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.

 

The “Real” Russia Collusion: Oil

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pieces of the Same Puzzle: SOTU, DACA, FBI

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

Piece 1—The State of the Union Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piece 2—The DACA Compromise

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

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

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

Piece 3—The FBI Memo

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

I’m guessing that Howie Kurtz doesn’t spend as much on grooming as Michael Wolff does. And he likely will never have Hillary Clinton read from his book at the Grammy Awards. But if I had to decide which book – Kurtz’s Media Madness or Wolff’s Fire and Fury – has better journalistic standards, it wouldn’t even be close.

And it might be that now-former-although-not-quite-yet-retired-due-to-pension-considerations Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe agrees with me. He has announced his retirement on the Monday after portions of Media Madness suggested he was possibly part of an entrapment scheme involving then White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus back about a year ago in February 2017. Ok, actually McCabe’s on “terminal leave” effective immediately until he official retires in mid-March when he becomes eligible for a full pension. So what does Kurtz’s book say about McCabe that seems to have precipitated in part at least his sudden “terminal leave.”

According to Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, here’s how Kurtz’s book detailed how the scheme/process worked.

  • McCabe drops by the White House around February, 2017 to tell Priebus that a NYTimes and by extension a related CNN story on supposed contacts between Trump aides and Russian Intelligence agents were false or “bulls–t.”
  • Priebus apparently pointed to the TV screens which were obviously carrying the story 24-7 and asked if the FBI would publicly make some sort of statement to the same effect as what McCabe had just told Priebus personally.
  • McCabe said he’d check to see what was possible and left. He then called later to say that he couldn’t comply with Priebus’ request.
  • Director Comey then phoned a while later to say he couldn’t publicly say anything directly but that he would brief the Senate Intelligence Committee on the matter who would apparently then release the information that the FBI considered the NYT/CNN story false.
  • About a week later a story broke on CNN that the FBI had turned down a request by Priebus to “knock down” the story on Trump aides meeting with Russian intel agents. The contents of the leaked story suggested that the FBI leaker had intimate knowledge of the conversation McCabe had with Priebus the week before. The story strongly suggested that Priebus had initiated the conversation and was possibly guilty of obstruction of justice.
  • In June, Comey testified before Congress that the original NYT story was “not true.”
  • The NYT insisted their sources in the FBI confirmed the story.

As Mollie Hemingway puts it:

There seems to be a disparity between what FBI officials tell reporters under the cloak of anonymity and what they admit under oath or to those more knowledgeable of the matters at hand.

And she adds this:

As Comey admitted under oath he did tell President Trump three times that Trump was not under investigation. These private statements to Trump occurred while Comey publicly insinuated the opposite. This story above fits the same pattern.

Partisan operatives in or close to the FBI communicated snippets of information with reporters who didn’t demand proof or substantiation, then FBI officials denied to White House officials who knew the facts that they were seeding that information, then officials suggested that White House operatives were obstructing justice by asking for the truth to out.

And yes, she’s right that this is a pattern of behavior that should worry the media, or that they should at least focus on as an important story. But how can they if they are a crucial link in the above pattern, and this undermines their already tattered credibility?

It isn’t that the media shouldn’t rely on anonymous sources. That’s impossible in Washington D.C. unfortunately. You could argue that former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt played Woodward and Bernstein for his own reasons which may have had to do with personal ambition more than any sense of anger at Nixon’s campaign team crimes. But Woodward and Bernstein did a little legwork of their own, let’s say.

In the current case, however, where these journalists take the information without confirming or researching on their own, we are seeing a dangerous precedent. It’s the outsourcing of journalism to advocacy and lobby and other interest groups. Has this been happening for some time? Of course. Have previous GOP governments/politicians benefited from this? Of course they have.

But the McCabe story seems to cross a line where now the FBI is baiting and trapping White House officials who they are supposed to be working with and even working for, rather than setting up obstruction of justice charges against them by means of duplicitous schemes with the connivance of a compliant media intent on being part of the #Resistance without realizing you still have to be a journalist, even if you hate the guy in the Oval Office.

So, is McCabe a little worn out by all this and merely needs a well-deserved rest as he’s been signaling to the media for a few weeks now? Or is he distancing himself from the FBI just as Nunes memo looks set to be released, and just as Kurtz’s book paints a disturbing picture of some of his actions over the past year or so?

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.

