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January 21, 2017
The Inaugural Address
I enjoyed the quote jg posted yesterday. And the reviews were generally good except from sources expectedly unsympathetic. People laughed at Kellyanne Conway's dress; I found it rather cute.
But. We have to talk. I watched it on YouTube last night (I was busy at work, not boycotting) and I cannot think of a nice thing to say. I lost all the goodwill and optimism I had accrued from some of his pleasing cabinet picks.
It was bad in tone, style and substance. There was that (one) great line about taking power from Washington to give to the people. But the rest of his speech was how he was going to use his power to run the economy and the world.
And, I know his pugilism is held in high regard by his devotees, but it was uncalled for. The inauguration has been called our national quadrennial religious service. I watch it every four years and usually weep with pride. He sullied it by ripping into his political opponents, many of whom showed grace and courage by attending.
The boycotters look prescient. It will be a very long four years.
they haven't lost it, but found it
Their mission, that is.
@JK lamented: In the end we will not get a healthy adversarial press.
I think, grasshopper, we will indeed. It shall merely bare scant resemblance to the BBCBS, and ABCNN's of the day.
See here, where Ms. Mackenzie notes
the media finds itself: [like a headless chicken] half-brained, blind, but still flailing around. It’s not quite alive and certainly not useful, but it’s not dead either.
She then quotes at length from an article that is probably more harbinger than outlier, from Politico's Jack Shafer
In his own way, Trump has set us free. Reporters must treat Inauguration Day as a kind of Liberation Day to explore news outside the usual Washington circles.
Hmm, Mr. Shafer, whom has kept you captive?
So, forget about the White House press room. It’s time to circle behind enemy lines.
If he's the enemy; who are your friends?
Washington reporting has long depended on a transactional relationship between sources and journalists. Journalists groom sources, but sources also groom journalists. There’s nothing inherently unethical about the back-scratching.
Why, yes, there is in any normal situation. Sources merely should want the truth out. Lastly, the slightly scary bit:
As Trump shuts down White House access to reporters, they will infest the departments and agencies around town that the president has peeved. The intelligence establishment, which Trump has deprecated over the issue of Russian hacking, owes him no favors and less respect. It will be in their institutional interest to leak damaging material on Trump. The same applies to other bureaucracies.
Luckily for all of us, they already overplayed a band hand or two. I can think of a juicy target now the EPA was recently tagged as scofflaw:
EPA was in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 7621, § 321(a) of the Clean Air Act, which requires the agency to “conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of [the Clean Air Act]
The key, I think, will be decisive action: Mackenzie simply opines
Donald Trump will hopefully keep on keeping on.
but the comments section has some more blunt and effective suggestions.
So, while it's near impossible to fire far too many Federal employees; it's not any where required that they keep the position in swanky digs just off Dupont Circle. Relocate their 'position' (or whole departments) to E. St. Louis, for instance!
Trump has indeed declared war on the Administrative State. Let us hope (and encourage) that he has a blood-lust to win the fight he has picked.
Nice post nb.
January 20, 2017
Otequay of the Ayday - Presidential Inaugural Edition
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth. At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. - President Trump's Inaugural Address
Here's my money quote:
Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another -- but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.
I heard it timed at twenty minutes, then later someone said it was only sixteen.
You're right to point out that he said "I" only three times. He said "we" however, 45 times.
I find this particularly significant because commentator Mara Liasson, on NPR before the speech, suggested that we listen for this detail because Trump was all about "I" during the campaign. She probably heard me yelling at her through the radio, "Did you ever notice how much the sitting president talks about himself? The Narcissist in Chief?"
First: a sincere congrats to the brave persons who supported Trump through victory. I am awfully glad that we are not inaugurating Sec. Clinton today.
The title refers to differing press accounts of the transition. The TeeVee news this this morning informed me around seven times in three minutes that President Trump* will be inaugurated "without any of his cabinet picks confirmed." They offered no statistics of other Januaries Twentieth, but the tone indicated it was on the order of "the first to be inaugurated wearing only underwear."
National Review meanwhile, [I will look for link] was aflutter that he had made all of his picks. Again, no comparisons were provided, but it sounded unusual.
Whom to believe? Well, Kimberly Strassel of course! The ThreeSources fave spikes the football that Sen. Chuck Schumer (Eats Detergent - NY) was going 0-8 on blocking them.
Perhaps the warning sign was that actual sign--the poster board that stood beside Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi Jan. 4. "Make America Sick Again," it blared. Democrats had intended to mock Donald Trump. Instead, some neglectful aide had made the incriminating text about Republicans on the sign too small for the cameras. Twitter had a field day, circulating a photo of the nation's top two Democrats trumpeting their wish of ill health on the nation.
And she does compare:
It's a modern Washington principle that opposition parties get to claim at least one nomination scalp. George H.W. Bush lost defense nominee John Tower Bill Clinton lost his first two choices for attorney general, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood George W. Bush lost Linda Chavez as Labor Secretary. Barack Obama lost Bill Richardson, Judd Gregg and Tom Daschle.
