Snatching Defeat From Victory

If you’d told me last year that complete Republican control of Congress and the White House would lead to nothing getting done, I would have laughed at you.

I wouldn’t, because I said Trump was going to have trouble from Republicans. The scale of that failure though is breathtaking in it’s arrogance and just proves just how much elitist RINOs really wanted Hillary (or at least not Trump). The Never Trumpers (and RINOs) are too petty to put down their grudge for the sake of The American People.

Of course, last year I would have laughed at the idea of complete Republican control of government, so the idea of no legislative accomplishments would have been a joke not worth telling. Turns out all the jokes, at least so far, have been on us.

True. And they don’t seem to care one bit. Government Of the Elites, by the Elites, for The Elites.

That Obamacare repeal fell apart – or, more correctly, never really got off the ground – was a surprise only because Republicans had promised it for years only to have it exposed that many of them didn’t really mean it.

Most of them didn’t mean it.

They were like the high-rolling poker player who’d just had his bluff called by a rank amateur – they’d painted themselves into a corner.

And are still bluffing and blustering.

Republicans always have been afraid of health policy as an issue, just as Democrats have little to say on national defense, because only a few actually know the details.

Republicans know how to complain about health policy – it’s not hard when the problems are so obvious. But few truly meant repeal because only a few truly believe the federal government shouldn’t be involved in controlling the health insurance industry.

And they only opposed it because it was the politically fashionable thing to do at the time. Their were no principles involved, other than Political.

The rest think the government should “do something” to lower costs and don’t understand that this is not what happens when government gets involved.

In other words, they campaign a good game about the free market; they just have no idea what those words mean.

On immigration, it’s the same old thing – tough talk, then a slow dance where they try to feel us up.

Same dance, actually. They start out with the fast feet boogie and end up with the hokey pokey.

Congress is scrambling to “protect” the so-called DREAMers from the consequences of their parents’ actions and, in the process, moving toward giving away the store.

Because they haven’t the balls to do what is actually right, only what is politically expedient.

I’m not opposed to letting many of them stay – those who graduated high school, went to college, have a job, or served in the military. But if they didn’t graduate by the age of 19 (since, apparently you can go to high school nearly forever now), or have committed any crime, they have to go. And chain migration for them should be non-existent, as it should be for everyone else, along with birthright citizenship.

But it’s looking like none of that is going to be on the table. Not enough Republicans have the courage of their campaign convictions. They’ll cave and grant full amnesty for all DREAMers in exchange for nothing. OK, not nothing – they’ll get Democrats running ads calling them heartless racists who want to deport everyone or run them over in pick-up trucks.

Which brings us to tax reform.

Which, also, the greedy little shit bag elitists don’t really want to do because they want to spend it buying people off.

You’d think if there were one issue on which Republicans were not only solid, but able to message successfully against the left, it would be taxes. You’d be wrong.

The mantra “We’re going to make filing taxes easier” isn’t exactly T-shirt worthy, yet it’s the best they’ve come up with. Here’s a little secret for congressional Republicans: The biggest “pain” in filing taxes is paying them. The vast majority of people take the standard deduction, so the act of filing taxes already is plug-and-play.

 

Whoever thought “simplifying the tax code” was a great selling point should be fired.

People want to keep more of the money they earn; they don’t care how they do it. Simplification is a horrible message. And in typical Republican fashion, Democrats already have managed to outmaneuver them by finding what they always find – examples of the worst-case scenario and presenting them like they’re the norm.

Republicans made the mistake of playing the game on Democrats’ terms. The GOP wanted to “pay for” tax cuts by making them revenue neutral. That meant rather than just cutting them, they had to play a bunch of accounting games and gimmicks. Taking away this deduction, limiting that one. It was dumb.

People oppose the death tax not only because it’s fundamentally unfair; they also don’t want their family to pay it. Very few will ever come close to amassing a large enough estate to worry about it, but fewer realize that. Although the overwhelming majority may end up paying slightly less under the GOP plan, they all fear they’ll end up paying more. This is because Republicans aren’t simply lowering rates, they’re playing games in the hope the Democrats and the media will get on board. That is never, ever going to happen.

