2016 Election • American Conservatism • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Elections • Hillary Clinton • Intelligence Community • Law and Order • Obama • Political Parties • Post • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • the Presidency • Trump White House

The FBI’s Steele Dossier Deception

In the finger-pointing flurry over the release of the Nunes memo, perhaps the most important point keeps getting overlooked. When the FBI presented the so-called Steele dossier to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2016, there is no evidence that it was accompanied by a good faith evaluation or summary of its contents.

Why does that matter? It goes to the question of whether Justice Department officials tried to pass off raw intelligence in support of a political agenda as the pretext for a bona fide national security investigation.

Intelligence is generated various ways, but its value always depends on how it is evaluated and compiled. Over the past century, the principles of that evaluation have been well-established. The more critical the possible implications and use of the intelligence, the more painstaking that evaluation must be. Time is of the essence.

What could be as potentially consequential as intelligence that the Russians are meddling in our presidential election?

Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked FBI Director James Comey at a June 2017 hearing whether the FBI had confirmed any of the Steele dossier’s claims. Comey replied he couldn’t answer in “an open setting.” At that point, the dossier had already been offered as evidence to the FISA court. According to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s testimony in December, “no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.” It was the key piece of evidence that secured the various FISA warrants and renewals.

This nicely left the impression that perhaps at the least some sections of the dossier had been confirmed by the FBI. Which sections? In his Senate testimony, Comey admitted the document contains “salacious and unverified” material. The possibilities of contamination skyrocket.  

No one would ever have expected the Justice Department and the FBI would dump the entire dossier into evidence for a FISA court without extracting the confirmed information from the unconfirmed, and providing some background on its provenance. Under ordinary circumstances, investigators would want to ensure unconfirmed information did not contaminate the value of the confirmed.

What’s extraordinary—indeed, unheard of—in intelligence practice would be to dump an undifferentiated pile of verified and unverified material in front of a court and expect sound judgment to come of it.

In January 2017, as the Obama Administration was winding down, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director Comey, and NSA Administrator Mike Rogers held a crucial meeting with President-elect Trump, delivering a two-page synopsis of the Steele dossier’s charges along with a memorandum detailing Russia’s alleged involvement in the election.

Clapper then issued a public memorandum noting that a few days after that meeting, he’d had a personal conversation with Trump about the Steele dossier. Clapper stated: “The I(ntelligence) C(ommunity) has not made any judgement that the information is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.” He added, with emphasis: “this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product . . . .”

So whatever Comey may have told Clapper about the dossier months after the FBI used it to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, Clapper in January 2017 offered no endorsement of its findings. His statement reads as though he’s trying to distance himself from it as far as possible. This is very strange indeed, since it had been a major subject at Trump’s pre-inauguration meeting with all the intelligence and security agency heads, and of acute interest to the press and the public.

And examining the origins of the Steele dossier—another vital element in evaluating and using intelligence—it has more red flags than an ammunition depot. It is pure political opposition research, funded by an opposing political party specifically to disgrace the Trump candidacy and lead to his defeat. It is almost totally dependent upon second- and third-hand Russian sources gathered by a former British intelligence agent who hadn’t been in Russia in years and who had to admit in a British court that he had been unable to verify part of it.

Put in proper context, agenda-driven material can be useful. But no one responsible—least of all law enforcement—would use it without careful qualification. And no one would pass it along as evidence to a FISA court while deceiving the court about its origins. But as the Nunes memo states, the FBI did not “disclose or reference the DNC. Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign, in financing Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior FBI and DOJ officials.”

According to the American Bar Association rule 3.3:

In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.

The FBI’s use of the Steele dossier fails every test for the proper handling of intelligence or evidence. FBI and Justice Department officials submitted the dossier to the FISA court without a full vetting. The FBI’s concealing of its origins was intentionally deceptive and can’t be blamed upon a single mistaken application because the same deceptions were repeated through several applications and renewals. The FBI has been handling intelligence properly for decades. One can only conclude this was not a good faith attempt to evaluate a possible foreign threat in an election, but was instead part of an effort to influence the election’s outcome.

It is a bitter irony that it may be Special Counsel Robert Mueller who finally does a proper evaluation of the Steele dossier.

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Trust No One, Especially Adam Schiff

Adam Schiff has been in government his entire life. The ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has worked as a prosecutor, served one term as a California state senator, and has represented his Southern California congressional district for 18 years and counting. In a recent column for Esquire, Schiff claimed that President Trump has tried to undermine the checks and balances that protect the FBI from political meddling. It’s an odd claim.

Schiff’s recent conduct puts his truthfulness at issue. In anticipation of the release of the Nunes memo on FISA abuse, Schiff claimed that making the classified document public would pose a national security risk by compromising “sources and methods.” But anyone who has read the now-declassified memo knows that is manifestly untrue.

Now Schiff claims, “Jimmy Carter campaigned for president in 1976 promising . . . he would wall off the Department of Justice and FBI from political influence and direction.” He asserts, “What we have witnessed during the first year of the Trump Administration is a determined effort to demolish the separation between politics and the fair administration of justice—an attempt to turn the DOJ’s investigative powers into the personal political tool of the president.”

Schiff’s claims are misleading at best or at worst, simply false. Two key reforms dating from 1976 are relevant here. One is the 10-year term of the FBI director. The other is the use of the FISA court (FISC) for approving warrants for collecting foreign intelligence against “U.S. persons.”

Congress intended the FBI director’s 10-year term to have a two-fold purpose. First, it fostered greater independence at the FBI to prevent the Bureau from using its surveillance powers against political opponents of an incumbent president, as J. Edgar Hoover had done. Second, it protected the presidency from the FBI director.

The legislative history reflects an important constitutional point. As the Supreme Court ruled in Myers v. United States and Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, the Constitution bars Congress from removing executive power from the president. The president has the right and the unlimited authority to dismiss the FBI director if he so chooses. The Department of Justice and the FBI cannot be “walled off” from the direction of the elected executive because the Constitution says “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

Any good that might come from “walling off” the FBI and the Justice Department is subordinate to the principle of self-government which the Constitution embodies—one in which elected officers anointed by the political will of the electorate wield all political power. The independence of any part of the executive branch cannot be a check on the president; rather, it must be a means to fulfilling the president’s duties to faithfully execute his office.

The director’s 10-year term also served to insulate the president from someone who abuses his power. Hoover had done this for 50 years. Thanks to the 1976 reform, if a president lacked the nerve to fire an FBI director (as Lyndon Johnson had with Hoover), eventually the director’s term would expire.

James Comey clearly thought President Trump lacked the courage to fire him before his 10-year term was up. “Like it or not, you’re stuck with me,” he said.

Might Comey have believed this because he felt he had dirt on an elected president? The record suggests as much. As soon as Trump fired Comey, Comey leaked FBI property to Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, who then disseminated confidential and privileged information to the New York Times to damage the president. Contrary to Schiff’s assertions, what Trump did in dismissing Comey furthered the purposes of both the Constitution and the 1976 Crime Control Act by asserting control over a rogue FBI director.

FISC is the second 1976 reform spotlighted in this crisis. Until the 1976 reform, the Supreme Court had done little to enforce the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in the context of foreign intelligence gathering. Because this practice—which allowed the executive to surveil without a warrant in connection with foreign intelligence—had been abused, Congress defined the constitutional limits of this power. Congress established FISC, and required the surveillance of American citizens or legal permanent residents in connection with foreign intelligence to be made by application to the special court for a warrant, which must be renewed every 90 days.

At issue is the abuse of this process. The Nunes memo sets forth certain facts. The gist is that the Justice Department and the FBI used a partisan opposition research document for a FISA warrant application without disclosing to the court its partisan character. Material non-disclosure is an end run around the warrant requirement of the 1976 reform.

In popular opinion, the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination are every day policing concerns. Can police search a glove box for drugs without a warrant or permission? Did police read a suspect her Miranda rights? These are protections against constabulary abuses. As serious as these issues are, the purpose of the constitution’s protections is far more grave. It is to protect against political abuses of criminal justice.

The FISA surveillance is connected to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has produced two indictments and plea deals against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos based on self-incrimination, and another indictment based in part on a pre-dawn, no-knock raid at the home of a 68-year old man, which uncovered crimes unrelated to the scope of the investigation. You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU to see the implications on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments here.

Whether this is technically legal remains to be seen. It is positively un-American. But this is what Adam Schiff wants for his country, and therefore I don’t trust him. Neither should you.

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Nefarious or ‘Nothing Burger’? Our Oligarchy on the Nunes Memo

If you aren’t yet persuaded of the existence of a ruling class oligarchy in the United States today, the reactions to the release of the Nunes memo should prompt second thoughts.

The four-page memo made public last week by the House Intelligence Committee details abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department in obtaining a federal intelligence surveillance court’s permission to monitor Carter Page, a U.S. citizen who volunteered briefly with the Trump campaign.

As we now know, the “salacious and unverified” dossier (this is former FBI Director James Comey’s characterization from his June 2017 committee testimony, which the FISA memo cites) compiled by Christopher Steele for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.”

The memo further notes:

Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s effort, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

How did our oligarchs react to such shocking news—news that would have sparked outrage and likely led to impeachment proceedings and prosecutions had the same story broke during the Bush Administration?

Eh… no big deal. With remarkable unanimity, the official channels of approved opinion dismissed the memo as a “nothing burger.” This is the same memo, remember, that Democrats and their mouthpieces in the kept media claimed just days before posed a dire threat to U.S. national security. Its very release to an ignorant public threatened the legitimacy of trusted institutions and could spur Trump to declare himself Lord Protector of the United States. Or something.

Steve Schmidt, the man who oversaw John McCain’s defeat to Barack Obama in 2008, likened the memo to “Al Capone’s safe and Geraldo—it’s a big nothing.”

NeverTrumper Bret Stephens—who has previously written half-joking columns about deporting American citizens and has argued for repealing the Second Amendment—called the memo a “nothing burger” where the “bun is missing, too.”

Stephens waves away the potential massive Fourth Amendment abuses by saying that Comey’s description of the dossier as “unverified” doesn’t make it “untrue.” (Ah, the old “fake but accurate” routine!) But why give it the benefit of the doubt? The only true thing we know for certain about the Steele dossier is that it was funded by the Clinton campaign and collected by a foreign agent who was also an FBI informant until he was caught leaking to the press.

Taking the silly “nothing burger” idiom to silly new heights, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “It’s worse than a nothing burger; it’s like having nothing mustard.” Lieu, who thinks the Framers of the Constitution wrote and adopted the 25th Amendment (it was proposed in 1965 and ratified in 1967), said that the memo is “misleading” and full of “factual inaccuracies,” though he has not read a single word of the memo’s supporting intelligence reports.

MSNBC commentator and failed TV host Donny Deutsch didn’t get his approved talking points in time, however, and he reported breathlessly,  “Our democracy is under siege.” He then called Trump a “dictator” and issued a call to arms: “We need a revolution here.”

Establishment mouthpieces in the media keep talking about how Trump threatens the integrity of our sacred democratic institutions. But those institutions were in peril long before Trump arrived on the scene. And the truth is, the only people talking seriously about “revolution” these days are in #TheResistance. Don’t forget, too: The House Intelligence Committee memo became public through constitutional and democratic means, rather than through the ruling class’s preferred method of unlawful leaks and innuendo. Who’s the real threat to our democratic institutions here?

Former FBI Director Comey, a man who has shown levels of pomposity and arrogance above and beyond those of mere mortal men, called the FISA abuse memo “dishonest and misleading.” Says the man who signed off on multiple warrants to continue surveillance of Page based on documents whose veracity Comey himself has called into question.

David French of National Review jumped on the fact that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) didn’t personally read the memo’s underlying intelligence reports. Scratching desperately for something resembling wit, French wrote:

But what French leaves out of his Adam Schiff-approved talking point is that the House Intelligence Committee had an agreement with the Justice Department to let only one committee member review the supporting materials. And that man was none other than former federal prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). Nunes told Fox News’ Bret Baier that he chose Gowdy for his background and experience as a former federal prosecutor.

Gowdy, Nunes, and committee staff collectively wrote the memo and shared its contents with the entire House Intelligence Committee and, later, all House members. FBI Director Christopher Wray also reviewed the memo before its release. Two other senior FBI officials who vetted the memo said they “could not point to any factual inaccuracies.”

The unanimity of opinion from the oligogues on both the Left and the “conservative” Right demonstrates the strength of the gravitational pull of our contemporary groupthink. When ruling class interests capture the American mind, the bulk of Americans lose. Listen to cable news or read the opinion pages of major newspapers. There you will find Americans’ mores and character under incessant attack. Common sense is nothing. Expertise is everything.

Never mind the conventional wisdom of the commentariat. Congress has a duty to oversee the executive branch—that’s part of the “checks and balances” the Constitution’s framers envisioned. The FISA abuse memo provides the basis for a long and intensive investigation of top officials (current and former) at the FBI and the Department of Justice. How have political considerations altered their judgment and work? Americans have a right to know.

What’s more, Congress would also do well to examine the workings of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court in light of the Fourth Amendment, which safeguards American citizens in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Between 1979 and 2015, the court has approved practically every FISA warrant application the government has submitted. That was 1,457 applications in 2015 alone.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Let it be so with the memo. The movement to take back our government from the oligarchs and put sovereignty back into the hands of the people with steadfast fight and perseverance is at the end of its beginning.

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ICE Troubles With Terrorism

An audit by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is facing a variety of challenges, particularly with implementing the Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol (KSTEP). KSTEP allows a myriad of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to coordinate and streamline the “protocol for identifying and processing aliens who are known or suspected terrorists.”

ICE can only screen immigrants while they are in custody. As of June 2017, just 33,701 of 2.4 million—about 1.4 percent—of all immigrants actively monitored by ICE and Immigration Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) were subject to KSTEP screening for connections to known or suspected terrorists. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that “some law enforcement agencies will not honor ICE immigration detainer requests,” thereby preventing ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) from taking custody of criminal aliens for KSTEP screening.

From January 2014 through May 2017, approximately 675 jurisdictions nationwide refused to honor more than 29,269 ICE immigration detainer requests. When a state or local law enforcement agency declines to transfer custody of a removable criminal alien to ICE, the released alien may put the public and ERO personnel at risk and it then requires significantly more resources to bring the individual into ICE custody.

California denied 11 ICE detainer requests, the majority for immigrants convicted of violent crimes, between January and February 2017, taking the cake for most detainer requests declined, 3,348, between 2015 and 2017. So-called “Sanctuary Cities,” having been specifically designed to limit or prohibit immigration authorities, were the worst offenders.

The DHS audit found that in a sampling of 40 case files of detained immigrants identified as known or suspected terrorists, “all had at least one instance of noncompliance with KSTEP policy.” Noncompliance with KSTEP included failures inappropriate application of background checks or outright failure to utilize them, inadequately confirming or denying aliens as known or suspected terrorists, and failure to appropriately document and report “aliens confirmed as known or suspected terrorists.”

