RTCS

Views on the News

Views on the News*

 July 1, 2017

 

Most talk today dwells on America’s many divisions, divided by class, race, income, religion, gender, geography, sexual orientation, and, perhaps most of all, politics.  The anger and resentment, the name-calling and intolerance that we see daily on television and in social media, is not really an accurate reflection of life as it’s lived in modern America.  In our day-to-day actions, working, buying, worshiping, child-raising, ballgame-playing and ballgame-watching, cooking, eating, helping, hurting, joking, laughing, crying, sweating, believing and disbelieving, it usually feels like things are OK.  The world of everyday America is filled with good hearts.  There is always evil afoot in this world, but in America today, perhaps more than anywhere, it is usually tamed.  We’re annoyed by others, inconvenienced by others, damaged by others, but more often we are charmed, warmed, enchanted, loved, and entertained.  In the past two American generations, we have made remarkable progress in the ways we treat one another; manufacturing a bull market in respect, tolerance, kindness.  The past few years have left many wondering if these accomplishments are beginning to be reversed.  Americans are prickly right now does not mean that we, as a diverse people living together, are not moving ahead, are not creating great gobs of goodness, undetected by the buzzing feed of electronic media that often misses generosity and joy, sorrow and disappointment, the subtleties that define each life, precious and unique.  Maybe it really is time to shut up and listen. To look up and down and all around. To see what we ignore each day.  For all our disagreements, we often forget that the vast majority of Americans do share certain fundamental beliefs that join us and offer real hope for the future:

·    We believe in fairness and justice. We disagree only about how to accomplish them.

·    We believe in freedom and dignity of everyone. We don’t like being told what to do.

·    We believe in religious freedom. People can worship as they please. Or not.

·    We believe in helping people in need, and helping them help themselves.

·    We believe in economic freedom, in practice if not in theory.  Americans want to decide for ourselves how we earn a living, where we live and eat, when we travel.  We want to expend the fruits of our labor and savings in ways that we choose.

·    We believe in democracy and peace. We believe that there are times when we must fight for what’s good and decent and necessary.

·    We believe we each have a right to express our opinions freely, without interference from the government.  We won’t be forced to shut up.

These are shared values — and the basis for progress and the preservation of our liberty.

(“The vast, ignored unity of modern Americadated  June 25, 2017 published by Richmond Times-Dispatch at http://www.richmond.com/opinion/our-opinion/editorial-the-vast-ignored-unity-of-modern-america/article_022e88a5-a54d-57ec-9ecc-c636286aea81.html )

As Trump’s enemies attempt a “coup d’état by due process of law.  They fail to see that a Trump-less government would still leave America with big problems of Titanic proportions.  Short-sighted hostilities against Trump miss the point, completely.  Ratings-addicted media, hallucinating on knee-jerk anti-Trump bias, use all sorts of journalistic wizardry to conjure up the illusion that Trump is America’s biggest problem, but he’s not.  The deeper issues dividing us are not, and never have been, about Trump; they’re about how the main sides see the predicament of the American ship.  Liberals see the country as unsinkable.  No matter what damage it’s suffered from social, political and economic icebergs.  They put the tectonic cultural shifts of the Obama years in the same category as Elvis’s bad influence over the teens of his day.  Conservatives see our national finances so severely mismanaged that politicians have stopped pretending they know how to fix it.  They see the rule of law becoming flimsy as politicians sworn to uphold it, openly defy it to stitch together tribes of voters from any mob screaming for “social justice”.  They see the same politicians applying laws partially and harshly against critics.  They see American schools and universities becoming secular madrassas that act as re-education camps for a brand of tolerance that’s intolerant to any pupil, parent, preacher or politician who disagrees.  They see political racism eroding historic strides achieved against real racism.  Crazy” Trump just might be the one person nuts enough to cut through the politics, see problems as they are, and fix things.  The Titanic tragedy provides a good metaphor for how the two sides see America’s predicament.  Shortly after the ship collided with that iceberg in 1912, no one knew at first how severe the damage was.  After a closer look, the ship’s designer broke the news to a stunned captain that the damage was fatal. Titanic, four hours into her maiden voyage, was headed to the ocean floor.  To avoid panic, the captain ordered the crew not to tell passengers.  According to survivors, that’s why passengers were so optimistic about the predicament of their ship: They had no idea it was sinking.  About 1,500 passengers had less than two hours to live.  Finally, with no hope of saving the ship, Captain Smith ordered his crew to issue vests and deploy the life boats.  Like these passengers, many Americans have fallen asleep after collisions with cataclysmic social, political and economic icebergs.  Like the Titanic, time-tested institutional structures are buckling under the weight of neglect and mismanagement, and waters are gushing into five major “watertight” compartments: the Judeo-Christian ethic, the family, government, the economy, and education.  Unlike the Titanic, there’s time to save the ship.  With Trump’s election, both sides have an opportunity to make the hard decisions.  America appears to be on course, but she is severely damaged after Obama’s historic attempt to “fundamentally change the United States of America.”  He tried to reverse generations of institutional wisdom grounded in centuries of experiment in the laboratory of American history.  Democracies are fragile and never designed to be indestructible when the structures that keep them afloat are severely altered or damaged.  Without repairs, staying afloat is naturally and scientifically impossible.  For the sake of the country, Trump deserves “all hands on deck” to create policies designed to restore the rule of law; restore the non-theocratic supremacy of the Judeo-Christian ethic; keep the fed’s regulatory tentacles from strangling enterprise; build a lethal military that our enemies fear; and generally give the country the surgery it needs to restore our national splendor.

