Mike Allen of Axios – who I think of as a former Obama official given his rabid necessity to defend the former president’s legacy by attacking the current administration constantly – thinks Trump is all powerful now. At least that’s the direct conclusion one is forced to draw after reading this:

President Trump has a rare political superpower – he can get Republicans to do what seems like the impossible:

Allen then lists evil things the superpower has achieved like getting the GOP to soften its stand on Putin – a debatable point if you look at this administrations actions and not Trump’s personal reticence to criticize Putin. Then he says this:

Every few months, friends, family and advisers like Ivanka Trump, Rupert Murdoch, and Gary Cohn fantasize that Trump will tap his superpower as a force for good – to pass a big infrastructure bill, fight global warming, strike an epic immigration deal.

Ok, so is this a blatant clue as to who does lots of leaking in the White House? I wouldn’t be surprised at all that Ivanka would chat constantly with certain key members of the press. But that’s not Mike Allen’s point. It’s this:

Now they (Ivanka, Murdoch, and Cohn) dream of new gun controls to protect schools, kids, and the innocent.

He could. No politician can move Rs to unthinkable places and provide more cover in the toughest of states or districts.

So now Mike Allen is telling us that President Trump is superman, if he only would take the kryptonite/guns out of the hands of evil/clinging/bible-reading American gun owners? Because SuperTrump could??

Or is it that Ivanka is telling Mike Allen that her dad is superman if only he would listen more to Ivanka instead of that annoying former general in the Chief of Staff’s office?

Look, it appears that President Trump will put together some modest gun control reforms, (bump stock bans, increasing the age limit for long guns, more background checks), that hopefully don’t anger his base too much and have the appearance of action after the growing momentum (yes, some of it helped by gun-control activists but it’s real regardless) gathering around the NeverAgain movement.

But one suspects that Ivanka and Cohn, and Murdoch, (who perhaps wants an Australian-style attempt at confiscation of guns), all want more than what President Trump will propose shortly.

Like the country, the White House appears deeply divided on the issue of gun control, and across America the divisions grow deeper with each shooting. It’s hard to say what could bridge that gulf. Because the NeverAgain movement is preaching to the converted, while GOP voters are far more negative on things like banning automatic weapons than they were back in the 90’s when the last ban was put in place, and then lifted.

Will Trump signal an important shift in the GOP’s gun-control policy positions? And what does that mean for Democrats and the upcoming midterms? Could gun-control be the issue that sweeps Mueller’s probe off center-stage? With SuperTrump himself handling the broom?

For the record, and it’s hardly surprising, Mike Allen thinks SuperTrump will stay in the phone booth as far as gun-control goes. That might be a mistake, because with President Trump nothing is certain until it’s done and signed.

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

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

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

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

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

The Democrats have moved their retreat to the Capitol complex. Which means they’re not moving anywhere over the next few days. Which means that maybe, or even likely, a shutdown will be avoided with full-year defense funding balanced by Community Health Centers and a lifting for 2 years of spending caps. In other words with lots and lots of spending.The House has just passed their version of the spending bill, but the Senate has yet to add their touches, which may be significant, if the leaks about lifting spending caps turn out to be true.

Meanwhile, Christopher Steele – the British former MI6 spy of Dossier fame – apparently also wrote a memo which is now being called the October memo. Apparently because a few things about this memo – which listed Steele’s concerns about Trump’s campaign and alleged connections with Russia – are rather unclear at this point.

  • In The Hill’s piece on the October memo by Jonathan Easly and Katie Bo Williams they write: The memo, dated October 19, was given to Steele by a contact at the State Department and was based on information provided by “a friend of the Clintons” Grassley said. So again, Steele is not the source just like when he was a third or fourth or even fifth-hand transmitter of information from his Russian contacts for the Steele Dossier.
  • The contact at State seems to have been Jonathan Winer, former Special Envoy to Libya and former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement.
  • The actual sources for the October memo are two Clinton aides from the 90’s: Sydney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, according to unnamed GOP officials.
  • On Sunday Talk, former Obama Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said this: Chris had a friend at the State Department and he offered us that reporting free so that we could also benefit from it. … He passed to two to four short pages of notes of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian federation.
  • In other words, a deputy assistant secretary of state hands Steele some information, perhaps from Clinton confidants. Steele makes notes and hands those notes back to the State Department, who then contact the FBI.