While still a senator, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly warned former President Obama of critical weaknesses in United States interior security. On at least three occasions, the Obama administration refused “to provide details on the immigration histories of terrorists convicted in the United States.” In a letter obtained by Fox News, Senators Sessions and Ted Cruz implored Obama to cooperate with immigration authorities. Sessions said:

[T]hese data make clear that the United States not only lacks the ability to properly screen individuals prior to their arrival but also that our nation has an unprecedented assimilation problem.

Sessions’ Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest revealed that between September 2001 and December 2014, 580 people were convicted of terrorism in the United States—the vast majority of which were foreign-born. Between 2009 and 2014, the United States rewarded green cards to approximately 832,000 individuals from Muslim-majority countries, including 3,887 Syrian refugees in 2016—of whom only 23 were not Muslim—to say nothing of persecuted Syrian Christians in dire need of aid.

Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all experiencing the same security concerns as the United States over the growing problem of domestic terrorism. Despite the objections of organizations dependant on identity politics for their existence, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, national security concerns are not rooted in bigotry. Such objections are supported by stories like that of the New York City woman who claimed men on a subway train shouted “Trump,” “terrorist,” and “Go back to your country” at her. The only problem is that her story, like so many of its kind, turned out to be a hoax, Fox News Insider reported:

Further investigation brought authorities to the conclusion that Yasmin Seweid fabricated the encounter and they subsequently charged her with filing a false report and obstructing government administration.

Yasmin Seweid admitted she made up the story because she did not want to be in trouble with her family for staying out late, Abby Huntsman reported.

The Trump administration has its work cut out for it but appears to be on the right track by acknowledging national security concerns and taking steps to address them.

2016 Election • Administrative State • Conservatives • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Jeff Sessions • Law and Order • Post • separation of powers • The Constitution • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

J’Recuse! The Attorney General Who Wasn’t There

When Donald Trump chose Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, it was to reward the senior U.S. Senator from Alabama for his long-standing loyalty and to help ensure the new president would have a reliable ally in the Justice Department to advance his immigration reform and drug policy agenda. Trump could not have known how useless Sessions would be.

Had Sessions never recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the political situation in the country would be far more stable than it is today. More important, President Trump would have been able to get more done, rather than being distracted by these baseless claims.

But thanks to a scandal fabricated by the “permanent bipartisan fusion party” in Washington, D.C., Sessions chose to recuse himself from any potential investigations into alleged campaign collusion with Russia, thereby unleashing the forces of discord now eating away the foundations of our democratic institutions.

Simply put: #TheResistance in Washington set Sessions up. Trump’s enemies knew Sessions had two brief meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States in 2016. When Senate Democrats asked Sessions about his contacts with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing, Sessions denied having contacts with Russians during the campaign (he did not have contacts with them; he bumped into the ambassador a couple of times, including once at a public event at the Heritage Foundation). Alas, Sessions fell into the trap. Rather than remove himself from consideration for the attorney generalship, Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigation involving the Russians and the presidential election.

Once Sessions recused himself, Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein became the head of the witch hunt . . . err, investigation into alleged ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. Here’s how Newsweek described Rosenstein last year when President Trump  inexplicably nominated him for the number-two post at Justice:

Rosenstein, 52, is a longtime prosecutor who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and is expected to be confirmed, as he neither identifies strongly with conservative politics nor has any particular affinity for the interests of the people surrounding the Trump organization [emphasis added].

Rosenstein called his former colleague, Robert Mueller, to act as “special counsel” in the probe. (Rosenstein and Mueller worked together during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.) This year-long investigation has produced no discernible proof of collusion. Not that absence of evidence would stop Mueller. His investigation has spread beyond the president and his inner circle during the 2016 campaign to include three decade’s worth of the Trump Organization’s business and financial transactions.

Someone has to step in and stop this extra-constitutional witch hunt!

It doesn’t matter how effective Sessions has been in reining in illegal immigration or enforcing national drug policies. Sessions abdicated his basic responsibilities as attorney general from day one; he is America’s first non-attorney-general-attorney-general!

What’s more, Sessions has left his boss exposed to vicious partisans pretending to be objective civil servants. Rosenstein and Mueller are not objective. These two men, like most of the Washington establishment, are seeking any means of deposing the president because Trump—and his voters—threaten their power. The fact that Mueller has moved the investigation beyond the claims of Russian meddling in 2016 and has decided to revisit the 1980s and ’90s gives the establishment’s game away.

Trump no doubt had some questionable business interactions during his 40-year career in New York City real estate. So? The point isn’t to unearth some old, corrupt deal so much as to get the president to lie under oath. That would give Congress all the reason it needs to begin impeachment proceedings. Remember, impeachment is a political and not a legal process. All one needs is to show some sort of presidential misdeed—coupled with the right amount of votes—to begin impeachment. And the Democrats might get enough votes after 2018 (and the congressional Republicans will happily move against Trump as well).

Mueller needs to go. The special counsel has already overstepped his bounds. Rosenstein needs to go with him. The president might want to rethink his support of Jeff “Recuse” Sessions, too.

Next, Trump should order investigations into Hillary Clinton’s scandalous behavior as well as the former Obama Administration’s misuse of FISA warrants to spy on the Trump team. If Sessions recuses himself from these investigations—or refuses to start these investigations entirely—then Trump should start looking for a new attorney general.

Enough playing footsie with swamp creatures. They are using bureaucratic chicanery to overturn the will of the American people. Trump had better fight back, or he’s going to lose everything.

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No Such Thing As An Independent FBI

Of the many criticisms of President Trump, perhaps one of the more ill-considered is the suggestion that he is interfering with the “independence” of the FBI. The FBI, the argument goes, is not only a high-skilled, highly trained, and highly professional law enforcement organization—which it undoubtedly is—but should do its work free from political interference or control by the executive.

This is nonsense—nonsense with totalitarian implications.

The FBI is part of the executive branch, an investigative arm of the Department of Justice. The chain of command is simple. “We the people” are sovereign and elect the president and our other representatives. The president in turn, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints an attorney general. The president also hires an FBI director—whom he may fire—and that person serves a ten-year term and is subordinate to the Attorney General. The 10-year term arose, incidentally, through legislation after the long and controversial 37-year rule of the Bureau by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover’s willingness to employ agents to spy on political figures and his long-unchecked reign gave him a great deal of potential and actual control of elected officials through blackmail.

The idea that anyone is independent within the executive branch is an artifact of the civil service system, itself a product of the Progressive Era and its aspirations to scientific, efficient, and technocratic government. Previously, the spoils system was the order of the day. Everyone from postmen to park rangers came and went after elections. Well-paying government jobs could be doled out to unqualified political supporters as a reward.

The civil service remains in place for long-term and lower level employees. They serve from administration to administration doing the important and not-so-important work of various government agencies. But at the top, the president still gets to pick his men, the political appointees. These serve “at the pleasure of the president” and commit to advance his agenda. Thus, Jeff Sessions is now the head of the Department of Justice, and Trump, acting well within his presidential powers, canned the sanctimonious (and apparently dishonest) FBI Director James Comey and replaced him with Christopher Wray.

Presumably, appointees will share a vision with and be loyal to the president. This is normal. It would be exceedingly difficult for a president to advance his agenda if all of those assigned with carrying it out were unknowns, immune from his control, or otherwise disagreeable. The president’s powers (and time) are limited; personnel is policy in more ways than one.

Law enforcement is no different from other parts of the executive branch in this way. We elect sheriffs and county prosecutors, for example. Deputies and assistant prosecutors remain from administration to administration, but the leadership—and the inherent powers of the boss—are in the hands of elected officials or those accountable to them.

This political control should not be confused with naked partisanship. America, happily, has a long tradition of not employing law enforcement against one’s political enemies, at both the local and federal levels. Elections, in particular, serve as a check against such malfeasance. The absence of such a check surely had much to do with the FBI’s abuses under the long tenure of J. Edgar Hoover: he became too powerful and too permanent to be easily controlled by any elected president.

Just as Hoover’s fiefdom entailed certain abuses, political control can also be abused. The decision to go soft on Hillary Clinton for her alleged criminal violations of laws regulating email security and classified documents appears highly tainted by public remarks by President Obama, private meetings between Attorney General Lynch and former President Clinton, and the foregone conclusion not to prosecute by FBI Director Comey. But no one can deny Obama had the right to pardon Clinton, or that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch could have reviewed the FBI’s investigation and exercised her authority not to prosecute, regardless of the FBI’s recommendation.

Indeed, Comey acted unusually in announcing his own decision not to prosecute, as if the Department of Justice and its prosecutors were his subordinates. Comey with his talk of an independent FBI seems to have missed that the attorney general issues guidelines to the FBI and that the Bureau’s website notes its responsibility to the attorney general.

The task of a prosecutor includes a great number of decisions that have political aspects. There is the question of priorities. Will it be white collar crime, drugs, terrorism, or financial crimes? And, if all of them are important, what proportion of energy will prosecutors spend on one or the other? Such questions don’t lend themselves to precise or scientific answers. “Values”—or politics, in other words—must play a part.

The notion of presidential control should not worry people as much as it worries partisans in the press. There is an informal check on this type of abusive behavior. Unlike a career FBI official, a president has to answer to voters every four years. He may even be impeached and removed. If his subordinates pursue a prosecution, a defendant is tried before an independent judiciary and a neutral jury applying laws drafted by a legislature also outside executive control. None of these safeguards hinges on the existence of “independent” executive officials.

By way of analogy, no one expects the military to be independent of the president, pursuing its own idiosyncratic ideas of foreign and defense policy. This would be the stuff of banana republics. We call the president “commander in chief” in relation to the military for good reason. But the more common appellation in the first 100 years of the republic was “chief magistrate.” He oversees the entire apparatus of the executive branch of government, military and civilian, and has constitutional authority to do so.

Everyone who works for the president is obliged to exercise his judgment in certain instances and to obey the law in all instances. But this requirement prevails with the military, too. In the military, as in law enforcement, a great deal of what any official does is not controlled by the prohibitions of the law. This is the stuff of discretion, of policy—of politics. There is no escape.

In addition to the usual passive-aggressive resistance by career bureaucrats, the risks of a self-described independent FBI have been brought into focus by evidence that a clique within the Bureau actively conspired against the president before he even took office. Egged on by the media and the Democratic Party’s sore losers, #TheResistance may include higher-ups in the FBI using serious law enforcement and surveillance powers to frustrate, embarrass, and discredit President Trump. The evidence, while still developing, suggests a trumped-up Russian collusion investigation, disappearing (and reappearing) texts, made-up dossiers, a reported “insurance” policy against Trump before he was elected and more worrisome indications of a secret law-enforcement effort against him after he was elected.

Even without these abuses, the entire country should be wary of the concept of an independent FBI. The FBI, which is filled with dedicated and highly professional agents, is a subordinate part of a government, whose most powerful leaders are elected and must engage in politics. Any suggestion of a nonpartisan and apolitical FBI, like claims of technocratic governance more generally, would simply mask unavoidable political choices under the rubric of scientific management.

The FBI is no more independent than the Office of Management and Budget or the Army. And if it were, it would be a dangerous thing—because if the president cannot control the FBI, who would control it and to what ends?

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Shutdown Shames All of Congress

During the late government shutdown, Republicans kept repeating the talking point that the Democrats were damaging American national security by tying up the budget over the status of 800,000 or so illegal aliens covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Democrats, for their part, behaved in the manner their party mascot suggests they would. Not only did they endanger national security but they also played politics with the payment for our honorable men and women in uniform (as well as their families who depend on their paychecks). Not cool.

At the same time, it is grating listening to the Republicans whine about how terrible the Democrats are, without ever taking responsibility for the fact that over the last 16 years (certainly over the last year), the GOP in Congress could have prevented this kind of Democratic chicanery. If they had been responsible stewards of the American purse, we wouldn’t be here. Going forward, the GOP needs to behave as responsible legislators instead of as enablers of bad governing.

Congress has a constitutional obligation to fund the government. Our civic education may not be top-notch, but most people understand that Congress holds the power of the purse. Of the three branches of government, the one closest to the people has the power to fund the rest. Congress raises the revenues and allocates the dollars. That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway.  

It doesn’t. For years, the federal budget process has been corrupted by the zero-sum game of chicken that our two political parties insist on playing with each other (at everyone else’s expense).

So, yes, the Democrats instigated the latest shutdown. But let us not forget that the entire reason shutdowns remain a threat at all is that Congress has essentially abdicated its constitutional duties.

Since the 1980s, there have been eight major government shutdowns. Each one is an example of just how pathetic (and useless) Congress has become.

Today’s governing is not about enacting policies and laws that benefit the most Americans. It is simply about picking one’s preferred narrative—and sticking to the absurd script, no matter what may come. How is it that virtue-signaling politicians in Washington, D.C. could endanger the world’s most advanced military anyway?

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires both houses of Congress to adopt a budget resolution separately. The resolution creates a spending blueprint for the fiscal year, and helps Congress make essential decisions related to the budget (where to spend, what to cut, and what to keep the same). The budget resolution is not the budget; it is simply a promise by Congress to adhere to a generally agreed upon framework that will guide them in voting on a budget for the fiscal year—and they rarely can agree on the deadline for adopting a budget resolution.

In reality, Congress is supposed to pass separate spending bills for the federal government. For years, the number of appropriations bills has numbered around a dozen.  Of those, according to the Pew Research Center, only about a third ever arrive on time. The budgeting process is now so convoluted that Congress abandoned the 12 individual bills in recent years and relied simply on “omnibus” legislation, creating a giant, politically fraught bill that congressional leaders assume is too big to fail.

Both parties in Congress care little for fulfilling their constitutional duties. They’ve become captured by special interests—whether they be groups obsessed with identity politics or big corporations interested only in padding their quarterly bottom lines. Being a congressman or a senator is one of the easiest jobs in the world: we’ve had a host of people performing these duties since the founding of the country. But, it is only in recent years that our Congress has become consumed with the politics of the absurd.

In any other industry, failure to perform the basic duties of the job would get a person fired. In another form of government, many of our elected leaders would end up with votes of  “no confidence” and be booted from office. In America today, however, we get to hear Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) whine about the rights of people who came here illegally, and then watch Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) use the American military as a prop in this political theater of the outrageous.

This debate is another example of how most of the members of both parties in Congress need ousting. And, it is also a compelling reason for congressional term limits. Absent competent representation (with people who can pass a balanced budget on time), Congress will continue being useless.

2016 Election • America • American Conservatism • Conservatives • Deep State • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Political Parties • Post • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • Trump White House

President Trump and the Integrity of American Democracy

On the eve of the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, it is worthwhile to reflect on the significance of his presidency for the quality of our nation’s politics.

Some Americans have criticized the president as a threat to our democratic way of life. They point to his brawling rhetoric, his tendency to insult and demean his political opponents, and contend that these habits undermine the norms of civility that sustain a healthy democracy.

Even the most ardent Trump supporters ought to be able to admit, upon reflection, that these critics have a point. A large, diverse, self-governing country is bound to have serious disagreements among its people. Such a country can manage its affairs successfully only if these inevitable disagreements do not get overheated. Successful democratic politics requires cooperation among people of diverse views, and such cooperation grows more and more difficult as civility is abandoned.