(“America’s ‘Titanic’ is not about Trump” by Will Alexander dated June 24, 2017 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/willalexander/2017/06/24/americas-titanic-is-not-about-trump-n2345877 )

 

The progressive strategy of investigating President Donald Trump nonstop for Russian collusion or obstruction of justice or witness tampering so far has produced no substantial evidence of wrongdoing.  The alternate strategy of derailing the new administration before it really gets started hasn't succeeded either, despite serial efforts to sue over election results, alter the Electoral College vote, boycott the inauguration, delay the confirmation of appointments, demand recusals, promise Trump's impeachment or removal through the 25th Amendment, and file suit under the Emoluments Clause.  A third strategy of portraying Trump as a veritable monster likewise so far has failed in four special elections for House seats.  Apparently progressives have accepted the idea that Barack Obama's formula of twice winning the Electoral College is not yet transferrable to other progressive candidates such as Hillary Clinton.  They probably have concluded that Obama's progressive political agenda proved unpopular with voters by 2010 and had to be implemented by ad hoc executive orders, presidential prerogatives now utilized by Donald Trump to overturn the ones Obama issued.  A fourth potential pathway to power would be a return to Bill Clinton's pragmatic agendas of the 1990s.  Apparently progressives find that centrist remedy worse than the malady of losing elections, given that during the Obama tenure, more than 1,000 state and local offices were lost to Republicans, in addition to majorities in the House and Senate, and a majority of governorships and legislatures.  Trump acts as if he is a Nietzschean figure, assuming that anything that does not destroy him only makes him stronger.  Now, slowly, his accusers are becoming the accused.  One nagging problem with the progressive case against Trump for purported Russian collusion and obstruction of justice was that members of the Obama administration had more exposure to those allegations than did the political newcomer Trump.  Last year, then-FBI Director James Comey testified that not only did former Attorney General Loretta Lynch improperly meet in secret with Bill Clinton during an investigation of Hillary Clinton, but that Lynch had asked Comey to downplay the investigation into Hillary's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.  Comey confessed that he had reluctantly agreed to Lynch's request.  Earlier this month, in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey admitted that he asked a friend to leak notes about Comey's earlier conversation with Trump in hopes of forcing the nomination of a special investigator to lead the Russia investigation, perhaps a successful gambit, given that Comey's friend, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, was soon appointed to that role.  Comey also wrongly dismissed Hillary Clinton's email problems because of a perceived lack of criminal intent, a supposedly mitigating circumstance that legally should have had no bearing on things.  As far as alleged Russian collusion, there had long been conservative accusations that Bill and Hillary Clinton used Hillary's status as secretary of state to leverage honoraria for Bill and donations to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for concessions to Russian interests.  In an inadvertent hot-mic request in 2012, Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin "to give me space" during Obama's re-election campaign, so that after his assumed success, Obama could reciprocate with "more flexibility" on Russian issues. In the present highly charged climate, would that be seen as a form of Russian collusion?  Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is still investigating whether top Obama administration officials wrongfully used the power of foreign-intelligence collection to conduct surveillance of Americans, particularly members of the Trump campaign.  The lesson is that progressives should have offered alternative political visions that might have won back the American people rather than attempting to terminate the Trump presidency on charges to which the progressive side was far more vulnerable.  Now that Trump is emerging from successful House special elections and has fended off six months of media attacks, celebrity invective and progressive efforts to abort his tenure, he seems to be going back on the offensive.  Currently, House and Senate investigations are doing to Democrats what has been done Trump, since these probes seem to have better chances to prove alleged wrongdoing.  Democrats struck preemptively to take out Trump before he unwound the Obama legacy, but that effort has probably been stalled.  The return volley is being launched at a time when an energized Trump is gaining momentum on health care and tax reform, and an improving economy.  In sum, to thwart a new President's policies, it is probably wiser to offer alternative agendas instead of trying to destroy him before he has even entered office.

