The Manchester Free Press

Tuesday • January 21 • 2020

Vol.XII • No.IV

Manchester, N.H.

The Impulsive Trump

Libertarian Leanings - Sat, 2020-01-18 13:04 +0000

The Mainstream Media (MSM) reaction to the killing of Qasem Soleimani has been, if nothing else, predictable.  Trump ordered the hit on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General when it was known he would be traveling with his entourage along the Baghdad airport access road in Iraq.  It was a decisive and devastating strike, eliminating Soleimani, four of his fellow Quds Force commanders and the head of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia.  It occurred in Iraq, a designated war zone, after Iran-backed militias rocketed several coalition bases killing an American contractor, and after an attack on the U.S. Embassy. 

According to the MSM version of events, Trump acted impulsively, oblivious to the unpredictable and disastrous consequences that were sure to follow.  Here are a few samples:

New York Times, January 8, 2020: The Trump We Did Not Want to See

The reality of Donald Trump — an amoral narcissist with no capacity for reflection or personal growth — is evident from his decades in public life. But rather than face this, too many people have rejected the facts in front of them, choosing an illusion instead of the disturbing truth.

The past week has been a prime example of this phenomenon. On Thursday night, the United States killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran leader of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force and one of the most powerful military leaders in the region.

Washington Post, January 9, 2020: Trump does not have a foreign policy. He has a series of impulses.

The problem with Trump’s foreign policy is not any specific action. The killing of Soleimani could be justified as a way to respond to Iranian provocations, but this move, like so much of Trump’s foreign policy, was impulsive, reckless, unplanned and inconsistent — and as usual, the chief impact is chaos and confusion.

Salon, January 9, 2020: Press Watch: Here's the crucial context every article on Trump and Iran should include

The decision to kill Soleimani was impulsive, inflammatory and highly unusual. Journalists must say that clearly....

There’s no evidence of a normal deliberative process.

  • Trump does not pay attention to details.
  • He does not display any appreciation for strategic planning
  • The support system of knowledgeable, experienced people to which a president would normally turn for advice in such a circumstance does not exist.
  • There is no evidence that any normal procedures were followed in this process.

Once again the media move in lockstep, ignoring that which contradicts the preconceived narrative.  But there are several things immediately evident from this strike.

First, there was good intelligence on the plans and whereabouts of Soleimani.  We knew where he was going to be and when he would be there.  Because Soleimani was taken out in the early hours of the morning, there was no collateral damage.  Recent Twitter reports say that a number of IRGC commanders have been arrested, suggesting that Iran has taken steps to find and plug an intelligence leak.

Second, the hit on Soleimani puts an exclamation point on the departure from a well worn approach to American foreign policy in the Middle East.  Over the past four decades American Middle East policy has been based on two delusions that Trump has rejected.  Caroline Glick's describes them in her recent article, Donald Trump and the mythmakers.  First is the myth that allowed American presidents to evade any obligation to hold Iran accountable for the crimes of its proxies.

[W]hen Iranian "students" seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, they placed the Carter administration in a dilemma: If President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that the "students" weren’t students, but soldiers of Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Khomeini, the US would be compelled to fight back. And Carter and his advisers didn't want to do that.

So rather than admit the truth, Carter accepted the absurd fiction spun by the regime that Khomeini was an innocent bystander who, try as he might, couldn't get a bunch of "students" in central Tehran to free the hostages.

For forty years Iran has been attacking America through proxies, and for forty years every president since Carter has gone along with the fiction that it's beyond Iran's control, and so the Iranian regime has never been held responsible.  Which brings us to the second myth, which is the one that enables the first:

The second false narrative that has formed the basis of US Middle East policy since Carter is that Israel and the so-called "occupation" are responsible for the absence of peace in the Middle East.

As long as American presidents could plausibly blame West Bank "occupation" by Israel for any of the Middle East unrest, they could ignore Iran's hand in the havoc wrought by their terrorist proxies and thus avoid uncomfortable confrontations.  Forty years of bombings and rocket attacks were only what Israel brought upon itself — or so we were all supposed to pretend.

Trump first signaled his rejection of this traditional blame-Israel posture by recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, and then moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.  More recently Trump has discontinued a policy that originated in the Carter administration, the one that considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal under international law.

When Trump dropped the hammer on Soleimani, he left no doubt about where he believes Middle East unrest originates.  Trump's new policy makes crystal clear that it's the Islamic leaders in Iran who should be seriously concerned about what America might do, instead of the other way around.  Iran will be held accountable.

This represents a paradigm shift that MSM have yet to internalize.  Instead the media have chosen to indulge themselves in yet another round of projection.  It's the media, not Trump, who are unable to pay attention to details.  It's the media, not Trump, who are unable to appreciate strategic planning, particularly the strategic planning that has brought us to this moment.  America is in a much stronger position, economically and militarily, than it was when Trump took office.  Gone unnoticed is that President Trump has put himself into position where he can do what six presidents before him were unable or unwilling to do — confront Iran and its proxies.

Strange as this may sound, tax policy was the instrumental first step.  Cutting marginal income tax rates, a move that unquestionably encourages investment, provided a boost to the U.S. economy.  A more powerful boost, though only a one-timer, was in the tax treatment of corporate overseas income and the subsequent repatriation of huge sums of money back into the American economy.  However, the tax cuts that put us into uncharted territory were the dramatic reductions corporate tax rates, which instantly made U.S. corporations more competitive in the global economy.  The aim and the result of all of those cuts was a hiring binge.

Trump made it easier still for companies to hire workers by requiring that the federal agencies cut regulations.  Trump demanded that for each new federal regulation proposed, two existing regulations had to be rescinded.  In the deregulation frenzy that followed eight federal regulations have been cut for each new regulation proposed.

To the astonishment of establishment economy pundits, unemployment dropped to historic lows across all demographics.  The American economy picked up steam just as it was expected to go into recession.  Consumers were driving it as more Americans had jobs and money in their pockets.  The strong consumer driven economy made the next step possible, that of renegotiating trade deals.

Trump's tariffs became the argument that convinced America's trading partners that Trump was serious about renegotiating new deals.  Oh, the hand wringing.  According to media consensus, Trump's trade war — the result of Trump's tariffs — would be the cause of a worldwide depression.  Again, to the great surprise of mainstream pundits, the consumer driven economy easily withstood the effects of the tariffs. Trump's boast, that America could win any trade war, was borne out.  The USMCA, NAFTA's replacement, awaits Senate approval.  Phase One of a China trade deal is about to be signed.  Investor confidence as measured by the major stock market indices is at an all-time high.

