Friday, January 19, 2018

Trump's First Year

When Donald Trump announced that he was running for President, I just rolled my eyes. I was still mad at him for birtherism. Before Trump got involved, it was something the Clinton campaign had invented in 2008. But after Trump jumped on the bandwagon, everyone forgot that birtherism was already well-established and insisted that Trump (who was a Republican at the time) invented it.

Then there was Trump's party hopping. I really distrusted a New York former Democrat. I expected that he'd be to the left of Romney who I figured would be a good administrator but would disappoint me in the positions he took.

I fully expected Trump to wither away when the debated started. Surely people would start to see that he was, at best, a RINO.

But he dispatched a pack of the best. Governors, ex-governors, Senators, political dynasties - he beat them all without any problems.

Several pundits I trust were calling on people to vote for Hillary Clinton on the idea that she may be a corrupt socialist-wannabe but at least she knew how to work within the system and the Republican Congress would keep her from doing too much damage (were they awake during the Obama administration?). I watched the Republican National Convention and decided that I was going to have to vote for Hillary.

Then came the Democratic National Convention. I watched some of it to see my new party in action. There was Michelle Obama saying "When they go low, we go high". Had that woman seen any of Hillary's anti-Trump ads? They set a new record for low. Then there was the Khans, waving a copy of the Constitution. Yes, their son was a hero but they were put on the stage by central casting to tell us that Trump was wrong to worry about Muslims. This was only a few weeks after one of the worst mass shootings in American history when a gunman swearing allegiance to ISIS killed gays in the name of Allah. Don't tell me that we don't need to worry about radical Islam.

Anyway, by the end of the Democrats' convention I realized that there was no way I could vote for that crowd. Hillary had ignored the old maxim - swing to the left for the primary and swing to the center for the general election. She'd spent the primary running against her husband's accomplishments and she was going to keep running to the left.

The longer the campaign went on, the more I liked Trump. First there were the rumors about Hillary's health which culminated in her collapsing in public. They followed that up with several lies (it was a hot day and she was dehydrated, she never drinks enough water, can you imagine trying to get Hillary Clinton to drink water?). Then they admitted that she was sick but we were to blame (she tried to "power through" pneumonia because women aren't allowed to get sick).

As far as I was concerned, Trump won the election in his opening statement in the first debate. Trump told us why he wanted to renegotiate the trade treaties and how that would help the average American. Hillary alternated between telling us how qualified she was and trying to get Trump to lose his temper. She forgot to tell us what she would do for Americans.

Election night was a surprise but not a shock. I'd been studying the electoral map. I figured that the pollsters had oversampled Democrats and Trump was running stronger than they showed. Once you assumed this, then all of the undecided and leaning Democrat states which were in the margin of error were likely to go to Trump. Which is exactly what happened.

So we took election day off to celebrate. And we just smiled the following day when throngs of women turned out in their pink pussy hats (which are now forbidden because not all "women" have pussies and women of color have brown pussies).

So... how did he do?

Let's be honest, Trump got off to a rough start. New presidents always have problems. Carter tried to be his own chief of staff and failed miserably. Clinton appointed a childhood friend as chief of staff then had to fire him. Trump made these guys' first few months look smooth.

This was inevitable. Between the never-Trumpers and the people who refused to "normalize" Trump by working for him, he had a shallow bench to draw from. He used a lot of family and campaign staff who had never worked in government. Turnover was unusually high. But things have settled down, just as they did for his predecessors.

Politically Trump really surprised me. His opponents keep calling his policies "populist" or "nationalist" or "authoritarian". Actually, they are Reaganesque. Trump followed through on his pledged to reduce government. He also stood up to our enemies.

When Syria first crossed Obama's unintentional red line, he went to Congress for permission to respond, promising that the response would be "unbelievably small". When Congress refused to shoulder the blame, Russia bailed him out, negotiating with Syria to remove their chemical weapons. That didn't stop them from killing their own people. They simply used chlorine gas which wasn't on the forbidden list and Obama was happy to ignore them. The first time they did that with Trump in the White House, we made a missile strike against the air field their bombers used. This might have qualified as the unbelievably small response that Obama planned but coming as it did on the heels of the gassing, it showed strength and the gassing stopped.