(“The Progressive Boomerang” by Victor Davis Hanson dated June 29, 2017 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2017/06/29/the-progressive-boomerang-n2347859 )

 

President Donald Trump frequently comes under criticism for tweeting, even from his own advisers, but tweeting is probably the smartest thing he has done as president.  He is able to speak directly to the American people without going through the biased mainstream media filter.  The media doesn’t get to ask him slanted questions or pick and choose parts of his press releases to publish. Instead, Trump gets immense control over every single sentence he issues, which are then read by millions of Americans.  With almost everyone online these days, it is easy for the average American to follow Trump’s tweets on Twitter.  Twitter is free, unlike some mainstream media sites.  Google, Twitter and Facebook control much of the news we see today, but Trump’s tweets get around their dominance.  Similar to the Drudge Report website, Trump’s tweets are so well-known that people view his tweets independently of the tech giants.  The Drudge Report receives comparable traffic to Google News and The New York Times, despite the fact Google News prominently promotes the Times in search results and on its homepage.  Drudge isn’t even carried in Google News, since the site merely aggregates links to articles. Google is the most trafficked site in the U.S. as well as in the world.  Most of the time, Google News is full of articles by the left-leaning media critical of Trump and conservatism.  But Trump’s tweets changed all that.  Reporters race to report on his tweets, filling up Google News with articles that are far more favorable to Trump, since there is so little room left for spin with his tweets.  One sign of Trump’s success at tweeting may be diminishing references to the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia to influence the U.S. presidential election. Trump rails on Twitter frequently about the “fake news” media making up his ties to Russia.  Although no evidence of collusion has emerged during the months the left-leaning media has made it a top story, the media ran with it for quite a long time.  Trump kept hammering the media over it, never letting up, sometimes with multiple tweets in a row.  Finally, after fired FBI Director James Comey told Congress that there was no collusion, the media showed signs of backing off.  Trump’s tweets repeatedly labeling the mainstream media as fake news, combined with banning their journalists from news events or ignoring them at press conferences when they ask questions, is gradually chipping away at their dominance.  Trump attacks CNN probably more than any other news site.  Its website traffic has gradually decreased over the past year. In contrast, Breitbart,  considered to be the number one pro-Trump news site, saw a steep increase in traffic right before Trump became president, which has remained at that level.  Trump’s advisers continue to pressure him to stop tweeting. They are concerned that without a filter, he may tweet something reckless that could harm him. But so far he’s tweeted several things that critics contend were terrible, yet they bounced right off of him.  When Trump tweets things that seem inaccurate, he generally clarifies or corrects them later.  Critics are exaggerating the negative aspects of his tweets, but the public has the ability to read his tweets unfiltered and can see through the spin. Additionally, it helps that Trump is funny.  He keeps people engaged and coming back. His tweets often receive over 100,000 likes. Consequently, Trump is still fairly well-liked, despite misleading approval polls, which contributed to his ability to accomplish more during his first 100 days in office than any previous president since World War II.  Trump will go down in history as the president who figured out how to get around much of the biased media and talk 24/7 directly to the American people.

(“The Genius of Trump’s Tweets” by Rachel Alexander dated June 26, 2017 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/rachelalexander/2017/06/26/the-genius-of-trumps-tweets-n2346555 )

