“Wiretapping”

“The press takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
”  — Salena Zito

When Donald Trump claimed “Trump Tower had been wiretapped”, the media – awash in images of sweaty, donut-dust-stained cops hunched over in a 1974 Ford Econoline amid amplifiers and reel to reel tape decks, concentrating on conversations through headphones.  And they laughed – nobody’s done that since the ’80s!  Har di har!

Roger Simon connects some  dots – inconvenient ones, for the agenda-driven media:

What appears at this writing is that Trump transition team members and possibly Trump himself had their identities revealed, were “unmasked” in the parlance, while foreign diplomats were being surveilled. The identities of American citizens were not sufficiently “minimized,” as they are required to be by law. This is a crime one would assume would put the perpetrators in prison. So far it hasn’t. More than that, such behavior is a grave threat to a free society, to all of us.

In effect, Trump was wiretapped — if not in the corny, old sense of the word, something very close. Technologically, he was wiretapped, as were several (actually many) others.

A fair amount of this happened not long before Barack Obama suddenly changed the rules regarding raw intelligence, for the first time ever allowing the NSA to share its data with 16 other intelligence agencies, thus making the dissemination of said data (i. e. leaking) many times more likely. That was done on January 12, 2017, just three scant days before Trump’s inauguration. Why did the then president finally decide to make that particular change at that extremely late date, rather than on one of the previous seven years and three hundred fifty-three days of his presidency? You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes or Watson to smell a rat. Something’s rotten somewhere — and it’s not Denmark.

The whole thing is worth a read.

NPR On Al Capone’s Vault Trump’s Tax Return

On “Morning Edition”.

NPR Reporter:  “…if it weren’t for the “Alternative Minimum Tax”, Trump would have paid a net tax rate of 3%”.

NPR Anchor:  “Right – but there was an alternative minimum tax, and he paid a net rate of about 25% – considerably higher than Barack Obama and double what Bernie Sanders paid.  So why the pointless “what if?”   You’re “reporting” a complete nothingburger, here.”

(UPDATE:  The anchor never said any of that.  It was just a dream.  The “reporter’s” line is pretty accurate, though).

Collateral Moral Damage

In 1933, after a decade and a half of tumultuous politics that frequently turned into street violence, the German “Reichstag” (parliament) empaneled a cabinet led by Adolf Hitler to run things. Hitler’s “Nazi” party was not the biggest party in the Reichstag – they’d actually lost seats in the most recent round of elections – but they were in a strategic political position.

While the Nazis are (mostly mistakenly) called “far right”, the interesting thing is that the “Hitler Cabinet” had about as much support from Communists and Socialists as it did from the populist and “conservative” (which meant monarchists and Catholics, at the time) blocs in the Reichstag. Both sides – Communist and Monarchist – had the same reason to support the Nazis taking control of a coalition government; a bunch of populist extremists with a private army of thugs would drive the German middle to the Left or the Right. That is most extremists’ first goal; make the center untenable.

It backfired on the brilliant minds of the Reichstag, of course; Hitler, promising an end to divisive politics from all sides, forged “Unity” (by co-opting, neutralizing, exiling or killing the geniuses who’d put him in power); his cabinet led the entire world to war seven years later.

The only thing worse than “divisive” politics is no politics at all.

Keep that in mind when you see episodes like those last Saturday at the MN State Capitol, where masked thugs attacked Pro-Trump demonstrators, or two weeks ago at Berkeley, or…well, the list is going on and on and on, even now. I’ve seen more than a few people on social media, no doubt angry and frustrated, exclaim how they’d like to be at the next such rally, to break some heads (and I’ll confess, in my heart of hearts, the thought’s crossed my mind, at least for a moment before I chased it out).

Just like 85 years ago, that plays into the hands of the *real* extremists. Extremists are happiest when they’re creating more extremists – and it doesn’t even matter whose side those extremists are on. And then, when the vast middle gets sick of “politics”, and turn to someone who’ll just bring “order”…

…well, I’d say “we know where this leads”, but all too many Americans really really don’t.

