Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Obama Isn't Embarrassed About His Scandals. He Should Be.

Much has been written about Donald Trump's difficulties in separating fact from fiction, but the current resident of the White House isn't the only one to paint a biased view of reality. Recently, Barack Obama rewrote the history of his administration when he claimed, "We didn't have a scandal that embarrassed us."

Mr. Obama's remarks came in a closed-door meeting at MIT in Boston last Friday and were reported by "Reason." Per the report, attendees "had to agree that they would not record, photograph, tweet, or report on the event before being granted a seat in the audience." Nevertheless, a recorded copy of the speech was made available to the libertarian-leaning website.

In the speech, the former president admitted that his administration made mistakes, but said, "We didn't have a scandal that embarrassed us." Then he added, "I know that seems like a low bar" to audience laughter.

"Generally speaking, you didn't hear about a lot of drama inside our White House," Obama continued.

It may be revisionism, wishful thinking or the mental effects of old age, but if President Obama can't remember any scandals from his administration, I sure can. In fact, the scandals of the Obama Administration were so numerous that it would take too much time to list them all, but let's review a few of the biggest ones.

1. Solyndra. The Solyndra scandal emerged from the 2009 stimulus bill. The government provided loan guarantees to the tune of more than $500 million to a solar panel manufacturer that subsequently went bankrupt, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. The company lied in disclosures to the government, but regulators say the Obama Administration pressured them to approve the subsidies.

2. Fast and Furious. Obama's DOJ and ATF concocted a scheme to trace smuggled guns to Mexico under the code name "Fast and Furious." Ultimately, about 2,000 guns were illegally purchased and many were allowed to cross the border into Mexico. Hundreds have been recovered in connection with crimes in both the US and Mexico. Two were used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010. The scheme sparked an international incident when it was revealed that the ATF had allowed guns to flow across the border to Mexican drug cartels.

3. IRS Targeting. The IRS admitted to targeting conservative Tea Party groups and denying their tax-exempt status based on their political beliefs. A DOJ investigation, which was hampered by the loss of Lois Lerner's emails when her computer crashed, found that "poor management is not a crime."

4. Near doubling of the National Debt. A major underreported scandal of the Obama years is his spending spree. CNN fact checkers confirmed that the US borrowed more on President Obama's watch than all other presidents combined. The heavy spending of the Obama Administration will be a weight around the necks of American taxpayers for generations to come.

5. Benghazi and the Video Tape. On Sept. 11, 2012, terrorists attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing five Americans. The Obama Administration blamed the attack on protests of an anti-Islamic video tape in an effort to protect Mr. Obama's campaign narrative that the Islamic terror threat was winding down on his watch. The Obama Administration's mismanagement of the crisis and subsequent cover up was a major scandal.

6. Clinton Email Scandal. The Benghazi investigation led to the revelation that Hillary Clinton used an unsecure private server as Secretary of State. The subsequent investigation of Clinton's mishandling of classified information, apparently with President Obama's knowledge, led directly to the memo from FBI Director Comey a week prior to the 2016 election that shifted the race to Donald Trump's favor.

7. Russian Cyberattack on 2016 Election. Much of President Obama's relationship with Russia was scandalous, from his promise to have more "flexibility" after the 2012 election to his appeasement of Vladimir Putin during the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea and parts of Ukraine. However, the icing on the cake was Obama's mishandling of the Russian cyberattacks on election infrastructure and manipulation of US public opinion on social media. There was ample warning of Russia's activities and President Obama did very little to hinder them.

I could go on, but I won't. It should be apparent that the Obama Administration was both incompetent and scandal-plagued. The United States is still feeling the effects of Obama's mismanagement and will be for years to come.

Perhaps what President Obama meant is that he remembers these scandals and just isn't embarrassed by them. If that's the case, he should be.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Broward Deputies Prevented Paramedics From Entering School

The Broward County Sheriff’s Department has taken a massive amount of criticism for its actions both before and during the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. and the hits just keep on coming. New information suggests that Broward County deputies may have actively stopped paramedics from entering the school in the minutes after the shooting.

Fox News cites three Florida law enforcement sources who say that EMS teams requested permission to enter the school. The Broward County Sheriff’s office, which had control of the crime scene, denied permission to the first responders.

“What’s going to come out is, in the communications on several circumstances, there was the request to enter... the request was denied from Broward County,” an unnamed Florida official said.

“When you have a police agency saying we don’t want you going in, that’s a problem,” another Florida official said. “The training since Columbine has been [that] first responders, police go in immediately with paramedics.”

Broward County responded to Fox’s queries with an email that said the entire incident was under investigation and “investigators will not be rushed or asked to jump to conclusions.”

Fox also cites “high-ranking sources” who say they police officers and deputies brought victims out to be treated by EMS workers rather than EMS workers attending to them inside the school. Standard procedure for treating the injured includes not moving seriously injured victims. EMS workers are trained to follow the initial wave of police. In the Parkland shooting, deputies are reported to have waited outside rather than entering the school to engage the shooter.

“If they’re not going in then we’re not going in. We’re trained to go in with them,” a fire official said.

Brian Entin, a reporter for the Miami Fox News affiliate, reported that a first responder claims, “everything I was trained on mass casualty events says they did the wrong thing.” The responder said that one shooting victim did not get out to an ambulance for 45 minutes.

The delay in admitting EMS to the scene was reportedly due to law enforcement’s uncertainty about the status of the shooter. Police were uncertain whether the shooter was dead, had left the scene or was still present.

“I would hypothesize that I could have saved lives,” the first responder said. “I can’t say for sure.”

Mike Moser, the Division Chief of Fire Administration for Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department, said, “Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. All of the variables must be taken into consideration before a rescue task force can be enabled.”

“It is possible that those that are upset about not being allowed inside, simply do not have all of the information that our law-enforcement partners had in making their decision,” he added.

The anonymous first responder disagrees. “I would have risked my life to go in,” he says. “I was eager to. I was frustrated the entire time I was there.”

More details about the Broward County Sheriff Department’s response to the shooting are likely to emerge as the investigation continues.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Monday, February 26, 2018

#MeToo: North Korean Cheer Squads Are Really Sex Slaves

[WARNING: GRAPHIC] It was only a week or so ago that the mainstream media went gaga for the North Korean Olympic cheer squads. The beautiful women, who outnumbered the country’s Olympic athletes by 10 to one, performed routines in perfect sync and captivated journalists and audiences alike. Now  North Korean defectors tell that the party leaders’ treatment of the cheerleaders would put Harvey Weinstein to shame.

Some critics of the North Korean regime pointed out that the possibility of having your family killed if you embarrass your country is a powerful incentive to perform well, but the reality is much worse than just the potential threat of death. A former North Korean military musician who defected in 2008 says that a secondary role of the cheer squads is to act as sex slaves for the elites of North Korea’s ruling communist party.