A Starbucks in suburban Virginia. Maybe one of the ones near Arlington National Cemetery. Five men in their forties and early fifties in jeans and windbreakers huddle in the parking lot. The tallest one – really tall – tells a worried-looking younger man, the youngest of the group:

I swear to God, I will never, ever forget. Do you understand now?

The worried younger guy gulps and says

Yes.

But it doesn’t work that way, does it? So, the point being that according to Texas GOP Rep John Ratcliffe – who’s also Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity – there is a reference to a “secret society” within the FBI, in the texts exchanged between FBI Agent Strzok and former FBI Attorney Page. Of which now there appears to be a few months of missing texts – from mid December 2016 to May 2017, when Mueller was appointed special prosecutor. Close to 50,000 texts apparently, gone, missing in action. Due to a glitch.

Let’s take a leap of conspiratorial speculation and assume for a moment there may have been (or still be) a rogue group within the FBI, and this is what the words “secret society” refer to.

We have no idea at this point what evidence there may be of their purpose. We can guess, however, that it would involve spreading incriminating information – or disinformation – on the Trump campaign, then on the Trump transition team, and finally, on the Trump administration itself. All in order to prevent, and then frustrate, and perhaps resist an elected administration. Or even help overturn it.

Do they have secret codewords and rotate their meetings between parking lots around Northern Virginia and D.C.? Uh, no, surely not. In other words, the evidence that any supposed group of FBI employees might have or might still exist will have to be parsed from convoluted, bureaucratic procedures, and mountains of partial evidence that on it’s own may appear trivial at times but within a larger context may prove damning.

But why do we have to go looking for a secret society? When former intel chiefs are in the media warning of the dangers of President Trump? When Sally Yates – Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General for 10 days in January 2017 – defied her new boss over the first travel ban, rather than resign. She sided with the 9th Circuit rather than the White House, stating:

For as long as I am the acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of th[is] executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.

Did you applaud? Would you care if I pointed to Scalia’s dissent in Morrison v. Olson in 1988, and how it illuminates the entire special counsel/independent counsel dilemma? If you applauded you don’t care about Scalia’s theory of the “unitary executive” of which the Department of Justice is part. Trump shouldn’t be president and Sally Yates was right to display undue deference to the lower courts’ doubts about the ban.

So why should we unduly worry about a secret society in the FBI? When former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper states:

Having some understanding of the levers of power that are available to a president if he chooses to exercise them, I found this (Trump’s speech in Phoenix last August) downright scary and disturbing.

Never mind that he lied to Congress about the NSA surveillance program, Trump’s the scary one.

When the much of the media agrees with Clapper, should we be shocked and disturbed that some members of the FBI might have worked more as an opposition research team, aiding and abetting Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, along with the DNC and Hillary’s campaign team, than as impartial agents of the law? Yes, it is troubling. And yes, #Resistance may involve far more than just disgruntled EPA employees. But surprising?

Sure, conspiracy can be fun to watch on Netflix. At least before Kevin Spacey’s fall from grace. But this “secret society”, if it indeed exists, will be far more confusing and muddled and layered than any episode of House of Cards. And if it does indeed exist, those of you who applauded Sally Yates will justify and rationalize it’s actions. And that’s the truly troubling part.

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.

Forgive me. I am so prejudiced. So, so biased that I did not even realize that Otherkin is a word, and that it is much more than a word. It is a subculture, apparently, where people decide they’re like fish.

Or dragons, which seems to be a popular choice. Like, for example, a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin. Otherkins might even identify sexually as a dragon with yellow-scales but no wings. Yes, there are people who sexually identify as a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin. Which is NOT the same as a yellow-scaled winged dragonkin. Exactly what the difference between those two sexual identities is is way beyond a bigot like me. So you’ll have to ask the real thing, apparently a particular Google employee who gave an in-house workshop or chat or presentation (was there any dance involved?) on the matter of so-called plural sexual identities.