I’ll Have A Merlot With My Derangement This Evening

I caught this on MPR last week; arts reporter Marianne Combs’s piece on the new season at the Guthrie, featuring the new “Trump Derangement” theme:

This fall, the Guthrie will stage Lillian Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine.” The show deals with the rise of fascism on American soil at the start of World War II, but Haj says it feels startlingly relevant today.

“There’s a line in the play that says something like, ‘We don’t send people back — we’re Americans. That’s not what we do.’ And that line was written in 1941,” Haj said. “The reason we do the classics is not to look at plays or stories under glass; it’s to understand that many of these classic texts have absolute resonances to our current times.”

The Guthrie follows “Watch on the Rhine” with Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” which at first might seem like a non sequitur. But Haj explained that Noel Coward, a contemporary of Hellman, wrote the play at the onset of World War II.

The message – “we, the Guthrie’s artistic directors, believe we’re living in times just like 11933 Germany; we believe our audience is like the British of 1940, who need something to take their mind off being firebombed every night”.

But don’t dare accuse anyone of Trump derangement!

It’s Only Satire…

until it’s not.

I say that, because it’s a phenomenon that is verging on being a “Berg’s Law”; today’s jokes about the behavior of liberals are tomorrow’s news stories about the behavior of liberals.  I have no doubt that someone in the comment section will, before long, post an article from Mother Jones or Raw Story that reads like the link above – but non-fiction.

The Better Mousetrap

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Everybody knows the federal budget is out of control.  So how about thinking of creative ways to save money?  Here’s one:

 The Third Amendment says: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

 A member of ISIS fleeting war-torn Syria is no longer a soldier, he’s now a refugee, so there’s no constitutional prohibition to Trump issuing an Executive Order requiring homeowners to take in former ISIS soldiers and provide them with food and shelter, at the homeowner’s expense.  The refugees’ extended families can join them, if the house is big enough.

 I recommend we start with people who oppose Trump’s immigration orders.  Why not?  How can they refuse to help?

 Joe Doakes

Reinforcing consequences for actions?

What’ll happen next?

Assyle ‘Em!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Canada will not crack down on asylum seekers sneaking across from the USA, the borders will remain open.

 This is great news for us.  Trump ought to announce that starting March 1st, the federal government will be renting busses to give free rides to the northern border, for any undocumented immigrant, illegal alien or asylum-seeking refugee who wants to live in Canada.   We’ll drive you to the border and drop you off so you can waltz into paradise, no questions asked.

 Limited time offer: expires at 11:59 p.m. on June 30th.  Starting on July 1st, anybody caught in the USA will be sent to holding facilities in the desert outside Phoenix until their court hearing and, if found to be illegal, will be instantly driven to the border and dumped into Mexico.

 Wonder how many takers he’d get?

 Joe Doakes

I think I’d forgive an element of force for those Hollywood celebs who promised to move.

A Modest Question

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I was promised by every Liberal in the nation that if Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education, she would end public education.

 She got confirmed earlier this week.  So why were there so many school busses on the road this morning, blocking up traffic?  Shouldn’t those kids be sitting at home, stultifying in ignorance?

 Joe Doakes

We were also supposed to be at war with the Soviets…er, Russians.

No, wait, that was Hillary.  Never mind.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A good way to tell whether a pundit or citizen understands the field of risk management well enough to critique Trump’s performance is to ask how they view his history of bankruptcies. If a person thinks those bankruptcies are a sign of poor management, they probably don’t know much about business. But if they understand the few bankruptcies – out of hundreds of projects – as part of a diversification strategy with good risk management that siloed off the losers, you might be seeing someone who understands business.

 From Scott Adams on the Dilbert blog

 I would tend to agree – most commentators have no idea how Trump is operating, only that he’s not doing what the traditional politicians normally do, and it bewilders them.

  Joe Doakes

The intellectual ossification of this nation’s self-appointed “elites” never ceases to astound.

If The Media Didn’t Have Double Standards Yadda Yadda Yadda

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Ivanka went on a date while Liberals were busy protesting in airports.  How dare she?  She should be wearing sack cloth and ashes to atone for the sins of the man who was elected to do what he is doing.