I lived through "Bush Derangement Syndrome." Mutatis mutandis trumpus, I don't think it will be any healthier.
* first typing
I enjoyed "liking" numerous Tweets from world leaders congratulating President Trump.
January 19, 2017
The Government Dime
Amanda Macias at Business Insider implies that eight-odd million dollars is too much to pay for two bomber sorties to North Africa to wipe out 80 ISIS murderers. She called the cost "colossal."
But it got me to thinking - what else can government get for eight to sixteen million dollars? Without much effort, I found something comparable. Obama vacation to Hawaii, Africa cost taxpayers nearly $16 million.
And besides, Ms. Macias, it is President Obama's last full day in office. Don't you think the media has beat him up enough over the past eight years? Can't you cut him a little slack? Or even give him credit for working hard the entire time he's on the clock? For shame.
Soviet Iconography Much?
High-rez -- to print your own!
Back and forth on whether to post this on Facebook. I do have a lot of friends participating, and they are not responsible for every goofy-ass SJW artist.
But . . .
January 18, 2017
top 10 list
I want help from clever TS'ers. I want to post a top 10 list about the Trump presidency on FB. I want to keep the tone I've maintained to date: conservative, practical and with a dose of humor, wit when I can manage (but my wit usually doesn't scale). In that vein, I humbly submit, for your approbation or critique.
The Top 10 Best Things about a Trump Presidency
10. Dissent will become patriotic suddenly
9. Best looking 1st lady since... well, Michelle Obama
7. Deficit spending and government debt will be reported as bad, finally
8. James O'Keefe can start a family*
6. Best looking 1st family, ever
5. Media will surprisingly discover U6 or "real" unemployment!
4. Stories will once again become widespread about the homeless, shockingly! some are vets.
3. We can all blow raspberries at anyone claiming "but the polls say...."
2. The media will again discover its mission to cover the government, instead of cover for the government.
1. NO MORE CLINTONs!
Sarcasm is encouraged; snark discouraged.... did I miss anything glaring or good? Italicized items are to accentuate how these ongoing problems are only newsworthy when a Republican sits at 1600 Penn Ave.
* A friend suggested that "O'Keefe's untimely suicide has been rescheduled" would be more effective.
I would put the adverbs ahead of their verbs, i.e., "Dissent will suddenly become patriotic."
A spin off from your thing number 7-
Tax cuts will be reported as "deficit spending."
It also looks like you forgot to mention the newfound focus on racial tensions that is sure to emerge from hibernation.
I had high hopes for #2: The media will again discover its mission to cover the government, instead of cover for the government." Professor Consort Reynolds of Knoxville highlighted this early on.
But those hopes are being dashed at no real fault of the President-Elect. The media is going so incredibly, amazingly, irrationally insane (adverbs first!) we are not going to see the benefit. They're going to print mad nonsense like "The Dossier" and the Administration will expel them. In the end we will not get a healthy adversarial press.
Which is too bad.
It's early. They're still in shock and denial. Give them time to put on their pajamas and sip cocoa. Something better might eventually come from their keyboards.
For any non-software geeks that read these pages ( a small set), the title means "not equal."
Oxfam has released a new report which is generating much buzz. Sit down and have a drink of water before reading the intro:
New estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society -- especially the poorest -- suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point. Our economy must stop excessively rewarding those at the top and start working for all people. Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women's rights and a strong system of fair taxation, are central to this more human economy.
Or, as it is being reported: "EIGHT PEOPLE AS RICH AS HALF THE WORLD! "
The Internet taketh away, but ith giveth thoo. There are two superb rebuttals today. First is ThreeSources fave Bjorn Lomborg's USA Editorial: Oxfam's Upside Down Inequality Study.
Oxfam measures net wealth, not income. Crucially, it includes 'negative' wealth, meaning the 5% of Americans with student loans or negative equity in their houses are considered among the world's poorest -- poorer than three-quarters of all Africans. This means that even the most impoverished soul you could imagine -- a day laborer from Zimbabwe with nothing but a comb to his name -- in Oxfam's eyes is richer than the poorest 45% of the world's population. Oxfam's data also leaves out any entitlements to pensions and entirely ignores the huge assets owned by the state.
The real story on inequality is a much more optimistic one than Oxfam's narrative.
"Real stories," however always are far less supportive of grand solutions like Oxfam's "let's divide up all the wealth equally and everybody will have $8,000." Take that, Warren Buffet! Take that, Bill Gates!
That is how Tim Worstall sees it in his piece in FEE (well, not the "Take that" parts -- those are mine).
As it's Davos time, Oxfam has issued its traditional demand for a handout. Their wealth report this year informs us that a mere eight people have more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent of the world's population. This is entirely true of course. But Oxfam's solution is that we should take it from the rich and give it to the poor. Which is entirely wrong.
Our essential economic problem is that there are not enough rich people. Nor is their extreme wealth a problem. Our problem is poverty, not inequality.
Again, not supporting Oxfam's designs...
