The clueless would-be rulers

Today’s must-read, by Walter Mead:

This is not what his critics expected. At 49% overall job approval in the latest Gallup poll, and with 60% approval of the way he is handling the coronavirus epidemic, President Trump’s standing with voters has improved even as the country closed down and the stock market underwent a historic meltdown. That may change as this unpredictable crisis develops, but bitter and often justified criticism of Mr. Trump’s decision making in the early months of the pandemic has so far failed to break the bond between the 45th president and his political base.

One reason Mr. Trump’s opponents have had such a hard time damaging his connection with voters is that they still don’t understand why so many Americans want a wrecking-ball presidency. Beyond attributing Mr. Trump’s support to a mix of racism, religious fundamentalism and profound ignorance, the president’s establishment opponents in both parties have yet to grasp the depth and intensity of the populist energy that animates his base and the Bernie Sanders movement. . . .

That a majority of the electorate is this deeply alienated from the establishment can’t be dismissed as bigotry and ignorance. There are solid and serious grounds for doubting the competence and wisdom of America’s self-proclaimed expert class. What is so intelligent and enlightened, populists ask, about a foreign-policy establishment that failed to perceive that U.S. trade policies were promoting the rise of a hostile Communist superpower with the ability to disrupt supplies of essential goods in a national emergency? What competence have the military and political establishments shown in almost two decades of tactical success and strategic impotence in Afghanistan? What came of that intervention in Libya? What was the net result of all the fine talk in the Bush and Obama administrations about building democracy in the Middle East? . . .

On domestic policy, the criticism is equally trenchant and deeply felt. Many voters believe that the U.S. establishment has produced a health-care system that is neither affordable nor universal. Higher education saddles students with increasing debt while leaving many graduates woefully unprepared for good jobs in the real world. The centrist establishment has amassed unprecedented deficits without keeping roads, bridges and pipes in good repair. It has weighed down cities and states with unmanageable levels of pension debt…

Mr. Trump’s supporters are not comparing him with an omniscient leader who always does the right thing, but with the establishment—including the bulk of the mainstream media—that largely backed a policy of engagement with China long after its pitfalls became clear. For Americans who lost their jobs to Chinese competition or who fear the possibility of a new cold war against an economically potent and technologically advanced power, Mr. Trump’s errors pale before those of the bipartisan American foreign-policy consensus…

…the U.S. establishment won’t prosper again until it comes to grip with a central political fact: Populism rises when establishment leadership fails. If conventional U.S. political leaders had been properly doing their jobs, Donald Trump would still be hosting a television show. (emphasis added)

To reinforce the point, Exhibit A, from the just-passed Senate coronavirus relief bill:

Kennedy Center

The legacy media portion of the establishment is no better, in their deranged hatred both for Trump and those in the country who prefer risking him rather than the proven failures of past leadership.  CBS screamed in a headline recently that a man died and his wife was seriously hurt after taking an anti-malarial drug (hydroxycloroquine) Trump and Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have expressed optimism about as a possible treatment for COVID-19.  The problem?  What the Arizona couple actually did was notice their fish tank cleaner contained the chemical, and consumed it as a preventative measure, without consulting any medical expert.  Only two-thirds of the way through the story does it clarify the headline: “The difference between the fish tank cleaning additive that the couple took and the drug used to treat malaria is the way they are formulated.”  In other words, despite the headline, the couple didn’t take the drug.  They drank fish tank cleaner!  A factual headline, though, wouldn’t have been potentially damaging to Trump, which seems to be the primary goal of all mainstream journalism these days, facts and context be damned.

We’re supposed to be practicing social distancing.  But the elites in this country are (and have been for some time) so far out of touch with the common person’s daily experience that it shouldn’t be a surprise the latter has had more than enough of the former.

Eliminating political careerism

A columnist from Massachusetts points out that Elizabeth Warren’s failed run for the presidency resulted in a loss of representation for the State:

According to ProPublica, Warren has missed 53.5% of her votes during this session of Congress. This makes her the third-most absent member of the Senate. (Remember: We lowly taxpayers pay Warren $175,000 for this job.)

She clearly decided that running for president was a valid excuse to neglect and ignore her Senate duties. Yes, this despite the fact that she pretty much promised Massachusetts voters in 2018 that if they reelected her, she would not run for president. Then, of course, she changed her mind just a few months later and decided to run and skip out on her current office to do so.

