The Manchester Free Press

Friday • September 21 • 2018


Manchester, N.H.

The Clintons Rainmakers

Libertarian Leanings - Fri, 2018-09-14 13:10 +0000

It has been said that the closer you are to Bill and Hillary, the greater your risk of becoming a suicide victim.  I always got a chuckle out of that, but I can't say I ever put much stock in it.  Still, I'm in a state of continual astonishment at Hillary Clinton's ability to escape any repercussion for things that would land other people in a world of trouble.  In part that stems from Bill's and Hillary's cardinal rule to never admit to anything.  Deny, deny, deny.  The phrase "plausible deniability" was born in the Clinton White House.  But that's only part of the story.

A more important part of the story is the incredible loyalty that the Clintons have enjoyed.  Over the years people have gone to what seem to be extraordinary lengths to shield the Clintons from unflattering publicity or accountability for "mistakes."  Have you ever seen the docudrama, The Path to 9/11?  ABC produced the two-part series, airing it on the evenings of September 10th and 11th in 2006.  Unfortunately the series included scenes which cast the Clinton administration in a bad light, questioning its commitment and competence in its efforts to track down Osama bin Laden.  Mysteriously, the film was never broadcast again, and it has never been available for purchase on DVD unless you can find a copy on eBay.  How did the Clintons manage to suppress this so effectively?

And then there is the case of Sandy Berger, who was also a player in the "Path to 9/11" story.  Sandy Berger was President Bill Clinton's national security adviser during the Clinton administration's chase for bin Laden.  In 2004 when the 9/11 Commission conducted its investigation into events leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center, Sandy Berger was an important witness.  In preparation for his testimony, Berger went into the National Archives and got himself caught stuffing classified documents into his pants and his socks, documents that he removed from the Archives, hid under a construction trailer nearby, and then destroyed.  He was given a plea deal in which he avoided jail time but paid a fine of $50,000.  Later, he voluntarily gave up his license to practice law rather than answer questions at a disbarment proceeding.

But the case that I think is most instructive is that of Jamie Gorelick.  Ms. Gorelick held the position of Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, reporting to Attorney General Janet Reno.  She left the Clinton administration in 1997, and that lapse of four years between then and the 2001 attack may explain why she was able to gain a seat on the 9/11 Commission.  As a 9/11 Commissioner Gorelick was in position to cross examine her former boss, Janet Reno who was a witness to events leading up to 9/11.  How strange that there was no perceived conflict of interest in that situation, but then loyalties to the Clintons so often resulted in strange outcomes.

One strange outcome occurred as 9/11 Commissioners grilled various Bush administration officials on their administration's inability to "connect the dots," anticipate, and then thwart the 9/11 attack.  Gorelick's inclusion on the Commission buttressed the impression that the Commission's purpose was, above all else, to shield the Clinton administration by focusing all blame on the Bush administration.  A stunning surprise came when Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft read from a memo that he declassified for just that occasion.  The memo instructed the Clinton administration Department of Justice to go further than the law required in keeping intelligence and law enforcement strictly separated.  No sharing of information was allowed.  The author of the 1995 memo was none other than Jamie Gorelick.  

There's an arrogance in the Clintons and their loyalists.  Even in the face of this blatant conflict of interest Gorelick refused to step down from the Commission, and she refused to be a witness before it. 

More recently, and more blatantly, we've seen this is the case of Hillary's Home Brew Email Server.  A highlight in the lead up to her presidential campaign was Hillary's ever changing story on the private illegal email server that she kept in her bathroom in Chappaqua.  At first her story was, no classified information was ever sent or received via her private server.  After a while when that was shown to be false the story changed.  No messages marked classified were ever sent or received via her private server.

But then, along comes FBI Director Jim Comey to exonerate Hillary.  In order to satisfy what was sure to be the dissatisfaction of a wide swath of Americans, Comey stepped forward to craft an explanation.  It was an unprecedented move.  When charges are not brought, authorities are not permitted to air the accusations or the evidence.  But here was Jim Comey, quoting chapter and verse from the statutes to show exactly how the law was violated, but then proclaiming that no prosecutor would ever bring such a case.  What a perfect place for Hillary to be.  Half the country knew she had been lying and she was guilty, but there was nothing anybody could or would do about it.  She was untouchable.

