Sunday, July 29, 2018

Being Too White Is A Problem That Must Be Solved: The New York Times And The Quest To Diversify New Hampshire

Have you ever noticed that when someone talks about the need for more diversity, it only applies to situations where there are just too many white folks? No one ever says that African Methodist Episcopalian churches need more diversity. No one ever says that the NBA needs more diversity. Detroit has a million problems but no one seems to think that what Detroit needs is more white people.

But the New York Times seems to think that New Hampshire, which is 94% white, is just too white and that the whiteness of New Hampshire is a problem that needs solving:

New Hampshire, 94 Percent White, Asks: How Do You Diversify a Whole State?

Please note that in spite of the title, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that "New Hampshire" as a whole isn't asking that question, just a few people in the state are asking it.

Just think about the basic premise here. This is what I tweeted to the NYT:

New Hampshire is indeed very white and has been since it became a state. New Hampshire also has one of the highest per capita household incomes in the country. It has a per capita violent crime rate that is far below the national average and around half of it's more "diverse" neighbor to the south, Massachusetts. According to one statistics I saw, the three northern New England states (NH, Maine and Vermont) which according to the NYT article are "collectively the whitest region in a nation", had the lowest violent crime rates in the country. New Hampshire 8th graders have the 3rd highest scores in the nation on math and reading. New Hampshire also has no state income tax.

All of this is bad apparently because an unnamed group featured in this NYT article is bound and determined to make New Hampshire less white:

The project grew out of informal talks over the last few years among a racially diverse coalition of people, including Mrs. Celentano, who say they want to change New Hampshire’s demographics. The effort is so new that it has no name. But it is drawing important players.

They want to change New Hampshire's demographics. In other words, they are set on making New Hampshire less white.

If you wonder why the once forbidden topics around race are now getting discussed in public, this is why. Or to put it more succinctly: Do you want more alt-right? Because this is how you get more alt-right.

Here are some of the complaints levied against "too white" New Hampshire:

Catalina Celentano can't find anyone to speak Spanish to: “I went from being able to speak Spanish every day to not speaking Spanish at all because there wasn’t anybody to speak Spanish to,”. Well she seems to speak English just fine which has been the primary language in our nation, founded by British settlers, for our entire existence as a nation. Also it is worth noting that she elected to move to New Hampshire, which was 94% white when she did so, and now is complaining because the place she chose to move to isn't to her liking. Maybe she should have thought about that before she moved? I wouldn't move to Detroit and then start crabbing because it is too black and if I did the New York Times wouldn't publish a story about me, unless it was a story about me being a Nazi or something. Her complaint is sort of like city folk moving to the country and then getting mad because sometimes they smell manure.

She also cited the lack of lack of black hair salons as a serious issue.

She said in an interview later that the lack of certain basic services also made settling in places like New Hampshire difficult for minorities. These include hair salons that cater to African-American women, she said, as well as restaurants and supermarkets that offer ethnic foods and stores that sell traditional clothing.

There are not a lot of hair salons catering to black woman in a state with very few black people. Really, that is quite shocking. Solid sleuthing there from the New York Times.

Also, the lack of housing prevents non-whites, in this case immigrants, from moving to NH.

“Housing is at the core of why there aren’t more immigrants — there’s no place for them,” he said. “An ethnic person who wants to come in with a family of four or five people is not going to find a home they can afford, and there’s almost no rental housing whatsoever.”

Well, I lived in New Hampshire from 1997 to 2000. We rented a home and while we were there we had our fourth child. In fact we moved out of NH in large part because it was too expensive to live there. So it isn't a problem just for "ethnic" people, it is just an expensive region. I guess NH could build a bunch of subsidized, low-income housing units. That always works out well wherever it has been tried (ex. Cabrini–Green).

New Hampshire has been a state for 230 years. I am guessing in all of that time it was never below 90% white. It is also a state that has cultivated a culture of fierce independence and individualism. The state motto is "Live Free Or Die". I didn't really like living there, as a Midwesterner I found the people very aloof and hard to get to know but I appreciated New Hampshire for what it is. Not the New York Times and people like Catalina Celentano. They see a state that is overwhelmingly white and declare that as a problem that needs to be "fixed" and without the input of most residents of New Hampshire, a group is plotting to do just that.

There are two additional takeaways from this article.

One is that we see once again that the business community is not and never has been an ally of rank and file conservatives. The meeting of this unnamed group was a combination of social justice types, including the obligatory member of the NAACP, and business groups all conspiring to get more "diversity" into northern New England. Business groups want cheap labor and plenty of consumers and don't seem to especially care how they get them. They also don't care about the repercussions of such a change.

For example, the small Maine city of Lewiston, population around 35,000, has for some reason been chosen as a dumping ground for Somali "refugees". According to wikipedia, the population in Lewiston has gone from 95.7% white and 1.1% black in 2000 to 86.6% white and 8.7% black in 2010. Lewiston was named one of the best places to retire in the nation due to a low cost of living and very low crime rate. But this appears to be changing. Just last month in Lewiston a man was killed in a fight with Somali teens after being hit in the head with a brick. A month earlier two Lewiston residents were set upon by a mob of two dozen Somalis in the same park where the man was murdered. The mayor of Lewiston seems to be trying to downplay the rising crime, speaking here after the two residents were attacked by the Somali mob:

“Kennedy Park is a large common space in the middle of some of the poorest census tracts in the Northeast,” Mayor Bouchard said. “When you have large, diverse groups of people in the same place you are bound to have incidents. Lewiston is no different in that respect than any other medium to large city, except that Lewiston’s violent crime rate is one of the lowest in Maine.”

While the Mayor brings up Lewiston’s violent crime statistics, it is important to note, in this case, the victim didn’t press charges, meaning, statistically there was no crime. Incidents like this often go unreported and are not reflected in the numbers — something even Mayor Bouchard has to admit.

“In this particular case, the person who was attacked declined to press charges, therefore under the law, there was no victim, therefore no crime,” said Mayor Bouchard.

Well there you go! Places like Baltimore and St.Louis take note, if people don't actually report the crime to a police, no crime happened. Like magic you can make your crime rate disappear! Read one sentence again:

When you have large, diverse groups of people in the same place you are bound to have incidents.

Yet here is a group of business leaders working alongside social justice warriors with a stated mission of making New Hampshire "more diverse". I don't have the crime statistics for Lewiston handy but I would be willing to be all the money I have that crime has gone up dramatically as Lewiston was inundated with Somali "refugees". We are told that "diversity is our greatest strength" but the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction.

The second take-away came from this line: "the reality of an aging population that will absolutely require direct service care at some point". The person quoted was "Loretta Brady, a psychology professor at St. Anselm College, who has worked with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce on matters of diversity". Now I am sure that a psychology professors knows tons about business so she makes a natural consultant for the Chamber of Commerce.

We have been pounded over and over again with dire warnings about having children. You need to put off marriage and especially child-rearing until you can afford it. Children are so expensive. Who can afford a large family? Both parents need to work or you will live in poverty! Maybe you have one kid or if you are some religious loon perhaps two but no more than that. Take time for yourself while you are young! Travel! Have fun! Children can wait! Take the pill so you can put off children until you "are ready"! Then you finally decide to have children in your late 30's after getting "financially secure". Oops. Now you have trouble getting pregnant at all. Maybe you have to spend a ton of money on fertility treatments. Certainly as the fertility window closes, if you have elected to wait until your late 30s to start having kids, you won't be having more than 1 or 2. Besides, speaking from personal experience, having kids in your mid to late 30s is way more exhausting than having kids in your mid 20s.

