact-finding” site which has been caught multiple times putting forth a liberally-sympathetic version of the facts and being very slow to change when the conservative-favoring side of the story proves to be true. Any proposed Republican alternative to Obamacare, regardless of its actual merits, will be dismissed by the liberal mainstream media as unacceptable, in order to preserve their pro-Obama narrative.

The liberal media is always going to highlight and key in on any aspect of a new Republican plan that they deem inferior to the existing ACA, while ignoring any benefits or advantages. We’re already seeing headlines like, “Why Republicans’ health-care plans are bad deals for Americans” (Washington Post 3/9), “GOP health-care bill would drop addiction treatment” (Washington Post 3/10), “Doctors, hospitals rip health plan” (Providence Journal, 3/10).

Liberal media headlines like these are as predictable as a Brady win in the playoffs.

  1. The Republicans always seem focus on tax credits as a way to help pay for healthcare insurance. In order to receive tax credits, an individual or family must earn enough money such that offsetting the tax they owe is a relevant and attractive proposition. In the Hartford Courant on 3/10, they reported, “CT Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman (D) criticized the tax credits proposed by House Republicans to subsidize health care as useless to Connecticut’s poorest residents. ‘If you don’t pay taxes, what do you get a credit for?’ she asked.”

The underlying, undeniable-but-rarely-admitted liberal position is that Obamacare—which is essentially just affordable insurance that the Government will largely pay for if the party can’t afford to pay for it on their own—is a partway measure at best. What the Democrats really want to do is to find a way to flat-out give healthcare away to everyone, regardless of their tax status or income. Democrats want single-payer (Government-run) healthcare, not the private system involving for-profit insurance companies that we have now.

Any of these three—a threat to Obama’s legacy, relentlessly inaccurate, biased reporting by the liberal mainstream media or the perception that the Republicans are against the poor because their favored tax credit-based approach assumes employment and sufficient earnings—give Democratic lawmakers more than enough ammunition for high-profile public grandstanding.

How do Republicans avoid their usual PR disaster?

First, the final version must be a good bill, a legitimate improvement over the existing ACA. This submission is the first step, but it won’t be the final bill.

Then, the Republicans need to learn a lesson that they seem incapable of learning: They need to understand that the merits of the issue do not carry the day in the court of public opinion. It’s the 10-second soundbite that wins the attention of the casually-attentive swing voter. Democrats are very good at that—“Tax cuts for the rich,” “Bush lied, people died,” “Big pharmaceutical companies are ripping you off,” etc.—especially since the liberal media never hold the Democrats to account for the veracity of their statements. Republicans have the challenge of not only crafting a 10-second soundbite that distils the complex essentials down into an easily-memorable clip, but they also have to be accurate and truthful, because the liberal media will not let them get away with the same fuzzy math that they let slide for the Democrats. Tall order, but it’s about time Republicans learned how to play this game.

Third, they must be unified. They need to avoid the destructive public infighting that gives the liberal media the opportunity to say, “See? Even the Republicans don’t like it.” When Rand Paul declares that the House version is “Dead on arrival” in the Senate, he plays right into the Democrats’ hands and the liberal media pounces right on cue. The Democrats are much better at standing unified on legislative issues than the Republicans are, and this works against the Republicans’ PR interests.

Fourth, strike first and strike often. Set the tone and terms of the public healthcare discussion. Be proactive in speaking about why the new bill is a huge improvement, point out the current ACA’s shortcomings and failures again and again and keep the pressure on the Democrats about that. Make the Democrats respond to you, not the other way around. They are already behind the curve on this, but they can reverse that with something as basic as calling a press conference—today!!—and outlining their plan’s advantages. Then, all of a sudden, the Democrats will be forced to play, “But wait….” catch up.

The actual ACA replacement bill is an interesting proposition, but even more fascinating to veteran political observers will be watching how the Republicans present and defend the progress of their bill, and how they deal with the inevitable negative reaction of the liberal media.

