The Quarter Poll of the First Hundred Days: Leaks Flood Flynn Out

On Day 25 of the Era of President Trump, first of that name, some quick thoughts on the “resignation” of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn:

First, Flynn resignation reeks of “You can’t fire me, I quit.” He was on the way out. This way, he save a little face.

Second, forget all this Logan crap nonsense. The issue isn’t what was said and when it was said, but what happened after it all came to light. As Howard Baker noted, “It is almost always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble.”

I understand John Nance Garner once observed the Vice-Presidency was “not worth a bucket of warm piss”, but that doesn’t mean you get to lie to the Vice President. And no matter what euphemism you wish to use, Flynn lied to Vice President Pence when asked about his conversation with the Russian Ambassador. This is, to use a technical term, “a big no-no.”

Flynn was clearly no MENSA candidate. If you are going to speak by phone with the Ambassador from any country, never mind one which is not inherently friendly with the United States, shouldn’t you anticipate that call is going to be recorded by US Intelligence? Especially since you were the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency? I mean, given that Flynn was working at the DIA when Snowden happened, he of all people should know the NSA is the only government agent that listens to us. (Though pro-Patriot Act Congressman Devin Nunes gets the Louis Renault ” I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Award for his reaction).

Flynn put his boss, i.e. the President of the United States, in an untenable position. By lying to the Vice President, and possibly others, about what he did, Flynn essentially forced Trump to either back his VP or his National Security Advisor. If Trump had back Flynn, Pence would have been seen as having been cuckolded. And that would have caused no end of issues.

The spin from certain quarters of the administration has been amusing. The idea that Flynn’s hiring is solely the fault of Reince “Grand Moff” Priebus is laughable. Steve Bannon, currently auditioning for the role of Orson Krennic, is attempting to blame all of the failures of the administration at Priebus’s feet. Not only is Reince responsible for Flynn, but also allowing “sleeper cells” of Obama forces to remain in the White House (hint: there are no holdovers in the West Wing) and the roll out of the President’s ill-conceived and executed Immigration Executive Order. This is the money quote:

Specifically, multiple sources close to President Trump with internal knowledge of White House operations told Breitbart News on Monday night that the buck stops with Priebus when it comes to the botched rollout of the executive order temporarily banning most travel to the United States from seven nations with a history of exporting terrorism and temporarily halting the refugee program

(And not for nothing, but the Trump Administration is leaking worse than a California State Dam. Bannon may think he has the upper hand because of his tenure at Breibart, but Priebus is veteran hand of DC Swamp battles. Why do you think there are stories that Trump is upset by being portrayed on SNL as being manipulated by Bannon?)

All that being said, there is something disturbing about what happened and the way this came to light.

There are multiple reports that Flynn was being monitored independent of the Russian Ambassador. If that is true, why?

Who leaked this? This is important. Trump has made no secret of his distrust of the National Security apparatus. And there have been indications the National Security Apparatus doesn’t like being questioned. (See the whole “Golden Shower” incident). Was the Flynn leak part of the Deep State striking out at Trump? And how comfortable should Trump’s political opponents feel knowing the entrenched bureaucracy will do what it wants and punish any attempts by elected officials to reign in their powers and authority?

In the end, Flynn’s ouster is a good thing.

As National Review‘s Charles Cooke noted on Twitter this morning:

cooke

 

Beyond that, remember all of the claims the Russian engineered the election to a have a pro-Putin guy in the White House? Well, that just took a hit. The Ruskies cannot be happy that a pro-Russia guy was just shown the door. If the Foreign Policy wonks are to be believed, Putin now finds himself in a rather difficult bind.

Oddly, therefore, Putin has become a hostage to Trump’s survival and success. This has seriously restricted Russia’s geopolitical options. The Kremlin is perfectly aware that Democrats want to use Russia to discredit and possibly impeach Trump while Republican elites want to use Russia to deflate and discipline Trump. The Russian government fears not only Trump’s downfall, of course, but also the possibility that he could opportunistically switch to a tough anti-Moscow line in order to make peace with hawkish Republican leaders in Congress.

Now some of this is standard grade Russian conspiracy mind-set, but Putin is suddenly remembering the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Also, as noted before, “The best-case scenario for the Trump years has always been that he’ll kill the imperial presidency through sheer incompetence.” That still holds true. I understand Jason Chaffetz would rather spend a day with hostile “paid protestors” than have to investigate this mess. It’s clear the Utah Congressman (who was a vocal critic of Trump during the P****gate scandal during the election) wants to give Trump his 100 day honeymoon and give the administration a chance.

