It’s Almost June and We Still Have Snowflakes [Updated]

So by now, you are aware of the kerfuffle regarding Kathy Griffin and her… joke/performance art/cry for help. Ms. Griffin will almost assuredly have a couple of Secret Service Agents dropping by for coffee, much like Madonna did just after the inauguration. So, let’s get these facts out of the way:

  1. What Griffin Did Was Not Funny
  2. The Secret Service Does Not Consider a Sense of Humor to be an Asset to the Job.
  3. What Griffin Did Was Stupid

Beyond that…. Why is this a big deal?

Is there a certain level of media hypocrisy in underplaying Griffin’s actions as opposed to… oh, I don’t know, say creating a national incident over a rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask? Yes. Indeed, a Hell Yes would be accurate. But this isn’t new. Everyone knows this. Getting outraged at this is like getting outraged at the sun rising in the East or a Tiger going Tiger. Why are we getting hysterical over something we already know to be true?

Honestly, this is not really a threat to the President. No one is going to go all Guiteau because Kathy Griffin inspired them. If Kathy Griffin had the ability to convince people to kill, she would not have been Joan Rivers’s answer to Joey Bishop. She wouldn’t be a D-List celebrity telling unfunny jokes to an increasingly uncomfortable Anderson Cooper on CNN every New Year’s Eve. She wouldn’t have been the spokesperson for Squatty Potty.

And yet to judge by the social media circles of conservatives, they seem to be in a bit of melt down over this. They find what Griffin did to be mean and unfair and these folks need a safe space to be protected from Griffin’s meanness. These conservatives are in fact, becoming Snow Flakes.

Now, just like Leftist Snowflakes, it’s not really their fault that they think they have the right to be shielded from unpleasant facts. They can point to the success from their Leftist colleagues have had in being protected from wrong think and point out “I learned it from watching you!“.  Plus, our education system does a piss poor job of teaching American History. If we did a better job, these folks would realize American Politics is rather tame in comparison when men were men and women were women and everyone walked 20 miles, uphill, in snow, to get anything done. You know, the days when America Was Great. Back then politics was a rough and tumble contact sport.  Someone holding up a pretend head of a politician you like gives you the vapors? Geez, they used to routinely burn effigies of candidates they didn’t like. Politicians these days never had it so good.

Again, it is beyond cavil that what Griffin did was stupid, unfunny, and tasteless. She apologized for her actions and she was fired as the spokesperson for Squatty Potty. Isn’t that enough?

(And I mean really, at this point Griffin needs to take a time out and examine the choices she has made in her life that led her to believe being a celebrity spokesperson for something called Squatty Potty was a good idea.)

The point is for people to stop deciding every damn thing is a hill worth dying for. Screaming up and down about the media’s double standard on this topic isn’t worth it. Especially when she apologized for what she did. Kathy Griffin doesn’t need to be fired by CNN for what she did. I mean personally, I would rather watch the fake disembodied head and the statue of the dog pissing on fearless girl than endure another edition of Cooper/Griffin. She is simply not important enough to exert any sort of energy over her employment status.

(In fact, I think her presence on the network is some sort of punishment, though I’m not sure who is being punished. Reminds me of the punchline of a Bill Clinton in Hell Joke: “’I can handle that!’ Clinton proclaims enthusiastically. ‘Very well,’ says Satan. ‘Monica, you may go.’).

We don’t need a modern, secular Auto-da-fe every damn time some famous person says or does something insipid. That becomes nothing but a show trial with people abjectly apologizing for giving offense. History shows no good comes of it and there’s already enough of that nonsense in the world without us adding to it.

**Updated**

Of course just after this went through the pneumatic tubes of the interweb, I see this:

CNN

So she is now unemployed.

North Carolina and Maine Show The Voting System Remains a Mess

This past Monday, the US Supreme Court Struck down two of North Carolina’s Congressional Districts. And in typical fashion, folks are failing to understand what the Court did. The issues in Cooper v. Harris, were whether North Carolina’s First and Twelfth Congressional Districts (herein after NC-1 and NC-12) were improperly drawn. The Court answer yes to both questions. But what people are glossing over is the Court was unanimous in finding NC-1 improper. Everyone is focusing on the 5-3 split regarding NC-12. In doing so, the chattering classes, both conservative and progressive, are missing the forest for the trees.