Lee So Yeon described to Bloomberg how the women, informally called the “Pleasure Squad,” are compelled to perform sex acts on party leaders. “They go to the central Politburo party’s events, and have to sleep with the people there, even if they don’t want it,” she said. “Those sorts of human-rights infringements take place, where women have to follow what they are told to do with their bodies.”

The UK Metro reports that the women are constantly monitored to prevent defection. They are not even allowed to make a trip to the bathroom without a teammate and a South Korean government monitor. 

Mi-Hyang, who defected in 2010, described how she was kidnapped from her school at age 15 and pressed into service as a sex slave for Kim Jong-Il. She spent 10 years catering to the sexual desires of Kim and his associates.

Lee Il-Nam, a relative of the Kim family who defected in 1982 and was assassinated in 1997 described the Pleasure Squad in his book, “Kim Jong-Il’s Royal Family.” The women were featured at parties for Kim’s closest associates that lasted into the wee hours and “included eating, drinking and dancing, but usually ended with erotic games.”

“A favorite was a game in which the losers had to take off clothes one by one. It was enforced, regardless of men or women,” he wrote. “If they got heavily drunk, the also played a hair-shaving game. If men lost, part of their head hair was shaved, as if it was mown. For women, their pubic hair was shaved.” At times, Kim had orgies devoted entirely to sex.

When the women get old, they are retired into marriage with elite guards, but remain sworn to secrecy about their activities. Women who break the vow of silence are immediately executed.

Even if they perform perfectly, the women and athletes still face punishment when they return to North Korea. When North Koreans return from abroad, they face the prospect of re-education to deprogram any ideas that the outside world is more attractive than home.

“North Korea makes an effort to plant an idea in their head, that everything that they saw in South Korea wasn’t that wonderful,” said Kim Jung-bong, a former South Korean intelligence official. “And then they are sent to a political school, or a political education system from one to three months for what they call ‘moral education.”’

While American sexual predators are being denounced for far less egregious activities, the members of the Pleasure Squad would face unspeakable punishments if they spoke out. Those of us in the free world should speak up on their behalf.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Sunday, February 25, 2018

In Defense of Bump Stocks

In the days since the Parkland school shooting, politicians of both parties have lined up in favor of a ban on bump stocks. Even many Republicans voters have given their assent to a ban on the rapid fire devices without much more than a whimper.

Two things make the matter of Republicans favoring gun control even more odd. First is that the proposed ban is an emotional reaction from a party that typically counsels against quick, emotional legislating after tragedies. Second, the Parkland massacre did not involve a bump stock.

A maxim of aviation is “don’t just do something, sit there.” It is very seldom that that any action needs to be taken so quickly that the consequences cannot be considered. In that spirit, let us take time out from the cacophony to look at the issue logically.

First, are bump stocks a public safety problem? Probably not. I am aware of only one crime committed with a bump stock, the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting spree. Most people had never heard of a bump stock six months ago.

Bump stocks may be rare in crimes because they decrease the accuracy of the weapon. Andrew Wickerham, who trains police and security guards, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I’ve always thought these bump stocks were just a novelty. They’re not that good, and they’re hard as hell to control.”

A bump stock ban would almost certainly be ineffective because a modestly handy gun owner can craft a bump stock from common parts cheaply and quickly. It took me about two minutes to find the instructions on the internet.

Second, if a bump stock ban is in the public interest, can President Trump simply order the DOJ to draw up regulations to implement it? For those of us concerned with the rule of law, the answer should be no.

In 2013, the assistant director of the ATF wrote to a member of Congress that bump stocks “are not subject to the provisions of federal firearms statutes” and were therefore legal. The letter stated that the devices did “not provide an automatic action — requiring instead continuous multiple inputs (trigger pulls) by the user for each successive shot” and were therefore not subject to the Federal Firearms Act.

“I relied on (ATF’s) firearms technical branch to provide subject-matter expertise,” Assistant Director Richard Marianos told the Albany Times Union last year, “but now after talking to other firearms experts and reflecting on my own career, anything that fires two or more rounds at the pull of a trigger is a machine gun, and should be regulated as such.” In other words, Marianos now believes that his own changed opinion carries more weight than the expert opinion of the ATF’s firearms technical branch.

Marianos’ change of heart is exactly why the rule of law is important. Laws should be objective and consistent, not subject to the changing whims of regulators. If the Federal Firearms Act did not apply to bump stocks in 2013, it doesn’t apply now just because the president wants to ban them.

If President Trump and the rest of the nation decides that a bump stock ban is what the people want, there is a constitutional process in place to make it so. This is How A Bill Becomes a Law.

President Trump is falling into the same trap of abusing executive authority that plagued President Obama. The difference now is that Republicans at least tried to hold President Obama accountable.

Some conservatives don’t believe that bump stocks are worth fighting for. They argue that no one needs a bump stock and that it would be a throwaway concession.

What President Trump and other pro-gun control Republicans don’t consider is the precedent that they are setting. A presidential bump stock ban would begin a pattern of emotionally regulating policies that would make no difference to the overall problem of mass shootings. It would reinforce the Obama-era model of presidents bypassing Congress to decree laws from the Oval Office. Further, the argument that “no one needs a bump stock” sounds suspiciously like the left’s argument for a total gun ban.

President Trump’s bump stock ban won’t reduce the crime rate or solve the problem of school shootings. It also won’t placate the anti-gun left. It will, however, force Republicans to live with themselves after violating their principles on multiple levels.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Biggest Problem With "50 Shades"

Much has been written about the problems with the “50 Shades of Grey” series. Through all the discussion, however, few have hit on the most compelling moral problem of the trilogy.

People have discussed how Christian Grey, the hunky billionaire at the center of series, is controlling and manipulative and a borderline stalker. Volumes have been written regarding the sado-masochistic nature of the relationship between Grey and Anastasia Steele, the protagonist of the books, as well as the fact that their relationship began with Grey basically offering to pay her for sex. The codependency of the relationship has been covered as well as the charge that the series is, at its core, dressed-up pornography.

After losing a bet with my wife that required me to read the series, I discovered the biggest and most dangerous problem of the trilogy. First, let me say that the books are much better than the movies. My wife acknowledges this as well. The written version is less creepy and, as with many book-to-screen projects, provide a better understanding of what is happening to the characters.

My wife has said that the books would be good reading for men who want to understand women. She says that author E.L. James does a good job of explaining how women think and feel. Unfortunately, if you want this insight you’ll have to read the books because this does not carry over to the movies.

She also says that the primary attraction of the books is not the kinky sex, but the love story at the center of it all. The problem here is that the unlikely love-at-first-sight-with-a-hunky-billionaire plotline reflects a morality that is almost a mirror-image of reality. “Fifty Shades of Grey” comprises the modern myth that sex leads to love rather than the traditional ethos of love, marriage and then sex.

Granted, “50 Shades” is far from the first franchise to make this claim. Starting with the sexual revolution of the ‘60s and the advent of the birth control pill, sex has become increasingly divorced from love. Radical feminism preached that women could empower themselves by rejecting traditional sexual mores. These days sexual hookups with no emotional hang-ups can be had as easily as swiping right on Tinder.