 

 

One would assume that Senator Rand Paul is unable to take his gun collection into the halls of Congress. Without some sort of special permit and with all live ammunition carefully separated from chambers or clip-ons. Or maybe not at all, forget about it senator, keep them at home.

So the image of Senator Rand Paul in hiding in some supply deposit on the Hill waiting for the GOP’s healthcare plan to come out of it’s locked down hiding place, and whisked down the hall on an open cart, quickly escorted to a conference room, so that he can unload a cartridge or two into it’s clean shiny font and splatter the proposals into oblivion is perhaps a little dramatic.

But make no mistake. The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal and Replace is under locked guard for fear of assassination. And that would include triangulation from Democrat Senators and House members as well.

Is this fair or reasonable?

The better question is should it even be? Well yes, perhaps it should, but we’re dealing with healthcare and we’re dealing with revamping or replacing or reforming a piece of legislation that impinges on voter’s and their families’ health. It’s healthcare. It is complicated. Always.

But here’s the problem. Between Senator Rand Paul’s and GOP House conservative members’ vision of health care in America – a robust one that hinges on responsibility and competition – and moderate GOP members’ as well as Democrats’ and state governments’ vision, there is an enormous gap. There will have to be trade-offs. There is no other way, especially with health care.

Is any sort of compromise possible? Feasible that is, when counting up votes on the Hill. Forget about Democrat support. Maybe a few senators up for re-election in 2018, can be shifted to vote yes. Maybe.

But unless the GOP itself can coalesce around a plan – one that by definition will have to compromise between conservatives and moderates in the party – there will be precious little achieved with Obamacare repeal. Maybe replace will be delayed. But that will mean no positive plan in place for the GOP to justify repealing Obamacare.

In other words, would it have been smarter to have let Obamacare collapse? State by state? Rather than replace it immediately? That, of course, would have meant turning back a key campaign promise. Not a possible route, given Trump’s brand is very much wrapped up with his being someone who actually does what he says.

And all this will have to be done with Democrats howling and screaming about how their wonderful ex-president’s plan has been discarded by cruel Republicans.

A compromise is coming. We just don’t know what the details will be. But it will be a costly one, unfortunately. It’s healthcare.

Global Warming Is Irrelevant

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

There is probably no subject (outside of abortion) that has engendered more passion for a longer period of time—decades now—than Global Warming. Here are some of the issues and talking points:

  • Settled Science or Junk Science
  • Warmest Year on Record vs. hiding faulty or contradictory evidence
  • The threat of actually jailing Deniers (they even have a name, complete with a capital letter)
  • International conferences and accords
  • New regulations for businesses and equipment
  • Complicated Carbon Trading schemes
  • Dramatic declarations by politicians of Warming being a greater threat than ISIS
  • Photographic “evidence” of impending doom and impact on nature/wildlife
  • The routine, unquestioned conflation of daily weather events and long-term climate change

All of these are examples of the highly-charged, deeply-held views on the subject. I recognize and appreciate the intensity and vehemence with which the respective parties hold to their positions.

However, for the purposes of this article, let’s simply concede that anthropogenic Global Warming is real, not just a coincidental occurrence of cyclical climate patterns on earth and the relationship of those patterns to solar activity and the like. Let’s take the “Is man-caused Global Warming real?” question off the table and admit its existence.

However, even if there is certainty regarding the reality of man-caused Global Warming, it probably doesn’t matter.

Here’s why: The very same profit-driven capitalistic Western businesspeople who seem to stoke the ire of the Warmists so intensely are the ones who are well on their way to ending Warming—and long before it becomes any kind of permanent threat to mankind’s well-being.

Fossil-based fuels are simultaneously the most economically-efficient source of energy and the most politically-troublesome and ecologically-controversial source of energy. Historic relationships between nations, current foreign policy and military decisions, ecological impacts, everything is tied up in a convoluted, indecipherable cause-and-effect Gordian Knot because of fossil fuels.

