Views on the News

Views on the News*

June 16, 2018


Right now, Donald Trump is in the strongest political position since the initial months of his presidency.  He’s not in robust shape but the slow upward trend in polls has been evident since March.  Too much shouldn’t be read into the numbers, except for the basic conclusion that Trump hasn’t destroyed himself and isn’t going away.  Trump may not even harm the interests of Republicans in the midterms any more than any other sitting president whose party holds Congress.  After 18 months of Trump, the GOP is possibly in position to retain control of both houses, despite the constant low-level sense of crisis, despite the tweets, despite the Russia investigation, despite the Stormy Daniels scandal, despite the jaw-dropping message indiscipline.  The inevitable anti-Trump blowout forecast for November looks less inevitable.  The Democrat advantage in the generic ballot has been narrowing since the end of last year, when it topped out at about 13% in the RealClearPolitics average.  Why the improvement in Trump’s fortunes and that of his party?  The GOP finally managed to pass major legislation last year in the form of the tax bill, which gave them a political claim on an economy that had already been growing.  With  unemployment at 3.8%, the lowest since April 2000, Republicans are in a position to benefit from the good feelings.  Trump is not so abnormal that his presidency isn’t subject to the updraft of a buoyant economy.  The Republican agenda has shifted this year from Paul Ryan territory to Trump territory, i.e., from health care, taxes and spending to immigration, trade and national security.  Finally, Trump seems a little less exotic. As Abraham Lincoln said, there’s nothing like getting used to it.  His zaniness isn’t as strange or threatening as it seemed at the outset.  Trump’s tweets have gone from unprecedented use and abuse of the bully pulpit to something like the wallpaper of our national political debate.  The most plausible (although always ridiculously exaggerated) case that a madman Trump would blow up the world was North Korea.  The mutual threats have now given way to what will be the most highly anticipated and watched diplomatic summit since the end of the Cold War, one that is likely to produce a superficial success that will poll very well domestically.  If Republicans manage to hold the House and pick up Senate seats, 2018 will be to Trump what 1998 was to Bill Clinton, an unexpected midterm victory in which remarkably good conditions in the country trumped the politics of scandal.  Absent a miraculous hellacious smoking gun, the Russia-election probe is almost certainly a dead end.  Trump will have to be beaten in the normal course of politics, which means Democrats need to take him seriously, learn from him, and attack him purposely and intelligently, because being perpetually appalled and assuming that he’ll do his opponents’ work for them is wishfulness rather than strategy.

(“Trump Is Not Destroying Himself” by Rich Lowry dated June 6, 2018 published by Politico at https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/06/06/trump-is-not-destroying-himself-218659 )