The result has been a cultural cataclysm. Out of wedlock births have exploded since the 1960s to the point where almost half of all births are to unmarried mothers. Unsurprisingly, government entitlement spending has shown a corresponding increase over the same period.

“Fifty Shades” includes [spoiler alert] the subplot of an unplanned pregnancy, but for Anastasia the shocking news came after she was already married to Christian. Millions of women are not so fortunate. I applaud the pro-life message of the book here as Anastasia rejects the idea of not keeping her baby, but without marriage it seems plausible that a man of Christian’s persuasion would have pressed for an abortion or abandoned her entirely.

The damage has not been limited to unmarried mothers, entitlement spending and a soaring national debt. While sex may easy to find, long-term relationships are not. The marriage rate has steadily declined as people miss out on the fulfilling relationship with a lifelong partner in exchange for a series of one-night stands or casual flings.

Not everyone is unhappy with the arrangement. Conventional wisdom holds that men give love to get sex and that women give sex to get love. If sex is separated from love, many men are getting what they want, but women are left unsatisfied.

That doesn’t mean the arrangement is necessarily good for men. The tradeoff used to be that men would fall in love with a woman and get married, in part to get regular sex, and the women would settle the men down and help them mature. Without the civilizing effects of marriage and the pressing need to provide for a family, many men are suffering from a Peter Pan syndrome in which they never grow up and are content to drink beer and play video games or engage in extreme sports as their lives slip slowly away.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is a fantasy. Women want to be swept off their feet by a rich, sexy man. They may even want a bit of rough sex. There is nothing inherently wrong with the bondage and masochistic sex described in the book as long as both partners consent. In that respect, “50 Shades” may help to spice up some marriages.

But the real and most damaging fantasy of “50 Shades” is that casual sex leads to love. In most cases it does not. It is far more likely that one or both partners will emerge from the relationship emotionally damaged and possibly with lives financially ruined as they try to support a baby on their own.

The reality is that great sex comes from strong relationships with someone that you love. You’re more likely to find great sex if you find love first. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

DOH! Ted Cruz Invokes The Simpsons

Ted Cruz might want to reconsider holding up Homer Simpson as a Republican icon. Earlier this week at CPAC, the Texas senator claimed the majority of the Simpson clan for Republicans, but the comment may have backfired.

“The Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson and Republicans are happily the party of Homer, Bart, Maggie and Marge,” Cruz said in response to an interviewer who likened the current gun control debate to a “Simpsons” episode.

While smug, condescending Lisa is clearly a liberal, the political affiliation of the rest of the family is less certain. Maggie is a baby and Bart is a borderline juvenile delinquent. As one would expect of most children, neither has shown much interest in politics.

A 2016 Simpsons clip casts doubt upon Cruz’s claim about Homer and Marge as well. In the sendup of Hillary Clinton’s “3 a.m.” ad from 2008, Marge says, “I can’t make love until I’ve decided who to vote for.”

“It’s the American way,” Homer answers.

The couple then imagine an oh-dark-thirty phone call to each potential president. Bill Clinton hands the phone to Hillary, telling her, “It’s for you.”

Hillary grumpily retorts, “From now on, it’s always for me.”

Donald Trump declines the call so that he can tweet about Elizabeth Warren. When he finally answers the call, it takes a team of makeup artists, complete with a canine toupee and fake large hands, to prep him before he gets out of bed. When told that the Chinese fleet is advancing, Trump says, “Just build another wall. Yes, in the ocean, loser.”

The tag line of the ad is “paid for by Americans who are really starting to miss Obama,” a tacit admission that the creators of the show weren’t impressed by either candidate.

Marge says that her mind is made up and Homer hesitantly says, “I’m voting for Trump, right?” Marge immediately gives him the cold shoulder and Homer announces, “And that’s how I became a Democrat.”

In fact, Homer may have been a Democrat before. In a 2008 clip, Homer tries to vote for Barack Obama, but a rigged voting machine registers his votes for John McCain. Granted, this is “Treehouse of Horror XIX” which can be considered an alternate reality to the show.

In 1996, Homer also had a feud with George Herbert Walker Bush when the former president moved to Evergreen Terrace. The two engaged in a neighborhood prank war until the Bushes moved out and Gerald Ford moved in. Homer and Ford immediately hit it off, enjoying beer and nachos while they watch football.

Homer Simpson is apparently not a reliable Republican voter. In fact, Homer is the kind of person who seems oblivious to politics. He better represents the undecided and moderate voters who make up their minds on the way to the polling place. In reality, it is these voters who decide most elections. That should be a sobering thought.

Even if Homer were a reliable Republican, he isn’t the best role model for gun owners and conservatives. When Homer buys a gun for home protection (from a shop called “Bloodbath and Beyond”) he is so careless and reckless that Marge won’t let him keep it.

Cruz’s comments drew widespread ridicule from the left. Al Jean, the showrunner for “the Simpsons,” tweeted back that Cruz “could use a pacifier” and that “the way things are going even Mr. Burns is thinking of becoming a Democrat.” The response was entirely predictable considering that last year the show ran a clip of Donald Trump, again with a canine toupee, attempting to bribe Robert Mueller.

Cruz’s comments were apparently an off-the-cuff response to the interviewer, but the senator has mentioned the cartoon family on other occasions as well. If I could give Mr. Cruz some advice, I’d say, “Don’t.”

As a rule, politicians should avoid stirring up needless controversy with fictional characters. Just ask Dan Quayle about Murphy Brown.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, February 23, 2018

Four Deputies Waited Outside During Parkland Massacre

A new report indicates that as many as four Broward County deputies may have arrived at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School last week while the shooting was still taking place. The report from CNN indicates that the officers arrived on the scene but did not enter the school to confront the active shooter.

Per the report, when officers of the Coral Springs Police Department arrived on the scene, they found four deputies with guns drawn standing behind their cars. None had reportedly entered the school. The report states that the deputies directed the Coral Springs officers toward the school, but apparently did not accompany them when they entered.

The actions of the deputies reportedly has caused friction between the two departments with some Coral Springs officers considering the failure to enter the school immediately “dereliction of duty.” It is not known whether the killer was still in the school while the deputies waited outside, but it is possible that a quicker entry might have saved the lives of some students who had been shot.

The school resource officer assigned to the school resigned earlier this week after it was revealed that he had waited outside the school for four minutes after the shooting started. Scot Petersen was originally suspended without pay and then decided to resign.

In the midst of the heated debate over gun control that erupted after the shooting, the inaction of the deputies underscores the need of citizens to be able to protect their own lives. For anti-gun activists who would like to make guns more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain, the fact that armed police waited outside rather than intervene in the massacre raises difficult questions about whether citizens can depend on police to charge in and take down an active shooter.

The delayed entry by the Broward County deputies is not unique and may be more common than many realize. For instance, at Columbine officers were on the scene within five minutes according to CBS News. The officer assigned to the school exchanged gunfire with one of the shooters, who retreated into the school. Six officers then waited outside while the killers stalked the school. It took almost two hours for a SWAT team to storm the school. By then, both shooters and 13 innocent people were dead.