Nevertheless, to be fair to President Trump—and to reassure ourselves about the state of our country—it is worth pointing out that when it comes to the integrity of our democracy, Trump is not all bad.

On the contrary, there is an important sense in which his presidency can be understood as building up the integrity of our democracy.

Trump is extraordinary among recent presidents not only for his shocking combativeness but also for something much more admirable: his spirited determination to stick to the promises on which he campaigned.

Trump the candidate promised to be tough on illegal immigration, to make our allies pay more for the common defense, to renegotiate our trade deals, to nominate conservative judges, to cut taxes, and to repeal and replace Obamacare. He certainly has not tried to slink away from any of these promises but rather has dedicated all of his (considerable) energy to fulfilling them. No fair-minded observer can deny this.

This is not to say that Trump is perfect on this score. Every campaign puts out a huge laundry list of promises, many of which are never kept (and most of which are not even noticed by the voters).  Trump’s campaign was no exception, and if we judge him by this standard, he does not look so unusual.

But every campaign also makes some distinct, big-ticket promises, and Trump has stayed extraordinarily true to his. This started to become clear when he delivered his inaugural address and said pretty much what he had always said, and it has become clearer over his first year as he has stuck doggedly to his agenda.

Delivering on key campaign promises is not as common for presidents as we might think—or as we should demand. Consider the history of the last thirty years of American politics. George H.W. Bush famously said, “Read my lips: No new taxes”—a pledge he violated in the second year of his first and only term as president. In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned promising a middle-class tax cut. He dropped the idea almost immediately upon taking office. In 2000, George W. Bush promised a humble foreign policy that eschewed nation-building abroad. His actual foreign policy charted practically the opposite course.

Barack Obama did not break any important campaign promise. Nevertheless, as president he did sell his main legislative priority—the Affordable Care Act—on the basis of the now infamous promise: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.” This, of course, turned out to be false once the law was put into operation.

This history ought to remind us that there is more to good politics than politeness. After all, all of these promises were made and broken with the utmost civility.

Indeed, this decades-long record of broken promises by our highest political officials probably explains, at least in part, why Trump won. Enough voters felt that they had been played too many times by the more conventional politicians of both parties. More important, these voters were right to resent being played and to try something different in order to put a stop to it. In doing so, they were taking action to preserve or restore the integrity of our democracy.

Representative democracy means that the voters get to choose the basic direction of the country. In this sense, the voters are entitled to govern the country, although they do not administer its government. They must perform this act of governance on the basis of the representations that are made to them by candidates for public office. This entire process is, of course, a fraud if those who are elected do not hold themselves bound to try to deliver on the promises they made while campaigning for office.

We may rightly hope that future presidents have a more diplomatic mode of expression than Trump. But we may also rightly hope that they imitate him in seriously intending, and then seriously trying to deliver, what they promise. This is just as important as civility to maintaining a healthy democracy.

Administrative State • America • Cities • civic culture/friendship • Congress • Deep State • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Post • separation of powers

To Fix Washington, D.C., We Must First Destroy It

Conservatives have long complained about the size and scope of the federal government, especially since its prolonged, self-aggrandizing phase began in earnest after World War II. They’ve offered countless legal solutions to reduce the feds’ intrusions into both the affairs of the states and into our individual lives—almost none of which has resulted in any practical reduction in federal intrusiveness as Leviathan grows ever larger and fatter.


As the nation developed, the cities that grew up around seaports—Boston, New York, Charleston, New Orleans, as well as the cities along the Ohio, Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and on the Great Lakes—became centers of population and commerce; there was gold in them there wharves. Later, the Gold Rush gave birth to the West. But county seats and state capitals also became sources of prosperity, as a growing democracy slowly (and then suddenly) bureaucratized to meet the challenges of a huge geographic area and international conflict. Today the gold lies in tax receipts and government jobs.


It is no accident then that the wealthiest counties in the United States are now the Maryland and Virginia suburbs near the District of Columbia. Or that the top salaries of federal bureaucrats, $164,000 per annum, now rival the salaries of senators and congressmen. Far from simply being the seat of government, Washington has become a gigantic money-churning machine, enriching not only public officials but also its legion of camp followers along K Street and elsewhere who have set up shop along the Potomac. It’s a vicious cycle, and all at taxpayer expense: the more it costs to live in or around D.C., the higher salaries and perks will rise, and the higher prices businesses will charge.


So why not break the cycle where it starts, by decentralizing D.C. and dispersing many of its functions and personnel around the country? In the Internet age, there’s no reason why the federal workforce has to be concentrated in the District, where it has become a metastasizing economic cancer on the rest of the nation. If presidents can work from Warm Springs, Georgia, La Casa Pacifica, Ronald Reagan’s ranch, Martha’s Vineyard, or Mar-a-Lago, so can everybody else.


Other countries have already done it, most prominently the Federal Republic of Germany. From its National Socialist period, the Germans learned to fear too much government power in one location, so while the capital moved from Bonn to Berlin after reunification, the national DMV is in Flensburg; the Federal Court of Justice lies in Karlsruhe; the Federal Administrative Court is in Leipzig; and the central bank is in Frankfurt.


And yet, in a vastly larger country, we persist in the quaint notion that the tiny District of Columbia, carved out initially from Maryland and Virginia (Virginia eventually got its land back), must be the physical locus of government, when there’s 3,000 miles of America lying just off to the west. So imagine this:

  • Move the Energy Department to Bismarck, North Dakota (pop.72, 000). With the fracking boom and the reflowering of American energy independence, this department should be located where the action is, and the long, cold, dark winters in a land of no snow days would keep them at their desks, instead of goofing off.
  • Move the Department of Transportation to Detroit, Mich. The Motor City practically invented transportation in the United States, and its current hard times would be greatly alleviated by the sudden infusion of cash and workforce. Despite its current shabby state, Detroit boasts some of the finest residential architecture in the country and at very reasonable prices.
  • Move the Department of the Interior to, well, the interior: how about Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the contiguous United States? If tiny Lebanon (pop. 218) is too small for sophisticated Beltway tastes, one of the larger cities nearby would do, such as Grand Island, Nebraska, conveniently located just off Interstate 80.
  • Move the Agriculture Department to somewhere where actual agriculture takes place. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, perhaps, or Stockton, California. The Golden State’s long-suffering Central Valley can use all the economic help it can get.
  • Move the Education Department to Davis, California. Long before there even was federal Department of Education, the University of California was one of the glories of American education. By moving the feds to Davis, where one of the most radical UC campuses is located, they’ll get a first-hand look at what went wrong, and understand the dangers inherent in turning campuses ideological.
  • Move the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Kansas City, Missouri. The FBI’s always been a Midwestern organization at heart, and the Bureau made its bones chasing Midwestern bank robbers in the 1920s and ’30s. Kansas City was the site of the infamous 1933 massacre, which forced the FBI to start arming its agents after they were attacked and killed by Pretty Boyd Floyd—it would be a highly symbolic place to station a new, reorganized, and honest Bureau.


And that’s just for starters.


The economic effects should be obvious. Property values would instantly rise in economically distressed areas of the country, and ancillary businesses and services would start and thrive. Relocated workers drawing current salaries would experience an instant boost in purchasing power in their new red-state homes. And should they only wish to rent, and keep their houses in the D.C. area, they can do what congressmen do now—fly home on weekends with all the money they’re saving.


There would be other significant changes as well, including in state voting patterns. Electorally, the concentration of federal workers in the northern Virginia suburbs has flipped the state from red to purple, if not actually blue, and their dispersal would help restore Virginia’s natural balance. Should a given department relocate to a blue coastal state, then a bunch of new liberal voters won’t make any difference in the Electoral College anyway.


Further, while an infusion of left-oriented public servants might at first cause concern in the hinterlands, no doubt the profusion of latte shops and expense-account restaurants that would spring up in their wake would help improve the quality of life on the Plains. And there’s always the chance that, with exposure to how real America lives, works, and thinks, more than a few would see the light, understand the meaning of the Bill of Rights, buy a few guns, and undergo a miraculous conversion to original American values.


In Vietnam, as the saying went, we had to destroy the village in order to save it. Can patriotic Americans do any less for Washington, D.C.?

America • Americanism • civic culture/friendship • Democrats • Donald Trump • Greatness Agenda • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • self-government • separation of powers • Trump White House

Trump is Wrong to Compromise on Immigration

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The White House on October 8 released a list of “Immigration Principles and Policies” that President Trump says “must be included” in any legislation legitimizing President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Trump is cutting a deal: Congress gets DACA if Trump gets immigration reform.

Is it a good deal? No, unfortunately. But before getting into the details, it is worth briefly reviewing DACA and highlighting Trump’s key demands.

Summing up DACA: President Obama signed an executive action in June 2012 that let all illegal aliens who arrived in America before they were age 16 to apply for legal work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and made them eligible for earned income-tax credits—it gives recipients most of the privileges associated with citizenship. Enrollment must be renewed every two years.

Since 2012, nearly 800,000 illegal aliens have taken advantage of the program—most of them adults. In effect, DACA is renewable amnesty.

Depending upon how broadly Congress legislates on DACA, somewhere between 800,000 and 3.5 million people could be granted de facto amnesty, and given a pathway to citizenship—remember, not everyone who can enroll in DACA is enrolled. This is an enormous number of people, comparable in scale to the Reagan-era amnesty.

On the other side of the equation are President Trump’s demands. In exchange for DACA Trump wants funding for the wall (the House Homeland Security Committee has already allocated $10 billion for the wall); an extra 10,000 ICE officers, 1,000 immigration lawyers, and 370 judges to help clear the deportation backlog; legislative penalties for “sanctuary cities”; an E-Verify system to bar illegals from the job market; passage of the RAISE Act; and a number of other minor concessions.

Of these reforms, the RAISE Act is the most significant. Very briefly: the RAISE Act by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) would not only cut legal immigration into the United States by roughly 50 percent, it would break the cycle of chain-migration by giving priority to economically valuable immigrants as opposed to those who merely have family connections. If passed, the RAISE Act would be the most significant piece of immigration legislation since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ushered in the era of mass migration.

It is difficult to overstate the economic benefits of the RAISE Act, which are twofold. First, the legislation would reduce overall immigration levels significantly. Second, it would better-calibrate the type of immigrants arriving in the U.S.

Reducing the overall level of immigration is important because America’s economy does not need additional labor: the labor market is saturated as it is. Real unemployment remains high and there is no sense in exacerbating the problem. Further, fewer immigrants would help improve working conditions and wages for U.S. citizens. This has already begun in a few locations—the logic is sound and the effects are empirically demonstrable. And, of course, fewer low-skilled immigrants means fewer people on welfare.

The Act also ensures that America gets high-quality, skilled immigrants, by prioritizing people with valuable skills. These are the type of immigrants who are most likely to help expand the economy in the long run—immigrants that U.S. policy should have been targeting for decades.

Why Trump Should Not Surrender on DACA

All that said, Trump should not trade DACA for the RAISE Act—or for the other assorted goodies. Why not? It all boils down to political asymmetries.

There can be little doubt the president’s demands are more valuable than DACA on paper: DACA would grant residency to, at most, 3.5 million people, whereas the RAISE Act would cut immigration by 500,000 people per year. Therefore, it should not take long for the benefits of ongoing immigration reduction to outweigh the one-time costs associated with preserving DACA. Further, the RAISE Act would prevent a wave of chain migration in the wake of a DACA amnesty, setting aside another major concern.

However, this assumes the RAISE Act will last. It will not. Herein lies the political asymmetry.

The Democratic Party lost the war of ideas decades ago and now depends upon immigrant voters to survive. In fact, a report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows that immigrants vote Democrat by a ratio of at least 2:1, and that the gap is widening. This has major political consequences—especially since there are now more than 40 million legal immigrants in America. The last presidential election Democrats won without immigrant voters was that of Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1964 (excluding Ross Perot’s vote-splitting antics in 1992).

Democrats need immigration, and they know it. Should the RAISE Act pass, the Democrats would work night-and-day to repeal it and the odds are good that eventually they would succeed. After all, the RAISE Act is just an ordinary piece of legislation. Conversely, a DACA amnesty would not be reversible—given how bitterly divided America is over the deportation of illegal immigrants, the likelihood of successfully stripping residency or citizenship rights from amnesty-recipients is basically nil. Amnesty is permanent; immigration reform is not. The same goes for just about everything else on President Trump’s list—with the exception of the wall, perhaps.

There can be no deal on DACA, and no compromise on immigration reform until the Democrats stop playing identity politics, and begin putting Americans first. President Trump would be wise to acknowledge this.

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Administrative State • America • Americanism • Congress • Donald Trump • GOPe • Immigration • Post • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • Steve Bannon • Trump White House

Bob Corker, Scion of the Ruling Class

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Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to find and root out even the most entrenched members of the ruling class.

Retiring Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is now exposed as the next in a long line of undistinguished establishment Republicans captured by the very interests they were elected to rebuff.

In what has become a worn out routine among members of the GOPe, over the weekend Corker ran to the New York Times—the very epicenter of liberalism—to unload on Trump. Corker, who seems to have more regard for the views and opinions of liberal elites than he does for the voters who put him into office (61 percent of voting Tennesseans went for Trump), riffed on his personal feelings about the president for over 25 minutes.

He called Trump’s presidency “a reality show” and said that the president’s reckless actions are putting the nation “on the path to World War III.” Corker stated that Trump needs to have his aides constantly available “to talk him down.” Trump, he maintained, is pure “chaos” and “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

“He concerns me,” Corker declared. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Later, Corker continued his tirade on Twitter:

All this from a man who was once considered as a possible VP pick and served as an informal foreign policy counselor to Trump during the 2016 campaign.

And this from a man who in September, when he was still considering a run for a third term in the Senate, thought enough of Trump to seek out a lengthy one-on-one talk with him. Corker’s spokeswoman called that meeting “wide ranging” and “extremely productive.” Downplaying any rift between himself and President Trump, Corker at the time maintained that “for people to try to act as if there is daylight between us as a result is just not true.”

So in a little more than half a month, Trump went from close friend and trusted adviser to tin-pot dictator possessed of an itchy trigger finger? To the members of the ruling class, this behavior is what counts as “normal” politics in our age. But to most observers recalling this series of events, one of these two parties appears petulant and given to indecision—and that party is not the president.

Glancing over the record of Corker’s two terms in the Senate, voters should be relieved that Trump did not involve him in the administration in any meaningful way.

In 2006, Corker promised the hard working people of Tennessee, ”You’re going to have a senator from Tennessee, not D.C.” Since then, Corker has reliably fallen right in line with the ways of the Beltway ruling class.

Corker voted for Wall Street bailouts and approved President Obama’s radical nominee Loretta Lynch for attorney general.