How do the Clintons get people to do things like this for them.  A answer may be found by looking at the four years that went by right after Jamie Gorelick left the Clinton administration.  After working in the Clinton Department of Justice from 1994 to 1997, Ms. Gorelick moved on.  To Fannie Mae.  Here is a brief excerpt from Wkipedia on the subject of her tenure there.

Even though she had no previous training nor experience in finance, Gorelick was appointed Vice Chairman of Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) from 1997 to 2003. She served alongside former Clinton Administration official Franklin Raines.[9] During that period, Fannie Mae developed a $10 billion accounting scandal.[10]

On March 25, 2002, Business Week interviewed Gorelick about the health of Fannie Mae. Gorelick is quoted as saying, "We believe we are managed safely. We are very pleased that Moody's gave us an A-minus in the area of bank financial strength – without a reference to the government in any way. Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions."[11] One year later, government regulators accused Fannie Mae of improper accounting "to the tune of $9 billion" in unrecorded losses.[12]

In an additional scandal concerning falsified financial transactions that helped the company meet earnings targets for 1998, a "manipulation" that triggered multimillion-dollar bonuses for top executives,[13] Gorelick received $779,625.

A 2006 report of an investigation by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight into Fannie Mae's accounting practices and corporate governance revealed that from 1998 to 2002 Gorelick received a total of $26.5 million in income from Fannie Mae.[14]

In return for her loyalty at DOJ President Clinton rewarded Gorelick with a $26.5 million position at Fannie Mae.  Sure, you could argue that Gorelick got the FAnnie Mae gig on her own merits and with no help from President Bill, but is that even slightly likely.  I don't think so.  According to this website a Senior Deputy Attorney General in Washington, DC today makes a base salary of $170,235.  I could scrape by on that, but imagine you're somebody important, somebody in the news, somebody who makes decisions that affect the entire country and everybody in it.  You're probably thinking you're real career is after you leave government.  Just like Jamie Gorelick.  Imagine yourself going from near $200K per year to $26.5 million.  You deserve it.  But who's going to pay it?

People who have business before the U.S. government will pay it.  There are foundations, think tanks, investment banking houses, law firms, corporations of all type, and even foreign countries that are just about guaranteed to pay it.  That is part of the make up of Clinton Foundation contributors.  In 2016 there were 515 other foundations that contributed at least $5,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and some that contributed between $25 million and $50 million.  The Clinton Foundation is at the center of a network of organizations that do big favors for each other.  They are movers and shakers.  And if you take care of Hillary she might just hook you up somewhere.

Maybe Lisa Page had that in mind when she advised Peter Strzok in a text message in February, 2016: "One more thing: she might be our next president. The last thing you need is going in there loaded for bear. You think she's going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?"

In all likelihood Hillary Clinton will remain above the law, even as an astounding number of federal officials have been fired, demoted, reassigned, and are under investigation for their meddling in the 2016 presidential elections on Hillary's behalf.

A trail of evidence appearing in major news outlets suggests a campaign to undermine President Trump from within the government through illegal leaks of classified information, and then thwart congressional investigators probing the disclosures.

On Monday the Justice Department released a handful of texts and other documents that included two former officials known for their anti-Trump bias – Peter Strzok and Lisa Page of the FBI – discussing the DOJ’s “media leak strategy.” Strzok now says, through his lawyer, that that strategy was aimed at preventing leaks. Nevertheless, days later he and Page approvingly mention forthcoming news articles critical of Trump associates.

“The leaks that have been coming out of the FBI and DOJ since 2016 are unconscionable,” said retired FBI supervisory special agent James Gagliano. “There’s a difference between whistleblowing and leaking for self-serving or partisan purposes.”

Had Hillary been elected we would never have heard of Peter Strzok or Lisa Page.  None of their text messages or their media leak strategy would ever have been made public.  But Hillary didn't win.  Instead we wait for Trump to declassify the Carter Page FISA warrant applications which were cover for partisan spying on the Trump campaign and undermining the Trump presidency.  I expect declassification approximately one month from today, so that a full airing of the biggest political scandal in American history will premier on the Sunday talk shows two or three weeks before the midterms elections, the outcome of which may well determine if justice will find any of the players in what has been an attempted coup, or if justice is gone forever from America.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Congressmen Introduce Bill to End Taxation of Gold and Silver

Libertarian Leanings - Fri, 2018-09-07 17:57 +0000

Press release from Jp Cortez, Policy Director, Sound Money Defense League:

Washington, DC (September 7, 2018) – The battle to end taxation of constitutional money has reached the federal level as U.S. Representative Alex Mooney (R-WV) today introduced sound money legislation to remove all federal income taxation from gold and silver coins and bullion.

The Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act – backed by the Sound Money Defense League, Money Metals Exchange, and free-market activists – would clarify that the sale or exchange of precious metals bullion and coins are not to be included in capital gains, losses, or any other type of federal income calculation.

“My view, which is backed up by language in the U.S. Constitution, is that gold and silver coins are money and…are legal tender,” Mooney said in a House Financial Services Committee hearing this week. “If they’re indeed U.S. money, it seems there should be no taxes on them at all. So, why are we taxing these coins as collectibles?”

Acting unilaterally, the Internal Revenue Service has placed gold and silver in the same “collectibles” category as artwork, Beanie Babies, and baseball cards, a classification that subjects the monetary metals to a discriminatorily high long-term capital gains tax rate of 28%.

Sound money activists have long pointed out it is inappropriate to apply any federal income tax, regardless of the rate, against the only kind of money named in the U.S. Constitution. And the IRS has never defended how its position squares up with current law.

Furthermore, the U.S. Mint continuously mints coins of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium and gives each of these coins a legal tender value denominated in U.S. dollars. This formal status as U.S. money further underscores the inappropriate nature of IRS income tax treatment.

A tax neutral measure, the Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act states that “no gain or loss shall be recognized on the sale or exchange of (1) gold, silver, platinum, or palladium coins minted and issued by the Secretary at any time or (2), refined gold or silver bullion, coins, bars, rounds, or ingots which are valued primarily based on their metal content and not their form.”

Under current IRS policy, a taxpayer who sells his precious metals may end up with a capital “gain” in terms of Federal Reserve Notes and must pay federal income taxes on this “gain.”

But the capital “gain” is not necessarily a real gain. It is often a nominal gain that simply results from the inflation created by the Federal Reserve and the attendant decline in the Federal Reserve Note dollar’s purchasing power.

Under Rep. Mooney’s bill (which has already been cosponsored by two others), precious metals gains and losses would not be included in any calculations of a taxpayer’s federal taxable income.

“Inflation is a regressive tax that especially harms wage earners, savers, and retirees on a fixed income,” said Jp Cortez, policy director at the Sound Money Defense League. “We are encouraged that an increasing number of citizens, state legislators, and members of congress are taking action to address the evils of the Federal Reserve System.”

“The IRS does not let taxpayers deduct the staggering capital losses they suffer when holding Federal Reserve Notes over time,” said Stefan Gleason, president of a Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named “Best in the USA” by a global industry ratings group.

“So it’s grossly unfair for the IRS to assess a capital gains tax when citizens hold gold and silver to protect them from the Fed’s policy of currency devaluation.”

Rep. French Hill (R-AR) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) joined today as original cosponsors. The text of the bill can be found here.

The Sound Money Defense League is a public policy group working nationally to bring back gold and silver as America’s constitutional money.  

Categories: Blogs, United States

A Simpleton Accuses

Libertarian Leanings - Fri, 2018-09-07 17:02 +0000

Let me start by saying that Michael Gerson is not a simpleton.  He can pinch-hit, though, until a real simpleton comes along.  Writing in the Washington Post Gerson takes a wild swing at President Trump and misses.  "We are a superpower run by a simpleton!"  Calling someone else a simpleton rarely works out well, and it doesn't seem to work well for Gerson either.  He writes:

Here is the increasingly evident reality of the Trump era: We are a superpower run by a simpleton. From a foreign policy perspective, this is far worse than being run by a skilled liar. It is an invitation to manipulation and contempt.

Pointing to the polls is the main response of Trump and his supporters. Whatever the president is doing, most Republicans want more of it.  As one apologist argues, “His [Trump's] personality is a feature, not a bug. Many Americans are comfortable with that.” Put another way, a motivated group of Americans — which largely controls the GOP nomination process — enjoys Trump’s reality-television version of presidential politics. And you can’t argue with the ratings.

