Monthly Archives: March 2017

How Trump Won

So this was Joe’s funeral. It was filled with Deplorables. They danced to Steve Earle.

No one who went to Princeton could do that…Well, except Kim, but she is very gifted indeed.

Most of elite thought is focused on the activities of other members of the elite. Dancing to Copperhead Road is not in the lexicon. More’s the pity.

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Doom and Disaster

The glee on the left at the defeat of the Republicans’s, and, more especially, Trump’s Obamacare reform package really knows no bounds. The human Cheeto stands exposed as incompetent and obviously unfit for office. And so on.

Realistically, the Paul Ryan inspired, three stage, series of rather lame changes to Obamacare deserved to die.  It is unfortunate for Trump that he aligned his White House with the bill and that is a mistake he’ll have to live down. But the fact is that the RyanCare version of ObamaCare was, at best, conceptually muddy.

With the withdrawal of this piece of legislation, the US is left with ObamaCare and it is a pretty good bet that this edifice will gradually collapse as its own contradictions and faulty assumptions are worked out in the marketplace. The ongoing collapse of the insurance exchanges, the rise in deductibles and the sheer expense of medical insurance for middle income families all suggest that the ObamaCare model is in increasing trouble. A fact not lost on Trump.

Now there are Panglossian interpretations of the defeat of RyanCare which cast it in terms of clever Trump suckering the establishment Republicans to make way for his own version of healthcare reform. While I suspect this sort of outcome may occur, it will be more an accident than a plan.

The underlying problem of healthcare in the US is the tension between free market principles and the desirability of people having decent healthcare at a price they can afford. Very smart people on both the left and the right have been arguing about this for decades. ObamaCare, for all of its flaws, was a solution which might have worked had the American economy expanded more rapidly. Coming up with a better plan build on the essential structure of ObamaCare, which is what RyanCare attempted to do, was always going to be conceptually muddy and very unattractive to the free markets end of the Republican world. RyanCare was not a better plan than ObamaCare and never aspired to be; rather it was an attempt at “less worse”.

At this point Trump can – as he has threatened – let ObamaCare explode simply by sitting on his hands and refusing to make the adjustments and spend the money needed to keep the exchanges functioning. Politically that might be smart or it might be incredibly short sighted as the voters will be deeply unimpressed when they lose their ObamaCare insurance.

A smarter approach is likely a complete re-conceptualization of healthcare in America and the government’s role in assisting people who need healthcare. There seems to be some consensus that the costs of  “catastrophic illness” should not be entirely borne by the individual and his or her family. And there seems to be a willingness to pay for the healthcare of the poorest people in the society which is, in fact, a welfare rather than healthcare question.

What would happen to the general insurance market if the costs of catastrophic illness was taken out of the mix to be covered by private insurance? The devil is in the details but, in principle, the cost of insurance which did not have to deal with catastrophic health events would go down. Likely quite significantly.

A TrumpCare package which “socialized” the catastrophic end of the risk pool would, in fact, be the thin end of the single payer wedge with some of the efficiencies such a system would create. Trump does not strike me as a free market ideologue and I doubt that thin end would worry him a bit. On the welfare/subsidy side it is not out of the question to essentially buy a set amount of insurance for the poorest people and ensure coverage.

Coming up with a simple, well costed, plan which deals with both expensive illness and poor people would be a huge step forward.

However, I would suggest a third element: a really serious look at how a) the incidence of catastrophic illness can be reduced, b) an initiative to create efficient best practices to deal with catastrophic illness and c) a drive to reduce the costs of treatment for catastrophic illness through everything from the use of single payer drug buying power to tort reform.

RyanCare, like ObamaCare, seemed to want to do far too many things all at once. Doing a few things very well might be a better model for Trump to follow as he cleans up the mess.

 

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Well, we can’t have that!

marc-emery-embrace

Regular readers and friends will know that I wrote a book last year entitled “Start and Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop” (yes, hit the link and buy the book…I make about a buck). The book was written in anticipation of Trudeau’s legalization strategy here in Canada and the likelihood that many more American states would legalize recreational or medical marijuana in the November elections.

I don’t have a particular axe to grind in the pot wars. If I smoke pot I go to sleep in three minutes or less. So I don’t. If I had trouble sleeping, I would. But, politically, I think it is assinine to keep marijuana (and several other drugs) illegal. Doing media for the book I have chattered away on assorted Canadian radio programs and said, bluntly, that for the time being, opening a pot shop in Canada opened you to the business risk of “GOING TO JAIL”. My lovely publicist Hanna probably grimaces when she hear me say that but it is, absurdly enough, true.

Which was proven today.

Police officers in several Canadian cities raided illegal marijuana dispensaries linked to activists Marc and Jodie Emery on Thursday, charging them and several others with drug offences as part of an investigation led by Toronto police.

The raids were the latest attempt by local police forces to shut down pot shops that have been opening in cities across the country, even as the federal government prepares to fully legalize the drug with legislation this spring. It was also notable for the involvement of Vancouver’s police force, which has largely left dispensaries in the city alone, including those run by the Emerys.

The two were arrested at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Wednesday as part of a Toronto police operation called Project Gator. the globe and mail

Now, what is actually going on is that the prohibitionist faction in the Liberal Party, led by ex Toronto police chief Bill Blair, having lost the big argument to young Justin, is fighting a brutal rear guard action against the hippy libertarian pot people who don’t see the need for massively intrusive pot regulation. And there is no better place for such un-Canadian anarchists than court and then jail.

The game here is simple: legalization if necessary but not necessarily legalization. The dumbo Millennials who flocked to hip young Justin heard him say “legalization” and didn’t hear all the caveats. But Bill Blair did. And Bill Blair is not the sort of guy who likes any sort of disorder. (Disorder needs to be kettled in Blair world.) The emergence of a grey market in pot is disorderly. It means that the big money guys at Canopy and the other publically listed potcos might be cut out of a “bottom up” recreational marijuana market.

Blair said a day ago that Canada would not rush into the legalized recreational pot market. First there is the legislation which is expected in spring. Then there are the regulations to be worked out with the provinces…

Lawmaker Bill Blair — the former Toronto police chief leading Trudeau’s legalization effort — confirmed a bill is due in parliament this spring, but it won’t be the last hurdle as ample regulatory work remains. The federal government will take its time and work with provinces, territories and cities to build a framework and develop specific regulations, he said.

The government is also looking for ways to control production, distribution and consumption of legalized marijuana, while testing it for quality and keeping it out of the hands of minors, Blair said. bloomberg

All of which should give assorted police forces plenty of time to raid, charge and crush the emergent, unregulated, pot industry in Canada. (To save the children and ensure “purity” of course.)

Trudeau’s supporters are far too stupid to realize what is going on. In fact, Trudeau himself, who simply wants to legally be able to enjoy a joint after dinner, isn’t bright enough to realize the prohibitionists and the corporate pot guys are now running this show. He’s been played.

Marc and Jodie Emery are the go to people for media on the pot issue. Given the charges filed today, they may not be available much longer. Which is exactly what corporate pot in Canada has been pushing for.

 

(And…WTF? Vancouver too. Shame on you VPD.)

Update: 

Ottawa policeman raids pot shop

Ok, why the mask?

Masked police may make sense in terror situations but, so far as is known, pot shop owners don’t track down cops.

So why the mask. There are other pictures of the raids on Cannabis Culture with other masked officers. Why?

I can imagine the poor buggers are ashamed of themselves but that is no justification for wearing masks. I suspect the elephant gun is for taking down the maddened stoners frequenting the shops. But the mask?

The mask is about intimidation plain and simple. The hidden face of the big state showing those hippie libertarians who’s boss. Anti-terror cops sometimes wear masks although they shouldn’t because they should be proud of what they do. Secret police wear masks because they know they cannot be proud of what they do.

So, Justin, you might ask Bill Blair, just out of interest, why the masks?

 

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Cat Meet Pigeons

smoking-gunTrump has been tweeting again and this time he’s dropped the bomb on the Obama Administration’s alleged tapping of the Trump campaign.

Assorted Obama spokespeople have said that Obama himself did not order the wiretaps. Which many have taken as tacit confirmation that there were wiretaps but that the big O did not actually put them in place.

There is a bit of business about two separate applications to the FISA Court which grants wiretap authorizations for surveillance of agents of foreign states – but not Americans. And the wonderfully oily James Clapper told “Meet the Press”:

“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether he could confirm or deny whether the FBI could have tapped Trump’s phones under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Clapper was unequivocal.
“I can deny it,” he said. “There is no FISA court order, not to my knowledge, of anything at Trump Tower.” CNN
That this activity was reported some time ago in the NYT is largely dismissed as the Times apparently relied on a report at Heat Street where the very excitable Louise Mensch reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant.
Clapper has a bit of form as being willing to lie under oath but I can’t see any reason why he would lie in these circumstances when it is pretty much inevitable that a FISA application will or will not have been made and decided. There is a record and that record will come out.
At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Trump is not in possession of some evidence that his campaign was tapped. Otherwise, why make the allegation? (And, for sake of argument, let’s put aside the idea that the human Cheeto is simply a deranged lunatic liable to tweet anything.)
The  “Trump ties to Russia” story keeps surfacing as various members of the “intelligence community” leak material to MSM. There does not seem to be much there but what there is can be amped up and puts the Trump Administration on the defensive.  From his tweets and other statements, it is pretty clear Trump is, like many Presidents before him, annoyed with the leaks.
Unlike many Presidents whose response to leaks usually involves some sort of internal investigation, Trump seems willing to try and get to the source of the leaks. He has called for, and is apparently getting, a full scale Congressional investigation of his allegations within the context of an overall investigation of the “Russian influence” on the election.
One read of this is that Trump wants to put the Russian connection allegations on ice for a while and kicking the whole thing over to Congress might have that effect. It is a plausible explanation but it seems somehow inefficient. Very little reward for a significant risk.
My own sense is that Trump has, or thinks he has, a smoking gun. Something which will tie Obama and his administration to illegal activity. If there was a FISA application there would have to be affidavits in support of that application. There would have to be disclosure of the sources and methods whereby the DOJ (the only entity which appears before the FISA court) concluded that there was foreign agent activity at Trump Tower. And that would open several cans of worms.
It is also pure speculation. What is not speculation is that no one in the Obama administration ever, for a minute, believed that Trump would win. Playing a bit fast and loose with rules when there was a Hillary lock on the next administration might well have seemed like a good idea at the time.After all, the orangutang and his flying monkeys were hardly ever going to be in a position to find out.
If there is a “smoking gun”, Trump, by making his allegations and then calling for a Congressional investigation, is ensuring that its discovery will be the work of Congress and not the Trump Administration. Which is not to say the Trump Administration will not leave a trail of boulder-sized, glow in the dark, bread crumbs which even the thickest Congressional investigator will be able to follow.
Trump and his people know that if they are going to put the Russian claims behind them and, perhaps, tarnish the halo the MSM has placed on Obama’s head, the actual investigation has to be at arm’s length. Trump has got his arms-length investigation, now the question is whether he has the actual smoking gun.
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Gotcha!

EPSON scanner image

The continuing farce of the deep state versus Trump took another turn with the “revelation” that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s AG and a former Senator, may have met twice with the Russian Ambassador. And then, when asked a question during his confirmation hearings which was, at a stretch, tangentially related to his possible meetings, said he had no meetings about the particular topic he was being questioned about.

This is pretty much politics as usual except for one important detail. The Washington Post which broke “the story” was a bit coy as to its sources for the news of Sessions meetings. I have seen “intelligence sources” mentioned but that could really mean just about anything.

The partisan spin machines came up to speed this morning with the Democrats claiming perjury and demanding a special prosecutor, recusal and resignation and the Republicans suggesting that this is a “nothing burger”.

The accusations themselves may be meritless but the fact they have been made at all based on information fed to the Washington Post by people inside the government is significant. So is the ongoing attempt to implicate the Russians in Trump’s victory.

It is more than a little unlikely that the two meetings Sessions had with the Russian Ambassador will do any great harm, nor will his answer to the Senate Committee, simply because there is very little wrong with either. But that is not, I don’t think, the intent of this attack.

The objective is longer range. Taking on Trump directly is beyond the capacity of the Democratic party at this stage. They can and will snipe at him. But creating a climate of suspicion around Trump officials has the potential for long-term payoffs while keeping the administration off balance.

No single “gotcha” will take down Trump. A series of minor scandals and embarrassments punctuated by the occasional full on investigation, might succeed in rendering the Trump Administration timid and gun shy. At this point, it is the best option deep state Democrats and their media minnions have.

When Hercules battled the hydra – pictured above – one of the ways he won was to have a friend hold a torch to the hydra’s neck as Hercules lopped off the head thereby prevent the traditional two heads from growing in place of the severed one. At the moment Trump and his people are lopping off the media serpents’ heads as fast as they can; but they are not cauterising the wounds they are inflicting and the serpent keeps fighting. What is needed is a more serious strategy, a long term strategy of marginalising the media and responding directly and forcefully to any allegations made. Some guy once said, “Punch back twice as hard.”

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