The motto of the police is “to protect and serve,” but if officers believe that they are outnumbered and outgunned, they won’t necessarily charge into an unknown threat. There is no legal duty for them to do so. In fact, Supreme Court precedent holds that government police protection is a “benefit,” not an “entitlement.”

The fundamental lesson to learn is that police will protect citizens if it is feasible for them to do so. If officers fear for their own safety, protecting innocent civilians may well become a secondary consideration to protecting themselves and containing the shooter.

Keeping that in mind, law-abiding citizens should seriously consider how to protect themselves until the police arrive and form into a force that is deemed safe to go after the criminals. For many, that may mean getting a gun of their own and a permit to carry it. Even at school.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trump Moves Left On Guns

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Donald Trump has done something that no other Republican president would have done (except maybe John Kasich). In a series of moves that seem calculated to test the strength of support from his base, the president has endorsed a series of new gun control proposals.

Trump’s left turn on guns began with instructions to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday to “propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.” The move would use new interpretations of existing laws to ban bump stock devices such as the one used by Stephen Paddock to kill 58 people in Las Vegas in October 2017.

The proposed executive bump stock ban was quickly followed by a presidential Twitter endorsement of raising the legal age to purchase long guns to 21 from 18, expanding background checks to include mental health histories and arming teachers with concealed weapons. Federal law currently mandates that buyers of pistols be at least 21 and establishes schools as “gun-free” zones.

The reaction from Republicans to Trump’s embrace of stricter gun controls has been muted. In a town hall meeting in Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) signaled a willingness to accept the increase to the minimum age as well as new limits on the size of magazines, but opposed the idea of arming teachers.

President Trump said that many congressmen and pro-gun activists had indicated support for his proposals, particularly the idea of expanding background checks. “There's a tremendous feeling that we want to get something done ... including at the [National Rifle Association],” Trump said in a White House meeting with law enforcement officials.

The effectiveness of Trump’s proposals is likely to be mixed. A You Tube video shows how gun owners can make their own bump stock device from commonly available parts and underage school shooters typically obtain their weapons illegally or steal them from their parents. On the other hand, including mental health information in background checks would have prevented many spree killers from buying guns legally.

Prior to 2016, the idea that conservatives would rally around a president who openly supported expanded gun control would have been laughable. Then again, the idea of Republicans nominating a president who once openly favored the assault weapons ban and waiting periods was also once unthinkable. No longer.

Originally published on The Resurgent

NRA Is 'Beer Drinkers,' Not 'Beer Sellers'

In the brouhaha that has followed the Parkland school shooting, the media has repeatedly shown its liberal bias against legal gun owners. Amid the demonization of the National Rifle Association by most media outlets, there is an occasional breath of fresh air. Michael Graham’s op-ed for CBS News is one such point of clarity and honesty.  

Graham cuts to the heart of the liberal attacks on the NRA by comparing the gun rights organization to the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Unlike the beer trade group, which is made up of corporations, the NRA is made up of individuals who have banded together to protect Second Amendment rights.

“The NRA isn't the beer sellers,” Graham points out. “It's the beer drinkers.”

At its core, the NRA is a civil rights group made up of concerned American citizens. The NRA gets its power from the fact that a large segment of the American public believes that the right to keep and bear arms should not be infringed upon.

Much has been made of the money that the NRA donates to political campaigns, but little consideration has been given to where the NRA gets that money. The group does not sell guns or ammunition. Instead, those funds come directly from members who believe in the NRA’s pro-Second Amendment positions.

The NRA does support friendly politicians as well as attacking unfriendly ones. The same is true of many other political organizations on both the right and left from the ACLU to the World Wildlife Fund. The right to band together as an association and to petition members of Congress is guaranteed by the Constitution.

A common trope among politicians and pundits on both sides is to attack “special interests.” In reality, special interests are groups of voters whose positions are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from the speaker. Special interests are union members, environmentalists, feminists and, yes, gun owners.

When the left attacks the NRA, it isn’t because the group is made up of evil people who chortle with glee at the thought of another school shooting. The NRA is a staunch proponent of law enforcement and responsible gun ownership. Instead, the left attacks the NRA because it is effective at defending the right to keep and bear arms and the left desperately wants to outlaw guns.

The problem for the left is not that the NRA’s campaign contributions convince members of Congress to oppose their agenda. The problem is the fact that the NRA has five million members who vote their pro-gun principles. Politicians are much more afraid of angering voters and losing their jobs than they are of losing a few thousand dollars in campaign contributions.

As Jim Butcher wrote, ad hominem attacks are “usually used to distract the focus of a discussion - to move it from an indefensible point and to attack the opponent.” The left’s attacks on the NRA are a reflection of the fact that the liberals have not been able to make a logical case for gun control and have been incapable of winning the American people to their cause.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Democrats Don't Realize That Trump Can Make Their Wishes Come True

Trump derangement syndrome (TDS) is real malady and Democrats have it bad. Democrats are so invested in Trump hatred that they don’t comprehend that they are on the cusp of realizing much more of their agenda under Donald Trump than they could possibly have accomplished under Hillary Clinton.

The first sign of hope for Democrats was the Republican failure to reform Obamacare. The tax reform bill repealed the individual mandate and that was enough for President Trump to proclaim Obamacare “essentially repealed,” leaving the vast majority of the health law untouched. The GOP has gone silent on further attempts to repeal, reform or replace the Affordable Care Act. Republicans fought for six years under President Obama to repeal Obamacare, but President Trump has apparently stifled the repeal movement.

Next, President Trump turned to immigration and infrastructure, two subjects near and dear to liberal hearts. The president proposed a deal with Democrats to extend DACA and unveiled a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. In keeping with the Trump-brand philosophy of doing things in a “YUGE” way, Trump’s proposals were even bigger than the programs enacted by his predecessor. President Obama’s DACA program enrolled about 700,000 participants. Trump’s version would expand that to include an additional 1.1 million. President Obama’s 2009 infrastructure bill had a price tag of $787 billion. Trump’s plan is twice as hefty at $1.5 trillion.

CNBC editorialized that “Democrats would be crazy to reject Trump's DACA deal,” but reject it they did. Were they crazy or were they merely deranged?

But wait, there’s more. A promise kept by candidate Trump was to engage in protectionist trade policies. In 2016, Trump said that his views on trade were “very similar” to those of Bernie Sanders. Trump withdrew from the TPP, is renegotiating NAFTA and has enacted several tariffs. Protectionist Democrats should be ecstatic.

Democrats have spent years calling for a gas tax in the name cutting carbon emissions. President Trump recently endorsed the idea of a twenty-five cent gas tax as well. The Trump tax would not be intended to stop global warming and would instead be used to generate revenue for his infrastructure spending, but will Democrats really want to quibble over the purpose when they can soak auto owners, save the planet and blame a Republican president?