I can and do. What we are finding from books, from insider leaks and from investigative journalism is that the rational actors who are closest to the president are frightened by his chaotic leadership style. They describe a total lack of intellectual curiosity, mental discipline and impulse control. Should the views of these establishment insiders really carry more weight than those of Uncle Clem in Scranton, Pa.? Why yes, in this case, they should. We should listen to the voices of American populism in determining public needs and in setting policy agendas — but not in determining political reality.

We should pay attention to the economic trends that have marginalized whole sections of the country.

We should pay attention to economic trends, says Gerson.  What an unfortunate moment to offer that advice — right when the August Jobs Report hits the newsstands.

Long-awaited wage growth posted its biggest increase of the economic recovery in August while payroll gains beat expectations and the unemployment rate held near a generational low of 3.9 percent, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report Friday.

Average hourly earnings rose 2.9 percent for the month on an annualized basis, while nonfarm payrolls grew by 201,000. Economists surveyed by Reuters had been expecting earnings to rise 2.7 percent, payrolls to increase by 191,000 and the jobless level to decline one-tenth of a point to 3.8 percent.

The wage growth was the highest since April 2009.


[T] he rolls of those at work part time for economic reasons, or the underemployed, fell by 188,000 to 4.4 million. That number has declined by 830,000 over the past year.

Well, what do you know? Underemployed, those who work less than 35 hours per week because they are unable to find full-time work, are now finding full-time jobs.  Those are the folks that were left behind during the Obama administration. Is that the trend that Gerson would like us to pay attention to?  Probably not. America's economic engine is roaring along at a very inconvenient time for Never Trumpers like Gerson, damn the luck.  And that's Gerson's problem.  He thinks it's luck.

But you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why the economy has suddenly taken off.  If we cut taxes on the wealthy, investment will grow.  Contrary to current liberal doctrine, they will not hide their money in their mattresses, they will invest it so as to make more money.  That investment will spur growth in jobs.  If we reduce burdensome regulations, smaller business will have an easier time of it.  It will be easier to start one, and easier to grow one, and guess what that means — more jobs.  If we fight back on unfair trade deals, say we level the playing field by putting tariffs on imported steel, our domestic steel industry will grow.  If we remove impediments to oil fracking we will get more domestic energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce energy costs.  And how about immigration enforcement?

A recent analysis by Breitbart News also reviewed the wage and job opportunity benefits of workplace immigration enforcement by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

In the most famous case, 600 jobs were secured for black Americans and wages were increased in February when ICE raided the Cloverhill Bakery in northwest Chicago, Illinois. Black Americans’ wages rose 25 cents thanks to enforcement.

Most recently, the tight labor market helped reintegrate retirees back into the workforce. Breitbart News has also reported extensively on how the tight labor market in Trump’s “hire American” economy has brought new job opportunities for Americans with disabilities and helped lower the demographic group’s unemployment rate.

There has also been history-making wage growth for American workers in the construction industry, the garment industry, for workers employed at small businesses, black Americans, and restaurant workers.

The tight labor market has also secured higher wages for overtime workers and high-paying, coveted white-collar jobs for American teenagers. Most recently, Breitbart News reported that the construction industry has had to recruit women to take jobs at higher wages rather than hiring illegal aliens. A Chick-Fil-A in California has even raised wages to $18 an hour to retain workers.

But Gerson sees no need to explain all that.  Instead he makes blithe reference to "whole sections of the country" that have been "marginalized."  Well, what sections and how have they been marginalized? Gerson doesn't say.

We should pay attention to the economic trends that have marginalized whole sections of the country. We should be alert to the failures and indifference of American elites. But we also need to understand that these trends — which might have produced a responsible populism — have, through a cruel trick of history, elevated a dangerous, prejudiced fool. Trump cannot claim the legitimacy of the genuine anxiety that helped produce him. The political and social wave is real, but it is ridden by an unworthy leader. The right reasons have produced the wrong man.

The testimony of the tell-alls is remarkably consistent. Some around Trump are completely corrupted by the access to power. But others — who might have served in any Republican administration — spend much of their time preventing the president from doing stupid and dangerous things.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Gerson will never be mistaken for a rocket scientist.  Oh, he's not dumb.  A former White House speech writer, he left the George W. Bush administration in 2006, joining the Washington Post in 2007 where he remains as the token establishment conservative who can be depended upon to bash other conservatives who are not moderate enough.  He makes a good living, and that's smart.  But he has no clue about Trump.  Our current accelerating economy is the result of Trump economic policy.  Gerson mistakes tweets for policy, writing that "a discussion on 'Fox & Friends' can so often set the agenda of the president."  In what dream world does Gerson live?