The tariffs came with an unforeseen versatility.  With the border wall still uncompleted and liberal judges blocking almost every Trump effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration, the Mexican Army has stepped up to intercept the waves of bogus asylum seekers before they reach the U.S. southern border.  The threat of tariffs on Mexican goods helped to provide Mexico with the necessary incentives.  The flow of cheap illegal labor has been stemmed to a degree.  American workers get those jobs, giving further boost to our booming economy.

In the meantime, Trump has been beefing up our military, increasing defense spending. 

Finally, rescinding Obama administration energy regulations has helped to boost the already in progress fracking boom.  America is energy independent. In fact, America is the world's largest exporter of natural gas.  We don't need Middle Eastern oil.  

When General Qasem Soleimani turned up in paradise looking for his 72 virgins, back here on earth there was no spike in oil prices.  The stock market didn't hiccup.  Nothing.  Iran fired a few missiles into Iraq and issued an announcement that said to the effect, please don't respond.  Since no one was killed or injured, Trump had no need to.

MSM has ignored all of what went on for the last three years, pretending that none of it ever happened.  Impulsive Trump has no clue.  When there is no escaping from the facts — that all those things did happen — the media explain that it all came about by chance.  A series of fortunate accidents which have no bearing on foreign policy anyway.  The media's job, as they see it, is not to report the facts, but to persuade.  Facts are of secondary importance to the "truths" that have already been decided upon for the edification of the news consuming public.  For the past three years the media have seen it as their duty to select (or create) the facts that will persuade us all to believe that Trump must go.  Trump is inattentive, impulsive, unwilling to listen to the experts, and ignorant of basic foreign policy principles.  The list could go on, but in short, Trump is a threat to democracy, a threat to America, and a threat world peace.

We are in an information war.  The media wage it by hiding, shading, and misrepresenting news that doesn't fit their preferred narrative.  It's obvious.  People can see it.  As a result, only 13% of Americans say they have "a great deal" of trust in the media.  Trump understands this and plays to media prejudices.  They want impulsive?  Trump gives them impulsive. He is our star player in the information war. He has been masterful in his use of Twitter, with an uncanny ability to goad the Mainstream Media to oppose Trump at every turn, and in the process to contradict themselves, to reveal their true colors, to defend the indefensible. That impulsive Trump.  And so the media report.  And as Americans' trust in the media slips a little further, America grows a little stronger.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Happy New Year!

Libertarian Leanings - Tue, 2019-12-31 21:27 +0000

The Dow closed at 28,538.44 for the decade.  That's 107 points off of the all time record high of 28,645.26 which was set last Friday.

It is my sincere wish that 2020 will see accountability exacted for the astonishing Deep State corruption that continues to be revealed by our Department of Justice.

I hope and expect Donald Trump will be re-elected in a landslide, that Republicans will increase their majority in the Senate, and that they will re-take the House.

In 2020 Libertarian Leanings will publish a recommendation for Campaign Finance and Federal Compensation Reform.

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

Categories: Blogs, United States

The Constitution And Our Founding Fathers — A Discussion

Libertarian Leanings - Mon, 2019-12-16 14:50 +0000

The conversation that follows took place online at JustOneMinute beginning on the afternoon of December 15, 2019.  The only editing that I've done was to select only comments that were on the topic of our Founding and our Founding Fathers, and in a very small number of comments I've excluded references to other off-topic comments.

There is no doubt the Founders were geniuses and quite possibly the greatest concentration of extraordinary men in the same place at the same time in history. The lens of time often has us conflate the greats of Greece, Rome or other civilizations as one group when they were usually spread over hundreds of years.

But in a sense, a great deal of what they thought, said and did was self-evident. Even a group of mediocrities, if looking at the world through the lens of the Western Civ/Judeo-Christian tradition, has already had most of the heavy lifting done for them by those who came before. The Founders leaned almost entirely on that rock of Truth and those portions of The Enlightment that use that Truth as its foundation. Their greatness and genius was more the wisdom to accept what tradition had already proven valuable and liberty preserving while rejecting what had proven the opposite. They were men shorn almost completely of ideology. Their particular genius was to then know how to codify those traditional virtues. But because they were wise they knew it was not so much their genius but the shoulders on which they stood that determined whether we could keep the republic they built. Hence their warnings that a virtuous and religious people were the only type likely to keep their bequest.

You only have to look at contemporaneous France to see what men jumping down off those shoulders and following the way that seems right to a man but instead leads to death bequeath to their nation; a reign of terror.
And you only have to look at the course of our country over the last 100 years to see the same thing.

The greatest genius is the genius of humility to acknowledge the ancient wisdom that has already been given to us and to follow it. For the most part it is the genius and wisdom of growing up instead of being a perpetual child. Philadelphia was chock full of men. Paris and modern Washington DC were and are the rule of obstreperous and ignorant infants, toddlers and children.

But in a sense, a great deal of what they thought, said and did was self-evident.

I agree with much of what you wrote, Iggy, but I think this does them a disservice, though I understand what you are saying is that in a sense truth is self-evident if you shed your ideological biases and rely on the accumulated wisdom of our great thinkers. Still, their ability to foresee so much, at the level of detail, as an example, in the Hamilton quote about impeachment, goes beyond self-evident truths.

They weren't perfect. One could argue they erred with the "general welfare" and interstate commerce clauses, that ended up being invitations to tyranny. And maybe Hamilton was a bit too sanguine about a strong central government. But I bet none of them would be surprised today to see how far down we've fallen, and would perhaps only be amazed that it took this long.

Speaking of the wisdom of the founders

George Washington was strongly against the political parties. He feared their growing influence and warned of the “continual mischiefs of the spirit of party”. He thought that it would lead to “the alternate domination” of each party, taking revenge on each other in the form of reactionary political policies, and that it would eventually cause the North and South to split.

--Still, their ability to foresee so much...goes beyond self-evident truths.--

jimmy,
That's what I meant by "their particular genius". They took the West's accumulated wisdom and laid out a means by which to enshrine it in the founding documents in order to preserve liberty.
And as for them being shocked at how far we've slid and the mischief we've gotten up to regarding the commerce clause etc, that's why they knew if we didn't continue to stand on those same virtuous shoulders they did, whatever they had wrought would rot.