The pressure is growing for Congress to do its oversight job. Republican Senators are promising investigations into this. It would be far better for Chaffetz to convene some hearings. Not just on what Flynn did or did not do, but also on how this leaked and the implications. As Louis Brandeis said over a century ago:

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

It’s well past time to shine a spotlight on the Washington Swamp. This is as good a reason as any to start.

And counter-intuitively, Flynn’s removal is an encouraging sign from the Trump White House. The President is very sensitive to criticism, so Flynn going is going to make people criticize the President’s decision making qualities. That is in the short term. In the long term, however, this is a good thing. It means the President understands he made a mistake and acted quickly to cauterize the issue before it became a massive scandal. The President has a redo and he should use it. Given the high caliber quality of many of the President’s cabinet picks (DeVos at Education, Mattis as SecDef, Pruitt at EPA, etc.), Flynn was always something of a miss. He seemed to lack the management skills necessary for overseeing the National Security apparatus. Trump now has the ability to find someone who is highly qualified to fill one of the most important positions in his government.

Neil Gorsuch is the Best Libertarian Could Have Hoped For

Some thoughts on President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

1. Scalia Would Have Hated Trump

This occurred to me as I watched the announcement. Donald Trump is probably the last person Antonin Scalia would want as President. Trump’s persona is seemingly opposite of how Antonin Scalia conducted himself.

2. Almost on Time

The announcement was scheduled to occur at 8 pm EDT. President Trump appeared at the podium at 8:02 PM (at least according to my cable box’s clock). It’s been a while that a Presidential announcement happened the close to the announced time.

3. Gorsuch is the Best Libertarian Option

Last May, Trump presented a list of 11 Judges he said would make a good replacement for Antonin Scalia. Neil Gorsuch was not on that list. Saying that, Gorsuch is probably the best a libertarian could hope for in a nominee. He is as skeptical of Federal Power as Scalia was, including government action criminal law and Fourth Amendment Issues. He believes in a plain reading of the Constitution. He is even more Scalia than Scalia as Gorsuch believes the Chevron Test is probably too deferential to Federal Agencies. This would suggest Gorsuch would reduce the role of the Federal Government and restore more power to the states, allowing them to once again be Justice Brandeis’s “Laboratories of democracy”

What’s interesting is if you read the profile of Gorsuch on SCOTUSBlog by Eric Citron and Andrew Hamm, you get a view that is very different from the profile by Reason’s Damon Root. Whereas Hamm suggests Gorsuch has a nuanced view of issues such as Euthanasia, Root seems to find Gorsuch’s views mean he is staunchly ant-abortion. These are two very different readings of the same works and I’m not sure how you reconcile them.

Root’s colleague, Jacob Slocum, view is similar to mine, “If Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is in fact similar to Scalia’s, libertarians could do a lot worse.”

Is Gorsuch the prefect libertarian justice? No. But Trump is not a libertarian. And sometimes, a half a loaf is better than no loaf.

4. Sorkians Should Be Happy

You don’t know what a Sorkian is? These are people who own copies of Aaron Sorkin’s Guide to Virtue Signaling. They can quote all manner of Sorkinese statements from The West WingThe NewsroomSportsnight, etc. which generally espouse an enlightened view of Americana that lines up perfectly with Progressive Ideology (and often laments how misguided non-Democrats are). As it relates to the nomination of Judge Gorsuch,The West Wing episode “The Supremes” has President Bartlett nominate a conservative justice and a liberal justice to maintain a mythical balance of ideologies on the Court. If that is ideal Sorkian Supreme Court, then Gorsuch is a perfect fit. His judicial views are consistent with those of Justice Scalia. When he sits, the Court will have the same ideological make up as it did for the entirety of the Obama Presidency.

A. Democrats Are in A Bind

Chuck Schumer, within minutes of Gorsuch’s nomination, already announced he was voting against the Judge, employing the Grouch Marx “I’m Against It” reasoning. Democrats are threatening to filibuster the nominee in retaliation for the Republicans filibustering the nomination of Garland Merrick. This puts the Democrats on shaky ground for a number of reasons:

          B. The Next Presidential Election Is in Four Years.

The Republicans refusal to consider Garland was based on very sound principle: There was a general election in a few months. That election would decide the future direction of the Country. Let the people indicate which direction they preferred and then that President could nominate a suitable justice.

What is the Democratic argument? We just had an election, but let’s wait four years to see if the people change their mind? What if they reelect Trump? Then the argument would be… what? “Ok, best three out of four?”

           C.There Are More Democratic Senators Than Republicans Up for Reelection in 2018

The Senators (also known as “Class I” Senators) who are up for election next year were last in an election race in 2012, the year Obama was reelected. As a result, the Democrats have more seats to protect than the Republicans. There are 21 Democratic Senators, 8 Republicans (9 if Jeff Sessions in confirmed as Attorney General. Alabama would have a special election to fill his remaining term), and two Independents (though both Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) who caucus with the Democrats) whose seats are up for election.