Events are turning me into a radical skeptic, because I no longer believe what I read, unless what I am reading is an empirically verifiable account of the past.  I no longer have confidence in polls, because it has become impossible to separate the signal from the noise.  What I have heard from the media and political class over the last several years has been so spectacularly proven wrong by events, again and again, that I sometimes wonder why I continue to read two newspapers a day before spending time following journalists on Twitter.  The fact is that almost the entirety of what one reads in the paper or on the web is speculation.  The writer isn't telling you what happened, he is offering an interpretation of what happened, or offering a projection of the future.  The best scenario is that these theories are novel, compelling, informed, and based on reporting and research, but that is rarely the case.  More often the interpretations of current events, and prophesies of future ones, are merely the products of groupthink or dogma or emotions or wish-casting.  The empty conjectures and worthless hypotheses are not limited to Donald Trump.  Pretty much the entire world, myself included, assumed Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton.  A not-insignificant segment of the political class, both Democrat and Republican, thought the Republicans would not only lose the presidency but also the House and Senate.  Conjectures and guesswork continue to dog Trump in the form of "the Russia thing," the belief that the President, his "satellites," or his campaign worked with the Russians to influence the election in his favor.  Months after the FBI opened its investigation into whether such collusion occurred, no evidence has been found.  The charge itself is based on an unverified and gossipy and over-the-top memo prepared by a former British spy for Democrats.  The Russia story has now traveled so far afield from the original suspicions that we in Washington are no longer all that interested in the underlying charges.  What concerns us instead is the possible obstruction of justice in the investigation of a crime that seems not to have taken place.  For weeks prior to Tuesday's special election in Georgia, we were told that Republicans were in trouble, that the polls looked bad for Karen Handel, that a "referendum on Trump" would motivate Democrats in this swing district to support Democrat Jon Ossoff.  What had been billed as a no-confidence vote in Trump's presidency quickly became, after Handel's victory, no biggie.  So much more fun to pretend to be in the know, to assert with absolute confidence one's theory about the world, proclaim one's virtue, despite all evidence to the contrary.  We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears, and it's not sensible to listen to them.  There are still news sources, liberal and conservative, that seek to report rather than explain or analyze or decipher the context and implications of facts.  Please, please be wary of the supposedly nonpartisan and objective experts who have looked at the DATA and determined which course history will take.

(“They’re Wrong About Everything” by Matthew Continetti dated June 23, 2017 published by Washington Free Beacon at http://freebeacon.com/columns/theyre-wrong-everything/ )

 

America is a divided nation and supports two distinct narratives: the narrative of survivors and the narrative of victims.  The survivor mentality created America and is defined by its core values of independence, equality, and freedom.  It is supported by institutions promoting growth, independence, sovereignty, and the common denominator of American nationalism.  The survivor narrative is the narrative of President Trump.  The victim mentality was created to deconstruct America and is defined by its core values of dependence, inequality, and escape from freedom.  It is supported by institutions promoting regression, dependence, internationalism, and the common denominator of globalism.  The victim mentality is the narrative of the Left and Liberalism, America’s newest religion.  Nationalists and Globalists have irreconcilable differences because their fundamental premises are diametrically opposed to one another.  Americans must choose between them.  Liberalism disingenuously presents itself as tolerant because it crosses all racial, ethnic, gender, religious, and socio-economic boundaries.  But Liberalism only tolerates those who look differently, because liberalism is completely intolerant of anyone who thinks differently.  Liberalism, like any orthodoxy, is tyrannical in its demand for conformity.  Its adherents pursue Liberalism’s tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism with religious zeal and narrow-mindedness.  Liberalism’s intolerance explains its inability to debate or discuss opposing ideas, because liberalism demands censorship and safe spaces instead.  Liberalism’s intolerance explains its inability to withstand rational scrutiny.  Liberalism provides the echo chamber of fake news instead.  Liberalism’s intolerance explains its inability to have civilized discourse or follow the rule of law, since liberalism foments anarchy instead.  Liberalism’s sinister goal is the destruction of American democracy and its transformation into Socialism.  Socialism is the Hope and Change that radical socialist Barack Obama promoted when he was elected.  Obama needed the politics of intersectionality, the preferred designation of the Left, is simply a descriptor for self-defined group victimhood based on feelings not facts.  If you feel life is not fair, you are a victim.  If you feel you have been marginalized in any way, you are a victim. If you feel your maleness or femaleness is threatened in any way, you are a victim. If someone says something you don’t like, you are a victim.  Victimhood by definition lacks power, identifying oneself as a powerless entity is a self-sabotaging catastrophic strategy that only leads to more powerlessness, childish whining about victimhood perpetuates the status of childish powerlessness.  Self-actualization and a survivor attitude are the strategies for growth and empowerment.  Achievement is the mother of self-esteem, actual achievement in objective reality not the sloganism or fiction that “trying is the same as achieving” promoted in the subjective reality of intersectionality.  Lowering standards is not equivalent to achievement, it is just lowering standards.  The enabling mother is co-dependent and destructive.  She presents herself as the child’s advocate but really she is keeping the child dependent on herself for her own selfish needs.  She is a destroyer.  Governments that incentivize their citizens to remain dependent do so for their own benefit, the votes that will keep them in power.  The victimhood and dependence that intersectionality incentivizes is extremely destructive.  Just as the enabling mother cripples her child so does the enabling government cripple its citizens.  Intersectionality results in perpetual childhood, dependence, powerlessness, and angry feelings of victimhood over lack of accomplishment and jealousy for those who have actually achieved. Intersectionality that promotes victimhood and socialism’s cradle-to-grave dependence on the government is as crippling to society as the co-dependent mother is to her child.  A survivor mentality results in adulthood, independence, empowerment, self-respect, and the self-esteem that achievement produces.  A survivor mentality is what made America great and the most powerful nation in the world.  A productive society requires its children to become productive adults.  A society of children will necessarily extinguish itself.  Restraint, discipline, and self-control are hallmarks of adulthood, while the cry-bullies and anarchists that graduate college have nothing to offer in the workplace but infantile tantrums when they do not get their way or are expected to work and produce something.  The Democrats know that socialism requires a completely dependent population.  As long as the Democrats have the population “hooked” on government handouts they will remain dependent, unaware, compliant, and voting Democrat.  Governments that incentivize the growth and independence of their citizens are builders.  They incentivize jobs, self-respect, and the self-esteem that gainful employment supplies.  President Trump is a builder, his narrative is that of the survivor and his message is to be an empowered adult.  Ex-president Obama continues to be a destroyer, his “resistance” narrative is that of the victim and his message is to be a dependent child.  The questions that Americans must answer are these, “Do I want to live as a dependent powerless child under socialism or as an empowered adult in a democracy?” “Do I want to be a victim or a survivor?The answers to these two questions will determine the course of America.