Yet it is the popularly-maligned free-market capitalistic system, with its unsavory profits, rewards and unapologetic income inequality, that is the key driver to finding the eventual solution to our reliance on ecologically-detrimental carbon-based fuels. A veritable free-market fortune awaits the individual or company that delivers the first viable alternative energy system, one that is easily deployable on a mass scale across large geographic areas.

That promise of capitalistic reward has many companies feverishly pursuing different solutions. The potential of virtually unlimited free-market profits and a superior competitive market position are spurring private for-profit companies to find a viable alternative to carbon fuels. That’s undeniably true, and it’s happening primarily here in the U.S., primarily because of our freest-of-all-markets system.

An example is Lockheed Martin Corporation and their work in developing a new compact fusion reactor. L-M says a reactor small enough to fit on the back of a truck could produce 100 megawatts of electricity—enough to power a small city, without any carbon emissions. L-M estimates they’ll have a workable prototype within five years. Let’s double their likely-overly-optimistic estimate and say within ten years.

Electric cars, battery technology and solar panels are also improving all the time. They may not be totally economically-feasible in the free market at this time without Government tax subsidies and, yes, there is the undeniable irony that the electricity needed to recharge a Tesla or Chevy Volt usually comes from a greenhouse gas-producing fossil-fuel power source, but things in the battery/solar area are improving all the time. The percentage of U.S. energy provided by these “alternative” sources has increased from less than 5% before 1990 to over 13% in 2014 and will continue to increase in the future.

The Answer is out there and it’ll happen pretty soon, likely within 50-100 years, I’d confidently guess. Companies and individuals are working day and night to find The Answer—because of the rewards they’ll reap.

50-100 years is a nanosecond in terms of earth-geological-climactic time. A fraction of a nanosecond. When The Answer comes along 39 or 64 or 97 years hence, whatever minor “warming” has actually taken place, whatever small amount the seas have “risen” will all be halted and reversed.

The argument against that position is that we’ll soon reach some irreversible “tipping point,” after which no cure or remedy to the permanent destructive effects of Warming is possible. Yet there is no scientific proof of that, nor is any “proof” possible. That’s merely a totally unsubstantiated talking point, designed to rally the Believers and scare the Deniers. This, however, is scientific fact: 50-100 years is a nanosecond in terms of earth-geological-climactic time. And the practical, usable, non-carbon, non-warming Answer will certainly be discovered and deployed on a significant scale within that timespan.

Therefore, the entire anthropogenic Warming issue—whether real or imagined—is a non-issue. Profit-driven technology will solve it. As ironic as it seems, the Western capitalist economic system will be the savior of the earth.

Big Deception on Both Sides of Roe v. Wade

 

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

There are lots of practical and philosophical differences between the two major political parties in America. Some are real differences, some are more perceived than real and some are just clichés that one side likes to perpetuate to the detriment of the other:

 

  • Taxes
  • Free-market capitalism vs. Gov’t-controlled safety net
  • Affirmative Action
  • Immigration Policy
  • Health Care
  • Foreign policy/use of military force
  • Education
  • Woman’s/minorities/sexual orientation rights/pay inequality
  • Law enforcement/legal issues
  • Energy policy/Environmental/Climate Change issues
  • Media coverage

 

Those are the broad categories on which most elections are based, and at least within some limited range, negotiation/compromise between the two parties is theoretically possible, and actually happens from time to time.

However, there is one topic that is not on the list above, because compromise hasn’t been possible to this point: Abortion.

Abortion is the Democratic Party’s Line in the Sand.