 

The tax code is a complex monster, and taming it would be good. But people don’t care about loopholes; they care only about paying less. Republicans, since they don’t have the will required to scrap the code and replace it with a flat or fair tax, should simply lower rates across the board, no caveats. People understand that.

When you’ve got members of Congress going on TV to tout lowering the corporate tax rate, you’ve lost.

Like the 10 times daily Paul Ryan Facebook hack posts that say the same talking point over and over again like anyone is going to believe you…

Cutting the corporate tax rate would be a boon to the economy, but that’s a secondary ripple a year or two out. It should be included; it shouldn’t be a selling point. People want more money in their pockets. Everything else, beneficial or not, is window-dressing.

Republicans are likely to continue their legislative losing streak because they’re afraid to govern on the principles they were elected on out of fear of losing their offices. If they continue to fail to do so, voters will relieve them of that burden.  (Derek Hunter)

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

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Tough Choices

The Senate releasing some details of its tax plan gives us another moving target that will morph and change daily. America could have a growing economy that would affect generations to come, and if this reform passes by the end of this year, we could see a conservative-controlled Washington for at least a generation. Unfortunately, most Republicans haven’t figured this out yet.

The original notion of tax reform was to transform corporate taxes so America could become more competitive as a nation—a place where corporations could feel comfortable to stay right here. This new corporate tax rate would bring corporations from around the world—that are doing business in the largest economy in the world—to set up shop here and hire workers without the penalty of the second largest tax rate in the world.

It is looking more unlikely each day that Republicans will get this done in 2017. It will take an enormous amount of unity, understanding and support of President Trump’s pro-growth, pro-American and pro-business agenda to make it happen.

No one seems to be talking about one of the biggest problems on Capitol Hill—the fact that lobbyists and special interest groups will delay tax reform. Remember, many people making millions of dollars are also paying lobbyists millions of dollars to make sure their agendas are passed, primarily because the complexities of the tax code have been a very good thing for far too many people.

Few seem to be willing to examine exactly how the money trail is going to our Republican lawmakers who dare to pretend they are representing what is right for the American people. You may have noticed that with each passing day, a little more complexity is added back into the tax bill. The idea of doing our taxes on a postcard and the elimination of thousands of workers in the offices of the IRS is nothing more than a pipe dream of a few truly conservative Americans working on Capitol Hill.

The Republican Party has been incapable of making progress on any significant issue of the past decade, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Because of their total inability after six years of saying they were ready to repeal and replace Obamacare, small businesses will be facing ongoing mandates at a time when they are finally getting on their feet again in this growing economy. It seems irrational to even think we might depend upon Republicans to do what they promised.

The IRS announced this week that the agency will be enforcing the Obamacare regulation that any company with more than 50 employees must provide health care for all employees. Republicans only need another six years, and I’m sure then they will be able to pass health care reform. By the way, blaming Democrats and President Obama won’t work. Make no mistake about it, the blame for health care, economic woes for small businesses and economic dysfunction lies squarely on the shoulders of Republicans—just like economic success would if they had the ability to get things done.

The opportunity to fundamentally change America in a positive way for future generations with a conservative Washington, D.C., for the next generation seems to embrace the very thing that our Republican representatives care about most. That is getting reelected and maintaining their control and power. So, with that in mind, you would think they would be able to come together long enough to get tax reform done. But, again, it continues to seem more unlikely than ever. And I don’t believe the markets will be quite as naïve to believe that the first order of business in 2018 will be to pass tax reform.

There is certainly a remnant of Republicans who understand this, but unfortunately, the remnant continues to grow smaller each passing day. I suspect they don’t believe they can do this by themselves. But with prodding from the American voter and the shutdown of the switchboard on Capitol Hill every day, maybe we could encourage the remnant and motivate the other representatives to represent the American people on what is right for our nation.

When you’ve sat on your hands for ten years and gotten away with doing nothing but waxing eloquent and adopting the agenda of the liberal media and the Democrats, it becomes very difficult to get back to work. The dysfunction in Washington we continue to see is an effect of the cause—and the cause is lack of leadership, which also results in a lack of unity, as many Republicans are more consumed with maintaining the establishment than getting anything done.