We are reaping the results of decades of anti-fecundity, both here and across the Western world. Instead of having families that will care for you, now we need to import Somali "refugees" that are supposedly going to provide "direct service care" to our elderly. There isn't a ton you can do about it, turning a below replacement birth rate driven by incessant anti-natalist dogma around isn't something you can do in a year or two. In places like Russia and Italy and Hungray you are seeing leaders call for their people to start having more children.

When you start to peel back the rhetoric about "diversity", what you start to see is what I tweeted to the New York Times: Excessive whiteness is a terrible problem and it needs to be fixed. That mindset has very troubling implications for a lot of issues and it is only going to get worse. To my former home of New Hampshire I say something that caused a frenzy just recently: It's OK to be white.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Progressives And Their Pot Of Everlasting Free Money

To piggyback on my prior post: The Futility Of Arguing With "Progressives"...

Socialist wunderkind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn't even been elected yet but she is already getting more airtime than many more established Democrats. The media just can't get enough of her. She is young, she is Hispanic, she has a somewhat shaky but still appealing origin story, she is an open socialist and she is the rare non-homely feminist. Therefore she is one of the hottest properties for the Left, often touted as the future of the Democrats. The fact that she is dumb as a box of rocks is only a minor inconvenience. She was recently on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and it was hands down one of the most cringey things I have ever watched.

I agree that it is hard to watch. Even though I despise everything she stands for, I just don't like seeing people make fools of themselves. It is always instructive to watch a politician that has gone off-script. You can see her really struggling which suggests to me that she is either being evasive about what she really thinks or hasn't given it much thought at all. Probably a combination of the two.

There have been other examples of people "on the street" being asked how to pay for all of the "free" stuff she is proposing. The answers are about what you would expect.

The answer to who is going to pay is always "someone else". I want something and I want someone else to pay for it. It is not just the knucklehead on the street that believes this. Check out these tweets from Chris Hayes of The Nation and MSNBC.

That is the progressive mindset on display. Chris Hayes has 1.68 million twitter followers. He seems to think we "found" the money to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan in the cushions of couches in the White House. There is this firmly held article of faith that seems to believe that there is an unlimited bucket of money in Washington and the only reason we don't give away more of that money is because Republicans hate poor people. No mention of the national debt that we have incurred to pay for these wars, for social spending, for Medicare drug benefits. No mention of the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare. No mention of the incredible amount we spend already just to pay the interest on the debt (more than a quarter of a trillion dollars and that is an old figure). Check out this chart from Freedomworks:

As the article points out, the level of mandatory spending is going to only increase. In this pie chart interest on the debt is "only" 7.6% of the budget (and budget which is paying hundreds in billions on interest on the national debt while at the same time borrowing more money to add to the national debt, which in turn increases the amount of interest...). By 2028, if not sooner, almost 12% of the budget will go to interest on the debt. That means that one out of every ten dollars we spend will go to service the debt on spending from 5, 10 or even 20 years earlier. That is also just servicing the debt, it does nothing to pay the debt down. It is sort of like making minimum payments on credit cards which basically just pay the monthly accrued interest. Except that in this case the credit card has a balance of $21 trillion and the party that incurred the debt has over 6,500 nuclear warheads. What could go wrong?

Progressives operate on an economic version of what Christians call "radical grace". Whereas Christians might say "You brought nothing to your own salvation but the sin that needed forgiveness", progressives think that they bring nothing to government spending but the policy that needs funding. If you just have faith, it will be funded. Setting aside the question of whether these are actually policies that will work as intended and help those they are supposed to help, the question of "how" to pay for them never comes up. Tax the rich that don't pay their "fair share", even though they already pay the vast majority of income taxes. Raise the corporate tax that we just lowered, even though that just encourages companies to park money overseas. Institute a "carbon tax" that will increase energy costs for the people least able to afford a utility increase. Trying to convince them that we can't afford the spending we are already doing, much less wildly increasing it with stuff like Medicare for all, "free" college for everyone, a universal basic income so everyone gets a salary even if they don't work, is like trying to convince a religious zealot that there is no God. As I have said before, progressivism is a religion. I saw an example of that this morning on Facebook when someone claimed that all good and moral people of course voted for Hillary over Trump. Look at the language here.

All good and reasonable people. Therefore if you didn't vote for Hillary you are by definition neither a good nor reasonable person. It is fundamentalism that puts KJV-Only Primitive Baptists in Kentucky to shame.

"Conservatives" don't have clean hands here. With the discretionary spending pie shrinking and Republicans demanding that we spend more and more of that discretionary spending to "rebuild" our military that already outspends most of the rest of the world combined, it begs the question of where we could cut spending significantly enough to balance the budget. Not that anyone is even talking about that. At least some Republicans make noise about a growing economy increasing tax revenue but most of them are just content to kick the can down the road.

It is a religious dogma of progressives that there is always more money to be had for spending and that just a little more spending will fix all of our ills. If we can just extend Medicare to everyone, it will fix health care. If we can just pay for college for everyone, it will fix education. Instead of "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" we have "Bernie Sanders says it, I believe it, that settles it".

Progressivism is a fundamentalist religion and one of their dogmas is that we can and should spend and spend and then spend some more. How to pay for it isn't a concern. They don't know and they don't care. Pay attention to what is going on here. More young people are convinced that socialism is the way to go and the trajectory we are on is one of pretty imminent fiscal collapse. People like Bernie Sanders and  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are leading the vanguard. We are in a perilous time here, maybe as little as ten years away from a serious financial crisis. When the progressive demagogues can't spend money anymore, what do you think they will do, admit that they were wrong? Not hardly. They will do what zealots always do when thwarted: turn to violence.

Those days are fast approaching. Don't say you haven't been warned.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Why Nothing Gets Done On Immigration

Stopping illegal immigration and getting a handle on the whole situation was one of the most important issues that Donald Trump ran on. It could in fact be described as his signature issue. At his rallies he frequently spoke about immigration and our need to build a big, beautiful wall, and have Mexico pay for it. And yet here we are in July of 2018 and almost nothing has happened. There is no wall, nor is there construction started on the wall. Illegal immigrants still brazenly cross the border almost at will. Thanks to the media's relentless attack, especially recently when dealing with "family separation", and the general apathy or outright hostility from Congressional Republicans, Trump has found himself mostly playing defense on the immigration issue. Sure, he got tax cuts passed but who was showing up to vote for Trump in November 2016 with tax cuts in the front of their mind? Trump was elected on fixing our unbalanced trade deals, something he has had some success with in spite of even more resistance from his own party, and to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. It isn't as though people don't care about this issue. NumbersUSA reported that recent polling in July showed that 22% of American list immigration as their number one concern. Among Republicans it is much higher and double the next highest concern. So why hasn't anything happened? Because that is how things work in Washington. Let me give you an example.

If you listen to politicians speak, they will usually agree that we should be working together to come up with "common sense bi-partisan solutions" to the immigration issue. One such solution would be E-Verify, an electronic system that helps to ensure that someone is legally eligible to work in the United States. According to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) writing in Bloomberg, E-Verify is the best tool we have to prevent illegal aliens from being hired in this country:

There is a proven, cost-effective tool to help reduce unlawful employment and to remove future incentives for illegal immigration. That tool is E-Verify. E-Verify is a voluntary, quick and free workforce verification system provided by the federal government that instantly checks an individual’s employment eligibility. E-Verify is the most effective tool available to fight illegal immigration because it drastically reduces or eliminates the illegal jobs magnet.