On foreign policy, he represents a continuation of the feckless policies of the Obama Administration. Corker allowed the Iran deal to go through by subverting the Senate’s power to ratify treaties under Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution. Instead of insisting on the constitutionally required two-thirds of the Senate needed to approve a treaty, Corker issued a bill turning that provision on its head and making it necessary for two-thirds of the Senate to vote in favor of blocking the treaty. Senators would be required to register their negative assessment of President Obama’s deal rather than simply decline to vote for it.

As Andrew C. McCarthy noted back in 2015:

Under the Constitution, Obama’s Iran deal would not have a prayer. Under the Corker bill, it would sail through. And once again, it would be Republicans first ensuring that self-destruction is imposed on us, then striking the pose of dogged opponents by casting futile nay votes.

Corker maintained that his bill was necessary to stop President Obama from negotiating a secret deal with Iran. But the Iranians soon made the contents of the deal public, thereby undercutting Corker’s rationale. Corker helped weaken the Senate’s power over treaties and furthered Barack Obama’s radical agenda with the mullahs. All in a good day’s work for a member of the ruling class.

On immigration, an issue that is at the heart of Trump’s agenda to recover the sovereignty of the American people, Corker has been a disaster. In 2013, Corker attempted to save the horrendous Gang of Eight immigration bill by putting forward an amendment that would have granted amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants and the millions more who would have come streaming across the border in exchange for a paltry promise of doubling the number of border patrol agents. Corker took a “stand” for the same non-existent “enforcement” policies Republicans have been touting for decades but would have continued to invite millions more immigrants into our country no matter the wishes of the people who elected him or the effects on them and our nation as a whole.

For the members of the Republican establishment being “tough” on immigration is just a game they play. They know we don’t like the way things are going now or the increasing levels of toleration they seem to have for open borders, so they are happy to use the issue as a wedge that helps them to get elected. But they don’t really mean to solve the problem. In the first place, they’d lose the wedge. In the second, they don’t actually think we know what we are talking about on immigration. They’re quite sure they’re more refined and know better.  

The people of Tennessee deserve better—they deserve a senator who stands by the positions he promised to uphold. And so do all Americans. When consent is thus abused, it is hardly right to say that it is freely given.

Indeed, Bob Corker is their beau ideal of a senator.

How do we know? Just look at the  the ruling class and their reaction to the kerfuffle between him and Trump. For the likes of Mitch McConnell, being willing to violate the Constitution, vote for open borders policies, and further President Obama’s aims in the world reflects the kind of flexibility that makes Corker a “valuable member” of the GOP majority in the Senate. Never mind that this “flexibility” is not something Corker was willing to market to his voters while running for office.

NeverTrump U.S. Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) praised Corker’s tirade against Trump and urged more of his colleagues in Congress to “speak out” in this manner. On Twitter, Joe Scarborough wrote of his “love” for Corker. Bill Kristol is calling on Corker to stay in office and “continue to represent” the people of Tennessee “to best of his ability using his judgment.” Apparently for Kristol, Corker is doing exactly what he was elected to do: override the consent of the governed with his own superior judgment (a judgment formed by other members of the ruling elite, of course).

The members of the ruling elite sure know how to come to the defense of one of their own when times are tough.

Steve Bannon is right: Corker should resign immediately. He represents a failed status quo—something that is, by now, obvious to all but Corker and his cronies. His two terms in the Senate have been nothing but a milquetoast blend of pomposity and neoliberal orthodoxies that have come to define our politics in recent years. The people of Tennessee deserve better—they deserve a senator who stands by the positions he promised to uphold. And so do all Americans. When consent is thus abused, it is hardly right to say that it is freely given.

Congressmen and senators are free to change their minds while they are in office, of course. But they should be honest about such shifts in position and make a real case for the new ones they’ve adopted. When GOPe politicians use wedge issues like immigration or feign support for a president popular with their constituents to secure their election but then turn in a different direction once elected, they dishonor their office and spurn the sovereign people who elected them. It is an abuse of their power and it is wrong.

In order to Make America Great Again, Congress needs to become great again. The Bob Corkers of our politics have been abusing our consent and their power for far too long, ingratiating themselves to the ruling elite and finally, becoming members of it themselves. It is high time that we show them in whom the powers of government are actually vested. We have the power to choose better representation. We should do it.

 

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Administrative State • America • Congress • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Immigration • Post • separation of powers • The Constitution • The Courts • The Resistance (Snicker)

Trump, Immigration, and the Post-Constitutional Temptation

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Secretary of State John Kerry in May 2016 advised his fellow citizens to prepare themselves for a borderless world. A borderless world would, of course, be a world without sovereign nation-states and consequently a world without the exclusive citizenship that attaches to what our Declaration of Independence called the “separate and equal nations” of the earth.

When the sovereign nation-state has given way to the universal homogeneous state, citizenship will be replaced by what has been called “universal personhood.” This has been the goal of Progressivism for more than a century.

Historically, constitutional government is found only in nation-states, where the people share an exclusive common-good and are dedicated to the same principles and purposes. The goals and principles that animate a people may be universal, as in our case with the Declaration of Independence, but the real-life pursuit of those principles can take place only in a particular political community. The fact that “all men are created equal” and possess by nature the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is a universal principle applicable to all human beings. But for that principle to become a political reality, an “equal and separate” nation had to be created “dedicated to that proposition” and, therefore, in opposition to any contrary proposition.

Any attempt to set that principle in motion on a universal scale would have failed at the time of the American founding and it will fail today, despite the wholly untenable and fabulous claims that the rights of individual citizens have evolved into an easily recognizable “universal personhood.”

The homogeneous world state—the European Union on a global scale—will not be a constitutional democracy; it will be the administration of “universal personhood” defined from on-high and without the inconvenience of having to rely upon the consent of the governed. Needless to say, “universal persons” will not be citizens; they will be clients or, more properly, subjects. Rights would become superfluous because the welfare of the community will have superseded individual rights.

Diversity versus Sovereignty
More than a century ago—just when the Progressive dream of the world homogeneous state was emerging—the Supreme Court announced what was considered the settled sense of the matter when it remarked in
Nishimura Ekiu v. United States that “it is an accepted maxim of international sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe.” Immigration control was thus thought to be an indispensable aspect of sovereignty and “essential to self-preservation.”

It is clear, however, that progressive liberalism no longer views self-preservation as a rational goal of the nation-state; rather self-preservation must be subordinate to openness and diversity. Pope Francis voiced his agreement with this aspect of Progressivism when he remarked recently that the welfare of refugees and migrants should take priority over national security considerations.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton, both when she was secretary of state and when she was a candidate for president, agreed that acceptance of Muslim refugees was an important affirmation of the country’s commitment to openness and diversity. Clinton stated that acceptance of refugees was not only a reaffirmation of America’s commitment to diversity but also a reaffirmation of “who we are as Americans.” Clinton apparently assumed that the American character is defined only by its unlimited acceptance of diversity. A defined American character—devotion to republican principles, republican virtue, the habits and manners of free citizens, self-reliance—would, of course, be considered as impermissibly exclusive.

Most of the refugees who entered the United States, and those who sought asylum, during the Obama administration did not have adequate documentation, and the heads of the major security agencies warned that active terrorists and terrorist sympathizers would inevitably slip through security screening cracks. The clear implication of Obama’s policy was that America’s commitment to diversity outweighed considerations of national security.

President George W. Bush was also an advocate for a “borderless world.” He often liked to say
“family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.” Bush, a supporter of amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, clearly indicated that certain “universal values” transcend a nation’s sovereignty. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” was on full display here, and he said on several occasions that we should be more compassionate to our less-fortunate neighbors to the south.

President Ronald Reagan used similar language when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The law provided amnesty for 3 million illegal aliens. At the time, Reagan touted the legislation as a way of “humanely” dealing with the issue of illegal immigration. In his signing statement, Reagan said the act “is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America.” The act was supposed to be a one-time-only amnesty in exchange for stronger border control. Only the most naïve in Washington (mostly Republicans) believed that the promise of border control would be honored. Illegal immigration continued unabated.

The 1986 law, of course, also fueled expectations—and even demands—for additional amnesties, even that amnesties become a regular feature of American immigration policy. Delays in implementing new amnesties have been treated with contempt by immigration activists and proffered as evidence that the American people lack compassion—remember Jeb Bush’s statements during the 2016 presidential primaries.

Celebrating Sovereignty Rightly Understood
Almost any clear-eyed observer, however, could see that compassion is not a sound basis either for foreign policy or for immigration policy. Compassion is more likely to lead to contempt than gratitude in both policy areas. The failure of the 1986 amnesty should be a clear reminder of the useful Machiavellian adage that in the
realpolitik world of foreign affairs it is better to be feared than loved. Fear is more likely to engender respect, whereas love or compassion is more likely to be regarded as a contemptible sign of weakness. In 1984, Reagan had received 37 percent of the Hispanic vote. After the 1986 amnesty, just 30 percent of Hispanics voted for Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush. Granted, Bush was no Reagan; but such ingratitude seemed to puzzle Republicans.

Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign appealed to the importance of citizens and borders. In other words, Trump made his stand on the nation-state and nationalism against the world-homogeneous state. He reminded the nation that the “just powers” of government are derived from “the consent of the governed.” The people, therefore, are the sole source of legitimate authority under the Constitution.

The president’s speech to the U.N. last week was a celebration of sovereignty and the nation-state. “The nation-state,” Trump said in a statement that was as true as it was hyperbolic, “remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.”

In appealing directly to the people in the election of 2016, Trump succeeded in defeating both political parties, the media, political professionals, pollsters, academics, and the bureaucratic class. All these groups formed part of the bipartisan cartel protecting the Washington establishment. The cartel is now hysterical, fighting to save the entrenched interests that it has represented for so many years. So far it has made a remarkably good showing, but Trump has scored some notable victories, not the least of which have been in border security and immigration enforcement.

Trump’s DACA Dilemma
The president, however, is facing a conundrum on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It is not a conundrum of his own making, but a result of past failures to enforce already existing immigration laws.

During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to end DACA. He quoted Obama’s oft-repeated lamentation that he had no constitutional authority to act on the matter: it was solely the province of Congress Obama said. When Congress failed to perform, however, Obama did act, ordering the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2014 to implement a program to stop the deportation of children brought to the United States as minors.

A restraining order from a Texas District Court in 2015 halted implementation of the program. Judge Andrew Hanen’s principal holding relied on statutory grounds, but he indicated in dicta that there would be sound constitutional arguments against the executive action derived from separation of powers. The executive branch, Judge Hanen noted, had no authority to award legal status to otherwise deportable aliens. This requires legislative, not executive, authority. Prosecutorial discretion, which is a proper executive function, cannot be expanded to encompass a power that clearly belongs exclusively to the legislative branch. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision and an evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower courts.

Trump has rescinded DACA but has delayed its rescission for six months, inviting the Congress to pass legislation reinstituting the Obama executive action. The president hopes that Congress will comply and has even said he is willing to deal. This, of course, will cure the separation of powers difficulties identified by the courts, but there is still a question of whether a law aimed specifically at one class will satisfy the Constitution’s requirement that laws regarding immigration be “uniform.”

The president, of course, had a constitutional duty to rescind the unconstitutional program, but it is curious that he allowed it to continue even this long. In fact, there has been no “rescission” at all; DACA has only been “suspended.” No new DACA applications will be accepted for six months, but pending applications will be processed and work permits that expire will be reauthorized. But if Trump believes DACA is unconstitutional, how can he allow such benefits to be conferred during this suspension period? And, in a curious turn, the Trump Justice Department has not withdrawn the Obama Justice Department’s 2014 opinion arguing the program’s constitutionality.

Trump, of course, campaigned on the promise to end DACA, saying there would be no amnesty or path to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers.” He said that those who came to the United States illegally would have to return to their home countries and apply for reentry. These are “beautiful young people,” Trump frequently says, and in many cases highly educated. He does not use these words, but what he means is that they deserve our compassion.

If Congress is unable to agree on a bill, President Trump has hinted that he will act. He has not said what he will do, but surely he cannot be contemplating revival of DACA by executive action. I do not believe the president will follow his predecessor into the netherworld of post-constitutionalism, however much he may believe that the end of DACA would demonstrate a lack of compassion. DACA has thrust the president on the horns of a dilemma—but this does not alter his obligation to uphold the Constitution.

This essay is adapted from remarks delivered to a Claremont Institute panel on immigration and citizenship at Chapman University Law School, September 23, 2017.

 

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Defense of the West • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Intelligence Community • Political Parties • Religion of Peace • Section 2 • self-government • separation of powers • Steve Bannon • Terrorism • The Culture • The Leviathian State • Trump White House

To Secure the Blessings of Liberty, Rein in the ‘Permanent State’

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The following are remarks delivered by Dr. Sebastian Gorka at Hillsdale College’s eighth annual Constitution Day celebration in Washington, D.C. on September 19, 2017.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Never go anywhere without your copy of Imprimis.

It really is a high honor for me to address this august audience. My wife and I have been huge fans of Hillsdale for many, many years, and it’s always a race when Imprimus hits the door mat; who’s going to read it first. But I have a caveat to begin with. For the next 30 minutes, please don’t expect a discourse on de Tocqueville and Epistemology of the New Age. My first degree was philosophy and theology many moons ago, but I cannot match the erudition of the panels that we heard this morning. I’m going to bring it all down to earth and share with you my experiences inside the belly of the beast as a deputy assistant and strategist to the president, how we should move forward, and what we can expect in the years to come.

But first things first, I must make a plea to all those people who came up to me last night, and have done so since I left three weeks ago. Relax. Take a deep breath and count to 10. The fat lady isn’t singing, OK? I know that’s not politically correct, but who cares? We are in this for the long game. I’m going to be using Washington jargon, but this is about the long game. It’s not about the first eight months. It’s about eight years, and then another eight years, under President Pence. That’s the plan.

Lots of people got suicidal when my boss, Steve Bannon resigned. And then they really got suicidal when I left the building. But it’s OK. Bringing us back to the principles of the founding is not a function of where Steve sits, or whether I have a window in my office in the Eisenhower building. It’s a function of the ideas that brought a man (as we were reminded last night) brought a man who has never held public office before, or been a general flag officer, into the position of being the most powerful man in the world. There’s a reason for that, and it is much bigger than the few people who work in that wonderful peoples’ house just across the city. So, hold the line.

Common Sense, Truth, Sovereignty
The only philosophical things I’ll say is, words matter. Words matter. And the words for my address today are simple ones. The first one is a phrase. “Common sense.” The second one, which is allied to common sense, is the word “truth.” And the last one, which is the most important philosophical undergirding of everything that brought Donald Trump into the White House, and it formed his politics, is the word “sovereignty.” This is missed by the people inside the beltway. These aren’t random speeches. The war, defeating ISIS, pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, these are informed by the same philosophical idea: the importance of sovereignty and the nation-state. So that’s all the philosophizing I will do.

So, let me talk to you about my experience for the last few months inside the White House. I’ll talk about three things: Who is the president? I’ll talk about what happened inside the building, and I’ll address this question that has become so popular today, of the ‘deep state’ and how it affects foreign policy going forward.