After all, many politicians are working hard to appease many different lobbyists, agendas and special interest groups as they look forward to the next legislative break. Yes, there is a remnant—men and women that we are blessed to have serving on Capitol Hill representing we the people—and we need to lift them up and encourage more like them to throw their hats into the ring.

Star Spangled Stupid

If this story is genuine, they should be ashamed. If it’s a joke, then they should be ashamed. The California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is proposing that we do away with the Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem. I’m not kidding—and they use Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing war with our national anthem that has engulfed the National Football League in controversy as an example for why it should be removed. If we pick a new song, then this controversy goes away, they say. I can’t believe this is even a thing (via Sacramento Bee):

When California lawmakers return to the Capitol in January, the state chapter of the NAACP will be seeking their support for a campaign to remove “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem.

The organization last week began circulating among legislative offices two resolutions that passed at its state conference in October: one urging Congress to rescind “one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon” as the national anthem, and another in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched a protest movement against police brutality among professional athletes by kneeling when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games.

“We owe a lot of it to Kaepernick,” California NAACP President Alice Huffman said. “I think all this controversy about the knee will go away once the song is removed.”

[…]

Huffman said Congress, which adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem in 1931, should find a replacement that is not “another song that disenfranchises part of the American population.”

This move stems from the unsung third verse of our national anthem that some interpret as celebrating the deaths of black people, who joined the British during the War of 1812. Yeah, this verse is never sung in sporting events. I’ve never heard it at any other event either. It’s just absurd; stand for the anthem—period

Deliver Us

What if the government doesn’t really deliver for us? What if its failures to protect our lives, liberties and property are glaring? What if nothing changes after these failures?

What if the National Security Agency — the federal government’s domestic spying apparatus — has convinced Congress that it needs to cut constitutional corners in order to spy on as many people in America as possible? What if Congress has bought that argument and passed a statute that put a secret court between the NSA and its appetite for all electronically transmitted data in America? What if that secret court — called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — is supposed to protect personal liberty but instead has become a wall behind which the NSA hides?

What if the Constitution only permits warrants for searches and seizures that are based on probable cause of crime? What if the Constitution requires that all warrants for searches and seizures specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized? What if the courts have ruled that electronic surveillance constitutes a search and seizure within the meaning of the Constitution?

What if the FISC issues warrants based on a lesser standard than probable cause of crime? What if its standard is probable cause of speaking with or knowing someone who has spoken with a foreign person? What if this is such an absurd and loose standard that it violates the Constitution and ends up protecting no one except the spies who pretend to employ it?

What if the FISC is a facade? What if the NSA spies on all people all the time while hiding behind FISC-issued warrants? What if the stated purpose of spying on everyone all the time is to keep us safe from terrorist acts by trading liberty for security? What if that trade has never worked?

What if the NSA has convinced President Donald Trump and his immediate two predecessors that it needs to spy on everyone in America to keep us safe, no matter what the Constitution says? What if those three presidents have bought that argument?

What if NSA spying is really done without any warrants? What if this spying captures in real time every keystroke on every computer and hand-held device — as well as the content of every email, text message, telephone call and fiber-optic cable transmission — in the United States 24/7?

What if NSA computers have direct and unimpeded access to all mainframe computers of all telecoms and computer service providers in the U.S.? What if the acquisition of all this data is known in the intelligence community as bulk surveillance?

What if the Constitution is the supreme law of the land? What if the Constitution, with its requirement of warrants based on probable cause and specifically identifying targets, expressly prohibits bulk surveillance? What if bulk surveillance is not only unconstitutional but also useless because it produces information overload — too much data to sift through in a timely manner?

What if President Trump and his immediate two predecessors have unleashed the NSA to acquire all communications data about everyone in America even though it’s obvious that the NSA cannot possibly sift through it all in a timely enough manner to keep us safe?

