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.

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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

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!

Saturday Sounds Spaceflight

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  So today begins the countdown to the half-century mark.  I suspect it will be a memorable commemoration. But while a lot has happened in those 50 years, it’s safe to say the future hasn’t been what it was cracked up to be.  My generation was weaned on dreams of visiting “strange, new worlds,” but we haven’t even ventured past low Earth orbit since the early 1970s.  Sure, we’ve toured the solar system vicariously through the magnificent Voyager probes, and followed up those pathfinders with increasingly capable sensor platforms.  But there has been no photo of a bootprint on Mars… or anywhere else.

The irony is NASA’s planned future manned space system looks a lot like Apollo.  Sure, the capsule’s larger (with a four-person crew rather than three), and the booster set looks cribbed from the Shuttle program.  Basically, in many respects we’re going “back to the future” with manned spaceflight… and moving at a snail’s pace compared to heady days of the race to the moon.  I suspect profit-driven private space ventures will soon leave ponderous government programs in the dust.  Here’s hoping today’s young kids live to see things far beyond what the boldest magazines ever dared dream decades ago when space was still new and exciting for all.  With that, I’ll step off the soapbox…

A beginning, perhaps

The unexpected election of Trump in 2016 gave voice to many in America who felt their country slipping away, beset by illegal invaders from without and traitors/enablers from within.  Since then, other countries are seeming to find their own voices:

New Italian government vows to create jobs, deport migrants

“The free ride is over,” League leader Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new interior minister, warned migrants at a rally in northern Italy. “It’s time to pack your bags.”

Austria’s government plans to shut down mosques, expel foreign-funded imams

‘Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalization have no place in our country,’ (Chancellor) Kurz told a news conference outlining the government’s decisions…

‘This is just the beginning,’ Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache added.

And in England, if the crowd in Trafalgar Square and marching through London yesterday is any indication, it seems the jailing of Tommy Robinson for continuing to cover the cancer of Muslim rape gangs across the United Kingdom has been the last straw for thousands.

2018-06-09Tommy Robinson protest

No wonder globalist meddler George Soros is whining that “everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.” All of these developments have one thing in common: the “leadership” of nations refusing utterly to listen to their people. The countries of the world have been governed for some time by a class of people who have more in common with each other than with the countries they purport to represent. As a result, history and symbols of national pride are squelched or twisted, policies enforced despite popular resentment, and unwanted immigration floods the West. Such a disconnect can only go unexpressed for so long.

It is high time the peoples of Europe and the United States reclaim their authority over their governments. It will take much more than these small gestures for that to truly occur.  But perhaps we see the will still exists to make it happen.

A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.