Tag Archives: Trump

Why Don’t We Care About Stormy Daniels?

According to a recent poll, 73% of voters do not believe President Trump’s alleged affair with pornographic actress Stormy Daniels is an important news story.  I agree.  And that saddens me.  We once had the luxury of concerning ourselves with the personal character of candidates for elected office.  Unfortunately, those days are gone.

When government was small and its powers constitutionally limited, it’s capacity to influence the individual lives of its citizens was marginal compared to today.  Because the government could only do so much, it made sense to seek people of high character for public office.  It’s nice to be proud of elected officials.  It’s good when our children can look up to them as role models.

With the systematic and incremental deconstruction of the Constitution’s limits on government power came bigger government.  That government now inserts itself into our everyday lives to a degree never imagined at our country’s founding.  The halls of government have been thrown wide open to influence peddling, special interests, patronage, protectionism, and innumerable coercions and restraints over the citizenry.

Where the Constitution provided limited government with enumerated powers coupled with textual and structural protections of individual liberty, the deconstruction of the Constitution has resulted in comparatively limitless government and a subjugation of the citizenry to the will of the majority as expressed through our elected representatives.  Where we once enjoyed the constitutional republic the founding generation gave us, we now suffer the representative majoritarianism which has resulted from the incremental diminishment of the Constitution’s limits on government power as well as those structural and textual protections of liberty.

Because representative majoritarianism has resulted in a government that has an expansive capacity to exert influence over our lives and seems determined to do so with reckless abandon, it is no longer prudent to place much importance on the personal character of elected officials.  Given a choice between a loud mouthed lout with a long and open history of philandering who is a stalwart constitutionalist and a highly trustworthy, intelligent, competent, family oriented, church goer who is seeking office in order to mold society through his or her legislative efforts, I’ll take the lout every time.

This isn’t to suggest that Trump is a stalwart constitutionalist by any means.  But the principle applies – because of the myriad permutations of what might be imposed by the government under a system of representative majoritarianism implemented as a result of the hollowing out of our Constitution, a voter’s concern over a candidate’s character is dwarfed by the concern over what a candidate will do once in office to affect the voter’s life.  Accordingly, our perception of a candidate’s character is now only important to the extent that perception relates to our evaluation of how he or she will govern.  Promiscuity and infidelity have little if any bearing on the decisions an elected official will make.  As a result, it’s natural that the public would not find instances of promiscuity or infidelity to be particularly important.

The fact that we can no longer afford the luxury of concerning ourselves with a candidate’s character is just another in a long line of sad outcomes which necessarily result when a society opts for statism and collectivism over liberty and individualism.

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Repealing The Poop Eating Law

A farcical allegory of a farce: the repeal of Obamacare.

March 2010:

Obama: get link We’ve passed a new poop eating law. From now on, you will eat poop every day. Now, eat the poop.

watch 2016:

Pre-election Trump: go site On Day 1, I will repeal and replace the poop eating law. You will never eat poop again. Shame and curses on those who have made you eat the poop.

Electorate: What do you mean by “replace”? What are you going to replace it with?

Pre-election Trump: Something you will absolutely LOVE. It will be wonderful. But it won’t involve eating the poop. Elect me and you’ll never eat the poop again! I will see to the repeal of the poop eating law!

March 6, 2017:

Post-election GOP leadership: We‘ve crafted modifications to the poop eating law.  We need to pass it for the benefit of the people.  Otherwise, the people will have to keep eating a lot of poop. The people are now accustomed to eating the poop…a lot of the poop. It’ll be nice for them to eat less poop. This bill is a vast improvement. 

Liberty/Constitution minded citizens:  What about repeal?  You were going to repeal the poop eating bill.

President Trump: This is a great bill. It’s wonderful. From now on you’ll eat less poop. And my agencies will be able to relieve you from eating some poop too.  And I promise…one day, you’ll all be able stop eating the poop FOREVER!

March 24, 2017:

Trump: We don’t have the votes to pass the modifications to the poop eating law.  ON TO TAX CUTS!

Liberty/Constitution minded citizens:  GREAT!  How are you going to cut spending so that the country doesn’t go trillions more into debt?