As I understand it, E-Verify helps prevent illegal aliens from using fake documents to obtain work by verifying that the documents being presented are not forged or "spoofed". That sounds great, doesn't it? After all, Democrats always talking about background checks before buying a gun so obviously they wold be in favor of this. You would assume this measure would have massive bi-partisan support. You would be wrong.

A lot of groups stand in the way of this measure, many of them pretty predictable leftist groups that see illegal immigration and eventual amnesty as a way to shift American demographics and therefore the political landscape in their favor irreparably. But there are also big corporate interests that don't want to see mandatory universal E-Verify become a reality. One of the primary opponents is the Western Growers Association. You can be forgiven for not knowing anything about the WGA. Unless you are a California produce grower, you might never have a reason to think about the WGA. So who are they? Basically the WGA is the lobbying machine for the big produce growing farms out west, mainly California. Thanks to our infrastructure, refrigerated railcars and trucks, etc., California produces a huge percentage of our fruits and vegetables and is the reason people like me in the upper Midwest can have fresh fruit to eat even during the dead of winter. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California sells something like $46 billion in agricultural products and this is a significant portion of the U.S. total in produce and nuts:

Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. 

We aren't talking about backyard gardens.

But how much influence does the Western Growers Association have with the Trump administration and Congress? They are just one lobbying group covering a very specialized and regional industry after all. It turns out they have a lot of influence.

Just recently the WGA helped to kill a bill which included E-Verify. The President of the WGA, Tom Nassif, didn't like that the bill required a "touchout", or leaving the U.S. and then coming back as an H-2C worker.

“The bill would require all of those workers — and we could have 400,000 to 500,000 here in California — to stand up and say we are here illegally, so deport my spouse and convert me to a guestworker,” Nassif said. “Some of them have been here for decades. Our growers tell us that workers tell them they would rather continue living in the shadows than convert to H-2C. So we can’t support a bill that would cause us to lose our workforce.”

Nassif said he’s not asking for citizenship for illegals but legal status for them to transition to H-2C without returning to their country of origin.

Sure he is not calling for citizenship, but these illegal aliens have been here for decades. They have spouses which means they are having children. Those children are citizens thanks to birthright citizenship and those kids pack California's schools and eventually become voters.

According to the article linked, there are around 2 million illegal aliens working in the U.S. agricultural industry, most of them in produce or dairy, another major California industry. So here is Tom Nassif, a man representing a significant portion of an industry with combined revenues of tens of billions of dollars, an industry that knowingly is illegally employing millions of aliens to pick their crops, opposing a bill that would make it easier for the farmers he represents to follow the law and only hire workers legally authorized to work in the United States. Instead he wants to just magically transform illegal workers to H-2C status without the requirement for them to leave and come back while absolutely refusing to support E-Verify. Why would anyone oppose E-Verify, which is described above as quick and free? The only plausible reason is that Nassif's employers, the farmers of the Western Growers Association, want to be able to continue to employ illegal workers that they can pay less and treat poorly. According to NumbersUSA there is already a legal guest worker program, the H-2A, but the WGA doesn't like that either. If the concern is having sufficient workers to pick their fields, which is what they claim, why wouldn't they like that program? This is why, emphasis mine:

The current H-2A program allows for unlimited guest workers to perform field labor. Western Growers members oppose H-2A not because they have used the program and found it inefficient, but because it requires them to pay a set wage, and to provide certain amenities, such as livable accommodation and safe and sanitary working conditions for their workers. Western Growers members have chosen to circumvent the law in order to keep the wages and working conditions for their employees sub-standard.

Ah, I see. On principle I oppose things like minimum wage laws because I believe that employers and employees should negotiate wages and benefits without Uncle Sam interfering. If you think you deserve a higher wage, look for a new job and see if your combination of skills and experience is worth more in the marketplace. I have done that many times in my career, taking my skills and experience to the marketplace, sometimes getting a better job, sometimes not when I overestimated what I brought to the table. That system mostly works for people who are legally eligible to work in the U.S.. But that is not what is going on here. What is going on here is more akin to what NumbersUSA describes as indentured servitude. If a worker is here illegally, you have a ton of leverage over them. They rely on you for housing and wages and they know if they pipe up about anything they get deported. So you can pay them a lower wage, provide substandard housing and work conditions and they can't do much about it. They aren't able to get another, more traditional job because they probably don't speak much English and normal employers are not going to knowingly hire an illegal so if you want to come to America to make a few bucks illegally, your options are limited. So that is why the WGA is digging their heels in about E-Verify. They want to be able to keep hiring lower wage illegal aliens.

There are hundreds of thousands of unemployed Californians. Add in people that are out of the workforce entirely and that number likely climbs to over a million. The vast majority of these people are getting some sort of government assistance. In other words, working Californians are subsidizing hundreds of thousands of their fellow Californians to not work. At the same time, members of the Western Growers Association are knowingly hiring hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens to pick their crops. Something seems amiss here. Again, I am all for employers paying only the wages they think appropriate for a job but when you have workers that are limited in job opportunities and under threat of deportation, it skews the employer-employee relationship. What other industry besides the produce farmers out West and elsewhere in the country, willfully and wantonly flaunts the law and then has the arrogance to parade their hired gun lobbyists in expensive suits around to block passage of laws that would make it harder for them to openly break the law and hire illegal workers?

But it doesn't stop there. When I saw that the Western Growers Association was involved here, my mind immediately went to Ken Barbic. I wrote about Ken and his relationship to Russell Moore last April: The Curious Case Of Russell Moore. At that time I was looking at the linkage between Barbic, who was the chairman of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Dr. Moore. It wasn't all that easy to find but Ken Barbic resigned from the ERLC board in April of this year. More on that in a moment. So who is Ken Barbic and why did I care? As I mentioned, Mr. Barbic was on the board of the SBC ERLC, an organization that employs as it's president one Russell Moore. At the same time Ken Barbic was on the board of the ERLC, he was also employed by, you guessed it, the Western Growers Association. Not just employed, he was the "Sr. Director, Federal Government Affairs". If you know much about the workings of D.C., "government affairs" is a fancy term for "lobbyist". So the chairman of the board of the ERLC was also one of the chief lobbyists for a group that is heavily reliant on illegal aliens and migrant workers in general. As I pointed out in my piece linked earlier in this paragraph, there are some troubling signs out of the ERLC that they were involved in groups that were far left on immigration and that even had connections to George Soros. Read the link above if you are interested. It seemed suspicious at least that Russ Moore was on the one hand working with sketchy people on immigration while at the same time his boss was lobbying Congress for more immigrant labor. Anyway, I followed the link in the piece I wrote last year to Ken Barbic's profile on the Western Growers Association webpage but it doesn't lead to his profile, it now goes to the profile of Dennis Nuxoll who is listed as the "Vice President, Federal Government Affairs". So where did Ken Barbic go? Is he at a different lobbying firm? Nope.

Ken Barbic now has a very senior the Trump administration. He is the "Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations" at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a position he started in April of this year, around the same time he resigned from the board of the ERLC. What does the USDA Office of Congressional Relations do?