I think more than George W. Bush, or Barack Obama, President Trump has not gone extra-constitutional.  He has contracted the size of several major government agencies; he has rolled back thousands of pages of bureaucratic regulation; he has appointed a singularly qualified Constitution-loving jurist to the Supreme Court; and he has followed the will of Congress without overriding it "with a pen and a phone."  Where Obama used his tremendous media power and smooth-talking ability to keep the ball in everyone else's court (and get his cabinet to lie for him) to bend the world to his own will, Congress, the courts or the people be damned; Trump prefers the power of the tweet to distract, while using wholly Constitutional means to warp things to his own preferences.  Trump lies publicly and writ large.  Obama lied behind the scenes and in coordinated propaganda campaigns.  Trump leads with his own chin, and because he exposes the worst of the press, of Washington, and of himself, has the capacity to be great.  He can negotiate with tyrants and allies alike.  He can cause our allies to re-evaluate their own priorities by having them focus on his intransigence.  He can disentangle the U.S. from various global commitments that gained very little to our interests, and the Paris Accords, the Iran deal, were stunning examples of this.  Trump could bring the two Koreas out of war.  No matter how much "prestige" we grant the murderous tyrant Kim Jong-un in a meeting with the president, if it results in a less militarized Korean peninsula, and continued talk between the north and south, with a path to permanent peace, it's worth it.  The "peace dividend" from this will be felt for decades and will save many thousands of lives, if it works.  Trump doesn't spend hours writhing over how to attack those who attack him.  He has an innate sense of how to make others suffer.  He attacks them effortlessly.  He fires people over Twitter.  He sent Chris Christie packing "get in the plane and go home." Then after making Christie genuflect, he snatched the transition team from him and froze the unpopular governor out of his administration.  Our president isn't just very good at making people feel shorter than the width of a dime, he's a maestro at it.  It's really his most accomplished talent.  It's how he makes his deals.  He browbeats, insults, threatens, and ultimately, shames his adversaries to his own will.  The man who can't be shamed is like the one-eyed man in a room full of blind men carrying guns.  The only way to attack Trump is to go after him the way he goes after others, and very few can stomach that.  Unfortunately, the ones who can tend to be soulless despots and murderous dictators. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un are three examples of people who can go toe-to-toe with Trump, with the tacit knowledge that Trump won't actually have his enemies rubbed out, but they will.  Leaders who don't share the cruel streak, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron can only gape in mock wonder as the man spits venom at them.  Certainly, Merkel, Trudeau and Macron are wrong on many things, but they can't even debate the cruel man.  They face the same debilitating futility that Trump's debate opponents felt.  Certain leaders like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, besides benefitting from familial support, can deal with Trump from a practical, politics-as-war viewpoint.  Just flatter him, agree where you can and shut up where you can't, and Trump is a very gracious and reasonable man.  Obama might be politically sly, disingenuous, positively a rapist of the Constitution, and at heart a social propagandist of immense proportions, but he's not personally cruel.  As cruel as Trump is, he was able to make Hillary Clinton seem more cruel by comparison, because she is so casually cruel, and such a poor liar.  Trump's cruelty vexes the press, annoys his associates, scrambles any possibility of coherence of the White House staff, and turns cabinet members into couch-seeking therapist patients.  In the end, Trump's cruelty keeps him from greatness.  He might make deals that end the Korean War.  He might obtain better trade agreements with our allies (or not!).  He might continue to improve America's business environment to increase jobs and grow the economy.  He might, by piece and parcel, dismantle much of Bannon's "administrative state."  It won't be because Trump hasn't advanced certain conservative causes.  It won't be because he left the world safer than his predecessor (and cleaned up some of their worst messes).  It will be because at heart, Trump's cruelty won't let him be great.  The saddest part of this, is that in his cruelty, Trump has caused many other aspects of American life (and political life) to also become cruel.  If there's anything that is the opposite of MAGA, it's cruelty.  This is why Trump is not Ronald Reagan, and can never be Ronald Reagan.  In order to Make America Great Again, greatness must start in the heart.  From our pulpits to our police officers, Trump's cruelty is making America cruel.  No matter what great things he does, if Trump can't change his cruel heart, that will be his lasting legacy.

(“Trump Could Be Greatby Steve Berman dated June 11, 2018 published by The Resurgent at https://www.themaven.net/theresurgent/contributors/trump-could-be-great-S9qp-s-HdEC4rdvyz7-JzA/ )

Leftists have achieved perfection, and for once not only in their own minds.  For the first time, modern leftists have managed to be perfectly wrong on every single issue.  Here are some major issues where one would think that any decent human would get the right answer:

·    #MeToo: All good people agree that real sexual harassment when someone uses power or force to coerce someone else to do something sexual is bad.  Yet starting with Bill Clinton, the left has declared that sexual harassment is not bad if it's practiced by people who are sufficiently leftist.  The recent "awakening" by leftists is not a sign that their beliefs have changed.  The reality is that they view the #MeToo movement as a way to attack Trump, so they're willing to sacrifice a few pawns, like Weinstein, in order to strike at Trump.  The lack of sincerity can be seen by the fact that Bill Clinton is still treated with kid gloves.  He may be chided, not viciously attacked, about Lewinsky, but the claims of rape from Juanita Broaddrick are never mentioned.