What if the Islamic State-inspired extremist who drove a rental truck on a New York City bicycle and pedestrian path and killed eight people last week did a dry run of his killing plans the week before? What if one of his own cellphones recorded portions of the dry run? What if the NSA had that recording but did not notice it until after the attack?

What if the same killer who drove the rental truck stored 90 video clips of other Islamic State-inspired killings on a cellphone? What if the NSA had those videos but did not notice them until after the attack?

What if the same killer who drove that rental truck also stored nearly 4,000 photos of Islamic State atrocities on a cellphone and the NSA, which has had the repellant photos since the killer first stored them, did not notice them until after the attack?

What if liberty is our birthright and cannot be taken away by government without a jury trial? What if the NSA’s allies in government wrongly and foolishly think that the surrender of privacy to America’s 60,000 domestic spies somehow keeps us safe?

What if the genius of the Constitution — if followed — is not only its protection of privacy but also its requirement that the government focuses its searches and seizures on people who it has reason to suspect are engaged in criminal activity and about whom judges have ratified the evidence to support those suspicions? What if the Constitution requires the government to leave the rest of us alone?

What if the government stinks at keeping us safe but is very good at invading our privacy?

What if this bulk surveillance is about power and control and not about safety? What if the NSA has selectively leaked what it knows about some folks for political purposes? What if President Trump himself and his former national security adviser have been victims of those leaks?

What if the use of intelligence data for political purposes and not for safety is a profound danger to democracy? What if government can’t keep us safe? What if we falsely think that it does keep us safe? What if that delusion makes us less safe? What if government’s bulk acquisition of private data makes us less free? What if government works not for us but for itself? What do we do about it? (Judge Napalitano)

Lost

The GOP lost lots of Governor’s race’s yesterday. A portent of things to come because the Republicans refuse do anything, especially that which they promised to do.

And is it deliberate? I still wonder that one.

One of the most challenging and important jobs for an economics professor is to teach students how little we know and can possibly know. My longtime friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell says, “It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” Nobel laureate Friedrich August von Hayek admonished, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” The fact that we have gross ignorance about how the world operates is ignored by the know-it-all elites who seek to control our lives. Let’s look at a few examples of the world’s complexity.

According to some estimates, there are roughly 100 million traffic signals in the U.S. How many of us would like the U.S. Congress, in the name of public health and safety, to be in charge of their actual operation? Congress or a committee it authorizes would determine the length of time traffic lights stay red, yellow and green and what hours of the day and at what intersections lights flash red or yellow. One can only imagine the mess Congress would create in the 40,000 cities, towns and other incorporated places in the U.S. But managing traffic lights and getting good results is a far less complex task than managing the nation’s health care system and getting good results, which Congress tries to do.

Here’s another task I’d ask whether you would like Congress to control. The average well-stocked supermarket carries 60,000 to 65,000 different items. Walmart carries about 120,000 different items. Let’s suppose Congress puts you in total control of getting just one item to a supermarket, say apples. Let’s not make it easy by having the help of apple wholesalers. Thus, you would have to figure out all of the inputs necessary to get apples to your local supermarket. Let’s look at just a few. You need crates to ship the apples. Count all the inputs necessary to produce crates. There’s wood, but you need saws to cut down trees. The saws are made of steel, so iron ore must be mined, and mining equipment is needed. The workers must have shoes. The complete list of inputs to get apples to the market comes to a very large, possibly an unknowable, number. Forgetting any one of them, such as spark plugs, would probably mean no apples at your supermarket.

The beauty of market allocation of goods and services, compared with government fiat, is no one person needs to know all that’s necessary to get apples to your supermarket. Free markets, accompanied by free trade, including international free trade, make us richer by economizing on the amount of knowledge or information needed to produce things.

Think about this morning’s breakfast. Let’s suppose you and your spouse each had four slices of bacon and two eggs. You had coffee, and your spouse had cocoa. The breakfast might have cost you $22. But what might it have cost you if instead of being dependent upon others, you were independent and produced your own breakfast? What do you know about raising pigs and their subsequent slaughter? Do you know how to cure pork to make bacon? Then there are the eggs, which require knowledge about the care of chickens. What about getting pig and chicken feed? You’d have a big problem with the coffee and cocoa. I doubt whether you could simulate the growing conditions in Brazil and West Africa. One thing that’s guaranteed is that your breakfast would be far costlier than in the case where you depended upon the benefits of skills of others that emerge from the division of labor and trade.