Obama left Trump a note telling him that North Korea would be his biggest problem. Obama kicked that can down the road as far as it could go. I'm not sure that Trump has a solution to North Korea - the four previous presidents failed. But they seem to be talking Trump more seriously than Obama.

A year ago were were still at war with ISIS and expecting it to take years to drive them out of the territories that they controlled. That put Americans and Europeans at risk from ISIS's sophisticated terrorist network. Trump stepped up the war and changed the rules of engagement. As a result, ISIS no longer controls any cities. That makes it much harder for what's left of them to recruit which makes us safer.

Trump's biggest triiumps have been domestic. We were told when he tool office that the days of economic growth were over. Instead we just had three quarters of growth over 3% - the best showing in 13 years. The stock market keeps setting records.

This is not just the continuation of trends that started under Obama. It is the response Trump rolling back burdensome regulations. Obama's administration seemed to believe that there was no cost to new regulations (or that they were worth it). Businesses refused to invest, preferring to keep their cash reserves to handle whatever new regulations were thrown at them. Now, with that fear gone, businesses are investing and giving raises.

And that was before the tax reform. The corporate tax reform was significant and highly overdue. American corporations were keeping trillions of dollars parked overseas because America had the world's highest corporate tax rate. Hillary's (and Bernie's) solution to this was to try to penalize corporations. Trump and the Republican Congress encouraged these companies to bring the money home. Apple alone announced that they will bring a quarter trillion dollars into the US. We will soon see a cash infusion of trillions of dollars into the US economy. This is big.

Plus Trump is packing the courts with young conservatives.

I could go on but you get my drift. Yes, Trump is blunt and uncontrolled but the left hated every Republican president. The more conservative he is the more they hate him. Even Romney, as mild as moderate a candidate as you will find was going to roll America back to the 1950s with segregation and a loss of women's rights. The nation would be just as divided had a more moderate Republican won. As long as they are going to hate you anyway, you might as well go big.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Age of Unreality

Almost before the ink was dry on the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, the LGBT movement shifted gears to the T (for trans). What had been something quietly whispered about suddenly became mainstream and suddenly the terms "identifies as" and "happens to have" were added to the vocabulary. This isn't necessarily a good thing. While the left likes to pretend that they are the ones who believe in science, they have put the activists in charge of this one instead of scientists.

The problem is that, with the exception of some rare genetic conditions, there are only two sexes and a good deal of our societal definition of gender was formed by biological differences in behavior. But, between the Trans activists who want to redefine gender and the Intersectional Feminists who want to erase masculinity, we have left biology far behind.

Once you start pretending that a woman can have a penis then you have started making stuff up. But the movement is fixated on validating the idea that you are whatever you identify as. This has reached the point in England where doctors are being told to ignore biology for fear of upsetting people's delusions. So doctors will offer pap smears to trans women who do not have a cervix but not to trans men who do have a cervix and are still at risk of cervical cancer.

But it gets worse. An engineer was fired from Google a few months ago after he suggested that the reason there were fewer female engineers was that engineering did not interest as many women as men. California has strong protections for freedom of opinion in the workplace and he is suing Google under these laws. One of his exhibits was a presentation by a man who identifies as a wingless, yellow female dragon and as a high-rise building on how people should address this individual.

Got that? This man thinks that he is a female dragon and a building at the same time. And Google was concerned that people would offend him by not addressing him the proper way (side note, since he identifies as a building, does he have a street address?). Recently the British version of Big Brother had a trans woman on who demanded to be treated as a woman. A great deal of the conflict came from the cis-gendered not treating the trans woman the way that it felt that it should be treated.

So, what will happen when the next season has someone who identifies as high-rise condo on the show? Will the trans condo person be offended if no one is willing to buy a flat? It sounds silly but just how far are we supposed to humor people's fantasies?

But once we hit the limit and tell someone, "Sorry, you are neither a building nor a mythical creature" then the floodgates will be loosed and people will start telling trans women that they are just a man in a dress. And that's something the activists can't allow.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Perfect S***storm

For the last few days the press has gone crazy because President Trump is supposed to have referred to Haiti and soem African countries as Sh*thole countries. This apparently proves that he's a white supremacist, unfit for office, etc, etc. It also has a Bevis and Butthead quality to it:  "He said a bad word! Heh, heh, heh." That part is the most laughable. Presidents often use salty language in private. Bill Clinton and LBJ were known for it. Nixon, a Quaker, surprised people by the number of "expletive deleteds" in the Watergate tapes. I'm sure that JFK and the Bushs used similar language. Obama called Libya a Sh*t Storm in public.