Okay scarecrow, let's suppose we give everyone their $8000 right now. Set aside for the moment what this does to job growth and economic investment - what about those student loans? Those jokers are still broke.
Wipe that out first, you say? Make the "everyone is equally wealthy [poor]" calculation from a clean slate? Sorry, that debt is what is in the plus column of all those you aim to loot.
Forbes' Tim Worstall explains the situation thusly:
Fully 30% of the world's poorest people when measured by wealth are actually in the rich countries of Europe and North America. This is because these are the parts of the world where it is possible for people with no assets to borrow money.
In other words, they have leveraged their own future wealth. Maybe the answer is to just, stop allowing that. No more student loans. No more cars on credit. No more "nothing down" mortgages. Problem solved!
I dunno sounds like the kind of thinking which does not represent "Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women's rights and a strong system of fair taxation."
You'll never get a job at Oxfam thing like that.
January 17, 2017
So much sagacity, so little time
This election has been difficult at times.
If I haven't said it recently, I fiercely appreciate the blog authors and commentariat. I spend too little time reading old threads. In our near-14 year run it would detract from work and life to relive old posts.
But when the occasion arises, I am always delighted at what I find.
I got an email asking if I would update a link on a post from Jan 11, 2012. The link target has moved onto a new domain and kindly asked if I would repair the link. I was certain it was spam, then a hoax, then a phishing attack, then a virus . . . I carefully typed in some urls and BOOM, their story checks out. Link fixed!
But I cannot lie, I enjoyed OUR FRIEND, THE VULTURE
Thanks for being you, ThreeSourcers!
Trump Revolution, Indeed
I mentioned my skepticism with the category title Trump Revolution. My first comparison was to "Reagan Revolution" and Peggy Noonan's still-awesome-after-all-these-years book What I Saw at the Revolution. While cautiously hopeful, I am not fond of the comparison between 40 - 45. Reading Reagan's GE speeches and early columns, he had a deep devotion to political philosophy and policy. I think it fair to say I find that wanting in the President-Elect.
But there was also the French Revolution: great upheaval with mixed changes both positive and negative. So, I am onboard and hoping the guillotines stay locked in the cellar of the Bastille.
I say this to actually introduce two overwhelmingly positive stories in the continuing wonder of some of his superb personnel picks. But my optimism will always be cautious. Now to the nice part:
-- Betsy DeVos! Every day I like that pick more. By her enemies and friends shall ye know her, and Sen. Bob Casey's enmity is an asset in my world. Harvey Silverglate [Review Corner] takes him to task for attacking her contributions to FIRE.
Civil-liberties advocates have long defended free speech and fair procedures. Often that means standing up for the rights of people who hold odious views or have committed grave crimes, including sexual assault. Those whose views are merely unpopular, and the innocent who are wrongly accused, depend on the same protections.
If confirmed, Mrs. DeVos will have the opportunity to improve the climate for fairness and accuracy in campus judiciaries at universities that have obliterated due process for fear of losing millions in federal aid--to make American higher education free and fair again.
-- And Mitch's wife might kill the train to nowhere.
The Obama Administration gave California $3.2 billion to build the 500-mile bullet train from San Francisco to Anaheim, which seven years later still isn't shovel ready. The $10 billion in state bonds that voters approved in 2008 for the $64 billion (and counting) train have been tied up in litigation. Meanwhile, Democratic legislators have been loath to appropriate funds beyond a fraction of the revenues generated by California’s cap-and-trade program, which is also under legal challenge.
So the Obama Administration has repeatedly eased the spending and construction deadlines in federal grant agreements. Last year the White House provided a cash advance rather than require the railroad authority to match federal funds dollar for dollar.
Yet according to the FRA document, the rail authority still won’t meet its June deadline for spending stimulus funds.
Liberté, Egalité, Non Choo-choo.
UPDATE: I knew there was a third great Trump Cabinet pick, but I just couldn't remember...
Cheap shot -- Perry is an awesome pick.
I was indeed thinking more "Do You Hear The People Sing" revolution than trying to compare the former Democrat, reality television star Trump with the former Democrat, B-movie actor Reagan. Sorry if I rankled inadvertently. In my defense, while Reagan was certainly more schooled in the principles of liberty, Trump may prove to be more successful in implementing them.
As for the California Train to Nowhere, Randall O'Toole penned articles on the three reasons why people don't ride transit. Enjoy at your leisure.
I will never compare the Apprentice-Boss to The Great Communicator, but I did find this this article hopeful. Key quote being:
â€śTariffs do have a useful role in correcting inappropriate practices,â€ť Ross testified. But he also said heâ€™s â€śkeenly awareâ€ť of the damage caused by the Smoot-Hawley tariffs in the 1930s, which were meant to stimulate US production but ended up making the Great Depression worse. â€śThat kind of approach didnâ€™t work very well, and it very likely wouldnâ€™t work very well now,â€ť Ross said. That view will be a relief to many economists and business leaders worried that Trump will ignite trade wars and do more harm than good to the US economy.