Two thoughts: first, what happened to the “Leave the Children Out of It” policy regarding Presidential offspring?  She’s not the President, she’s not out there making stump speeches for him, she’s not responsible for what he says or does.  Leave her out of it.

 Second, the reaction is quite a contrast to the total silence when The Light Bringer was golfing, or beaching, or just lazing about watching the playoffs as soldiers got killed or ambassadors dragged through the streets.  Almost as if there’s some sort of, I dunno, maybe a double standard?

 Joe Doakes

I’m pretty convinced that:

  1. The Democrats’ current messaging strategy is “just say whatever we need to, because gullible peoples’ votes count as much as anyone’s.  Consistency, logic and ethics are for those square-state rubes”.
  2. The big media are just fine with that, and playing along with enthusiasm.

Apex

If Donald Trump never does another single good thing in office, or if he falls down an elevator shaft tomorrow (heaven forfend), he will have accomplished the one solitary hope I, and a lot of conservatives, had for a Trump adminsitration:  appointed a worthy successor to Antonin Scalia. in Neil Gorsuch:

As Gorsuch put it (in Cordova v. City of Albuquerque), the Constitution “isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams . . . , but a carefully drafted text judges are charged with applying according to its original public meaning” (emphasis added). In his one foray as a National Review Online contributor, in 2005 (before he took the bench), Gorsuch lamented that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”

Music to my ears.

Senate Republicans:  Screw this up at your peril.

Who else thinks Gorsuch is a good, “mainstream” choice?  This conservative talking head.

The New Praetorian Guard

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Senior Secret Service agent doesn’t like Trump, says he’s a disaster for the country, wouldn’t take a bullet for him.

 So?  Plenty of other work for Secret Service agents.  Anti-counterfeiting investigations in Alaska.  Running down people in Alabama who make on-line threats against the President.  She’s the special agent in charge of the Denver district so she coordinates advance teams when the President comes to town – that experience would be particularly valuable in case he decides to visit Iceland . . . maybe she spends the next couple of years checking sight lines and roof tops over there?

 This is the Deep State, bureaucrats who are supposed to be neutral and honestly serve the public without regard to who won the election.  But the IRS was happy to go after conservatives, government lawyers readily lie to federal judges, intelligence agencies are leaking obvious propaganda and now this woman decides her oath was personally to The Won, not generally to the job.  

 Drain the swamp. 

 Joe Doakes

It’s time for all those government workers who said they’d quit if Trump won to be held to it.

Fake Economic News

As Joel Kotkin points out, Donald Trump faces two major hurdles.  One is the structural mess Barack Obama left; a shallow, fragile “prosperity” (nonetheless called a “boom” by the Democrat media) built on hoarding low-interest cash.

The second?  The perception that the media is pumping out that this potemkin prosperity is actually a “boom” (emphasis added):

Yet this is more a matter of perception than reality, a kind of “fake news.” To be sure, President Barack Obama inherited a disastrous economy from George W. Bush and can claim, with some justification, that on his watch millions of jobs were restored and the economy achieved steady, if unspectacular, growth. Under Obama average GDP growth has been almost twice as high as under his predecessor, but roughly half that of either President Reagan or Clinton.

(And, lest anyone forget, “under Clinton” really means “under Gingrich”, since Clinton showed every sign of being no  better than Obama for his first two years).

Less appreciated, however, are the fundamental long-term weaknesses in the U.S. economy that Obama and Bush have left for Trump. A recent report from the U.S. Council on Competitiveness details a litany of profound, lingering flaws — historically slow growth, rising inequality, stagnant incomes, slumping productivity and declining lifespans. As the report concludes: “The Great Recession may be over, but America is dangerously running on empty.”

Like everything by Kotkin, it’s worth a read.

Am I The Only One…

…who wonders if all of this hysterical angst from the Left about having to share a democracy with people who disagree with them isn’t just an epic practical joke?