This is a slap in the face to the people of Massachusetts, who elected her to a six-year term just in 2018, undoubtedly with her promise to actually serve this term in mind. Turns out, serving in the Senate was just a backup option for Warren in case her presidential aspirations didn’t work out.

In other words, it’s all about serving her interests, not those of her constituents, whom she failed to represent in Washington more than half the time.  This is a bipartisan problem, and I’ve written about it before.  Elected officials should never take their current office as a given, even while reaching for more influence. 

Aside from term limits, the best way to end political careerism is to require people to serve out the full elective term of office (barring debilitating illness, injury or misconduct), and to ban the practice of running for more than one office at once (i.e. president and senate).  It’s bad enough how much running for reelection shapes an officeholder’s term.  Trying to grab the next rung of the ladder while keeping one hand on the current one “just in case” is the opposite of public-mindedness.  Too many special elections (which cost taxpayer $$) occur because John Q. Politician was elected to two different offices simultaneously, or else was picked as a political appointee while serving in an elected office.  In a country of nearly 330 million people, nobody is that indispensable.  If someone believes they are called to greater responsibility, they should demonstrate a commitment to it by fulfilling any current public obligations, then focusing on convincing the public or an executive to give them such an opportunity.  Such an expectation by the people would mean candidates would be out of political work from time to time.  And that’s not a bad thing, considering that also happens from time to time to the citizens they allegedly represent.  Let our would-be representatives live like the rest of us occasionally.

Quote of the Day

From the always-worth-reading Victor Davis Hanson:

It is easy to say that 2020 seems to be replaying 2016, complete with the identical insularity of progressives, as if what should never have happened then certainly cannot now. But this time around there is an even greater sense of anger and need for retribution especially among the most unlikely Trump supporters. It reflects a fed-up payback for three years of nonstop efforts to overthrow an elected president, anger at anti-Trump hysteria and weariness at being lectured.

A year is a proverbial long time. The economy could tank. The president might find himself trading missiles with Iran.(*)  At 73, a sleep-deprived, hamburger-munching Trump might discover his legendary stamina finally giving out. Still, there is a growing wrath in the country, either ignored, suppressed or undetected by the partisan media. It is a desire for a reckoning with ‘them’. For lots of quiet, ordinary people, 2020 is shaping up as the get-even election — in ways that transcend even Trump himself.

(*) Don’t think for a second the unelected Deep State is above engineering either or both of these possibilities, among endless others that would be bad for the nation but possibly good for them.

Burning down the House

Donald Trump is now the third president of the U.S. to be formally impeached by the House of Representatives.  Today the House, under Speaker Pelosi, is saying they will “delay” sending that Constitutional indictment over to the Senate until they are assured of a “fair trial.”  In other words the House has, by implication, already convicted the Senate of being governed totally by partisanship — a case of projection if there ever was one.

Under the Democrats, the House has been out of control for all of 2019.  Their crusade to fling poo at the president until something kind-of-sort-of might seem to stick is a perfect example of why our Founders created a republic, not a democracy.  Remember that generation later watched the French Revolution unfold.  They saw first hand the deadly dangers of passionate, unrestrained mob rule — which is exactly what this whole impeachment charade has been, complete with armed Antifa thugs in the streets at times.  Not content to merely be in the opposition until the next election, the House Democrats have taken it upon themselves to delegitimize both the Executive Branch and the other chamber of Congress.

Given these circumstances, it’s important to set a benchmark and declare this abuse of one of the Constitution’s most somber provisions as invalid.

Enter the Supreme Court.

The country must decide whether, henceforth, impeachment will be a routine clash between a House of Representatives and White House of different parties over policy differences or acute personal abrasions, as this is, or whether the authors of the Constitution meant, and the national interest requires, that it be reserved for accusations of high crimes on the same plane of misconduct as treason or bribe-taking…

Rejection by the majority in the Senate is not an adequate debunking of this abuse by the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives of their offices. The country is at a turning point: routinize presidential impeachment or keep it as a last resort in extreme cases of wrongdoing. When the executive and the bare majority of one half of the legislative branch are so severely and antagonistically divided, the traditional tie-breaker is the judicial branch, and it should be consulted.