Who is the president? The president, behind closed doors, is exactly the same as he is in public. He’s not your average politician; when he sees a camera, flicks a little switch in the back of his head, and then switches on that “Washington grimace.” He is who he is. When I first met him in the summer 2015, I was asked to come brief him in New York on matters to do with national security. The man, in private, was exactly the man I’d come to know on the television screens. And that is, in itself, refreshing. There is no Janus-faced, bi-polarity with this individual.

Secondly, he is a preternatural, instinctual actor. It is not an exaggeration. Monica Crowley described him most accurately. The weekend of the election, we were with David Horowitz and his colleagues at his Restoration Weekend (which was either going to be a wake or a celebration.) But, the right candidate won. And two days after the election, Monica stated, “The people who misunderstand Donald J. Trump look at him through an ideological lens. And that is completely the wrong way to look at him. Because, Donald J. Trump wasn’t an ideological candidate; he was an attitudinal candidate.” And that is very, very much so. You cannot slap easy, lazy labels onto this man. Yes, the chattering classes would have you do so. The mainstream media would have you do so. But remember, this is a Republican candidate who strode along the campaign platform waving a “gay pride” flag. That’s not exactly a classic Republican candidate. He breaks the conventional taxonomy, and that’s important to remember.

What he is, is a man who cares about making this nation great again. That slogan is not pablum; it’s not empty rhetoric. He truly wishes to translate what he has done in the private sector, in terms of making a great brand, and translating that back to America’s position in the world and its founding principles.

A Hostile Takeover
What happened in the last seven months, until I left the White House? Well, what happened on January the 20th needs to be understood. Who likes the movie “Red Dawn,” the original one? Great movie, OK? Those of you who have not seen it, watch it. Not the remake; the original.

On November the 8th, it was very much like the movie “Red Dawn.” A scrappy band of insurgents won against the behemoth. And in this case, it was the establishment. Donald J. Trump was only accidentally the GOP candidate. He was as much an anti-establishment, right-wing candidate as an anti-establishment Democrat candidate. He was the antithesis of “the swamp.” As a result of wiping the floor with 16 candidates … Think about that; wiping the floor with 16 establishment candidates, and then trouncing a woman who had spent $700 million for a position she thought was owed to her. As a result of that unprecedented political event, on January the 20th, or the 21st, 8 o’clock in the morning, when we rolled into the West Wing, it was a hostile takeover. And it has to be understood as such.

If you look at the federal government, if you add in the armed forces, we have two plus million employees. And a couple of dozen people who are committed to the platform came in to execute a hostile takeover over of an institution with literally millions of employees. That’s not going to be easy.

As such, we fought a rearguard action inside the building, and at one point, for Steve it was earlier than me, he decided he can be more effective on the outside; he took his decision. And then, when I heard the president’s speech on Afghanistan, I knew it was time for me to relocate my desk and my chair. I came in because of my background in counterterrorism and my commitment to defeating radical Islamic terrorism. But when a speech was written for the president, which had that phrase removed, after its use multiple times: in Riyadh, in front of the joint session of Congress, in Warsaw, I knew that the swamp was in ascendance.

However, very important to remember, this is a temporary state of affairs. I predict, within the next few months, we shall see some very significant changes of personnel at the highest levels of the administration. Not because a cabinet member decides to do it, or a chief of staff, but because the president decides to do it. In the last seven months, most of the firings have had nothing to do with the president. In the next few months, I predict they will, and that is a good thing.

The Permanent State is “The Swamp”
Let’s talk about the deep state. I don’t like the phrase “the deep state.” I think it has a flavor of a conspiracy theory. I love conspiracy theories as fiction. OK? I have a bookshelf of them, but there’s a reason they’re called “theories.” They’re not conspiracy facts. OK? I prefer the phrase “the permanent state.” And that’s not a conspiracy theory. The permanent state is real. And it is a problem when you look at the values that it holds. I wasn’t part of the National Security Council, but I, thanks to some good people in the NSC, I attended numerous meetings on key issues, whether it was “the Qatar crisis,” whether it was “defeat ISIS,” “Muslim brotherhood,” and so forth.

And, to sit … I mean, look. I’m a child of people who escaped Communist dictatorship. My father, at the age of 20, was given a life sentence of being an anti-communist, and spent two years in a prison coal mine. So, I arrived to Washington with a sense that I was adequately cynical. I had no idea.

When you sit inside the Situation Room, or you sit inside an NSC videoconference facility, with members of the inter-agencies sitting at the table, and then out-stations, DIA, CIA, Department of Defense, so on and so forth, and you’re talking about a very important policy issue, at the highest level of U.S. government (policy coordination inside the NSC) and you just listen for an hour, hour and a half. And not one person in the room, or on the outstations, mentions the name of the president, what his objectives are, given the relevant issue, or what he said yesterday in Warsaw, we have a problem, Houston. Especially when you see that happen again and again and again.

And then, it’s left up to me, the guy with the funny accent, to remind everybody in the room, and on the outstations, “You do know what the president said yesterday about ISIS?” Or, “You do what he said yesterday about illegal immigration?” The lone wolf voice had to remind him. That’s the “permanent state.” It’s the GS15, who’s been at the State Department for 20 years, and thinks he knows better than the individual who was elected to run the federal government. This is something that will take years for us to rectify, but we shall.

War Rightly Understood
Second topic I’d like to talk about is based upon what I heard yesterday. You always plan great speeches, and then you hear people like Professor [Larry] Arnn, and then you have to throw it all out and start again. So, I’d like to address what the good professor said yesterday about war, and the great lessons we must learn from true statesmen like Churchill. Statecraft is dead. We haven’t had statesmen or women since the 1980s as far as I’m concerned. I grew up under Maggie Thatcher; she was a hero to me, as was the Gipper.

Let’s just ruminate for a moment on this word “war.” War is not a word you wish to use lightly; Churchill was absolutely right. But we must differentiate between different types of war. We are not in a total war. We don’t have children today collecting aluminum soda cans so we can build bombers. That’s total war. However … However, there are people who are engaged with war, in war, with us right now. And that’s, to begin with, irregular warfare. What groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda are doing on the streets of Boston, on the streets of Nice, on the streets of Orlando, is a form of warfare. It’s not “total war” in the Clausewitzian sense, but it is war.

And one of the reasons that I decided to assist the president, was in the first five minutes of meeting him in 2015, I realized that this is a man who understands we are at war with a new totalitarian enemy. Global jihadism is a form of totalitarianism. It has a connective tissue; it has a shared gene code with the fascists and the Nazis of the past, with the Communists of the Cold War. Why? Because you cannot negotiate with Abul Bakr al-Baghdadi, just as you cannot negotiate with Hitler. They will either kill or enslave you. Period. When I met Donald Trump, I understood immediately, this is not only a man who understands we are at war; he also wishes to win that war. And that is very refreshing.

But there are other forms of warfare we must be familiar with. There is political warfare, and there is the information operations. And we are being targeted right now. I’m not going to get into, you know, the Russia collusion delusion, but the fact is … What does my friend Kellyanne call it? The Russian Concussion. But the fact is, anybody who is surprised that Russia wanted to influence an election in a Western democracy has been asleep since 1917. That’s what the Kremlin does.

And the fact is, Russia has fine-tuned the tools it developed during the Cold War, which were called “maskirovka disinformazia.” And it is using them today in the cyber domain. This isn’t about Hillary. This isn’t about Podesta. This is about Russia’s tradecraft for the last, what is it? 100 years, with the anniversary this year. And we must take it seriously. We don’t. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been through in the Pentagon, where, when you said the word “political warfare,” people get all jittery. I mean, we did this. The OSS wasn’t a special forces organization. The OSS was a political warfare organization. We need to understand who’s using it against us, and to respond against it.

Economic Warfare: “One Belt, One Road”
And then lastly, the thing that … the scales fell off my eyes during my month in the White House, thanks to Steve Bannon, because of what I learned about economic warfare. I was brought in to talk about counter-terrorism, and represent the president in the media. But, if we have a long-term threat to this nation, it’s not the jihadists. We will deal with the jihadists. There will be no stone-upon-stone left, eventually. What we have to understand is what China is doing to us in the economic domain. And the rank, abject surrender that our private sector, especially Silicon Valley, and many partitions in this city have demonstrated by saying, “Oh, Chinese money; that’s like anybody else’s money. That’s fine; their money’s green, too.” Wrong. When Apple decides to put its latest artificial intelligence research center in China, that means China has successfully executed economic warfare against us.

And we need to take this seriously. If you don’t believe me, after this event, go home and Google one phrase. “One Belt, One Road.” “One Belt, One Road.” The Communist party of China looks at the last 100 years as the anomaly in more than 5,000 years of history. They see it as an embarrassment, and that it will return to its rightful place as the hegemonic power in the world, and it has an overt plan to do so. It’s not classified; Google it. “One Belt, One Road.” They know how to do strategy, and they are executing on that strategy, and the sooner we wake up, the better.

Does Ideology Look Dead to You?
So where does that leave us, with regards to future foreign and national security policy? Well, number one, we must remind ourselves that Francis Fukuyama was very wrong. When that former neo-con wrote, I think it was in 1991, a famous book that turned into an article, “The End of History and the Last Man” his argument was a very seductive one. “We defeated all the totalitarians. We defeated the fascists, now we defeated the Soviet Union, therefore the future of mankind is determined.” It was actually a quite Hegelian argument, yes? It was a natural progression of the dialectic. He said the future of mankind is (I’m going to date myself here) is simply a question of twiddling with the buttons on your graphic equalizer of democracy. You’re just going to have to fine-tune the bass, the treble … and it’s … There’s no serious threats; we’ve defeated all of them. It’s just about fine-tuning.

His argument was “ideology is dead.” That’s what we were told in 1991. Ideology is dead. I ask you today: If you listen to the president’s speech that he gave an hour ago at the U.N. If you look at North Korea, if you look at Venezuela, if you look at Iran, if you look at Russia, and tell me that ideology is dead, then I’ll check whether you’ve got a heartbeat and whether you’re breathing.

Ideology is reborn. Not in a bipolar sense, but there is a connective tissue that links Venezuela to Iran, to ISIS, to Russia, to China. They’re not all Communists; they’re not all jihadis. But their one ideological connection is that they all wish to undermine or destroy us. Iran . . . I totally agree that the threat from North Korea is a very serious one, as we heard last night, but Iran is more serious. Why? Because our last administration facilitated a regime that wished to destroy us. $150 billion. Signed a deal that doesn’t stop them from getting nuclear weapons; it mildly delays them.

To quote a survivor of the Holocaust, an old man who’d seen his whole family die in the labor camps and in the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, some facile reporter asked him one day, “What is your take-home from the last six years of the Holocaust? What’s your big lessons learned?” And he said, “Oh, that’s easy. There’s one lesson learned. When a group of people repeatedly says they will destroy you, sooner or later you should take them seriously.”

We need to take Iran seriously. And everybody else, who not only verbally is committed to our destruction, but is working on ways to acquire the capability to effect that destruction.

Neither Isololationist Nor Neo-Conservative
So, we need to understand that, on the Right, we have been far too superficial in our understanding of foreign policy. In the run-up to the election, the reason I actually agreed to work with Donald Trump initially was, I’d had enough of people saying, “On the Right, you only have two options when it comes to national security. You must be an isolationist, like the libertarians; pull down the shutters on the Pacific coast, and the Atlantic coast, and we’ll be fine.” (Just like we were in Pearl Harbor.) And the other option is, “Oh, if you don’t want to do that, if you don’t want to be a libertarian, you’ve got to be a dastardly neo-con and invade everybody’s country, and create democracy at the end of a gun battle.” Well, there’s a massive scale in between. There’s a massive palette of true statecraft between isolationism and neo-conservatism. And that’s who this president is.

I have been in the Oval; I’m not talking out of school, but when the president tells me one-on-one, “I do not wish to go to war with Korea,” that’s reassuring. He understands the consequences of his actions. But at the same time, when he sees men and women gassed to death in Syria, he’s prepared to take action. We didn’t talk about red lines; we didn’t bloviate; we acted. And the day after that attack, I bumped into the vice president as I was coming out of the West Wing, and he stopped, and he said to me (the day after the cruise missile attack) … Well, firstly he said to me was, “What do you think about last night? Go Navy!” Seriously, he said, “Go Navy!” And then he said, very seriously, “So, what do you think? Do you think they got the message about gassing unarmed women and children?” And I said, “Yes, Mr. Vice President. I think the world got the message.”

Defend America First, Defend the West
Strategic patience, leading from behind, created a Dantean inferno across the globe, which we inherited. We understand; it’s all about reckless application of force, but use of force when it is needed. But only in the national interest of the United States. That’s what “America First” means. I commend to you … I know the individuals who wrote it … If you haven’t closely done so, please go back to the president’s Warsaw speech. Because the president’s Warsaw speech is a reaffirmation of Judeo-Christian civilizational values, and a statement that we will not export, by force, our political system, but we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone that shares our Judeo-Christian values, whether it’s Poland, or whether it’s Belgium. Anyone. That’s who the president is.

The impediment, along the way, is the managerial elite. That’s the biggest obstacle. That’s the technical term for the swamp. They have a default ideology, which is really anti-national sovereignty. Cloaking itself in postmodern sophistication. Organizations like Hillsdale can pierce though that ideological default setting and remind us of the existence of objective truth, which I think is the basis of why blue-collar steelworkers in Youngstown, Ohio, who are registered Democrats, voted for a billionaire from New York. They may not know the difference between Sunni and Shia, but they know that something is rotten in the kingdom of Denmark, and therefore they voted the way they voted.

We have to return to true statecraft. I’m very excited about what I heard yesterday; the masters in government at Hillsdale will be pursuing. Because, to quote one of our greatest presidents, for the time we are living in right now, “As our case is new, so we must think anew.” Abraham Lincoln. We must think anew because this city is as intellectually bankrupt as it is morally. If we do so, then we … Let me quote Imprimis, a speech by a certain presidential candidate who’s now the Commander in Chief. “What is needed in Washington is a president who will rein in the executive branch, and work with Congress to make sure the legislative branch does its job.” That is Donald J. Trump’s objective. And if we help him to be successful; if Hillsdale can help him to be successful; if the graduates sorted across the administration can help him to be successful, then we will be able, once more, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves, and our posterity. Thank you.

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Administrative State • America • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Immigration • self-government • separation of powers • The Constitution

DACA: The Civil Rights Issue of All Time

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For Democrats, President Trump’s proposal to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is the civil rights issue of our time. No exaggeration. Just read  Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who posted a blistering partisan attack on Facebook:

The emotional and economic toll of President Trump’s cruel immigration policies was plain to see, as DREAMers and their loved ones came forward to share powerful accounts of the chaos that has gripped their families thanks to this administration’s callous actions.

One hardly wonders if there is more to Blumenthal’s interest in “Dreamers” than civil rights. Latino votes are essential to the Democrats’ success in Connecticut, reliably delivering big margins in places like Bridgeport and New Haven. Adding “Dreamers” to voter rolls may just save Connecticut Democrats from a “woke” electorate that realizes it is being done in by a financial crisis of the Democrats’ making.