For NC-1, when redistricting occurred following the 2010 census, the State found the district was short 100,000 people. There is and was no dispute the borders of the district would have to be altered. The question was how to do it. Ultimately, the borders of the district were drawn in a way the State thought it had to be done to comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act. And that was, the State argued, was by making the district a Majority Minority District.

(Brief diversion- for voting rights purposes, a majority minority district is one where a majority of the population is made up of one or more non-white racial groups and where they can elect someone they want. This is to prevent minority groups being put into districts where the white population, if it voted en bloc, could deny the minorities a representative they wanted).

The Court said the State didn’t need to do it because there was no evidence the white population of NC-1 (which is deeply Democrat) was voting in a way that prevented the minority communities (in this case, primarily African-Americans) from electing their choice for office. NC-1 was a heavily Democrat before redistricting. Nor did it matter that past performance was no guarantee of future performance. Because in the moment the district was electing members of the political party that a majority of the minority group approved.

This wasn’t an issue where those dastardly Republicans were trying to screw African-Americans. They were acting under a legitimate belief that if they didn’t do what they did, they would be in violation of the voting rights act. This suggest the problem lies not with the legislature, but with the law they must contend with.

NC-12 is a different story. And as the Court notes, this district has been before the High Court 4 times in the last 25 years. Justice Gorsuch did not participate because he was not on the bench when the case was heard. That meant only 8 Justices decided the matter. And if the Court deadlocks at 4-4, the lower Court is affirmed, but the Supreme Court decision has no precedential value. The dispute between the Majority and the Dissent was whether the Court was bound by the ruling it made the last time the issue was before them. The 3-member dissent (all from the conservative side) said they were so bound and the 4-person majority (all from the progressive side) said they were not. Now keen observers will note that 4+3 is 7. What about Justice Number 8? Well, that was Justice Thomas. He sided with the majority because he doesn’t think race should be a factor at all. And in this situation, that means he agreed with the Sotomayor, etc.

The one thing the Court still refuses to address is gerrymandering for political advantage. While the Court has been traditionally very wary of entering such discussions, this matter of drawing district boundaries to favor one party over another has to be addressed. The best way to get politicians to be more responsive to what the voters want is to put them into competitive districts and to increase the valid choices voters have instead of the current crap choices the two party system creates.

That’s why I have been intrigued by ideas such as ranked voting and this was something I had wanted to discuss a while back but the Scandal Par Heure of the Trump Administration kept putting it off. Main had a ballot question in November changing the way the voting would be conducted. Currently, most elections in this country are “first pass the poll”, i.e. whoever gets the most votes wins, even if that total is less than a majority of all votes cast. Under the system Maine voters sought to adopt, if no candidate got at least 50% of the votes cast, then the voters second choice votes would be considered. It is a system known as Ranked Voting. On Tuesday, Maine’s Supreme Court struck down the ballot initiative saying it violated the State’s Constitution.

Now on the one hand, it’s not that bad of a loss since all it means is amending the State Constitution. But on the other hand, I am still not convinced Ranked Voting will survive a Federal Challenge. I suspect the Supreme Court will decide, given its numerous precedents, Ranked Voting violates the “One Man, One Vote” Doctrine. Which is a shame. The more choices people have, the more likely the Country will break the duopoly that gave us Clinton v. Trump.

Now I Understand Why National Review is Plugging the Rock as the Next President

(Note: This has been another week where there have been too many items which could be discussed and not enough time to do so. I originally was going to do a single post but it was far too long. So instead, this weekend I will be posting one a day to try and get caught up.)

In the early hours of the morning here on the East Coast, Greg Gianforte won the special election for the Montana At Large Congressional seat vacated by Ryan Zinke’s confirmation as Interior Secretary. The election came less than 24 hours after Gianforte attacked Ben Jacobs, a reporter from the British Newspaper, The Guardian.  Apparently, the Brits seem to think American politicians are supposed to answer real questions about legislation, such as the CBO’s report on Trumpcare. They didn’t realize that we Americans have stopped expecting politicians to tell us anything other than prepackaged, focus group approved talking points. (And doubly so on health care where the norm is to pass a bill to find out what’s in it.) Asking substantive questions guarantees a politician goes full Rowdy Roddy Piper on the reporter’s rear end.