The bottom line is that each of us is grossly ignorant about the world in which we live. Nothing’s wrong with that ignorance, but we are stupid if we believe that a politician can produce a better life than that which is obtained through peaceable, voluntary exchange with our fellow man anywhere on earth.

Hope

The new sign they should put up at the entrance to the US Capital Building.

abandon-hope-all-ye-who-enter-here-e1285714292550

It’s official: The Republican tax reform bill is dead on arrival in the Senate now that John McCain has become the third Republican senator to confirm that he plans to vote against it.

What’s worse for the Trump administration, McCain reportedly wants the bill to receive input from both parties – a criticism that he cited as his reason for voting against the Trump administration’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is particularly problematic because there’s approximately zero chance that any Democratic lawmakers will break ranks to vote with Republicans, despite President Donald Trump repeatedly saying that he expects to win a modicum of bipartisan support. (ZeroHedge)

Look into the face of Hell itself…

Thelma & Louise

We’ve long called the GOP “The Stupid Party,” and it certainly deserves the nickname, but what’s the right family-friendly adjective for the Democrat Party? “The Moronic Party?” “The Mind-Bogglingly Nuts Party?” What moniker best reflects a party you dare not trust with power? These people are to governing as Kevin Spacey is to babysitting.

Just look at the Democrats’ governor’s race in the Commonwealth of Virginia – to the extent that it’s a race and not one of those weird pilgrimages where the marchers flog themselves every step of the way. Not that Democrats don’t deserve flogging – and it’s only a matter of time before that perversion comes out in the context of some high visibility Hillary supporter/pervert in Hollywood or the media – but what’s happening in Virginia is pretty pathetic even for them. Which makes it all the more delicious.

This Ralph Northam guy – “Hi, I’m Governor Ralph!” – ought to be winning by a mile, or for wussy metric system-loving Democrats, 1.6 kilometers. Virginia is a purple state, meaning it’s growing dumber and more parasitical, at least in the northern part next to Washington where it is infested with government parasites of both the Democrat and the “Oh well I never!” Republican Trumpaphobe varieties. Northam should be the perfect fake moderate candidate Dems like to run in such places. He has the kind of generic face a politician needs – you won’t notice him or remember him. He also makes sure he mentions he did a hitch in the Army, because a Democrat who doesn’t hold our military in contempt is unusual and that’s part of his fake moderate pose. Of course, the guy who let Bowe Bergdahl walk was also in the Army.

His opponent Ed Gillespie is a Republican of the sort who was initially baffled and scared by Trump and alarmed at the people Trump motivated – you know, normal people. But he’s adapted, and he’s suddenly found that despite what the likes of Jeb! think, normal voters oppose stuff like illegal alien gang members murdering American citizens. Gillespie slammed Northam over the youthful Dreamers of MS-13, and that’s when the fun began.

So, the “Latino Victory Fund” that was totally completely absolutely not in any way affiliated with Northam’s campaign started running this ad where some white cisgender guy in a pick-up with a “Don’t tread on me” plate and a Gillespie bumper sticker starts trying to run over little Latin and Muslim kids. We know the Muslim kid is Muslim because the “Latino Victory Fund” consulted the Big Book of Stereotypes and stuck a scarf around her head since all Muslims do that or something.

Basically, the point of this ad is that if you’re a white cisgender male who likes America, you want to run down little Latin and Muslim kids because that’s totally something that happens.

Oh wait, that never happens. In fact, what happens is guys like the one driving that truck go to foreign countries in uniform and protect Muslims, often from other Muslims. But facts are racist or something.

What also recently happened was an illegal alien ran over a Muslim girl in Virginia, which kind of messes up the whole narrative. And then the Muslim Schumer visa lottery immigrant – Refugees welcome! – in New York ran over a bunch of people in a pick-up truck, including five Argentines. So, current events made the ad a bit awkward.