Trump and GOP leadership: 

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

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The Left’s Re-Messaging of ‘Post-Truth’

Last week, The Oxford English Dictionary announced that its choice for the 2016 Word of the Year is post-truth, defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

Andrew Calcutt recently explained the leftist origins of post-truth here:

“(T)he connotations embedded in “post-truth” commentary are normally as follows: “post-truth” is the product of populism; it is the bastard child of common-touch charlatans and a rabble ripe for arousal; it is often in blatant disregard of the actualité.  But this interpretation blatantly disregards the actual origins of “post-truth”. These lie neither with those deemed under-educated nor with their new-found champions. Instead, the groundbreaking work on “post-truth” was performed by academics, with further contributions from an extensive roster of middle-class professionals. Left-leaning, self-confessed liberals, they sought freedom from state-sponsored truth; instead they built a new form of cognitive confinement—‘post-truth’. More than 30 years ago, academics started to discredit “truth” as one of the “grand narratives” which clever people could no longer bring themselves to believe in. Instead of “the truth,” which was to be rejected as naïve and/or repressive, a new intellectual orthodoxy permitted only “truths”—always plural, frequently personalized, inevitably relativized.  Under the terms of this outlook, all claims on truth are relative to the particular person making them; there is no position outside our own particulars from which to establish universal truth. … “Post-truth” is the latest step in a logic long established in the history of ideas, and previously expressed in the cultural turn led by middle-class professionals. Instead of blaming populism for enacting what we set in motion, it would be better to acknowledge our own shameful part in it.”

As a word, ‘post-truth’ has been in usage since at least 2004 when it was incorporated in the title of a book by Ralph Keyes, The Post-Truth Era; Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life.

Notwithstanding Calcutt’s historical explanation and the fact that the word has been in usage for at least a dozen years, the left is hard at work to ensure the public interprets ‘post-truth’ only as an epithet on Donald Trump; as a new term used to define a new and awful circumstance which he and his supporters brought about with the help of an enabling media.

Examples:

  • The Washington Post in a November 16 article titled Post-truth’ named 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries“It’s official: Truth is dead.  Facts are passe. … Throughout a grueling presidential campaign in which accusations of lies and alternate realities flowed freely, in every direction, hundreds of fact checks were published about statements from both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Dozens of media outlets found that Trump’s relationship with the truth was, well, complicated.”
  • Ann McFeatters, syndicated columnist, in a November 20 column titled Nothing’s sacred in ‘post-truth’ USA, spends the entirety of the column deriding Donald Trump.  The implication raised by the title is obvious; Trumps victory has marked the beginning of ‘post-truth’ in America.  She wrote, “…we live in a post-truth world where the president of the United States (referring to Trump) has lied repeatedly, pathologically and, apparently, without consequence. And, undoubtedly, will continue to do so.”  In a remarkable exposure of her own ability to ignore objective facts and operate comfortably in the post-truth arena she wrote, “Trump has named as his chief White House adviser Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart “News,” a white supremacist-supporting outfit that is mainly known for spewing hate and intolerance.” 
  • Margaret Sullivan, syndicated columnist, in a November 17 column entitled Three ways the press must cover Trump in the abnormal days to come, also implies that ‘post-truth’ is a new term appropriately used to describe the US after the election of Donald Trump.  “In this post-truth universe, where established facts often don’t matter as much as appeals to emotion and partisan ideology, we also hear another word a lot: “normalize.” The question behind the word is this: In covering President-elect Trump and his presidency, should the traditional news media treat this like any other transition, and like any other run-of-the-mill administration?”  Incredibly, she suggests that it is Trump’s post-truth presidency (as opposed to sound journalistic principles) which gives rise to a new “formulation” for a new media approach she has been hearing about “recently”; “scrutinize, don’t normalize”.  How interesting that leftist media types are warming up to the notion that maybe they should do their job in fulfilling their constitutional role as a scrutinizing check on the government now that their party is leaving the White House.

 

As I wrote here, “in our self-governing society, the usurpation of language has always been a favored tool of the left.  By controlling language, they affect messaging and ultimately thought. … Sometimes they co-opt words which have gained favor with the public and redefine them, presumably in the hope that the positive connotation will continue even after it has been redefined.  There is perhaps no better example of this tactic than the progressives’ theft of the word “liberalism”.   Once, “liberalism” defined a political perspective which valued individual and economic liberty, private property, very limited government and the strict application of the rule of law.  Because the progressive movement stole the term and redefined it for its own purposes, this original conception of “liberalism” is now typically referred to as “classical liberalism” in order to distinguish it from modern liberalism.”