The Democrats were hoping to win this seat, outspending the GOP 3-1. And it was thought the attack might influence the election. However, Montana is one of those states that allows early voting. The final numbers aren’t in yet, so the details are still fuzzy. But, the margin of victory appears to be about 6%, which puts it in the normal range for the Montana House seat. But, it is not clear how many of the pro Gianforte votes were cast prior to the alleged Battery committed. This is going to be an important distinction.

If Gianforte win is based on those who voted early, (and therefore lost among those who cast their ballots on the day of the election), there will be a lot of discussion as to whether early voting is a good idea. I don’t think it is, for this sort of reason. (Though I never thought attacking a reporter was something that could plausibly happen). There were reports yesterday that there were people who voted early for Gianforte and wanted to change their vote because of the last-minute revelations. (They couldn’t). This time it was a low-level criminal charge. What happens if the next time, a candidate wins despite being accused of a serious criminal charge?

On the other hand, if Gianforte’s election day numbers are the same, or even better than his early vote results, then we as a society have turned a corner. It was only in February that Conservatives were decrying Progressive for saying it was ok to punch a Nazi as an unacceptable escalation of violence and rhetoric against opponents. And yet on Wednesday night and all day yesterday, many of those same Conservatives were justifying the use of violence against an opponent. And in fact, there seems to be a whole cadre who have gone full Oliver Stone in seeking to show this is part of some vast conspiracy to take the House of Representatives back and to the left.

(My favorite non-sequitur by Conservatives in trying to waive this away has been the cry of “Where’s the video?” These would be the same Conservatives who explain away every violent encounter between the police and citizens as the video doesn’t show what really happened. There is no doubt that if there was video of Gianforte’s actions, we would be inundated with hot takes from Conservatives “proving” that video was faked and/or that the reporter was struck but was a bigger flopper than Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined.).

On one level, I welcome this rank hypocrisy. Conservatives are actually proving one of the central arguments of Libertarianism: the Republican and Democratic parties are the pigs and the farmers at the end of Animal Farm:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Approval or opposition is not based on merit or standards, merely on party affiliation. And both sides justify it, claiming the “But this is a war” excuse.

But there is no excuse, especially not for a politician to use force in response to a question from a reporter regarding a CBO score. And yet, the number of people on social media who not only approve of what Gianforte did, but think this a policy which should be expanded, is truly horrifying.

As noted before, the mainstream media has done itself no favors with its increasingly hysterical and biased reporting against Trump. The press has cried “Wolf” so often that not only does a large segment of the population reflexively no longer believe the claims, but we  have now reached the point where they are actually rooting for the wolf to win.

People are getting their news from sources which simply reinforce their viewpoint and discarding everything else. Conservatives now only believe Milo Yiannopoulos and Briebart with Fox News being declared an un-person/media for having committed the unforgivable sin of being insufficiently pro-Trump. Liberals believe only what they see in the New York Times and on MSNBC and CNN. And Libertarians have the luxury of pointing out both sides are so full of excrement, it’s amazing their eyes aren’t all brown.

We are moving back to the future. This was how it was in the early days of the Republic when there were Federalist and Anti-Federalist newspapers and you read the one that tracked the way you voted.

We are moving closer to the world Arlan Andrew describes in Shirt Story in Freedom’s Light. (On sale now. All proceeds go to Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).

The other reason the “how Gianforte won” matters is to get an idea of how the mid-term elections are shaping up. Historically, the party holding the White House doesn’t fare well in the mid-terms and the lower the President’s approval rating, the worse it is. So in some ways, this should be good news for the Democrats. But they have lost the special elections held so far for Congress. And right now, per Real Clear Politics, the Generic Ballot has the Dems up +6. But for various reasons, Democrats always do slightly better in this poll. So, a +6 is actually a sign of the status quo. And the geography of the Senate races favors the GOP retaining control of that chamber. Thus, if Gianforte’s win was a result of early voting, the Democrats can take some solace and Republicans should be wary that the lack of accomplishments by the GOP coupled with questionable behavior will cause the people to throw the bums out.  If Gianforte’s numbers were stable before and after he went WWE on a reporter, then the Democrats are going to have trouble making any inroads in 2018.

Crisis Ahead

One of the problems in writing pieces about the current political climate is that it changes faster than the actual weather. When it comes to this administration, every tidbit is treated as a “Constitutional Crisis” or an “Unprecedented Threat to the Republic”. And most of the time there is, in fact, precedent for what has happened and no part of the Scandal De l’heure actually touches upon the Constitution.