Should this person who has taken what might seem like an adolescent fantasy and raised (I’m trying to find a neutral verb here) it to the level of an identity (which does not seem to have anything to do with gender, perhaps …) actually read these words and should I ever try to work for Google – two probabilities that limit with zero which if you multiply them together to get the probability that both occur, would get you even closer to zero; I’m trying to be science-based here like Eric Schmidt says Google and Googlers are – then I would be harassed and hounded into the waters of the Pacific. And I would drown as the yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin hissed vengefully over my sinking body, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

On dry land, however, James Damore has a much better plan than being hounded into the Pacific for writing a few satirical paragraphs. The former Google employee has launched a lawsuit against his former employer and has released a long document with lots of screenshots that display what it’s like to work at Google as a white male who’s conservative or at least not crazy. Here’s an example of one of the reactions to Damore’s original memo, (which suggested cultural choices and gender differences might have produced the overabundance of white male programmers as well as suggesting ways to actually increase workplace diversity):

I’m a queer-ass non-binary trans person that is f!cking sick and tired of being told to open a dialogue with people who want me dead. We are at a point where the dialogue we need to be having with these people is ‘if you keep taking about this sh!t I will hurt you’.

The university campus free-speech shout-downs and intimidation and violence are influencing the corporate world in a much faster and more profound way than the path the radicalism of the sixties took to work it’s way into corporate culture. What is happening at Google makes the early years at Apple look like a Mennonite church gathering. But it comes from the same source, and that notorious meeting of Berkeley radicals in the late 60’s where it was decided the only answer to oppression was to kill white babies is still at the heart of cultural marxism. You’re a white male? Confess your guilt or be silent or even better, just quietly leave.

That (mostly) white billionaires are in charge of the companies in Silicon Valley where this is occurring (not the only place of course) is not even seen as ironic or hypocritical. Of course we’re billionaires! We are so evolved that we have yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin’s policing our workforce as we collect information on the world’s internet users and charge our corporate clients billions to use that data.

Netocracy. Dragonkins. And non-binary queer-asses who will get medieval on your backside if you even try to talk to them. But remember, Google is science-based!

Democrats Are All About Winning, Not Governing

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

Today’s Issues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Sometimes Late is Worse Than Never

© 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two excellent business examples come immediately to mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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?

Shall I talk about the top twenty 2017 tweets of President Trump? How about Alvin Kamara’s awesome Santa Cleats which have resulted in a fine by the NFL, delivered in an envelope to the New Orlean’s Saints running back? It looks like those 32 yards he ran for in the Christmas Eve game are going to be the most expensive of his career. Or maybe I should dive right in to Trump’s interview with the NYT in which he says that the Mueller probe:

… makes the country look bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position.

No? How about if instead I talk just for a moment about a wonderful, very talented, very hard-working artist who suddenly left us in September.

Tom Petty.

It was a warm snap, in I think December, in 1979, and I was jogging past the house where the cool people lived in college. The windows to Andy’s room were open and the thunder of Stan Lynch’s opening drum roll turned my head as the opening chords (F#minor, D, and E) of Refugee poured out the open window. I swiveled and kept jogging up the path, through the front door, and up the steps into Andy’s room, and we sat and listened to Tom and the Heartbreakers’ early masterpiece. More were to come of course, but this was the first time when it felt like they really could do anything they set their minds to.

Over the previous year, Andy had made me listen to their first two albums, as he would shake his head and say “I can’t believe they’re not huge!” So that mild December afternoon in 79 was like a confirmation of all the expectations that the few early TP fans in our circles had nourished.

By the time I belatedly saw their 2008 Super Bowl half-time show on Youtube, it was a year or two after the event. Sorry, I haven’t followed Super Bowls religiously for a long time. I watched the opening chords of American Girl and I started weeping. But they were tears of gratitude for all the wonderful music Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have given us. And just to remind everyone, Tom Petty was very much alive and kicking when I got mushy watching the halftime show on Youtube.

I’ll let music critics argue over who the greatest rock bands are. TP and the Heartbreakers were one of the best. Try playing Mike Campbell’s solo in American Girl. It was twenty years ahead of its time. It took punk, post-punk, 80’s big hair, grunge and post-grunge, for guitar solos to catch up to what he did back in 1976. Try playing the guitar-piano combination in the chorus of Here Comes My Girl. Fascinatingly, Tom said in the VHS series on great albums that you had to come from the South to play the riff that floats behind Petty’s vocals and Stan Lynch’s backup vocals.

Try playing that magic handful of chords that Tom plays in Learning to Fly. Try to get that beautiful ache in just your rythm guitar playing. Now try to do it on a Rickenbacker. Not easy, huh? Now sing please.

De Tocqueville writes about the optimism and confidence that he found that women in America were raised into. It’s there in the opening lines to Tom’s song American Girl:

Well she was an American girl, raised on promises

But that would be to ascribe political ends to Tom Petty’s music, which he would probably laugh at a little. I have no idea who he voted for. I don’t care who he voted for. I have no idea what he yelled at his screen when somebody said something on CNN, or MSNBC. Or Fox.

Maybe he read Faulkner. Maybe he had to read Carson McCullers’ a tree a rock a cloud in high school, the way I did. Maybe he was haunted by that story, the way I was. Likely not. Because he was someone who had his own stories to tell and who had the drive , talent and the need to tell them. And that drive and talent would produce a gem of an artist that could only have come from one country.

America and the world are better for Tom Petty’s music. Happy New Year.

The Hezbollah crime syndicate that was let off the hook by pressure and slow-walking or stonewalling by the Obama administration. At least until the Iran Deal was in place.

Next to nothing in mainstream media.

The evidence that is slowly accumulating on the very real possibility that the “insurance policy” FBI agent Peter Strzok mentioned in a text message to then FBI lawyer Lisa Page in a conversation about a meeting almost definitely held in Deputy Director McCabe’s office in the summer of 2016, was quite possibly the very Steele Dossier that they had started to receive at the FBI?

Mainstream media? Next to nothing.

The fact that the House Select Committee on Intelligence is demanding evidence from the FBI and the DOJ to clear up the role that various members of Mueller’s team have played? Now that’s big news. Why?

It’s the anti-Mueller feedback loop!

You guys decry Ben Rhodes for his echo chamber (that was Rhodes’ language by the way: he’s the one who coined the phrase)? Well we’re (CNN’s Brian Stelter to be specific) going to coin a phrase too! And we’ll get Perry Bacon Jr. to write about the evil plan in the wonkish fivethirtyeight’s blog. And use phrases like:

It’s not clear that the anti-Mueller campaign is coordinated, in the sense that Congressional Republicans, White House officals and Fox News executives sat in a room together and planned how to attack Mueller and his team.

Of course not Perry, you’ll just let that image sit uncomfortably in your readers mind as you inevitably make comparisons to Nixon’s attempts to discredit Watergate investigators, because it’s basically the same, right? Sorry this is way worse, right? Russia is involved!

Keep it about process. Imply nefarious motives at every turn. And avoid actually talking about the evidence that Mueller’s team has so far failed to turn up, or at least disclose. And especially avoid talking about the evidence that Mueller’s team appears very much biased in favor of the Democrat Party establishment. Ignore further evidence like:

  • The Steele Dossier it turns out was opposition research paid for by the DNC and Hillary’s campaign and contracted out through Fusion GPS who likely helped leak details of its existence and then of its contents.
  • The evidence in the Dossier is often second or third hand heresay. Andrew McCarthy hi-lites this gem from the Dossier: Another source, apparently Russian, told Steele that an official “close to” Putin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov had confided to “a compatriot” that Igor Diveykin (of the “Internal Political Department” of Putin’s Presidential Administration) had also met with Page in Moscow.
  • And apparently Divekin at that supposed meeting had told Carter Page that Russia had kompromat (compromising material) on both Hillary and Trump so they should make a deal with Russia on sanctions.
  • Follow the bouncing ball: Igor tells a friend of Sergei that he talked to Carter Page. Sergei’s friend tells an unknown Russian. The unknown Russian tells another unknown Russian. Unknown Russian #2 tells Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy. Steele’s dossier then possibly becomes, in part at least, the basis for a FISA court order to surveille Carter Page – perhaps continuing into the transition period.
  • Nellie Ohr, wife of then DOJ associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr, was working for Fusion GPS as a Russia expert, probably on the opposition research being conducted on the Trump campaign. The Ohrs seemed to be friends with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
  • Did James Baker – FBI top lawyer who’s now been reassigned – lead Mother Jones reporter David Corn to the Steele Dossier?

But why talk about any of this? Stick to process. Talk about the anti-Mueller feedback loop and use the word “echo” in your reporting. Never mind careful attention to detail – like Andrew McCarthy at National Review; Byron York at the Washington Examiner; or Josh Meyer at Politico. Even if Meyer covered the Iran Deal rather than the Russia story. Woodward and Bernstein didn’t write a few hot stories about the Watergate investigation. They persistently and over many months wrote a series of detailed articles – with the help of their FBI source – that helped reveal the truth about Watergate.

Because the facts are still being revealed and because some of the key players involved are using stonewalling tactics or partisan posturing – on both sides – it will be a while before the final truth about the Russia story is revealed. But the partisan divide is so strong, that I doubt either side will agree with the other side when the evidence is completely revealed.

In other words, there may never be closure on this, because neither side wants it. Democrats pushed by their base seem to want nothing less than impeachment on the basis of character seeing no real evidence of collusion with Russia has as of yet been revealed.

Republicans are increasingly seeing the Russia story as a Democrat-Hillary scandal rather than as the feared Trump scandal. And they don’t yet want – in their majority at least – for President Trump to fire Mueller. Nixon analogies are inevitable on this point, (Nixon’s firing of key Watergate investigation officials backfired on him), even if these are two very different situations.

So the risk here is that a discredited or unfairly attacked (choose your side) Mueller probe will leak further details about it’s own problems along with further details that may or may not compromise former Trump campaign officials or even Trump administration officials. It will then become a zombie investigation, lacking real integrity but still alive and issuing subpoenas.

That’s a scary thought, but special counsels or special prosecutors in Washington D.C. may just no longer (or ever have been) be a viable way to run an investigation. There may not be any viable, trusted way of running any investigation, in many voters eyes. Because Mueller’s – or Comey’s – worth seems to depend on who he makes life miserable for.

And that is hardly justice.

 

Random Thoughts on Recent Happenings

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

No. 1—The Tax Bill

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

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

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

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

No. 1a—The Tax Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About a week ago, writing in National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy rose to the defense of his former profession as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York: a prosecutor in other words. His point was that political bias or passion cannot possibly be a reason for disqualifying a prosecutor or an agent of the FBI. It would set a dangerous precedent. That was on December 6, when his piece was published, and he was referring of course, to Peter Strzok the FBI agent who exchanged around 10,000 text messages with then FBI attorney Lisa Page, some of them very critical of Trump.

McCarthy said this:

Are we now saying that whether a prosecutor or agent is qualified to work on a political-corruption case depends on his or her party affiliation or political convictions? That would be a terrible mistake. It would do more to intrude politics into law enforcement than remove it.

Yes Andy, it sure would. And you suggested in the same article that we should wait to see more evidence. The facts please. Unfortunately, the facts are starting to suggest that it was precisely their political leanings and/or affiliations that seemed to matter whether they were picked to be part of Mueller’s team charged with investigating any possible Russia collusion. In other words, the political test was applied before the team even started. It was already baked into the very process of this increasingly dubious investigation.

Victor Davis Hanson sums up the accumulating evidence against Mueller’s team – One Mueller-Investigation Coincidence Too Many in National Review – and how each individual demonstration of bias, or outright opposition research in the case of Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie, is rationalized away, until the long trail of denial becomes too obvious to wish away or normalize. Like the case of Andrew Weissman – Mueller’s right-hand man in the investigating team – praising Acting AG Sally Yates’ refusal to implement President Trump’s travel ban. In other words, openly praising resistance-like actions that were clearly an act of insubordination as Yates disobeyed her constitutionally-mandated boss, President Trump.

But the fatal piece of evidence (we only have information on around 375 text messages out of a total of about 10,000) is a single text message that reads:

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40 …

Peter Strzok sent the text message to Lisa Page. “Andy” is likely Andrew McCabe, the 2nd in command at the FBI . “He” (as in “he gets elected”) could very well refer to Trump, at that time in the heat of the campaign against Hillary. Strzok had texted Page on August 15, 2016 with the message above. But what was Peter Strzok referring to when he wrote “It’s like an insurance policy”? What the hell is “It”?

I can hardly wait to read Byron York’s next column on the matter. He’s been quietly and methodically piecing together the disparate strands of evidence that seems to suggest there may have been a plot from the time Trump was nominated to undermine him. A plot that may turn out to be the real collusion story. Because it sure seems that FBI Agent Peter Strzok was working out ways to make sure Trump would never be elected President of the United States.

But because it may very well involve the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice, working with the DNC, Hillary’s campaign and Fusion GPS; who were working with the Russians through Christopher Steele’s contacts in Moscow, the puzzle will be spread out all over the place in hard to reach places. Places that are protected by government secrecy clauses or by the arrogantly absurd insistence that they can’t reveal the information as successive FBI Directors have been doing, and as Jeff Session’s Department of Justice has been doing. Slow-walking or stone walling Congress.

In his December 6 article, Andrew McCarthy defended the character of prosecutors and agents in general, saying:

If an investigator knows he or she cannot be fair to a suspect, or that the investigator’s participation in the case would create a reasonable perception of bias, the investigator is obliged to recuse himself – and, failing that duty, the supervisor must disqualify the investigator.

And when the investigator knows he (and she in this case) cannot be fair, because the objective of the investigation is to produce a political outcome (the defeat of candidate Trump in the election)? The whole point seems to be not to be fair.

If half of this turns out to be true, it will be the FBI and the DOJ who have shredded their own ethics and credibility. From the inside. That will do enormous damage to America, but it may be unavoidable if we are to have an FBI and DOJ and intel community worthy of voters’ respect and worthy of a reasonable and workable degree of trust that voters place in them in order to see justice done.

Emotional vs. Logical Voting

© 2017 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Which brings us back to the question—why?

 

There are four big reasons:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Yes Roy, God is in control. If I may quote the good book:

A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Good Lord directeth his steps

Proverbs 16:9

Many of those telling you to fight on can quote the Bible with far more facility than a rather unchurched conservative like me, admittedly. And there is an abundance of quotes therein. And many of them that support you are understandably alarmed by Doug Jones’ view on a woman’s right to abortion. But having Doug Jones as Alabama’s next junior senator will not change Roe v. Wade one iota.

Yes, the Senate advises and consents to SCOTUS appointments; but having you, Roy, in the Senate wouldn’t have necessarily made it any easier for President Trump to get anything done, including appointing another Justice should someone like Ginsburg or Kennedy finally retire. The Supreme Court of the United States will, perhaps, take on Roe v. Wade at some point in the future. Perhaps. Perhaps not, or not for a long while yet. On the other hand, any investigation into Planned Parenthood’s resale of baby parts is a far more important battle for pro-life proponents at this point in time. And that does not require Roy Moore in the Senate.

Because the battle for life is cultural above all, and how that pre-political culture works its way into the judicial decision making process. Did I say pre-political? Sorry. The pre-anything is political in today’s fevered progressive/radical worldview. So the battle is literally in the streets and homes, not in the court room. In other words, until life is truly valued in a clear majority of society at large, it will be next to impossible to overturn what is considered settled law by many in the judiciary and also considered settled law by a slim but solid majority in the Supreme Court.

President Trump kept his distance from you then winked at you across the poker table during the last hand, and put all his chips on you. He lost. You lost. Now the Democrats are quickly filling in the details on the jackpot narrative they will steamroll through and over and around mainstream media.

  • First step: Expel Franken and Conyers and proudly contrast yourself with the Republicans.
  • Second step: Paint the GOP as the party of sexual abusers, precisely because of your example Roy. Although Congress and state and local legislatures are likely filled with examples from both sides of the aisle. We’ll see about that.
  • Third step: Make sure the media revisits Trump’s own accusers from last year’s presidential campaign.
  • Fourth step: Have over 50 female members of the House Democratic Caucus demand an investigation into accusations of harrassment or abuse by President Trump from years gone by.
  • Fifth step: If the Russia probe fizzles even on its obstruction of justice charges against Flynn and potentially President Trump, use the newly commissioned sexual abuse probe to try and impeach Trump. Strike while the iron of outrage is melting hot.
  • Sixth step: Accuse now-President Pence of being oppressive in his views towards women because he’s a practising Christian who doesn’t party without his wife. And who’s idea of a party is likely a quiet get together with his family.
  • Seventh step: Get Hillary to shut up and shame America into electing Kamala Harris in 2020.

Long term strategies seem impossible in the current political climate but that’s more a reflection of the daily outrage/controversy that’s keeping profits nicely plump at large media groups. But longer-term strategies are being planned and will at least be attempted. You can bet the Democratic war rooms are basically working on something like the list above.

So do you concede or don’t you Roy? The twenty odd thousand write-in votes are almost identical to Doug Jones’ margin of victory. Perhaps the election will be clearer once the write-in votes are all counted. If the write-in votes narrow the margin enough to bring it to 0.5% then it seems your state’s electoral laws will allow a recount. I will assume that any concession speech from you, Roy, will have to wait. But keep in mind a proverb or two. You might need to reflect on them fairly soon.

« Previous Page                                                                                                                        Next Page »