The abortion constituency is a—no, the—major voting bloc for the Democrats. It cuts across all ethnic, racial, age, gender/orientation and economic lines in a way that no other important Democratic issue does. Liberals of every stripe are in favor of it, although perhaps for wildly different reasons. Nonetheless, they all arrive at this same destination, even though it’s often by dramatically different routes. The unquestioned availability of abortion is the common denominator of all Liberal voters. Some Democrats may be more business-oriented and like low taxes and limited restrictive regulations; some may be low-income/minority but have high-achievement children, so Affirmative Action is their thing. Some may perceive a wage gap or gender/orientation discrimination or feel strongly that we shouldn’t drill into the earth and strip Her bounty just to turn on the lights. And so on.

The common thread among them all: The continued legal availability of abortion. Many voters—too many—base their Presidential vote on this issue of so-called “choice,” mistakenly believing that the party of the President determines the availability and legality of abortion.

For the Democrats, a Presidential Supreme Court appointment means only one thing: the preservation of Roe v Wade, which Democrats feel preserves unfettered access to abortion. This issue, more than welfare, affirmative action, higher taxes on the rich, stiffer environmental regulations, relaxed immigration rules or gay rights, is the cornerstone of the Democratic platform. Strip away everything else, and the Democrats know that their core constituency will always vote for them as long as they can deliver the abortion issue. They may euphemistically shroud the issue with phrases like “women’s health,” or “choice,” etc., but it all means the same thing: the Democrats are the Party of Abortion. To justify it, they use the scare tactic of saying they will fight to “keep abortion safe and legal,” implying if the Republicans win the Presidency and appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, abortion will suddenly become unsafe and illegal.

This is a perfect example of politicians using the ignorance of the majority of the voting populace to further the party’s goals. What a majority of voters don’t seem to realize is that if Roe v Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court (as incredibly unlikely as that is), the abortion issue would then simply become one of states’ rights, with the voters of each state deciding the particulars by referenda. Constitutional scholars point to the 10th Amendment, which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Would the specific details that govern the procedure vary from state to state? Quite possibly—that would be up to the voters in that particular state. But some evil, unnamed Government power wouldn’t force the decision upon the voters. The states would decide it for themselves.

Abortion would not become “illegal” if Roe was overturned. Instead, the fifty states would simply decide for themselves how to handle it. The overwhelming likelihood is that in virtually all states, abortion would continue to be available and performed much as it is today, especially in strong Democratic states. It’s hard to imagine any states actually voting to deny access to the procedure, since it is accepted law and had been for many decades. Certainly, it would never be outlawed or restricted in New York, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon or any other strongly blue state.

No judgment is being made here on the relative appropriateness of abortion, so we need to resist the temptation to veer off topic. This is not a discussion “in favor” or “opposed” to the availability of abortion. Rather, this is simply the observation that a change in the Supreme Court’s position on Roe won’t have the legal/illegal effect on abortion that both sides imply it would.

However, the Democrats politicians who know this (and, unfortunately, not all do) are worried that this information might actually become common knowledge, because if it did, their vice-grip on their constituents because of the abortion issue would be broken. Overturning R v W will not push abortion into the threatened “back alley,” and—giving Democratic politicians the benefit of the doubt with regard to their legal grasp and understanding of the issue—most of them know this. They’re simply using the issue as a reprehensibly disingenuous way to prey upon a mostly-ignorant public’s fears.

Interestingly, the Republican Party is just as reluctant to level with its core supporters regarding abortion as the Democrats are to level with theirs. If the Democrats don’t want their voters to realize that a change in the Supreme Court’s position on Roe wouldn’t really affect the availability or safety of abortion, then the Republicans feel exactly the same, but for exactly opposite reasons: Republicans appeal to much of their base by implying that a change in the courts will result in abortion “finally being outlawed,” but that isn’t true—if Roe were overturned, abortion would still be available. It may well vary a bit from state to state and the availability of funding from third parties might be somewhat affected in the details, but abortion’s actual availability would not be impinged. Like the Democrats, the Republicans don’t want that to be widely known.