·    Free Speech: The concept of free speech is central to America's definition of itself and to the health of our political system.  Everyone other than the most extreme Nazis and communists has agreed that people should be able to express their views, so long as they don't call for violence, without fear of reprisal.  But now the left has declared that "hate" speech, generally defined as anything the left doesn't like, is not in fact protected.  If someone says big government is bad, the left says not only that that person shouldn't be allowed to speak, but that it's okay for groups like Antifa to use physical violence to stop that person from speaking.  You know that the left opposes free speech when colleges, run by leftists in general, establish "free speech zones" and declare that any speech that the left finds odious is banned everywhere else.  

·    Racism: One of the great advances in America in the last 100 years has been the development of a near universal consensus that all people, no matter what their skin color, are equally good and that hating someone because of his race is intrinsically bad.  Yet the left continually declares that whites, all whites except the leftists themselves, are evil.  Leftists push for segregated graduations for blacks while proclaiming that they aren't racists.  At its core, the modern left is extremely racist.  To the left, blacks exist to vote for leftist candidates.  The technique that the left has embraced to ensure that blacks vote for them is to keep blacks poorly educated, in constant fear, and dependent on the government for their next meal.  Essentially, the modern left has created a new plantation system where taxpayers pay for the needs of blacks.  Notice too that leftists spent a great deal of time lying about the "hands up don't shoot" and Zimmerman cases.  While leftists say their moral outrage over black criminals being shot in self-defense shows that they aren't racist it actually does just the opposite.  In those cases, the sad deaths of blacks could be used to further the left's anti-police, anti-gun agenda.  But those same leftists are completely silent about the shootings of thousands of blacks in Democrat-run cities like Chicago.  Leftists use blacks to push the leftist agenda of disarming the people while doing nothing to actually make black neighborhoods safer.  We even see leftists saying that allowing inner-city blacks to choose the school their children go to, thereby giving them a chance of a decent education is racist.  The reason the left really opposes school choice is that it will hurt the grossly overpaid teacher unions, and the last thing leftists want are well educated blacks who can question leftist propaganda and actually get the job skills they need to be self-sufficient; every independent black is a danger to the leftists' lust for power.

·    The Rule of Law: One of the great strengths of America is that it has always tried to be a nation of laws that everyone must follow or be punished.  Modern leftists believe that there are some people who are above the law and that the law can be applied differently to those whom the left likes and those whom the left dislikes.  The left, for example, believes that because Antifa is supposedly fighting fascism, it's okay for them to break the law and use violence to shut down speech its people don't like.  The left thinks it's okay for Hillary to break the law and grossly mishandle highly classified data while a sailor who took some personal photos where he shouldn't is thrown in the brig.  The left thinks Trump Jr. talking to a Russian about dirt on Hillary is a crime, but that Hillary paying a Brit who probably paid Russians for dirt on Trump and then using that dirt during the campaign is okay.  The left thinks that the government spying on the Trump campaign to "protect" him, though it never told Trump there was a problem, is fine, but a failed burglary at the DNC headquarters was the crime of the century.

·    Freedom of Religion: To people of faith, there is nothing more important than being able to live life as they believe God wants them to, from Muslims and Jews who refuse to eat or serve pork to Christians who gladly serve gays but who won't serve gay "weddings."  Our Constitution declares that we can all live our faiths – a belief shared by civilized persons.  Yet leftists declare that all must bow to leftist morality and their faith-based view of the world.  The modern left is ultra intolerant of any moral belief that they don't embrace.  

Whenever someone tells you that the left is good at nothing, please correct them and remind them that the left is insanely good at being wrong.

(“The Left Achieves Perfection” by Tom Trinko dated June 10, 2018 published by American Thinker at https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/06/the_left_achieves_perfection.html )