Our founding fathers didn't just look to tradition and ancient wisdom. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was first published in 1776. Eleven years after that, out constitution was signed.

We marvel our beautifully designed constitutional structure with its checks and balances. It was designed to rely on members of the three branches each defending their own turf. Or to put it another way, it was designed with the idea that men would act in their own best interests.

I think that is the greater genius -- that they designed a government that was not intended to rely on the virtue of those in charge. Very libertarian in today's sense of the word.

Shooting from the hip here, but I'm not aware of any of the national constitutions developed since ours was, that have put such a reliance on self interest as a way of promoting integrity. Nor are there any national constitutions that have been as successful as ours.

It's tempting to say that it was sheer genius to promote individual liberty as the foundation for greatest world power in history. But I really believe that our great power and wealth are really the unintended consequences of liberty.

A very articulate post. One thing I have done with my son is to make sure he understands our constitution and how it was created and why. I have always felt "the why" was more important than "the how".

In his US History class they have formed teams to debate whether creating our republic was necessary or an over-reaction. That question has never been asked as far as I know. But an intesting way for our kids to understand life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Thanks, Jack. Now there's a question that would never have occurred to me: Was creating our republic an over-reaction? I'd like to hear how your son answers that one.

Which leads me to further speculation around our founding and the founding fathers. People of their time might have thought of Adam Smith as edgy and pseudo-intellectual. Imagine thinking of our country's founding as driven by a fad. Of course, with the perspective of a couple hundred years, it's safe to say Smith's ideas didn't turn out to be a fad.

But I think it was quite a lucky thing that our founders were subject to the intellectual influence of Adam Smith right when they were drawing up their plans.

An intellectual fad i dont think so, now the french revolution and rousseau was probably closer to that. One might argue the proxinate course of the first was the debt incurred from the french indian war as the second was the american revolution, also the little cooling period wrought havoc on the harvest of 1788.

--Our founding fathers didn't just look to tradition and ancient wisdom. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was first published in 1776. Eleven years after that, out constitution was signed.--

We're not in disagreement. I think I noted that, unlike the Frogs, they used the best parts of The Enlightenment which Smith was one of the great thinkers of.
But the entire enterprise, including The Enlightenment was built on the framework of Western Civilization.
Adam Smith and John Locke's ideas were not ultimately antithetical to that civilization. Spinoza and especially Rousseau's, brought to their inevitable extremes in the French Republic were.

We are not in disagreement, Ig. Nor are we Narciso.

Its agood rhetorical question, the soil was ready in the colonies case, too luch water in the french case and a century later the ground was too dry in russia.

The french revolution scared catherine away from continuing reforms.

IRT discussion of the Founders. This has been on my refrigerator door for eight years, it appears from the date of publication!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703959604576152742545048826

Our Founders Were All on the Same Page


In regard to Donald Kochan's wonderful "Reading Adam Smith in Arabic" (op-ed, Feb. 17) about the importance of exposing the Arab world to the ideas of Western democracies: It is important to remember that the men who met to write the U.S. Constitution were able to do so in less than four months because they were, excepting regional and personal differences, quite literally on the same page.

They had all read the same books: Locke's "Two Treatises on Government," Montesquieu's "The Spirit of the Laws," Rousseau's "The Social Contract," Voltaire's writings and those of Adam Smith. They had read deeply, and often in Latin, the Roman writers on civil life: Virgil, Cicero and Tacitus. These books gave the founding fathers a vocabulary in which to conduct a discourse about what a government ought to be and do.

Prof. Kochan is right. These ideas are our greatest gift to countries attempting to form relations between a state and its people.

Cabell Smith

Pacific Palisades, Calif.

The discussions about the drivers behind the language of the Declaration of Independence today have been very interesting.

In the genealogy research Mrs. Buckeye has been doing, she has uncovered many documents that date to the Revolution. Historical accounts, family wills, etc.

Both of us are descendants of veterans of the Revolution that staked their claim to lands set aside in the parts of Ohio that were the Virginia military district.

The sense I have after reading these documents is that these pioneers wanted their 160 acres, thank you very much, and just get the hell out of the way. They knew they were on their own, and there was little the government could/would do on their behalf.

I suspect fighting and dying for a decade had a significant contributor to that attitude.

An interesting factoid about our constitution is that Jefferson proposed it be revised every generation. I am suprised the Progs haven't used that in all their repeal the electoral college arguments. Which tells me they are absolutely ignorant of our Constitution and its rights it bestows on Citizens.

Ignatz:

I was trying to remember the original quote touting the importance of virtue in re governance, and came across a whole page of Liberty and Virtue citations, although the background was so distracting that I copy/pasted it into a blank document to read it. It includes comments from the founders and their contemporaries, like this one from Jean Jacques Rousseau, "A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue," up to something actually worth contemplating from George Will, "Today it would be progress if everyone would stop talking about values. Instead, let us talk, as the Founders did, about virtues."

That said, I have to disagree with your assertion that, "Their particular genius was to then know how to codify those traditional virtues." I think they were rather remarkable for not attempting to do any such thing. The closest they might be said to have come was the Bill of Rights, a proscriptive list which presumes a certain lack of virtue.

I certainly believe the Founders were generally in accord over the necessity of and relationship between both private and civic virtue. Indeed the 18th century definition of happiness owed more to the Epicurean sense of civic virtue as the most gratifying ideal, than to happiness as we understand it today. In fact, Jefferson once claimed:

I am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.
Then again, you can find supporting quotes from Jefferson on almost any side of almost any issue. He once looked forward to the day when we would be a country of Unitarians.

While I'm not sure exactly how dramatically we differ, I do think your assertion that, "They were men shorn almost completely of ideology," seems wildly overstated, especially considering the arguments and politicking that went into both our revolution and the Constitution which emerged from it. It was a time of great intellectual winds blowing in many directions, and I believe the Founders were fully conscious of embarking on something new. Nor were they of one accord when it came to whose shoulders they were standing on. Jefferson, it seems, was not always on the "same page" with himself:

Jefferson in many ways doubted the classical world was the original mold upon which the American experiment had to be built. He was sure the ancients knew all but nothing about revolution and, more generally, that looking backward for precedents was not suitable to the American republican character.
There were others who rejected anything that smacked of Hellenism. Jefferson quotes are just the easiest to find, but there was a real range of attitudes and philosophies among the group as a whole. Yes, they emerged from the Western Civ/Judeo-Christian tradition, but so did the revolutionaries in France who represent a different face of that shared background.