Office of Congressional Relations (OCR) serves as the Department's liaison with Members of Congress and their staffs. OCR works closely with members and staffs of various House and Senate Committees including the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to communicate USDA's legislative agenda and budget proposals.

Let me see if I can tie this up with a neat little bow for you.

Ken Barbic, a man who spent 10 years as a lobbyist for the Western Growers Association, a group that vehemently opposes E-Verify and knowingly employs millions of illegal workers, is now working for the Trump administration in the U.S. Department of Agriculture heading up an office tasked with congressional relations. President Trump ran on a platform based in large measure on stopping illegal immigration and reforming immigration in general. His administration hired a man who spent a decade lobbying for a group that is absolutely opposed to that agenda and placed him in a senior position where he acts as a liaison between the Trump Administration and Congress. Not surprisingly, just a few months after Barbic was appointed to this position, a bill to require E-Verify and shoring up immigration laws, H.R.4760 - Securing America's Future Act of 2018, failed to pass the House by a mere 20 votes. Granted, it wouldn't have made it intact through the Senate but still you have to wonder if a little more nudging might have overcome the objections of the WGA and others, especially when the guy doing the Congressional nudging from the USDA spent the better part of a decade lobbying for the WGA.

I have to wonder how much input Trump had in the appointment of Ken Barbic and if he had any inkling what his background is? There are really two possibilities here, one that Barbic has completely changed course from what his old employer was pushing and now is on board with the Trump agenda. The other option is that this is yet another swamp creature appointed by the President that is undermining his agenda, now from within instead of from outside. The second is a lot more plausible. It also makes one wonder how many people like Ken Barbic are in the government, perhaps subtly acting to delay or undermine the agenda of the President. I wonder how often Barbic has a lovely lunch with his former co-workers from WGA? I get it, there are an enormous number of appointments for a new President to make and I am sure for jobs like this one he relies on his senior team to make recommendations. It is just a sign that however ambitious Trump's agenda, or any President for that matter, overcoming institutional inertia and sabotage is a monumental task.

President Trump, if you want to see real immigration reform, it might be a good idea to not hire lobbyists from organizations that oppose reform. Just a thought.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Futility Of Arguing With "Progressives"

There is an old saying coined by sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein: Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

You could change that slightly and say: Never try to reason with a progressive; it wastes your time and just confuses the progressive.

You would think I would have learned by now, and especially in 2018 after nearly two years of chronic Trump Derangement Syndrome that has converted even garden variety progressives into raving lunatics. But I got sucked into an argument with a leftist yesterday on social media. It was basically this. One guy posted a story about the national debt breaking the $21 trillion dollar mark. That is true, it did, something I have been pointing out for years and mostly wasting my breath. So what was my beef? Look at the headline: Under Trump's watch, national debt tops $21 trillion for first time ever.

I didn't google it but I doubt that there were tons of stories about the national debt topping $11 trillion or $12 trillion or every trillion dollar milestone under Obama up to $20 trillion. In fact the debt doubled under Obama, even after Bush oversaw a massive explosion of the debt. More to the point, I don't recall progressives complaining about the national debt until now. They seemed fine with it or perhaps more accurately didn't notice or care. So what changed?


My point was that there seemed to be, as is so often the case, some selective outrage here. Things that were fine under Obama, and I presume would have been fine under a President Hillary Clinton, are suddenly world-ending-catastrophes under Trump. They don't even hide it. I also pointed out that the national debt situation was rightly blamed on both parties. The debt exploded under Bush and then doubled with eight straight years of massive deficits under Obama. It is increasing by a trillion already under Trump and there is no end in sight for deficit spending. Democrats vote for budget deficits and Republicans vote for budget deficits. With a handful of exceptions among Republicans like Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Justin Amash, no one in either party spends much time talking about annual deficits, much less the national debt, unless we are about to hit one of those ludicrous spending ceilings that invariably gets raised. Again and again and again.

But, but, but...Obama's deficits "cushioned" the recession! Trump's deficit helps "the rich"! That was the actual argument. Democrat deficit good, Republican deficit bad. This progressive is so infested with Trump Derangement Syndrome that he couldn't even admit that deficit spending is a bi-partisan problem. I am as much a ideologue as anyone and I freely admit and often holler about both parties spending us into oblivion. But for progressives you can't even admit that because that interferes with their hysteria over Trump.

So shame on me for getting sucked into an argument with a progressive and expecting to have it based on reason and facts. You simply can't reason with progressives because progressivism isn't a rational, fact-based political philosophy. It is nothing less than a highly emotional, dogmatic religion.

In his masterpiece from a century ago, Christianity and Liberalism,  J. Gresham Machen rightly pointed out that liberalism, or what we today call progressivism, is not a system that can be compatible with Christianity, it is a wholly distinct belief system that competes with and stands in opposition to Christianity. In other words, political liberalism is a religion and a particularly fanatical one at that.

But one thing is perfectly plain – whether or not liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity. And that being the case, it is highly undesirable that liberalism and Christianity should continue to be propagated within the bounds of the same organization. A separation between the two parties in the Church is the crying need of the hour.

Progressives are very much like King James Only types. I can argue theology with lots of people. I can and have argued about "infant baptism" with people for years and ended up becoming good friends with them. Calvinism is fair game. Even arguments over stuff like the limit on Christian involvement in government and the use of violence in defense of self and others, while heated, usually are based in fact and reason. But run into a deeply committed King James Only acolyte and all bets are off. King James Onlyism isn't a feature of their faith, it is their faith. The single sign of whether one is truly saved or not is which English translation of the Bible you use. If you use anything but the KJV, you are deceived and probably are a heretic.

There are people on the right like this, the sort of people that post rambling, incoherent and grammatically awful comments all over social media calling Democrats "DEMONcrats" or "Dummycrats" and thinking themselves clever. I don't have much respect for them either, and I often suspect many of them are actually leftist trolls posting stuff to make conservatives look bad. On the other hand I have met some of these people and they really are like this.

But within the ranks of political progressives the number of reasonable, rational people is pretty thin. As I said, the progressive's political philosophy is a highly emotional, quasi-religious belief system. It was already like this before the 2016 election and since that time the vast majority of them have tipped into full blown religious mania. Arguing with them is very seductive. They are so unhinged and emotional that it seems like some reasonable, fact-based arguments might persuade them but all it does is encourage even more rage and emotionalism. Like trying to explain that a 17th century translation of the Bible in an archaic language is not the sole measure of a person's faithfulness is a waste of time with KJV-Only types, so too is trying to argue rationally with a progressive when their religious fervor and emotional stability is tied up in a dogmatic belief system.

So going forward my pledge to myself is to not get caught up in trying to persuade progressives. I will certainly mock them, as nothing stings the self-important and self-righteous like good old fashioned mockery, and then move on. My energy is better spent elsewhere.
Is this the face of someone you can reason with?
Our energies should be focused firstly on people with less dogmatic political beliefs, the sort of people who voted for Obama in 2012 and then Trump in 2016. Depending on what source you use, there were something like 300 counties that flipped from Obama to Trump and the total voters who voted for Trump after having voted for Obama four years earlier is 7-9 million. The middle and working class voters that propelled Trump to victory are pretty clearly not as politically engaged as more hardened partisans. If you can vote for Obama and then turn around and vote for Trump, it seems you aren't paying very close attention or you just don't have firmly held political beliefs. But these voters are starting to wake up.