As primaries roll by and the midterms approach, it’s worth remembering that for Republicans 2016 represented an opportunity more than a victory, it was a chance for them to help the country break the 30-year-spell the Clintons and the Bushes cast, President Barack Obama notwithstanding.  It was also a chance for rank-and-file Republicans to replace an insulated, often feckless, party leadership that had elevated its own interests over everyone else’s.  With their fixation on the person of President Trump, most Democrats don’t understand that for Republicans, taking the party back is part of a larger intellectual and political project.  Trump isn’t on the ballot, but the ideas that animate the current conservative renaissance are.  They are represented by some interesting Senate candidates, who have quite different biographies but common goals.  Republicans have long criticized Democrats for dividing the country into competing grievance groups.  Some now realize that the Republican analogue has been to divide the country into radically autonomous individuals based on a cartoonish misreading of libertarianism that replaces the free markets and free minds of Friedrich Hayek with the greed and hubris of Gordon Gekko, but that is changing quickly.  There is a renewed emphasis on addressing America and Americans as a community characterized by fraternal bonds and mutual responsibility, what Lincoln called the “mystic chords of memory.”  Trump tapped into this.  Most Republicans accept his transgressive personality and his intentional tweaking of social and political norms because they see it as in service of those larger ideas.  That will seem counterintuitive to Trump haters, but fiddling with tax rates, however necessary and beneficial, can’t sustain a political movement, let alone a nation.  Issues of citizenship and solidarity asking what it means to be an American, have returned to the fore.  This is partly because of Trump and partly in spite of him. What is important is that the tumult caused by his unusual candidacy and his unusual approach to governing created an environment in which an intellectual refounding of Republican politics became possible.  The three-legged stool of the new Republican majority is a pro-citizen immigration policy, a pro-worker economic policy and a foreign policy that rejects moral imperialism and its concomitant foreign wars.  Giving up on a failed policy of moral imperialism allows Republicans to focus on forming good citizens and restoring a sense of Americanism that relies upon strong ties of fellowship and belief in a shared destiny.  When it comes to politics, most people don’t want to be addressed as members of a demographic group looking for a payoff; they want to be addressed as Americans.  While appeals to narrow self-interest can work for a while, they eventually fall short because they ignore human nature.  When Trump speaks off the cuff, he talks about “we,” “us” and “our.”  He has said repeatedly that we love our farmers, our police, our flag and our national anthem, even our coal miners.  It is an odd construction, or at least one we’re not used to hearing.  It speaks to the essential fraternity of the nation, but when Trump says it, maybe when any Republican says it, too many people don’t believe that they are included in the “our.”  They hear something much narrower than what is meant. People reject the essentially wholesome message because of the messenger.  That needs to change because they are, in fact, our farmers, our police and our coal miners, and we should love them.  The bonds of civil union that ought to hold us together demand that we love our fellow citizens in their imperfection even as they love us in ours.  This year’s class of Republican candidates seems to get that in ways that they didn’t in 2016.  The Democrats’ advantage in the generic congressional vote dropped from 13% in January to 3.5% at the end of May.   A Reuters poll, which recorded a 14% Democrat edge in April, gave Republicans a 6% advantage last month.  Resistance” and impeachment aren’t as popular as Democrat megadonors like Tom Steyer and their vassals would have Democrat candidates believe.  Financially, Republicans are in much better shape, with the Republican National Committee holding $44 million in cash while the Democrat National Committee is $5 million in debt.  There are even more cracks in the Democrats’ front line.  At some point, the combination of scandal fatigue (there is almost no crime of which Trump is not regularly accused) and the continuing revelations of improprieties by government officials (in the F.B.I., DOJ and elsewhere) will lead voters to believe that Trump got a raw deal.  Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, is pledging higher taxes.  Al Green, a seven-term Texas Democrat, and at least 58 other House Democrats, are promising impeachment.  Meanwhile, the stock market is up, wages are up, unemployment is down, and peace may be breaking out on the Korean Peninsula.  How many people will vote for higher taxes and all the social and political stress associated with impeachment?  Up until recently, the conventional wisdom has been that a blue wave powered by a huge enthusiasm gap would propel Democrats to midterm glory, but the evidence doesn’t bear that out.  The president’s popularity has been rising but especially in these critical battleground states.  That sounds more like a red wave than a blue one.  Yes, the victories won in 2016 can be reversed, but only by voters at the polls and not by any of the irregular means that occupy the fantasies of many people who still can’t believe that their side lost.  For Republicans, this should be a back-to-basics election. Talk about principles, not just tactics.  If Republicans really want to win, then their pronouns must be we, us and our, and they have to make sure that the people who hear them know that they are included in we, us and our.  Talk about America, that’s the key to building an enduring electoral majority and a better country.