The founders were, by and large, educated, landholding businessmen (in which group I would include farmers). I would argue that that, in and of itself, is a pivotal, foundational and structural difference between the American & French revolutions, which affected the course of their histories every step of the way. By the time the French got around to rejecting religion outright, their trajectory was already well-set. Unlike the U.S., the French revolution exploded forth from a landless, initially urban, class with centuries worth of animus toward the upper, educated, landholding, entitled classes. That may be the most significant difference between the two, IMO.

We were also extremely lucky that an ocean lay between us and our Continental contemporaries. If we had been a contiguous land mass, we'd have been carved up like Poland before a Constitutional Convention was even a gleam in our founders' eyes. The French revolution was buffeted by the crosswinds of European great power interests in powerful storms we never had to weather. The post-war peace afforded us the time & space to actually argue about the arrangement of our government.

I think we all an agree that The Founder's weren't smart enough to draft the eligibility requirements without leaving a loophole for a British Subject to become Commander in Chief of The United States Armed Forces.

Or maybe they did it on purpose???

—They had all read the same books: Locke's "Two Treatises on Government," Montesquieu's "The Spirit of the Laws," Rousseau's "The Social Contract," Voltaire's writings and those of Adam Smith.—

How many have read these today? How many of our supposed leaders in government could tell you the first thing about these thinkers? I bet not one in ten. And of those, not one in ten understood them.

jimmyk, I consider anything by Rousseau to be suspect. Cite one worthwhile concept in his "The Social Contract”.

JMH, Rousseau’s "A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue" is a meaningless platitude.

And what is this "virtue" of which they speak but do not define? Far more sensible is Emerson’s better crafting of Dictionary Johnson’s “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Jefferson was a marvelous wordsmith adept at borrowing words, but what did the evidence show he believed? He proved all in for Virginia and not much for the nation.

The Constitution did not so much trust in virtue as not trust anyone. Therein lies wisdom. We are, after all, human.

Over reliance on Rousseau produced the French Revolution.

When I was in ROTC at UC even taking an Engineering curriculum I had to take the Philosophy of Democracy which included Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire. I remember all of us looking at each other shrugging our shoulders and about the 4th or 5th class it dawned on all of us. It was how we began as a country.

BTW, it was a requirement of ROTC not my engineering curriculum. Wonder how ROTC promotes the elements of democracy today?

These books gave the founding fathers a vocabulary in which to conduct a discourse about what a government ought to be and do.

Ben Franklin weighs in on the future government book club:


From Benjamin Franklin to Charles-Guillaume-Frédéric Dumas, 9 December 1775
To Charles-Guillaume-Frédéric Dumas

Reprinted from The Port Folio, ii (1802), 236–7; extracts: American Philosophical Society; Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères, Paris; Algemeen Rijksarchief, the Hague.1
Philadelphia December 9, 1775.Dear sir,
I received your several favours, of May 18, June 30, and July 8, by Messrs. Vaillant and Pochard....

....I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly, that copy which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the college of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed3) has been continually in the hands of the members of our congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author.

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-22-02-0172

Yes, the same Vattel that defined a Natural Born Citizen to one who is born with attachments to only one sovereignty.

--That said, I have to disagree with your assertion that, "Their particular genius was to then know how to codify those traditional virtues." I think they were rather remarkable for not attempting to do any such thing. The closest they might be said to have come was the Bill of Rights, a proscriptive list which presumes a certain lack of virtue.--

The Constitution codifies the virtues of life, liberty, property rights, equality before the law, limited government, individual rights, religious liberty, self reliance, self defense, self governance, freedom of speech and thought and a host of others. All of those stem from our Western Civilizational heritage and the things the Founders proscribe, they proscribe precisely because they destroy the virtues and liberties they were promoting and preserving.
I didn't say they codified every virtue, large and small toted up by an army of Scholastics, but that they relied upon the great edifice of Western Civilization. They did.

--While I'm not sure exactly how dramatically we differ, I do think your assertion that, "They were men shorn almost completely of ideology," seems wildly overstated, especially considering the arguments and politicking that went into both our revolution and the Constitution which emerged from it.--

I'm not using ideology in the current unfortunate sense of any group of ideas that inform anyone's political thoughts, but in the earlier and more useful one of a systematic worldview not particularly susceptible to rational argument and usually at some level utopian in nature. As I've noted many times here James Burnham makes the critical distinction between a political philosophy such as conservatism and a dogmatic ideology like leftism.
That the Founders were one of the least utopian, least ideological [in the sense I mentioned] and most profoundly practical [and virtuous] groups of political philosophers in history seems pretty indisputable to me. That is why Edmund Burke was so sympathetic to colonists revolting against the very parliament he was a member of to establish a practical and free republic and so hostile to the idiotic ideologues in France creating a utopian republic upon a mound of severed heads of people he considered his nation's enemies.

Of course, we can recite our history lessons about the Constitution but what about how it is implemented today? Since 1913, we have been on a slippery slide away from the basic tenets of the constitution and its advice as a republic.

Who and when do we restore its original intent?

sbw, the reason to read Rousseau is to see his errors and negative influence, and contrast him with Locke and others. But my point is more general and not specific. Skip Rousseau if you like, but know the thinkers who most influenced the Founding Fathers.

jimmyk:

"How many have read these today? How many of our supposed leaders in government could tell you the first thing about these thinkers?"

Perhaps the more salient question is why are those who do understand them not running for office, or participating in a more active way than simply casting a ballot now and then?

jimmyk, I take your point.

It is important to be able to critically examine and refute the proposals of others to show how they are either impractical or they lead to unacceptable consequences.

Too many today have lost — or never gained — the ability to consider alternatives, understand them clearly, and integrate/reject them as necessary.

sbwaters:

"Far more sensible is Emerson’s better crafting of Dictionary Johnson’s “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Alas, I guess Emerson was just not around, when we needed him. Otherwise your point is basically the same one I made at the end of my second paragraph in reference to a certain lack of virtue being the operating principle behind the Bill of Rights.

A platitude is not necessarily meaningless, of course, especially in this particular case when discussing the role of virtue in governance generated by revolution.

sbw, I had to read Marx (Communist Manifesto) at some point. Glad I did, to know what pathetic garbage it is. Just a bunch of platitudes. Hard to believe anyone over the age of 16 ever took it seriously.

My concern, JMH, is that for those who insist on a role for virtue in government never seem able to explain the virtue they seek.