Like, the entire American left (or at least those that pull their intellectual strings) playing a huge joke on all of society?   Like, Ashton Kutcher is going to go on all six networks (counting Univision) and say “Dudes and Dudettes, you’ve been punked?”

I mean, reading this little tirade, it seems more and more plausible.   This person just can’t be for real.

Help me out, people.

Deciding Question

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My Facebook friends are still losing it about Trump.  Now the persistent theme is that his Cabinet appointments are rich people who know nothing about their departments; or worse, they do know something but it’s the wrong thing.

 The woman appointed as Secretary of Education sent her kids to private school.  So that means she knows nothing about public schools?  No, dummy, it means she could see what a complete disaster public schools are so she pulled her kids out to give them a chance at a decent education.  She’s taken the top education job to try to reform public education into what private education already is.

 The guy in charge of the Labor Department opposes the minimum wage.  Yeah, him and every other competent economist.  So what’s your complaint: he has a brain and isn’t afraid to use it? 

 The Marine we just put in charge of the military isn’t sensitive, he’s confrontational.  Oh for crying out loud, confrontation is the whole point of a War Department.  Those aren’t all “participation ribbons” on his chest: at least one is an award for heroic bravery in combat.  That’s the kind of leadership the military desperately needs nowadays.

 For all the whining and complaining, nitpicking and second-guessing, the issue still comes down to the same issue that decided the election.  Is he Hillary yet?  No?  Still not Hillary?  Okay, good to go.  Carry on.

 Joe Doakes

And to the left, the question is, “is he appointing liberals, after having beaten them?”

Almost Official

The electoral college confirmed what everyone but the most deluded of Democrats already knew:  Donald Trump is the President-Elect.

There was some drama; a total of six electors – four Democrats from Washington State, two Republicans from Texas – broke ranks and voted for other people:

In the end, however, more Democrats than Republicans went rogue, underscoring deep divisions within their party. At least four Democratic electors voted for someone other than Clinton, while two Republicans turned their backs on Trump.

With nearly all votes counted, Trump had clinched 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227, according to an Associated Press tally of the voting by 538 electors across the country.

“I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans,” Trump said in a statement responding to the results.

This won’t end the Democrats’ attempts to  affect the Electoral College process – when Congress meets on January 6 to officially count the votes, I fully expect Illinois to gin up 300 electoral ballots.

And they will no doubt redouble their efforts to abolish the Electoral College.   Hopefully this election will end all talk of the National Popular Vote on the GOP side of the aisle, at least.

Changing Standards

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Leon Panetta, Big-shot Democrat, Clinton pal and former CIA Director time-server, says Trump will be blamed for an attack on the United States if he skips regular intelligence briefings.
So is Leon guaranteeing that Trump will NOT be blamed for an attack, if he DOES attend regular intelligence briefings? Hard to believe, given the way Democrats blamed Bush for 9/11 and Bin laden, even though the set-up for those disasters occurred entirely on Bill Clinton’s watch.
And even harder to believe, given the way Democrats still chant “Bush lied, people died” which rests on the foundation that “faulty intelligence” sucked us into the War in Iraq. Democrats insist nobody should have believed those intelligence briefings, so why should Democrats insist we believe the current ones?
In nearly 8 years of The Won proudly getting his news from the NYT, repeatedly stating that he wasn’t aware of anything until he read it there, skipping briefings routinely, when did Democrats ever demand that he pay attention? What’s changed?
Joe Doakes

To the left, reality isn’t a state; it’s a construct.

We Tried To Warn You

Oh, yes, liberals.  We did.

When the President started going crazy on the number and scope of his executive orders, we we warned you; “y’all might not control the White House forever.  You might not want to set that precedent”.

But you did.

And when Dingy Harry Reid tubed the filibuster, we warned you; “this is one of those traditions that has served to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority for longer than anyone can remember”, you laughed and shot the filibuster in the head.

They did it – do you remember this? – because they weren’t getting their way fast enough for their petulant adolescent tastes!