The left is now running the same play in the opposite direction.  They stole the word ‘liberalism’, redefined it and co-opted it for their own use.  Now they seek to redeploy ‘post-truth’, a word brought about in large part as a result of the left’s historical efforts to avoid objective truth and reality, and impose it as a permanent epithet upon Donald Trump and his supporters.  It’s reasonable to suppose that they would like to see it forever tied around Trump’s neck; a descriptive albatross crafted by the left, amplified by the leftist media’s megaphone and drummed into the consciousness of the public as an adjective only applicable to Trump’s presidency.

 

 

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Constitutional Concerns Over Trump

Donald Trump’s brash, non-political celebrity and outspoken approach have introduced, for better or worse depending on your perspective, a new dynamic in presidential politics.  Prospective voters can choose from any number of hot button political topics and love or despise him for his position, or perhaps just as importantly, for the manner in which he articulates his positions.  While I have personally enjoyed the metaphorical thumb he intentionally and repeatedly sticks into the eye of those who insist on political correctness, I have many concerns with regard to how he might govern.  Chief among them is a concern that he doesn’t respect or understand the Constitution or its structural mechanisms which limit and disperse governmental power.

Trump made two public comments this week which perfectly illustrate the basis for my concern.  In a CNN Town Hall this past Tuesday night, Trump was asked a question from the audience regarding what he considers to be the top three functions of the federal government.  In response, he listed national security, healthcare and education, in that order.  The following day Chris Matthews asked him how he would go about banning abortions.  Trump didn’t have an answer, but the discussion led to a follow-up question regarding whether women who have an abortion should be punished, presumably through some criminal sanction.  Trump asserted that yes, “there has to be some form of punishment”.

While I fully expect a statist Democrat candidate or an establishment Republican candidate to assert that the regulation of healthcare and education are properly within the powers of the federal government, I continue to hold out hope that the Republican Party might identify and nominate a candidate who not only understands, but appreciates that the federal government has only limited and specifically enumerated constitutional powers and that they decidedly do not include the regulation of health care or education.  Though Trump ultimately stated that responsibility for education policy should be returned to the states, one gets the distinct impression that this opinion is based on something other than an understanding that the federal government has no legal authority in the education arena.  That impression is bolstered by the fact that he continues to advocate for a substantial federal role in healthcare without any apparent regard for the question of constitutional authority.

Similarly, the abortion question is simply not a policy concern for any president who is a constitutionalist.  Why?  Because the regulation of abortion is exclusively within the constitutional authority of the states.  Were Roe v. Wade overruled tomorrow, the question of abortion would return to individual state legislatures.  If a state were to outlaw abortions, it would also determine whether women and/or doctors receiving or performing illegal abortions would be subject to criminal sanctions and, if so, what those sanctions would be.  Simply, there is no constitutional role for a president in determining the legality of abortion or the penalty for violating any state law outlawing abortion.  In the media aftermath of the abortion comment, Trump has clarified his initial comments to suggest that only doctors who perform illegal abortions should be punished and not the women who receive them.  The clarification only reconfirms his misunderstanding – or disregard – of the Constitution’s limits on federal authority.

If we are ever to return the country to a condition of deep and widespread individual liberty, we must pursue constitutionalism.  The separation of powers among the federal branches and between the federal government and the states left individuals in a far better position to protect and defend liberty than the current paradigm where so much unconstitutional power is concentrated in Washington, out of reach – often even out of sight – of the populace.  The president is uniquely situated to lead the country toward constitutionalism while putting constitutionalism out front and center as a matter of public debate.  Those who cherish liberty should seek and embrace a presidential candidate who understands and appreciates the Constitution and the manner in which it distributes governing authority and should shun any who promise to wield unconstitutional power, regardless of how appealing the policies advocated by that candidate may appear.  Constitutionalism is the way to liberty in America.  Any other path holds only the empty promise of temporary policy victories while maintaining the status quo of unconstitutional power consolidated in Washington.  Any other path offers only diversion and a delay from the ultimate goal.

I’ll continue to keep an open mind with respect to Donald Trump.  I’ll wait for him to demonstrate an understanding of the Constitution and a commitment to constitutionalism.  So far, he has tended to demonstrate the opposite at most every opportunity.

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Trump, Cruz & The ‘Establishment’

The Republican Party ‘Establishment’ is beside itself.  Whether conducting a private island meeting off the coast of Georgia attended by the likes of Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and several other GOP members of Congress, or the dusting off, winding up and marching out of Mitt Romney to throw down the gauntlet against the Trump candidacy, the Establishment’s recent actions bespeak desperation.

Accustomed to taking turns at the White House with the Democrat Party, it seems the Establishment either did not recognize, or did not take seriously, the risk that its hold on the GOP might be meaningfully challenged.  It attempted to follow the tried and true strategy for success (at the primary stage if not the general election).  Just hand pick one of its own with a career in mainstream republican politics and a record of embracing big government, stuff his pockets with millions in campaign contributions, and wait for the money/marketing machine to grind the political bones of the rest of the field.  This time it was Jeb Bush’s turn; but there were signs almost immediately that the strategy wasn’t working.  With each passing week, the Establishment’s concern must’ve grown more dire.  By the time it became apparent that Jeb Bush would not be able to gain ground, the Establishment found itself without a viable champion and facing the reality of massive voter support for an anti-establishment candidate in Donald Trump.

Enter Marco Rubio.  Whether Marco Rubio is a ‘dyed in the wool’ establishment Republican is subject to serious question.  But it’s clear that the Establishment has now cast it’s lot with Rubio’s campaign.  Though not its first choice, Rubio is the candidate the Establishment has determined gives it the best chance of maintaining control of the Party.  John Kasich likely fits the mold well, but he was running far behind Rubio when the Establishment was forced to shift its support from Bush to another candidate.  Kasich was simply much longer odds than Rubio at the time.

Ted Cruz could never be its candidate, having demonstrated on multiple occasions that he stands on his own principles and won’t play by the Establishment’s rules.  Recall for example his highly criticized filibuster against the ACA and his reference on the Senate floor to Mitch McConnell as a liar for paving the way for the reinstitution of the Export-Import Bank.  The Establishment’s rejection of Cruz as its candidate has been obvious – his name is roundly omitted by Establishment talking heads as an alternative to the front running anti-establishment candidate Donald Trump, and none in the media or in the Party suggests that Cruz is meaningfully supported by any of the Establishment contingent.  And as Trump has eagerly pointed out, until very recently none of Cruz’s fellow senators had endorsed him.

The primary election process has revealed the severity of the Establishment’s problem. Thus far, the popular vote of the four remaining GOP candidates is as follows:  Trump: 4,339,971 votes, Cruz: 3,576,646 votes, Rubio: 2,399,505 votes and Kasich: 1,088,865 votes.  Counting only the votes cast in favor of these four remaining candidates, the anti-Establishment candidates have commanded 69% of the popular vote against 31% for Rubio and Kasich.  Again, whether Rubio is truly an establishment candidate is subject to debate.  Assuming for the sake of argument that he is, the anti-Establishment candidates have a near 7 to 3 margin over the establishment candidates at this point in the race.  Take Rubio out of the equation and the Establishment fares far worse.

In a recent column, Bruce Bartlett, a former treasury official who self identifies as a Republican despite the fact that he voted for Barack Obama, wrote that he voted for Trump in order to destroy the GOP.  “I believe that only when the GOP suffers a massive defeat will it purge itself of the crazies and forces of intolerance that have taken control of it. Then, and only then, can the GOP become a center-right governing party that deserves to occupy the White House.  The death of today’s Republican Party is, therefore, necessary to its survival, in my opinion. And Donald Trump can make it happen, which is why I voted for him.”

The popular vote thus far does not support Bartlett’s thesis.  The results demonstrate a disdain for the Establishment so severe that a loss by populist Donald Trump in the general election in November may be more likely to give rise to a subsequent movement toward Cruz’s constitutional conservatism or Rand Paul’s libertarianism than a resurgence of the Establishment.  Rather than a “center-right”, corporatist, statist Republican in the White House come 2020, Mr. Bartlett might have to be satisfied with a Constitutionalist or Libertarian who believes the Federal government should be a fraction of its present size.  Or perhaps the throngs of GOP voters who are obviously sick and tired of the Establishment will just stay home the next presidential election cycle.

Any of these scenarios foretell doom for the Establishment, at least with respect to the presidency.  Perhaps it’s time for the Establishment to consider the possibility that the grass roots is simply leaving it behind. An ineffective, if not compliant Congress, both houses of which have been controlled by the Establishment led GOP, has rendered the faithful angry and looking for alternatives.  There’s no immediate reason to expect they’ll change their minds and embrace the Establishment so long as it stands for cronyism, corporatism and cooperation with Democrats in continuing the expansion of the Federal government and in ignoring the desires and demands of such a large portion of the Party.

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Trump’s Muslim Border Policy And The Echo-Chamber

Only a small fraction of the news coverage and hand wringing over Donald Trump’s suggestion that non-citizen Muslims be temporarily barred from entry into the United States has addressed the policy’s merits. The question of whether it is necessary or helpful to temporarily bar non-citizen Muslims from entry in order to protect the homeland from terrorism has been largely overlooked. Instead, the focus has been on whether such a policy, if implemented, is a betrayal of American values, or worse, indicative of racism or a step toward ushering in fascism.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the focus has been on the subject of our American values rather than the efficacy of the suggested policy. Focusing on the values question enables media and politicians the opportunity to demonize disfavored candidates while shoring up their own ‘political correctness’ bona fides. There’s more opportunity for widely broadcast soundbites and for political mileage to be gotten out of debating the moral qualifications of a disfavored candidate than debating whether his policy is simply wrong or unnecessary. Moreover, by now we should all be accustomed to the fact that politicians and the national media live inside of the elite media echo-chamber where every word written or uttered is examined through a prism of political correctness. Washington elites almost instinctively pounce upon anything that smacks of political incorrectness. Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” in response to Trump’s call for such a policy. Because politically correct positions are seldom challenged, there was no need for Graham to explain why Trump’s position on this border policy is sufficient to conclude he is a bigot.

Which brings me to the question I wish to address — assuming that one has made an honest assessment and determined that temporarily closing the borders to all non-citizen Muslims is necessary or helpful to ensuring the safety of the homeland against terrorism, does suggesting the implementation of a policy in accord with that assessment constitute race-baiting, xenophobia or bigotry? Is the implementation of such a policy ‘un-American’? Does suggesting such a policy indicate a lack of appreciation for American values? I’ve concluded the answer to each of these questions is ‘no’.

The United States of America, exists for the benefit of its citizens. The U.S. government has no higher obligation than the safeguarding of American citizens within our borders from external threats. No non-citizen has a right to cross our borders. We should permit non-citizens to enter only when it is in the interest of our citizens to do so.

We can objectively recognize that the vast majority of the terrorism with which we have been threatened and to which we’ve been subjected has been threatened or perpetrated by persons who identify themselves as Muslim and claim that their actions are perpetrated in the name of that religion. At a time when we have heightened concerns over terrorism from abroad, if the information available as to whether persons seeking to cross our borders intend us harm is insufficient for us to make a determination, excluding the larger set (Muslims) from which the smaller subset (terrorists) comes, may be a necessary and intelligent policy reaction.

Under those circumstances, the implementation of the policy is not racist or bigoted, because it is not motivated by hatred or unfounded bias. Rather, it is motivated by the objective facts. That the United States has not implemented such a policy in the past should demonstrate that it has no ill-regard toward Muslims. It may be proper to implement such a policy now, not because we have developed an unfounded bias against Muslims, but because it has become necessary to our security. Excluding those Muslims who cannot be vetted from entry does not make us bad or evil. It does not mean that we’re deviating from our values. We can fully recognize the dignity and decency of the vast majority of Muslims who might wish to cross our borders while implementing the policy as a necessary reaction to the unfortunate circumstances we face — we cannot identify which of those seeking entry are terrorists. The implementation of such a policy is not intended to offend Muslims; nor should it, given the objective fact that terrorists almost exclusively come from their ranks.   Under such circumstances, a policy excluding from entry all non-citizen Muslims who cannot be properly vetted simply reflects the reality that we have no other way to ensure the security of Americans at home. Those who wish to portray the suggestion of such a policy as necessarily based on racism or a broad disdain for Muslims are either ignorant or trying to spin a political agenda.

Many have expressed surprise that Donald Trump’s support among the citizenry does not appear to have eroded as a result of this policy suggestion. I suspect that surprise is born of the echo-chamber, where punishment for violations of the code of political correctness are swift and harsh. Forgotten is the fact that the electorate does not live in the echo-chamber and is therefore untainted by its perverse effects. Individuals know the content of their own hearts. They understand their own desires and motivations. They are acutely aware whether they harbor a nefarious, unfounded disdain for a people unlike them or whether they are merely making a rational judgment concerning the events taking place around them. As a result, no amount of slick marketing or amplified and oft repeated politically correct dogma can convince the American people that a policy suggestion which makes common sense to them is actually an expression of racism or bigotry. Because the American people are not racists or bigots, because they do not harbor hatred or disdain for Muslims in their hearts, they are able to accept Trump’s policy suggestion for what he represents it to be — an unfortunate, but potentially necessary, common sense approach to safeguard American citizens.

 

 

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