I'm more of a character kind of guy. Character is individual and independent of government structure.

There is no role for virtue in governance. There is a role for character in deciding for whom to vote in and out of government.

jimmyk: I had to read Marx

I read just enough to know I didn’t have to read any more.

TK:

"Yes, the same Vattel that defined a Natural Born Citizen to one who is born with attachments to only one sovereignty."

That's like your personal version of Epstein didn't hang himself!

jib: Who and when do we restore its original intent?

I’m with you. To do that we need to laugh down the postmodernists who claim:
1) history is what you cherry-pick and lie about to fashion the future you want,
2) words mean what they say they mean, and
3) you can’t say what "offends" me.

Any one or more of those points undermines civil discourse necessary to even consider restoring the Constitution to its original intent.

Those who will not engage in civil discourse have abandoned civil society for the Law of the Jungle. That is their prerogative, of course. We just have to recognize when, by their actions, they do.

As for Rousseau--anyone in college who liked that miscreant was on his way to hippiedom. Phony baloney.
I had a longstanding debate with one of my brothers in law who adored Jefferson. I regard him in some ways as another phony. Ben Franklin, however, is my favorite..I think my b-i-l is coming around to that point of view.

Did you know Hamilton's mom might well have been Jewish. Rachel taught him Hebrew and he read from the Bible in Jewish day school.. https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/189128/alexander-hamiltons-jewish-connection. I expect along with the enlightenment worthies, everyone of the founding fathers had read and studied the Bible.

In any event, many of the same tensions we see politically today between how much power to grant to the federal branch and how much should remain local, are represented in the Founding Fathers themselves.

That is a fascinating angle clarice, i suppose anyone could have channelled locke into the declaration, the revolutions partisans like tom paine was one step behind the jacobins and edmund burke was not sanguine on colonial ventures as we discovered with india.

--Otherwise your point is basically the same one I made at the end of my second paragraph in reference to a certain lack of virtue being the operating principle behind the Bill of Rights.--

The entire Constitution is an exercise in protecting citizens from the lack of virtue in human beings. That is the whole idea behind limited government and self governance.
Of course the Founders didn't believe people to be particularly virtuous. That too is from Western Civilization; "there is none who is good, no not one, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". The Western tradition is that man is vile and not perfectable. The utopian left believes man is, given just enough force by just enough leftists with just enough power, namely absolute. The Founders, not being utopians created a Constitution of "negative rights" as Barry whined, precisely because they knew that lack of virtue is most dangerous in the collective power of the state.
But those limits on state power and the recognition of man's nature don't mean they didn't believe in virtues to strive for or that man does display imperfectly.
The great personal virtues of WC are ideals to be fostered and aimed for knowing they won't be attained. The political and institutional virtues of WC are those that name each individual as uniquely created and equally valuable and that ensure the greatest possible liberty for the greatest number while retaining the protections of a civil society.

And most importantly, as even a deist like Jefferson recognized, the triumph of WC is the notion that we are each a possession of God, not other men, and that our rights and Truth come from and are not separable from that Divine authority.
Spinoza and Rousseau believed they are separable and Robespierre demonstrated that they also separate the head from the body, even for those who sought to enforce Rousseau's defective social contract.

If men were angels, they would have no need of govt. Sadly the 1940 constitution in cuba indulgedi in too much of thid utopianism about education healthcare in the like imagine in charkes beard and harold laski had revided our constitution and you get an inkling of the problem

Ignatz:

Well, I'm not sure where the slave-holders and the loyalists fit into your idealogical equation, but I do dispute your claim with regard to the lack of utopianism. There has been an strong strain of Utopian thinking running through American political philosophy, from the 17th century's "city on the hill" to the 18th century's "great awakening" to Jefferson's "ferme ornée, and the idea of a chosen nation, later morphing into manifest destiny. Utopianism has many forms, some more sophisticated and "non-ideological" than others. Yes the Founders were practical men, but I would also point out that the Bill of Rights had the least support of any element in the Constitution, and only barely made it into the final document. Do you suppose the resistance to it was practical or ideological?

I've always taught Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud and the rest in the originals-- how else to judge them? With the exception of Locke, this is an exercise in inoculation. It often works.

Like the smallpox ampule. I remember them from a philosophy survey class and not fondly. Thise in power are unable or unwilling to often give up hence magna carta glorious revolution boll of righrd

You are truly evil, catsmeat.

--Utopianism has many forms, some more sophisticated and "non-ideological" than others.--

Well, everyone, probably even psychopaths, entertain some form of utopia in their mind. But the context is political philosophy and ideology. An ideology has as its goal creating an actual utopia, or as near as it can get.
A political philosophy OTOH, like for instance those espoused by all of the Founders, may or may not entertain the notion of some utopian ideal, but it always realizes it is not a realistic goal and therefore seeks a realistic method to minimize encroachment on liberty and rights balanced with a realistic acknowledgment government of some size must exist to guarantee against internal and external criminals and force. And a political philosophy always takes note of and makes allowance for the imperfect status of human nature, which is what renders any utopianism a fantasy perhaps to be dreamt of but never indulged.
The shining city on a hill bit is meant to reference the USA as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world mired in its misery. That's not utopian, merely anti-dystopian.
The Great Awakening[s] were religious movements which had some political repercussions but are not in the realm of political philosophy.
And Manifest Destiny was hardly some utopian dream. Dems loved it and of course people clamped all sorts of romantic gibberish to it, but it was mostly a bitterly contested, slavery and politics riddled informal concept. Lincoln and many others contested or resisted it. And despite the wooly-headed rhetoric everybody knew at some level, we weren't making a utopia, we were kicking the heads in of the Mexicans and the Indians in order to make the country bigger, get rich and for the south, hopefully expand slave territories.
Utopians are Eric Hoffer's True Believer not John Fremont or Laura Ingalls Wilder.


--Yes the Founders were practical men, but I would also point out that the Bill of Rights had the least support of any element in the Constitution, and only barely made it into the final document. Do you suppose the resistance to it was practical or ideological?--

Since they weren't ideologues it couldn't have been ideological. However IIRC there were several objections to it. The primary one I remember from the Federalists was that by enumerating our rights those not listed might be curtailed because they weren't listed. OTOH as I recall the anti-Federalists were agin the whole Constitution unless it had a bill of rights, because they wanted to make sure the states and their citizens retained their power.
As it turns out the Federalists were dead on, but in the end wrong. Because if it wasn't for the bill of rights we would have virtually no rights left.
The anti-Federalsits were dead wrong but in the end right. Once the incorporation doctrine was introduced the states were subject to the very list they had wanted only applied to the Feds. But their concern about the Feds running roughshod over the states was right on the money.
Both positions sound eminently practical and non ideological to me.