Connecticut is in a race with Illinois to fiscal insolvency, with deficits exploding, pensions upside-down, taxes climbing, flagship corporate residents fleeing, and the city of Hartford on the verge of filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Visiting New Haven earlier this week, Blumenthal had no word on federal legislation he’s sponsoring that might arrest Connecticut’s rapid decline. Instead, he’s pandering to illegal immigrants.

Yet in a larger sense, DACA is the most important civil rights issue of all time. The right of a people to govern themselves is no modern problem. The political story of ancient Israel can be said to turn on two events: exodus, the geographical escape from bondage, and kings, a return to bondage of a different sort.

Recall the lines from 1 Samuel 8: “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

God warns the Israelites of the future abuses of monarchical power. But the people of Israel insist. There are ups (David and Solomon) and downs (Ahab and Jezebel), but the story is mostly an unhappy one, as God foretold.

Congress, too, has wanted a king. Even before Trump’s election, Congress has not been willing to bear the full burden of its offices. It’s fair to say Congress has made a habit of not legislating. Most of its major accomplishments—the Affordable Care Act, for example, or the Dodd-Frank banking “reform” law—are not sound legislation at all, but delegations of broad power to the executive. Moreover, they were spearheaded and driven by the executive branch. Lawmakers don’t make laws, but rather fashion new customs more suited to the rule of a distant, unwieldy administrative state.

While there should be—there will be—a fight over The Wall, a promise the president must dare not break—Trump supporters should not lose sight of the central issue in ending DACA: the right of people to govern themselves, to have their laws made by a representative legislature, and by no one else.

Under DACA, immigrants who were not lawfully in the United States before this executive order became de facto lawful by virtue of this decree from on high which declared that the executive would not enforce the law.  

DACA provides that certain applicants, who under the law are subject to deportation but who can prove (1) they were brought to the United States before they were 16, (2) have lived there continuously since June 15, 2007, and (3) are enrolled in high school or college or serve in the military, would be issued identification permitting them to remain and work in the United States for up to two years (renewable thereafter for additional two-year periods). President Obama based his authority to issue the DACA executive order on the limited resources of his office to enforce deportations, thus prioritizing such deportations last (i.e., deferred).

The transparent object of DACA, however, is to create a legal status for a class of immigrants that Congress has unambiguously said are not lawfully in the United States.

Every day that DACA continues to exist hardens the usurpation by the executive of the powers delegated to Congress by the Constitution. It matters not that Congress is a willing partner in this usurpation. They haven’t the authority under law to shrug their lawmaking power or responsibility in this way. Article I of the Constitution states unequivocally: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” DACA deprives each citizen of the United States of the civil right to have their laws made by the representatives they elect to Congress, on a matter of fundamental importance: who can be a resident of the United States.

One does not get to the question of whether the law can be better until one first gets to the question of who makes the law. DACA obscures this preeminent question that defines who we are. DACA is an extraordinarily cruel deception that baits the American people to depart from their most important ethos.

Once Trump announced the end to DACA in six months, the only fair-minded question was: Can we do it sooner? Trump intends that a Democratic coalition in Congress will send him legislation either affirming DACA or some variation thereof as law. If not, DACA simply will end. But when one or the other happens, Trump will have partly rehabilitated Congress to its Article I responsibilities—the question of what happens to so-called “Dreamers” being a secondary and political one.

As for The Wall, the Republican establishment, not Trump, should be the object of contempt. Republican establishment figures in and outside of Congress spurned their elected leader, and now find themselves in the de facto minority party because the President is insistent on, of all things, governing. That means working with the party that can, in fact, form a majority. This is part of what I warned about when I wrote in June that “The waters and the Egyptians will not wait forever.” Trump is rushing into the parted waters, taking whoever will follow him. The GOP still has the opportunity to play the central role in this drama, to form a functioning majority, and to give their constituents the Wall they have called upon them to provide. Or they can stand there, mouths agape, while opportunities like a Republican majority in Connecticut slip away.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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2016 Election • America • Congress • Conservatives • Economy • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • Infrastructure • Obama • separation of powers • The Constitution • Trump White House

Ending DACA is a Win for American Workers

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The battle over illegal immigration just kicked into high gear, as President Trump has decided to scrap Barack Obama’s ill-conceived and unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The administration will, however, delay enforcement for six months, so as to give Congress time to act. This is stellar news—a big win American workers and the rule of law.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday explained the administration’s rationale for ending the program. “To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here,” Sessions said. “That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.”

“This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way,” Sessions added. “It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.”

DACA has long been seen by those vociferously opposed to illegal immigration as Obama’s greatest betrayal of the American people—it is de facto amnesty to say nothing of an unconstitutional overreach of presidential authority. President Trump campaigned in part on ending the program. 

‘Renewable Amnesty’
For those not familiar with DACA, here is the run-down: President Obama signed an executive order in June 2012 that
allowed all illegal aliens who arrived in America before they were age 16 to apply for legal work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and made them eligible for earned income-tax credits. Enrollment must be renewed every two years. Since 2012, nearly 800,000 illegal aliens have taken advantage of the program. Most of them were adults. Essentially, DACA grants participants the rights and privileges normally associated with legal entry into America: it is renewable amnesty. The dangers of DACA are manifold and (should be) self-evident, but they are worth revisiting in light of recent events—if only to strengthen our resolve.

The biggest problem with DACA is that it undermines the rule of law—and not simply the trouble caused by granting legal status to those who have none. The problem is even more fundamental. In signing DACA, President Obama overstepped the bounds of his authority and violated the sacrosanct division of powers laid out in the Constitution. DACA was, and is, a usurpation of legislative power—it is a knife in Congress’ back (though in relieving the pressure lawmakers seem to feel about actually legislating on matters concerning immigration, it appears to be a welcome one).

This republic was constructed according to several axioms, one being that different arms of government have different parts to play, and that each arm checks and balances the others. Congress is the seat of legislative authority. It makes, amends, and repeals laws. Congress also has power of the purse. The office of the president is the seat of executive authority; the president enforces the law and serves as our commander-in-chief (in addition to having a number of atavistic powers inherited from the British Crown for convenience’s sake).

President Obama pushed DACA because Congress was unwilling to legislate on the subject—as was the legislative branch’s prerogative. The president does not have the right to create stopgap legislation like DACA, and the fact the DACA has remained in place this long is a testament to Congress’ weakness. Ironically, even Obama was aware of this, at least theoretically. Obama himself said in 2011, “for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.” That is correct. Trump must scrap DACA to restore some semblance of balance to our government.

Bad Incentive, Bad Precedent
DACA also created an enormous incentive for people to enter the United States illegally—as might be expected with any other form of amnesty. DACA sends a clear message to the millions of poor who would migrate to America: beat our border guards in a game of “Red Rover” and we will (eventually) let you stay.

Amnesty is not a solution, it is part of the problem—it transforms America into a giant lure. The evidence for this is overwhelming: it is no secret that DACA caused an unprecedented spike in youth migration into America. Likewise, recall how the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted 2.7 million people legal status, set off the greatest tidal wave of illegal immigration in U.S. history. At the time, President Reagan said amnesty would be a one-time-only fix. Now compare that to the approach President Eisenhower took when he deported nearly 3 million illegal migrants: no more came for some 30 years.

Incentives matter. DACA is counter-productive: it simply creates more of the problem it is designed to address.

Finally, President Trump is right to scrap DACA on economic grounds. Why? Supply and demand.

Consider the apple market: if the supply of apples increases, what happens? The price of apples goes down. But if a stiff frost kills off most the apples, leading to a shortage, the price of apples rises since there are fewer apples to go around.

Labor markets work the same way: more workers mean lower wages, fewer workers mean higher wages. DACA adds some 720,000 legal workers into the U.S. market—these people compete with American workers, driving down wages and boosting unemployment. This is axiomatic: even the pro-DACA Cato Institute acknowledges this fact, saying that American companies will begin “recruiting, hiring, and training” Americans to fill the void.

Theory aside, the evidence for this fact is overwhelming. Before Hurricane Harvey, President Trump’s crackdown on illegal aliens had already caused wages for construction workers to rise by 30 percent (half of Texas’ construction workers were illegal aliens). In light of recent events, their wages will likely rise even higher—but we can still attribute a significant portion of said rise to labor market constrictions.

Likewise, towns in Maine were forced to hire American workers after the availability of visas for temporary foreign workers declined. What happened? Unemployment decreased, wages increased, and working conditions improved in order to attract American workers—all good things. Illegal labor has completely undermined U.S. labor markets, and hurt millions of American citizens; the only people benefiting are the very rich. Illegal immigration is bad for the economy: this is an empirical fact, not a point of contention.

For five long years, DACA has enshrined the rights of illegal aliens and in effect put them above those of American citizens. It is a slap in the face to Congress, the rule of law, and the common man. President Trump’s decision to scrap DACA, if he follows through, should go down as one of the highlights of his presidency.

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America • American Conservatism • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • GOPe • Hillary Clinton • Immigration • Political Parties • separation of powers • Terrorism • Trump White House

Jeff Flake’s Flaky ‘Conservatism’

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U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has written a terrible screed against Donald Trump posing as a conservative, arguing that Trump must be toppled or the Republican Party will suffer dire electoral consequences next year and in the years to come.

Flake blames the current state of affairs on the GOP’s tolerance for certain “marginal figures” within it. He half-heartedly blames himself for not doing enough to isolate those radicals because their unchallenged presence has apparently given rise to Trump.

And who is Flake’s authority explaining the current woes of the Republican party? The sanctimonious Michael Gerson. Our compassionate bleeding-heart Republican can find none of those characteristics when he writes, “The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and “with the blessings of a president . . . have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.” That assessment seems rather brutish. But Flake and Gerson whine in sackcloth and ashes that the End is Near. If only Trump would stop tweeting, we might not have to build a political ark to carry us over the flood waters sure to come. However, Gerson and the political classes of both parties have little to offer us in the way meaningful policy change and they have not for decades.

Flake demonstrates his trivial concerns by focusing on failed politicians who did not have an answer to the leftward drift in the country likely because they were, like Flake, more in agreement with the premises of the Left than the principles of the American Founders. This is why Flake ultimately supported Hillary Clinton for president. So craven was his disdain for all things Trump he even appeared in a Clinton campaign ad, which called Trump “unfit” and “dangerous.” He praised Clinton’s pick of Tim Kaine for vice president, calling him a “good man” and a “good friend.”

The Democrats and Obamacare are not a problem for Flake. Nor is the criminal activity of Hillary Clinton (her solicitation of Ukraine for electoral assistance, for example), Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s burgeoning data scandal, spying on political opponents, or the connection of the so called Steele “dossier” to the Russian government and the Democratic Party.

No. Flake thinks Russia is the problem and that the “Russian menace” is as much of a threat as it was in 1964. Is he serious? If he is, then vapid is his middle name.

Flake ignores the threats of jihadist terror to our national interest; the nuclear ambitions of North Korea; the expansion of the Chinese into territorial waters and the threats to our ally Japan; the problem with domestic terrorism in the form of MS-13; the potential for more Islamic terrorism as lawless judges strike down the ability of this country to protect its border;, and the list could go on. Yet Flake thinks we are living under the threat of the old Soviet Union, equating the Russian Bear with the Russian Federation. This is cannot be what Publius believed would pass for thoughtful reflection in the Senate.

Flake has always been a Never Trumper, and is probably more worried that Trump is actively supporting challengers to the senator in his home state. However, even if Flake’s ire is personal, it still places him in the same camp as those Rush Limbaugh has said want a silent coup. His startling ignorance of the current state of affairs and his support for a party and a system that beg for the overthrow of the American electorate helps explain why he is trailing in at least one poll. How he expects to win another election while chastising the electorate for being so stupid to elect Trump defies reason.

Publius wrote that “no government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable.” Flake has demonstrated in only a few short years that he has diminished himself by his intemperate remarks and his disregard for our national character. He no longer deserves our respect.

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Electoral College • GOPe • Republicans • separation of powers • The Culture • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Resistance (Snicker)

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence

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In a perfect and disinterested world, when Washington, D.C. is deluged in scandal, a nonpartisan investigator or prosecutor should survey the contemporary rotten landscape. He would then distinguish the likely guilty from the probably falsely accused—regardless of the political consequences at stake.

In the real cosmos of Washington, however, the majority party—the group that controls the House, Senate, presidency, and U.S. Supreme Court—if it were necessary, would de facto appoint the government’s own special investigatory team, and then allow it to follow where leads dictate. Its majority status would assure that there were no political opponents in control of the investigations, keen on turning an inquiry into a political circus. That cynical reality is known as normal D.C. politics.

But in contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry—a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.

Is naiveté the cause of such laxity? Do Republicans unilaterally follow Munich rules because they hope such protocols will create a new “civility” and “bipartisan cooperation” in Washington?

Demonizing Resistance 
Or is the culprit civil dissension among the ranks, as the congressional leadership secretly has no real incentive to help the despised outsider Trump? When Republicans get re-elected on repealing and replacing Obamacare during the assured Obama veto-presidency, and then flip in the age of surety that Trump would reify their campaign boasts, should we laugh or cry? Is the Republican establishment’s aim to see Trump’s agenda rendered null and void—or does intent even matter when the result is the same anyway?

Or is the empowerment of progressive conspiracy-mongering due to fear of the mainstream media, which demonizes principled resistance to progressivism and lauds unprincipled surrender to it?

Or, lastly, is the cause a bewildering misreading of human nature? I say “bewildering” because conservatives supposedly brag that they are the more astute students of unchanging human nature, while progressives are purportedly naïve believers in therapeutic remedies to perceived human frailties?

If any of the above, the Republicans had better soon wise up. For eight months, progressives have swarmed the media and our politics with false charges of Russian collusion, aimed at delegitimizing both a president and his conservative agenda.

In a logical world in which Republicans enjoy monopolies on political power, they would have dispensed with the progressive strategy of emasculating the Trump administration through endlessly hyped fake news accounts of quid pro quo Russia-Trump subversion. And they would have done so by themselves taking the offensive.

Endlessly refuting each week’s new progressive charges—no, Donald Trump did not watch sick sex acts with prostitutes in Moscow; no, Donald Trump did not send his lawyer to Eastern Europe to rig the election; no, three swing states did not have their voting machines rigged; no, the electors will not betray their constitutional responsibilities; no, Trump is not going to be removed through impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or the Emoluments Clause—achieves nothing but to undermine public confidence in the conservative effort to undo the Obama agenda. They are no more serious stories than the scandal sheet allegations that Trump shorts his guests a scoop of Häagen-Dazs, that his wife is an illegal alien, or that his son is autistic. Apparently, Republicans don’t get it that when a president is smeared as watching urine-porn in Moscow or getting Russian hush money for undermining Hillary’s campaign, then the abyss between such charges and assassination chic in the popular media, is considerably narrowed.