(“Intersectionality: Leftist Politics Designed to Fail” by Linda Goldsmit dated June 24, 2017 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/article/intersectionality-leftist-politics-designed-to-fail )

ObamaCare was sold on a lie (“you can keep your doctor”) and built on a regressive tax known as the individual mandate.  It has created untold anxiety for some of the most vulnerable among us, who have watched premiums skyrocket and insurance plans canceled.  Too many Americans now live in locations with only one ObamaCare plan on offer, and soon there will be locations with none.  The current Republican health care bill is worthy of support on justice grounds alone since it repeals the individual mandate.  Never again should we entertain proposals to help the worst off by penalizing the not so well off.  GOP Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are right that the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough to lower health insurance premiums.  The reason health insurance is so expensive is because there so many legally mandated benefits that must be covered.  Over the decades the chiropractor and podiatrist lobbies and so on have descended on state capitals around the country and successfully demanded that their services be required coverage for all insurance policies sold in that state.  There are now thousands of such mandates across the country.  ObamaCare only added to this mandate mess.  What consumers need is the ability to shop for policies they can afford.  Young people should be able to buy inexpensive policies with high deductibles so that they are covered in case in case of accidents but pay out of pocket for routine care.  One easy way to make this happen is to create an Optional Federal Charter to regulate health insurance.  Congress certainly has the power to do this under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  It could be placed under the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, which would be tasked by Congress with writing simple rules that ensure the availability of low cost policies nationwide.  There would be no coverage mandates and no rules governing the shape of policies such as limits on deductibles and co-pays.  Insurers could still be required to cover those with pre-existing conditions and subsidies could still be offered to help those who need them.  The beauty of the Optional Federal Charter solution is that none of the existing rules governing state regulated insurance policies would have to change.  Consumers would simply be offered a new choice: purchase a state regulated policy or a federally regulated policy.  Current Republican proposals to offer states flexibility on ObamaCare coverage mandates are fine as far as they go, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  Congressmen who are making a politically risky vote on health care reform want more assurance that there will be concrete benefits for their constituents, and soon.  With an Optional Federal Charter for health insurance, a new regulatory framework could be up and running this year and cheaper policies on sale by the time of the 2018 election.

(“Let Consumers Repeal Obamacare” by Robert L Pollock dated June 27, 2017 published by Real Clear Politics at https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/06/27/let_consumers_repeal_obamacare_134298.html )

 

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.  No updates have been made this week to the issue sections.

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/