 

Ignatz:

You've tinkered with so much terminology that I'm afraid I've lost the thread of your argument. I can only reiterate my own impression that you've homogenized the fractious philosophical underpinnings of the Founders, and neglected a number of pivotal non-philosophical pieces of the revolutionary puzzle -- perhaps in service to the western, judeo-christian point you wish to make, which in itself, could be seen as an ideological endeavor.

Ideology is all encompassing whereas the republican form of govt was more limited, the great awakeing was a return to the fundamentals whereas the general will was aforgettimg about basic realities.

The terms I'm using are the ones you've introduced to the discussion.
The thread of my argument remains; ideology means something and what it means is an irrational worldview that denies the reality of human nature and seeks to create a new utopian reality in its place.
The Founders were not ideologues and built our Republic on the back of the truths and virtues of Western Civilization and in fact their project was to largely create a rational, practical political framework to preserve and encourage those truths and virtues.

Ignatz:

"The terms I'm using are the ones you've introduced to the discussion."

What? Virtue, ideology, utopian, Greek & Rome classics, the rock of Truth, religion, the Enlightenment where keyed on ancient wisdom... which of these were my introductions?

Last input, before calling it a night. Regardless of how the term ideology is used at present, it got off to an interesting start. Per Wikipedia:

The term "ideology" was born during the Reign of Terror of French Revolution, and acquired several other meanings thereafter.

The word, and the system of ideas associated with it, was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796,[5] while he was in prison pending trial during the Terror. The word was created by assembling the words idea, from Greek ἰδέα (near to the Lockean sense) and -logy, from -λογία.

He devised the term for a "science of ideas" he hoped would form a secure foundation for the moral and political sciences. He based the word on two things: 1) sensations people experience as they interact with the material world; and 2) the ideas that form in their minds due to those sensations. He conceived "Ideology" as a liberal philosophy that would defend individual liberty, property, free markets, and constitutional limits on state power. He argues that among these aspects ideology is the most generic term, because the science of ideas also contains the study of their expression and deduction.

The coup that overthrew Maximilien Robespierre allowed Tracy to pursue his work. Tracy reacted to the terroristic phase of the revolution (during the Napoleonic regime) by trying to work out a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational mob impulses that had nearly destroyed him.

Seems almost apropos to the discussion, in a sort of backwards-day way, no?

Those terms were all in my very first comment on the other thread so if you lost the thread of my argument it must have been right off the bat.

You introduced a different meaning of ideology and used idealized terms like the shining city on a hill, the great awakening, manifest destiny as examples of utopianism and asked me to explain the debate over the bill of rights, because you seem to define the term virtue in a way somewhat different than I am using it as well.
If we can't agree on the definition of a fundamental term like virtue, ideology or utopianism and your argument is largely predicated on arguing your defintion of those terms without acknowledging or by ignoring that we're arguing with different understandings of basic terms then of course we're going to have a discussion mired in defining and explaining terminologies and talking past each other.
And.

And...nothing. Not sure where that came from.

Iggy and JMHanes, you remind of the quip about the US and the UK, "divided only by a common language."

My favorite founder was Alexander Hamilton. His insight that America needed industry and manufacture, not just some idealized agrarian existence, has been borne out over the years.

I'm not as familiar with the political philosophers as I am with the political economists, but I think Adam Smith had a large effect on the thinking of Hamilton and maybe some others.

The idea that wealth was "created" was a radical departure from all previous economic theory. It wasn't the result of the spoils of war or exploitation or just dug out of the ground or because of one-sided trading possibilities.

jim nj:

"[Hamilton's] insight that America needed industry and manufacture, not just some idealized agrarian existence, has been borne out over the years."

That, in and of itself, would be sufficient basis for a feud with Jefferson. As with everything else Jefferson assayed, Monticello was not just a farm, it was a philosophical, and I daresay, political, endeavor.

JM Hanes,

If memory serves correctly Hamilton and Jefferson clashed on the issue rather heatedly.

In NJ Hamilton formed SUM to take advantage of the water-power at Patterson Falls.

I think that was the first planned industrial park in America.

I think Jefferson, from his experience, thought that a self-supporting agrarian society was best.

I, like Hamilton, disagree, as it would have left us dependent on the manufacturing power of foreign nations.

The result of Hamilton winning out on that argument is well demonstrated in WWII when we became the "arsenal of democracy."

Had the Jefferson ideal won out by WWII we would have been an enormous Ukraine.

That is all for now.

Categories: Blogs, United States

What Was The Agenda?

Libertarian Leanings - Wed, 2019-12-11 20:28 +0000

On Monday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his long awaited report on the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation into President Trump's supposed collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.  Shortly after its release, U.S. Attorney John Durham, who leads a criminal investigation into FBI misconduct during that investigation, issued a statement saying he disagreed with some of the IG's conclusions.

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department," Durham said. "Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

Attorney General William Barr also disagreed with some of the report's conclusion.  Yesterday, Attorney General Barr sat down for an interview with NBC's Pete Williams to talk about it.  The interview, which lasted about 24 minutes and is embedded below, is well worth watching in its entirety. 

The excerpt below, which begins at the 12:59 mark, ought to concern Crossfire Hurricane investigators:

Williams:  What questions will John Durham address that the IG didn't?

Barr:  Well, Durham is looking at the whole waterfront. He's looking at the issue of how it got started. He's looking at whether or not the narrative of Trump being involved in the Russian interference actually preceded July, and was it in fact the precipitating trigger for the investigation. He is also looking at the conduct of the investigation. There are some things that were done in the investigation that are not included in Horowitz's report, and he's looking at those things. But also a few weeks ago I told him that he should spend just as much attention on the post-election period, and I did that because of some of the stuff that Horowitz has uncovered, which to me is inexplicable.

Williams:  Such as?

Barr:  What I said was, their case collapsed after the election. And they never told the court. And they kept on getting renewals on these applications. There's documents falsified in order to get these renewals. There was all kinds of withholding of information from the court, and the question really is, what was the agenda after the election? They kept on pressing ahead after their case collapsed. This is the president of the United States.