 Also of note, as reported by the New York Times, was that an awful lot of people sat on the sidelines in 2012 but showed up to vote for Trump: "For every one voter nationwide who reported having voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016, at least five people voted for Trump after not having voted four years ago.". That is pretty huge and it also indicates that there are a ton of people who will show up if they are motivated and that will not show up if they aren't. That is in contrast to hardcore liberals and equally hardcore people on the Right like me that will always show up to vote. It also exposes what a disaster the Republican Party has been for a long time, putting up people like Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney and then looking confused when they got their heads handed to them. People who are not political animals are not going to show up to vote for an empty suit drip like Mitt Romney just because he happens to be the nominee.

We should also be looking at more traditional Republicans to try to get them to realize that a) Ronald Reagan is dead and has been for a long time. So is the Soviet Union, also for a long time, and our foreign policy should reflect these realities and b) that globalist policies that help the patrons of the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are not really very conservative and not terribly popular with actual Republican voters. The GOP is headed in a very different direction. It is becoming more nationalist and more populist. I think these are mostly good changes, as someone who is far to the Right of generic Republicans. This shift is infuriating to the Beltway "conservatives" that mostly care about getting their columns published and their magazine sold and being invited to TV shows, "Republicans" like George Will, Bill Kristol, Max Boot and a significant number of writers for National Review. I might go so far as to say that the more dangerous enemy conservatives face is not Bernie Sander loving progressives, but the neocon NeverTrumpers who would rather see the GOP lose and retain their influence than to change with the shifting political landscape.

The electoral landscape is changing and the party that reacts faster and better will win. For the foreseeable future, all politics are going to be a form of identity politics. There is no place for non-homosexual white people, especially white men, in the Democrat party. It doesn't represent them and it doesn't want them for anything other than the villains in their narrative. The Left is banking on holding together a very disparate coalition of aggrieved interest groups: blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals and other deviants, Muslims, some angry white feminists (that are going to discover in short order that they are no longer needed), groups that have little in common other than a single common enemy/bogeyman: white heterosexual religious men. That is their electoral coalition and that is why all of their policy proposals are aimed at accelerating the demographic shift in America. The faster whites become a minority population, the sooner the Left can assume permanent control of the government. On the GOP side the story is all about white turnout. The Republicans are never going to peel off sufficient black and Hispanic voters to make a difference, unless they abandon their core constituency completely (the Bill Kristol gambit). So the Republican party needs to get honest and recognize that in the war of identity politics, pretending to be above such things means losing. Suburban, middle-class white voters are people that need to be convinced of this reality and to start to vote based on their own interests. But that is racist and we are above that! Bull crap. We are already in a war and the other side knows it. In a war the side that refuses to realize it is in a war is going to lose every time. I also happen to firmly believe that policies that help the white working and middle class will help all Americans ultimately and policies pushed by progressives that hurt the white working and middle class will eventually harm everyone. That is the political reality for the next 10-15 years and we need to get traditional rank-and-file Republicans to quit pretending to be above such things and to start waking up.

So no more useless arguing with progressives. It is a waste of time and effort. Time is growing short and I need to focus my efforts on more productive avenues. I think it is going to be easier to move the needle on fence-sitters and stubborn traditional Republicans than it ever will be to deprogram progressives.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bill Kristol And His Forked Tongue

I deeply dislike Bill Kristol. You could even say I despise him. I find him smug and smarmy but I also find him as dishonest as can be. He and all of his ilk are still so incensed that Republicans would dare to pick and elect a candidate that didn't meet their approval that he and all of his NeverTrump cronies have spent the last year and a half endlessly whining and kvetching about every single thing Trump does. I am not talking about sincere and thoughtful opposition to something Trump does or says. I am talking about the endless snickering, petty insults and general unpleasantness the neocon NeverTrumpers exhibit as a matter of reflex.

A few days ago was a prime example. Kristol was responding to someone that suggested that birthright citizenship might be a bad idea. The idea of birthright citizenship goes back to the 14th Amendment which states in part "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;" The reason for the Amendment was to prevent the disenfranchisement of blacks. It wasn't intended to say that if you sneak into America and deliver a baby, that the baby should automatically become a U.S. citizen. That may be the we way it is interpreted but it certainly was not the intent. Bill Kristol took this essay as an opportunity to, as the broken record he is, to take shots at "Trump intellectuals". See below.

What I found ironic about this tweet is that this is the same Bill Kristol who not so long ago suggested that the solution to the problems besetting the white working class, you know, the existing and historical Americans, was to just get rid of them and replace them with immigrants:

“Look, to be totally honest, if things are so bad as you say with the white working class, don’t you want to get new Americans in?” asked Kristol.

This is the inside-the-Beltway, neocon mindset on display. People are not really all that important. They are just economic units to be exploited, tax cattle living in fly-over country that are supposed to keep their mouths shut, pay their taxes, subsidize people like Kristol and his irrelevant magazine and above all only vote for who their betters tell them to vote for. The United States is not a people, it is a concept, and the human beings that built this country and that live here now are interchangeable and irrelevant.

Clearly Kristol in his American Enterprise Institute speech calling for the replacement of existing white working class Americans could care less about the historic and existing U.S. population. The second they become a problem instead of a servile peasantry, out they go and in come the Mexicans. But when someone Kristol labels a "Trump intellectual" makes a case against birthright citizenship, here comes Bill Kristol shouting about the "actual historical and existing U.S.".

I don't know if Kristol really cares about birthright citizenship or not. I kind of doubt it because I don't think Kristol cares about much except himself. What I do know is that Kristol lies like other people breathe. To suddenly trumpet how much he cares about the "actual historical and existing U.S." when he just last year was calling for the wholesale replacement of the people who are the existing and historical U.S., the white working class, is at the least disingenuous. The entire point of his tweet, like pretty much everything on his timeline, is an attack on Trump. Kristol is as petty and petulant as Nellie Oleson. Instead of simply recognizing, as others like myself who didn't support or vote for Trump have, that he is the President and he is the standard bearer for the Republican party, Kristol is like a neocon version of Hillary Clinton, still trying to get a do-over of the entire 2016 election. Unless something very unexpected happens or if Trump decides to not run, he will be the nominee again in 2020. If people like Kristol are going to undermine Trump in the hopes of throwing the election to the Democrats, in essence burning down the Republican party so they can reform it in their own image and teach a lesson to those peasants in Michigan and Alabama to never step out of line again, then he needs to come up with a new political identity because a "conservative" that won't conserve anything is undeserving of the name.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

More Intellectual Laziness And Dishonesty From Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders, the "Democratic Socialist" who made more than a million dollars the last two years and owns three homes worth in excess of a million bucks, is on a Twitter tear complaining about the pay of CEOs. He focused a lot of his ire at the CEO of Wal-Mart, Doug McMillon.

Of course his legion of equally economically ignorant fans chimed in. My favorite was this girl who has "three degrees" and still works in retail and is mad because someone should "give" her a wage that "allows" her to live. Period.

I assume she is already being allowed to live, since she is tweeting and all. But pointing that out would be rude. Also I wonder what her "3 degrees" are in? I am assuming not actuarial science or engineering.

What is ironic about the tweet from Sanders and the comments from his supporters is that the CEO he is chastising for making so much started out at Wal-Mart as a summer associate in 1984. He went back to Wal-Mart in 1990 as an Assistant Manager while pursuing his MBA and then took on a series of other jobs at Wal-Mart, including being the President of the Sam's Club division. In other words, for the last 28 years he has worked his tail off at Wal-Mart, climbing from an hourly summer worker to an Assistant Manager to CEO of the company. I am confident his rise was due to a combination of hard work, natural talent, persistence, loyalty, some luck and more hard work. The work habits of Wal-Mart executives is somewhat legendary. No one "gave" him the CEO job, he worked his way up and earned it. I have far more respect for that than I do for someone who sits around on Twitter demanding she be given a higher wage.


Anyway, let's give Senator Sanders some facts to work with because I am sure he is not just being a demagogue here feeding his cultish fans political red meat. This is a thought experiment, I am using some official numbers but estimating on things like average hourly pay and average hours worked per week. I am operating under the assumption that most of Wal-Mart's workforce, the vast majority of them, are hourly workers. Based on what I have seen in the store and my own stints working in retail management, that seems reasonable but again these are not hard and fast numbers, just food for thought.

Wal-Mart has around 2.3 million employees. Of those, 1.4 million are U.S. based. For this experiment we will ignore those workers, right now Commissar Sanders is focused on U.S. workers.

Just for the sake of argument let's assume the average pay is $11/hour. That isn't accurate but it reflects some of the published information from Wal-Mart and this is just an exercise.

Let's also assume that the average Wal-Mart employee, considering the mix of part-time versus ful-time, works an average of 30 hours per week. Again that is just for illustration purposes.

So in an average week, the 1.4 million employees of Wal-Mart work 42 million hours of labor. Think about that number for a second. That is just in one week.

Over the course of a year, Wal-Mart employees work 2,184,000,000 hours. Over 2.1 billion hours of labor.

So using my hypothetical here, if you arbitrarily raised the wages of Wal-Mart workers from an average of $11/hour to $15/hour, or an increase of $4/hour, and multiply that times the 2.1 billion hours they work it comes out to a net annual change of...


Wages are a major expense for retailers and one they have the most control over. An extra expense of $8.7 billion every year. Almost certainly you would attract some better workers and retain some workers that you otherwise might have lost if you only paid $11/hour but enough to make an 8 billion dollar difference? I seriously doubt it. Plus if "Democratic Socialists" like Senator Sanders and presumptive Congress-chick Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have their way, everyone will make at least $15/hour and that means that once again working at Wal-Mart would be the lowest skill, entry level work and you could expect the productively to pretty quickly return to the current levels. Jobs that pay at the bottom of the pay scale invariably attract people with the fewest skills and experience.


Wal-Mart has annual revenue of just over $500,000,000,000. Yes, five hundred billion dollars. That is more than the GDP of all but 24 nations. But their net income comes out to "only" 9.8 billion.

Wal-Mart is a publicly traded company that exists to make a profit for their shareholders. As of right now, per Fidelity Investments, Wal-Mart has 2,950,844,000 shares outstanding. So Wal-Mart's earnings per share (reported as $2.99) is around $3 per share, somewhat below the industry average for retail but not terrible. Now if you hit their profit with $8.7 billion in additional costs, that would directly impact Wal-Mart's profit. The earnings per share is a little more complicated than this but if you reduce the profit from $9.8 billion to $1,064,000,000, all of a sudden the earnings per share of Wal-Mart drops to about $.36 per share. 36 cents a share earnings is awful, 90% lower than the industry average. Right now the annual dividend from Wal-Mart, the profit paid to the shareholders, is $2.08, or 2.37%. That is not bad for a fairly stable blue chip stock. Take away most of Wal-Marts profit and they probably don't pay a dividend at all. Suddenly Wal-Mart is not such a great stock to own. Share prices would likely plummet. As one of the most widely held stocks in the market that would impact a lot of mutual funds.

To summarize, for Wal-Mart, a for-profit company, to suddenly raise their pay to a minimum of $15/hour would devastate their profitability, making their stock a complete dog which impacts their ability to raise more capital, borrow money, etc.. On the other hand, if you reduced the CEO's pay to zero, it wouldn't have any impact at all. So the issue here really has nothing to do with how much the CEO is paid, it has to do with Wal-Mart's business model which has always been to sell a ton of stuff at a low price and make their money off of volume. It was that way under Sam Walton when it was just a single store and that is pretty much how it is now. That means controlling costs and one of the main costs they can control is labor. They hire low skill, minimal experience workers and pay them accordingly. They also promote 160,000 of their associates from entry level jobs to jobs with better pay every year.

Bernie Sanders can make his inane tweets to rile up his supporters because he is a Senator and has never had a real job where you have to show a profit. His proposal would essentially wipe out all of Wal-Mart's profits and that is not how you run a business in the real world. In the real world, actions have consequences. You don't just magically increase your labor costs by $8.7 billion and erase all of your profit to fulfill some socialist nonsense. Doug McMillon is paid quite handsomely to run a multinational business with over 11,000 stores and half a trillion dollars in revenue. Unlike Bernie Sanders he has proven himself over the years and has climbed to the highest position in the company he has loyalty worked for over the last 28 years. He deserves every penny the board of directors chooses to pay him. The average Wal-Mart worker shouldn't look at Doug with envy, they should see him for what he is: a titan of business who started out as a summer worker. He should inspire young Wal-Mart workers to seek greatness, not to wallow in self-pity. If he can work his way up from summer associate to CEO, so can they! Doug McMillon, unlike Bernie Sanders, is an American success story. We need a lot more Americans like him and a lot fewer like Senator Sanders.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Hate Crimes For Thee But Not For Me

There are two recent news stories that demonstrate just how ridiculous the "hate crime" laws are in this country.

Crime One:

A 91 year old Mexican man is out for a walk. He allegedly bumped into a small child that was walking with her mother. An eyewitness said he was trying to get past the woman and child on a sidewalk. The man is in his 90s and appears pretty frail. The mother, Laquisha Jones, a 30 year old black woman, confronts the man. At some point he appears to have tried to walk away because he was hit in the back of the head with a brick or piece of concrete. Some reports say 3-4 other black men joined in the assault but that is not confirmed by the L.A. sheriff. Regardless, the elderly man has been hospitalized and as you can see below was badly injured with a broken cheekbone. The witness reported Ms. Jones was shouting at the man the following according to the L.A. Times.

“She was yelling at him, ‘Go back to your country,’ or ‘Go back to Mexico,’” Borjas recalled. “It was racist.”

Ms. Jones has been charged with a slew of crimes including attempted murder and elder abuse. However, in spite of a witness saying Ms. Jones was pretty clearly using racially charged language, the police have a different spin on it.....

But authorities said that through their investigation, “detectives have discovered that this is not a hate-related incident.”

It isn't? Huh.

Crime Two:

In Chicago a 62 year old local man, Timothy Trybus, confronted a woman in a park wearing a t-shirt with the Puerto Rican flag on it. He allegedly was screaming at her that she should not be wearing that shirt in the United States. Of course Puerto Rico is a United States territory and Puerto Ricans are natural born U.S. citizens although they are not represented in Congress so the United States is as much the country of the woman Mr. Trybus was yelling at as it is his. As far as I can tell from reports, at no time did Mr. Trybus come into contact with her. However he is being charged not only with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct but also two counts of a felony hate crime. This seems to be politically motivated. I pulled the story from the L.A. Times as well for consistency but the original story comes from the Chicago Tribune.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said in an interview it’s clear to him the state’s attorney did “the right thing.”

Gutierrez, a national leader on immigration who has been vociferous in his criticism of President Trump, tied the comments on the video to the general political atmosphere in the country.