The testimony of the tell-alls is remarkably consistent. Some around Trump are completely corrupted by the access to power. But others — who might have served in any Republican administration — spend much of their time preventing the president from doing stupid and dangerous things.

The clueless Gerson, all too typical of Trump's enemies, seems utterly incapable of understanding.  And that's why we keep winning.  Trump's enemies don't get it.  They go apeshit over some tweet, hyperventilating for days on end.  Meanwhile, ISIS all but disappears from the battlefield, NATO countries begin paying their share of the costs of their own defense, North Korea comes to the bargaining table to talk nuclear disarmament, trade deals move forward, and the American economy shifts into high gear.  Gerson & friends never notice.  They seem to think, and want us to believe, that it's all because an army of faceless bureaucrats has our back, making it all happen while swiping papers off the Oval Office desk.  Sure.

"The testimony of the tell-alls is remarkably consistent," Gerson writes. It is. And the tell-alls, themselves, are remarkably consistent with the rest of the anti-Trump establishment. Like a herd of cows. Cows are remarkably consistent.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Trump's October Surprise

Libertarian Leanings - Thu, 2018-09-06 21:14 +0000

I'm waiting for that shoe to drop.  Which shoe is that, you might ask?  This is the shoe that will have the media tearing their hair and weeping over the outrageous President Trump.  There have been others, but the most notable example of such a shoe is this tweet:

Typical of the headlines flooding the media after Trump's tweet, was this from the New York Daily News: Trump, citing no evidence, accuses Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower before election on Twitter.

Trump offered no evidence of his explosive claim, which was quickly denied by an Obama spokesman and shot down by White House insiders past and present.

"A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice," said Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis.

"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."

For some context, on Presidential Inauguration Day, January 20, 2108, the New York Times print edition arrived at newsstands sporting this front page, over the fold headline: Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides. The online version was quickly amended to read: Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates.

Jan. 19, 2017

WASHINGTON — American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

Bottom line: the Trump campaign was under surveillance by the Obama administration on the pretext that Trump campaign associate Carter Page colluded with Russians to fix the U.S. presidential election.  Several weeks after Trump tweeted "Wiretap!" Jonathan Turley wrote, Trump was right after all about the Obama administration wiretaps.   

He [Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)] also said that the inadvertent interceptions were then subject to “unmasking” where intelligence officials actively and knowingly attached the names of the parties to transcripts and then circulated the information widely within the intelligence community. If true, that would clearly support a part of the president’s allegations and raise very serious questions about the improper use of surveillance. It would be Trump’s ultimate “redrum” moment.

Yet, when this disclosure was made by the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, CNN and other news outlets immediately proclaimed that it did not prove anything about the Trump allegations — again emphasizing that he said Obama “wiretapped” Trump’s phone. That is like saying that an alleged victim is not to be believed because he said that some “second story man broke into my home” when the evidence showed that there was no second story on the house and the burglar entered through an open window.

We have since learned that FISA warrants issued on Page meant that anyone in the Trump campaign with whom Page communicated electronically was subject to surveillance by the FBI.  We have since also learned the the FBI sent at least one informant to spy on the Trump campaign.  To protect it from the Russians, so they said, but they never informed the Trump campaign of the supposed threat or the "protections" provided.

Collusion with Russia was a fairy tale that only grew legs after Hillary Clinton lost the election.  Up until that time nobody believed there was any Russian collusion including Hillary, Barack Obama, the DNC, and the Clinton campaign.  After she lost, Russian Collusion became the Democratic Party's lead talking point.  It did not resonate with most Americans.

Within three months of Turley's article an opinion poll from The Hill found this:

On the question of collusion, 52 percent said they don’t believe Trump coordinated with Moscow to influence the 2016 presidential election. But 54 percent said they believe Trump’s associates may have been involved.

Either way, 62 percent of voters say there is currently no hard evidence to support the collusion claims.


In addition, 62 percent said there exists a campaign to delegitimize the president. This includes 87 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats. [My emphasis]

The media is not winning points on this issue.  Trump has been masterful at forcing their biases out into the open where voters can see them and see that it is largely a media driven campaign to delegitimize.  Trust in the media sinks to new depths. 

Poll: 77 percent say major news outlets report 'fake news'

By CRISTIANO LIMA 04/02/2018 10:50 AM EDT

President Donald Trump is not alone in thinking media outlets spread "fake news."

More than 3-in-4 of 803 American respondents, or 77 percent, said they believe that major traditional television and newspaper media outlets report “fake news,” according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday, marking a sharp increase in distrust of those news organizations from a year ago, when 63 percent registered concerns about the spread of misinformation.

Among those, 31 percent said they believe those media outlets spread "fake news" regularly, and 46 percent said it happens occasionally.

The findings also showed Americans diverging on what constitutes "fake news," with 65 percent saying it applies broadly to the editorial decisions outlets make over what topics to cover and 25 percent more narrowly defining it to apply only to the spread of factually incorrect information.

The time is ripe.  The midterms are two months away.  Rather than sit back and wait, prepare his defenses, Trump, I expect, will spring his own October Surprise.  When it hits the media will erupt in an all consuming outrage — 24/7 wall to wall coverage.  But a solid majority of Americans will read past the shocking headlines and will look to alternative news sources, maybe even to the president himself.  And then they'll decide the media are mostly lying, and they'll back Trump.

I expect Trump to trigger new rounds of media outrage in three to four weeks.  Maybe it will be in the form of an "outrageous" tweet, or perhaps in a press conference he will let slip remark like the one in Helsinki where he "misspoke" and everyone took him to task for failing to back U.S. intelligence agencies.  Or better still, maybe there will be a high profile indictment of a former high ranking DOJ or FBI official, a hero of the left.

Categories: Blogs, United States

Formula For Failure - A Retrospective

Libertarian Leanings - Tue, 2018-07-03 13:29 +0000

George Packer's New Yorker article, Witnessing the Obama Presidency, from Start to Finish, is a look at the Obama presidency through the eyes of Ben Rhodes, Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser.  Rhodes has just written a book about it.

Ben Rhodes was the President’s speechwriter, foreign-policy adviser, and confidant. His book records the Administration’s struggle to shape its own narrative.

No doubt Packer considers the Obama presidency a success of historic proportions, and if there is any failure to be associated with it, it is a failure of the American people to fully appreciate and get behind Obama.  But the impact of Packer's article is that it explains the failures of the Obama Presidency, unintentionally of course.

Barack Obama was a writer before he became a politician, and he saw his Presidency as a struggle over narrative. “We’re telling a story about who we are,” he instructed his aide Ben Rhodes early in the first year of his first term. He said it again in his last months in office, on a trip to Asia—“I mean, that’s our job. To tell a really good story about who we are”—adding that the book he happened to be reading argued for storytelling as the trait that distinguishes us from other primates.

Seems a misguided theory that the United State presidency would be a struggle over narrative.  In retrospect it's a theory that fits the Obama presidency.  Think of ObamaCare as not so much an effort to improve health care than as a statement, a narrative: "This is who we are."  It went through congress and was signed into law on a strictly partisan vote with Republicans shut out of the negotiations.  It was Democrats saying who they were and who the Republicans were not.  When finally implemented — as much as it could be — health care costs went up instead of down as promised.  Some people were helped, and others — most — were not.  If you liked your health care plan, you could not keep your health insurance plan, as Obama had promised.  And if you liked your doctor, you couldn't necessarily keep your doctor, as Obama had promised.  Your doctor had to be part of your new health insurance network that replaced the one you couldn't keep because it didn't meet Obama's requirements — like men having to be covered for birth control pills.

The presidency as narrative is risky business when there is an ever changing narrative, especially when elements of it seemed to have a shorter and shorter shelf life.  But there is no doubting the centrality of narrative to Obama's presidency. 

Obama’s audience was both the American public and the rest of the world. His characteristic rhetorical mode was to describe and understand both sides of a divide—black and white, liberal and conservative, Muslim and non-Muslim—before synthesizing them into a unifying story that seemed to originate in and affirm his own.

Unfortunately, it was only in rhetorical mode that Obama understood both sides of a divide, but that was the narrative.  In reality, Obama had no interest in the any side of any divide other than his own.  This is a point that Packer himself inadvertently reinforced when he described the rise of Ben Rhodes.