The one that broke yesterday is the exception to the rule. No, not the “Trump Shares Highly Sensitive Intelligence with the Ruskies”, but the story first reported in the New York Times that then FBI Director James Comey wrote a Memorandum following a meeting with President Trump that stated, in part, the President wanted the FBI to end an investigation into former Trump advisor Michael Flynn. (There was another troubling piece in the memo, which will be discussed below.). This comes following Trump’s dismissal of  the FBI Director and the 48 different explanations the Administration put forth to explain why Comey was fired, all of which were shown to be false when the President admitted he fired him because he didn’t like him and would have done so no matter what the Justice Department.

It also comes after President Trump’s blackmail-ish tweet threatening to release audio tapes of conversations he had with Comey if Comey leaked to the press.

Trump

Clearly that threat didn’t work.

So we know have a situation where the press is reporting the President of the United States pressured the FBI to end an investigation into the activities of a Presidential associate. We’re living in an episode of 24 or a bad 1990’s conspiracy film.

The head of the Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, Jason Chaffetz, sent a letter to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe requesting this letter and all documentation regarding conversations Trump and Comey had.

Chaffetz

Chaffetz did the right thing. But that is not enough as Congressman Justin Amash tweeted last night:

Amash

Comey needs to come before the Oversight Committee and state under the pains and penalties of perjury whether President Trump ordered/told/asked the FBI to end an investigation into Michael Flynn.

Either way, this is not going to turn out well.

  1. The Memo is Real.

If the sum and substance of the memo is, as the New York Times reported, accurate and Comey acknowledges it as such, then two things are clear. A) James Comey deserved to be fired for failing to report this conversation to Congressional Leadership as B) this is a clear instance of the President of the United States interfering with an ongoing criminal investigation. It is textbook obstruction of Justice.

18 U.S.C. 1512(b) states:

Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to—

(1) influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;

(2) cause or induce any person to—

(A) withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding;

(B) alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding;

(C) evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or

(D) be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; or

(3) hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings;

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

(Section (d) of the 18 U.S.C. 1512 would probably also apply as it deals with obstruction by harassment.)

And must also be noted that 18 U.S.C. 1512(f) says

For the purposes of this section—

an official proceeding need not be pending or about to be instituted at the time of the offense;

(emphasis added)

It will be very hard for House Republicans to dismiss these allegations. Speaker Ryan et. al. would be compelled to have the Judiciary Committee began an investigation to consider Impeachment Articles. And there would also be the very real possibility that at least 19 Republican Senators would be prepared to remove Trump from Office.

This would be a Constitutional Crisis.

  1. The Memo is Fake.

If the memo is fake, that is the New York Times fell for a forgery, or it made it up whole cloth, or the memo exists but doesn’t say anything about Trump trying to shut down an FBI investigation, then all hell will break loose.

The media who has been writing Trump’s political obituary since June 2015 will have destroyed the last bits of credibility it has. It will have cried “Wolf!” for the last time. The New York Times, et. al. will be seen simply as the propaganda wing of the Democratic National Committee and will have almost no influence over a large segment of the population. Remember Trump’s quote during the campaign that he could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot people and get away with it? He would actually be able to do it and people would dismiss any news accounts as just “Fake News”

Negative Stories about Trump will be seen as nothing more than click bait. Tweets like this one from the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler will be endlessly paraded as proof of the perfidy of the press:

Kessler

It will also embolden this administration to go to war against the First Amendment. We already know Candidate Trump believed libel laws should be relaxed to allow him to sue people who say mean things about him. The Times story suggest President Trump wants to take this one step further:

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

The party in charge of the executive branch hates leaks while the opposition party loves them. But this takes it one step further by punishing journalists for reporting news. Remember, but for the Snowden revelations reported in the press, we would never know the NSA was illegally and unconstitutionally spying on American citizens. Nor would we know that the recent ransomware epidemic is a direct result of America’s intelligence agencies’ exploitation of software bugs.

If the memo is false, there will be precious little support for protecting the likes of the Times, Post, CNN, et. al.

This would be a Constitutional Crisis.

 

There really doesn’t seem to be any good outcome here.

Same Mistake, Different Country

Let’s be absolutely clear here:

We.Have.No.Business.Being.In.Syria.

None.

Yes, it is horrible that Bashar al-Assad probably used chemical weapons on his own people. It is tragic. The photos are horrifying. But heartbreaking pictures make bad foreign policy. Bashar is a thug and a tyrant. And he is in many ways just as bad or worse than his father Hafez al-Assad. (See Hama to get a flavor of how evil dear old dad was). But we are not the Global police. Despite what the Susan Rices of the world believe, the US does not have a responsibility to protect everyone from every evil.

The primary obligation of the United States is to protect its citizens, territory and interests. Our secondary obligation is to come to the aid of our allies in protecting their citizens, territories, and interests. That is what is meant by National Security.

What Bashar al-Assad does not rise to those levels. He poses no threat to the national security interests of the US. However tragic it is that tyrant ruling that land is using WMDs on his civilian population does justify involving the United States.

And no, Iraq in 1991 is not the same. There, the US made it clear to Saddam Hussein that if he used chemical weapons against US troops during combat, we reserved the right to nuke Baghdad. There was a national security interest in protect US soldiers. What has happened in Syria does not rise to that level.

Does this affect our regional allies? Not really. We have been giving billions of dollars of weapons to our so-called allies in the region. If Turkey and Saudi Arabia thought this was serious problem, they would have been handling it themselves, and not waiting for us.

All last night’s missile attack does is give our putative allies in the region an excuse to continue to do nothing. If everything goes great, they get share in the glory. If things go south (which is general what happens), they get to wash their hands of it and blame the West and its Crusader mentality for the evils that befall the Syrian people.

And nothing good will come of this. How many countries in the Middle East do we have to destabilize before it’s enough? And what in our history of interfering in other countries’s internal affairs suggests we’re going to get it right this time? Afghanistan is still a crap show. The same with Iraq. Libya is a nightmare with people willing to die in the Mediterranean rather than stay there. Has our drone strikes in Yemen brought peace and prosperity to that Country? So why will Syria be different?

What happens now? We just lobbed a bunch of missiles at one airbase. What is al-Assad doesn’t stop? Are we going to keep firing missiles? Contrary to the myth spread by Bill Clinton’s acolytes, the Kosovo Air War in 1999 didn’t stop Serbian aggression. NATO was preparing to send in ground forces and Sloban Milosevic realized Boris Yeltsin was not going to send in troops to defendant Serbia. That’s what ended the air war.

Syria is not Serbia. Russia is already in Syria. If we are going to oust al-Assad, are we prepared to fight Russia?

And if for some reason, Russia decided not to intervene, what’s the outcome? A Syrian government made up of moderate rebel groups? Where are these moderate groups? There are no George Washingtons or Abraham Lincolns among the rebel groups. During the Obama Administration, the CIA funded one group and the Pentagon another. Did they fight al-Assad?

No.

Did they fight ISIS?

No.

Well then, who did they fight?

Each other.

And these rebels maybe moderate in that they ain’t ISIS. But that is not the same as thinking these groups have a Western-style outlook for the future of Syria. Recall Kayla Mueller had been captured by “Moderate Rebels” and then sold to ISIS for supplies. You think those groups interests are aligned with Americas?

The so-called moderates are primarily comprised of Sunni Muslim tribes. Those groups will turn on us. More importantly, they will turn on Shia minority. They will turn on the Alawite Minority. They will turn on the Coptic and Syrian Christian minorities. They will purge the land of anyone who is not them.

Let’s look at our glorious Libyan Campaign. Just like Gaddafi posed no threat to our National Security in 2011. The Libyan civil war was an internal matter and contained. Our decision to topple the regime, led to a power vacuum that resulted not only to the infestation of ISIS in the region, causing problems in the neighboring countries, but also to attacks on US national security including the infamous Benghazi debacle.  Let me make this crystal clear:

The 2011 United States decision to intervene and remove Muammar Gaddafi was a direct and proximate cause for the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that kill a United States Ambassador.

Like Libya, nothing good can come our involvement.

In addition, further involvement will almost certainly create a situation where our attacks end up dislocating civilian populations. If we don’t want Syrian refugees coming into this country, then we sure as hell shouldn’t be in position where our actions cause refugees migration. There is something rather twisted about our willingness to wreck a country and then tell the people who we harmed that we don’t care what happens to them.

Again, if you don’t want refugees, don’t cause refugees.