Of those seats, the Democrats have what are considered “safe” seats in 12 races. (I would note Massachusetts is listed a safe Democrat seat. I think that is debatable. Elizabeth Warren is not that popular within Massachusetts. And if Governor Charlie Baker (R) ran against her, he could defeat her). That would mean they have to defend 10 seats in contested elections. Republicans have 6 safe seats (and probably 7 if you include Alabama). Which means if the GOP held all their safe seats and lost the two contested races (Arizona and Nevada), they would still hold their majority, 51-49.

Of those 10 contested seats Democrats have to hold, 8 are in states won by Trump in 2016, 1 by Clinton (New Jersey), and the split in Maine (though Maine is probably safely Democrat).

If the Democrats want to retake the Senate, they need to hold all of these seats. So, there is going to be a lot of pressure on many of these Senators to listen to the voters of their states and let Trump have his nominee. Rejecting or worse, filibustering could be politically damaging. Already West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III has indicated he will not support a filibuster.

          D. “They Did It First” Argument Doesn’t Impressive Everyday Americans

This is what Schumer is essentially arguing “The Republicans blocked our nominee, so we get to block theirs.” It sounds childish. And the American people will generally tolerate a lot of crap from their elected officials, but generally do not put up with them acting like 3 year olds.

          E. Do You Want This Fight Now?

As noted above, Gorsuch’s ascension to the Supreme Court will restore the status quo ante Scalia’s death. Nothing changes. Do Democrats really want to waste their powder on this battle?

Consider Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Notorious RBG is 83 years old and in less than ideal health. Many Progressives spent the last couple of years trying to convince her to retire from the Court to allow Obama to appoint a Progressive replacement. There is a decent chance she may retire (willingly or for health reasons) in the next couple of years. If that happens, Trump’s pick would alter the balance of the Court away from progressives even more.

If Schumer follows through on his threat to filibuster Gorsuch into oblivion, there will be a lot of pressure on Majority Leader McConnell to use the nuclear option and abolish the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. At that point, the Democrats would no leverage when it comes to the potential nomination of a Ginsberg replacement. Look at the battle over the President’s cabinet picks. The Democrats have no leverage on the nominations because they have no ability to block anyone. (Thanks Harry Reid!).

5. What Does This All Mean?

It means it’s Showtime!

How President Trump Turned Immigration Into a Retail Political Issue

Last week, President Trump issued his Executive Order on freezing refugee resettlement in this country. At first, it appeared the Order applied only to refugees seeking entry into this Country. While people may disagree with the policy, it had a certain logic. As I noted oh so long ago, the flaw in our refugee policy was the refusal of those in power to explain how and why we are taking the refugees.

Why is it so hard for politicians to tell the voters, a/k/a the people who elected them, why they should accept the refugees? Simply mouthing banalities such as “It is the right thing to do” is pointless. (If the Road to Hell is truly paved with good intentions, then “The Right Thing to Do” is surely engraved on one of the bricks.). It is not only pointless but also an admission by the speaker that s/he has no idea why this is, only that this is what “correct thinking” people say to one another. Such vacuous statements do not inspire confidence in leaders. It generates distrust and feelings that those in power are trying to pull a fast one. The belief that the current political parties care more for outsiders than citizens has a corrosive effect on the body politic.

I even noted that if you don’t do that, politicians will drive the people to those parties that will:

And if those in power won’t listen to the people, the people will turn to those who will. This is why the National Front, the Danish People’s Party, Freedom Party of Austria, Jobbik, etc. are all growing in political strength in Europe. In Germany, the Christian Socialist Union, by no-means a far right organization is showing nationalist tendencies as unease begins to grow. People are concerned, some frightened. And if responsible leaders will not address and allay those fears, others will exploit those concerns, often to the detriment of the citizenry.

The prior administration refused to do this. In fact, in 2015 the Obama Administration doubled down, even when Democratic governors want more transparency to convince citizens the vetting process was sufficiently rigorous:

On the call several Republican governors and two Democrats — New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan and California’s Jerry Brown — repeatedly pressed administration officials to share more information about Syrian refugees entering the United States. The governors wanted notifications whenever refugees were resettled in their states, as well as access to classified information collected when the refugees were vetted.

[White House Chief of Staff Denis] McDonough responded to Brown that there was currently no process in place to give states such information and the administration saw no reason to change the status quo.

So for at least 18 months, the government has failed to explain the vetting process. So it shouldn’t be that surprising that the new President campaigned on restricting refugee resettlement and has actually followed through on his campaign promise.

(As an aside, marvel at this CNN piece where the reporter seems absolutely gobsmacked that an elected official is actually following through on his campaign promises. Regardless of your opinion of Trump or his policies, isn’t it telling that a vow to do what a candidate promised is described as “an obsession”?)