Obviously, this is a tremendously complex issue. New technology that makes fetal survival after 20 weeks a real possibility (unimaginable in 1973), partial birth abortion, parental notification, and concerns for the mother’s health (emotional as well as physical) are among the components that imbue this subject with its infinitely varied shades of gray. Stripping away the deceptive veneer of abortion politics that both sides currently employ exposes the reality that neither national Party has the power to change the general availability of abortion. Peoples’ votes should be based on national security, immigration, energy policy, taxation/Government spending, etc. Those are the things that the office of President can influence in a major way, not the availability and access to abortion. A Presidential vote—either way— based on “abortion” is an ill-informed, wasted vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration law is coming to get you, and bring you back to America. Even if you’re an alien with no visa and no permanent legal status as a lawful resident of America. It might not happen tomorrow, but if people like George Mason law professor Ilya Somin, and others, have their way, this strange day is coming sometime fairly soon.

It revolves around what some in the legal world call the Plenary Power Doctrine, which basically says that congressional immigration classifications are immune from judicial review – to use Gabriel Chin’s language from his essay on the subject. In other words, rights are denied to some potential immigrants, that would be deemed unconstitutional were they denied in a domestic context (basically to American citizens), rather than being applied to immigration. To Chin himself, and to Ilya Somin, this is a bad thing. Consider what Somin says:

I would consider that the plenary power doctrine is ultimately indefensible and should be overruled by the Supreme Court.

And this:

There would be no need to explicitly limit some rights to citizens if there were a general presumption that non-citizens are excluded.

And for goodness sake don’t you mention the Preamble and “posterity” as meaning American citizens! To Ilya Somin there should be no:

…ignoring the rights and welfare of potential migrants in making decisions on immigration policy.
__
And to justify this, Somin massages the meaning of the word “posterity” to support what he’s aiming for: the U.S. Constitution being legally applicable to anyone on the planet. And thus immigration policy legally bound to consider the rights and welfare of any potential immigrant to America. Yes, you can find that last quote at openborders.info in case you’re wondering what type of world Somin is advocating for.

In other words, the open borders movement has attached itself to Trump’s executive order like a school of starving remoras and are dying to suck the life out of any attempt to restrict any type of immigration to America – or anywhere else one would imagine. But it’s America and its constitution that their lips are firmly attached to right now.

With these sorts of undertows swirling around the 9th circuit court of appeal’s decision to maintain Judge Robart’s ruling at least for now, and possibly forever, one wonders if an ambitious power grab by the left coast circuit will team up with the open borders activists and try to shred any control over immigration that the executive – and even Congress – currently have.

This is about a new world order, in which an unchecked judiciary extends its tentacles across the globe to ensure the unimpeded movement of all people across suddenly meaningless borders. Something that does not generally displease financial markets – until some of those people murder and set bombs off. Or fly airplanes into buildings.

What the administration is trying to do is prevent that. And any outlandish campaign comments by Trump were in that vein. They were about security for America and its citizens and residents. But those statements were not policy, they were campaign rhetoric. Something else that will soon come under the suffocating purview of the courts, if the 9th circuit, Judge Robarts, and Professor Somin have their way. New World Order indeed.

To the Facebook group that claims 150,000 members and is planning a Science March on Washington, in defense of Climate Change views, for sometime this spring: there already is a science march. It’s happening today, Friday January 27, 2017. It’s called the March for Life.

As science and technology are able to present ever better data on the fetus and developing child in the womb, it is now rationally impossible to deny that it is a human life that sits in its mother’s womb. And not an entity, to be deprived of its life in the event that others, including its mother, decide it is unwanted.

Yes, faith and the belief that life is a precious gift, infuse many of those at the March of Life with a purpose and passion. But science makes clear the cost of the choice to abort. There may be conditions where that cost is justified, but to avoid or shout away the cost is a game that an increasing number of people in America and around the world reject.

Do not expect the same media coverage of the March for Life, as that for the Women’s March on Washington. It will be brief and critical and contextualized to imply that those marching for the rights of the unborn are a crazed fringe. They are not. And they are winning converts to what should be, and once was, a founding principle of human rights.

But the founding fathers lived in a world in which medical technology, technology that makes abortion easier and far less dangerous for the mother, was generations away from existing. A world in which the decision to end a baby’s life was a dark and shameful secret. And relatively rare, feminist revisions of history notwithstanding.

The world has changed dramatically since the late 18th century, but God-given inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness have not, and should not. Despite the attempts to portray an unborn child as an entity and not a life. Maybe Roe v Wade will remain settled law. It does not appear likely that the Supreme Court will overturn that decision any time soon. Even with a conservative justice or two arriving at the bench to replace Scalia, and possibly Ginsburg in the next year or two.

But Pro-life forces can still and are still winning battles every year in order to restrict abortion and not allow full and immediate access to anyone who wishes so. Part of that battle is using science to show that it is a human being in the womb. And thus make clear the costs of an abortion to those who may be unsure or who support Pro-choice views. Not in the harsh and confrontational style that has been used (understandably), but in a way that illuminates the unborn and the God-given life they possess.

The models of anthropogenic induced climate change are complex and depend on assumptions that can be debated. That there is climate change is like saying the sun rises and sets. The question is what are the measurable effects of human-caused change, and how much is climate changing? There is debate on these matters, much as the mainstream of science would like to silence those in their community who dissent.

The science on human life in the womb is far more clear. By any measure of what constitutes life – like heartbeats and movement and development of the body – an unborn child is infused with life. There is no debate on the science of that.

We are not goddesses or gods. None of us. And when we take a human life, it should be after full deliberation in a court of law, where the accused stands clearly guilty of a severe crime. Not in the brisk and soft-lit efficiency of a clinic where an innocent and suddenly unprotected life is terminated. And no, no man can understand what a woman feels in any situation involving pregnancy and loss of a child. But we should be obliged, as men, to do our best to understand and not sit on the sidelines as clumsy and silent observers.

How dare White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer go to the New York Post for the first question? When the big networks were all primed to discuss the weekend skirmish over crowd size, and Sean Spicer’s loyal defense on Saturday of a clearly annoyed President Trump. And then pick on the Christian Broadcasting Network for the next question? Then Univision and Fox Business.

You would think the major networks would finally be called on. No. It was the Urban Radio Network. And finally, the Associated Press, who by tradition get the first question in any White House briefing of the media. Not anymore.

So while the president got down to a brisk – to not say full steam ahead – pace in his first full working day on the job, there was no chance for mainstream media to bear down on some of the weekend’s silliness. Or inappropriateness. Or fighting over a molehill, as the Washington Examiner put it.

Look, Obama had bigger crowds at both his inaugurals. There is no disputing that for anyone who watched the proceedings live on TV, with the endless helicopter shots of the Mall. Whether more people watched through various forms of live streaming on social media as well as more standard media is something to be decided once all the available data is in. But why stake a battle, or a bloody skirmish, on the issue?

Remember, aside from the symbolic importance of Obama’s inauguration, there is also another simple reason why it is always much easier for a progressive like Obama to fill the mall in Washington D.C. The nation’s capital, and surrounding suburbs, are a hotbed of progressive wonks and supporters. OF COURSE they’re gonna fill the mall when someone like Barack Obama is inaugurated. Yes, some came from a long way away. Most didn’t.

But President Trump is still Donald Trump, and so his speech at the CIA on Saturday delved into the media’s relationship with Trump. It didn’t have to. He clearly had a supportive audience at Langely who hooted and cheered his arrival, and seemed genuinely pleased to have him come to speak before them. Unlike the retiring top brass across the intel community. Who are still at it, leaking about what appear to be routine phone calls between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

But the Trump Train does not slow down. So Sean Spicer did an end run around much of the mainstream media. This a disturbing precedent if you have a staff of dozens dedicated to covering The White House. Of course, mainstream media correspondents can insist on making the story about how they were left out of the story. And they have much of the print media more than willing to echo their frustrations, as is already the case with Spicer’s presser.