And while we’re at, let’s stop and reflect that both Houses of Congress are in session this week. President Trump had every opportunity to request Congress pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. (AUMF). Whether you approved of the Iraq war or no, George W. Bush went to Congress to get permission to launch a war. Obama did not. Trump criticized Obama. And yet, when the rubber met the road, Trump followed Obama and not Bush.

Just like Barack Obama did in Libya circa 2011, what Donald Trump did last night in launching military action against a nation that does not pose an imminent threat to US national security was Illegal and Unconstitutional.

Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.

Show Us Your Work

Enough already.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Political Chattering Class has lost its collective mind. There hasn’t been this blatant a switching of opinion since the American Communist Party reversed its stance on Nazi Germany following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

It was just three weeks ago Progressives were crowing about the downfall of Trump’s National Security advisor Mike Flynn. Flynn, as you should recall, was forced to resign after questions were raised about his communications with the Russian Ambassador. And how did we learn of those communications?

They were wiretapped.

So the Left needs to stop pretending that claims wiretapping by Trump are completely insane. And while we are at it, maybe the Left should stop citing Trump’s joke in July about the Clinton e-mails. Unless, that is, they are finally prepared to admit that the missing 30,000 emails have nothing to do with yoga and Chelsea’s wedding and that Hillary Clinton was lying.

The claims Jeff Sessions lied about his meetings with the Russian Ambassador are overblown. Read the written question Sen Leahy put to Sessions about Russian contacts. Read the transcript of Sen Franken’s question, including his long-winded preface to the question. In both circumstances, the questions revolved around the 2016 campaign and communications with the Russians. Sessions answered the questions in that context.

By blowing this out of any resemblance of proportion, the Democrats have badly overplayed their hand. If everything is a crisis, nothing can be a crisis. People cannot be made to barricades to protest every.damn.thing. By making every little thing about this Administration as proof of Fascism, Racism, and whatever other “-ism” we are supposed to be against on any given day, all of it blurs into one amorphous opposition. It makes it harder to get people to rally against the real problems.

If you have actual proof of perfidy by the Trump Campaign, show us the proof. Not anonymous sources leaking portions of spin. Let’s see the actual documents that back up your claims.

It’s time to show your work.

And what are you smiling about, Trumpers?

The President has this habit of making up claims with nothing to support them and yet you go forth as if what he is saying is Holy Script. There is nothing to support his claims that there were 3-5 million illegal aliens voting in the November election. A handful of people across the country being arrested for voter fraud does not prove such a widespread conspiracy.

There is no evidence that a rise in illegal immigration is a casual link to a rise in crime

Trump’s claims of a massive wiretapping scheme against anyone even remotely associated with him does not appear to have any basis in reality. And a lot of the Republicans who are decrying the ability of the government to so easily obtain wiretap warrants through the FISA Court should remember they were using that Court as proof as to why the Patriot Act wasn’t a violation of Americans’ Constitutional Rights.

Now maybe there was illegal wiretapping. (And maybe President Obama didn’t know. After all, he apparently had knowledge that his Administration was, through Lois Lerner, illegally using the IRS against his Political Enemies.). But so far, all we had are a bunch of late night tweets. That is insufficient.

Show Us the Proof.

If there was illegal wiretapping, present the evidence to the American people. The actual wire taps. The actual transcripts. (And oh by the way, maybe throw in the one regarding Mike Flynn so we all know what he did or did not say to the Russian Ambassador). Mr. Trump, you are the President of the United States. It is well within your authority as the head of the Executive Branch to make any and all of this public knowledge at any moment. So if there was criminality, let it be shown for all the world to see.

If not, stop making false claims. It really is tiring. And it is not helping you. People like some of your policy ideas. More people would probably like them is you would focus on actual issues and not whatever ones make it past your tinfoil hat.

It’s Time to Show Your Work.

Reaction to the First Trump Address to Congress

What to make of Tuesday’s Joint Address to Congress by President Trump?

It was arguably the most Presidential he has sounded since…. Well it really was the first time he sounded like a President. In style, it was measured and unifying; aspirational; line drawing; and pragmatic. This is the first speech he has given as President where, when it is read, you hear his cadence and speech patterns. The folks writing his speeches are starting to get a grasp on how Trump speaks. And that will help him better communicate. This is the type of speech that tends to do well with Americans who are not hyper-partisan or who do not eat, drink and breathe politics.