To top it all off, President Trump today signed a memo that instructed the attorney general to propose regulations banning “devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.” That’s right. President Trump is not only enacting the first significant gun control legislation since 1994, he is using his executive authority to bypass Congress to do it. What liberal cannot celebrate a new gun control law that isn’t subject to the congressional stalemate?

In fact, President Trump’s progressive proposals are more likely to become law than anything Hillary Clinton would have proposed. Hillary’s agenda would have been DOA with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. On the other hand, Trump can probably deliver enough Republican votes to pass the Democrat wish list into law… if the Democrats can get over their TDS to form a bipartisan coalition.

On the other side of the aisle, there has been remarkably little furor as President Trump moved to the left. Immigration and deficit hawks have been largely silent as Trump acceded to “amnesty” and a trillion-dollar deficit. Thus far, there has also been little reaction to his bump stock ban even though conservatives have traditionally had zero tolerance for new gun control measures.

Apparently, Trump Derangement Syndrome is a bipartisan epidemic.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Trump Is Repeating the Obama Administration's History

A wise man once said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes. That seems to be the case these days in politics as both parties stumble along, making the same mistakes as their predecessors.

The Republicans began 2017 with a majority in both houses of Congress. Nevertheless, much like the 2009 Democrats, they were able to accomplish little. Democrats enjoyed a brief Senate supermajority that allowed them to eke out victories on healthcare and financial reform before the Republican wave of 2010, but accomplished little else.

For their part, the fractious GOP coalition could not muster together 51 votes to reform Obamacare, but they did manage to score a win on tax reform. Although opinions were initially unfavorable, the Republican tax overhaul is proving to be more popular than the early Democratic legislation.
Both presidents, Obama and Trump, quickly became unpopular and divisive figures. Rather than being coalition builders, both men practiced identity politics. Obama championed the traditional Democrat constituencies while Donald Trump rides a wave of anti-immigration and protectionist sentiment. Their partisan rhetoric makes it difficult to achieve bipartisan majorities to enable legislative victories.

Both presidents have spending proposals that match their oversized egos. Obama led off with a $787 billion infrastructure stimulus and a new healthcare entitlement. President Trump has proposed an infrastructure bill that costs $1.5 trillion, almost exactly twice as much as Obama’s spending bill, as well as new family leave entitlement.

Both presidents increased the deficit dramatically. President Obama presided over the first trillion-dollar deficits, which were later pared back by the Republican House. President Trump’s budget also calls for deficits in excess of a trillion dollars annually.

Both presidents also favored the use of executive authority to bypass the stalemated Congress. President Obama is known for his Iran deal and his executive creation of the DACA program while President Trump has issued a plethora of Executive Orders on everything from abortion to immigration.

Both presidents were also plagued by scandals. President Obama had the ATF program that allowed the shipment of guns to Mexico, Solyndra, the IRS harassment of conservative groups, his dealings with Iran and the  Benghazi cover-up. So far, Trump has the Russia scandal, the firing of James Comey, numerous personnel problems in the White House and his daily Twitter feed.

Obama’s excesses led to the Tea Party waves of 2009 and 2014. There are indications, including a wave of Republican congressional retirements, that 2018 may yield similar good fortune for the Democrats. That depends, however, on whether Democrats can break the mold of another historical lesson from the Obama years.

Throughout the Obama Administration, Republicans believed that Obama was so unpopular that all they had to do was be anti-Obama and anti-Obamacare. That worked to some extent, but it failed to win the White House for Mitt Romney. Democrats may be making the same mistake now.
Democrats assume that if they play to their anti-Trump base, they will be assured of victory in 2018 and 2020. That may not be a good assumption.

Polling for Republicans is improving in the wake of the tax cuts and attacks on Trump seem to be yielding diminishing returns. If Democrats, mirroring the Obama-era Republicans, choose to run as anti-Trump rather than championing a positive agenda, they may be disappointed and disillusioned once again in November.

Disappointment for Democrats would continue the parallels between the Trump Administration and the Obama Administration. After all, Republicans spent eight years in the wilderness as they blamed one another for their defeats. Republican rage grew until they finally reached a point where they would rally behind someone -anyone- who would carry the fight unapologetically to the leftist elites, conservative principles and character be damned!

If the pattern of mirror image rhyming of history continues, the next six years will be a wild ride.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, February 16, 2018

Russia Indictments Mean Evidence Of Trump Collusion Is Less Likely

The news of the indictments of Russian nationals by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team should come as a shock to both sides in the Russia debate. On one hand, the news makes it more difficult for President Trump to deny that Vladimir Putin’s Russia meddled in the election while, on the other hand, it dims prospects that Trump himself will be indicted for illegal collusion with the Russians.

The indictments, which can be read in full on CNN, name 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for illegal interference in the election, beginning as early as 2014. According to the indictment, the Russians used computer equipment, both in the US and abroad to “obstruct the lawful functions of the United States through fraud and deceit.” The Russian operatives used both false identities and stolen American social media accounts to purchase political ads, create false grassroots organizations and even stage political rallies.

“The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said.

The good news for the Trump Administration is that there are so far no indictments of Trump campaign members for illegal collusion with the Russians. The indictment states, “Some Defendants, posing as US. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.” These unwitting individuals in the Trump campaign are not named and presumably will not be charged.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” Rosenstein added. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.” Rosenstein did point out that the investigation is ongoing.

Although the round of indictments does not end Mueller’s investigation, it is becoming more and more doubtful that President Trump will be implicated. There are five possibilities for the future findings of the investigation:

1.       Evidence of President Trump’s illegal collusion with the Russians will emerge.
2.       Evidence of President Trump’s collusion will emerge, but will not have been illegal.
3.       There will be evidence of illegal collusion by other members of the Trump campaign.
4.       There will evidence of collusion by member of the Trump campaign that did not break the law.
5.       There will be no evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign.

Of five likely scenarios, four would result in no indictment of Donald Trump. Others would result primarily in embarrassing the Administration.

The evidence strongly indicates that the Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign. It also indicates that by mid-2016 the Russians were actively supporting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. At this point, the evidence also indicates that the Russians acted alone.

If the goal of the Russians was to create chaos, division and mistrust in the United States, then it is easy to see why they might have supported Donald Trump even without active collusion from his campaign. As president, Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the FBI and other intelligence agencies, the frontline of defense against Russian covert operations, without providing evidence of their corruption. An added bonus for the Russians is that President Trump has so far refused to implement the sanctions passed against Russia by Congress last year.

Robert Mueller is one of the biggest winners of the day. Through months of accusations that his investigation was a sham designed to impeach President Trump and that his investigation was going too long without producing results, Mueller persevered. The indictments today prove that Mueller takes seriously his charter to investigate interference in the election, not just collusion by the Trump campaign.