Soon even the liberal media interrupted its regularly scheduled cheerleading for the Virginia Democrats by tepidly, and with lots of whataboutism (which is okay again, apparently), musing that, “Yeah, maybe this ad is not a great idea.” But make no mistake – the ad was right in line with mainstream Democrat thinking, to the extent “Democrat thinking” is even a thing.

Earlier in the week, a Democrat honchoette – uh oh, I assumed something’s gender!sent out a memo saying straight cisgender white males need not apply for DNC jobs. Don’t worry though – discriminating on the basis of race isn’t racist because of all that privilege guys in pick-up trucks wield in our society. By the way, the DNC’s “No dogs or Irishmen or any other people whose ancestors came from Europe” memo was signed by one Madeline Leader, whose signature block helpfully and hilariously included “their” preferred pronouns: “They/them/theirs.”

Way to expand the Democrat base!

But at least Northam’s campaign had nothing to do with the creeps behind that ad. Phew. That was close because…oh, wait. Northam’s campaign totally had something to do with the “Latino Victory Fund.” Basically, Northam lied about Virginians, then lied about lying about Virginians, and then got caught lying. Is he being advised by a campaign manager who works out of a van down by the river, or is his campaign manager merely aspiring to someday have a van he can live in down by the river?

It gets better. When Northam tried to lie about opposing sanctuary cities – he said he does, though he totally doesn’t – some other bunch of leftists called him racist and cut ties with him. Don’t you just love blue-on-blue conflict?

The sanctuary city shuffle is going to be gold for the GOP in 2018. Pro Tip: If you are a Democrat south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it really never pays to get anywhere near issues involving the nullification of federal laws. That’s just not a good look for the Party of the Confederacy.

So, now the race has gone from a Northam lead to Gillespie tied or slightly ahead. And since conservative voters in Virginia often over-perform on election day, Gillespie might just take it. Richmond radio host Jeff Katz, who talks to normal Virginians every day, told me he agrees and says the Democrats are “desperate and scared.” If Gillespie pulls off an upset, the howls of liberal agony will reach a glorious crescendo. I just hope some enterprising cameraman – I mean “camera-them” – gets plenty of video of shattered Northam volunteers, teary-eyed and broken by the will of the normals. They will make a nice supplement to our YouTube memories of November 8, 2016 – whenever we’re sad, we’ll always have the humiliation of Felonia von Pantsuit to cheer us up.

So, what have we learned? Well, we’ve learned that maybe it’s a bad idea to accuse members of the group making up 70% of the population of being psychotic child murderers. But have Democrats learned that?

No. They don’t want to learn that. So they won’t.

But they should. Here’s a strategy idea. Just spit-balling, but maybe it’s better not to alienate the majority of voters in order to cater to…who? Who buys these magic beans? Gyno-hat wearing nitwits from Fairfax County who think that everyone outside the Beltway is a couple swigs of home-brewed corn liquor away from molesting unwary canoeists?

While President Trump remains popular among those he was always popular with, these folks might not have been super-primed to go out and pull the lever for Ed Gillespie in light of his ties to the establishment. But wow – way to energize them to go out and pull that lever to tell Northam and the rest of Team They/Them/Theirs to go Weinstein themselves.

In the liberal echo chamber, all this nutty stuff about genocidal normals and pick-your-own-pronouns probably plays. If Northam was running for governor of Berkeley, he’d be a shoe-in – or at least a Birkenstock-in. And he should have been a shoe-in in Virginia. All he had to do was keep up the scam that he was really a reasonable moderate who didn’t represent a party that had gone utterly insane.

But they just can’t help revealing who they really are. Democrats not only reject the idea of a big tent, but actively seek to shrink their party so it fits into a politically correct pup tent, and then, when the few sufficiently woke intersectional remaining members of the party are inside, they want to set the tent on fire.

The GOP should, and deserves to, get destroyed in 2018, but it won’t, if only because the alternative is so stark raving dumb. Congratulations, Democrats. You’re the Stupider and Crazier Party. (Kurt Schlichter)