Now had this been the end of the Executive Order, there would have been some harrumphing about the unfairness to refugees and nothing more. And in the early hours, that’s what you got. Progressives posting photos of the Syrian Child killed in 2014. (The photo which was the basis for this post.) What a child killed during the Obama years has to do with the current President eludes me. But in the long run, that was a moot point. The Trump administration not only screwed up the implementation of its Order, but they also turned up the incompetency to 11.

It turns out, the ban also included anyone from the seven designated countries, not just prospective refugees. (And it should be noted it was not Trump who designated the countries, but then-President Obama.) This meant people who had already been approved and were en-route to the US were now banned. Folks traveling on work or education visas were affected. It also meant people who were coming tothis country because they risked their lives to help the United States Military were denied entry. But more importantly, the ban included people who are Green Card Holders.

This is where sheer incompetency came into play. A lot of Americans know someone who has a green card. I have a sister in law who is in the United States on a Green Card. Whereas you may never meet a refugee resettled into this country, you will probably know a Green Card Holder. Trump’s policy became personal for a lot more people. Every one of those Green Card holders, even if they weren’t from those 7 countries paused and wondered if this could happened to them. It was these people and their friends and family who are American Citizens by birth and not the professional protesters who came out in droves to America’s airport to stand athwart history and yell, “Stop!”

(Aside #2: You know the government has fundamentally misread the mood in the country when people decide to willingly spend time in an airport.)

And it was not just in coastal cities such as New York and Los Angeles, but places like Nashville; Tennessee. All across Red State America, there were protests: Montana; Idaho; Nebraska; Utah; and so on. Even right-leaning legal blogs were expressing disbelief. The Federalist (which is admittedly conservative/libertarian) has already posted on the need for the Administration to fix the Order. Benjamin White over at the Lawfare blog has a very thoughtful take-down of the Executive Order from a conservative point of view and how eff’ed up it was implemented.

(Aside #3: One problem I saw on social media in reaction to White’s piece was the citations it had to CNN, NBC, etc. Pro-Trump folk dismissed these reports out of hand simply because of the long history of open bias against the President. This is what I have long been concerned would happen- people discounting news stories because of the source).

While some supporters of the Order claimed it didn’t cover Green Cards, the evidence on the ground showed the Border Patrol thought it did. Reality always trumps Theory. And if it wasn’t meant to apply to Green Cards, it’s not clear why it took Homeland Security until Sunday to issue a clarifying order on the topic.

(Aside #4: Proponents of the ban notes Customs does have the authority to approve exceptions on a case by case basis. Quick show of hands: do you think a nameless faceless bureaucrat is going take the easy route and simply deny a request? Or do you think said nameless faceless bureaucrat is going take the time to draft the documentation to support his/her reasoning for making an exception?)

Trump took what should have been a minor issue with little risk (and minimal newsworthiness) and turned it into a full blown political disaster. According to Real Clear Politics, as of this morning, his approval rating is underwater by  1.9 points. In the Gallup tracking poll, Trump has reached majority disapproval in record time. Rasmussen had Trump up 13 points this time last week. He has since dropped 11 points to 51/49. The ACLU raised $10 million dollars over the weekend. That’s more than it normally raises in a year. Say this for the President, he has managed to bring people together: Not only does Corey Booker disapprove of Trump’s Order, but so does former Vice President Dick Cheney. Most Republicans were forced to thread the needle of pointing out the need for better vetting while condemning the implementation of the ban. (Congressman Justin Amash being an exception. He came out forcefully against the ban).

Make no mistake about this: the fact you are not seeing full-throated defenses of the Executive Order is not a good sign for the President. Congressional Republicans, even in Red States, are noting the unpopularity of this action. They do not seem to be willing to follow path Democrats took in 2009 to blindly follow President Obama, political consequences be damned.

And given these facts, this would be a good time for good folk to reach across the aisle and work in a bipartisan manner. So of course, no one did that. Senate Democrats introduced a bill that had zero chance of success. Meanwhile, Obama appointee and Acting Attorney General (until Jeff Session is confirmed) Sally Yates decided to issue a directive to US Attorneys to not defend that law. And upon what grounds is this unprecedented step based upon? “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”

As Jonathan Adler noted:

Yates does not claim that she cannot defend the executive order because it is unconstitutional or because the Justice Department would be unable to offer good-faith arguments in defense of its legality. To the contrary, Yates claims she is ordering the Justice Department not to defend the executive order because it is not “wise or just.” This is quite significant. I am not aware of any instance in which the Justice Department has refused to defend a presumptively lawful executive action on this basis.

I agree with Adler. As an attorney, I find her reasoning dangerous. She is saying, in effect, “I don’t like the law, so don’t defend it. Had Yates come out and said, “This law is illegal based on the decision in X v. Y”, she would have had a more solid justification for her actions. And it really shouldn’t have been that hard. She could have used David Bier’s December 8, 2016 post at CATO’s website as a starting point. Or maybe this post from Caleb Kruckenberg.

Had she made arguments as to why the law was Unconstitutional, she would have had more support. Indeed, one of the favorites to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Judge William H Pryor, gave a lecture in 2014 that made clear his view that an Attorney General, whether Federal or State, elected, appointed, or acting, has no obligation to defend a law if he or she in good faith believes that law to be Unconstitutional. Nothing in Yates’s statement reaches that level. It is merely a statement that she doesn’t like that law, so she won’t follow it. And that’s why it was unsurprising she was fired.

What’s amazing is the number of people on the left who are supporting Yates for her refusal to obey the law. Was it really only three years ago Progressives were demonizing Kim Davis for her refusal to obey a law she didn’t like? If Yates is to be hailed as a latter day Thomas Moore, then Kim Davis must also be so lionized.

It is this “we will support people doing the wrong thing so long as they’re on our team” mentality that is causing so many of our political problems. This is why last week’s release by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit of its Democracy Index for 2016 is so troubling. For the first time, the United States was demoted from Full Democracy to Flawed Democracy. But, contrary to the belief of Progressives, it was not the election of Donald Trump or baseless claims of Russia rigging the vote that caused the demotion:

Popular trust in government, elected representatives and political parties has fallen to extremely low levels in the US. This has been a long-term trend and one that preceded the election of Mr Trump as US president in November 2016. By tapping a deep strain of political disaffection with the functioning of democracy, Mr Trump became a beneficiary of the low esteem in which US voters hold their government, elected representatives and political parties, but he was not responsible for a problem that has had a long gestation. The US has been teetering on the brink of becoming a “flawed democracy” for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped [to Flaw Democracy]

[emphasis added]

Trump was not the cause, but an effect. If you want to blame someone for the fall from grace, it would be those that have been in power for the last decade. As Jesse Walker has noted, “The best-case scenario for the Trump years has always been that he’ll kill the imperial presidency through sheer incompetence.”

The problem is, especially for libertarians, it is probably counter-productive for us to keep shouting out loud to Progressives who suddenly see the dangers of an all-encompassing Federal Government and Imperial Presidency, “Where the <bleep? were you for the last 8 years?” It is far better for us to get a migraine by screaming it only in our heads while smiling and saying, “Welcome to fight to reclaim the Constitution.”

Popehat’s How to Read News Like a Search Warrant Application

I generally don’t just outsource a blog post (except for when reblogging Booknados). But this morning I was reading a post over at Popehat. For those who are unfamiliar with the site, Ken White and a band of merry lawyers writing about the law, mainly First Amendment issues and Criminal Law, but other things as well. It is one of the three places I go to read analysis about the law. (The other two are the Volokh Conspiracy and SCOTUSBlog). As I was scrolling through, I came across a post by Ken White I had missed previously titled: How to Read News Like a Search Warrant Application.

You must read this. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the political spectrum. (And based on the people who have subscribed to this blog, you folks are all over the map). It is a good reminder that reading things that confirm what you want to hear or read doesn’t mean you are getting an accurate view of the world.

So please, go read it.

Four Days of Trump and the Eath Has Still Not Crashed Into the Sun

It’s Monday, the beginning of the first full week of the Age of the Donald. Despite the apocalyptic talk from Progressives, the world did not end when Donald Trump took the oath of office Friday. The left, for a group that seemingly despises religion, does like to go full Book of Revelations to describe the future every time they lose an election. But for most Americans, it was just the beginning of another work week. (Unless you’re a Patriots’s fan. Or a Falcons’s fan. Then your work week probably began with a slight spring in your step).

As for President Trump’s Inaugural Speech, it was definitely not your traditional “Let’s put aside our differences” style of speech that is normally given. And that defying of expectations ruffled a lot of feathers in the  pundit class. The recurring theme of the pundits to describe the speech involved the word “dark” or variations on the theme.

I listened to the speech. It was many things, but it wasn’t dark. This was a speech that was clearly targeted to those people who voted Trump, the “forgotten men and women”. It was a pledge to supporters, and a reminder to the DC political class, that there is a new sheriff in town. From a rhetorical point of view, it is a good speech. It did what it set out to accomplish. The theme was “Making America Great Again” and it delivered on that theme.

From a substantive point of view, the speech is not so good. The entire speech is a contradiction. President Trump stated:

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.

This is an accurate statement and it’s a good one. Americans want to be safe and free to do what they want for themselves and their families.But consider this passage:

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

Therein lies the problem. You cannot give Americans the freedoms they want, desire, and deserve if every economic decision is being made in Washington, DC. That was why Milton Friedman titled his defense of Free Market Capitalism Free to Choose. It doesn’t matter whether the decisions are made by President Trump or Chuck Schummer or whoever. If you want America to prosper, the government must do less not more.

If a company wants to set up shop in another country, the decisions of the American men and women who run and own the company should be respected. If you are concerned about the impact on the workers who have lost their jobs because the company moved, then consider the regulatory environment which led to the decision. Then the government should ask, “How can we reduce this burden?”

Trade has improved the lives of millions of Americans. It also improves the lives of citizens of our trading partners. And the better their lives become, the less likely they will seek to enter this country illegally to seek work. Restricting trade and forcing companies to stay in the United States will not make America great, it will lessen America by driving up the cost of American made goods. The more things cost, the less people can buy.

How the Administration will square that circle is left to be seen.

Saturday saw both the Women’s March on Washington and the first meeting of the Press with President Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

By any metric you want to use, the march was a success. Well, except for Madonna failing to realize the Secret Service does not consider a sense of humor to be an asset for its agents. There was a massive turnout in Washington as well as all across the country. All these people came together to protest…

Well in reality, I have no idea what they were protesting.

Donald Trump had, by the time the march/protest got under way, been President less than 24 hours. There was no policies enacted, decrees issued, or pronouncements that anyone could point to as to why the march was organized. This was simply a march by people who do not like President Trump and what they believe he means for our society and culture.

This is not a knock against the organizers or the participants. On the contrary, Saturday’s event needs to acknowledged. The organizers got 3+ million people to march for no tangible reason other than dislike of Trump’s perceived social stances. 3 Million people is nothing to sneeze at. This, not Occupy Wall Street, could be the Democrats’ answer to the Tea Party. But that is also the organizers’ weakness.

President Obama came to office, promising hope and change in a time of economic downturn and uncertainty. But other than a pork laden “shovel ready” stimulus bill, Obama and the democrats spent the 2009-2010 cycle social engineering. The most obvious example everyone can point to is Obamacare. But there was also Cash for Clunkers program which made it harder for lower income people to get jobs because it raised the price of used cars by reducing the supply. The Democrats also tried to social engineer housing policy. It was this attempt and CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s impromptu challenge to it that led to the creation of the Tea Party.

The Tea Party’s success in that election cycle was from those candidates campaigning only on fiscal issues. So, if the Trump Administration focuses like a laser beam on the economy and produces tangible results that benefit the American People, then the Republican Party should do OK in 2018 midterms. But if Trump & the GOP decide to follow the 2009 Democrat Playbook by concentrating on non-fiscal matters, the movement witnesses Saturday will be focal point for the Democrat Party resurgence and it will be ugly for the GOP.

The other thing Saturday saw was the rebirth of the Lamplighter Industry. For those not familiar with this group, during the Victorian Age, advances were made in chemistry that allowed the use of gas and coal to produce gas lamps. And every evening  men would go down the street, turning the lights on. This was where the term “gas lighting” originated.

In the 20th Century, the term gained new currency as a description of a form of mental abuse whereby one manipulates the subject into doubting his/her sanity by constantly misdirecting, contradicting, and lying to the subject. This use came from a 1938 play and the superb 1944 film adaptation starring Ingrid Bergman.

In the 21st century, gas lighting became a major political tool. The Obama Presidency applied it vigorously to claim those who opposed the President did so only because they were insane:

A “gaslighting” strategy would be a subtle variation of David Plouffe’s “stray voltage” gambit–under which the Obama White House provokes legitimate controversy, perhaps by releasing questionable, Pinocchio-baiting statistics (e.g. women earn 77 cents what men earn), in order to keep an issue in the public eye. Here the administration would provoke a controversy that’s so legitimate, and behave so maddeningly, that it distracts from issues the administration wants out of the public eye–all while it makes Republicans seem unappealing obsessed with the side issue.

The Trump Administration has taken the Obama Administration’s techniques and refined them. Bigly. So when you see the  utterly bizarre Presser on Saturday where Sean Spicer claimed that President Trump’s Inauguration was the largest in history and by implication, larger than the opposition march, the Press Secretary is acting as a Lamplighter. And the internet was the gaslight, exploding with incredulity.

(I give Spicer full credit for saying something so demonstrably untrue with a straight face).

That is all folks have been discussing. Which seems to be the point. Progressives and their media allies have gone absolutely overboard in responding. Some are applauding CNN for not covering the Presser live. No one seems to realize this is exactly what this administration wants. When news outlets announce they won’t show press interactions live, but will only show what they want to show, it reinforces the view the press is biased and not the neutral arbiters they claim to be. The media has neutered itself as the institution to hold politicians accountable.

Now as noted above, many on the left went full “End Times” on the existence of President Trump, his speech and the dangers of his administration. There were the inevitable comparisons to Hitler and such. There was an outbreak of violence by some elements of the left. And it appears many of those who were arrested following the rioting are looking at serious jail time for their actions. The phrase Alternative Facts was used to described Spicer’s comments. But it also applies equally to the Left and the Media.

A lot was made Friday of how the Trump Administration had purged the White House website (WhiteHouse.gov) of all reference to LGBT issues and Climate Change, etc. Except they didn’t. As the Obama Administration noted, eighty-one (81) days ago, once President Trump assumed office, the Obama White House website was removed and archived and the Trump Administration began building their website. In other words, everything that happened Friday was part of the transition and fully anticipated and expected. There was no grand conspiracy.

Progressives are also gaslighting themselves. There is the following meme making the rounds on social media:

sally

 

Progressives have responded with their own version:

progressive-sally

As noted before, the Left has decided to ignore reality and opt for Alternative Facts where they are always correct. The Progressive version of Sally shows what Leftists are:

They.Are.Bigots.

What? You think I’m wrong? Let’s look at the Merriam Webster definition:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

By deciding that anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, xenophobe, the left is acting intolerant to those who disagree with them and lumping them all into a single group.

The biggest danger the new Administration’s gaslighting approach is his supporters are being swept up by it, arguing and defending the ridiculous. Gas lighting is successful when your opponents look unhinged by obsessing on the trivial. If your supporters go to the wall for the trivial, it diminishes the effect.

As an example, by any objective criteria (photographic evidence, metrorail usage, television ratings), the attendance at Trump’s inauguration was smaller than Obama’s. And it is not that surprising. Barack Obama’s election was a cultural milestone: the first non-Caucasian to be President of the United States. His reelection was also a milestone. People want to be there for major cultural events.

President Trump’s swearing in was not a major cultural event. The need for people to be there wasn’t as great. (However, if the Trump Presidency is a success, a lot of people in the future will claim to have been there, much like Woodstock). It also doesn’t matter if fewer people came to Washington to see President Trump than saw President Obama. Even if only 1 person showed up to see it, Donald Trump would still have become President.

Trump supporters were going full Zapruder in showing how the pictures really show millions of people in attendance and twenty-five people at the Saturday march. I lived in DC is the early to mid ’90s. There is no way you could have 250,000 people on the Mall at 11:04 am and then have over a million and a half appear by 11:30 am. The transportation infrastructure simply isn’t equipped for such surges.  

Trump supporters must remember the most important rule of politics: when your opponent is digging a hole, don’t help. When the press is going bat-crap crazy over the latest outrageous comment made by the Trump administration, don’t pull out the Powerpoint Slides to show why Trump is right and the press is wrong. Instead, channel the spirit of candidate Ronald Reagan: smile, shake your head in amazement at your opponent’s foolishness and say, “There you go again.”

 

Democrats Are the Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts of Traal

Because of the publishing of Freedom’s Light, I have been in a literary frame of mind. The Country is now in month 3 of Democrats whining and complaining because Hillary Clinton lost to the second worst candidate ever to be nominated by a major political party. Progressives are still in denial and still trying to explain away how they managed to blow the most easily winnable election since 1936. All the talk about respecting the election outcome has pretty much been forgotten. Incidentally, this pre-election tweet from CNN’s Sally Kohn hasn’t really aged well, has it?

kohn

Having blamed everyone but Hillary Clinton for losing to Donald Trump and that tactic not really gaining any traction, other than to have more 1) Democrat Electoral Voters vote for someone other than Clinton on December 19th and 2) Democrats believe the fake news that Russia altered ballots than Republicans ever believed Obama was not born in this Country, angry Democrats and Progressives are trying a new tactic: ignore reality. Some, such as George Takei, are calling on people to unfollow Donald Trump on Twitter.

Others, such as Congressional Democrats, are boycotting the Inauguration Ceremony. It was this news that caused me to realize Democrats and Progressives are essentially the Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts of Traal.

For those of you who have not read, the late, great Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal can be stopped easily:

A towel [can be used to] avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a brush, but very very ravenous)

Democrats are working on the assumption that if they don’t see or hear Donald Trump get sworn in, then it didn’t really happen. There is no other rational explanation for their actions. (And these are, after all, people who claim to be members of the reality based party and pine for the mythical land of Rationalia). It’s a bold strategy. But it is also stupid and self defeating.