With Trump Administration officials already warning against Russian interference in this year’s midterms, the charge that Russia conducted “information warfare” against the United States should be difficult for President Trump to ignore. As he appears to grow safer from indictment (other than on perjury or obstruction charges), he may feel more free to address this very real threat against the United States.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Joy Behar: Christians Are "Mentally Ill"

Periodically the left tries to make an appeal to Christians and other religious voters. Democrat campaigns hire people to do outreach to religious communities in an attempt to win over as many of the faithful as possible. After the campaign, liberal rhetoric about religion typically goes back to a point somewhere between ignorant and insulting. That is the case with Joy Behar’s recent attack on Vice President Mike Pence.

On “The View,” Behar joked about a statement by former White House staffer and “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman who had implied that Pence was mentally ill. Omarosa said of Pence on “Celebrity Big Brother” that “he thinks Jesus tells him to say things … Scary.”

Behar responded, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.”

Behar’s comments immediately drew criticism from other panelists on “The View.” The Washington Times notes that Meghan McCain pushed back, saying that Jesus speaks to her “every morning.”

“As a Christian, that’s just par for the course,” said Sherri Shepard. “You talk to Jesus, Jesus talks back. What concerns me is, how long is the conversation with Jesus?”

Behar, an agnostic who was raised Catholic, expresses the popular view among liberals that rational and reasonable people must reject the notion that God cannot be real simply because he cannot be seen or touched. For people like Behar, it isn’t enough to simply question the existence of God, it is also necessary to mock the beliefs of the faithful and question their sanity based on their own prejudices.

Behar’s condescending comment, which reflects either a total ignorance of Christianity or a willful misinterpretation of prayer, is insulting to Christian believers on both sides of the political spectrum. In contrast to the assumptions of Behar and other liberal elites, more than half of Americans say that they pray “at least daily” per the Pew Religious Landscape Study. Less than a quarter of Americans never pray. Most probably expect an answer.

Perhaps shockingly, the number of Americans who pray frequently cuts across political lines. The share of people praying daily is split almost equally between Republicans and Democrats (42-40 percent). Democrats have a slight edge in the share of people who pray weekly or monthly.

Although the poll shows that far more conservatives and moderates pray than liberals, when leftists like Behar insult religious believers they chip away at their own base. The left’s hostility to religion in general pushes moderate voters away from the Democrats, the party that once booed God at their 2012 convention. Ironically, it is these moderate voters that decide most elections.

For the benefit of Joy Behar and other liberals (and moderates and conservatives) who believe that prayer is a sign of mental illness, allow me to explain. When praying, Christians do not typically have a “burning bush” moment where we hear the literal voice of God. We aren’t usually visited by angels and we don’t normally have visions either, although the Bible definitely teaches that such moments can and do happen.

Instead, God and Jesus speak us in a still, small voice. We can hear from God through reading the Bible, from listening to a sermon, a conversation with a friend, or a thousand different ways. It can simply be a reassurance and comfort that Jesus is with us and provides us with guidance as we go through life.

It isn’t surprising that people like Joy Behar would mock believers. The Bible predicts that scoffers would ridicule believers. Peter wrote, “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’”

The Bible also gives encouragement to the believers who are mocked. Paul told his followers, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” and that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The power of God and prayer is something to which many on both the left and right can attest. For those who have experienced it, the opinion of Joy Behar and other mockers is inconsequential. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

Shaun White's Flag Fuss

Following on the heels of the NFL anthem protests, Olympic snowboarder Shaun White has prompted an internet controversy for allegedly desecrating the American flag after winning his third career gold medal at Pyeongchang. In the course of his post-run celebration, White was handed an American flag which ended up being dragged on the ground, angering some viewers.

White was initially handed the flag when he completed his run and was still carrying his snowboard. The flag initially brushed the ground. White then waved the flag and draped it over his shoulders.  The video shows the flag dragging the ground as White picked up his snowboard and walked away. One picture shows White apparently stepping on the flag. The US flag code states that the flag should not be allowed to touch the ground.

Internet users erupted immediately afterward. One Twitter user, Michael Murph, exclaimed, “If you boycotted the NFL because of players kneeling you hereby have to boycott the Olympics because of Shaun White dragging flag.”

In the first place, so few Americans seem to be watching the Olympics that a boycott would not be noticeable. In the second place, Murph and White’s other critics fail to consider the intent of his actions.

In contrast to the NFL players taking a knee, White clearly did not intend to show any disrespect to the American flag or the United States. His actions, while careless, were not planned or premeditated and were not intended to make a political statement. White is clearly proud of the flag and held it in a celebratory fashion when it was handed to him.

White has already explained and apologized for his mistake, telling reporters that he was unaware that the flag had even touched the ground. “I remember being handed the flag but I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and get the board,” White said. “Honestly, if there was anything, I definitely didn’t mean any disrespect. The flag that’s flying on my house right now is way up there. So sorry for that. But I’m definitely proud — very proud — to be a part of Team USA and being an American and to be representing for everyone back home.”

That should be the end of the matter. Although cringeworthy, the video supports the claim that White’s dragging of the flag was unintentional and he has offered an apology and a sincere explanation of why it happened that does not involve partisan politics of any sort. Americans should take him at his word and move on to other topics. There are already enough snowflakes at the Winter Olympics.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why Federal Deficit Spending Will Never Be Fixed. Ever.

If there was any notion that the Trump Administration was fiscally conservative, those beliefs should be reconsidered in light of last week’s bipartisan spending deal and the president’s spending proposals from the State of the Union speech. Despite the Republican victory on tax reform, it seems that the party is veering toward massive spending increases rather than fiscal restraint and entitlement reform.

Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was one of the few congressional voices that spoke out against the spending bill. In a speech on the Senate floor, Paul described why Congress is unlikely to ever resolve the problem of deficit spending. Ever.

“The right cries out, 'Our military is hollowed out!' Even though military spending more than doubled since 2001,” Paul said. “The left is no better. Democrats don't oppose military money as long as they can get some for themselves... for their pet causes.”

“The dirty little secret is that, by and large, both parties don't care about the debt,” the senator charged.

The truth that Paul stumbled upon is that neither party can spend taxpayer money on its own. The Democrats want to spend on entitlements and social programs, but don’t have the votes by themselves. The Republicans have their own priorities, among them the military and up to $67 billion for President Trump’s border wall. Even though they have majorities in both houses, the Republicans don’t have the votes to pass a budget on their own either. On the other hand, when both parties come together in a bipartisan compromise, they have enough votes to spend like the proverbial drunken sailor.

Neither party sees their priorities as frivolous. Both see themselves as patriotic lawmakers looking out for the wellbeing of their constituents. They agree to each other’s priorities to secure their own and the deficit goes up and the national debt continues to mount.

There have been pauses in the trend. When Republicans won control of the House in the Tea Party wave of 2010, they kept a tight grip on the federal checkbook. Under Speaker John Boehner, the Republicans reduced spending in real dollar terms and reduced the deficit by 70 percent, thanks to the sequester’s spending caps. Nevertheless, the borrowing continued and the debt continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate. In the late 1990s, a booming economy paired with spending cuts actually led to federal surpluses for a few years.