Go Full-Bore on Real Scandals
The salvation of both the Trump Administration and the Republican congressional fate in the 2018 elections is to reestablish political deterrence—accomplished by going on a full-fledged offensive against real, not merely perceived or alleged, political scandals. Only that way will the accusers feel the predicament of the accused, especially as there is real merit to Democratic liability in a way that charges of Trump collusion have largely proved a political fraud. Only when deterrence is achieved, will the Democrats be forced to concentrate on agendas, issues, laws, and messages, not on ambushing the president.

The Republicans should announce far more forcefully to the media that Vladimir Putin may have been funneling via shady third-parties millions of dollars to anti-fracking groups. Such collusion, if proven through investigation, really is treasonous—given that the crashing price of oil, brought about solely due to North American frackers, is about the only check on Putin’s ambitions that the West enjoys. So, to take one example, did the San Francisco-based, family-controlled, and hedge-funded Sea Change Foundation receive laundered Russian money to help enhance its anti-fracking messaging? If so, when, how, and who?

Secondly, Republicans should go full bore on the most explosive scandal of the age, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into the surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of American citizens by key members of the Obama Administration, likely done for perceived political advantages.

Rather than envisioning the ethical Devin Nunes as a liability to be controlled, the House leadership should see him as an asset to be encouraged to uncover inconvenient truths—especially given that progressives see the unprincipled Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as a resource in hiding a scandal. After all, what in the world was the self-righteous and self-described civil libertarian and humanitarian Samantha Power doing, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in allegedly reading, unmasking, and leaking intelligence reports on conservative private citizens during a national campaign?

Thirdly, we forget that Hillary Clinton’s scandals were terminated not by exonerating investigations, but by the fact that she lost a presidential campaign, and thus they were no longer deemed disruptive of an election.

No one has ever really understood exactly why Russian interests paid such lucrative honoraria to Bill Clinton or gave so lavishly to the Clinton Foundation, or why they cut an advantageous deal to acquire substantial interests in North American uranium holdings, but apparently did not prove so generous both before and after Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and her announced presidential candidacy. When Clinton not only destroyed requested emails, but also lied that they were all neither classified nor connected to government business, and faced no consequences at a time when regular citizens went to jail for such transgressions, then there is no equality under the law left to speak of.

Fourthly, what an Orwellian world it is when progressives allege “obstruction of justice” (which  Mueller’s burgeoning team of lawyers is apparently investigating) in the case of Donald Trump’s sloppy, off-handed, and out-loud wishes to FBI Director James Comey that he hoped “good guy” Michael Flynn did not get ruined by a loose investigation.

Yet obstruction is not much pursued even when no one seems to deny that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch met stealthily for private discussions with the spouse of a suspect of a current Justice investigation (subsequently dropped), and when she unapologetically seems to have directed the self-described moralist, Director Comey again, to alter the nomenclature of his ongoing investigation of fellow Democrat and presidential candidate Clinton (and Comey shamelessly acceded to Lynch’s detailed requests).

Fifthly, there is the surreal case of Imran Awan and his tribal clan, the frauds, cheats, and possible blackmailers, who worked as techies for Democratic congressional representatives and in particular for former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz apparently maintained some unfathomable relationship with the disreputable Awan that would force her into utterly untenable positions to protect his skullduggery. And unlike other allegations of collusion, the Florida congresswoman appears on video unapologetically threatening the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” unless he returns computer data concerning possible crimes to Awan.

Reestablish Deterrence or Lose
Finally, no one has ever fully gotten to the bottom of
the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier, the fountainhead (thanks to Buzzfeed and CNN) of the entire Russia-Trump collusion mythos.

The much passed-around file was one of the most repugnant episodes in our recent checkered history, with evidence of ethical and perhaps legal wrongdoing on the part of Republican primary candidates, the Clinton campaign, the office of Senator John McCain, the FBI, and the Obama administration, who all at various times trafficked in preposterous and pornographic untruth, in some cases leaked the smears to the toady press, and apparently believed that it was the silver bullet that would put down the Trump werewolf.

Reestablishing deterrence—or what a mellifluous constitutional scholar and recent Nobel Peace Laureate once variously called “taking a gun to a knife fight,” “getting in their faces,” and “punishing our enemies”—is not quite Old Testament eye-for-an-eye, but rather, given human nature, the only way to stop a progressive and media lynch mob.

In the old West, a sheriff did not save those falsely accused in his jail by walking outside to the street to calm an armed and frenzied hanging mob through reason and appeals to sobriety.

Content created by The Center for American Greatness, Inc is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Americanism • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Political Parties • political philosophy • Religion and Society • Republicans • separation of powers • The Culture • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Killing the Gods of the City

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On Thursday, the world was ending. Or at least, that is what you would have thought from watching the news.

President Trump made a policy decision without consulting all the right experts and getting the right approvals. Even worse, he tweeted it out (Oh Lordy!). David French is aghast (big surprise), and even though the policy change is remarkable and conservative, he has found a reason to complain. No one knew how to interpret the President’s guidance because it was sent through Twitter.

Meanwhile, across town Congress was flailing about in total pandemonium. It was a “wild day in Washington” with the “vote-a-rama” says Bret Baier. First, senators would not vote for a bill that they had once touted and supported (knowing it would be vetoed) because now they knew it would be signed and they would be held accountable for the contents. Then, senators demanded assurances that bills they vote to pass would not be accepted by the House. (I am starting to think there is a problem here.)

To make matters stranger, Republicans offered socialist amendments for the Democrats to vote for, but the Democrats didn’t vote for them. No one knew what to do about healthcare, and the Capitol building looked like some dressed up version of the Hunger Games—verbal knives and arrows are flying, and it is every man for himself. Congress was a mess.

“Amazing and Vulgar” Among the Swine
Down South, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was said to be hurt by the president’s words (though Sessions seems to be taking it fairly well), and up North senators were threatening that there will be “
holy hell to pay” if the President fires his own appointees. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was talking tough (like a real adult, I’m sure he’d say): “if you’re thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the Atty General [sic], forget about it.” Everything was a train wreck, and we were way off Trump’s agenda.

To top it all off, scary Anthony Scaramucci had said some mean things to a reporter that were then published. The language used “was a jaw dropper,” it “was just unbelievable,” according to Martha McCallum. “Amazing and vulgar,” said Kevin Corke. You would think from the reaction of the D.C. elites and media pundits that they had never heard a man who is angry talk before. Staffers were living in fear for their safety afterward. Worse, no one in the White House knew if he or she would have a job the next day. Oh, the humanity!

The White House is in flames, says the media. Everything is on fire. Chaos!

In other words, the administration is coming apart and the capital is burning. Trump is slaying sacred cows and, in the words of American Greatness Senior Editor Julie Ponzi, he is killing the gods of the city and no one knows what to do. The only thing anybody knows is that the things we are seeing have never been done before and Donald Trump is refusing to follow any of the proper conventions (if he even knows what they are . . . tsk tsk).

The media—the cornerstone of the establishment—is doing its best to make it clear to the American people that they ought to be wringing their hands about all of this. Chaos reigns in the imperial city, and Trump is to blame. Nothing is getting done, and everything is terrible.

Of course, this is all poppycock.

The Turmoil We Need
People should not be upset; they should be
enjoying this. The Trump effect is a good thing. He is doing exactly what he said he would do and exactly what people elected him to do. Newsflash to the Beltway establishment: Americans who elected Trump do not worship the current gods of the city. They know you’re responsible for killing the old ones and they wish to return the favor now. We want your gods dead. That is sort of what “drain the swamp” means. And, as Trump points out repeatedly: in America (at least in the middle part) we don’t worship government; we worship God. As in the one true God.

Think of the glory of it all. This is the fight we have been waiting for. This is the turmoil we need.

The president is making common sense policy decisions that don’t need the backing of long reports authored by “experts” (backing that he wouldn’t have received, by the way). It is almost as if he thinks the people should rule, not supposed expertise. Kind of neat, huh? This will undoubtedly result in pushback from bureaucrats and “experts,” and timid culture warriors who apparently enjoy self-emasculation or have realized (incorrectly) that they have more to gain from maintaining the status quo.

This was to be expected. How else could it go down? The Left wasn’t going to go down quietly or peacefully, no matter how we approached the fight. They are not open to persuasion or willing to tolerate our worldview if only we agree to voice it quietly. They will fight no matter how you do it—this way, everything is right out in the open and the people can see their common sense up against what passes for expertise.

Congress is struggling and striving to do things and new leaders are emerging with new techniques and new approaches to solve problems. No, they have not repealed and replaced Obamacare yet. But by golly, wasn’t it fun to watch them try? Yes, the Republican Party looks awfully useless, but thinking or pretending otherwise did not help us. Seeing it, right out in the open, is exactly what we need—you can’t cure a disease unless you can see what the sickness is.

Look at what we get to watch. The previous leaders have been exposed as complete frauds and backroom deals have failed. News reporters are chugging coffee and looking haggard, staying up late to cover marathon debate sessions from a Senate that was supposed to be in recess. The last few days have been filled with vote tallies and reports of who voted for or against what. And Congress is being held accountable for doing Congress’s job. Isn’t that something?

This is what politics looks like.

After the Gods Are Dead, Then What?
And in the White House, we have real people saying real things. The establishment types are on the wrong side of everything, and outsiders are shoving their way in with gusto. Trump said he was going to bring in
politically incorrect people, and this is what it looks like. Frankly, I think it is great. Pious D.C. elites who have worshiped at the altar of the establishment would never be caught talking this way. They also wouldn’t do or say anything useful.

That these people say bad words when they are angry is not so shocking to people who get angry. If the situation in Washington doesn’t make you spitting mad, if nothing can make you indignant, including injustice or cowardice, you might be a D.C. Republican. But most Americans are not of that breed.

Is not the situation worthy of indignation and rage? The sissy gods of piety and propriety are being slaughtered by the manly gods of Achilles and Odysseus. We should love it!

And if Attorney General Sessions can’t figure out how to get after draining the swamp, he should be taken to task. If he wants to be stroked and hugged (though I doubt that’s the case), he should resign and go do something else. This is a war against the gods of the city, and they won’t die easily. We need a Hercules or a Prometheus in the Justice Department, not a Narcissus. The swamp won’t drain itself. The American people should be glad that Trump is willing to criticize Sessions for not getting after it and love that he is doing so right out in public. Who cares if it has not been done this way before (meaning only that it isn’t the norm in our emasculated age of the administrative state)—that is kind of the point! The conventions of the past need to be reconsidered and some need to die.

Everywhere you look, you see change. What the members of the establishment call chaos is really the destruction of their way of doing things. As Kipling once wrote, extended prostrations to false gods require a course correction that is full of “terror and slaughter.” Human nature being what it is, these changes are never clean or easy. But critics should be clear, the disruption and change is not distracting from Trump’s agenda; it is Trump’s agenda.

Trump vowed to “take the brand of the United States and make it great again.” Part of that is being a cheerleader with a return to the rhetoric of the past in which American patriots are honored, good citizens are praised, and freedom and independence are held up as high things. But words alone will not set us free—“we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again.” To make real change, Trump has to upend the way things were done. He has to take on the powers that be. He has to do things we have never seen done before. He has to fight.

All of this reminds one of the scene in “The Dark Knight” in which Alfred compares the Joker to a man he once hunted down in Burma. To many people, President Trump is the Joker—someone who just wants to watch the world burn. But this is exactly backwards. Trump is trying to rein in the tyranny and lawlessness of strong men. The establishment are the thieves who can buy the support of an entire area. Trump knows that sometimes to do this, you just have to burn the forest down and rebuild.

President Trump is burning D.C. to the ground. All conventions are meaningless, and he makes no sacrifices to the Progressive gods of the city. God bless him for it. That is what we sent him there to do, because the gods of establishment politics are petty, tyrannical, and worthy of contempt; their priests are corrupt; and the conventions are oppressive. What comes after these gods is anyone’s guess, but if we want to replace them we have to kill them first.

Those who recall better gods ought to get on board and stop resisting those who are willing and capable of performing this messy and necessary work. For when it is done, they will have their work cut out for them.

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Administrative State • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Deep State • Democrats • Intelligence Community • Obama • Russia • separation of powers • Terrorism • The Constitution • The Leviathian State • The Media

Unmasking All Night and Leaking Every Day

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As a veteran of the KISS Army, I recall (albeit vaguely) the great mystery about what the makeup caked quartet actually looked like in what for Rock stars passes for real life. There was singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley (a.k.a. Starchild); singer bassist Gene Simmons (a.k.a. Demon); lead guitarist Ace Frehley (a.k.a. Spaceman); and drummer Peter Criss (a.k.a. Catman). Then, their eighth studio album—the last produced by this original lineup (until 1996 anyway)—was announced: KISS “Unmasked”! Finally, the mystery of what they looked like would be solved!

Or not.

Despite the album’s title, no unmasking occurred; consequently, the ranks of the KISS Army swelled with the mixed emotions of disappointment and relief—much the same as fans felt toward the band’s record, which Stanley called “a pretty crappy album. It’s wimpy.” Listeners were disappointed with the disc, and relieved when it was over. Regardless, the KISS Army was delighted that, by not unmasking themselves, KISS’s original show would go on!

Until 1983, anyway, when lineup shakeups led to a reconstituted Kiss sandblasting off their stage personas and appearing as themselves at an MTV press conference for their latest contribution to Western Civilization, the album “Lick It Up.”

It was a startling development for the KISS Army; and a difficult decision for KISS. Not only did the band risk alienating fans by rebranding with reality, they also would lose some of the precious anonymity their alter egos afforded.

Yet to this day KISS still packs concert venues with fans who also “wanna rock and roll all night and party every day,” ultimately, for the band this unmasking was the right decision.

And it was their decision.

Good thing they decided to unmask themselves prior to the Obama Administration, which apparently would have been more than happy to do it for them whether the band liked it or not.

To wit:

Fulfilling his and the House Intelligence Committee’s oversight responsibilities, on July 27 Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) informed Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats that illegal leaks of classified information and allegations based upon them—whether true or false—by “current and former administration officials” have “undermined our political processes and emboldened and aided our adversaries.”

Further, Nunes noted these criminal leaks “damage our national security and are an affront to the brave men and women who serve in silence within the Intelligence Community.” And, he ominously added, such criminal leaks imperil not just the collection of information but, most importantly, the lives of intelligence sources.

Still conducting its review, the intelligence committee has already accumulated disturbing evidence that “current and former administration officials had easy access to U.S. person information, and it is possible that these officials used this information to achieve partisan political purposes including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.” (Emphasis mine.)

Bluntly, Nunes is saying his committee has evidence the Obama Administration abused its power to surveil and unmask American citizens as a step in its knowing, willful, and deliberate criminal leaking of classified information to attain political aims.

To stop this unconstitutional and unconscionable abuse of the American people’s unalienable rights, stanch the flood of criminal leaks, and commence restoring and strengthening our national security, Nunes and his committee are rightly following the leaks back to the very source of the classified information.

And what they found so far would make even G. Gordon Liddy soil himself.