But it almost feels like a media version of the Quarterback face masking the DB. Like Aaron Rogers on Sunday, ripping Alford’s helmet off. He can’t do that! He’s the one who gets face masked. Not the defense!! You can’t ignore NBC! Or Jim Acosta! No!!

Of course, that would be comparing Trump to Aaron Rogers, rather than Tom Brady. And that would, with all due respect to the very talented Aaron Rogers, seem to be a mistake. At least so far.

Oh Commonwealth of Virginia! What the heck is your problem? Is it that your valleys and hills enfold the nation’s capital, creating some of the wealthiest suburbs in America? And that proximity creates a sense of privilege? At least in those zip codes well within the beltway. First there’s Mcauliffe, your governor. A partisan with little scruples some may say.

Now your elected GOP representative, Bob Goodlatte, tried to pull a fast one – along with most of the House GOP members it must be said – and gut the power of the Office of Congressional Ethics by bringing all the decision making back to where Bob and his cohorts felt it should belong. With them in the House Committee on Ethics, peopled by the same subjects who may from time to time come under the Ethics Office’s gaze.

Yes Representative Goodlatte, it is a pain when an anonymous charge brought by a crazed little NGO whispers its way into the Office of Congressional Ethics, and starts a process rolling in which you, the elected representative, do not have quite the same due process as you would as a citizen in a court of law. Yes, the process can and often will be partisan, and therefore political.

So what? You are not an ordinary citizen. You are a representative of your district and of America. You should have to face a higher level of scrutiny. And the timing … just awful, wasn’t it? Instead of the Army Corps of Engineers dutifully draining the swamp under the President-Elect’s mandate, you would instead have those Army Corps engineers feeding those submerged alligators who only pop up above the surface at feeding time. Yes, that would be you.

Your Speaker of the House told you: please don’t do it. Your House Majority Leader called an emergency meeting to scrap the plan to gut the ethics committee. And your President-Elect aimed his twitter bazooka right at you, Bob.

Do most of your colleagues, on both sides of the aisle by the way, want some sort of “reform” of the House Committee on Ethics? Absolutely, and there seems to be agreement that not now, maybe later, is the best plan. But all this does not go down well with the voting public. The House Committee on Ethics was the result of scandals on your side of the aisle, and voters don’t mind seeing you guys sweat from time to time.

So good for Trump that he went straight to his iPhone and tweeted loud and clear. Any change to the ethics committee should be done in broad daylight with lots of debate, all of it out in the open. Not snuck in through the back door.

While anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List were loud and clear in expressing why the Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt shows how important this year’s elections are, the GOP leadership has been silent so far. Clearly, preserving the Senate seems more important than preserving the right to life for McConnell and colleagues.

For example, Senator Mark Kirk – who faces a very tough re-election battle in Illinois – actually came out in favor of the 5-3 ruling. Whether this is a case of Kirk being honest about his own personal convictions, or whether it is a desperate attempt to appease pro-choice voters in his state is for the senator to say.

What this does show, however, is that the GOP Senate majority’s refusal to give Obama’s nominee to fill Scalia’s seat – Merrick Garland – a hearing and an up or down vote does make tactical sense. It’s as if the GOP has decided that yet another angry scuffle over abortion is not something they want to parade all over the media.

Or maybe they’re concerned about Trump’s position and are lining up Mr. Bigly Duck with their own flock. And are keeping relatively quiet until the ducks are waddling in tune.