"They kept on pressing ahead after their case collapsed. This is the president of the United States."  What was the agenda after the election?  Seems to me one possible answer to that question is treason.

By way of PowerLine.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Democrats Will Not Vote To Impeach

Libertarian Leanings - Tue, 2019-12-03 22:54 +0000

The excuse for this latest coup attempt was a July 25th phone conversation between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.  It was a call of congratulations, but during the call Trump asked Zelensky for a favor or two.

Trump asked Zelensky to look into what happened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, specifically mentioning a Ukrainian company called Crowdstrike.  Crowdstrike is the outfit that analyzed Democratic National Committee email servers and assured the FBI that Russia had hacked into John Podesta's emails.  The FBI never bothered to look at those servers, and neither did the CIA.  In fact, only Crowdstrike examined the evidence, and Crowdsrike, it so happens, was hired by the Democratic National Committee. 

It should come as no surprise that the paid-for-by-DNC conclusion — that Democrat servers were hacked by Russia — continues to be viewed with skepticism in certain circles.  Julian Assange of Wikileaks, which published the DNC emails, has said all along that the emails came to Wikileaks from a leaker, not a hacker. Regardless, Crowdstrike's hacking verdict lent additional weight to a national security issue that somehow lacked urgency until Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. Only then did Russia's supposed interference in the U.S. presidential election take on a degree of importance to Democrats.

By that time the Obama administration had already put the Trump campaign under surveillance by the intelligence agencies.  The hacking and the alleged contacts by Trump campaign personnel with Russians led to an FBI counterintelligence investigation which was eventually handed over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team.  But after three years and $40 million, Mueller failed to make the case for Trump campaign collusion with Russia, and perhaps more importantly, failed to entrap the Trump White House in a charge of obstructing his investigation.   So Trump wants to know.  How did that investigation get started?

The other favor Trump asked of Zelensky was to look into Joe and Hunter Bidens' activities relative to Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian natural gas company on whose board Hunter sat for which he was paid somewhere between $50,000 and $83,000 per month, totaling $3 million plus.  Quite a sweet gig, except that Burisma came under investigation by the Ukrainian government for corruption, which turned deadly serious in February 2016 when Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin ordered a raid on the home of the company owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. It is at that point that Burisma's $3 million plus investment in Hunter Biden paid off. 

Three weeks after the the raid, Burisma's American lobbyists asked the State Department for help in getting the corruption allegations against Burisma to be dropped, specifically mentioning Hunter Biden.  Shortly thereafter, Vice President Joe Biden undertook a trip to Ukraine, and it was on this trip that he threatened to withhold a billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government fired the prosecutor investigating Burisma.  Ukraine obliged.  Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was himself accused of corruption and fired.  Joe bragged about it in a 2018 videotape.

Those two favors are the grounds for impeaching President Donald Trump.  Since doddering old Joe Biden at the age of 77 is a candidate for president (realistically there's not a snowball's chance in hell that Biden will ever be president) Democrats could frame the phone call as Trump improperly engaging with a foreign power to get dirt on a domestic political opponent.  Thus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff initiated what they called an impeachment inquiry.

The initial hearings were held in secret, behind closed doors, in front of the Intelligence Committee, not the Judiciary Committee which actually has jurisdiction.  I'm not the first to suggest that the Schiff's closed door hearings looked more like auditions, with Democrats leaking what they considered the more effective sound bites to friendly media outlets like the Washington Post or the New York Times.  After a couple of weeks of this, Democrats were ready to go public.

A series of very tightly scripted public hearings went forward where Republicans were allowed to call only witnesses approved by Chairman Schiff, and were allowed to ask only questions approved by Chairman Schiff.  Schiff acted as prosecutor, judge, and witness coach, advising witnesses when they shouldn't answer Republican questions, ostensibly to protect the identity of a "whistle blower," who most people think is a guy by the name of Eric Ciaramella, 

Federal documents reveal that the 33-year-old Ciaramella, a registered Democrat held over from the Obama White House, previously worked with former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of Trump who helped initiate the Russia “collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

But even with all of that stage management, the Democrat hearings didn't go well.  There was barely any public interest.  The Democrat stage play needed a rewrite.  The original script leaned heavily on the phrase "quid pro quo" to characterize the accusations against Trump.  His improper pressuring of Ukraine President Zelensky to investigate Burisma, amounted to "this for that," said the Democrats.  When they found they weren't making their case, Democrats speculated that Americans may not be sharp enough to get it — "quid pro quo" being Latin and all.  They assembled focus groups and tested other words and phrases, coming up with "bribery" and "extortion."  It was still a tough sell.

A Siena College Research Institute poll released this week showed that independent voters in New York overwhelmingly oppose impeachment, 59 percent to 37 percent. Additionally, 51 percent of independents described the inquiry as a “partisan attack on President Trump,” while 43 percent said it is a “fair investigation.”

Maybe the problem wasn't in the wording but in substance. When pressed witness after witness admitted that they "presumed" or "assumed" there was a "quid quo pro."  None of the budding starlets for the Democrat impeachment auditions had first hand knowledge.  EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland was forced to admit that when he asked President Trump what he wanted from Ukrainian President Zelensky, (which certainly sounded as if he were sandbagging the President) Trump replied, "Nothing. I want nothing."  There was no arm twisting, no pressure brought to bear.  Aid to Ukraine was delivered, nothing was received from Ukraine in return.

Now contrast that with the Bidens, where money changed hands and influence was delivered in return.  Burisma paid Hunter Biden $3.1 million over the years.  It paid off.  Joe Biden successfully terminated an investigation into the company that was paying his son by threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine.  Message received:  Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.

In a rational world the name Biden might appear in a poll question about impeachment.  But no.  At no point did a poll ask, which is the more corrupt:

  1. Vice President Joe Biden threatening the Ukrainian government with the loss of $1 billion in aid unless it shut down a criminal investigation of the company that was paying his son $3.1 million.
  2. Trump asking Ukraine to look into that? 
  3. I don't know.
  4. I don't care. Impeach Trump anyway.

The question could be put another way.  Should Joe Biden and his son be shielded from prosecution, or even investigation, for corruption because Joe is running for president?  And even when, pardon my Latin, the "quid pro quo" is staring us right in the face?  It's true that there is precedent for crimes committed by Democrat presidential candidates.  The DOJ and FBI spent month after month working out how Hillary Clinton's illegal storage of classified material on her private email server could be unintentional yet not grossly negligent, and thus, safely ignored. 