The Committee has found that senior government officials offered remarkably few individualized justifications for access to this U.S. person information. For example, this Committee has learned that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds [emphasis theirs] of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration. Of those requests, only one offered a justification that was not boilerplate and articulated why that specific official required the U.S. person information for the performance of his or her official duties.

So much for the Susan Rice “it was routine in the course of my duties” defense.

Oh, and come to think of it, wasn’t that final year of the Obama Administration an election year?

The Committee also understands that Obama-era officials sought the identities of Trump transition officials within intelligence reports. However, there was no meaningful explanation offered by these officials as to why they needed or how they would use this U.S. person information, and thus the Committee is left with the impression that these officials may have used this information for improper purposes, including the possibility of leaking…some of the requests for unminimized U.S. person information were followed by anonymous leaks of those names to the media.

Quite a coincidence, no?

No. Again, Nunes:

Although the committee has yet to complete its review, we have identified a significant issue that will require changes to federal law. Specifically, we have found that the Intelligence Community’s U.S. person unmasking policies are inadequate to prevent abuse, such as political spying.

And there you have it. Your lives, liberty, and property and less safe because the Obama Administration cared more about using the security apparatus of the state to play politics than to protect America.

Now, in a time when America faces increasing threats from increasingly belligerent regimes from Beijing to Tehran and a terrorist threat knowing no borders or bounds, our assiduously devised balance between liberty and security must be revisited, revised and—God willing—gotten right by Nunes, his committee, congressional peers and the Trump Administration.

Gee, thanks Obama. Still, maybe you can help us here stateside by parceling out a few pearls of wisdom on the subject during your next multi-million dollar overseas speech? Better yet, you can tell us precisely what your administration’s national security officials—and other officials, apparently—were doing to American citizens. Of course, protecting America might lack the requisite salience to a crowd of globetrotting fops paying through the nose for a teachable moment on saving the planet from weather patterns….

Regardless, thus must we wrestle amidst the ruins with the Obama Administration’s abuses. While, at present the full extent of said abuses and illegal leaks remains unfathomed; and the above official in question remains unmasked—a courtesy and legality said individual did not accord other American citizens, nevertheless, when the ease with which the official acquired what is supposed to be closely guarded U.S. person information is assessed in conjunction with other evidence (such as the FISA court’s unclassified findings of the past administration’s failure to adequately comply with safeguards in place to protect Americans’ privacy), it is increasingly evident the Obama Administration abused its national security powers to “unmask all night and leak every day.”

Of course, that tune isn’t being aired by the media elite that digs the discordant notes of the Russia-gate canard, which was the creation of the very Obama Administration abuses they still being studiously ignore. Their journalistic abnegation is understandable, if inexcusable: not only did their coverage of President Obama twist their “objective” media outlets into 21st century versions of Tiger Beat; more to the point, the media elite is complicit in the leaks.

Since it’s hard to burnish one’s brand behind bars, it will be a lonely slog uphill for Republicans and Democrats trying to repair the damage to America’s Intelligence Community. But, again, succeed they must; lest, for our national security, the Obama Administration’s criminal leaks and abusive unmaskings prove the kiss of death.

Content created by The Center for American Greatness, Inc is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

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2016 Election • America • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Healthcare • Neil Gorsuch • Obama • Obamacare • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Polls Don’t Tell the Tale—Trump’s Support is Deep. Here’s Why…

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As a conservative Republican, I harbored concerns when I voted last November for Donald Trump to be my president. I knew that I had to vote for him, given the unacceptable alternative of an incompetent liar who had placed me in a basket of “Deplorables”; had destroyed 33,000 emails that she covertly maintained on her bathroom server while telling me that the emails all concerned yoga classes and wedding dresses; had lied to me and the families of those who fell in Benghazi about what had really happened there on another 9/11; and really had nothing to show for decades of public activity but a résumé of failure from HillaryCare, Whitewater, and Travelgate to a mediocre tenure in the State Department.

Her “Russian reset” had been a disaster. She had met many dozens of world figures, logged many thousands of miles of air travel, and had eaten well at many state banquets, but she had nothing of lasting substance to show for it all. During her State Department tenure, the “Arab Spring” devolved into a nightmarish winter. ISIS grew from a junior varsity to the major leagues of barbarism and terror. And she even had found the opportunity to scream on the phone at the Prime Minister of Israel, while denying the Jewish right to build without restriction in Jerusalem.

So I voted unhesitatingly for Trump. But, again, I had concerns.

Although I recoiled from the Republicans-in-Name-Only and “Never Trumpers,” I did share some of their bemusement. Would he be a true conservative, or was he really a liberal and a conservative hybrid at once, a man bereft of grounded ideology who simply tilted with the direction of the day’s breeze, capable of being turned by the last voice to compliment him?

Would he truly appoint conservative federal judges and Supreme Court justices, or would his judicial legacy be another Republican flop like the Nixon liberal appointments after Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell, or like George H. W. Bush’s disastrous appointment of David Souter? Would he keep his promises? Would he have a clue?

That was then. Now, six months into Trump’s first term, I could not be more pleased with the president we elected. He is better than I ever imagined, and he is the real thing. That is the reason that voter surveys continue to show that President Trump has not lost any support among the base who elected him, and that he does as well now as before in the counties throughout the country that he carried as his base.

So What? Who Cares?
I do not care a whit about the “Russia stuff.” That is what I call it: the “Russia stuff.” Whether it is about Russian “collusion” or deals that Jared Kushner did or did not negotiate, or whom Attorney General Jeff Sessions met when he was a U.S. senator, or where former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort did business, or the telephone contacts of Michael Flynn—the moment that I see the word “Russia” in a headline about  the White House, I skip the story. Although I am a “news junkie,” I simply do not care. For me, the subject has as much relevance as a soccer game: Yawn.

I even have stopped watching almost all of Fox News, even though Tucker Carlson’s solid conservatism is an improvement over Bill O’Reilly’s softer version, and the network is so much stronger without Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren. I simply have no more interest in wasting my time with “fair and balanced debate,” to sit and listen to some liberal hack named Tarlov or Roginsky recite memorized talking points, or a fool named Marie Harf who used her State Department platform to explain that ISIS beheadings stemmed from a lack of job opportunities. (Remember: #JobsForISIS?)

For my news I have moved to the Fox Business channel, and I treat myself to Stuart Varney, Melissa Francis, Lou Dobbs and insightful conservative guests who do not waste my time. And, although I once was a Johnny Carson and Jay Leno regular, I no longer watch those late night talk shows. Instead, I choose between Ken Burns documentaries, MLB.TV’s “Quick Pitch,” and studying the Talmud. Same for “Saturday Night Live.” The moment the Washington Post began reporting every Monday on that show’s latest political slams against the Trump White House, I decided to turn elsewhere for my Saturday night entertainment. Besides, that show stopped being funny decades ago.

But what about all of Trump’s tweeting? Is Trump a nut? And what about the time he devotes to tweeting and to watching “Fox & Friends” and “Morning Joe”?

I don’t know. Maybe he is a nut. Yet, as an Orthodox rabbi who has counseled hundreds of people over 35 years, and as a high-stakes litigation attorney who has counseled and represented hundreds more, I will share a secret that is not protected by any professional rule of privilege: most people are nuts. (For verification, just ask their spouses, their parents-in-law, and their grown kids.) And most people have side hobbies that “waste time.” I wasted time these past four months watching the Mets. How many hours did President Kennedy waste running after Judith Exner, Marilyn Monroe, and others whom I do not know—and keeping it all secret from his wife? How many hours did President Nixon waste dealing with the Watergate cover-up? How many hours did President Ford need to devote lovingly to his wife as she battled bravely to overcome certain private challenges? How many hours did President Clinton set aside for Paula Corbin Jones, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky, and dealing with the subsequent fallout emanating from them and from Juanita Broaddrick?

It would seem that the only president who initially wasted no time but devoted every moment’s focus to every detail of government was Jimmy Carter. How did that work out? In the end, he was consumed by the Iran hostage crisis, and we were consumed by him.

Does Twitter take more time away from the work day than those distractions? How long does it take to type 140 characters, even in five or six strings?

What Really Matters
We conservatives do not care about these side stories and Democrat smokescreens that aim to divert this president and us from the agenda to make America great again. Rather, here is what we have come to know these six months since Trump took office:

Republicans have won every seriously contested Congressional election since President Trump was elected. It is absurd to think that, when push comes to shove, Republican voters in 2018 would allow Red State Democrats to sweep the U.S. Senate merely because Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren engage in screeds, while in the House, Maxine Waters calls for the president to be impeached or exiled, or both.

We do not mind that the president fired FBI Director James Comey. This is a man who we now know leaked secret internal information to the New York Times. Notwithstanding that Comey did not trust the president, it was just as reasonable for the president to determine that he could not trust Comey—just as the Democrats long before could not trust Comey and also wanted him fired. Comey interfered with the election process more than Vladimir Putin ever did, arrogated to himself the authority to absolve Hillary Clinton despite his own recognition that she had committed serious federal crimes, and never dealt with the Deep State within his department.

President Trump somehow has managed to lead for six months, despite the most hostile media gangland in a century and more, and he has gained important governing experience along the way, just as the neophyte Obama learned his way around after arriving at the White House with little more than a background in community organizing, a pair of Greek or Roman columns, and a paperback copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

President Trump has appointed an extraordinary team of cabinet secretaries, and they are a better and more reliably conservative team than Ronald Reagan ever assembled. While President Reagan not only named Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court but also Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has named Neil Gorsuch, and the future names in waiting are likely equally impressive. For all the “Resistance” tactics that the Democrats deployed during the Gorsuch battle, the president did not give ground, and he leveraged Harry Reid’s blunder of ending the filibuster rule for federal judicial appointments to get the nomination through. The president’s team now is working to fill the 129 other open federal judicial seats awaiting judges. As he proceeds, we will see balance return to the federal district courts that conduct trials and the federal appellate courts that ultimately settle most of America’s laws, and his own immediate experiences in seeing his entry ban navigate through the courts has taught him that federal judges matter on all levels.

On the energy front, we no longer awake each morning to learn of new Obama-era regulations aimed at strangling American energy independence. Instead, the Keystone XL pipeline was approved, as promised. Obama executive orders have been reversed at dizzying speed. Although a new era has changed the place of “King Coal” in the energy spectrum, the “War on Coal” is ended, as promised, and America is back on the path to end its partial dependency on the dirty oil produced by dictators and thugs from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia—oil drilled and extracted in tyrannies where environmental concerns are a joke—and we now even are inducing allies like Poland in Europe to consider moving their own energy contracts away from Russia and towards the United States.

Trump promised action on immigration, and he has begun the process of inviting bidders to compete for federal contracts to build that wall. Truth is, most of us do not care ultimately who pays for it; we separate his bluster from his substance. That substance already has driven down illegal immigration markedly. And the “bad dudes” really are being hunted by ICE and are being deported or locked up, not merely released on their own recognizance with a promise maybe someday to show up for an immigration hearing, perhaps.

The Underlying Challenge: Congress
We know that the reality of democracy is complicated, and that our Founding Fathers crafted an elegant system of checks and balances for a reason.

Yes, the Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court—for which we all thank Barack Obama daily—but the sophisticates among us also recognize that 52 Republican Senators is too razor-thin a margin for a bold Trump agenda to flourish.

For example, Susan Collins represents Blue Maine, and she simply cannot be a Tea Party senator. We need another half-dozen Red State Republican senators, and contrary to the common wisdom, help may be on the way.

Meanwhile, we know that President Trump has done his best to corral the team to reverse the tragedy of Obamacare, but he has been disrupted meanwhile by a crazy filibuster voting rule, an even crazier series of rules regarding “reconciliation,” a liberal Democrat stationed as the Senate’s “Parliamentarian,” and an utterly incoherent and incomprehensible rule regarding the Congressional Budget Office whose projections repeatedly have proven false and imaginary in health care and everything else. If people are told that they no longer will be penalized and coerced to buy health insurance they do not want, of course millions will drop the plans foisted on them. That is not properly termed “millions losing insurance”; that is “millions choosing of their own free will not to pay for something they do not want and do not value.”

We know this president and this Congress will pass a major tax cut before the 2018 elections because Trump wants it, his economic team has it mapped out, and the House and Senate would not dare go to the voters next year without a tax cut. Watch for Red State Democrats, facing electoral elimination, to be passionate supporters of a Republican tax bill. It will happen, and this president will sign it. Of that we have no doubt.

Cut Through the Noise These Next 18 Months
So we have a very strong determination to stand by this president, to give him more Senators in 18 months, and to give him another four years in Washington before Maxine Waters exiles him.

We do not care that Europeans and their leaders like America less now than they did when Obama was president. Most children like their grandparents more than they like their parents because Gramps and Granny have no rules, feed them candy, and let them stay up all night, while the parents make the kids do their homework, brush their teeth, and clean their rooms. Obama was cheered by throngs in Berlin, giggled with Hugo Chavez, and salsaed in Cuba in front of Castro. Sure they loved him—they even gave him a Nobel Peace Prize, just as they previously had given one to Yasser Arafat, before he did anything.

We want a president who goes to Europe, tells them to pay the bills they promised to pay NATO, and gets results. We want him extricating us from climate pacts and trade agreements that do not serve our interests. Along the way, our allies from Japan to Israel to England know they now have a reliable leader in the White House, not a team of kibbitzers who send James Taylor to Paris to sing “You’ve Got a Friend” as an American response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France.

Americans want jobs, and this president now is forward on rebuilding the nation’s long-neglected infrastructure, while emphasizing the importance of “Buying American” and restoring America’s historical role in manufacturing. We want lower taxes and an America where we pay only for the health coverage options we want. We do not want to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills or Planned Parenthood’s abortions, although many of us are copacetic with their family planning and social counseling. We want trade agreements that protect American jobs and that recognize that international polluters like China and India and the misogynistic Arab oil sheikhdoms need to catch up with our clean-environment practices before we continue marching like lemmings over industrial cliffs while the mass polluters scoop up our forfeited interests.

As the president now begins his next six months in office, we among his supporters have learned to tune out the nonsense that defines the lazy legislators in the Washington Beltway who prefer to mull over Mueller than to craft landmark health legislation that passes.

Yes, we have seen the president mature in office. He has made some important pinpointed staff changes. He is moving away from abiding the daily media circus. For those Democrats who warned with alarm and portents of peril that Donald Trump could not be trusted with the nuclear codes, we have seen that he has assembled a remarkable defense team, that he has authorized a surgical MOAB strike in Afghanistan and the dispatch of 59 cruise missiles to bombard clearly designated Syrian targets without embroiling us in a Middle East war that America should avoid. He has acted with care and delicacy in confronting the serious problem in North Korea, giving the lie to those who argued that he would be hot-headed and unable to lead.

For those of us who voted for Donald Trump last November—many of us with some concern—we support him even more today than we did then. Though we occasionally recoil from the more outlandish, we have come to prefer reading his tweets more than we did reading about Clinton’s sexual harassment scandals. And we have learned to disregard the “Russian stuff” like so much “white noise” that rivals the sound of a tree falling in the middle of a forest for irrelevance.

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