Does this strike you as just a tad circular? And unverified? Just asking.

So now it looks like Nunes and the House intel committee want to turn their sights towards the State Department while Schiff and the Democrats cry breach of House committee rules. And another chapter gets started in the Trump Russia saga.

 

Pieces of the Same Puzzle: SOTU, DACA, FBI

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

Piece 1—The State of the Union Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piece 2—The DACA Compromise

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

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

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

Piece 3—The FBI Memo

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

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

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

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

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

 

Warren Henry is the pen name of an Illinois attorney who writes an annoyingly compact and nuanced email that I receive. Annoying to me, because apparently his purpose is to “question his priors” and his emails often contain enough OTOH’s to leave one begging for a positive affirmation that does so in no uncertain terms. He is undoubtedly a very thorough lawyer.

One of his latest missives deals with technology – social media in particular – and the dangerous collapsing of institutions in terms of trust, but also in terms of how they are run. He links to a wonderfully written if alarmist article in Buzzfeed by the site’s political editor Katherine Miller titled: Donald Trump, #Me Too, Facebook, And The Breakdown Of Institutional Power. In her article she links the sex abuse scandals by the powerful towards those who lack it, to the general degradation of institutions:

Smash the exterior of an institution and you may reveal catacombs of cruelty, shame, sickness, all the terrible things people with power can do to those without it in the corridor of a hotel suite, inside an office, inside a home, in small places you feel you are not meant to be.

After wondering why our institutions do not foster and protect virtue, or kindness (she leads her list with the church and the military, two of the institutions that try to do precisely that and have not fallen nearly as far as somewhere like Hollywood or mainstream media or Congress) she turns to the new institutions of social media:

And then there’s all of us, consuming this weird year through our phones, living inside new institutions that are mind-blowing in scale and horribly ill-equipped for the task of handling us.

Or is it that we are ill-equipped to handle the way we interact on social media platforms and the way we seek out information on them? The connected global village (to use a phrase that is so quaint nowadays it seems hopelessly archaic) has turned out to be a rather toxic place. Back when people didn’t laugh at you for using phrases like “global village”, radical academic Lawrence Lessig wrote this:

Ours is the age of cyberspace. It, too, has a regulator. This regulator, too, threatens liberty. But so obsessed are we with the idea that liberty means “freedom from government” that we don’t even see the regulation in this new space. We therefore don’t see the threat to liberty that this regulation presents.

This regulator is code — the software and hardware that make cyberspace as it is … For unless we can understand how cyberspace can embed, or displace, values from our constitutional tradition, we will lose control over those values.

I can barely write a few (mostly wrong) lines of code in Python or HTML, but let me just say it’s really the software we’re talking about here when we say code. No kidding huh? But to the bigger point: Code is Law. That seems to be the creed for hacktivists whether related to Wikileaks or to the fact that you were dumb/unlucky enough to let someone hack your Ether coin. Code is law. And if you’re good at code, and good at a little psychology and bithneth, you build platforms that acquire a critical mass that makes them dominant players in today’s world. And where the engineering-dominant culture, according to another Buzzfeed article by Charlie Warzel, is:

… one that views nearly all content as agnostic, and everything else as a math problem.

Ok. Really? What scares you more? Content viewed as agnostic? Isn’t that the liberty that Lessig was crying out for back in 1999? Or non-binary transgender queer activists threatening you physically if you work at Google and don’t agree with their world views, and them deciding what content you should see?

Katherine Miller ends her article with the following words:

Whatever it is, now we are free to tear apart every last institution until every last vestige of that kind of pain is gone, hurtling towards some new future where you can only hope the kindness in our hearts wins out.