(“If There’s a Red Wave Election in 2018, This Will Be Why” by Christopher Buskirk dated June 8, 2018 published by New York Times at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/08/opinion/sunday/if-theres-a-red-wave-election-in-2018-this-will-be-why.html  )

The left is quickly running out of excuses for why Donald Trump's economic policies have caused a boom rather than the bust that they predicted with such great certainty.  Last year, when the U.S. economy began to percolate with faster growth, the media and other Trump haters argued that this simply reflected a pickup in worldwide growth: Trump was riding the wave of what economists were calling "synchronized growth."  Japan's growth rate is estimated to have slowed to slightly negative in the first quarter. The European Union was at an anemic 0.4%. The pace of global growth is expected to be much slower over the next two years, according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  Then there is the outlier: the United States, because here at home, growth is sizzling. Almost all economists now predict a growth rate of above 4% for the second quarter of 2018.  The surge of investment capital flowing into the United States and the increased business spending point to several more quarters of this torrid growth.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world treads water.  They tax cuts are just now kicking in and don't account for the increased economic activity, but this ignores the anticipatory effect.  Businesses are anticipating the tax bill's lower rates on their profits and investments and making decisions accordingly.  Whatever the cause, it is undeniable that America has a new spring in its step.  After a decade of malaise, the American economy is the envy of the world today.  The U.S. dethroned Hong Kong to retake first place among the world's most competitive economies, thanks to faster economic growth and a supportive atmosphere for scientific and technological innovation, according to annual rankings by the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center.  The ultimate judges of all this are the American people, the voters, who know something big is going on here.  In the years before the 2016 election, about 3 in 10 voters described the economy as good or great, but this year, 7 in 10 do.  That surge in optimism began immediately after Trump's election and hasn't subsided.  The same trend is true for the confidence of small businesses and manufacturing businesses.  Perhaps the best news of all is to think that maybe Trump's critics are right that the economic thrust from the tax cut hasn't even kicked in yet, so if that's true, then buckle up, because we're in for a hell of a ride.

(“Putting America First Has Made USA No. 1” by Stephen Moore dated June 12, 2018 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/stephenmoore/2018/06/12/putting-america-first-has-made-usa-no-1-n2489661 )

The United States is a nation of immigrants, but nation is just the lowest common denominator of all those people, a harmonious blending of all the nations and cultures of the world.  There is a particular culture that defines us as a nation which we must teach to our immigrants, and they are expected to assimilate to it to become an American.  The American experiment is based on a level of human rights and freedom unparalleled anywhere else in the world.  Our Founders fought a war in order to be able to establish this country with the Constitution that is currently in place.  The basic idea for American freedom and rights is explained in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed  — that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”  It is a safe assumption that no immigrant understands or believes these principles when they come to our country.  The countries they come from don’t believe in them, and how would they know what we believe.  We don’t even talk about this anymore.  Many of our immigrants we already know will not agree with these beliefs.  Islam, for example, had been in existence for 1,000 years prior to the founding of our country, and there is no Muslim country then or now in the world with a Constitution anything like ours.  A Muslim would deny the whole premise of our Constitution.  We as a nation no longer talk about God-given rights, because we are told that any mention of God constitutes an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.  So when millions of immigrants vote in our elections and have no idea of or belief in what it is that makes the United States what it is, we will eventually lose the freedoms we fought a war to gain.  This won’t happen suddenly, but gradually as more and more people vote according to their understanding of rights and not according to our Founders.  I dare say we don’t even teach these to our own children, given the hostility to anything having to do with God in our public schools.  We are losing our nation, without a war, without a revolution, without anyone even noticing it.

(“The Most Important Issue on Immigration, and Nobody is Talking About It” by Larry Craig dated June 11, 2018 published by iPatriot at https://ipatriot.com/the-most-important-issue-on-immigration-and-nobody-is-talking-about-it/ )


There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following sections:

·    Economy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/economy.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY