Category Archives: #donaldtrump

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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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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MILO…

Kathy Shaidle gets it about right:

Guys, seriously.

When you invite someone as gay as Milo to speak at CPAC or whatever, here’s the thing:

Gay people are not the angelic eunuchs of your Will and Grace straight fantasies.

As pretty much any of them will tell you — ask Tammy Bruce — a huge part of gay culture is the initiation of teen boys into the life by older men.

Five Feet of Fury

I’ve looked at the tapes and read MILO’s explanation and, frankly, the whole “advocating for paedophilia” thing is nothing more than a cheap hit job. Or it is if you know anything about gay culture.

At the moment I am reading Francis Spaulding’s wonderful biography of Duncan Grant. There is no doubt at all that Grant discovered a part of his sexuality because a nasty old man, likely all of twenty-five, touched him at a tender age. Not at seven or even twelve; rather in his mid-teens. Was that wrong? Yes. Does it happen? Yes again. MILO claims he was blowing a priest at fourteen which I find outrageous; but, like Kathy, I am unsurprised.

If you understand gay culture, if you have gay friends, you will know that the idea of men and boys together is part of that culture. Is the age of consent the issue? It might be, but while the vast majority of gay men stay on the legal side of the line, they certainly lust in their hearts for the “twinks”.

And if you understand straight male culture, if you chat with a bunch of guys, you will know that many men would just love to bang a seriously hot fifteen year old. They don’t actually do it any more than gay men do; but a pretty, nubile, underage girl does not go unnoticed. “Jail bait” is a thing and has been for centuries. (And the fashion mags are full of them.)

The nice people, the girls in the front of the class, don’t want to know the darkness in men’s hearts. MILO, to his great misfortune, did not maintain the official pretence with quite the vigor the great and the good require. For which he is punished with disinvitation to CPAC (a now, in the face of Trump, irrelevant organization) and a cancellation of his book deal (keep the money MILO) and, possibly, a parting of the ways with Breitbart.com.

The takeaway. Never tell the truth. Never, for a second, admit that you find a person less that a certain age, sexually attractive. Never allow that gay male sexuality may begin with a moment with an older man. The girls in the class room front row are quite sure that you have sinned even though you are sinned against. If you are straight, make sure you lust after only age appropriate women. Because, otherwise, whether you act on your impulses or not, you’re a perv. Even talking about the beauty of youth makes you a paedophile or worse.

What we are seeing here is a moral panic attached to a political agenda: the left have no counter to MILO, nor do the Rinos. Time to smear. And smear they have.

[And yes, I write that as the father of two “underage sons” who I will protect as well as I can from predatory men or women. But I am not enough of a hypocrite to pretend I have no idea what MILO is talking about. My fond wish is that my sons are as lucky as I was and able to avoid the paedophiles.  But there are no guarantees. Other than keeping your boys in a cotton box, the reality is that there are lots of nasty people out there. And worse, some very nice ones. Innocence is more often lost to the nice than the nasty.)

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The Reveal

05744777I have not written much about Trump post election. Quite honestly, up until he took the Oath of Office, I could not quite believe that the elites arrayed against him would not come up with something to avoid the accession of the Cheeto vulgarian. I guess they just don’t make elites like they used to and there it is, President Trump.

Smart people on the right have noted: 1) in his first week Trump has “flooded the zone” with Executive Orders, appointments, website changes and tweets, almost all of which producing outrage, apoplexy and scorn from lefties and liberals, 2) it turns out that the elite media have been successfully bypassed by the Trumpians by the simple expedient of largely ignoring it, 3) it appears that Trump proposes to keep most of his campaign promises, 4) perhaps most importantly, unlike his predecessor, Trump intuitively understands the real power of the White House is not about intelligence briefings and budget planning, it is about getting things done.

Getting things done, impressing his agenda on the United States and the world, is all about using the full tool kit of the White House. Probably the most powerful tool in that kit is the allure of the White House itself. An invitation to have a cup of coffee with the President of the United States is irresistible to almost anyone in the world, (except the President of Mexico, apparently, but I suspect this is mainly posturing). It is particularly attractive to members of official Washington on both sides of the aisle. For an incoming President, making time to shake hands with potentially useful Congressmen is a force multiplier. So is sitting down with the captains of industry and union leaders.

While the pussy capped ninnies paraded in the streets about just what an awful man Trump is, Trump was in the process of building his own bully pulpit. (“Bully” in the sense Teddy Roosevelt used that word.) He is also making it very clear, particularly to the press, that he is indifferent, if not actively hostile, towards negative opinions of his person or work. He and his staff are not even pretending to take the mainstream media seriously which seems to be resulting in ever shriller and therefore credibility destroying efforts on MSM’s part to demonise Trump and all his works.

After a week of President Trump a bit of an outline is emerging: “Do what you said you were going to do.” “Use the power of the White House to build up a bit of a favour bank.” “Ignore the media when not actively making fun of them.” “Behave seriously but enjoy the office.” If Trump can keep it up he may have a shot at being a genuinely great President.

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Denial

Last year’s media have suddenly discovered that the CIA on not very much evidence have reached a “consensus” that the evil Vlad caused his flying monkeys to hack the DNC servers and access material which was then used via Wikileaks to help crush Hilly so The Donald could win the Presidency. Apparently, this is the biggest political story ever!

Or not.

Probably not. Quick, name a revelation from the Wikileaks trove which would have caused people to switch their vote from Hilly to Trump? Stumped? So am I. I read a lot of the leaks and, while they certainly revealed a rather unpleasant culture of entitlement and corruption at the DNC, there was nothing which was terrifically shocking.

This is just one of the Dem narratives designed to call into question Trump’s legitimacy as President. There are also loser ideas like Steve Bannon being a secret white supremacist, the whole “fake news” lunacy aided and abetted by a brilliant WaPo confection which was sourced to an anonymous website, and, of course, the “billionaire has business interests” routine and shrill cries of “popular vote” as if it mattered. None of it seems to be sticking because none of it has much substance.

What these narratives share in common is the fact the Dems and their enabling media cannot quite bring themselves to accept that the “deplorables” won the election. As Trump goes about assembling one of the most impressive Cabinets in recent memory, the Dems cling to the idea that he can’t really be President. They want a do over.

As each new anti-Trump narrative is run up the media flagpole Trump’s polling popularity inches up. The more desperate the Dems sound the more inclined the general population is to give Trump a chance. The shriller the special snowflakes’ angst becomes the more inclined normal Americans are to be rid of the idiots. Calling Trump an “orange Nazi” may make the snowflakes feel better but it is not likely to make them any less odious.

Trump is going to be President. The only remaining question is whether the Democratic Party is going to be an effective opposition or if it is going to give itself over to denialist tantrums for the next few years. My bet is tantrums.

Trump is also going to be a President who does not need and will not bow to the pathetic mainstream media. As I suggested a month ago, a good place to start would be exiling the White House Press corps from the White House. Putting the media in their place after their awful election coverage is a luxury Trump can afford. The Press needs the President far more than the President needs the Press.

Ultimately Trump will be judged on his performance. To date, he seems to have a pretty solid grasp of the job ahead. We’ll see how he does in office.

 

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She Skates?

Grrrr….

There is just so much wrong with this: http://nypost.com/2016/11/22/trump-wont-pursue-charges-against-clinton/

First off, it is not Trump’s decision to make. The basic principle is that the Attorney General makes the call as to whether and when to appoint a special prosecutor. That is designed to prevent politics from getting in the way of the operation of law.

Second, sending your ex-campaign manager off to deliver the news is entirely wrong. If you are serious you need to appear serious. Either Sessions or Trump himself should have dropped this particular bomb. Coming from Kerryanne Conway it is not in the least clear what, in fact, was decided. Does this mean there will be no investigation ever? Or is it the current view of the incoming administration subject to revision in the light of new evidence. Does it just include Hilly or does the “stay” include the Clinton Foundation, Huma, Cheryl Mills and so on?

Third, what does it say about the idea of the rule of law? It is all very well to talk about “healing” but not at the expense of having a justice system which operates differently for elite players.

I completely understand the impulse to be gracious in victory and to avoid even the appearance of trying to jail your political opponent. At that level it is a political decision and one which might be defended at a political level. However, at a process level and a legal level, this is exactly the sort of seat of the pants decision making which creates contempt for the Office of the Presidency.

Not smart Trump, not smart at all.

UPDATE: 

“I’m not looking to go back through this,” he explained to reporters at the New York Timesoffices on Tuesday.

When asked if he was taking prosecution off of the table, Trump said “no,” but he appeared eager to move on.

“My inclination would be for whatever power I have on the matter is to say let’s go forward,” he said. “This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseum.“

Trump argued against prosecuting the Clintons, suggesting that it would be better for the country and his administration if they moved on.

“I think it would be very, very divisive for the country,” he said. breitbart

That leaves the door open but it is still a lousy way to deal with a question of law. Nice as it is for Trump to have an “inclination” the correct way to proceed is to leave the door wide open until Sessions is confirmed by the Senate and has conduct of the file(s).

Part of the reason for electing Trump was to restore some semblance of the rule of law and respect for process. Short cutting that process is not helping.

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racist/homophobic/islamophobic/fascist/nazi poopy pants

Trump, Hitler, Dr. DawgHoward Dean is a proven idiot but he eliminated any doubt on Evan Solomon’s show by announcing, “He appoints a reasonable person, who’s much more conservative than I am, but someone you can talk to, as his Chief of Staff — and then the senior adviser’s a Nazi,” link

Keith Olbermann has examined the evidence and arrived at the conclusion Trump’s campaign manager, Kerryanne Conway is a fascist. link

My pal Dr. Dawg is happy to announce today that “Donald Trump, [who] is busy at the moment staffing the White House with fascists.” link Dawg goes on to talk about how he “prefer(s) to focus on Trump and his Fourth Reich supporters” in the comments. (link)

I get that these poor people are beside themselves with anti-Trump hysteria. But to go direct to “Nazi” or “fascist” or misogynist or racist suggests a degree of intellectual laziness which does not bode well for the left’s capacity to rebound from the shock of the Trump victory.

It also suggests that the left is under the illusion that these epithets still have much power. Even ten years ago calling someone a racist was a really powerful slur. It signified because it was a word which actually meant something. Now, people are called racist for saying that “all lives matter” or that open borders have real costs. Apparently, you can be labelled an anti-Semite because someone you don’t know and certainly don’t countenance has said something anti-Semitic somewhere on the internet which has nothing to do with your own patch of the net. All that needs to happen is that these people have to vaguely endorse your site.

No one really knows what goes on in Howard Dean’s rather worn out brain but when Solomon followed up on his Nazi remark he said vis a vis Bannon,

“Well, he’s anti-Semitic, he’s anti-black and he’s anti-women.”

“It’s a big word,” he said. “I don’t usually use it unless somebody’s really anti-Semitic, really misogynist, really anti-black.” link

Dean seems to think that if someone (in his opinion and without evidence) is “really” some bad things then, well, “He’s a Nazi.”

This is the language of the pure smear. It is not about any sort of political discourse or argument, it is simply taking the worst word you can think of and slapping it on your political opponent. Three-year-olds understand the tactic.

“You’re a poopy pants.” they will merrily cry in the sandbox.

The infantilization of the left, replete with safe spaces, Play-Do, puppies, safety pins continues apace in the face of Trump. I expect we’ll be seeing more acting out as Trump appoints more adults to his Administration. But it is just unfortunate when people who should know better join in the sandbox melee.


Having said all that, it would be wise of Bannon and the rest of the White House team to keep a lot of blue water between themselves and the actual Nazis at the Richard Spencer backed National Policy Institute. The alt-right contains many, often contradictory, strands of thought and blocking the NPI line would be both prudent and right. Bannon says zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and racism, making sure that NPI is pointedly excluded from even a look in at the Trump White House would be a good first step.

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Press Out

By convention the major news networks and several newspapers and organizations form the White House Press Corps replete with office space in the West Wing and daily press briefings from the “Press Secretary”. This convention goes back to the end of the 19th century and has become more formalized with the passage of time.

Need it continue?

I think it is fair to say that the establishment media in the US has been universally hostile to President Elect Trump. Editorially that would be one thing, but it is pretty clear that the reporters and opinion columnists (and is there really a difference any more?) can’t stand Trump. And Trump cordially returns the favour calling out dishonest reporters and what he sees as biased coverage.

Perhaps it is time for there to be a bit of distance between the President and the Press. Physical distance. Setting up a briefing room and offices for the Press Corps in a basement at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street from the White House would make clear the Press Corps’ status in a Trump Presidency. And a weekly rather than daily briefing would be more than sufficent to cover the routine matters an Administration has to announce. Yes, the media would howl. But so what?

At the moment Trump can get any coverage he wants or needs when he wants or needs it from any number of non-traditional media outlets. Breitbart, Daily Caller, Drudge…Hell, the Daily Mail does a better and less biased job of covering Trump than the US mainstream media.

“Draining the swamp” means more than kicking the lobbyists out of government, it also means breaking up the media cabal which has enabled the swamp to fill up in the first place. Dumping the Press Corps into a basement half a mile from the center of power will make their actual importance very clear.

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Steve Bannon

The defeated left is going all in on Breitbart’s (and soon the White House’s) Steve Bannon.

The smears are as fact free as they are nasty and it is a direct and simple challenge to Trump. People like Harry Reid and Elizabeth Warren are slagging Bannon and threatening not to co-operate (as if) with Trump.

So now Trump gets to decide: keep Steve or underbus him in the face of a determined lefty smear. I think it is an easy decision; but it will also be a telling one. If Trump backs his pick he wins bigly, if he waivers, even slightly, he will have created a huge problem for himself and his Presidency. We should know how this turns out by the weekend.

If you want to read what this notorious “anti-Semite” and “racist” and white supremacist thinks go read his remarks to a Vatican conference on poverty.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.jgq2dB2Wq#.tw3ywEyX5

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