Maybe that's why Joe threw his hat in the ring this year.  When you see some of his debate performances, you have to ask, why is he running?   At the age of 77?   By asking for those favors, Trump looks to have opened quite a can of worms.  We might be looking at just the tip of a very big iceberg.

This Wednesday, impeachment hearings will open in the House Judiciary Committee, where they are planning to call in legal scholars to discuss whether or not President Trump's alleged abuses of power rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanours." There will be no fact witnesses, and therefore little point for the White House to participate. 

According to media reports, lawmakers on Dec. 4 will hear from a panel of academics on the history and constitutional basis of impeachment. Cipollone criticized the hearing for providing no transparency and no plan for fact witnesses of Trump’s allegedly impeachable actions to be given the opportunity to testify.

Top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has requested that Nadler provide Democrats and Republicans an equal number of academic witnesses to align with the procedures used during the impeachment inquiry of former President Bill Clinton.

He told Fox News on Dec. 1 that the upcoming hearing “is a failure of the Judiciary Committee to be able to talk to fact witnesses, to be able to talk to the people that have actually been a part of this, and actually have the president viably participate in his own defense—which he’s not had the opportunity to do now.”

President Trump and the Republicans will get the chance to call his own fact witnesses and cross examine Democrat fact witnesses only at a Senate trial.  Democrats have been extremely careful to limit Republican witnesses and Republican questions.  They've kept the "whistle blower" under wraps, to the point of deciding his testimony is no longer necessary.  President Trump and Republicans would like the chance to question the whistle blower.  Representative Collins would like to call Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as a witness.  But will the Democrats allow it by voting to impeach the president?

I think it's doubtful.  I think they would prefer that the "whistle blower," Adam Schiff, Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden not be forced to answer questions under oath at a Senate trial, or anywhere else for that matter.  There is so much that Democrats would prefer not be made public.  They would rather investigate a new round of offenses in their various House committees where they can control agendas, witnesses, and messaging.  Once it goes to the Senate, they lose control of the narrative.  I think Democrats will not vote to impeach.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Review: The Method to the Madness

Libertarian Leanings - Fri, 2019-10-25 17:11 +0000

The Method to the Madness
By Allen Salkin and Aaron
Short 300 Pages, All Points Books

 

On the inside of its dust jacket The Method to the Madness describes itself as “a Rosetta Stone for understanding Donald Trump.” It falls far short of living up to that billing, in large part because the authors seek only to explain how the unthinkable could have happened. How could the egotistical and unsuitable Donald Trump have ever succeeded in becoming President of the United States of America. Salkin and Short focus on the years between 1999 and 2017, and by doing that they miss a more important story.

For that story you have to go back to a 1987 interview with Larry King in which Donald Trump laid out his complaints about the conduct of American foreign policy. In that interview Trump explained that America was being ripped off. Sound familiar? America was spending its treasure defending nations that should have been defending themselves, and that America's dependence on oil from the Middle East was forcing it into unnecessary military involvement there.

Here we are, going on three years into Donald Trump's first term as president, and we find that President Trump's accomplishments to date include reviving the U.S. energy industry making America energy independent for the first time in decades, forcing NATO partners to pick up more of the costs of there own defense, withdrawal of military forces from the Middle East in a way that does not permit the resurrection of ISIS, as opposed to the Obama administration's precipitous troop withdrawals that brought about the rise of ISIS in the first place. While all this is going on Trump has been renegotiating trade deals with the aim of correcting trade imbalances that cost American jobs. In other words, starting in 2017 Trump has been attacking the problems he described to Larry King in 1987.

It's the story that Salkin and Short don't tell, but the one they should have, since it demonstrates that Trump had reasons to run for president that went beyond just being president. Perhaps it's because he continued to hold those beliefs for over thirty years that his journey to the White House took decades. It's likely that Trump had one shot, and one shot only, for accomplishing the goals that he hoped to achieve for America.

Unfortunately, writing the wrong story is not the book's only flaw. It is organized for unreadability. Each chapter starts with an italicized summary of what is to follow, and then there are several pages of paraphrased snippets from source interviews conducted by Salkin and Short that buttress their points. Slogging through them becomes tedious.

The first chapter of the book, Tipster, ends with a snippet from Donny Deutsch, and advertising executive and MSNBC TV host – not a fan to Donald Trump. He said:

“Trump is not well read. He's not a sophisticated thinker, but he's an evil genius. Call him an idiot savant, whatever you want, but I've never seen a guy who understands messaging and consistency of messaging and staying on brand and being able to be true to the brand but also evolve the brand at the same time. The guy's a genius.”

That Deutsch passage, obviously of prime importance since it's the last word in the chapter, seems to sum up the book. Whatever your bias on Donald Trump, The Method to the Madness has something for you: Unsophisticated and not well read, call him an idiot savant. But the guy's a genius. In the end no minds will be changed.

Oh, and did I mention Trump's a racist? Chapter 11 is about “The N-word,” in which Trump is accused of using it and others swear it never happened. But with Trump and his perceived flaws, what may be true must be true, so the benefit of doubt goes to the accuser. Nothing new there.

The last chapter, The Announcement, ends with the thoughts from Justin McConney, Trump's social media director, as Trump concluded the announcement that he was running for President of The United States. There is no doubt about McConney's distaste at having to work for Donald Trump.

“My boss was running for president and now I was doing his social media unwillingly. It wasn't something I wanted to do or work on. I was trying to leave before it happened.”

How tragic and heart rending. And then we get to the epilogue, “The Centre Cannot Hold.” The title is from a poem by William Butler Yeats, the first stanza of which goes like this:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

Trump is elected. Anarchy is loosed upon the world. Or so say the authors. But Salkin and Short, and their book, are off the mark. Anarchy has only been loosed upon the Democratic Party. Salkin and Short spend 300 pages trying to show how Donald Trump made it into the White House. The bigger and more important story is about what he's done since he got there.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Temporary Time-Off

Meg McLain - Thu, 2013-12-19 02:05 +0000

I have had to take some time off from my activism (and to a lesser extent, my graphic design work) to care for my elderly grandfather.  I hope to return to full time activism and design freelancing eventually; however, my family is my primary focus at this point in time.  While I appreciate those who have contacted me with various projects, I am just not in the position to put my full focus on my work at this time, which isn’t fair to those looking for quality work.  My apologies to anyone who feels they have been overlooked.  I hope I can respond to everyone, but please do not take it personally

Hope I can return soon!

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