But it is also unsurprising. It is part and parcel of Progressives’ mind-set: mistaking their opinions for facts. Meryl Streep decries people watching football instead of Hollywood films and suggests this is why Trump won and progressives laud this statement, made to a room full of people who agree with her as speaking truth to power. (Speaking truth to power would be admitting making anti-gun films such as Miss Sloane, is something the American people do not want to see). Journalists have fits when asked if they know anyone who drives a pick-up truck. A CEO living in San Francisco tells people living in the Mid-West that they are the problem with this country, unless and until they adopt San Francisco values. You would think by now they would realize denigrating their opponents is not how you persuade.

The mainstream media isn’t doing themselves or their progressive allies. In the immediate aftermath of the election, the press began the drumbeat against fake news. The media seemed to see this as a way of discrediting anything that went against their world view that Clinton would win. Trump won, the media claimed, because of fake news stories. There was even the creation of the hashtag #FakeNews. The Washington Post then ran a “news” story about the fake news factory funded by Russians that aided Trump’s victory…. And then it had to admit that the “facts: in the story were fake. Then the Washington Post on December 30th, breathlessly reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the Vermont Power Grid. Then on the 31st, the Post had to admit that 1) the reporter never actually talked to anyone at Vermont Power grid and 2) the grid wasn’t hacked. There was Russian malware on a laptop owned by the power company. And on January 1st, the Post acknowledged the malware wasn’t actually Russian, but a common form of malware. Within three days the Post’s big scoop turned out to be nothing.

The claims by unnamed sources within the intelligence community of the “proof” of Russian interference has boiled down to a story on Russian Television mentioning Americans were dissatisfied with the choices the Democrats and Republicans gave them in 2016 campaign and the debate RT held for the third-party candidates; and a list of http addresses that are outdated. Not only do these “intelligence” reports lack a smoking gun, there isn’t even smoke. Hell, there aren’t even two sticks which, if rubbed together, could produce smoke. The Buzzfeed “news story” about the alleged dossier the Russians have on Trump was so laughably fakenews, CNN had to chastise them. It has become so clear Progressives and the media are peddling fakenews to discredit Trump that Progressives are now calling for the term “fakenews” to be retired.

And yet Progressives and the Media have gone to war with the incoming President and act surprised when he fights back. Consider this exchange: John Lewis verbally attacks Trump, calling him an illegitimate President. Trump fires back. A kerfuffle ensues and Trump is the one accused of being divisive. Calling the duly elected President illegitimate is divisive and the media’s refusal to acknowledge this only going to play into Trump’s hand. As the great twitter wit David Burge (who goes by the handle @Iowahawkblog noted today:

Iowahawk.png

While this is all humorous, there is a danger to the press’ irresponsibility As the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald noted:

There is a real danger here that this maneuver could harshly backfire, to the great benefit of Trump and to the great detriment of those who want to oppose him. If any of the significant claims in this “dossier” turn out to be provably false — such as Cohen’s trip to Prague — many people will conclude, with Trump’s encouragement, that large media outlets (CNN and BuzzFeed) and anti-Trump factions inside the government (CIA) are deploying “Fake News” to destroy him. In the eyes of many people, that will forever discredit — render impotent — future journalistic exposés that are based on actual, corroborated wrongdoing.

The lack of self-awareness in someone is problematic. When it infects those who claim to be unbiased reporters of news, it is dangerous.

Donald Trump, barring some catastrophic disaster between now and noon on Friday, is going to be President for the next four years. If Progressives don’t want Trump in office for eight years, they need to stop being Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts. They need to accept reality.

FREEDOM’S LIGHT PUBLISHED! The CFLA January Booknado! Lots to Read

Welcome to 2017.

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last month moving house and so have been somewhat negligent in blogging. That will be rectified starting this week.

But until then…

Freedom’s Light is now published!

freedoms-light

I was lucky enough to have a story published in this anthology. It is an honor and a privilege to have my story published with those of Nick Cole (whom I wrote about last year regarding the attempts by his publishing house to blacklist him), Brad Torgersen, Daniella Bova, Arlan Andrews and others. Even if you don’t care for Polk’s Prophetic Property, you will like the other tales.

All of the contributors to Freedom’s Light are members of the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.  Nick Cole has also a new piece that helps explain why the CFLA is necessaryAnd today is also CLFA’s January Booknado.

So, until the next Fermenting Politics blog is posted, read Freedom’s Light and take a look at the January Booknado offerings:

Stale, formulaic, establishment fiction cannot resist this gale-force gust of alternative storytelling. Why let Big Publishing’s cabal of easily-triggered Brooklynites decide what you get to read? Decide for yourself! Don’t let cabin fever set in – open your mind and entertain your intellect with some fresh selections from this month’s CLFA Booknado! New Releases Freedom’s Light: Short Stories […]

via New books! Kindle deals! It’s the January CLFA Booknado! — Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance