For those with ears to hear

I was impressed by President Trump’s State of the Union address.  It was one of his better public speaking performances, and whoever helped him craft the remarks instilled some great message discipline.  The speech covered a wide range of topics, some of which I thought could have been left for a different venue in order to tighten up the key points.  But those key points shone through, as this analysis by Glenn Reynolds shows:

So one of the interesting things about Trump’s speech last night is how it seemed calculated to demolish all the standard anti-Trump tropes from the media and from the left and to do so with compelling imagery. Consider:

Trump’s a Nazi: Praise for Holocaust survivors, and a touching rendition of “Happy Birthday.” (With Trump waving his fingers like a conductor).
Trump hates minorities: Brags about record low black, Hispanic, and Asian unemployment — while white-clad Democratic women, overwhelmingly white themselves, sat prune-faced.
Trump’s a Russian tool: Withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
Trump’s a warmonger: Without me, Trump says, we’d be at war on the Korean peninsula. Also, I’m looking at pulling out of Afghanistan.
Trump hates women: Except he got even the prune-faced white-clad Democratic women up dancing (and chanting “USA! USA!”) when he talked about record female employment in and out of Congress.

And his rebuke to socialism was designed to strip the glamour that the media have tried to imbue it with by tying it to the abject misery of Venezuela.

In debate, I think this is called cutting across your opponent’s flow. ((As a former competitive debater, I can confirm that term.  – Jemison))  And I think it’s Trump’s opening shot at 2020, as well as an effort to undercut the “Resistance” in and out of Congress. Plus, as Ann Althouse notes, despite the predictions of lefties like Robert Reich (see below) it was all wrapped in optimism and sunny American exceptionalism.

Genuinely Reaganesque.

There’s one Reynolds missed.  While I’m not in favor of the government providing taxpayer-funded family leave after the birth of a child, I was very glad to see him pivot from the “image of a mother holding her new baby” to the horrors of the recent pro-abortion legislation in New York and Virginia.  The contrast was deliberate and well-executed, followed by a call to Congress to outlaw late-term abortion (it’s a start).

Overall I was encouraged by the way in which the speech was an invitation to work together for the good of the country, without retreating from strongly held policy positions.  If the goal in politics is to capture the middle ground, I think Trump did a good job of it last night.

Naturally, many in the country today are dismissing everything he had to say.  Some, like Senator Chuck Schumer, were dismissing it even before hearing it.  No matter how reasonable Trump tries to be, nor how many facts he arms his talking points with, there will continue to be those partisans who refuse to listen.  Not only because they are invested in the Democratic party, but because they abhor the vision of America Trump’s election represents — a return to the roots, if you will.  The most “Reaganesque” moment of the speech in my opinion was when Trump pledged our nation would never be a socialist country.  The fact there were audible boos in the halls of Congress to this rejection of socialism should be a wakeup call to Americans who value their freedom.  It is not hyperbole to say there are members of Congress dedicated to subverting everything our Constitution and our history stand for.  They will not be swayed by reasonable arguments, demonstrable facts or the evidences of history.  They will have to be fought tooth and nail as if the survival of our nation depends on it.

Because it does.

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A guy can hope

President Trump sent word this afternoon he will make a major announcement from the White House tomorrow at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.  Were I his speech writer, my draft would look something like this:

My fellow Americans,

For the past 29 days, parts of your Federal Government have been shut down due to the lack of an authorized budget for 2019.  About 800,000 workers have been on furlough, uncertain when they will see their next paycheck.  Essential services like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, on which many Americans depend, are close to exhausting their resources and leaving citizens in danger of hunger and other financial hardships.

This intolerable situation exists for only one reason: the refusal of the Democratic leadership in Congress to approve funding our Border Patrol personnel have requested to secure our nation’s border and maintain our right to determine who may enter.  While the Democrats profess sympathy for those affected by these events, their actions show otherwise.  Last weekend many Congressmen were enjoying sunny Puerto Rico, in the company of over 100 lobbyists.  I was here, in the White House, waiting to discuss the issue.  This week, Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats planned to take a taxpayer-funded seven-day trip overseas, until I denied the use of our military resources for such travel at a time when portions of our government are without funding.  As I pointed out in my letter to Speaker Pelosi, our people are better served if she and Senator Schumer remain here in Washington so we can resolve this issue.

I campaigned in 2016 with a strong promise I would secure our border against illegal immigration and the flow of narcotics.  Our broken border and immigration processes have been political talking points for more than 30 years.  Now, the current opioid crisis and the documented number of violent crimes committed by those who break into our country prove the urgent need for action.  I was entrusted with this office by Americans who expected me to uphold my promise to act.  And I will.

As I speak, another caravan of migrants has been organized and is moving north through Mexico, seeking to enter our country without permission.  The defense of our nation is my greatest responsibility, and I have urged Congress for two years to provide the resources we need to meet these kinds of challenges.  But national security seems to be the only government spending program Democrats don’t like.  Therefore, I am declaring a National Emergency with regard to the illegal entry of persons and illegal substances into this country.  As part of this declaration, I have directed the Defense Department to provide all possible support that may be requested by the Customs and Border Patrol to enable them to detect, detain and quickly return to their country of origin anyone found crossing our border illegally.  I have also directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed immediately with the construction of additional physical barriers on our border, prioritizing locations and types of barriers as the Border Patrol believes will best secure our frontier.  I have directed the Defense Department to divert five percent of all previously approved operational funds for 2019 to enable the immediate start of this construction, and to support the agency’s assistance to the Border Patrol.

In addition, the State Department has been directed to cease processing of all immigration requests, including programs like the H-1B work visa, until the current impasse is resolved and the government restored to full funding.

To our hard working Customs and Border Patrol, I offer the thanks of a grateful America for the critical work you do. To our armed forces, I am confident in your ability to mobilize quickly the resources needed to aid our border agents.  To our furloughed Federal workers, I regret you have been placed in this position.  If Congress had passed their appropriation bills on time, and kept in mind my pleas not to leave out border funding yet again, we would not be where we are today.

A nation that cannot control its own borders loses control of its future.  If we cannot protect our sovereignty, nothing else we do will make or keep America great.  It is a blessing to have been born here, and we protect that blessing for our descendants by ensuring those who join us here show respect for the customs and laws that made our land attractive in the first place.  The actions I announced today are only a small start in solving the problem of our broken border and immigration policies.  I urge my counterparts in Congress to work with me in good faith to find long-lasting solutions for this and other issues facing our nation.  When you’re ready to do so, you know where to find me.  I urge you not to waste another 29 days.

Like I said, a guy can hope, right?

Beautiful

Because I have a background in professional communication, the Trump administration’s lack of message discipline often causes me to grind my teeth.  I’m seeing signs of improvement, however small.  Over the past several days, the president has been on Twitter, pointing out he’s available to discuss the budget.  Contrast that to the Congressional Democrats jaunting down to Puerto Rico last weekend, accompanied by over 100 lobbyists.  (Way to show solidarity with furloughed workers, donkeys!)

This, however, is brilliant.  Shortly before another Congressional junket was due to leave, using government aircraft, President Trump waved it off:

trump letter to pelosi

Naturally, Trump’s critics are calling this “petty” and “childish.”  But it’s a logical follow-up to the Speaker’s own letter yesterday suggesting Trump forego the State of the Union address due to the shutdown.  Note how many messages are packed into the letter above.  Pelosi sought to use the shutdown to deny the president a forum.  He used it to call out the Speaker for not sticking around to resolve the shutdown and restore workers’ paychecks, and at the same time cancelled a pointless seven-day vacation using government resources.  (I’ve worked my share of Congressional Delegation, or “CODEL” trips… I know whereof I speak.)

Forget the chattering classes.  Who do you think the average American in “flyover country” supports in this exchange of letters?

As for the State of the Union address, perhaps the President should simply deliver it to Congress via a prime-time TV address from the Oval Office, during which he talks with rank-and-file members of the Customs and Border Patrol about what they see everyday, and what they think it would take to secure the border.

Yes, our government is squabbling like children on a playground.  I can both mourn the current state of public discourse and at the same time recognize effective messaging when I see it.  I can also hope the squabbling only ends when there’s a commitment to finally secure our border and discourage the ongoing invasion of our country.

Build.  The.  Wall.

Paying for the sins of others

Our self-proclaimed ‘elites’ have so rigged the system that taxpayers pick up the tab for their crimes:

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Missouri-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

About $2 million of the [$3.5 million] settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed.

Exactly how would this court settlement be a ‘warning’ to government officials?  The public face of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner, was allowed to retire with full pension and has the IRS still fighting to keep her testimony in the lawsuit secret “for her own safety.”

Former IRS executive Lois G. Lerner told a federal court last week that members of her family, including “young children,” face death threats and a real risk of physical harm if her explanation of the tea party targeting scandal becomes public.

Such legal stalling tactics by the IRS account for nearly 2/3 of the settlement cost.  Meanwhile, where does the settlement money in this case come from?  The IRS budget?  Guess who provides that.  That’s right: we, the American people do.  Nor is this an unusual event.  We still don’t know the names of Congresscritters who used taxpayer money to pay off various accusers of sexual or discriminatory improprieties.  While there was enough of a blip of outrage that Congress allegedly prohibited that practice going forward, the identities of those who previously made the payoffs are still protected.

Finally, despite mouthing such support for all the Federal employees not getting paid during the partial government shutdown, many Democrats in Congress went to Puerto Rico this weekend to party with lobbyists instead of seeking a deal with Trump.  Why is Congress still getting paid unless they’ve had the conviction to refuse their paychecks during the standoff?  They certainly haven’t done their job!  Maybe this will cause all the minions in Mordor and elsewhere to reconsider their reflexive support of the donkeys.  I’m not holding my breath, however.

The “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, wrote in Federalist #51, “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”  (Emphasis added)  When the penalties of government misconduct are transferred to the governed, what obliges those in government to control themselves?  There is a saying, often erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that “Where the people fear the government, you have tyranny.  When government fears the people, you have liberty.

Does our governing class show any signs of ‘fearing the people,’ or consequences for their actions?  Are you beginning to see why we have a Second Amendment, and why it is under such attack by these same miscreants?  Our founders were wise enough to realize Leviathan can slip the bounds of any constitutional shackles they could devise.  The Second Amendment provides a final safeguard should all else go wrong.

Sadly, if we have to avail ourselves of that safeguard, the entire country will still be paying for the sins of others.

TSA Shutdown? Yes, please

Regular readers of this blog know that I absolutely loathe the Transportation Security Administration. It’s a monstrous, unconstitutional abomination that should not exist in any society that considers itself “free.” What’s more, it is demonstratively unable to meet its primary purpose: detecting and intercepting potential threats to travelers.  Perhaps the ongoing “shutdown” of the Feral Government will give Americans — and the TSA Employees themselves — a chance to rethink how ‘essential’ this function really is:.

Nobody wants to work for an employer who holds off on cutting paychecks until a more convenient moment, and that’s just what the federal government is doing during its “shutdown”—a spectacle that almost seems crafted to demonstrate how easy it is to live without the leviathan in Washington, D.C.

Understandably, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are no more enthusiastic about working when their paychecks are delayed than is anybody else on the planet. That’s why they’ve been calling-in sick in increased numbers—some to seek temporary work elsewhere in order to pay their bills—as the more-theater-than-reality “government shutdown” drags on.

Not that there’s any point to all of that [TSA] groping beyond the purely recreational aspect. Undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and explosives past TSA agents 95 percent of the time, according to a 2015 Homeland Security Investigator General report. Maybe that’s because agents are relying on dowsing rods or Spidey sense—they’re certainly not depending on the expensive equipment they make travelers and baggage file through.

“Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventive maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use,” The Inspector General office also noted.

“Security theater” is what security expert Bruce Schneier, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of government, calls most of what the TSA does. They’re “measures that make us feel safer without improving security… I’ve repeatedly said that the two things that have made flying safer since 9/11 are reinforcing the cockpit doors and persuading passengers that they need to fight back. Everything beyond that isn’t worth it.”

But, isn’t this an opportunity for us all? Given that the world is a better place when TSA employees and other government minions don’t do their jobs, and some are already seeking alternative employment, what a great opportunity to shut down their agencies, shrink the government, and make everybody’s lives a little better!

If it isn’t worth it, why pay for it?

Especially when the cost is measured in civil liberty as much as it is in dollars. It’s long past time we reevaluate just how “essential” large parts of the Feral Government really are. We pay for more government than we should want, and yet get less return on those payments than we need.  As for the “shutdown,” let’s keep a little perspective:

shutddown

Mitt Romney disapproves this message

Trump shows again his mastery of Twitter:

trump tweet warren

In case you don’t get it, click here.

While this is a brilliant poke at Warren, I’m sure there are many, Mitt Romney especially, who are holding their noses and saying “that’s not presidential.”

Wrong.

The simple fact is that if Romney had been 1/2020th this willing to dig at Obama’s smug overestimation of himself, we might have avoided a second Obama term.  Not that it would have meant much, since Romney is the epitome of “RINO” (Republican in Name Only), mouthing small government platitudes but doing nothing to actually advance that agenda.  Do recall that Obamacare was advertised as a logical extension of Romney’s own prior government intrusion into healthcare in Massachusetts.

But wait!  There’s more!  Romney is now a Senator from Utah.  Huh?  That sounds like a Hillary move, suddenly becoming a New Yorker to get into the Senate.  What’s more, Romney had plenty of use for Trump in 2012 and 2018, when he sought the man’s endorsement for president and senate, respectively.  But now he wants to bite the hand that supported him:

It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.

I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not. I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

Well, Mr. Romney, it’s well known a lot of us conservative patriotic Americans didn’t have you as our first choice in 2012, and wish Trump had told you to pound sand when you asked his help into the Senate last year.  Anyone should have seen you would take on the mantle of a McCain or a Flake, sniping at your party from the inside, where you can do the most damage.  You’re not interested in supporting the public’s agenda, only ensuring you are applauded by “all the right folks.”  You know, the ones praising your recent op-ed, but at the time said you were literally Hitler when you dared to run for president as a Republican.  Have you really forgotten?

I admit I wish the president would reign in some of the more gratuitous sniping, and show a little more message discipline.  But to all the “never Trumpers” out there, scratching your head and wondering why Americans could support someone like Trump, it’s simple:

You chatter.  He fights… and gets things done.  Patriots are tired of alleged leaders who will only fight in prim accordance with the Queensbury Rules while our adversaries routinely punch below the belt.  Reversing this country’s disastrous heading is a massive undertaking.  Those who are afraid of getting their hands dirty or their positions criticized by the legacy media are of no use.

****

UPDATE: Hey, Mitt — got any thoughts about expectations for the behavior of Congresscritters while you’re at it?  I know… if you criticize her you might lose face with the swamp elites you run with.  Rashida Taleb has already overturned two centuries of tradition so she can wear a symbol of Islamic oppression of women on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Will she also be allowed to make that kind of foul public language standard there, too?  Before you play the moral equivalence game between her and Trump, consider this: at a minimum, the difference is she hates everything traditional America stands for.

Be resolute, Mr. Trump

Today is traditionally the day people finish compiling their list of “New Years Resolutions.”  Last March, President Trump strongly warned Congress against sending him another hash of a budget that refused to address illegal immigration.  Having thrown that gauntlet, it’s vital Trump stay resolute on the issue during the current partial government shutdown.  It’s won’t be easy, as even his own party (with a few notable exceptions) refuses to give him the support any Democrat in Congress would be expected to provide a president of their own:

Donald J. Trump is hated even more by the Republican establishment than he is by the Democrats. That has become apparent as the “leadership” of outgoing Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has overseen the greatest legislative retreat in history. Given all of the advantages that being in the majority offers, Ryan squandered every single one of them — from repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to building the wall. Because the GOP could not maintain a decisive record of legislative victories over the last two years, particularly on things that have long animated the Right (such as immigration enforcement), the voters awarded the Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives…

In a recent poll conducted by Harvard University of all places, 80 percent of all voters say the United States needs a secure border — including 68 percent of Democratic Party voters. Meanwhile, 79 percent of voters polled by Harvard want immigration status to be conferred to those who have the “ability to contribute to America” (with 87 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agreeing with that claim). Essentially, despite what the punditariat may claim, President Donald Trump is on the right side of one of the most pressing issues of our time…

With just a single week left, the Republicans could have done something to further the cause of immigration enforcement that a majority of American voters clearly support. Unfortunately, though, the cowards have opted instead to adhere to the wishes of the oligarchs who fund most Republican political activities these days. The GOP has decided to allow the clock to run down and Donald Trump, the president that most of them hate with extreme prejudice (more than the Democrats do), to look bad.

Which is why, in 2020, those who support the president must make every effort to provide Congressmen and Senators who will work with him, instead of against him.  If that means cleaning out a lot of prominent names through primary challenges, so much the better.

Cleaning house is always an appropriate New Years Resolution.  If Trump stands firm this year, the least we can do is be resolute in return in 2020.

In the meantime, may 2019 be a good year for all those who read here.  Happy New Year!