Allow me to dissent from Miller’s apocalyptic and poetic vision. Let us hope instead that the founder’s sober wisdom on the nature of mankind provides us a guide with how to live with social media in an age of partisan division and conflicting values. And to use that wisdom to sort out how to prevent another Russian or other foreign assault on America’s political system and it’s values. To do that we need to know more than we do right now on what happened this past election campaign. And to be able to come to some sort of judgement on what in fact happened. We’re not there yet.

Also, “liberty” and “code” are truly now inseparable. They will be part of every debate from here on in. Code is becoming law. But law will, or should, still lead us.

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

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

1,954 to be exact.

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

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

And Trump has just given them his answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From David Frum’s Philip Roth-like cover story in Atlantic few days after President Trump’s election – one that echoed Roth’s The Plot Against America – to Chelsea Handler practically pleading and insulting on Twitter with America’s military brass to launch a coup last summer. From the anarchist and resistance protests on Inauguration Day that left cars torched and stores vandalized to the constant leaks and half-truths from government employees that can have the vengeful salaciousness of revenge porn. From Ross Douthat suggesting that the Trump administration should use the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from the office of President of the United States to which he was duly elected, to Maryland Democratic Rep Jamie Raskin proposing a bill to essentially declare Trump mentally unfit for office.

Aggressive, even extreme, and occasionally explicitly violent. All in the name of nullifying November 8, 2016. And in ways that would undermine America’s Republic long after this administration is gone. Look to countries like Turkey or Argentina, if you need a clue to some of the things that could happen.

They won’t of course. America will never descend to those levels, as much as many in the Resistance are blindly encouraging processes that would nudge the country in undesirable directions.

But never mind any of that. It’s all part of the #Resistance by any means, it seems. And apparently, there’s a real and dangerous threat of violence that recently happened.

As stated above Maryland Democrat Raskin has continually pushed for a committee in Congress to analyze and of course declare President Trump unfit for office. And he recently had the support of a group of psychiatrists who blatantly disregard the Goldwater Rule – don’t analyze someone who has not been in your office for therapy, analysis etc. – and declared Trump a danger to the human race in hysterical and alarmist tones. You’re welcome Kim Jong-un.

One of those is Associate Professor Bandy X. Lee (of Yale) who was scheduled to speak with Baskin at a Maryland seniors center. According to Baskin and Bandy Lee – sorry but I do not consider them impartial purveyors of the supposed events – angry Trump supporters threatened the gathering and they had to cancel. Thereby proving their thesis that President Trump will blow up the world anytime soon now.

Did they get angry phone calls? Yes, it is likely and no, it isn’t a good thing. Letting them instead reveal their theory’s ridiculousness is a much better way to dissipate their fear-mongering.

But it is absurd to suggest that humanity is threatened because, for example, Trump is taking a tougher stand on North Korea, and further, that some angry calls to a senior center in Maryland is confirmation of this absurd belief on Lee and Baskin’s part.

The doom and disaster predicted after Trump was elected has not happened. Despite Charlottesville’s ugly racist confrontations. Despite Roy Moore’s pathetic campaign. Despite Trump’s s-hole or s-house or s-w/e comments. America is functioning as it should, with checks and balances, and rather well overall. From a robust economy with a booming if frothy stock market to modest tax reforms to modest administrative and regulatory pullback, to a few key judicial appointments.

For those who made wild eyed proclamations of a nationalist goon squad police state, 9th and 4th circuit court decisions have forced the DOJ to rework or appeal Trump’s travel bans. For those who say that deportations of illegals is a blight upon America, the Trump administration is actually negotiating with Congress to see if Congress can reform DACA and keep hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in America in exchange for a border policy similar to those of Canada and Australia.

For those – like Nancy Pelosi – who shout out that the tax reform is a giveaway to the rich, companies are hiring and investing and raising wages across the country.

And for those journalists who ascribe to Professor Lee and company’s Trump-is-a-madman theories, White House physician Doctor R. Jackson proclaimed Trump in excellent health and cognitively in very good shape as well. No matter, the press inundated him with leading and suggestive questions implying that the President must be crazy and he must be wrong.

No, cognitive ability is not the same as a psychiatric assessment. But Trump’s opponents think he’s either or both insane or senile. Whichever works on any given day.

And now in Maryland there have been some angry crank calls to a senior center. The President must therefore be crazy. The President must therefore be removed.

At this point, I think it would be wise to heed Alan Dershowitz’s words of wisdom on the matter:

I’ve railed against the criminalization of political difference. It’s getting worse. The psychiatrization of political difference is much more dangerous. It’s what they did in Russia. It’s what they did in China. It’s what they did in apartheid South Africa. If you don’t like a candidate lock him up. If you can’t lock him up, commit him to a mental hospital.

I suspect that even Democrats want Professor Lee and her colleagues to dial it back a bit. And hey, let’s have that meeting in Maryland and how about inviting Alan Dershowitz – lawyer, scholar, and lifelong defender of civil liberties who has made all of us mad at some point; much to his credit – to the meeting? Unless actual violence breaks out if he dares show up.

If Democrats Take the House, They’ll Impeach Trump

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you scornfully offended over the allegations in Fire and Fury? Because of what Trump’s administration perhaps, possibly, maybe did in its first months in office? Or are you incensed because Michael Wolff does things like misspell “public” as “pubic” on what seems to be more than one occasion in what is a rushed and sloppy, often inaccurate, as well as a nasty, gossipy, insider’s/Bannon’s-knifing-in-the-kidneys of a book?

Never mind.

Does stable-genius make you laugh or cringe?

Doesn’t matter anymore. Why?

Oprah is coming. In 2 years, 9 months, and 25 days. On November 3, 2020, Oprah will save us all with a warm smile, a big hug, and maybe a new car!

Suddenly Tom Steyer says he will focus on funneling tens of millions into Democratic candidates’ campaigns. and will not run for office. Is he thinking of a cabinet level job? Imagine Joe Biden’s face as he watched the Golden Globes and “the speech.” Imagine Kamala Harris thinking: I can’t even think of running anyway and hoping for Vice President because Oprah will likely have to pick a guy as her running mate. Imagine Bernie Sanders thinking: what do I do now? Will my base still stick with me?

Because none of them and the other less known but qualified candidates – like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who has policy chops and a fair bit of legislative experience – would ever think of trying to run against an Oprah campaign. Would they? Or pointing out that her policy experience is nil. Would they? Or having their backers fund a little opposition research on her: and not just going back through the thousands of hours of tapes of her show, but really digging up some dirt. Maybe something financial? Tax liabilities anyone? Undeclared income? (even if it’s a case of oversight). Relationships with Hollywood abusers. Would they?

For the most fought over job in the world, in which people are willing to do almost anything to get elected as President of the United States of America, yes they would. At least some of them would. Maybe even the GOP too. Is Fusion GPS is getting a lot of calls?

Oprah, like Trump is going to have to expend her brand, her capital, almost immediately. It’s already started in the media in fact. She’s going to have defend and answer and deal with a level of scrutiny that only someone like Trump, or her friend Obama can advise her on what that feels like.

Is she tough enough to deal with that? Maybe she is, but we will certainly find out, one way or another. Is she nasty enough to swing hard when cornered? Swinging back can be with any tone you can manage to put together: remember noxious Harry Reid who sounded like a concerned elementary school teacher while setting off fire storms in the Senate. Is Oprah flinty enough to eviscerate a Kamala Harris during a debate with a warm smile and a compassionate tone?

Or can she somehow rewrite the rules once again – after Trump rewrote them by breaking them and still getting elected? How would that look? What would that sound like? Before we talk about a possible President Oprah, we need to consider Candidate Oprah and how that would work out.

But wait a minute. Can we actually say Candidate Oprah?? Isn’t it Candidate Winfrey? Wouldn’t it be President Winfrey? Doesn’t have the same ring, does it? Sounds like the frustrated goal of a cautious small-c conservative from the Mid-West who might have lost the nomination to, say, William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

Oprah – magnificent, compassionate and generous – would have to become Winfrey, with at least a handful of policy issues, or a few ideas, to rally those pre-disposed to her around her quest for nomination and subsequent run at the presidency. What those issues could be is still up in the air. She and/or her advisors would have to narrow them down and choose from among them, some sort of platform.

And in doing so would have to expend her precious and substantial personal capital on accumulating enough political capital to survive a campaign against her rivals and then against President Trump.

Goodbye Oprah. Hello Winfrey.

Then again, this is all just speculation that a current set of rules in politics will continue to hold. And that she will in fact run. Will Oprah instead somehow remain Oprah? Could she manage to become – not the first female and second African-American president of America – but rather the first First-Named President of the United States?

What’s in a Last Name? Right Oprah? Liberate us from the tyranny of family and tradition that have been painstakingly built up over generations by hard-working American families and now are under siege by the current flood of identity-politics radicalism. Freedom from family! We give you a shining new dawn:

The Age of Oprah. President Oprah.

This was a brazen act, a defiant challenge to the powers that be that was slapped down with a swift ferocity within a short while of it’s being released to the public.

Oh yes, and also today on Wednesday there’s news about Steve Bannon’s spat with President Trump.

But let’s return to the first case: Paul Manafort’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller for overstepping their authority. It’s a long shot, given that Manafort has been charged with 12 violations of the law, an admittedly dramatic beefing up by Mueller’s team of what are essentially charges of money laundering and lying. And what is essentially a result of failing to register as a foreign agent, a crime that is usually dealt with by requiring the offending party (often lobbyists) to duly register. Not this time however.

Does Manafort’s past list of clients provoke at the very least uneasiness on the part of most of us? Of course. Do the charges against Manafort have anything to do with any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin’s regime in Moscow? Not so far. And that’s essentially Manafort´s legal strategy apparently. The order signed by Rod Rosenstein back on May 5, 2017 is now being attacked in Manafort’s lawsuit as too broad, seeing it in part says:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intellligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. 600.4(a).

(c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.

It’s parts (ii) and (iii) of (b) and (c) which may prove to be most damaging for Paul Manafort, seeing that the order basically allows Mueller’s team free range to dig into financial transactions of any sort that they deem of interest. Not sure Manafort is keen on that.

Yes, (b) (ii) and (iii), and (c) are fishing expeditions for the most part. Is that appropriate for a special counsel? The courts will decide and so far opinion has been dismissive of Manafort’s lawsuit. But it will be interesting to see how the courts rule and what their rulings might imply about a special counsel’s reach in general.

On the other hand why bother with details of lawsuits concerning special counsels and deputy AG’s when you have Steve “Fire and Fury” Bannon using the T word in Michael Wolff’s soon to be released book? One can imagine the curious mixture of wonder, glee and apprehension in Democrat (and Special Counsel) circles …

How do we spin this without seeming like Nazi-loving alt-right white supremacists?

The specific quote in question that apparently infuriated the president is the one where Bannon tells Wolff that Donald Jr, Jared Kushner, and Manafort should have high-tailed it to the FBI as soon as they finished their meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin. Because they didn’t, and because – according to Wolff’s book – Bannon thought they would have loved to set up a meeting with Trump right there and then, they therefore engaged in a “treasonous” act.

So. The President is furious with Bannon. Some Never Trumpers like David French are proud of the President’s angry dismissal of all things Bannon. And Steve Bannon himself may find himself at the receiving end of a subpoena ordering him to appear before Mueller’s investigators.

Is the Mueller investigation metastasizing into vicious and petty inter-party and intra-party partisan dueling? Or is Steve Bannon potentially an important witness now? Or is he just a disruptive and opinionated outsider as far as the Russia Probes are concerned?

Keep in mind, this is a book by Michael Wolff about Steve Bannon’s time in the White House. It is not a Comey memorandum written on a laptop in a limousine after a meeting with the President. It is far less than that, and Bannon’s words should be viewed with the same disgusted skepticism by his legions of detractors as they were viewed before this book was pre-released. They won’t be of course. Bannon will now be taken far more seriously.

Finally, the last part of Trump’s written statement in reaction to the leaked quotes is interesting. It says:

We have many great Republican Members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

Is President Trump finally realizing what a noxious thing equivocating with the alt-right was?

Donald Trump’s Crimes

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

Accusation: Denying a Female Access to the Highest Office

Verdict: Guilty

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Guilty

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

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

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

Verdict: Guilty

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

Additional Crimes

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

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

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

Sometimes, crime pays.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The only way the Fusion GPS story really takes over the mainstream media is if the mainstream media turns on itself. After recycling Fusion GPS’ smear stories, large media organizations and key journalists within those organizations will have to come clean about how the game worked with Glenn Simpson’s dirty tricks squad. About how they could never reveal that their anonymous sources were in fact a paid communications shop that used incredibly sleazy tactics to turn a story in favor of a client. Clients like the Kremlin or corrupt Venezuelan oil industry contractors. Among others who remain, for now, in the shadows.

The Hill has been at the front of some of this latest change in the reporting on Glenn Simpson and GPS. One can’t really say that The Washington Post or CNN have been as equally rigorous in covering this side of the Russia story as they are in obsessively covering how much Russia spent on Facebook ads. But as we segue towards less of a Trump-Russia scandal and towards more of a Russia-on-its-own scandal, most mainstream media are not really coming out and saying that the evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin is not really there, regardless of what Adam Schiff likes to imply. And that the real evidence is in fact pointing exactly the other way:

Towards Hillary’s campaign, and the Obama administration’s knowledge of an FBI investigation into bribes, kickbacks, and money laundering by Kremlin associates; all tied to the sale to Russia of a key stake in Canadian-owned uranium mining company, Uranium One.

The story of Uranium One runs through Kazakhstan and involves Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra a Clintons donor who managed to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help out his operation in Kazakhstan which around 2010 was being squeezed by Putin who wanted control. Giustra had leveraged uranium mining rights he had managed to previously extract from Kazakhstan’s leadership into a 3.5 billion mining company with operations in South Africa, Central Asia and North America. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton had benefited from Giustra’s donations so it was natural they’d come to his aid now.

A deal was worked out needless to say, and much of the background sleaze surrounding the deal would have remained under wraps with Obama’s FBI and DOJ dutifully keeping mum about ongoing FBI investigations into Vadim Mikerin’s racket to bring American companies into the now Russian-owned Uranium One’s fold.

But by 2014, with Putin’s Crimea grab and his slow-burn war with Ukraine in its opening phases, Vadim Mikerin was finally arrested but was able to plea bargain down to one single money laundering charge. Read Andrew McCarthy’s piece on this in the National Review, to get a veteran prosecutor’s view on how ridiculous a travesty of justice this was. The story was reported on, but nothing like the Trump Russia story.

Well now the Uranium One story is back, and it may have assumed too much critical mass to be able to be wished away by ex Obama officials, especially those at State. Of course, if things get too uncomfortable, and if the real Russian collusion turns out to have been with Obama and Hillary Democrats and not Trump’s campaign team, perhaps they can fight back the only way left to them.

They can hire Fusion GPS, assuming Glenn Simpson isn’t too busy defending himself in criminal court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe hiring Elon would actually be easier.

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

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

The crowd laughed and clapped apparently.

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

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

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

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

Oh come on! Stop whining!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He changed his mind and by 1972 he said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

​Donna Carol Voss makes a good point in The Federalist. Sheriff Arpaio was about to go to be sentenced this coming October for defying a judge’s order that set limits on the Arizona police chiefs practice of sweeping up Latinos in traffic stop and searches. He was judged by most people on both sides of the aisle as having broken the law. Specifically for having ignored a judges ruling on what local police can do with respect to immigration law.

Joe Arpaio disagreed with the law, or the judge’s interpretation of the law (which is the same thing really) and refused to obey it. He was roundly condemned by many on both the left and the right.

Sanctuary City Police Departments in places like San Francisco and New Orleans, and Chicago, mandate clearly and specifically against any local police or other official assisting the enforcement of federal immigration law. Section 1373 of the U.S. Code states that local officials may not prohibit or restrict communication with federal immigration officials.