He hit the right notes on condemning the recent spate of Anti-Semitic attacks and threats as well as decrying the shooting of Indian-Americans in Kansas City. He did a good job of defining the issues and suggesting he is inheriting a mess, much like his predecessor did in his Joint Address eight years ago. His pointing out his guests was done tactfully, especially when he spoke about Carryn Owens, widow of US Navy Seal William Owens.

The framing device for his speech was interesting: the upcoming 250th Anniversary of the United States. As the president noted, it will occur in 9 years. If Trump wins reelection, the anniversary will occur the year after he leaves office. President Trump projected a confidence in the future that Candidate Trump, with his calls to make America Great Again, never exuded.

In the end, folks who hated Trump will still hate Trump. People who venerate Trump will still venerate Trump. But for those who do neither, the speech’s style will make them

As for the substance… it was meh. Promising to rid the country of illegal immigrants committing crimes and defeating/stopping terrorist attacks in this country was standard Presidential Pablum. The fact Democrats couldn’t even stand and applaud these basic concepts may very well come back and bite them in the ass. When I was in college, I recall a Professor mocking the standard political ads of the time where a politician promised to tough on crime. Has any candidate, he mused, ever come out and said they were for being soft on crime? Apparently modern democrats have decided such an approach is a winning one. I doubt the American public will agree.

Though Democrats shouldn’t have been that upset listening to the speech. When Trump discussed his economic policies, I’m curious if Dick Gephardt realized Trump stole his early 90s talking points. The democrats, post-Dukakis and pre-Clinton, always discussed “Fair Trade” and “Creating a Level Playing Field”. It was Democrats who insisted on “Buy American” provisions on Federal Contracting, thus driving up prices of the goods and services the government used. Once upon a time Republicans stood for Free Trade, realizing that if a pipeline was created using foreign steel that cost less than American steel, the people paying for the pipes would have extra money that could be used to finance other projects. Fair Trade was seen as coddling Unions by protecting them from competition.

Democrats were the ones inviting the Federal government to subsidize day care and mandate maternity leave. It was the democrats who always complained about Drug prices, never realizing it was government regulations and actions that drove up prices here. Once upon a time, Republicans decried such actions, calling them Social Engineering.

Eight years ago we had a massive infrastructure bill passed. Remember “shovel ready”? I believe we are still waiting for the “Summer of Recovery.” The Tea Party was created, in part, due to opposition from such needless pork barrel spending.  And the GOP took control of the House thanks to those people. Now the Republican president is asking those same people to back his “shovel ready” proposal.

I will give the President credit: he campaigned on these ruinous economic policies and he intends to do everything he can to enact them. It was a nice touch to portray Harley Davidson as being sufferers of some form of economic Stockholm Syndrome:

I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate.

That is a brilliant rhetorical touch to justify his economic plans, “I have to save you from yourself

He is calling for a massive increase in defense spending and blaming the Sequester for harming the military despite there being no evidence to support. In fact, we have evidence the military is wasting the money it already receives.

His proposals on immigration reform are intriguing. He really seems to think there is going to be a Wall built. And that this “great, great wall” will somehow stop drugs and crime. Which is utter nonsense. You want to cut down on drug crime, legalize marijuana, don’t crack down on it. And despite his pointing out family members of people who were killed by illegal immigrants, the data does not support his assertions that illegals are some sort of crime wave.

What’s more fascinating is his plans for legal immigration. It is interesting not because they would actually help, but because the President is demanding the United States adopt the same type of immigration system that Canada has. You remember Canada? America’s hat. The country to our north currently being led by Prime Minister McDreamy? How can progressives possibly rail against the injustices of President Trump’s immigration reforms without calling out Canada for its racist policies? The Cognitive Dissonance this will create will probably have its own section in the DSM VI

But give President Trump credit: he has effectively neutered the democrats ‘opposition to his economic policies by co-opting their traditional talking points. Poor Bernie Sanders was left to sputter that President Trump didn’t spend any time discussing Climate Change. When that’s the best you can muster, the Democrats are in deep doo-doo.

The problem is, by adopting the Democrats’ talking points, Trump has vitiated the last thirty years of the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp have no place in Trump’s GOP. The GOP is now the Party of Trump. It is anti-Trade, anti-Free market, anti-capitalist. And since that’s the best they can muster, the Republicans are in deep doo-doo.