There's also some question about the accuracy of the quote. The Washington Post attributed it to two Congressional aids who were briefed on the meeting - in other words, people who were not there. Since then, two people who were there say that they don't remember it (which means that the part about everyone going suddenly quiet at what the President said was incorrect). Lindsey Graham gave a "he sort of said  something like that" answer. Dick Durban claims that he heard Trump say it but Durban has been caught lying about presidential meeting before.

Trump has denied using that language but affirmed that he is in favor of changing immigration policy to favor people with skills. This is not news. He has long been on record for reforming the immigration system.

It is also worth remembering that the initial source, the WaPo, has been known to go out of its way to embarrass the president. Just a few weeks ago they reported that a government agency banned the use of seven words. They even doubled down on this with an editorial. This came from a single, anonymous source and was rushed into print without bothering to contact the agency for comment. After the story was released, the agency said that this was not a general prohibition. It was a guideline of words to avoid when submitting budgets to a Republican Congress. So the WaPo is willing to run stories based on shaky sourcing, without verification, just to embarrass the President.

The bigger issue is if the President said something inherently racist. Yes, he did name Haiti and some African countries as sh*tholes. We don't know which ones. Presumably ones that have sent a lot of refugees here. So is this an accurate description of Haiti and some African countries? I think the fact that they are sending refugees answers that. A list of the world's worst countries to live in would certainly include Haiti, Libya, Somalia and some other African failed states. Is it now racist to point this out?

But, let's assume that the President did say something to the effect that he preferred people from Norway to people from hell-holes. Norway is supposed to be one of Bernie's Scandinavian socialist countries that we want to emulate.

What Trump obviously meant was that we should be encouraging skilled immigrants from stable countries who will be an asset to our nation over people who will immediately need expensive public assistance and be a drag on the nation. There is a valid argument in favor of this. The days of the open border predate the welfare state and we can't have both.

While Europe is absorbing a lot of refugees, it also has strict requirements for regular immigration. You have to prove that you will not be a drain on resources. Trump is proposing that we follow that example. Normally the left loves to emulate Europe but this is one time where they don't want to. When they point to Trump for preferring people from majority-white countries, what they really mean is that they only want immigrants who are not white. But they can't say that so instead they call Trump a racist.


Friday, January 12, 2018

The Trump Trap

There's a lot of talk about President Trump being interviewed by the Mueller investigation. The question is not only will he submit to an interview but under what conditions. Will he testify under oath? Will he be given a list of questions that he answers in writing, as was done with President Reagan? Will he be given an informal interview without being sworn in, without notes and without recordings as was done with Hillary Clinton? The left is pushing for him to testify under oath but this it a trap.

So far, the three people who have been charged by the probe were not charged for any illegal activity. They were charged with lying to the investigation. In the case of Michael Flynn, he wasn't even informed that he was about to be given a formal interrogation and he was not given benefit of council.

President Clinton was asked, under oath, if he had had sexual relations with an intern. This was not a trick question and he gave a bald-faced lie and denied it. That led to his impeachment for lying under oath.

Trump recently testified in a lawsuit involving his property. He did not prepare and his answers were not all truthful although none rose to the level of perjury.

The trap is to get Trump to testify under oath about Russia. Being Trump, he's bound to say something wrong or get a timeline wrong. All they need is something incorrect and they will charge him. And it doesn't matter if there was actual collusion with the Russians or not. The goal is no longer to discover a crime that was already committed, it is to entrap the President into unintentionally committing a crime.

Presumably, if I see this then his legal team is way ahead of me and will protect him from this. In the meantime, I'm going to discount any calls for him to testify under oath as part of the trap.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Karma and Hillary Clinton

Somehow I doubt that Hillary Clinton is the type of introspective person who looks back at her mistakes and sees the lives that were ruined by them. Instead, Hillary is the type of person who obsessively reorders her enemies list and plots revenge on all of them (and their little dog, too). I have my own candidate for Hillary's worst decision - the overthrow of Libya.