But this is tactical quibbling. The issue at hand goes beyond the current decision. This is really about what kind of Supreme Court America will have over the next decade or two. And with Trump’s numbers sagging recently, maybe the GOP feels that it’s best to keep the senate GOP majority, if possible, and hope Trump manages to recover in the polls. Or that Hillary and her ever-present server scandal finally blow up big time and give Trump an opening to pull ahead.

But this raises a question. If McConnell and company are essentially trying to preserve a senate majority and ensure their house majority remains relatively robust, shouldn’t they stake their ground on the abortion issue in clear terms? Because either:

  • They’ve given up on the presidency and that means Hillary in the White House and at the very least one Justice appointed by a Clinton administration.
  • Or, you use this ruling to show why the GOP must avoid a Hillary White House at all costs. That means, yes, fully supporting Trump.

Or there’s another reason. Have the GOP essentially handed victory to pro-abortion groups? Have they looked at the polling and the enormous importance of female voters in any election in America, and decided not to fight the issue beyond some tactical resistance? Assuming, on a tactical level, that’s an accurate read of women voters.

That hopefully is an exaggeration. Right now the GOP is deeply divided and trying to save it’s Congressional majorities. We’ll have to wait and see what members of Congress do and say regarding this SCOTUS ruling over the coming days and weeks.

Washington gridlock, so denounced across the nation and especially in D.C. itself, is sometimes unavoidable. Consider two proposals to deal with how to keep guns from the hands of terrorists. At stake is due process and the second, as well as the fourth and fifth amendments. Also at stake is the security of America’s citizens and residents.

This is not an easy problem to solve, precisely because of the checks and balances in America’s Constitution. Yes, the White House could, in some theoretical dystopia, pass executive orders superseding the Legislature and the Courts and round up every gun of every law-abiding citizen and resident in America. Basically ending the American Republic. And it still wouldn’t stop a potential terrorist from acquiring weapons on the black market – which would thrive under such a dystopia. What it would do would be to render individual, law-abiding citizens as helpless and vulnerable petitioners before a distant all-powerful Executive.

In other words, gun-control absolutists: be careful what you wish for. Because having disarmed the citizenry, and ignored the legislature and the courts, the executive is free to order, in executive fashion, as they see fit.

Yes, the second amendment is not just about hunting and target practice. It’s about ensuring that the people are capable of defending themselves from any attempted usurpation of their rights. That’s why, after the 1st amendment which defends freedom of thought and speech, you next have the 2nd amendment. This is not some archaic, rustic nod to state militias. It’s a necessary precondition to ensuring that the contract between individual states and the federal government is respected by the federal government. And by all government levels, federal, state, and local.

How do you ensure this without having an armed citizenry on constant orange alert? Due process of law, as established by the constitution and by the state constitutions, state legislatures, and local and higher courts.

When the NRA and the ACLU are both against a proposed amendment that would dispense with due process,and is based on “error-prone watch lists”, you know that the Collins-Heitkamp measure is something not to be rushed into. Or even voted for. Proposals from Cornyn and now Johnson instead insist on convincing a judge that you should deny someone the chance to purchase a gun. And delay the sale until a judge clears or bans it.

This is the heart of the Constitution that is being debated in the Senate. The constitution that created the American Republic and the freedoms – some long-delayed and hard-fought but gained never-the-less – which allow an astonishingly and not necessarily conflictive citizenry to live lives unimagined by earlier generations. But the imaginings of the Founding Fathers made these gains possible, and sustainable in as robust a way as any democracy could hope to achieve.

So this debate inexorably will play itself out through the procedural labyrinths of Congress. And the slow march of the courts. Yes, it will be frustrating to watch. Yes, but: we are laying the foundations for a democratic balance between security and freedom. In a world where barbarian fanaticism would return us to a Dark Ages version of life, lived in what Hobbes termed the state of war. And where such fanaticism uses the latest innovations in communications to try and achieve their crazed, evil ends. Yes, it will be frustrating, even infuriating, to watch Congress. It should be.