By the end of Barack Obama’s second term, the federal debt had almost doubled. The US debt to GDP ratio reached 108 percent. This is far behind Japan with a 240 percent ratio and Greece at 180 percent, but the level of debt is generally acknowledged to be at a serious problem. The Keynesian ideal of deficit spending in times of crisis has given way to deficit spending to avoid a financial crisis.

Where Rand is incorrect is in his hostility to military spending, a constitutional mission of the federal government. Paul argues that “military spending more than doubled since 2001,” but fails to consider how much the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Two wars and numerous missions against Islamic terrorism are only the most obvious aspect of the problem. Chinese and Russian expansionism represent serious Cold War-like threats.

In 2016, under President Obama, military leaders said that sequestration was a serious threat to military readiness. Budget cuts have led to difficulties in replacing and upgrading equipment. Financial limitations have also impacted training and troop retention.

Military spending is costly, but it is not the largest share of the federal budget. Defense and security spending (including veterans programs) make up only 20 percent of federal outlays. Over half of the federal budget is made up of health care spending (28 percent) and Social Security (25 percent). It is entitlements that are breaking the federal budget.

Democrats may get the lion’s share of the blame for entitlement spending, but the truth is that it is a bipartisan problem. Conservative voters claim to favor spending cuts, but quickly change their tune when the discussion moves to reforming Social Security. They have bought into the fiction that their “contributions” to Social Security are held into an account for when they retire. In reality, Social Security taxes are quickly spent on current retirees as soon as they are received. (If you think your payments to Social Security are a voluntary “contribution,” try not paying them.)

Speaker Paul Ryan is one of the few politicians of either party to dare to even mention entitlement reform. For his bravery, he is shown in Democrat ads pushing an old lady off a cliff. His own party was no better. When Ryan voted for the 2013 budget deal that included cuts in military retirement pay, he was skewered by Republicans even though the bill was supported by military leaders.  

In the end, Rand Paul is right. Neither party cares about the debt, at least not enough to allow cuts to their favorite programs, although they are more than willing to cut the other party’s pet projects. The minority party becomes a deficit hawk to use the deficit as a club to beat their opponents and roles reverse when the parties change control. The few politicians who want to make real spending reforms are opposed by both parties.

There will be no spending reform for the foreseeable future. The US government will continue to spend like a billionaire’s wife in Saks Fifth Avenue as long as it can borrow. With the dollar maintaining strength and few other bastions of stability for world investments, many assume that purchases of treasury bonds will never stop.

But one day, sooner or later, interest payments will combine with other budget items to exceed the government’s ability to borrow. The government will not be able to pay its bills. When that day comes, members of both parties will have to get serious about spending cuts regardless of what their voters think.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Americans Have Embraced A Post-Truth Society

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate once famously asked.

Truth once mattered in America. Our most beloved president, George Washington, was revered as a man who supposedly said, “I cannot tell a lie” when confronted with the childish misdeed of chopping down a cherry tree. Abraham Lincoln, who usually ranks just beneath Washington in the pantheon of great presidents, is remembered as “Honest Abe.” In the past few decades, however, both parties have strayed from the traditional ideal to one that lionizes political figures who have what can only be called a casual acquaintance with the truth.

It is hard to say exactly when our expectations for presidential behavior went off track. Richard Nixon, one of the most infamous failed presidents, is remembered for his proclamation that “I am not a crook.” Nixon’s protest turned out not to be true, but the president’s behavior was not quickly excused or forgiven. Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment in 1974.

President Reagan may have lied about his knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair or he may have purposely kept himself in the dark to maintain plausible deniability. Either way, the Gipper’s image suffered from his end-run around Congress. Bill Clinton certainly lied about his own scandals. He was impeached for perjury, lying under oath, about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, yet Democrats rallied around Clinton and, until recently, he remained a respected elder statesman of the party.

Barack Obama is fondly remembered by Democrats as well, but is closely associated with two lies. In the most well-known example, Obama received “Lie of the Year” honors for his claim that Americans could keep their doctor under Obamacare. The second, the claim that the terror attack on the Benghazi consulate was precipitated by an anti-Muslim video, was not actually spoken by the president, but the idea was widely pushed by members of his administration, apparently with his blessing.

Since Donald Trump burst onto the scene, the situation has only gotten worse. President Trump has kept fact-checkers busy and examples of his falsehoods and exaggerations are too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that the man who established his political bona fides by questioning Barack Obama’s birth certificate may be on track for a lifetime achievement award in addition to the “Lie of the Year” he received for his denials of Russian attacks on the 2016 election.

The penchant for lying is trickling down to infect members other elected officials. In the past week, there have been two big lies in the news that didn’t even involve the president. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had egg on his face after claiming that the FBI did not reveal the political bias of its sources in FISA warrant applications against Carter Page, only to admit later that the information was included in a footnote. Later in the week, Ron Jonson (R-Wis.) twisted text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to claim that President Obama interfered in the investigation to Hillary’s emails. In reality, the text messages referred to Obama’s desire to be informed on the Russia investigation prior to a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

And don’t get me started on liberal lies that attempt to engineer their version of what society should be. While deriding the right as anti-science, the left makes unsupported and outlandish claims that an unborn baby is not a human or that gender is fluid and infinite. The leftist redefinition of common terms is a positively Orwellian lie.

The fact that these claims have been shown to be false won’t change the fact that many of the faithful will still believe them.  Partisans on both sides seem to have embraced the view of Obi Wan Kenobi that “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

The problem with this approach is that Kenobi’s was defending an outright lie. When he told Luke that Vader killed Anakin, Kenobi knowingly and intentionally misled his protégé and covered up the truth. It is no different when Nunes reverts his claim that the FBI omitted the required disclosure to a claim that the footnote was too vague. Likewise, the liberal claim that a baby in the womb is not a living human is nonsensical, especially considering technological advances that show what life in the womb is like.

Politicians have always lied. What seems to have changed is that voters of both parties no longer seem to care or desire to hold them accountable. Democrats excused President Obama’s lie about keeping your doctor by arguing that Obamacare helped the uninsured. Republicans excuse President Trump’s baseless claim that Trump Tower was “wiretapped” by arguing that the FBI surveilled Trump campaign members… albeit after they had left the campaign.

Information has become disinformation. News has become fake news. Both sides are so guilty that their goal is to obscure the truth rather than to reveal it. The modern goal has become to reveal only enough of the truth to skewer one’s enemies while protecting the guilty on your own team.

The truth is good, bad and sometimes ugly. While it is tempting to cover up the sins of one’s allies, the American people need to see the truth about problems and misdeeds on both sides. Neither side is pure and blameless.

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” Justice Louis Brandeis once said. People in power who operate in darkness behind closed doors tend to become corrupt. Shining the light of truth on government is the only way to protect our Republic.

It is up to American voters to insist on truth from their elected officials and stop excusing their lies and accepting a society that is, for all intents and purposes, post-truth. The post-truth age we live in is an era where what matters is twisting the facts to fit one’s preconceived beliefs and biases.