“There should be consequences. People have to learn there are consequences, especially in the era of Trump,” Gutierrez said. “I really do believe there are people who say to themselves, ‘If Trump can do it, I can do it. Why can’t I go out there and say the things the president says?’ ”

He said this is a moment in time when local authorities must step in on racial and other issues, as he said the more conservative federal Justice Department is less interested in these issues than past administrations.

“I think this is the way until we retrieve rational governance at the federal level,” Gutierrez said.

Ah, I see. Luis Gutierrez is sort of a Hispanic version of Al Sharpton, any time there is some sort of grievance that impacts a member of the Hispanic community you can be sure he will be around to roil the waters. He wants this man punished because of there should be "consequences, especially in the era of Trump.". So now we are basing felony charges on who the President is? Somehow yelling at a woman becomes a hate crime because of Trump?

The incident occurred on June 14th, but it was almost a month later when Cook County added the hate crime charges after what appears to be enormous pressure from Gutierrez and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, among others no doubt including the governor of Puerto Rico. If you look at the comments from Gutierrez, they are entirely directed at President Trump and not the crime itself. This certainly gives the appearance that these charges are politically motivated to advance the narrative that President Trump is somehow encouraging "hate crimes". Oddly I didn't see any mention of Representative Gutierrez intervening in the first case. How strange.

It is important to remember in this case that there was apparently no physical contact (I didn't watch the video), just a guy who seems a little hazy on U.S. geography shouting at a woman. Frightening to be sure but people get frightened all the time. People don't get hit in the head with a brick on a regular basis.

Bottom line:

A black woman screaming racially charged language while bashing someone's head with a brick?

Not a hate crime.

A white man being a jerk and frightening a woman while screaming racially charged language?

Hate crime.

This doesn't even take into account things like a Hispanic man, Kino Jimenez, screaming slurs at a white teenager, stealing his hat and throwing a drink on him. Mr. Jimenez was arrested for theft and has subsequently lost his job and been kicked out of the Texas Green Party. But no hate crimes charges even though he stole a hat and threw a drink on someone as opposed to just yelling. As a side note, even though the attack on the white teen and theft of his hat was all over most of the news, as of a few moments ago a search at CNN for "Kino Jimenez" yields no results. One can imagine that if a white guy stole an Obama hat from a black teen and threw a drink on him, CNN would find a way to squeeze in a story about it.

So what is my point? Isn't this just sour grapes from a privileged class or something?

My point is this. The category of criminal offense called "hate crimes" has all the appearances of being a political tool to game the legal system. It allows what is essentially virtue signaling that is backed up by the legal system. If I commit a crime, I should be charged for that crime. Trying to guess my motivation and punish me differently makes an already politicizes judicial system even worse. In these cases a man is being charged with two felonies for shouting at someone because it was determined that he was motivated by hate. Maybe he was. Maybe he was drunk or is mentally unstable or is just an idiot. But now he is looking at felonies. Should he be convicted of hate crimes, you can be sure this will lead to a lengthy appeal that could go all the way to the Supreme Court. I hope that it does because this is a slippery slope. If it is determined that shouting and being disorderly constitutes a felony hate crime, what is to stop that from being used for all sorts of non-violent incidents. If a street preacher is preaching in a public place that homosexuality is a sin, could he be charged with a hate crime? You could in many other Western nations where that sort of preaching gets you tossed in the can.

Hate crime laws further muddy the water of the legal system. As is clearly the case in the second event, Mr. Trybus is being charged with a hate crime for political reasons. Pressure was put on the D.A. to charge him with felony hate crimes by a United States Congressman who wanted to score points against President Trump. Now instead of a couple of misdemeanors this guy, who again seems like a jerk, is facing felony charges. He should have been charged with disorderly conduct and assuming it is his first offense, gotten a plea deal for some community service and maybe a short stint on probation. That seems reasonable for his offense. But two felony hate crimes? Does that really make sense here? Especially in light of other incidents like Ms. Jones actually assaulting someone and being charged with attempted murder, yelling something similar but not being charged with a hate crime.

If our legal system turns into a place where the D.A. or State Attorney can pick sides for political reasons and turn a minor offense into a felony, is that really where we want to go? That doesn't serve racial justice, that aggravates racial strife. It certainly starts to appear that hate crime laws are only applied in one direction except in severe cases like the four black teens torturing on camera a disabled white kid. It doesn't help matters in this country when it seems like the law is enforced differently depending on the race of the victim and the accused. We have enough trouble in the legal system as it is, let's just charge people with the actual crime they committed and leave the process of divining their motivations out of it.

Peter Strzok: The Face Of An Out Of Control Government

I didn't watch all or even most of the Peter Strzok hearings yesterday but I saw enough to get a flavor. A lot has been made of his facial expressions, with good reason...

Yikes. If one of my kids made that kind of face at me, or really at anyone....well, I would take steps to ensure they understood how inappropriate and juvenile it was. Spoiler alert, the steps wouldn't involve talking.

Peter Strzok is part of the FBI, one of the most revered and respected of American institutions. He is being questioned by the United States Congress based on text messages between himself and the woman he was cheating on his wife with, Lisa Page, who was an attorney with the FBI. His text messages indicate a general disdain for Trump and Trump voters including his infamous promise to "stop" Trump, which seems to be quite a dangerous statement for a high ranking member of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Of course, why shouldn't Peter Strzok look so smug and arrogant? He knows this is political theater and nothing is going to happen to him. He is part of the Federal bureaucracy and better yet the FBI. Sure he has been moved to HR and had his security clearance revoked but he is still employed. I imagine that in a year or two he will quietly move right back into a senior position within the FBI. At a minimum he should be fired and he probably should be hit with contempt charges but he almost certainly will not. His face shows that he thinks he is untouchable and he is probably right.

The bigger issue here is harder to see. Most people assume that because the Republican Party controls both the Senate and the House and of course the Presidency, that they are "in charge" of the government. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you walk around D.C. for very long you will find yourself going past mammoth buildings like the one below. The Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of "Education", on and on. These buildings are full of people that you don't see on the news. But in many ways they are the real power in D.C.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
There are over two million Federal workers and a lot of them are in rules-making bureaucratic positions where they make the rules and enforce those rules regardless of which party is in power. When the White House changes hands and new Cabinet Secretaries are appointed, most of the staff stays the same. They are career bureaucrats protected by the powerful Federal employee union. They live in places like Alexandria, Virginia that went 75% for Hillary Clinton. Ten years ago the median family income in Alexandria was over $100,000. I had occasion to visit Northern Virginia during the last big recession while we were living in Michigan. In Michigan things were in the toilet. People were losing their jobs and moving out of state. There were tons of half-finished housing developments.The bank branch I managed closed and I was relocated to a branch in the Detroit area. But in the D.C. area what struck me was how many new cars were in driveways. The malls were full. People seemed to be completely untouched by the recession.

What seems to drive many of these Federal employees is not ideology but self-interest. They want above all else to keep their cushy careers with the Federal government humming along. I would imagine that most of them wouldn't have been all that upset if Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio had been the Republican nominee and won the election because both of them would have left the government to run pretty much as is. Susie in the Department of Transportation could keep on pushing papers, filing reports no one would ever read and marching inexorably toward retirement without interruption. Then Trump came down the escalator and everything changed.