(emphasis added)

I agree.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should immediately request a Supreme Court ruling on the Constitutional validity of the House’s actions.  Such an examination would have to compare the way the Democrats rammed this through with the precedents of previous impeachment proceedings.  I believe such a public comparison would lay bare the manner in which the Democrats abused their majority to deny Trump and the Republicans any effective opportunity to defend the administration by presenting an opposing view of the issues in question.  As the House Republican Whip Steve Scalise noted during the pre-impeachment vote discussion, the GOP is still waiting for transcripts of interviews in which they were not allowed, or the ability to call their own witnesses.

The American people have a highly developed sense of fairness, and perhaps an unhealthy obsession with achieving it.  That usually gives an advantage to liberals when they propose heavy-handed government intervention in the name of “compassion.”  In this case, however, I believe many Americans have been turned off by what has clearly been an unfair process that demanded Trump prove himself innocent rather than place the burden of proof on the accusers.  That’s just one of many reasons thousands of people waited in freezing weather for hours to hear the president speak, even as the House marched toward impeachment.

There’s just one problem with taking this pseudo-impeachment to the Supreme Court for validation.  In the event they rule the charade for what it is and dismiss it, the Democrats will immediately claim the result is due to Trump having selected 2 of the justices, creating a slim ‘conservative’ (and I use that term loosely) majority.  They will press this hard, and in so doing, seek to damage the legitimacy the remaining third branch of the Federal Government — one whose rulings they used to consider holy writ, when it served their cause.  It really has come to this: if the liberals can’t run the machinery, they’ll sabotage it.  Having burned down the House, they’ll burn the rest of the structure, too.

But only if we let them.  The most significant result of Trump’s election in 2016 may be that the other side has dropped all masks and pretense.  Their agenda and attitudes are clear for all to see.  Come November 2020, the Democratic Party must be destroyed, not just defeated.  They need to suffer electoral loss so great that no political organization will again dare do what they’ve tried.  And we need to be ready for the inevitable temper tantrum that will result in such a case.  As they’re doing in Virginia and other States, keep your powder dry.

Showdown

Tomorrow (Wednesday), the House of Representatives will attempt to legitimize their “impeachment inquiry” by holding televised hearings.  Make no mistake, though: this is as much a sham as every other bucket of mud they’ve thrown at the President over the last three years.  It is nothing less than sedition:

Exhibit A: “Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent towards, or resistance against established authority.” (Wikipedia, emphasis added)

Exhibit B: tweets in 2017 by Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the shadowy “whistleblower” upon whose anonymous, second-hand statement this whole debacle of a proceeding depends:

Audio-Image-Mark-Zaid-Tweets

Consider that not long before these tweets, Peter Stzrok and his FBI lover, Lisa Page, were texting about putting into place an “insurance” policy in the case of a Trump win.

And we’re told there’s no such thing as the Deep State.  Right…

These people like to claim they’re acting on some “higher authority,” but what that really means is that they refuse to recognize the authority of the American people, who put Trump into office.  For three years they’ve been trying to overturn an election, and even with the 2020 election less than a year away, their efforts continue.

It continues to be my hope that Trump, Attorney General Barr, DOJ Inspector General Horowitz and U.S. Attorney John Huber have carefully uncovered and documented the trail of sedition that has consumed this nation since 2016, and are ready to present their case to the public — complete with multiple indictments, prosecutions, convictions and punishments.  If the source “Q” is to be believed, we’re just about there:

indictments

The current controversies, and next year’s election, are a defining moment for the U.S.  To quote Victor Davis Hanson again:

Like it or not, 2020 is going to be a plebiscite on an American version of Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four. One side advocates a complete transformation not just of the American present but of the past as well. The Left is quite eager to change our very vocabulary and monitor our private behavior to ensure we are not just guilty of incorrect behavior but thought as well.

The other side believes America is far better than the alternative, that it never had to be perfect to be good, and that, all and all, its flawed past is a story of a moral nation’s constant struggle for moral improvement.

One side will say, “Just give us more power and we will create heaven on earth.” The other says “Why would anyone wish to take their road to an Orwellian nightmare?” The 2020 election is that simple.

And so is the Congressional circus that will begin playing out on television beginning tomorrow.

***************************************

Note to readers: yes, it’s been quite a while since I posted.  All I can say is that it’s a challenge just keeping up with the depths of deception and misdirection being thrown around these days, much less trying to synthesize it into commentary.  Thanks to those who’ve inquired about the extended absence.  Several times I’ve started to post, then thought better of it.  I can’t promise this post marks a return to regular writing.  It was born of a sense we may be reaching a crescendo in the near future.  Pray and speak out accordingly.

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.

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.