The journalistic cliché of a “mind meld” doesn’t capture the totality of Rhodes’s identification with the President. He came to Obama with an M.F.A. in fiction writing from New York University and a few years on the staff of a Washington think tank. He became so adept at anticipating Obama’s thoughts and finding Obamaesque words for them that the President made him a top foreign-policy adviser, with a say on every major issue. Rhodes’s advice mostly took the form of a continuous effort to understand and apply the President’s thinking.

Rhodes brought nothing to the table other than a world view in lockstep with Obama's and a talent for putting it in grandiose words.  And that accounts for his meteoric rise in Washington politics.  Ben Rhodes didn't bring a specialized knowledge of foreign policy.  He was not the man to point out alternate perspectives to Obama, to shed new light on issues, or, heaven forbid, to challenge Obama's assumptions.  Rhodes was a magnificently successful sycophant, a yes man.  His selection as an adviser meant that U.S. foreign policy was guided almost solely by Obama, or more accurately by Obama's whim when reality stepped in to crush Obama's naivete.  Syrian red line?  Tell Vlad I'll have more flexibility after the election?  It was a foreign policy that almost invariably reacted to world events rather than dictated them, always with an eye towards domestic political consumption rather than productive results on the international stage.

There were two moments during their ten years together when a gap opened up between the President and his aide. The first came at the start of Obama’s second term, when the promises of the Arab Spring were unravelling. The second came with the election of a successor who pledged to dismantle everything Obama had stood for. In each case, Obama was forced into a reconsideration of his idea of progress, and Rhodes, a step or two behind, had to catch up. The drama of “The World as It Is” lies between these points.

A step or two behind and having to catch up.  That was Obama's idea of an adviser.  What advice could Rhodes possibly have given that Obama didn't already know about?  As a sympathetic observer George Packer is fully on board with the Obama/Rhodes approach, and equally oblivious.

In “The Final Year,” a new documentary that focuses on Obama’s foreign policy at the end of his Presidency, Trump’s victory leaves Rhodes unable to speak for almost a full minute. It had been inconceivable, like the repeal of a law of nature—not just because of who Trump was but also because of who Obama was. Rhodes and Obama briefly sought refuge in the high-mindedness of the long view—“Progress doesn’t move in a straight line,” Rhodes messaged his boss on Election Night, a reference to one of Obama’s own sayings, which the President then revived for the occasion: “History doesn’t move in a straight line, it zigs and zags.” But that was not much consolation. On Obama’s last trip abroad, he sat quietly with Rhodes in the Beast as they passed the cheering Peruvian crowds. “What if we were wrong?” Obama suddenly asked. Rhodes didn’t know what he meant. “Maybe we pushed too far. Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.” Obama took the thought to its natural conclusion: “Sometimes I wonder whether I was ten or twenty years too early.

Ponder the sentences I highlighted in bold print.  You question, could you have been wrong?  Of course not.  The "natural conclusion" is that you're ahead of your time.  Isn't that a relief.  Ben Rhodes thought so.

Rhodes wrestled with this painful blow. It sounded like a repudiation of everything they had done. But then he found an answer, and it was in keeping with the spirit of his years in service to Obama: “We were right, but all that progress depended upon him, and now he was out of time.”

"And now he was out of time."  Thank God!

Categories: Blogs, United States

Blue Wave Theory of Operation

Libertarian Leanings - Tue, 2018-07-03 13:20 +0000

In The Glory of Timely Leftist Overreach Dov Fischer offers some needed perspective on that "socialist wave" that swept Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the Democratic nomination for a Bronx congressional seat.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got 16,000 votes and Joseph Crowley got 11,000 in a District of, uh, 691,000 people. Even ten percent is not an endorsement of an ideology. Look more closely at that District: (i) more than 40% of the population speak Spanish at home; (ii) 57% were born in Latin America; (iii) ethnic-racial composition 50% Hispanic, 11% Black, and 18% White.

The passage above illustrates the leftist/Democrat strategy as it was meant to work. Our totalitarian Democrats have abandoned all attempts at appealing to more conservative American voters, adopting a strategy, instead, of importing a new socialistically oriented electorate from Central and South America. Keys to the success of this strategy are 1.) lax or nonexistent enforcement of immigration laws and 2.) lax or nonexistent validation of voter identification.

Read the whole thing.  Fischer makes quite a few other entertaining observations.

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!

Categories: Blogs, New Hampshire

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