What people like Peter Strzok really hate about Trump are not his policies or positions, although they might dislike those. What really makes them frothing-at-the-mouth furious is that he threatens what they consider to be the natural order. The natural order is that the D.C. bureaucracy is the noble ruling class. They are the elite and the rest of us are the peasants. We who live in fly-over country are tax cattle. Our purpose in life is to show up to our little meaningless jobs and pay our taxes to keep the tax revenue flowing so our betters can run our lives for us. Why else would the U.S. Department of Education have a $68,000,000,000 budget when they aren't actually educating anyone? Why else would the Department of Agriculture, with essentially no farmers, have a budget of around $150,000,000,000 when they are just going to send most of that back (around 80%) to the states for food stamps? How does it make sense to have a Department with over 100,000 employees that serves basically as a clearinghouse that takes money from tax-payers in all 50 states and then turns around and sends it back? The reason why is that they assume we are too stupid and incompetent to be allowed to manage giving people cash assistance for food without oversight from Washington. I used to work in the retirement plan business and that is an industry chock full of stupid rules and meaningless filings. Every year every business with a 401k has to file a form 5500 that no one reads and no one cares about. Most of them also have to do a test called a "non-discrimination test" that makes sure highly paid employees aren't saving too much money compared to their less highly paid employees. People who make more money also have more money to save, who would have ever thought that? But all of those filings and reports have to go to the Feds and they have to peer at them and stamp them with their little stamps and file them in their filing system and that employs a lot of people. Woe be unto anyone that crosses the bureaucrats because they can make your life a living hell if you fail to follow their commands to the letter.

What is so arrogant about this is that even if Trump wins re-election in 2020, which I think is very likely, his tangible impact on the ruling class bureaucracy after 8 years will be almost negligible. Short of burning the whole system down, nothing significant is going to change. The bureaucrats will find reports that have to be filed, regulations that need to be published, fines that need to be levied. I can't imagine that the Federal government, the real government, not the kabuki theater we call Congress, will be any different in 2024 than it was under Obama. I am sure these people know this as well as I do. But they are still infuriated that anyone would dare suggest something is wrong and they they are the problem. When Trump talks about draining the swamp, he is talking about them. The nerve of that guy! Doesn't he know just how critical to America it is that people in cubicles in D.C. squint at Form 5500s?! Trump hasn't and almost certainly won't impact their little lives one iota but what he has done is prick their pride. That is unforgivable. The farcical little world of the self-important can't stand being ridiculed. Just look at the media and how insane they have gone. Again, their issue is not with Trump's policies per se, it is with Trump being insufficiently deferential to them. Presidents are supposed to respect the media, not call them fake news. What is even worse is that he mocks them and nothing hurts the self-important "elites" quite like mockery. I am sure Trump knows this, he has dealt with these people most of his life. These puffed up bureaucrats being told they are part of the swamp, the pompous media being laughed at. That is unforgivable and that is why we see and will continue to see a concerted effort to thwart Trump at every turn from the media and, less obviously, from the bureaucracy. Peter Strzok got caught but how many hundreds of thousands of others just like him are in the FBI, in the State Department, in every nook and cranny of the massive eyesores that house our bureaucratic overlords in D.C.?

We could send Peter Strzok to jail, fire him, whatever and it won't accomplish anything. He is just the tip of the iceberg, someone who gives a face to the otherwise nameless and faceless goliath that is the Federal government. The political theater surrounding him will be forgotten in a day or two but the ruling class in D.C. will still be in power. As long as they can forcibly fund their departments by sending men with guns against anyone that steps out of line, nothing will change in D.C. and people like Peter Strzok will continue to undermine Trump at every opportunity. Apart from a few lonely voices, I don't see anyone that has any interest in changing this situation. Who in the Republican party is talking seriously about the national debt and what to do about it? Who in the GOP is proposing any serious measure to actually shrink the size of the Federal government? Almost no one is. So we keep sending our hard earned dollars to D.C., they keep shuffling their papers until they can collect their comfortable retirement and we keep careening toward the edge of the cliff.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Gratitude Is Heartwarming

As part of the national celebration of Independence Day on July 4th, we are typically presented with images of newly naturalized citizens from around the world being sworn in as citizens of the United States.The images are intended to reinforce the correct way to enter the United States and to show how happy and excited the new citizens are.

This Independence Day we were treated to a different image, this time of a woman who decided to take it upon herself to clamber up the base of the Statue of Liberty to call for the abolishment of I.C.E.

Since no one was quite sure what this crackpot was up to, the island was evacuated and police had to come and risk injury to extract her. Around 4,000 people who were trying to enjoy the celebration of our nation's founding were frightened and inconvenienced so this woman could engage in a publicity stunt. So who was this person?

Her name is Therese Patricia Okoumou and she is a 44 year old Congolese woman who has apparently become a naturalized citizen and has lived here for 10 years. In her ten years she has had multiple encounters with law enforcement, including thousands of dollars in fines for plastering flyers advertising her services as a personal trainer all over Manhattan, not to mention being arrested last year for an incident where she was arrested for assaulting a cop, trespassing and obstruction of government business for protesting against the New York State Department of Labor. Prior to that she filed a grievance against a former employer for "demeaning" her. In general she has seemingly made a huge nuisance of herself in the ten years she has been in the U.S. but hey what would we do without semi-professional "activists"/Congolese personal trainers in Manhattan? Diversity is our greatest strength! Nation of immigrants! Melting pot!

During her court hearing she was reportedly blowing kisses to her supporters and raising her fist, I assume in a form of the black power salute, while wearing a t-shirt that reads "White Supremacy Is Terrorism". Setting aside the fact that there are essentially no actual white supremacists around these days and I am guessing she couldn't define the term if pressed, she clearly thinks her law-breaking is cute and some sort of noble, grand gesture. She could face several years in prison but since this is Manhattan she will no doubt get off with a slap on the wrist in spite of her prior legal troubles.

Since she apparently has little love or respect for America and thinks we are all part of some white supremacist plot to cage children or something, one wonders why she came here and further why she doesn't return home to the Congo. After all, I am sure they need personal trainers in the Congo and it looks like there are very few white people in her native land. It sounds like she would be better off there.

Ironically the day before her stunt, a story ran in the U.K. Daily Mail. Here is the headline:

So a little bit of mass rape, mutilation, dismemberment, beheadings, cannibalism, witchcraft. You can read the whole article at the link above this picture but it is incredibly unpleasant. According to wikipedia:

In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index. As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people.

So a Congolese woman flees a nation full of other Congolese people and leaves behind an incredibly violent and backward nation where murder and rape is common. She comes to the United States and even though we are under no obligation to do so, we welcome her in and she gets to become a citizen of the U.S.. She then spends the next ten years protesting against the nation that took her in and gave her shelter, breaking the law on at least three occasions that we know of during that time. Instead of being grateful to the nation that gave her shelter and provided her with the opportunity to be a personal trainer for Manhattan's elites, she instead spends her time telling us what we are doing wrong. I would imagine that most people saw right through her publicity stunt and are less than impressed.

Ingratitude is one of the ugliest expressions a human can have. Ms. Okoumou is a naturalized citizen and she has the same right of free speech and protest that any other citizen of this country has, a right I assume she didn't have in the Congo. She doesn't have the right to break the law repeatedly and think she is being clever or cute in doing so. I hope the judge throws the book at her, even though our prisons are already brimming with non-native lawbreakers and I doubt that even spending a year in prison would do anything but reinforce her martyr complex. I just thought it was an interesting contrast to examine the nation she fled from and the nation that welcomed her in.