During the Arab Spring there was widespread rioting across several Muslim countries. One of them was Libya. In the middle of the unrest, Hillary met with some Muslim extremists who convinced her that they could pick up the pieces if we helped overthrow Gaddafi's regime. President Obama was ambivalent and Vice President Biden was against it. Hillary was the one who convinced Obama that we should act. They used the excuse that we were protecting women and children but they knew it was a lie. We were actually protecting (male) Muslim extremists. Obama's actions were illegal. He didn't bother to consult with Congress or report to them within 30 days as required by law.

Democrats (and many Republicans) love to complain about Bush's wars but he got Congressional approval first and he had much better cause. Afghanistan was protecting Osama Bin Laden and we had been engaged in a low-level shooting war with Iraq for a decade. In contrast, Gaddafi had voluntarily given up his nuclear program with the understanding that he would be safe from US intervention. But Obama, at Hillary's urging, helped overthrow him anyway.

The people Hillary met with didn't live up to their promises. They were not able to create government. Libya descended into failed state status. Thousands died. There are slave markets in Libya now. This should be a black mark on Obama's and Hillary's record but it isn't because it's too easy to ignore. Where Bush followed the "you broke it, you bought it" rule and stayed to rebuild the countries he destabilized, Obama left Libya to the international community. Unsurprisingly, no other nations were willing to take over nation-building after we washed out hands of the matter. When asked about Libya late in his presidency, Obama said that he had expected more from them and that they disappointed him. That appears to be the extent of his and Hillary's regrets - that no one cleaned up their mess.

But, in a rare example of karma, this decision cost Hillary the presidency.

When we overthrew Gaddafi, that scared the bejesus out of Putin. He has sure that he would be next and he correctly blamed Hillary. That's one reason Russia interfered in the 2016 election. It was not to help Trump, it was to hurt Hillary. So, to whatever extent Russian email hacks, Wikileaks and Twitterbots affected the election, that was why they did (to be fair, Putin was also just doing it to show that he could).

But that's not the only affect Libya had on Hillary. The destabilization of Libya led to the deaths at Benghazi. That led to numerous Congressional investigations of Hillary's role in the deaths. The last of the investigations noticed that there were very few emails from Hillary. They asked why and were told that she had a private email server and hadn't turned over the contents to the National Archives as required. And that launched the FBI investigation. Until then, no one cared that she'd used a private server but once the news got out, it had to be investigated. And that also led to the discovery that her assistant, Huma, had been forwarding emails to her husband, Anthony Weiner, who was being investigated for child pornography.

Hillary constantly complains about having to run against Trump, Russia and the Director of the FBI but if we'd left Libya alone, Russia and the FBI would never have been involved. Karma's a bitch.

Of course that still would have left her with a lackluster campaign.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

How Obama Lost the Election For Hillary

The general wisdom is that Al Gore lost the 2000 election because of President Clinton's antipathy towards guns swung Gore's home state of Tennessee to vote for Bush. If Gore had won Tennessee then he wouldn't have needed Florida. Because of that, Democrats backed off from anti-gun platforms until the party swung hard left under Obama. Even then, both Obama and Hillary Clinton insisted in 2008 that they would not be anti-gun.

I'm sure that gun rights had an effect on the 2016 election but I don't think it was as decisive as in 2000. I think that religion was the dividing line in 2016.

The Obama administration and the Democrats in general came out as pretty much anti-religion. In 2008 Obama insisted that he was against gay marriage. By the end of his administration, the party was not only cheering the legality of gay marriage, but attacking anyone who still objected. Even people providing individual services while same-sex marriage was still officially illegal were put out of business by the government in the name of tolerance.

While this is still being debated in the state and national supreme courts, another issue has already been judged - Obamacare's birth control provisions.

When it was first proposed, the Obama administration was reluctant to give any form of religious waiver. After being shamed into it, they allowed for some sort of waiver but they insisted that it be applied as narrowly as possible. Two cases made it to the Supreme Court. One involved Hobby Lobby which always included birth control but did not include 3 of the 15 types mandated by the government. The owners of Hobby Lobby felt that the remaining three were too close to abortion. It would have been simple for the government to grant waivers on religious grounds but they insisted on fighting it all the way to the SCOTUS - where they lost.

The government took an even harder line with Little Sisters of the Poor. They took them all the way to the SCOTUS, too. If they had won then they were prepared to put the Little Sisters out of business. They lost that one, too. But think about it - they were taking such a hard line that they were willing to put a religious charitable organization out of business over birth control.