Sanctuary city officials disagree with the law, and they refuse to obey it.

Has anyone charged San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee?

Hardly, but there is talk in Washington DC – especially by AG Sessions – of trying to cut funding for policing for some sanctuary cities. But not even President Trump has as of yet (I think) openly spoken of trying to have, say, Rahm Emanuel charged. Or any of his staff or local police chiefs.

And if one uses the idea of devolving power back to the local and state level as a justification for sanctuary cities’ rejection of parts of the federal law they don’t like, then logically you could use that same reasoning to justify Joe Arpaio’s behavior.

Yes, some matters definitely should be moved closer to home, as it were. Taxation (high, low, any way a state sees fit) and healthcare seem to be candidates for devolution. But immigration?

Let workers and voters decide what state they want to live and work in based on that state’s taxes and healthcare system. But have them decide based on a state’s immigration system? Based on a city’s immigration system? That’s the de facto result of sanctuary cities. And the problem of how to move around inside America becomes a nightmare in an America where immigration policy is decided locally.

So while the left sees sanctuary cities as heroic, they are really just beneficiaries of unstated, rolling pardons. Whether by a President (Obama) or not (Trump).

​Is engineering a moral endeavour? Does good engineering require as a pre-condition, good morals? This may seem a rather odd question, but it is has been explicitly raised by some resignations from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council this past Monday. Eight of 28 members of the NIAC resigned, many of them former Obama appointees. Here’s what the letter said (in part):

“The moral infrastructure of our nation is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built”.

And this:

“Your actions have threatened the security of the homeland I(sic) took an oath to protect.”

The letter accused Trump of paying “insufficient attention” to the nation’s cyber vulnerabilities, and especially accused him of not supporting efforts to ensure that America’s electoral system is viewed as critical infrastructure. It also listed the president’s reaction to Charlottesville, and the administration’s withdrawing from the Paris Climate Deal.

What this letter does is shift our understanding of the term ‘infrastructure.’ Under this new, fairly radical view, policies that are not progressive (which nowadays means that you’re therefore a white supremacist, climate-change denier) will undermine the nation’s power grid, electoral systems, homeland security, and perhaps even damage America’s bridges and highways.

Is this true? Does infrastructure depend on morals? Specifically on currrent left wing views of economics, and society? And even science?

America’s transcontinental railroad was planned, legislated and had key construction goals achieved during and after the Civil War. And was completed as the Jim Crow system of apartheid was being put together.

Speaking of apartheid, the famous tourist attraction called the Blue Train that runs from Pretoria to Cape Town was built during the 70’s with much of the engineering done in-house because of growing restrictions and sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Nelson Mandela sat in a cell while passengers enjoyed the apparently splendid scenery.

America’s highway system was initially conceived and built during the 50’s and 60’s when segregation was still in place, or civil rights were still being fought for in the South and elsewhere. And the satellite system that powers communications around the world, was intially a military response to the Soviet Union. And the interenet was a way to maintain to communications between various government departments and the military, in a post-nuclear attack America.

Various infrastucture projects were built with slave labor (real or indentured like Chinese laborers).

So you can get infrastructure done with violent, discriminatory policies in place. Should you get engineering done in conjunction with values that embrace tolerance and diversity? Hard to argue with that. But the resigning members of the NIAC seem to be saying that because they find President Trump’s morals objectionable, they cannot advise or participate in managing America’s infrastructure.

If you take their objections a step further so they fit with much of the hard left post-Charlottesville commentary it’s easy to take the next step and say:

You cannot participate in infrastructure projects if you’re a Republican, because that means you’re a Nazi. And then the final step (solution?) is to say:

You cannot govern if you’re a Republican. Say like in Mexico at the height of the PRI. Or Argentina in any one of it’s Peronista periods. Or even in Eastern Europe a generation ago. Or in modern communist China. If your views are not politically acceptable to us, you will not govern. So while Trump may use populism as a style, those who wish to use one-party state rule are in fact Trump’s most vocal opponents.

And that’s where they want to take things.