“The truth will set you free.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Rise of the Big Government Republicans

The Republican Party seems to have turned a corner in recent months. After a promising start to the Trump Administration that included regulatory reform and concluded with a long-awaited tax reform bill, the party seems to have taken an abrupt turn away from fiscal conservatism toward big government and big spending policies.

The most obvious sign of the shift is the new budget signed by President Trump this week. The new budget raises spending caps by $300 billion. The first Trump budget raises spending by about $500 billion over the 2017 budget signed by Barack Obama.

The new budget also includes increases to the debt ceiling through March 2019. Previously, Republicans tied spending cuts to increases in the debt ceiling, but no more. The new budget increases military spending by $165 billion and nonmilitary programs by $131 billion. The funds include $10 billion for infrastructure, $2.9 billion for childcare and $3 billion to fight opioid abuse.

Predictably, the massive spending increases will dramatically increase the deficit. Even before the deal became law, the Washington Post reported that borrowing for the 2018 fiscal year was expected to reach its highest level in the past six years, a date that coincides with the Republican takeover of Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave.

The national debt has already reached crisis levels, as Vice President Mike Pence realized during the campaign. President Obama nearly doubled the debt in eight years, bringing it to more than 100 percent of GDP. The continued increases in deficit are bringing the US Treasury into Greek territory.

There are indications that more increases in spending are to come. President Trump has proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending plan. Perhaps coincidentally, the price tag for Trump’s plan is almost exactly double that of President Obama’s infrastructure stimulus bill from 2009. All that is lacking are promises jobs from shovel-ready projects.

Similarly, Republicans seem ready to embrace a new family leave entitlement that is championed by both Donald and Ivanka Trump. The plan includes paid time off for six weeks for new parents courtesy of the federal government.

Other Republican big government priorities are not new. Trade protectionism was growing in the party even before Donald Trump vaulted to its head. Under President Trump, free trade has taken a beating as tariffs have been imposed and trade deals renegotiated. One of Trump’s first acts was to withdraw the US from the TPP free trade agreement. In the end, trade restrictions hurt American businesses and consumers by increasing the cost of goods.

Immigration policy has long been a big government aspect of the Republican platform as well. Most Republicans support border security, but immigration hardliners favor a crackdown to deport illegal immigrants that would require an expanded federal police bureaucracy.

Deportation of illegal immigrant workers would be expensive and counterproductive. CNN reported in 2016 that it cost more than $10,000 to deport each illegal immigrant. At the same time, deportations can result in labor shortages than increase costs for employers and ultimately for consumers as well.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Republicans would jettison their promises of fiscal restraint. After all, the same pattern has been followed several times in the past few decades. What is surprising is the extent and the speed with which they have done so.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Oh, Canada! Trudeau Says He Won't Accept Bad Deal On NAFTA

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back at Trump Administration attempts to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement on Wednesday. Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Trudeau said that “no deal” might be more preferable to Canada than a deal that is revised along the lines that the Trump Administration proposes.

“We will not be pushed into accepting any old deal, and no deal might very well be better for Canada than a bad deal,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s comments came in the course of a podcast, “The Axe Files,” produced by the University of Chicago and CNN. Trudeau said that Canada valued trade with the United States, but would not accept a one-sided deal.

“When Canadians see me engaging constructively, collaboratively -- but firmly -- at the negotiating table on NAFTA, saying, 'Look we know there are ways to modernize and improve NAFTA in ways that will create a win-win-win when we include Mexico,' there is a path absolutely for that. But we are not going to take a win-loss just for the sake of getting a deal,” Trudeau said.

He added, “We know we can work towards a good deal. But we also know that we will not be pushed into accepting any old deal, and no deal might very well be better for Canada than a bad deal. And being firm on that is, I think, what Canadians expect of me.”

During the campaign, President Trump called NAFTA “the worst trade deal in the history of this country” even though many economists say the trade pact with Mexico and Canada has benefitted all three countries.

Canada and Mexico are able to drive a hard bargain at the NAFTA negotiations because they have other options. Both countries recently signed onto the new Trans Pacific Trade pact that will not include the United States. If the three nations cannot agree to continue NAFTA, Mexico and Canada will have free trade access to numerous new markets around the Pacific rim. Mexico already has 10 free trade agreements with 45 countries.

Still, Trudeau emphasized that continuing the deal would be beneficial to both countries. “Frankly, there is no country in the world that has a greater vested interest in the United States being successful than Canada," he said. "You know, when you sneeze, we catch a cold. I mean, we're so interlinked that absolutely we want to make sure it's a good deal for the United States, because that's part of making a good deal for Canada.”

Trudeau also addressed his recent controversial correction of an audience member who used the word “mankind.” In a clip that has been widely mocked, Trudeau said that “peoplekind” was the appropriate gender-neutral phraseology. Fox News reports that the prime minister called the comment “a dumb joke.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Nunes Admits That FBI Disclosed Political Bias On FISA Application

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) admitted yesterday that a central claim of his controversial memo was not true. In the memo detailing the FISA surveillance warrants obtained for former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, Nunes had claimed that the FBI did not acknowledge the political nature of the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele at the behest of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Yesterday, Nunes admitted that the FBI had in fact done so in a footnote.

Politico reports that Republican leaders have now acknowledged that the FBI included references to the dossier’s political origins in a footnote on the original application for a FISA surveillance warrant. Democrats accused Republicans of committing the very sin that they had accused the FBI of, namely cherry-picking information for political reasons.

Nunes responded to the revelation about the footnote on “Fox and Friends,” saying, “A footnote saying something may be political is a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign.”

However, Nunes’ claim that the FBI’s admission of political bias in the dossier was too vague is itself a far cry from the claim in the original memo that the FBI did not disclose the political nature of the documents at all. “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials,” the memo stated.

There are other inconsistencies in the Nunes memo as well. For instance, despite Nunes’ claim, there is no evidence that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. The FISA warrant was applied for in October 2016, a month after Page left his role as a Trump campaign advisor.

The memo also misquotes former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony about the dossier. The memo refers to Comey’s alleged statement that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.” Politifact points out that the comment referred to “some personally sensitive aspects of the information” contained in the dossier’s memos rather than the full dossier.

Further, the Nunes memo acknowledges that the FISA warrant for Page was renewed three times and that “each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause.” However, the memo does not describe other evidence against Page that was used in the original application or the subsequent renewals.

The inconsistency between the original claim that the FBI did not disclose the political bias of the evidence against Page and the later claim that the FBI followed the proper procedure but was not clear enough in its disclosure is a major blow to the credibility of Nunes and his memo. The claim that the FBI did not follow the law in obtaining the warrant against Page was a central argument in Republican attacks on the FBI.

There will be further revelations. The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously this morning to release an 11-page Democrat rebuttal to the Nunes memo. The Democrat memo must follow the same process of declassification by the president that the Nunes memo went through.

The central question is whether the FBI followed the letter of the law in the application for the FISA warrants. The only way to resolve that issue is for President Trump to declassify the unedited versions of the applications and let Americans see the truth for themselves.

Originally posted on The Resurgent