These cases sent out a message - that the left has its own priorities and considers religion as an impediment to their agenda. To them, religious objections are nothing but and excuse for bigotry.

One question that the Democrats kept asking was why Evangelicals and Catholics voted for someone who had been divorced and had multiple affairs. The answer is obvious and they said so at the time - they were worried about their survival under more years of Democrat rule.

How important was this to the election? It's hard to say but look at these maps. This is the states that Hillary won:

And this ranks states by how religious they are:

Hillary mainly won the least religious states.

Maybe the Democrats need to rethink their attitudes on religion.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

#NeverTrump Double-think

Columnist Michael Gerson recently wrote a column about President Trump's successful first year. Gerson is a double-#NeverTrump. He writes for the Washington Post which is as hostile to Trump as any newsroom in the country and he has close relations with the Bush family. But Gerson is also a conservative so he was in the difficult position of having to acknowledge Trump's successes while downplaying them and something any Republican president could have done. This involves a lot of double-think. He also throws in a lot of petty character assassination. The crux of Gerson's argument is that Trump did very little except take credit for the work of others.

Gerson starts with Trump's nomination and the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch which he points out came from a list provided to him by the Federalist Society. So? All presidents choose from lists of qualified jurists. It should be pointed out that the judges appointed by the Bushes have a mixed record as conservatives. Chief Justice Roberts in particular was a disappointment in his legal gymnastics to justify Obamacare.

He goes on to the defeat of ISIS and counts that as a continuation of President Obama's policies. While it's true that the ISIS policies under Obama and Trump involved the use of weapons and air strikes, the actual on-the-ground effort was very different. Obama policy might be described as "do what you have to as long as you don't make them mad." He was convinced that killing ISIS members would bring new fighters to the cause. Battles for cities involved pushing the ISIS fighters from block to block with minimum casualties. This allowed the ISIS fighters to retreat until the battle moved to a different area then they'd move make and the area would have to be cleared again. The rules of engagement meant that often permission to kill someone had to come from the White House. Trump changed all of that. He beefed up the effort and changed the rules of engagement to allow killing ISI casualties. The result was that an effort that Obama said would take years was over in months.

Gerson also complains about anti-Muslim bigotry but, to lots of conservatives, the effort to separate Islam from terrorism was misguided.

Gerson gives Trump and Congress credit for the overhaul of the tax system but then dismisses it by saying that any other Republican president would have accomplished the same thing and passed an overhaul of Obamacare as well. That's pretty speculative. The main reason that the Obamacare repeal/replace effort failed is that Trump's victory caught Congress by surprise. The Republicans talked about replacing Obamacare with something better for years but never got around to drafting one until well into 2017. What they came up with was too hard to sell. It's hard to see how a different president could have saved that mess.

Gerson complains about Trump's disparagement of the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence organizations. While Bush (41) led the CIA at one point, they had little love for Bush (43). The CIA seemed to be gagging a covert operation against Bush (43) during the 2004 election when they leaked a constant stream of information that was critical of Bush. The FBI appears to have gone to lengths to clear Hillary Clinton of charges related to her private email server and at the same time pursued the Trump/Russia connection based on shaky evidence.

And Gerson also points out that Trump hasn't cut regulations. He simply ordered government employees to cut them. Newsflash, Micheal. That's how presidents do everything. The important thing here is that Trump did order cuts to regulations. He's the first president since Reagan to try to slow the growth of government. Regulations under both Bushes grew enormously. And we won't talk about what happened under Clinton and Obama.

Gerson complains about the reaction of foreign states to Trump. Again, he needs to look back at Bush (43) who was very poorly regarded overseas. That's how Republicans are treated.

Gerson is setting up a perfect Republican as a straw man argument.If only some other Republican had been elected then he'd have accomplished everything Trump did but without all the anger.The truth is that Trump is acting as the most conservative president since Reagan. He is more conservative than most of the other candidates, particularly Jeb!. He is hated by the Left but so was Reagan and the Bushes. The term Bush-derangement-syndrome was invented to explain how much the left hated W. Most of the things the Left says about Trump were also said about Reagan.

Trump was the strongest candidate and he is turning out to be a reliable conservative. Gerson should swallow his pride and accept that.