Let’s flash back to 2013:

“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I believe they are right,” Reid said Thursday on the Senate floor. “The need for change is so very, very obvious.”…

“I’ve sat on the Judiciary (Committee) for 20 years and it has never, ever been like this. You reach a point where your frustration just overwhelms and things have to change,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who had previously opposed efforts to change filibuster rules but voted with Reid on Thursday. “I think the level of frustration on the Democratic side has just reached the point where it’s worth the risk.”

So the Democrats, in a tantrum as shortsighted as that of any teenager, blew up the filibuster.  

Today?  The hangover is setting in:  

Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.) said on CNN Tuesday that he regrets the rule change Senate Democrats made to the nomination process.

“The filibuster no longer acts as an emergency brake on the nomination,” Coons said….“I do regret that. Frankly I think many of us will regret that in this congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break [sic], to have in our system to slow down the confirmation of extreme nominees,” Coons said.

The problem, as I see it?  Too many Republicans are too compassionate, and absorbed the lessons they used to teach people about “good sportsmanship” and “being a good winner” as well as losing with grace (which we’ve done so much of we’re out of practice being “good winners”).   We have been loathe to pound home the fruits of the victories we’ve gotten (although the GOP’s idiot consulting class has a lot to do with that too).

But compassion must be tempered with teaching the Democrats a lesson.  We have federalism, and the traditions that up until Reid’s tantrum, protected the minority from the depredations of the majority.

So yes, GOP – we do need to make this a painful lesson for the Democrats.  We do  need to empanel a generation of conservative judges (to roll back the damage Obama did to the federal judiciary).  We do need to use this mandate that the people gave us in Congress to make the changes you were sent to make.

For the Democrats’ own good.

We tried to teach them about limited government the easy, comfy way.

Now it’s time to teach them the hard way.

Conservatives In The Mist

Google is reaching out to hire something foreign, and a little scary, to them.

Conservatives:

In the weeks since the Nov. 8 election, Google has ramped up efforts to hire Republican lobbying firms and in-house lobbyists to change the composition of its Washington office, according to three lobbyists with knowledge of the matter.

The company also posted an advertisement for a manager for conservative outreach and public policy partnership, seeking a “liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups.”

I’m available to serve as a conservative-to-Silicon-Valley interpreter.

I offer the same service to the Twin Cities media.  Have your people call my people.

For a price.

Faster!

The progressive chattering classes are all in a tizzy because many of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees are long-time opponents of the departments they’ve been chosen to lead:

  • Rick Perry at Energy – who has advocated disbanding the entire department and reducing a cabinet seat
  • Ben Carson at HUD, who has criticized federal housing
  • Betsy DeVos at Education – a major proponent of school choice and degrading the government monopoly on education
  • Scott Pruitt at the EPA, an agency against whom he’s spent years litigating
  • Andy Puzder at Labor, who would oppose most “progressive” labor regulations
  • Tom Price at HHS, who advocates rolling back Obamacare.

The chattering classes are all aflutter.  Perhaps because most of these departments are nothing but make-work programs for worthless Ivy Leaguer poli sci grads like, well, themselves.

Or perhaps because the American people might just support it:

And that leads us to the really burning question: Will anyone miss those departments if they go away?

We could try to answer that question by diving into the bitterly partisan political and economic debate over the size of government that’s been dividing people in this country since the days of Jefferson and Hamilton. Or we could wisely dump that academic argument and realize that the answer lies in how well the Trump team manages to make sure the changes get noticed by normal voters in a positive way. In politics, perception truly is reality.

And Trump, for all his faults, gets that better than most other Republicans.  For worse or, when it comes to slashing the size and power of the Federal Government ,much much better.

Well, Doy

The WashEx asks if Trump is already president:

With weeks to go until he takes office, Trump’s moves have tested the limits of his unofficial powers as the president-in-waiting. And although his activism has drawn scrutiny from detractors, his favorability ratingshave hit new heights on the heels of several high-profile successes.

“I don’t think it’s normal for a president-elect to be out and about like this, but this is the era of Trump, and he is literally rewriting the rules,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

My answer?  Why not?  Obama’s been semi-retired for the past two and a half years.